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Jensen

eG Foodblog: Jensen - A Blog of Diminishing Returns

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For the next week, I invite you to join me for meals at my house...nothing quite so exotic as eating in SE Asia (not by a long shot!) but, based on some of the threads popping up lately (e.g., January Detox and New Years Resolution - Lose Weight), it might be of some interest.

As a quick introduction, I am Jen Jensen and I live in Sacramento. This is my second turn at blogging; the first blog is here. I won't go into too much personal detail, since it's all there and I'd just be repeating myself.

Back then, I wrote "In the coming week, I'll be eating at home, eating out, and (most exciting of all) eating at Tigh-na-Mara, a spa/resort on Vancouver Island in BC." Well, I definitely ate a lot! A few months later, I stepped on the bathroom scale and realised that, if I didn't do something, I was just going to keep putting on weight until I popped like that fellow in the Monty Python skit. And so I joined Weight Watchers. My primary goal was to relearn my better eating habits. I reckoned if I did that, then I would also lose weight.

So far, it's worked quite well. As of yesterday, I've lost exactly 27 pounds. And, thanks to eGullet for inspiration (and the Weight Watchers thread in particular), I've been able to eat some pretty damn good food while losing that weight!

And now...I'm off to make my breakfast!

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I'm so glad you're blogging, Jen! I'd missed your first blog and am reading it now.

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Unlike my first blogging experience, this one will include breakfast!

I've been eating porridge most mornings and, according to this thread, I'm not alone in my love of it. Interestingly enough, both the NY Times and the SF Chronicle had articles this week on porridge. And, as if that wasn't enough press coverage for the lowly dish, Saveur had a brief piece in the December issue (No. 80) on the Benevolent Knights of the Fraternal Brotherhood of Anglo-Afro-Italo-American Society of Porridge Aficionados (AKA Bonnie Raitt's band).

I like steel cut oats for my porridge and I also like it plain, with just salt. Here are the ingredients for today's brekkie:

gallery_11420_567_1105126311.jpg

I have two containers of oats there because, when I first started eating porridge this winter, I first bought the tin of McCann's. Then I saw the other brand at Trader Joe's for about half the price. So now I buy the cheaper one and use the McCann's tin to hold it. They taste the same ... :biggrin:

It took some doing but I also figured out how to make porridge exciting! (Well, for the purposes of the blog, at any rate.) I dug out my daughter's porridge bowl from when she was a baby and ate my porridge out of that this morning.

gallery_11420_567_1105126322.jpg

My sisters and I also had a Bunnykins porridge bowl when we were very small. We were always told to eat up our porridge so that we could see the picture on the bottom of the bowl. And it worked! (At least for me :laugh::laugh: ) I still remember waiting to see the "Tea for Two" picture on the bottom of that bowl. Kathleen's bowl is a new one (my eldest sister has the one we ate out of as kids), bought for her by my grandmother when Kitty was a baby.

And the picture in the bottom of the Bunnykins porringer, circa 1989?

gallery_11420_567_1105126268.jpg

The Bunnykins family watching TV!!! :blink::huh::blink::shock:

And, after finishing my breakfast, all that was left to do was to fill in my food journal:

gallery_11420_567_1105126287.jpg

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I've got a Bunnykins porringer from the same era (son now 14. also a grandma purchase)---I'm going to go home and check to see what the picture is. Bunnies watching TV? Seems like I'd have remembered that, but then again I was pretty sleep-deprived.

Congrats on 27 lbs. This is the first time I've ever actually seen a WW journal. A bit of a mystery until now.

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Yes, congrats on the 27 lbs. I've always gone up and down, (am up at the moment), and I know how hard it is to do, especially when you love food. I've had the best success with WW as well.

Thanks for the pics of the steel cut oats. I didn't know that Trader Joes had a version. I almost bought the McCann the other day, it's been ages since I've had it, but it was like $8 or something ridiculous for a small can. I do like it though, and it keeps you full for hours, so I may head to TJ's and pick some up soon.

Pam

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I like steel cut oats for my porridge and I also like it plain, with just salt.

Yes! Steel cut oats are delicious, and really don't need anything more than a touch of salt (not that this stops me from adding a bit of butter in the end).

That McCann's stuff is obscenely expensive, though. On a tip from JosephB, I now buy mine in bulk for around a buck a pound upstairs in the organic section of Fairway. You might try stopping by your local organic grocery to see if they sell it in bulk.

