Saturday, April 23, 2011

My Own Contribution to the Food Revolution

I watched the premier of Jaime Oliver's Food Revolution -- did you see it?  There was a segment on his show that honestly made me sick.  It was all about hamburger and "pink slime".

Pink slime is the leftover bits of the cow that isn't even fit for hot dogs.  It used to be made into animal food but not any more.  Nope!  There's a wonderful process where the last bits of meat are extracted, washed with ammonia, and ground up.  It looks like hamburger but is considered a filler, and it's been approved by the FDA to be added to hamburger meat  for up to 15%!

Luckily we have a Kitchen Aid mixer and the grinder attachment (which I've never used...until today!), but before I started I found this article on how to grind your own meat -- don't you just love the Internet?  Then we bought some stew meat that was already cubed, popped it into the freezer with the grinder attachment for about a half hour, and then starting grinding.  Really quick and easy!

I cooked up a bit for everyone to sample and we all loved it.  I'm not sure how about the fat content but based on the grease left in the pan (which was none) and the taste of the meat I'd say it's equivalent to the extra lean meat you'd find in the store.  We started with 2.96 pounds of stew meat and ended up with 2.15 pounds of hamburger.  It's probably because my kitchen scale isn't accurate or maybe the store is, hmm...

It'll be fun to do some experimenting by adding spices to the meat, or even grinding chicken or pork.  Regardless, you won't see ground beef in my food cart again!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

It Ain't Easy Being Selfish

The time has come for me to really address my weight, and the sad truth is that I'm not getting any smaller.  Having battled weight gain all my life I am not looking forward to once again addressing my diet and exercise regime.  Truth is that I do have a pretty healthy diet so why is it that I continue to gain weight?  Is it my love of red wine?  My exercise regime (or lack thereof)?  Too much bread and pasta? 

Ironically I've discovered that I don't eat enough!  For the past week I've been tracking my meals using this really nifty website called Calorie Count.  For a few days I ate normally, and what I found was pretty interesting.  In addition to failing to meet my daily intake goals in protein, iron, and potassium I also found that (after cutting out my evening glass or two of wine) I wasn't hitting my required calorie count either.  

So why do I think I'm being selfish?  It's probably that age-old problem of women taking care of their family, and forgetting to take care of themselves.  I have to confess I feel a little guilty that I'm at home all day while Paul works so I figure the least I can do is offer him with a nice meal when he gets home, and I'm pretty sure it's the only square meal my son eats all day.  

Of course both my men are very supportive but I have to admit it's hard to spend most of my day researching and tracking what foods I should eat to meet my daily requirements, and feeding them the same food.  I'm sure as time goes by it will be easier to incorporate the foods I love as I get more familiar with my dietary needs so I'll be able to offer my family more interesting meals.

For the last week I've been trying to stick to my intake requirements (including cutting out my evening cocktail), and happily I'm starting to see some results.  I find I have a lot more energy (I used to take a catnap almost every day but haven't felt the need to for a few days!) and I've even lost a little weight.  Right now my exercise level is "sedentary" because of a mysterious foot injury that is healing very slowly.  Hopefully in a week or two I can start incorporating walking and bike rides into my daily routine.  

I'll be honest -- I wouldn't be able to do this program if I worked outside the home.  It's amazing how much of my day is spent thinking, planning, and tracking my meals.  My goal is to lose 60 pounds, and currently my goal date is August 3, 2012.  I'm hoping to change the goal date as my ability to exercise increases. 

I'll keep you posted!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Crossing Item Four From My List!

So Paul has made a couple batches of beer, and we decided it was time for me to cross Item #4 from my list:  Learn how to brew beer.

It was a windy day out, so I made sure to dress warmly.
  (Red always adds so much to an outfit don't you think?)

First step was to sanitize all the equipment, so I prepared an iodine bath,
 and soaked everything to be used that day.

Then the fun stuff begins.  After bringing 2 gallons of water to a boil the heat is
 turned off, and I added grains to seep for a bit.  Here's a good shot of 
Paul's 34 quart pot, and gas burner (with wind shield).  
It's set it on concrete blocks to avoid scorching our wooden deck.

Here I'm straining the grains after seeping.

And then a quick rinse, and we're ready for the next step!

Malt extract is added, and stirred until dissolved.  
And stirred some more.  
And stirred some more...

And stirred some more!  Looks like butterscotch (okay, maybe just to me). 
 Paul and I took turns stirring for about five minutes to make sure all the sugar
 was dissolved.  You don't want any sugars settling on the bottom where they'll
 burn and discolor the beer.  And now the mixture is called Wort!

The Wort is brought back to a boil before the next step.  Here I'm checking
 temperature to make sure it is at a boil (212F).

Hops are added to the mix.  Paul rigged up some old fireplace
screens with heavy plastic sheets for extra wind protection, 
and to keep curious dogs from getting burned.

Irish Moss is added after the Hops have boiled for 40 minutes, and 
then 15 minutes later a little more Hops.  Then it's ready for the cooling process.

This copper coil is really cool.  A garden hose is attached to one end.
  The water passes through the coil, and goes out another hose (you can see the
 stream of water in back of the fence).  We added a couple gallons of cold
 water to help cool the Wort more quickly.  It took a little less than 10 minutes
 to cool the Wort to 85F.

Then the beer is strained (to remove the Hops) into the plastic bucket, and water
is added to the 5 gallon mark.  The straining is really a two
person job, so we weren't able to get any pictures of that.  Some of the
 Wort is collected in this tube, and a tube with a weight on one
end is put in.  This measure the specific gravity, and this reading
 helps figure out the alcohol level of the beer.
My reading was 1.053 which is very good.

Liquid yeast is stirred into the Wort, and a lid with an airlock is secured on top.  Fermentation should start within 24 hours (you can see bubbling in the airlock), and when that stops it'll be moved to a carboy (the airlock again installed).  There are more steps to do 14 days after that which I'll post on a separate blog.