Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year's Goals for 2011

Although the idea of constant progress and self-improvement can become tiresome, I have to admit that it must be an essential part of the human experience, and I have to admit that, like most people, I could do better... much better... in quite a few areas. And so I will wholeheartedly embrace a few goals for 2011, and hope that I can, indeed, make progress.

I've decided to call them "goals" instead of "resolutions" because resolutions are absolutes, and most absolutes are inherently weak.  It only takes one exception or moment of weakness to break the resolution, and once it is broken, well, I can justify all sorts of self-destructive behaviors.  When I set a goal, I can think more positively about it-- am I doing better today than I did yesterday?  I can reward myself for baby steps and small yet significant gestures.  If I fail one day, I can pick myself back up and make a better decision the next day.  Ben Franklin defined 13 virtues for himself and kept a log of his failures to live according to those virtues.  He never did achieve a "clean" page in his log, but he did say that he lived a better and a happier life for the effort.

And so, in the spirit of the new year, here are this year's goals:
1.  I will do less yelling in my house and work on strategies to encourage my kids (and husband?) to do the same.
2.  I will maintain a consistent interest in and commitment to exercise and physical fitness.  I will use my gym membership at least a couple of times per week, and get out for hikes at least a couple of times per month.  I will try to get out to do the following activities more often:  walks at the park, biking to work and for fun, tennis at Catalina H.S..  I'll try to expand my repertoire!
3.  I will bike to work more often when the schedule allows.
4.  I will recycle more-- too much is making it into the trash can.
5.  I will end 2011 weighing less than I weighed on the way in-- 10-20 more pounds?
6.  I will be more consistent about cooking meals and eating lots of fruits and veggies-- and the kids, too.
7.  I will get the kids out into nature more and have fun learning the lore-- plants, animals, weather, geology, geography, etc.
8.  I will read more books and try to be less susceptible to checking out Facebook and watching whatever trash is on TV.
9.  I will continue to work on buying less crap I don't really need ($1 bin shit, stupid office supplies I covet but never use, stuff like that) and stuff that has tons of packaging (this is a tough one...)
10.  I will create time for friends and family and work on nurturing my adult relationships-- more fun time for me and me more fun for others!
11.  Attitude:  Empowered, positive... stop whining, internally and out loud.

Okay-- these are big goals, which is why they are goals and not resolutions.  May we all have a happy, healthy, sustainable, loving, profitable and lucky 2011!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Banana Lime Sorbet

Here is a fantastic little recipe I invented this summer when I wanted something cool and sweet.  I was inspired by Alton Brown's show Good Eats in which he talks about using avocado in ice cream because you can use less sugar, since avocado is a natural emulsifier.  He mentioned that bananas were similar, and I had been meaning to test the theory since then.

This sorbet is even more fantastic with a shot of tequila over the top.  Ay, ay, ay!

I used our small Krups ice cream mixer-- the one where you freeze the bowl in the freezer and then the motor mounts on top.  It worked great for this purpose and this small batch.
As always, amounts are approximate!

5 ripe bananas
1 c. simple syrup
lime zest finely ground/chopped
lime juice (1 or two limes total for zest and juice—4 tablespoons of juice?)

Blend all ingredients in blender until smooth.

Freeze in ice cream mixer.

Adult Slushie:
Add a scoop of the sorbet, squeeze of lime and tequila in a cup and eat!

Additional note (Summer, 2012):  I tried making this recipe as a granita by pouring it into a shallow pan and putting it in the freezer, and scraping it every 40 minutes or so.  It worked great and tasted great.   Also worth noting, the color of this can be off-putting.  It's the color of ripe banana flesh, of course, an unappetizing sort of pukey taupe.  Sorry.  There's nothing I can really figure out to do about that.  If you have any ideas, let me know.  Otherwise, it is a really great way to use up ripe bananas.

Chile Lime Pork Tenderloin

Here is a recipe I made over the summer that turned out quite tasty.  As in all my recipes, amounts are approximate!  Make with Love, and ENJOY!

3-4 pounds pork tenderloin, silverskin removed.
¼ cup mild red chile, ground (New Mexico)
2 tablespoons cumin
1/2 -1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
1 tablespoon garlic powder (or to taste)
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. salt
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1-2 teaspoons liquid smoke
4-5 chopped scallions
zest of three limes, in larger pieces.
juice of three limes (1/4 cup? More would be okay.)
¾ of a Corona beer (drink the rest)

Mix everything but the meat in a gallon sized Ziploc bag. Squish to mix ingredients and dissolve the honey.

Add meat to the bag and seal, pressing out as much air as possible. Squish the meat and marinade around gently to evenly distribute the marinade.  Place bag in a 9x9 square baking dish or similar dish or tray to prevent spills if there is leakage.

Marinate for at least 4 hours in the refrigerator; more would be better.

