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eG Foodblog: Jensen - A Blog of Diminishing Returns


Jensen
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Lunch for me was just leftovers:

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The Spawn made herself a grilled sandwich in the electric grill. Well, she made two. The first one was cheese and she didn't leave it in long enough to do more than just warm it up a bit.

The second one involved a Dr. Praeger's Tex-Mex veggie burger and this one was left in long enough:

gallery_11420_577_1105218919.jpg

Thanks to eGullet, I was able to appear to be much more knowledgable than I actually am at book club this morning. In the Kosher Cassoulet thread, Swiss Kaese mentioned that leg of lamb is not kosher because the sciatic nerve cannot be removed. Our book last month was "The Red Tent" and someone brought up the passage from the bible in which Jacob wrestles with god and injured his hip. I was able to say (quite nonchalantly), "Oh, that would be why the sciatic nerve must be removed in kosher meats."

Thank you, eGullet! :laugh:

And speaking of lamb, I've taken half a leg out of the freezer for tonight's dinner. What do you all think I should do with it?

The first half of it was braised (I know, not the best cut for it but it was still very good) with fresh onions in white wine and tarragon. I've thought about perhaps trying to make something Moroccan so that I can use my preserved lemons.

Alternatively, I thought about making thisEpicurious recipe, substituting lamb for the beef.

Or, I could just roast it.

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[...]Thanks to eGullet, I was able to appear to be much more knowledgable than I actually am at book club this morning. In the Kosher Cassoulet thread, Swiss Kaese mentioned that leg of lamb is not kosher because the sciatic nerve cannot be removed. Our book last month was "The Red Tent" and someone brought up the passage from the bible in which Jacob wrestles with god and injured his hip. I was able to say (quite nonchalantly), "Oh, that would be why the sciatic nerve must be removed in kosher meats."[...]

I've read Genesis several times and yet never took note of the relevant passage that proves your observation correct:

New American Bible; Genesis 32

Genesis 32: 25-26:

Then some man wrestled with him until the break of dawn.

When the man saw that he could not prevail over him, he struck Jacob's hip at its socket, so that the hip socket was wrenched as they wrestled.

Genesis 32: 32-33:

At sunrise, as he left Penuel, Jacob limped along because of his hip.

That is why, to this day, the Israelites do not eat the sciatic muscle that is on the hip socket, inasmuch as Jacob's hip socket was struck at the sciatic muscle.

Thanks for teaching me something about my religion. :smile:

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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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?

There is William Glen, in the shopping center on the corner of Marconi and Fulton. Same shopping center has a Trader Joes.

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Ooooh, those beans look good! Do you have a recipe you follow, or just sort of wing it?

My friend who lives in Carmichael calls that Trader Joe's (at Marconi & Fulton) the Mean TJ's because all the customers are really mean! They shove their carts in front of you, shove you out of the way, reach in front of you, etc. I'm surprised there aren't brawls over the last bottle of two-buck chuck! :laugh:

"I just hate health food"--Julia Child

Jennifer Garner

buttercream pastries

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I'm so happy to see your blog, Jen, and congratulations on the 27 lbs! As you know, I'm a WWer too (- 60 and stuck) and I've never seen a paper journal before, since I only do it online. Of course, instead of thinking about how yummy those pictures are, I'm thinking "how the heck does she figure the points for that???". So, would you sometimes count for us, so we can get a sense of how you're managing to eat that stuff and still lose weight?

I wanna Bunnykins bowl!

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Thanks to eGullet, I was able to appear to be much more knowledgable than I actually am at book club this morning. In the Kosher Cassoulet thread, Swiss Kaese mentioned that leg of lamb is not kosher because the sciatic nerve cannot be removed. Our book last month was "The Red Tent" and someone brought up the passage from the bible in which Jacob wrestles with god and injured his hip. I was able to say (quite nonchalantly), "Oh, that would be why the sciatic nerve must be removed in kosher meats."

Thank you, eGullet!  :laugh:

:laugh::laugh:

That's way too funny. Maybe you should tell us what the next book is so we can figure out all the relevant food facts.

