Monday, January 18, 2010

A new leaf


Long time, no postings. I know, I know.. It's been a hard year for me to write about all the wonderful fatty things in my life, 'cause I cut them all out. The reason for this post, is that on Saturday, I weighed in at 173.6 lbs, which is below my goal weight. This means, not that I am done with weight watchers, but that I have accomplished something that I am really proud of. I've lost well over 70lbs by my doctors scale, 6 inches around my waist, 3 inches around my neck, and, well, I feel great.

I decided that I would start trying to post little tidbits of stuff about cooking, eating, and living life to the fullest (while keeping your waistline where you want it), now that I am committed to my new life.

First tidbit:

1) Caramelize those vegetables. Yeah, totally key. So many veggies get so much more flavorful when the surface sugars burn, ever so slightly. The keys to this phenomenon is pretty simple:
  • Consistent heat, medium to medium high on most stoves. But you have to WATCH, LISTEN, and SMELL. If the pan is smoking, or if it's not making sizzling noises, or if it smells like BURNING DEATH, change the heat settings! Let the pan get HOT before you start, but perhaps not so hot that it is smoking.
  • Leave plenty of room in the pan. No really, don't overcrowd the pan, as this will result in steamed vegetables.
  • Let the moisture escape. Really. No lids. No Covers. This also goes to previous point. Overcrowding the pan keeps moisture in the pan.
This makes boring things, like Zucchini, taste REALLY F*CKING GREAT.

Recipe: Vegetable Hoagie

I prep for this sandwich on the weekend, and then make a new one each day. It's 6 points, and it is awesome, good enough to make me forget how much I love a good cheesesteak.

I fire up my big cast iron griddle, lube it with non-stick spray and then wipe it down with a paper towel. I cook the vegetables in batches, and as each item gets cooked, I transfer them to a big container for storage. For a weeks worth of sandwiches (and if I am lucky enough left over to fill an omelet on the weekend) I use the following:

5 small zucchini, cut in 1/2" thick rings
1 medium onion, cut in 1/4" rings
4 baby leaks, whites only, cut in half, cleaned
1 lb asparagus
1 lb white mushrooms, halved
3 Red Bell Peppers

I take a nice Hoagie roll (the lowest calorie I can find is from Martin's), add two tablespoons of light boursin cheese (the garlic herb kind), and then a big helping of my caramelized veggies. I wrap the whole beast in Tin Foil, and when I go to eat lunch the next day, I toast it up in the toaster oven. AWESOME!

- J

Monday, March 30, 2009

Weight Watchers, week one

Gonna talk diet here, so fair warning:

1) I get to eat a lot points. Tipping the scales at 241.2 lbs, being a MALE, and being my age means I have a generous point count. (if you don't know points, well.. maybe I'll try to explain later).

2) My fridge is FULL. Tons of green veggies, lean meats and other things that are decidedly not worthy of the title "finding the fat" cause there sure ain't much!
  • 99% Lean Ground Turkey
  • Chicken breasts
  • Lite Turkey Breast (dietz and watson, this stuff ROCKS!)
  • Lean canadian bacon
  • Celery
  • Cucumber
  • Red peppers
  • Lettuce
  • Button Mushrooms
  • HERBS (all have no points
) Going to work I feel like I need to bring a cart! My lunch consists of
  • 3 containers of leftovers (turkey burger, salad, and a bit of chicken and pasta)
  • 2 diet cokes 
  • a giant bag of celery sticks, cherry tomatoes, red pepper strips and cucumber slices
  • Tea (my morning vice of late, chrysanthemum tea from the Asian Market
  • SNACKS (this is maybe only once a week), a box of crackers, some beef jerkey, and a box of single serving microwave popcorn.
Otherwise, I have found that if I am good about my breakfast, lunch and snacks, I can make TASTY things for dinner. Like sauteed halibut filets with white rice and asparagus, or chicken and pasta, or a steak (small steak at least) and potatoes (so they have to be steamed). 

So maybe this diet thing isn't that bad, we'll see. Now for the next frontier. EXERCISE!!!!


Friday, March 27, 2009

Day one final report

Seems not so bad. Let's see how restaurants and happy hours go.. 

- J

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Update.. I just skipped my first meeting.. or more to the point, I couldn't really find it. I will plan another, but sheesh, a little signage wouldn't hurt, now would it? 