Before grilling, pat meat dry with towels. remove most big chunks of scallion and lime zest. Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper.  Grill over coals until it reaches a safe internal temperature (I stopped at 145 degrees) & allow to rest before slicing.

Good accompaniment: grilled vegetable skewers.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Review of Mo's Bacon Bar: A Small Adventure in Chocolate

After a long exchange on Facebook which somehow ended up being about bacon and peanut butter sandwiches, and made reference to a photo a friend had posted which featured a well-endowed woman wearing a bra made of bacon, someone mentioned chocolate covered bacon, and then my friend Rebecca mentioned a candy bar called Mo's Bacon Bar which she had seen at whole foods.

She surprised me with one a couple of months later, and I have been holding onto it for a couple of weeks, intrigued, but allowing it to find its moment.

I have picked up the tiny oblong box several times now to read the packaging.  Produced by Vosges Haut Chocolat, it is a 45% cocoa bar, which features applewood smoked bacon and alderwood smoked salt.  The rationale for the bar is captured on the back of the box:  "Inspired by my love of savory and sweet, a royal coupling of bacon and chocolate.  Discover why everything is better with bacon."  Signed, Katrina.  I noticed that the entire bar is only .5 oz.  The box provides no nutritional information at all, so I am assuming it is zero Weight Watcher points, or maybe two at the most. 

Today, after the kids' swim lessons and making lunch, the bacon bar found its moment.  I was poking around in the kitchen and making a second cup of coffee, and there it was.  I had the points available, and I decided to eat it.  I pulled the foil packet out of the box, and the bar was even smaller than I had anticipated, about half the size of a playing card or maybe a bit bigger.  I had trouble getting the foil open and ultimately used scissors so that I wouldn't melt or squoosh the chocolate.   I noticed that stamped on the foil was "Mini Bacon Candy Bar."  So there must be other sizes.  When I pulled the chocolate out of the package it was even smaller than it appeared inside the foil.  I was okay with this because I just wanted a small taste, not to blow my WW day.

I broke the end off the bar and could see a bacon bit nestled in the chocolate-- it simply looked like a nut.  I could smell the bacon before the milk chocolate even entered my mouth.  The candy bar lived up to its packaging.  I bit down to see if the bacon crunched.  It did a little bit, and then became chewy.  But what I noticed more was the superior quality of the milk chocolate-- smooth and rich.  And the bits of bacon, and, I believe, grains of salt really did give the sensation of a sweet mouthful of chocolate with tiny hit after tiny hit of salt that just kept coming.  The surprise for me was how well the smokiness of the bacon complemented the chocolate, and after the chocolate melted away, the bacon bits became chewy and fun to contemplate.

If the bar had been any bigger, it would have become overwhelming quickly.  That half-ounce was just the perfect bite to enjoy the concept.

Thanks Rebecca!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

G's Stuffed Sandwich Recipe

When G invited his friend T over to play, he wanted me to make them something special for lunch.  He suggested that I get lunchmeat and cheese and roll it up inside bread dough and bake it.  I have no idea where he got this notion, but I told him that was called a stromboli, and that it would probably work.  It turned out very tasty.  Now he wants me to publish the recipe here.

One package refrigerated bread dough (we used the Pillsbury French Loaf)
6-10 slices deli meat (depending on size)
grated 2% cheese (or regular) (1/2 cup?)
sliced green onion (1-2)
milk for sealing.

I floured the clean counter.  Then I slit the long log of bread dough lengthwise about halfway through to get a head start on rolling it out.

I rolled it out until it was approx. 6"x14"  It kept springing back to a bit smaller.

I layered the meat and cheese in 3-4 layers on top of most of the bread dough, leaving a narrow margin on the far long edge (for sealing later.)  I also added the green onion. 

I began rolling from the long edge that was nearest to me, kind of stretching the dough as I went (because of how springy it was.)  When I got to the far edge, I painted that far edge with milk so that I could seal the loaf.  I stretched that final edge around the loaf and pinched the edges together and smoothed the whole thing out. Then I floured the damp areas left from the process.

I sprayed a cookie sheet with nonstick spray and transferred the whole thing over.

I baked the loaf as directed on the package, keeping a close eye on it.

It turned out slightly underdone in the middle, but overall very tasty and satisfying.  If you have any ideas about how to get the middle more done, please let me know!  Good idea, G!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Topics Nobody Wants to Hear About at Happy Hour (etc.)

  1. Your Dieting Journey
  2. Being a Teacher
  3. Being a Mom
  4. PBS Kids or Nick Jr. Shows (or is that a subset of Being a Mom?) 
  5. The Arizona Legislature
So, basically, now that I have gone back to Weight Watchers, I am a social leper.  Please write with acceptable topics of conversation.  Here are the ones that I have discovered so far:
  1. Sports (so I'm pretty much screwed except for having watched some Arizona Basketball games.
  2. Mythbusters.
  3. Drinking stories (I'm thin on those).
  4. Illegal Activities in which I have Participated (thin on those, too).