Edited by bloviatrix (log)

"Some people see a sheet of seaweed and want to be wrapped in it. I want to see it around a piece of fish."-- William Grimes

"People are bastard-coated bastards, with bastard filling." - Dr. Cox on Scrubs

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At sunrise, as he left Penuel, Jacob limped along because of his hip.

That is why, to this day, the Israelites do not eat the sciatic muscle that is on the hip socket, inasmuch as Jacob's hip socket was struck at the sciatic muscle.

Thanks for teaching me something about my religion. :smile:

Just another eGullet service, I think... :biggrin:

Ooooh, those beans look good! Do you have a recipe you follow, or just sort of wing it?

I just wing it with the beans. This is how I used to make it (pre-Weight Watchers):

clickie

One thing I didn't do last night but will often do if I have fresh Roma tomatoes is roast them in the oven and then stir them into the beans. It adds a nice depth of flavour to them.

My friend who lives in Carmichael calls that Trader Joe's (at Marconi & Fulton) the Mean TJ's because all the customers are really mean! They shove their carts in front of you, shove you out of the way, reach in front of you, etc. I'm surprised there aren't brawls over the last bottle of two-buck chuck!  :laugh:

:laugh::laugh::laugh: That is too funny!

I've only ever been in that TJ's once. I'm in Fair Oaks and the shoppers at the one on Sunrise are quite pleasant. (Well, except for me maybe...)

Of course, instead of thinking about how yummy those pictures are, I'm thinking "how the heck does she figure the points for that???".  So, would you sometimes count for us, so we can get a sense of how you're managing to eat that stuff and still lose weight?

I'd be happy to! I didn't want to overwhelm the non-WW crowd with esoterica like that but, what the hell! :biggrin:

For breakfast, I ate far more points than I normally would have. Thank god for flex points! I counted the lemon cheese as jam and, as I only had about a tablespoon, that was one point. The scone was 3 points. Two puff pastry thingies were 8 points. I also ate 1/2 an apple for 0 points. So breakfast, usually a three or four point meal for me, was 12 points...over half of my daily allowance!

I don't expect that to be a problem though. I'll just dip into my flex points. (I used up 10 of them last night on a bottle of wine...me'n'Therese know how to spend our flex points wisely--on booze!)

For the leftover beans, there was one cup of beans and only a sliver or two of ham. The beans were 4 points so I counted 5 points, for any fat that the ham shank would have contributed.

So, I've got 5 points left before I have to hit the flex point page. I think I'll make it worthwhile...

Since my attempt at interactive blogging didn't succeed too well ( :sad: ), I made up my own mind about how to cook the lamb.

It was "unrolled" because I'd hacked it in half already so I cut some slots on the inside of the roast and inserted slivers of garlic. Then I sprinkled it with tarragon and freshly ground pepper and then rolled it up and tied it. So, all the seasonings are on the inside.

It's currently roasting in the oven on a bed of chopped onions. Our storm continues so I thought an entire meal of roasted things would make me feel good. So, I melted a tablespoon of beef fat and coated some peeled and quartered potatoes with it. They're also in the oven roasting.

When I take the lamb out to make a sauce, I'll pop the green in the oven...roasted green beans. I've never done them before so I hope they turn out!

I'll post all the pictures once dinner is finished.

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Dinner is done and it was pretty good.

Here's what I ended up putting in the oven:

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I rethought my plans to have sauce, since it would really just add points to the meal and I probably should be a little circumspect with points after that book club breakfast.

So, when I took the lamb out of the oven to rest, I transferred the potatoes to the roasting pan and put them back in the oven. Even though they were only in the oven that way for ten minutes or so, they picked up the flavour of the onions. Yum!

I wish I could take credit for the idea but it was Wayde who suggested it. :laugh:

The meal on the counter...

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and on the plate...

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I cooked the lamb a little bit more than I like but not quite as much as Wayde would like. It was a compromise situation.

I wish I'd put the beans in the oven earlier as they could have used a little bit more cooking. Even still, they were wonderful. Even the Spawn ate hers!

And now I need to calculate the points!

