Food and Drink


I was going to write about my father*. But the TV is on, and there is the Great British Baking Show ... Masterclass, where the two judges, Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood, are doing the baking!!! And they are showing us what their secrets are. Let's see what Mary Berry does with a madeira cake. 

She adds candied lemon peel! I know how to do that. I will have plenty of lemons on the tree soon. 

But Black Forest gateau is on the list for today's episode as well; I will hold out for that.


*It's his birthday. He would have been 95 today. 

Egged On

  • 8 eggs
  • 3 sticks of butter
  • 1 1/2 cups of sugar
  • 3 cups of flour
  • 1 bowlful of apples
  • 4 envelopes of Dr. Oetker vanilla sugar
  • salt and baking powder
  • 2 pounds of beef (an "O bone roast", love that word)
  • 2 yellow onions
  • 6 or 8 carrots, however many were left
  • 2 sweet potatoes
  • bay leaf, salt, pepper, minced garlic, Italian seasoning 
  • cup of red wine in the pot
  • cup of red wine in the cook
  • 1 finished Breton apple cake
  • second Breton apple cake in the oven
  • pot roast simmering on the stove
  • kitchen dirtied and cleaned up again
  • mixing bowl and spoon licked clean
  • house smelling delicious
  • Elke happy


Everybody's Workin' for the Weekend

Potato au GratinIt was a good week. I have the weekend off, yayy!, and my progress on the Quantified Diet is reassuring. I am down 4 pounds, and I'm not eating less, just better. Heck, I'm even drinking wine! (I picked the Whole Foods variant, if you're curious.)

18 days down, just 10 more to go.

Using the MealLogger app is fun, but this week I realized that my soup and salad bowls at home are DRAB. Same reddish-brown color as the table. They do not make for good photos.

So I bought two new bowls today, in order to make prettier pictures and have more fun looking at my food. I also bought a Lekué steam case - I'd been ogling these for a while in the "surly table" catalog

The last potato needed killing, so I started with the recipe for potato au gratin from the little booklet. Really easy - sliced potato, layered with a sauce of cream, egg yolk, grated cheese, salt and pepper; all put together right in the case, shoved in the microwave for 10 minutes, and DONE.

But the two major accomplishments for the week are this:

- I took the three delicious Italian chocolates that I got from a co-worker, stashed them in the desk drawer, and have not been tempted, even though I look at them regularly, and even though I think of them fondly.

- In the same vein, I bought the bowls at World Market, and marched right past all the Haribo gummy candy, again, without even being tempted.

Good Times. Good Times.

I'm having a good time with the Quantified Diet so far. Getting the hang of taking pictures before I eat anything (this is not strictly part of the Quantified Diet, but I find it helpful to keep track of my intake; I'm using MealLogger).

I was very happy to see these permitted items for the Whole Foods diet:

  • dairy
  • wine
  • whole grain bread
  • KIND bars

In the dairy department, I've switched back to whole milk (from the 2% variant that I used to drink), and I'm glad I am allowed to eat cheese - a little block of Emmentaler in the afternoon and some pear or apple slices make a great satisfying snack for me.

I went grocery-shopping this afternoon, at Sprouts. Probably spent an hour pushing my cart around the store. Parsley was on sale, two bunches for a dollar. Radishes were also two bunches for a dollar. In the cart they went! I picked one of the parsley bunches, and put in the freezer to use later. Most of the second one will go with stir-fried mushrooms, perhaps some bacon, and certainly a good splash of lime juice. 

I really wanted arugula, but there was none. Weird. I thought arugula liked the cold season. So I bought a bag of arugula-spinach mix as the next best thing. And tomatillos, yellow bell peppers, apples (organic Braeburn, also on sale), tangelos (look sorta like oranges, but taste like tangerines), and a bag of cooked chestnuts. And coffee. And eggs. And chicken thighs. And a can of salmon, a can of anchovies, and a can of diced green chiles.

The Turkish apricots were winking at me fiercely, but I wasn't sure if they were ok since they were dried with whatever sulfury thing they use. So I skipped them, and will eat fresh fruit instead. That'll learn em!

Two bags of goods for less than fifty bucks (the only item over $5 was the coffee at $5.57). Good going.

Tactics I Intend to Deploy

  • order more fruit from the CSA and take it to work for snax
  • roast veggies and eat them for not-too-sad desk lunch
  • make largeish pots of soup and stew to freeze and keep
  • put the slow cooker to work (for beans, caramelized onions, and  ... bread?)
  • keep my stash of KIND bars around
  • fall back on salads from the cafeteria if necessary
  • enjoy that Pumpernickel whole grain rye bread
  • and some cheeses
  • nuts!