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It took some doing but I also figured out how to make porridge exciting! (Well, for the purposes of the blog, at any rate.) I dug out my daughter's porridge bowl from when she was a baby and ate my porridge out of that this morning.

gallery_11420_567_1105126322.jpg

whoa, i totally had one of those bowls. and a cup and saucer too. my mom only used them when we were sick. recently she gave them to me when they moved, and i haven't been able to figure out what to do with them.

i can't remember the picture on the bottom. i'll have to check.

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I've got a Bunnykins porringer from the same era (son now 14. also a grandma purchase)---I'm going to go home and check to see what the picture is. Bunnies watching TV? Seems like I'd have remembered that, but then again I was pretty sleep-deprived.

Congrats on 27 lbs. This is the first time I've ever actually seen a WW journal. A bit of a mystery until now.

Do other people call those bowls "porringers"? My grandmother and mum always called it that but still I wondered if it was a real word or not. Before I used it publicly, I did check it out. Apparently, it is a real word but porringers usually have a handle. The shape of the bowl appears to be similar to the Bunnykins one though so I feel at least somewhat justified in calling it that. :laugh:

As for the journal, when you go to meetings, you get a free little paper one every week. I like the coil-bound ones better though and so I fork over an extra four bucks every 12 weeks for one.

Yes, congrats on the 27 lbs. I've always gone up and down, (am up at the moment), and I know how hard it is to do, especially when you love food. I've had the best success with WW as well.

Thanks for the pics of the steel cut oats. I didn't know that Trader Joes had a version.

Yes, loving good food can definitely make it hard to lose weight. This is actually only the second time in my life I've ever tried to lose weight and I went into the whole thing thinking that I wanted to change how I was eating. I think having that as my primary goal has made the experience more successful.

The steel cut oats from TJ's are not a Trader Joe brand (yet! ha ha). The brand name is "Country Choice" and is right next to the McCann's on the shelf.

Yes!  Steel cut oats are delicious, and really don't need anything more than a touch of salt (not that this stops me from adding a bit of butter in the end).

That McCann's stuff is obscenely expensive, though.  On a tip from JosephB, I now buy mine in bulk for around a buck a pound upstairs in the organic section of Fairway.  You might try stopping by your local organic grocery to see if they sell it in bulk.

I did think that butter would be a very good addition to the porridge...that's exactly how I like to eat grits--with salt, pepper, and butter. Mmmmmm. The butter will likely have to wait until I'm onto my "maintenance phase" rather than in the "weight loss phase" though. I still use butter for some things but adding it to porridge would definitely be a luxury at this point.

Hmmmm. "Local organic grocery"... did you miss the part where I said I lived in Sacramento? :laugh::laugh:

Seriously, I'll take a look at the organic food section of my local Raley's next time I'm there. It's quite small but they do sell some good stuff. I've bought organic Giusto's flour (did I spell that right?) there and also nutritional yeast. So, they might have the steel cut oats too.

The Country Choice oatmeal costs $2.19 for 30 oz. I bought the McCann's tin at Cost Plus for around $5.00, I think. It's a slightly smaller amount--28 oz. So, let's see...Raley's would have to sell their bulk oatmeal for less than $1.16/pound to make it cheaper than the CC brand.

Oh, that brings to mind one other big change since my last blogging experience...I'm on a budget now. The Spouse changed jobs early in the fall and the pay structure is quite different. Eventually, I think we'll be at the same level we were before but, right now, I need to keep an eye on the spending. No more trips to the spa for a while!

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whoa, i totally had one of those bowls.  and a cup and saucer too.  my mom only used them when we were sick.  recently she gave them to me when they moved, and i haven't been able to figure out what to do with them.

i can't remember the picture on the bottom.  i'll have to check.

Wow! That makes at least three of us who had the Bunnykins porringers! Have you got a digital camera? Can you post a picture of the bottom of the bowl?

Wait...I just started a new topic for Bunnykins bowls.

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And on to lunch!

Even though the Spouse now works out of a home office, we don't usually eat lunch together. So, it was just me for lunch. I micro-nuked a couple of bao:

gallery_11420_567_1105135192.jpg

On the side is a little dish of sambal olek mixed with tamari sauce. These are leek bao. I love them but the others in the house prefer char sui bao. (I'll tell you a secret. That's why I bought the leek ones. If I'd bought char cui bao, they'd all be gone when I wanted to eat them! Shhhhh...)

