Weekly Friday Weight Update for 01/25

Posted January 25, 2008 by Zach
Categories: Food, General

I lost 1 pound this week, down to 205.5. The weight loss has slowed, but my stamina on the elliptical trainer has increased considerably. When I started training two weeks ago, an hour at 40 RPM just about killed me. Now an hour at 50 RPM is just about killing me. For food I mainly stuck to black beans and brown rice. My portion size might still be a bit big, so I’ll need to watch that.

Hopefully next week I’ll be a bit lighter and moving a bit faster.

A Spanner in the Works

Posted January 18, 2008 by Zach
Categories: Food, General

Tags: , ,

This is the obligatory post where I write about why I haven’t updated in the last week or so. Work has started what can best be described as an amateur biggest looser league. In a moment of weakness I signed up. The good news is that my initial weigh in was 212, and this week I weighed in at 206.5. The weigh-ins are every Friday so I’ll post my progress as I go.

The bad news is that I’m working out during lunch and right after I get home from work; my old writing time. I’ll need to make time on the weekends and later at night to make some posts. Look for something about beans in the next couple of days.

Winter Style Beers: Anchor Christmas

Posted January 9, 2008 by Zach
Categories: Beer, General

Tags: , , ,

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I feel a bit the fraud after reading my last couple of beer reviews. I really don’t know how to sound all professional and thorough when talking about beer so I cribbed words like “mouthfeel.” (Whatever the hell that means.) I really just like talking about stuff that I like, so my goal here to to transmit my beer going experiences over the blog. With luck, my taste lexicon will grow as I write, but from here on I will try to be more honest instead of striving to sound pompous.

The Anchor Christmas Ale is the last of the Winter beer that I’ll be talking about on the blog for the next year or so. It was poured at refrigerator temp into a standard pint. My first impression was the malt; this thing is like a beer milkshake. Prior to this, I associated malt with a lack of hops instead of its own entity. The Anchor Christmas cured me of this misconception. The hops are still detectable, but very mellow and smooth. There was none of the spikiness of the other two Winter beers, even at refrigerator temps.

There are all sorts of spice flavors and notes to this beer, it was highly reminiscent of mulled cider without the apple. It was excellent with my father-in-law’s fruitcake and I imagine it would go well with gingerbread snaps too. Sweeter cookies were a bit much for this beer. Where the Wassail’s hops balanced the more sugary sweets well, the Anchor offering just doesn’t mix well with them.

There was a metallic aftertaste in the 2 bottles that I tried that I hope is a quality issue specific to my six pack instead of an intended flavor. The metallic taste isn’t overpowering, but it is mildly unpleasant. As the beer warmed the aftertaste became more pronounced, which is unfortunate as the other desirable spice flavors also became more noticeable at these warmer temps.

This is an excellent and accessible Winter Style beer, even with the slight metallic aftertaste. When served cold and paired with some moderately sweet cookies or sweets, the aftertaste pretty much goes away and it can be recommended without reservation.

Raid Food: Damn Good Mac and Cheese

Posted January 8, 2008 by Zach
Categories: Food, General

Tags: , , ,

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Prep time: 30 Minutes
Bake time: 15 Minutes

  • 3.5 Cups Whole Milk
  • 1 Can of Low Sodium Chicken Broth (1.5 Cups)
  • 6 Tablespoons butter
  • 6 Tablespoons flour
  • 1 Pound of Colby Cheese, shredded
  • 0.5 Pound of Sharp White Cheddar, shredded
  • 0.5 tsp cayenne
  • 1 tablespoon mustard
  • 1 Pound Elbow Macaroni
  • 3 Slices Bread, Cubed
  • 1 garlic clove, minced

Boil your macaroni in a large pot, drain and set aside when it is cooked but still chewy. Dry the inside of the pan out and put it on low heat. Melt the butter in the pot and add the garlic, cayenne, and mustard. Stir for about 1 minute. Add the flour and stir for another minute. Add the milk and chicken broth. Continuously stir the white sauce while increasing the heat to a medium high. Continue to stir until the mixture bubbles and thickens. Remove from heat.

Set aside about 1 cup of cheese. (It doesn’t matter which one. I use a mixture.) Mix the rest of the cheese into the white sauce, stirring until melted. Once melted, stir in the elbow macaroni.

Pour the mac and cheese mixture into a large baking dish. Distribute your bread evenly over the top. Sprinkle the cup of cheese you set aside over the bread. Bake for 15 minutes @ 400 degrees.

Commentary:
As a rule of thumb, any recipe that calls for cheese by the pound is not healthy and this is no exception. As such we tend to only make this once every few months, but it’s always a treat. The chicken broth is what really makes this particular recipe special. It dilutes the milk enough so that your mac and cheese doesn’t solidify in the oven while at the same time adding another dimension to the flavor. This was the first white sauce that I ever made using flour instead of corn starch, so I was a little intimidated. It turns out that the flour does a better job of thickening without adding too much work. I also love the flavor that the butter and flour mixture adds to the dish as it browns.