The beans are 0 but I spritzed them with some olive oil. It wasn't too much (less than a teaspoon, I'd guess) but I'll count them as 1 point, just in case.

The potatoes themselves were worth 9 points but the tablespoon of beef fat added 3 points to the pot. So, one serving was 4 points.

And, 3 oz. of lamb (regular, not lean) is 6 points.

I guess I did not too badly. I went over my daily allotment by only 6 points and I am absolutely stuffed!

And I still have 20 flex points for the rest of the week. Oh, btw, I weigh in on Thursday so we'll see if I'm able to blog and lose weight at the same time :laugh::biggrin:

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Thanks for the referrals to the William Glen, everyone... I think we go to a different Trader Joe's--the one next to the wonderful Italian Importing Mercato.

Jensen, the steel-cut oats at the Sac Natural Foods Co-op were 75 cents a pound. Great price, but probably not worth the incovenient trip...

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Thanks for the referrals to the William Glen, everyone... I think we go to a different Trader Joe's--the one next to the wonderful Italian Importing Mercato.

Jensen, the steel-cut oats at the Sac Natural Foods Co-op were 75 cents a pound.  Great price, but probably not worth the incovenient trip...

I love that Italian shop! Apparently, their meatball sandwich is to die for.

Once the weather is nicer, I'll have to see about stopping at the co-op. We are sometimes out that way on the bike and it's a lot easier to find parking for a VTX than it is for a Ford one ton!

Today's plans were initially to include attending a fun match with Rogie. With all the weather systems coming in and the warnings about flooding in the Delta (which we'd have to drive through to get to the match), we decided to gun the match.

So, that meant I could go to the farmer's market downtown! Yippee!

I got there a little later than I normally would have so I wasn't able to find any cauliflower that I liked. I didn't buy too much as I have quite a bit of produce in the fridges already. I also forgot to take the camera (bad Jen!).

Here's what I got today:

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Starting at 9:00, there's broccoli, green cabbage (couldn't find any savoy, which I prefer), leeks, sorrel, leaf lettuce, acorn squash, Crimini mushrooms (in the bag), and, out front, a small piece of Old World Portuguese cheese from Spring Hill Dairy in Petaluma.

I like to buy something new to try at the market and today it was the sorrel. I have no idea what I'll do with it but it will be fun looking! The sign specified that it was "French sorrel". Does that mean anything special?

On this thread, Pan posted a link to a diet quiz that identifies what type of eater you are.

It said I was a "meal skipper" and, sure enough, I haven't eaten yet today! So, I'm off to get a little something in me before I start foraging through the fridges! :laugh:

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Lunch was a few slices of turkey and some cottage cheese. I got the camera out and then looked at the plate again. "That looks way too much like diet food. I'm not taking a picture of that!"

:laugh:

Wayde had mentioned this morning that he thought our portion sizes were creeping up so I took the time to weigh the turkey (3 oz.) and measure the cottage cheese (1/2 cup). Those two items were 5 points (3 for the turkey and 2 for the cottage cheese).

So what exactly are these "points" that I keep talking about? Well, for those of you not familiar with Weight Watchers, they've assigned point values to all the food. The values are calculated based on caloric content, fat content, and dietary fiber. Depending on your weight, you are "allowed" a certain number of points per day. This goes down in 25 pound increments. When I started, I could have 24 points per day. Now I can have 22 and, very soon, that will drop to 20 points. You never drop below 20 points and the idea is to eat ALL of your daily points.

In addition to your daily points, you have 35 weekly points, called "flex points". Generally, I use my flex points for things that I consider "treats". So, if I want avocado on a sandwich or something like that, I'll count the avocado points as flex points and count the rest of the meal as regular daily points.

You can also earn "Activity Points". These are extra points for exercise and are calculated based on your weight, the exercise intensity, and the exercise duration.

There are a couple of different ways of figuring out your points. When you first join, you are given a small handbook with the points values of common foods in it. I purchased their "Complete Food Guide" which also contains specific values for brand name foods. I don't think I've ever used that section of it though since I don't seem to buy the big brand stuff!