- J

Eating is like the economy.

At least for me. I guess I should have known it was coming, and deep down, I did. I went in for my annual check up, and the scale said....

 248 lbs 

This is not okay, this is much worse than I ever expected it would be. This needs to be remedied. So, yesterday I signed up for Weight Watchers (online and in person meetings). My first meeting is today at noon. 

I'm nervous. I'm FAT. Really fat.

Ah well, so a new chapter has to begin here at Finding the Fat. For at least a while now, my focus is going to be as follows:

1) Dieting strategies
2) Healthy Recipes (I plan to include point counts per serving)
3) Exercise plans / execution

So, perhaps we can start finding the muscles underneath this nice layer of belly fat, eh? 


Monday, February 2, 2009

Superbowl chili


No matter who you rooted for, the big game last night was pretty good eh? My favorite moment was watching the boss slide crotch first into a camera... priceless!

But anyway, this post is about chili, or more correctly, my Superbowl Chili, which is more correctly called a stew (in my neck of the woods chili = beef and sauce. This has beans, corn, and chunks of tomatoes, so it's a stew). The recipe is a modification of one from an old cookbook my mom has from our San Antonio days, and I believe I have improved it mightily!


4 strips bacon
2 tbsp cooking oil (olive, peanut, vegetable, corn, canola, whatever!)
2 lbs of ground beef (I ground mine myself, using a chuck roast and a sirloin steak)
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp black pepper
8 green onions, sliced, including tops
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 Jalapeno (or other chili), diced
1 can of beer (cheap American beer please, no lite or ice or anything odd)
1 28oz can whole peeled tomatoes, chopped, with liquid reserved
1 cup Pace brand medium picante sauce (yes, it has to be PACE)
2 tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground coriander 
1 tsp chipotle pepper (more or less to taste)
1 15 oz can pinto beans (rinsed)
1  11 oz can of corn (rinsed)

Chopped Cilantro
Bacon bits
Sour Cream
Grated Cheese

Okay, this is pretty straight forward, so let's just get to it. 

Cut the bacon into half strips and arrange on the bottom of a COLD Large dutch oven (mine is stainless, but a good enamelled cast iron would be awesome too) so that they aren't overlapping or touching. 

Put the dutch oven on the lowest heat setting on your stove for 5 minutes. When the fat is starting to render, bring the heat up to medium low and turn over the bacon slices. When the bacon begins to brown, remove and set aside on paper towels to drain (later, microwave or bake to make the BACON BITS!).

Turn the dutch oven up to HIGH heat and add 2 tablespoons of oil (whatever floats your boat). When the oil shimmers, add the ground beef, onions, garlic, salt, pepper, and jalapeno. Keep on high heat, stir occasionally, until beef is browned (usually 3-5 minutes)

Add the beer and allow to continue on high heat for another 2 minutes. 

Add tomatoes and reserved liquid, as well as the cumin, cinnamon, and coriander and turn the heat down to medium low, or a strong simmer). Cover and allow to simmer for an hour (or longer, you can let this simmer for a very long time, and the meat will just get more and more tender as you go). 

At this point, taste for heat. Add as much chipotle pepper as you need to get the burn you desire. Then, add the beans and corn, and cover. Let simmer for 30 more minutes. Adjust salt if necessary.

Remove from heat and serve.  I like to put the Frito's in the bowl first, then a helping of chili topped by cilantro, bacon, and cheese. A dollop of sour cream finishes it all off. Oh yeah, and a PBR really does make this a better meal!

- J

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inauguration Day

A couple simple things for today:

1) Barack Obama is the President. I skipped the inaugural, mainly 'cause I don't do well in crowds, but we swung into DC as soon as the roads opened, just to say we did (and we bought a few souvenirs from a street vendor). I also took this pic

From Finding the Fat

2) The replacement wheels for the subaru arrived today. Taste the 18 inch wheels!

From Finding the Fat

- J

Thursday, January 15, 2009


Oh how I love thee. Pork fat, heat, and smoke. My favorite seasonings!

Andouille hash is my new favorite thing to serve for breakfast!

