Sunday, August 30, 2009

Making Salad Dressing in my new Kuhn Rikon Vase Wisk... Kuhn Rikon Vase Wisk Salad Dressing RecipeI made a salad with a grilled rib eye steak served with a roasted garlic & herb mustard vinaigrette for lunch over the weekend. I figured no sense paying $15 for a salad at CPK if they can't take the time to peel the stickers off the pears! Kuhn Rikon Vase Wisk Salad Dressing Recipe Kuhn Rikon Vase Wisk Salad Dressing Recipe Kuhn Rikon Vase Wisk Salad Dressing Recipe Kuhn Rikon Vase Wisk Salad Dressing Recipe Kuhn Rikon Vase Wisk Salad Dressing Recipe
I started with a piece of foil and placed some chopped oregano, basil and a couple crushed garlic cloves. I drizzled about a teaspoon of olive oil over these items on the center of the foil and seasoned it with a little salt and pepper. Then I folded the foil into a pouch and roasted it in the toaster oven at 450F for about 30 minutes.

While the garlic and herbs were roasting, I put the dry ingredients into the Kuhn Rikon Vase Whisk. I used about 2 tablespoons of brown sugar, a half teaspoon of dry mustard powder, a dash of salt and pepper.

When the garlic and herbs were nicely roasted, I added it into the vase whisk with as much of the flavored oil on the foil I could get.

I poured in about a third cup of corn based distilled vinegar to comply with my diet restrictions and about two-thirds of a cup of extra virgin olive oil.

Then I put the top on my Kuhn Rikon and turned it to the position that displays the shake icon and shook it up! Then turn the top to the pour icon and drizzle over my salad. That simple!

This Kuhn Rikon Vase Whisk is awesome. It's a bit pricey at about $25, but I'm sure I'll get my money's worth in no time.

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CPK Field Greens add Grilled Chicken, hold the Tomatoes & Dressing... Oh and the Plastic Stickers Too!

Last Friday, for some reason the water was shut off at home for the whole day! There was no warning, so I suppose it was an emergency, but the water was off past 6pm. By that time, Kelli and I were hungry for some dinner. I can't really cook anything without fresh running water, not to mention not washing my hands with soap & water for half the day so we decide to go out for a walk and some dinner.

I have a difficult time eating out due to the diet restrictions I have to follow. When I do have to eat out, it ends up being a salad without dressing and whatever else happens to be on my list of 26 things. With this in mind, we decided to eat at the CPK in Waikiki.

We have ordered take out from this relatively new location, but never dined in until this time. We were pleased to hear that kama'aina (local residents) receive 20% off the menu prices. We don't get that discount at the other locations and the prices seemed to be the same. After looking through all the salads, none of them were safe for me to eat according to their description so I just ordered the plainest of them all, the Field Greens Salad. I had to request no tomatoes, walnuts and dressing due to my restrictions. This is what it looked like. CPK salad stickers hell's kitchenPretty tasty looking, yeah? Can you spot the stickers that are on the sliced pears peering through those brilliant field greens? I picked them all out and set them on the empty bread plates at our table. I should have yelled out and honored Chef Gordon Ramsey, "Shut it off you stupid cows! Plastic stickers in the salad! It's unacceptable! Wake up!". CPK salad stickers hell's kitchenIs it worth the 20% off kama'aina discount?? I guess... I always seem to find something that doesn't belong in the dish when we eat out anyway. Must be all my years of experience in checking the plates when before I send them out. Maybe it's just my fault for being too observant. I'm sure the stickers on the pears are FDA approved and safe to eat in small portions anyway. :-|

PS- Don't forget to watch Hell's Kitchen on Tuesday...

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Friday, August 28, 2009

The "Other Stuff" we bought @ the Executive Chef Sale... Executive Chef sale microplane grater khuhn rikon vase whisk durgol speedloop
These are the other things we picked up from the awesome Executive Chef sale we went to last Saturday. The major score was the 12 Quart All Clad Multi Pot for around $80, but these are the othe little knick knacks that we picked up. Executive Chef sale microplane grater khuhn rikon vase whisk durgol speedloopIt was 25% off the entire store for 3 hours of the morning. I picked up some nice Microplane graters because the one we have looks like this <----. It's the type with multi options. I haven't grated many things in my home kitchen, but I did try to grate a potato last week to make hash browns. What I noticed was that the stroke surface area of one size of the grater is too short!!! I couldn't stand having to take such short strokes on this grater! I guess that's why I've never used one of these in a restaurant kitchen. It never really crossed my mind until now.

I also got a 14" CulinHome Brand Speed Loop magnetic knife holder. I haven't installed it yet so I don't know how well it looks and works for me. This has a lot to do with my granite counters not being installed yet! I don't really know where I'll mount it yet because I know I don't want to drill holes into the wall surfaces that are covered with the granite! I'm still trying to figure this out.

The Kuhn Rikon box is a "Vase Whisk" that I figured I would use to make and store my own dressing since I have to follow my restricted diet. I haven't used it yet, but I'll probably try to fix some dressing over the weekend to test this baby out. I hope it works well because it was pretty costly at around $23 after the discount!! There was another brand that was a little cheaper, but it was so big that I couldn't figure out how it would fit in the refrigerator.

Not pictured is the professional style ice cream scooper that Kelli wanted. It's not pictured because we returned it after finding it at Williams-Sonoma for about $10cheaper!! Kelli used to be a professional ice cream scooper back in the days when her mom owned and operated a Dave's Ice Cream franchise in Aiea. That's why she's so picky about her ice cream scooper. Some other day I should post a photo of all the various ice cream scoopers we've tried and she's rejected. I admit I personally rejected one that I bought from the Marukai 99 Cent Store, but that's because the stupid thing broke the first time I was using it!

The durgol box is the cleaner that is used to clean my espresso machine. Might as well buy it when it's 25% off! :)

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

My Kitchen Counters... granite kitchen countersWell... I planned for a week to be ready for the longly anticipated custom granite counter tops to be installed on the custom cabinets that have been functioning in my kitchen for about a year and a half now with plywood tops. It's definitely been a lengthy journey to this point, but guess what... It's not done yet!

The granite comes on Wednesday and I cleared all the kitchen plywood countertops off so the installer(s) could work on putting some real countertops in. It's a lot of work to clear off the counters! Not to mention figuring out where to set up the espresso machine, microwave & toaster to be operable for a day or so during the install. It's not like I'm in a house with a garage to throw stuff in. I'm stuffed to capacity in this 2 bedroom condo!

So anyway, I find out while they are bringing it in that the installer had to finish another job so he wasn't able to come today!! So now I have to wait until some time next week and set aside another couple days to watch the granite people install the granite. Well, I don't have to watch them, but I at least need to be here for them to come and work. That's not so much of a concern. What is a concern is that I will need to keep all the stuff I moved off the counter tops in it's odd locations... granite kitchen granite kitchen counters
I'll also have to try to find a street parking again some time next week so that I can keep my parking stalls open for them to park in. That's a real challenge some times. I peer out from the lanais looking down to the streets, trying to spot that stall. If just so happens I see one, I'll run to the elevator and press the down button and wait for what seems like minutes for the elevator to come get me. Then I run into the elevator and press "1" and ride the elevator to the lobby. Then I run to the entry to the garage to get to my car, start it up and zip out to the street just to see that someone has already taken the parking spot!! Oh well that's the condo life in the city... at least there is non-metered street parking around this block! granite kitchen granite kitchen counters
So here it is... the granite. Happily garnishing my lanai for the next week or so. It enjoys basking in the afternoon sun and gazing at the sunset views. In the morning it watches the Trump Tower Waikiki as it reaches completion. It's anticipating the brilliant Hilton Hawaiian Village's Weekly Friday Night Fireworks Display. It also greets us and says, "how was your day?", while we step into our entry way just like a pet dog. Makes me want to respond... "Move! Get away from the door!" Hahahah...

Oh well... at least I didn't remove the kitchen sink, stove and refrigerator to help speed up the install. I had to move some things back onto the counters, but will not put everything back just to remove them all again next week!

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Sunday, August 23, 2009

Cooking in my new pots - Beef Short Rib Curry Beef Curry All-Clad 59912 Multi CookerAfter that long day of shopping and hauling the heavy pot around, I decided to put myself through 5 more hours of strenuous tasks. I stewed up a Beef Short Rib Curry just to break in and test out my new pots!