Along with the handbook, you are given a little sliderule thingie called a "Points Finder".

To calculate points using the Points Finder, you start by looking at the nutritional information on the side of the food package. Here's the data from the cottage cheese I had:

gallery_11420_584_1105308950.jpg

Then, you use the Points Finder by lining up the fiber content and the caloric content:

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With those two values lined up, you then find the fat content on the right. The points for that food will be in the window to the right of it.

So, my cottage cheese had no fiber and 100 calories. With the 0 and the 100 lined up, I then check against the fat content...2.5g. And, I see that there were 2 points in the serving that I had.

Simple, eh?

And, in case one feels that losing weight isn't its own reward, Weight Watchers does have some "incentives" to mark your weight loss.

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When you lose 5 pounds, you get a "I lost 5 pounds!" bookmark. For every five pounds you lose after that, you get a gold star with a "5" on it. :laugh::laugh::laugh:

When you've lost 25 pounds, you get the fridge magnet. Woo-hoo!

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Dinner is almost ready. Tonight I used the "carne asada" in the freezer to make my spin on braciole.

The meat for carne asada is already sliced so less work there. On top of the beef, I put 1/2 oz. of the Old World Portuguese cheese and one slice of serrano ham. Because Wayde had made the comment about our serving sizes, I weighed everything before assembly.

In each roll, the beef was 4 points, the cheese was 0.5 points (which I am counting as one, just in case), and the serrano ham was 1 point. On top of that, I poured half a bottle of Trader Joe's roasted red pepper pasta sauce. That added 3 points to the pot.

So, each serving will be 2 rolls and sauce and the pointage will be 13 points.

Here it is, ready for the oven:

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I'll serve it with steamed broccoli (0 points):

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and pasta. Pasta and cheese are both things that always weigh. For me, they're items that I tend to get a little heavy-handed with so weighing them keeps me on the straight and narrow.

For three of us, the pasta should weigh 168g.

gallery_11420_584_1105321654.jpg

I was really surprised the first time I weighed it out to cook it. It actually makes a fair bit more than what I had thought it would.

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Jen, thanks for better explaing the points thing.  So, do you weigh the portions for you, Squid and husband?  Or just yourself?

For dinner, I tend to weigh the ingredients individually and then divide by the number of servings made. I think my points calculations tend to err on the "plus" side though. For example, all meat points values in the guide book are given as cooked weights. There's no way I could weigh just the beef in tonight's dinner so I weighed it raw and used that weight to look up the points.

Both the Spouse and the Spawn tracked points for a while, back when I first started. They haven't kept it up though. Despite that, the Spouse has lost around 35 lbs and the Spawn has lost 30 lbs. I'm pretty sure that the Spawn is well within her correct weight range for her height now. She's very tall (5'9" or so) and never really looked like she had 30 pounds to lose but, now that it's gone, she's absolutely gorgeous.

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Lunch was a few slices of turkey and some cottage cheese. I got the camera out and then looked at the plate again. "That looks way too much like diet food. I'm not taking a picture of that!"

that's exactly what I like about this blog: that your food does not look like diet food at all!

I knew absolutely nothing about the WW system so thanks for enlightening me. it looks like you are eating very well!

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I used to only make soup with sorrel, but this summer I discovered that sorrel leaves make fabulous wraps. For a simple example, just wrap your sliced turkey up in a sorrel leaf. And then, of course, the sky's the limit. I was wrapping all kinds of leftovers with the sorrel I got from my CSA this summer. It's got a lovely, lemony tang that enhances many foods.

That's wonderful that your whole family has lost so much weight with you!

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that's exactly what I like about this blog: that your food does not look like diet food at all!

I think that's one reason why I have been successful at it...this is food that I like to cook and I like to eat.

I've found that my tastebuds have adjusted to the new way of eating and, because of that, I have a deeper appreciation for some foods. For example, I used to have a really heavy hand with cheese in cooking (which is why I still weigh it) and the first time I used some after not eating it for a while, I dutifully weighed out one ounce to be shared between all three of us. When I tasted it...ohmigod! It was incredible! Creamy, cheesy, rich, pretty much everything that used to require gobs and gobs of cheese to taste. And all from only 1/3 of an ounce!