More food for thought from elsewhere:

It's Valentine's, Valentine's Day

Yes, I know it's New Year's Day. But I've been listening to David Bowie quite a bit lately, and this song has been playing in my head.


Anyway, what I really came to tell you ("...and I alone escaped to tell you") is this: I signed up for the Quantified Diet project, where you follow one of ten diets for four weeks. The aim is to collect data to see what works best. I saw a tweet about it from Buster Benson a week or two ago, and it sounded intriguing. Plus, I trust his judgment (he developed Health Month, which I used for a long time).

So I signed up, read up a little more about the diets offered, and thought about what I wanted to do. You can go with the randomized approach and just follow what is chosen for you, but I wanted more control. I know I hate counting calories, and I wanted to pick something I could stick with after the four weeks of the project are done. I considered no sweets, paleo, and whole foods, vegetarian, and slow carb - but whaaaat, no cheese with the slow carbs? And cold showers? Brrrrrrr.

And then of course I worried. OMG it starts on January 1st, and they haven't published any additional detailed information a few days before the start date! How am I gonna get off to a good start? Then it occurred to me that the lift people are good at easing you into new things, one baby step at a time*, and I trusted them to give me what I need when I need it, starting on January 1st. 

I also did some more thinking, and some prep work, and got some support features set up. I settled on the "whole, no processed foods" diet because that is how I would like to eat anyway. I checked out the blog of the advising foodie, summer tomato, and like it well enough. And I decided that keeping a food journal would be a smart idea, so I poked around the App Store for a suitable app, and settled on MealLogger because it looks like a lot of fun and very little effort.

Also, here is what I'm NOT doing: I am not primarily interested in weight loss. While I am hoping that getting rid of my gut padding will be a side effect of eating healthier, it's not my primary motivation. I know I eat more sweets and starches when I am stressed and overworked, and I've tried to look at the extra weight as insulation. With the holiday craziness behind us, I assume that now is a good time to get into good habits and stick with them. 

* Today's baby step: read Everything You Need to Know about the Whole Foods Diet, fill in the introductory survey, and eat at least one meal on the whole foods diet today. (Two meals tomorrow, and all in on day 3). 

Slow Burnin

I bought a slow cooker this week. Had been thinking about it for quite a while, and finally this post on TheKitchn (and a gift card credit at tipped the scale.

Washed the applicable bits this morning, and am ready to christen it today. What to start with? I am perusing Slow Cooker from Scratch and pondering some candidates:

Stopping at Dittmer's to get some Landjäger for a split pea or lentil soup, and some stewing beef just as a matter of principle, seems like a smart venture.

Cellu Lite

My first reaction was: "Ewww gross! I am NEVER buying grated cheese again!" Checked the bag of shredded Quattro Formaggi in the fridge, and sure enough, it lists cellulose as an ingredient.

But then I read the article again:

"Powdered cellulose: minuscule pieces of wood pulp or other plant fibers that coat the cheese and keep it from clumping by blocking out moisture."

Why Wood Pulp Makes Ice Cream Creamier, Wall Street Journal

And I am once again disappointed with slanted sensationalist reporting. The headline shrills WOOD PULP IN YOUR FOOD OMG, and then the article explains that the cellulose used could be "wood pulp or other plant fibers". Like what? Rhubarb? Broccoli stalks? Wheat husks? Geeez, thanks for telling me NOTHING useful.

Food Heaven

Porchetta Sandwich Heaven on my lap: a porchetta sandwich from Roli Roti.

I was in San Francisco yesterday, to meet a couple of German friends for German food (Käsespätzle, if you must know), but I started off with a trip to the Food Temple that is the Ferry Building.

First things first: I made sure I had cash in my pocket, then lined up for a porchetta sandwich from Roli Roti. This may very well be my world's best sandwich: I love bread with a good crust. I love pork. I love crispy crunchy pork skin even more. I love caramelized onions. And my favorite salad green is arugula. All of this together in one meal? Unbeatable.

Sustenance provided, I forged on, with stops at several of my favorite places:

  • McEvoy Ranch, for some of their delicious body butter. I am supposed to lather it on my skin, but I might just eat it by the spoonful.
  • Boccalone for some tasty salted pig parts. I feel bad more often these days for eating meat, but then I fry up some of their pancetta and am convinced I could never be a vegetarian. (Same thing with the above-mentioned/-pictured/-ingested porchetta sandwich.)
  • Checked at Far West Fungi for salicornia, but they didn't have any.
  • Grabbed a couple of macarons at Miette.
  • Happy Girl Kitchen had some more citrus sea salt, just before my supplies ran out. Yayyy!

Mission accomplished.

Thanksgiving Recipes

Some options to try out: 

... and of course desserts. Martha Stewart has some nice ideas, for example: