Makin’ Bacon!

Bacon in a Big Pot

This is silly but it might be my best cooking discovery during lockdown. I just found a new way to cook bacon. A way that is so good, so controlled. And there is absolutely no mess afterwards! No kidding. This is so simple I can’t believe it took me this long to figure it out. And if you already knew, don’t go sending me a message to make me feel any more stupid than I already do!

The secret? Use a big pot!

Offhand, I can’t think what the name of this type of pot is? Is it a stockpot? Anyway it’s the bloody big one that you’d pull out to cook a massive chili when you’ve got the whole family coming over.

Don’t get the bacon that is layered so the pack is flat. Get the big one, with thick-sliced bacon, not splayed out, so that it’s like a brick of meat in the vacuum pack. Heat up the pot up to a medium heat & toss the brick in, fat side down. You’ll want to give a little crispness to the outer edge of fat on each slice. Don’t overdo it or you’ll make the pot bottom sticky. After that, there will already be some rendered fat coating the bottom of the pot. Turn down the heat. Now you can start peeling off the slices & distributing them around the bottom of the pot. You don’t have to be careful here, any old way will do, doesn’t matter that they’re on top of each other. Come back periodically & give the whole mess a little stir to swap out the slices on the bottom. The slower pace of cooking will allow the fat to render clean & you’ll wind up almost deep frying the bacon at slow speed. Only one or two bits tried to stick to the pot & a quick scrape of the spatula took care of it. Remove the bacon slices when they get to where you like them. I prefer bacon a little rubbery myself, but many prefer it crispy. Your choice.

The lower temperature required for the slower pace of cooking gives you a lot of nice clear fat. Drain this off into a glass container & stick it in the fridge. That’s for cooking home fried potatoes later! Okay get the pasture raised bacon if you want to be really healthy.

This last step is really important to ensure the easiest, non-drain-clogging clean-up. Sautรฉe some onion & garlic in the residual fat at the bottom of the pot. Then deglase with a little stock. From here you can make whatever you like (I made a potato bacon curry, with cilantro for a green vegetable! ๐Ÿ˜œ) but now, all the fat is gone somewhere useful, & the pot is far, far easier to clean.

The big kicker is this … no fat splatter on the stove top & backsplash! None, not one spot. Thanks to the high sides on that big pot.

You’re welcome! ๐Ÿ˜œ๐Ÿ˜

Ten Things I Discovered in Lockdown

1. It seems that it wasn’t that I didn’t have the time to do all those backburner projects … I just didn’t want to do them.

2. Might be the same situation when it comes to getting some exercise.

3. I’m pretty sure that those people who tell me they’re loving retirement are lying.

4. Who knew doorknobs could be this clean!?!

5. And that some politicians could be such doorknobs.

6. You can turn anything from the freezer into an edible meal with pan frying … by adding a can of curry sauce at the end.

7. The internet is even more important than I thought … I never knew you could do this much, right from the couch.

8. I didn’t hoard toilet paper & it still hasn’t run out. Am I not doing it the right way!?! ๐Ÿ˜œ

9. Long charging cables, that reach the couch while in the supine position, are more prone to fail when you most need them.

10. Putting your stuff in the dishwasher still works … and it’s one of the best cures for social isolation!!!

11. My scale has artificial intelligence! The bloody thing knows when I eat chocolate chip banana bread.

12. You start forgetting little things … like how to count! ๐Ÿคช

How are you guys doing out there? What are you discovering during your shelter in place experience?

A big digital hug to everyone! ๐Ÿค—

Stay safe & stay home, all y’all & tout le monde.

Comfort Food

Comfort Food

Snow Window Open

Note to self … Close car window during winter!

Who doesn’t love comfort food?

We need it even more when winter drags on & on. I was looking at green grass for most of winter but now, suddenly, I’ve got snow mountains on the sidewalk. And we have a polar vortex that’s chillin’ things down for a day or two. What on earth is a polar vortex!?! Never mind, I don’t really want to know. Just bring on spring. Please!

I’ve segued from one cold or flu to another for the past month or six weeks. Now I have a sore throat that just won’t go away. Combine all that with some winter blues & I’m pretty close to forgetting all about diets & weight loss. Almost!

I don’t think I’ve ever been sick enough to not want to eat. I’m not sure if there’s any truth to the old saw about feeding a cold & starving a fever, but I was never motivated to starve myself in either circumstance. Quite the opposite.

Feeling as I do, it would have been easy to give up on the diet. I didn’t (well, not completely anyway), but I still needed comfort. Lots of comfort. Instead, I made a huge pot of silly-hot beef curry, adding all those ingredients that I thought might carry some natural curative properties. Chilli powder, turmeric-laden curry powder, tons of hot peppers, garlic, onion, cilantro. And, towards the end of cooking, three big thumb-sized pieces of fresh ginger. Adding a topping of melting Jarlsberg cheese to my big bowl of “medicine” gave great texture, along with a Vitamin K2 boost.

Cure a fever!?! This stuff is hot enough to give you a fever! Wonder if my strep throat bugs are the curry-resistant variety!!!

I also went into free-fall on fresh & frozen fruit, bananas, raspberries & blueberries. All accompanied by chocolate & cream. Sadly, it wasn’t always the dark chocolate.

Has it cured me? … Not at all.

Do I feel better? … You bet! Especially while I’m stuffing my face!

I’ll worry about what the scale feels next week! ๐Ÿ™‚

 

The Lazy Dieter

The Lazy Dieter

taco fries

Save Me From Myself!

You know how some skinny people stereotype us fat folk? We’re fat because we’re lazy, right? Now if I’m honest, I’d have to admit that I would rather lie than sit, and sit than stand. When it comes to getting anywhere, I’d probably drive around the block, rather than walk across the back yard. So are they right?

When I was younger, trimmer, and far fitter, I played sports. A lot. I liked soccer, handball, basketball, cycling, running and just about anything that got me out of the house. I didn’t suddenly wake up one day and decide to be lazy. Lazy came after I got fat!

Now there are some advantages to being lazy. A lazy person can get very creative when it comes to reducing workload. There’s an old industrial engineering saying about when you want to figure out the most efficient way to do anything, just give the job to the laziest person in the room! When it comes to dieting, there may be some advantages to laziness too.

While I love food, and I love the taste of food that I prepare at home, I not a big fan of the chores that surround cooking. I particularly despise cleanup. And it’s not easy to find willing volunteers to do the things I don’t like to do! There are two strategies that I use to help reduce the workload that surrounds the creation of my culinary masterpieces. The first thing I do is try to prepare the entire meal in a single pot or pan. The second thing is that I try to use the biggest pot I can find. I like having leftovers that save me cooking some future meals. Eating your own awesome fare, while not having to cook at all, is the best!

For the dieter, this carries another plus. Preparing a large batch of say, a curry or a chili, with good ingredients, allows us to have on hand, for immediate consumption, a healthy option that can win out over hitting the drive through. I guess the real reason I’m writing this post is to remind myself of this advantage! I’m feeling a little challenged at the moment and I need to curb my penchant for dashing out to the local eateries. I haven’t ordered pizza for delivery yet, so I guess I haven’t totally lost it! ๐Ÿ™‚

While you can’t beat a big old fashioned frying pan, I also have a number of small appliances that pander to this one-pot cooking strategy. I’m enjoying playing around with my new Instant Pot at the moment. We’ll maybe take a look at the pros and cons of some of these gadgets down the road.

Meantime, if you’ve already broken your new year dietary resolutions, give the one-pot or one-pan strategy a try.

Just try to limit your ingredients to whole and real foods. I’m desperately trying to follow this advice myself at the moment!

The Chicken or the Egg?

The Chicken or the Egg?

Stormy Weather

This is not about protein! It’s about the mental & emotional mood swings that sometimes happen during the course of our weight loss endeavours. Sometimes the diet is the downer. Other times it’s just the daily grind. Then there are those times where bad stuff is happening in our lives. Regardless of circumstances, it would be nice to think that we could have an eating strategy to help us through such times. A strategy that would help us hang in there ’til we reach calmer waters.

After a fantastic vacation, & despite trying to stay ahead of work during it, I was backlogged when I returned. Over a week later, I’m still backlogged. And I’ve got those projects that I really meant to finish before I left on vacation. But I didn’t! I developed a cold immediately after I returned & it still hasn’t quite gone away. A couple of challenging decisions have come along this past week, when I’m least ready for them, all adding to the burden. No wonder I was a bit down yesterday. The dark & stormy weather at the waterfront was the perfect accompaniment for my generally gloomy outlook.

So how is the diet holding up during this turmoil? Pretty good actually. Though I’m not in weight loss mode, I’m bouncing around at one or two pounds below my post vacation weight. I am eating a lot more than I typically might were I to be a little more focused on weight loss. And I’m eating some bad stuff along the way too.

To offset those bad impulses, I decided to make a big pot of comfort food. Something high volume, filling & very capable of giving comfort. It was a vaguely vegetarian curry. A cup of olive oil in the bottom of the pot to brown the garlic & onion. A heaping tablespoon of curry powder, along with salt & pepper, for seasoning. A litre of organic chicken broth for the fluid. To this I added three large potatoes, cubed small. These will help thicken the sauce, along with providing some much needed comfort! A full head of shredded cabbage adds some serious bulk to the pot. I do like a little meat flavour so this is where we depart to the vaguely vegetarian description. Three Octoberfest sausages, cut into quarter inch cubes, went in next. And finally, a cup, maybe a cup & a half, of whipping cream to enrich the sauce. A cup of basil leafs towards the end. Probably sounds awful but the sausage & cream overcome the veggie bias. And you can eat an awful lot without impacting the scale too much. For “normal” people, this might have made eight servings. For me, it’ll be gone in three, maybe four, sittings at most!

I wish I could say that was the worst I’d done through the past week but it wasn’t! Still, I’m surviving a little blue phase without totally destroying my program. Sometimes, just hanging in there for a little while longer is all that’s required.

The chicken & egg conundrum is based on my questioning if my mood is the result of eating poorly? Or if my downer triggered the poor eating spell? Perhaps it circular & both might be true?