I guess there really is something to that "moderation in all things" saying... :laugh:

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I used to only make soup with sorrel, but this summer I discovered that sorrel leaves make fabulous wraps.  For a simple example, just wrap your sliced turkey up in a sorrel leaf.  And then, of course, the sky's the limit.  I was wrapping all kinds of leftovers with the sorrel I got from my CSA this summer.  It's got a lovely, lemony tang that enhances many foods. 

Abra, do you think it would make an interesting pasta filling? I am going to make ravioli this week and plan on making more than just one meal's worth. I've got some arugula for one of the fillings but, when I saw the sorrel, I thought maybe it would mix well with that and some ricotta cheese.

The other filling will be Kuri squash...

And the reason why I'm making more than one meal's worth is that I plan on sending a birthday dinner to one of my best friends. If she lived here, I'd have her over for dinner but she lives in Connecticut so I plan on freezing the ravioli and overnighting it to her.

Just as an aside, the Spawn and I visited her for a week this past summer. She doesn't cook a lot and so whenever I stay with her, I cook for all of us. She lost five pounds while we were there. :biggrin:

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Breakfast this morning was porridge again. No picture this time as we only have the one Bunnykins bowl.

However, I did take a picture of my mushrooms. I'm growing oyster mushrooms in my laundry room:

gallery_11420_590_1105385198.jpg

One of the mushroom vendors at the farmer's market sells these "logs" that have been inoculated with oyster mushroom spores. The "log" is really some sort of wood shavings or maybe hay packed tightly into a plastic bag. The bag has small slits cut into it, through which the inoculations are placed. Then, there is a larger plastic bag over the whole thing.

You start your crop by cutting several 8" slashes in the outer bag. Every day, I reach in through those slashes and spritz the inner bag with water.

Interestingly enough, it requires partial sunlight, not darkness. The window in my laundry room door never gets direct sunlight so we thought that would be the perfect spot for it.

I've been tending the crop ever since Christmas and, as you can see, the white spots are starting to grow. If you get really close to some of them, you can see the little mushrooms starting to form.

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jen,

your blog is very inspirational. plus you make totally british looking roasties (like my bf's mom...who's also in sacrametho!) it's so helpful to see photos of portion sizes etc. congratulations on all of your success so far, and on keeping food fun and interesting. i think it's so cool that you see the challenge of making healthy, delicious food as a positive one rather than as a series of restrictions.

i would definitely drink all my flex points :blink:

from overheard in new york:

Kid #1: Paper beats rock. BAM! Your rock is blowed up!

Kid #2: "Bam" doesn't blow up, "bam" makes it spicy. Now I got a SPICY ROCK! You can't defeat that!

--6 Train

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i think it's so cool that you see the challenge of making healthy, delicious food as a positive one rather than as a series of restrictions.

i would definitely drink all my flex points  :blink:

I think a lot of that comes from my initial thoughts when I decided to do something about losing weight (after having the Monty Python image of me exploding from eating a wafer, of course). My immediate thought was not "I have to lose weight." It was 'I have to change the way I'm eating."

(I guess it also helps that I don't have much of a sweet tooth.)

And I have been known to refer to my flex points as "alcohol points". :raz:

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Lunch today was leftovers from a couple of weeks ago. About four weeks ago, I had made Moroccan Braised Beef from Epicurious (sans sultanas though). Even though I cut the recipe down, there were two servings left over. Neither Wayde nor Kathleen particularly liked the dish (too spicy for them) so I froze the remainder.

One of those was defrosted and then warmed up for lunch today. Served over plain couscous:

gallery_11420_590_1105394778.jpg

Couscous is listed in the WW book as being 3 points for 1/4 cup dry so that's how much I made. It was just the right amount.

The stew was 6 points.

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I think the sorrel with ricotta would make a great filling for ravioli.

And the Moroccan Braised Beef sounds great. I may have to cut back on the spice level for my kids based on your family's experience, though.

Can you pee in the ocean?