To finish off, I ate an orange:

gallery_11420_567_1105135209.jpg

My friends, Marge and Bob, brought a bag of oranges back from their trip south over Christmas. Apparently, the bags were being sold by a mentally-challenged fellow and so they bought a couple from him. It's a mixed bag--some navel oranges and some tangerines. The navel oranges have got to be the best oranges I've had in years!

Too bad there's only one left now! I'll have to go back to the mandarin oranges I bought at the market...

Up next, I'm going to make some lemon cheese and also start getting ready for dinner. We're having quite a storm here so I thought something really hearty would be just the thing. After consulting my fridge door, I've decided to make beans for dinner.

What? No one else consults their fridge doors? :shock::shock:

Here's what I've been doing for the last couple of months. I have two magnetic whiteboard thingies on one of my fridges. On one of them, I write down what vegetables I have and in which fridge they are currently residing:

gallery_11420_567_1105126334.jpg

As you can see, I cross out the vegetables as they are used. That way, I always know what I've got and I can't forget about anything, only to have it sprout legs and crawl out of the fridge on its own one day.

That was quite successful for me so I started doing the same for meat in the freezer:

gallery_11420_567_1105126299.jpg

Usually, I have way more vegetables than that but, due to the holidays, I haven't been able to make it to the market lately. I've had to buy my vegetables <gasp> at the grocery store. (Believe me, I miss my market produce!)

Saturday morning is market day here but I'll miss it tomorrow as well because I'll be going to book club instead. The book club I belong to meets on the morning of the second Saturday of every month for a breakfast meeting. Tomorrow, the meeting is at Katy's house...I'll take my camera.

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Hmmmm. "Local organic grocery"... did you miss the part where I said I lived in Sacramento?  :laugh:  :laugh:

Don't you know the Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op? It's not the best one I've been to, but they do have a large bulk section. 1900 Alhambra.

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Very nice to see you blogging again Jen. To encourage you on your WW journey, I lost 70 lbs on WW about 7 years ago and have been lifetime since then. I've slipped a bit over the holidays, so maybe your blog will encourage me to get back on track.

Ryan had a bunnykins bowl and a mug and a plate when he was little but until I figure out where I packed them, I couldn't tell you what was on the bottom!

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I was in Sacramento recently and thought of you and PamelaF. Good to see you blogging again. California represent! hehe

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Hi Jen, great to see you blogging again and congratulations on the 27 lbs! Hope you'll include up to date info on the dogs, with pics -- of them eating of course!

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Congrats on your progress Jensen, I look forward to learning about and seeing more WW as this progresses.

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Don't you know the Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op?  It's not the best one I've been to, but they do have a large bulk section.  1900 Alhambra.

I've been there once and thought it was really expensive. It's tough for me to get there on my own (I don't drive) and, if Wayde drives me, the parking is very difficult (we have a truck).

Very nice to see you blogging again Jen.  To encourage you on your WW journey, I lost 70 lbs on WW about 7 years ago and have been lifetime since then.  I've slipped a bit over the holidays, so maybe your blog will encourage me to get back on track.

Gee, couldn't have been all that Southern food, could it have been? :laugh::biggrin:

That was an amazing blog!

Hope you'll include up to date info on the dogs, with pics -- of them eating of course!

I've entered Rogie in a fun match on Sunday so he will be part of the lunch party. I'm sure he'd be happy to pose for a shot of him sharing my food.

Back to today's food...

Here's a peek at this year's lemon crop:

gallery_11420_567_1105142545.jpg

I picked a few for the lemon cheese:

gallery_11420_567_1105142493.jpg

This is the recipe I use:

gallery_11420_567_1105142473.jpg

Last year, the racing club in Texas put together a cookbook as a fundraiser for the big national race meet. They wanted recipes of foods that had made an appearance at a race meet and so I sent in my lemon cheese recipe. I made it, along with scones and Scotch eggs, for our January race meet last year (it fell on Robbie Burns' Day).

I've got everything ready for cooking:

gallery_11420_567_1105142448.jpg

Once it's in the pot, you have to stand there and stir and stir and stir until it's all done.