Raid Food: Mini Quiches

Posted January 4, 2008 by Zach
Categories: Food, General

Tags: ,

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Makes 12 mini quiches
Cook time: 15 minutes
Prep time: however long it takes you to cube 4 slices of bread and beat a few eggs

Essentials:

  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 4 slices of bread, cubed (Any kind works, stale or fresh. We used rye bread.)
  • ½ cup shredded cheese (I prefer sharp cheddar, but just about anything that melts will work)

Optional:
Just about anything that works in an omelet or scrambled eggs will work well in here. Pictured above is:

  • ½ cup cubed ham
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 2 tablespoons of finely diced onion (1/2 teaspoon of onion powder if you’re feeling lazy)
  • Handful of frozen chopped broccoli (no need to defrost)
  • 1 teaspoon Penzey’s Foxpoint seasoning
  • pinch of freshly cracked black pepper

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Wisc your eggs and milk together in a mixing bowl. Mix in the rest of your ingredients minus the bread. Distribute your bread evenly in a buttered muffin pan. If your pan has a Teflon coating then you may not need to grease it. Spoon your mixture over the bread. Throw it in the oven and bake for 15 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Other possible variations:

  • 1 teaspoon of dry mustard instead of the foxpoint
  • Bacon!
  • Frozen chopped spinach and feta cheese
  • Browned breakfast sausage, caramelized onion, sautéed mushrooms
  • Hollowed out baguette instead of cubed bread
  • If you are dealing with picky eaters, puree your veggies in a blender instead of chopping them. Less attractive, but more sneaky.

Commentary:
Essentially this is just scrambled eggs in the oven for dinner. The milk and egg mixture soaks into the bread while your dry ingredients stay on top. This forms an easy crust on the bottom while the cheese helps to hold the top together. This recipe is great for me because I usually have the basic ingredients around the house and can fake the rest with whatever veggies we happen to have in the freezer. In a pinch you can also leave the milk out and add an extra egg.

Beer and Cheese Pairing: Round 1

Posted January 3, 2008 by Zach
Categories: Beer, Food, General

Tags: , ,

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I’ve heard that beer and cheese pairings could work better than cheese and wine. Figuring that New Year’s Eve was a good time to test this theory, I stopped by our local carry out on my way home from work to grab a few brews to match some cheese we had around the house. Here is a bonus pro tip; if your town only has one liquor store, it’s going to be crowded at 6 PM on New Year’s Eve. After an hour in line, I was ready to make my way home. Here is what we had to work with.

Beers: Goose Island 312, Stone IPA, He’Brew 11th Anniversary Brown

Wine: Semi Sweet Gewürztraminer from the Finger Lakes region of NY

Food: Apple, pear, fresh mozzarella marinated in olive oil, mild cheddar, sharp cheddar, pepper cheese curd, Havarti, and goat cheese

Mary and I didn’t follow any particular order or method to our testing. The delay at the Liquor store had left us both famished, so the initial tastings more resembled the actions of starving dogs rather than the efforts of civilized humans. Thankfully Mary’s scientific training kicked in and she took copious notes.

Top Match: He’Brew 11’th Anniversary Brown and Sharp Cheddar. The 4 year old cheddar and the hoppy, nutty brown ale worked wonderful together. The cheddar was served in a sandwich in combination with an unsalted pretzel and a thin slice of apple.

The IPA and the goat cheese also worked well together. Stone’s IPA is one of the milder beers of that style that I’ve encountered. The bitter flowery beer complimented the pungent Silver Goat brand cheese quite well.

Goose Island 312 American Wheat wasn’t bad with the Havarti or the fresh mozzarella, but a Belgium style wit might have done better. The 312 was very mild and tended to get dominated by all the cheeses that I had. It may have done better with a mozzarella that was not marinated in herbs and olive oil as even those flavors bowled the wheat over. A slice of apple with no cheese seemed to agree with this beer more than any of the other foods.

The pepper cheese curd was a bit too spicy for either beer, but the chilled Gewürztraminer provided an excellent complement. Once it warmed a touch, the Gewürztraminer also mixed very will with the olive and herb flavors in the marinated mozzarella.

In the future, I’ll not be so hungry before a tasting. We’ll also be sure to work out more of a system, starting with the milder cheeses and beers and working our way slowly towards the stronger fare. This experiment gives us a starting point for the future and hopefully we can come up with more combinations for the blog.

Pro Tip: Frank’s Buffalo Wing Sauce and Eggs

Posted December 29, 2007 by Zach
Categories: Food, General

Tags: ,

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First of all, I love ketchup and hot sause on my eggs. If you pick up a bottle of Frank’s Buffalo Wing sauce though, make sure to check for the shaker because the bottle I used had none. Imagine my surprise when one third of the bottle slopped out onto my steaming plate of scrambled eggs. Four paper towels later, we were able to reduce my plate of egg soup to an almost edible plate of egg stew.

Pro tip: check for a shaker before upending a bottle of hot sauce.