1 4 oz Andouille sausage, diced 
1 tbsp olive oil
2 large Yukon Gold Potatoes, par-boiled and iced, diced into about 1/2" chunks
1 large shallot, diced
1 tsp fresh thyme
1 tsp fresh rosemary
Salt and Black pepper to taste

Add diced andouille to a cold non-stick skillet (large, say 10", with a lid!). Place on medium low heat and allow some of the fat to render. When the andoiulle starts to brown, add the olive oil and turn up the heat to medium high. Add the potatoes and toss to coat in the fat. Cook over medium high heat, for 10 minutes, turning occassionally. Add the shallots and herbs. Cover and reduce heat to low. Cook for an additional 10 minutes. Add Salt and Pepper to taste, and serve with eggs your favorite way!

- John

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Deep Frying... or how I learned to not buy a fry daddy

First of all, I love fried food, right? Especially Tater Tots. I always resisted owning a fryer of any sort out of fear of ballooning past my already progidous girth, but every now and again I find myself needing to make real tot's. How to do this, when no fryer is available? Do I own a frying thermometer? A frying basket? Nope... Just the stuff I have floating around in my kitchen.

First off, I grab a large saucepan (mine is a relatively ancient all-clad 4qt).

I also grab my probe thermometer (you know,  the one I use for turkey)

 and a large ACCO binder clip, like the one shown below.

I clip the probe of the thermometer to the side of the sauce pan using the binder clip, and then I fill the rig with 2 qts of Peanut Oil.  I set the alarm for 350 degrees, and fire up high heat. 

While the oil is heating, I prep my draining and staging areas.

Draining area is a large sheet pan covered in old newspaper (no colored print tho) with a metal cooling rack sitting upside down on it (thanks Alton).

Prep area for tots is a large colander filled with frozen tots (I try to eat FEWER tots when they are fried, by the way, so think 10 tots a person). 

I use a spider (thank you molto mario) as my loading and unloading device.

So, I load up 10 or so tots onto the spider, and wait for the alarm. When it beeps, I gently lower the tots into the oil, making sure to keep them from sticking together (TOT CLUMPS = Lower crust to squishy interior ratio = not good). The oil temp will drop rapidly. Watch the temp closely, as you need to keep it from going much above 360 degrees. 3 minutes later, the tots should be perfect. Unload onto draining rig, and serve immediately (or you can hold the draining rig in the oven on 200 degrees or so). 

When all is done, I just poured 7 bucks worth of peanut oil into my pan, and I'd like to keep it.  Right now, a funnel and paper towels works pretty well, but I need to tweak the arrangement (too slow).  Then I store the used oil in a large jug in the back of the fridge. 


- J

Monday, January 12, 2009

Laradonna's Ragu - interpretted by Me

Hey all,

My mother's birthday is December 28th, and since we were all in Seattle for the holidays anyway, we had to stay an extra day so we could celebrate her 64th year! This year she wanted to share a cooking experience with us instead of going out to a fancy meal (a little bit of economic downturn and a little bit of being proud of her new italian pied-a-terre). So we made Lasagna, with everything but the Pasta from scratch (something we didn't have the energy to try). So, when I got home, I decided to try making the Ragu for myself, with a few tweaks. It was AWESOME, so I am sharing it.

1.5 lbs meat loaf mix (pork, veal, beef, about 85% lean, leaner if you can get it)
1 bunch flat leaf parsley
1 large red onion
2 stalks celery
2 medium carrots
5 cloves garlic
1 cup white wine (dry and drinkable)
1 8oz can of tomato sauce (with basil)
8 oz water (fill the can!)
2 Tbsp tomato paste
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
Crushed Red pepper to taste
Salt and black pepper to taste

Cooking Directions:

Put Parsley, garlic, onion, carrots, and celery into a food processor until "chopped fine" (or you could use Laradonna's technique of Mezzaluna'ing it to death, which ever is your preference)

Heat oil in large saute pan (with a lid!) on medium high heat until the oil shimmers, then add the chopped vegetables and a sprinkle of salt and reduce the heat to medium. Saute for 10 minutes, if it starts to change color, turn it down.

At this point add the ground meat. Break into very small bits as you add it to the pan and saute for 10 minutes more, stirring regularly.

Raise heat to high and add wine. Allow to cook off for 2 minutes.

Add tomato sauce, tomato paste, crushed red pepper, and water. Stir to combine. Reduce heat to low and cover. Simmer for 1 - 2 hours. Add salt to taste.

Enjoy over pasta with Pecorino Romano or Parmeggianno Reggianno.

- J