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    • By liuzhou
      Last week, Liuzhou government invited a number of diplomats from Laos, Malaysia, Indonesia, Myanmar/Burma, Poland, and Germany to visit the city and prefecture. They also invited me along. We spent Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday introducing the diplomats to the culture of the local ethnic groups and especially to their food culture.
       
      First off, we headed two hours north into the mountains of Rongshui Miao Autonomous County. The Miao people (苗族 miáo zú), who include the the Hmong, live in the mid-levels of mountains and are predominantly subsistence farmers. Our first port of call was the county town, also Rongshui (融水 róng shuǐ, literal meaning: Melt Water) where we were to have lunch. But before lunch we had to go meet some people and see their local crafts. These are people I know well from my frequent work trips to the area, but for the diplomats, it was all new.
       
      So, I had to wait for lunch, and I see no reason why you shouldn't either. Here are some of the people I live and work with.


       
      This lovely young woman is wearing the traditional costume of an unmarried girl. Many young women, including her, wear this every day, but most only on festive occasions.
       
      Her hat is made from silver (and is very heavy). Here is a closer look.
       

       
      Married women dispense with those gladrags and go for this look:
       

       
      As you can see she is weaving bamboo into a lantern cover.
       
      The men tend to go for this look, although I'm not sure that the Bluetooth earpiece for his cellphone is strictly traditional.
       

       
      The children don't get spared either
       

       
      This little girl is posing with the Malaysian Consul-General.
       
      After meeting these people we went on to visit a 芦笙 (lú shēng) workshop. The lusheng is a reed wind instrument and an important element in the Miao, Dong and Yao peoples' cultures.
       

       

       
      Then at last we headed to the restaurant, but as is their custom, in homes and restaurants, guests are barred from entering until they go through the ritual of the welcoming cup of home-brewed rice wine.
       


      The consular staff from Myanmar/Burma and Malaysia "unlock" the door.
       
      Then you have the ritual hand washing part.
       

       
      Having attended to your personal hygiene, but before  entering the dining room, there is one more ritual to go through. You arrive here and sit around this fire and wok full of some mysterious liquid on the boil.
       

       
      On a nearby table is this
       

       
      Puffed rice, soy beans, peanuts and scallion. These are ladled into bowls.
       

       
      with a little salt, and then drowned in the "tea" brewing in the wok.
       
      This is  油茶 (yóu chá) or Oil Tea. The tea is made from Tea Seed Oil which is made from the seeds of the camellia bush. This dish is used as a welcoming offering to guests in homes and restaurants. Proper etiquette suggests that three cups is a minimum, but they will keep refilling your cup until you stop drinking. First time I had it I really didn't like it, but I persevered and now look forward to it.
       

      L-R: Director of the Foreign Affairs Dept of Liuzhou government, consuls-general of Malaysia, Myanmar, Laos.
       
      Having partaken of the oil tea, finally we are allowed to enter the dining room, where two tables have been laid out for our use.
       

       
      Let the eating, finally, begin.
       
      In no particular order:
       

      Steamed corn, taro and sweet potato
       

      Bamboo Shoots
       

      Duck
       

      Banana leaf stuffed with sticky rice and mixed vegetables and steamed.
       

      Egg pancake with unidentified greenery
       

      Stir fried pork and beans
       

      Stir fried Chinese banana (Ensete lasiocarpum)
       

      Pig Ears
       

       
      This may not look like much, but was the star of the trip. Rice paddy fish, deep fried in camellia tree seed oil with wild mountain herbs. We ate this at every meal, cooked with slight variations, but never tired of it.
       

      Stir fried Greens
       
      Our meal was accompanied by the wait staff singing to us and serving home-made rice wine (sweetish and made from the local sticky rice).
       
       
       
       
      Everything we ate was grown or reared within half a kilometre of the restaurant and was all free-range, organic. And utterly delicious.
       
      Roll on dinner time.
       
      On the trip I was designated the unofficial official photographer and ended up taking 1227 photographs. I just got back last night and was busy today, so I will try to post the rest of the first day (and dinner) as soon as I can.
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