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I had run a few jars through the dishwasher last night in anticipation of making lemon cheese today. The lids still had an odour of their last inhabitants (kim chee in one and curry sauce in the other) so I put plastic wrap over the jars before putting the lid on.

gallery_11420_567_1105142460.jpg

They're all in the fridge now, chilling.

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Before attacking the lemon cheese, I started on tonight's dinner.

I have some cranberry beans from the market in the cupboard but, since neither Wayde nor Kathleen like beans all that much, I decided to use navy beans instead. They're a little more approachable for the two non-bean lovers.

First, I weigh out my beans:

gallery_11420_567_1105142409.jpg

Usually, I use 250g of beans but there seemed to be only a few left in the bag after that so I just added them all in. They weighed 350g in total.

I put the beans in a pot with a bunch of water, bring it to a boil, and then turn the heat off and let them soak.

While they were soaking, I made the lemon cheese and then came back to them once it was done.

I sweated some onions and garlic in a little bit of olive oil:

gallery_11420_567_1105142506.jpg

You can see my seasonings in the little custard cup to the left. I like using Herbes de Provence and a little bit extra thyme.

The onions, herbs, and beans were all mixed together and then added to the ham shanks in a casserole dish:

gallery_11420_567_1105142422.jpg

I poured in chicken broth until I could just see it around the beans and then covered it up.

It's now in the oven, where it will stay for the next several hours.

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I wish you all could have smelled the beans while they were cooking. Mmmmm :wub::wub::wub:

Here's the dish, just out of the oven:

gallery_11420_567_1105151467.jpg

And what we sat down to:

gallery_11420_567_1105151480.jpg

It was really steaming so it looks a little "foggy" in the picture.

For the WWers among us, I had two cups of beans (yes, I went back for seconds...8 pts) and about 2 oz. of ham (3 pts) for a total of 11 pts. I had 14 points for dinner so I've still got 3 points left.

Bob and Marge are coming over in a wee bit and I'll be drinking those points in the form of wine! :raz:

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It took me a few moments of staring at your lemon cheese photos, searching desperately for cottage cheese or some other cheese, to realize that lemon cheese is lemon curd and there is no cheese. I had a jar of TJ's lemon curd in my hand yesterday and now I wish I had bought it to try! I like the Dundee's orange marmalade at TJ's and it seems like lemon curd would have the similar characteristics of being tart and not so sweet. I'm really trying to imagine how eggs work with that.

I remember your last blog quite well partly due to your daughter's given moniker. :laugh:

Has she wisely continued to eat her oatmeal or has she fallen astray?

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It took me a few moments of staring at your lemon cheese photos, searching desperately for cottage cheese or some other cheese, to realize that lemon cheese is lemon curd and there is no cheese.

Oh, Ed. You've outed me.

I carry low-class Cockney blood and we have always called it lemon cheese. <Shhhh>Only the posh folk call it lemon curd.</Shhhh>

:raz:

Seriously, what can I say? I grew up on an island that, until my generation, was fairly isolated. That meant that all things were referenced to whatever the "founding" families called them. My great-grandmother was an honest-to-God (or is that honest-to-whatever-saint's-bells-were-important) Cockney.

We called it lemon cheese.

When I was much younger, I undertook a project to copy down all the old family recipes that I liked. One of them was for "Apple Cheesecake". I'd never actually had it but the recipe looked interesting. And, bloody hell, but when I made it, it was bloody good!

This recipe belonged to the above-mentioned great-granny; she died at over 100 years of age when I was around five or six.

Gad, I just went hunting and found the recipe. Here it is....

Apple Cheesecakes

Peel, core, and slice 1/2 lb. apples. Cook in a little water until soft enough to crush. Add 2 oz. butter and 2 oz. castor sugar. Stir one way until butter is melted. Pour into a basin. Add grated rind and juice of one lemon and 2 well-beaten eggs. Stir. Put in pastry. Cook 15-20 minutes in hot oven.

It doesn't look like much, does it? I do recall that a friend made some cracks about the "stir one way" direction. Her comment was "What? So the apples don't get dizzy?"

When I undertook this project, my plan was to test all the recipes and adjust them to my own taste. (I know, I know...it sounds like a good excuse to make a lot of treats!). My notes at the bottom of this recipe are:

1/4 cup butter

1/2 cup icing sugar (that would be powdered sugar for you Yanks)

Well after testing this recipe, I discovered that I could use berry sugar for the castor sugar.

As an aside, I have the cast iron griddle (or planc) of Great-Granny sitting in my cupboard!


Edited by Jensen (log)

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I remember your last blog quite well partly due to your daughter's given moniker.  :laugh:

Has she wisely continued to eat her oatmeal or has she fallen astray?

I forgot to say but, yes, the Spawn consumes that abomination that is "instant flavoured oatmeal" every morning.

I guess I should count my blessings that she's not eating something like Cap'n Crunch!

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Don't you know the Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op?  It's not the best one I've been to, but they do have a large bulk section.  1900 Alhambra.

I've been there once and thought it was really expensive. It's tough for me to get there on my own (I don't drive) and, if Wayde drives me, the parking is very difficult (we have a truck).

You're right, the parking situation is abysmal. (Oddly enough, I'm also a non-driving Sacramentan--but my partner drives a little Geo.) I'm going there sometime this weekend, and I'll check on the oats prices anyway. I only ever buy from their bulk section, except for the occasional bottle of 100% juice--I'm sure their produce is really expensive, especially compared to Farmers' Market prices.

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By the way, do you know a local source for kitchen stuff? I haven't lived here long, and haven't been able to find one yet.


Edited by Gretch (log)

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By the way, do you know a local source for kitchen stuff?  I haven't lived here long, and haven't been able to find one yet.

There's a kitchen shop in Lodi... :laugh:

Seriously, the only shop I know of is a restaurant supply store in the same complex as Shun Fat, the Asian market at 65th and Stockton. There might be something out towards Folsom or Eldorado Hills. Have you looked out that way?

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Okay, I'm home from book club!

Katy had done a lot of baking for today's meeting...puff pastry with apricots and cheese and scones. I had taken her a jar of my lemon cheese, only to learn that she had quarts of the stuff herself. So we had a "lemon cheese taste-off".

gallery_11420_567_1105215191.jpg

I split my scone in half and put hers on one half and mine on the other half. I thought mine tasted a little more lemony and they also had different consistencies. Mine was firmer while hers was more syrupy. During the course of discussion, I learned that her recipe used icing sugar and only egg yolks. (Mine uses granulated sugar and whole eggs.)

She refilled my jar with some of her lemon cheese and sent it home with me :laugh:

Oh, Gretch...I asked my native Sacramentan friend, Marge, about kitchen shops. She reminded me of William Glen. It's in the Town and Country shopping centre. (I think that's at Fulton and Marconi but, being a non-driver, I'm not entirely sure.)

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      Recently, there was a thread about stir frying over charcoal, which immediately brought to mind memories of eating in Bangkok in July 2013.  At that time, I hadn't gotten into the habit of writing food blogs, and considering that I had some spare time this weekend (a rarity) I figured I would put some of those memories down on paper, so to speak.  Back then, neither my wife nor I were in the habit of taking tons of photos like we do nowadays, but I think I can cobble something together that would be interesting to folks reading it.
       
      In the spirit of memories, I'll first go back to 2006 when my wife and I took our honeymoon to Thailand (Krabi, Bangkok and Chiang Mai), Singapore and Hanoi.  That was our first time to Asia, and to be honest, I was a little nervous about it.  I was worried the language barrier would be too difficult to transcend, or that we'd have no idea where we were going.  So, to help mitigate my slight anxiety, I decided to book some guides for a few of the locations.  Our guides were great, but we realized that they really aren't necessary, and nowadays with internet access so much more prevalent, even less necessary.
       
      Prior to the trip, when emailing with our guide in Bangkok to finalize plans, I mentioned that we wanted to be continuously eating (local food, I thought was implied!)  When we got there, I realized the misunderstanding when she opened her trunk to show us many bags of chips and other snack foods.. whoops...  Anyway, once the misconception was cleared up, she took us to a noodle soup vendor:


      On the right is our guide, Tong, who is now a very famous and highly sought after guide in BKK.... at the time, we were among here first customers.  I had a chicken broth based noodle soup with fish ball, fish cake and pork meatball, and my wife had yen ta fo, which is odd because it is bright pink with seafood.  I have a lime juice, and my wife had a longan juice.
       
      This is what a lot of local food places look like:

       
       
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