I started by chopping up some carrots, yellow onions, green peppers & potatoes. I put the carrots on the bottom of my new steamer topped with the potatoes, then the onions and peppers because I wanted the carrots to cook faster than the onions and peppers. I filled the water to just above the bottom of the steamer so the carrots were wet and I boiled/steamed it for about 20 minutes then removed the strainer from the heat. Beef CurryWhile those vegetables were steaming, I cubed some Gala Apples and chopped more onions and green peppers. In my new Martha Stewart oval pot I added several tablespoons of canola oil and lightly browned a fresh chopped garlic clove over medium heat.

Next, I add the diced onions and peppers and get them to caramelize. I also add a few tablespoons of curry powder. I use Tone's brand. Beef Curry Martha Stewart 7 qt Enamel OvalI cook it over the medium heat to break down the onions and peppers while slowly extracting the curry spices flavors. I used to add the flour at this step to create a roux, but since I need to eliminate wheat flour from my diet, I left it out.

While the roux was cooking, I cubed my beef short ribs into nice 1.5 inch chunks. Beef Curry Martha Stewart 7 qt Enamel OvalI moved the roux toward the outer areas of the oval pot and added a little more oil to brown the short ribs. I brought the heat up a little to around a medium high to properly sear and brown the beef. After all the pieces were nicely browned, I added the cubed apples, mixed in the roux and cooked them together a couple more minutes. I also added about a 1/4 teaspoon of fresh lime zest to it. Then, a boxed quart of free range chicken broth was added in. After adding in the chicken broth, I let it simmer covered for about 1.5 hours over low heat to get the short ribs nice and tender.

In the mean time, I still had the water that was used to pre-cook the vegetables boiling in the multi pot. I was reducing it down to concentrate whatever flavors or minerals from cooking the vegetables while making sure not to boil it dry. Beef Curry Martha Stewart 7 qt Enamel OvalAfter about 1.5 hours of simmering the beef with the curry roux and chicken stock, I added the partially pre-cooked vegetables into the curry, stirred and let simmmer for about another 30-45 minutes. Making sure my vegetables wouldn't be over cooked.

When the vegetable stock was reduced to a couple cups, I added that to the simmering curry. Beef Curry Martha Stewart 7 qt Enamel OvalAfter simmering for a couple hours, I seasoned to taste with some salt and sugar making sure to season it just slightly less than what I expect it to taste like when served. This is because I'm not serving it immediately. I'm pre-making this and refrigerating some and freezing several portions of it. The flavors will deepen after being allowed to cool and sit at least over night.

After seasoning it, I added corn starch to thicken the curry. This replaces the flour that is left out in the roux stage.

I removed the heat and let the curry cool in the pot for a couple hours. Then I tranferred some to a few Zip Lock Freezer Bags (to be frozen) and some into a container to be refrigerated consumed sooner. Through the week I can just heat over the stove top and serve within minutes.

Delicious! Nothing like the smells of home made curry flowing through your kitchen or your whole condo... making all your neighbors hungry! Hahaha!

PS - I'm so excited. Finally, my granite counter tops are here and being installed on Wednesday! It's been years without a completed kitchen!

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Great Price on All-Clad 12 qt Multi Pot & Martha Stewart 7qt Oval Enamel Coated Cast Iron Pot All-Clad 59912 12 qt Multi Cooker Martha Stewart 7qt Oval Enamel Dutch Oven Casserole
I anticipated all last week for Saturday morning to come. It was the annual 25% off everything at The Executive Chef store in Ward Center. The sale is only from 9a-12p, 3 hours. You must be standing in line with your purchases by noon to receive the 25% discounts. Kelli and I bought a whole bunch of stuff to simplify MY tasks in the kitchen. Today I'll blog about the All-Clad #59912 12 quart Multi Cooker seen above in brushed stainless steel. We also headed to the Macy's One Day Sale right after we made our purchases at The Executive Chef sale. We purchased that Martha Stewart 7 quart Oval Enamel Coated Casserole Pot there.

Our morning got off to a slow start because the night before Kelli & I went to a late showing of "The Time Traveler's Wife" with our friends Tara & Shad. Ok ok, it was a 915pm show, but it's late for us since we usually only go to matinees due to the cost!! Anyway, the movie is fine to me, but Kelli & Tara obviously read the book and didn't feel it was all that great. (I didn't read the book.) I don't understand why people insist on reading the book then watching a movie knowing that the movie will never be as good as the book. Oh well, I'm sure Tara will explain in a comment.

Anyway, on with the subject... at The Executive Chef, I found the All-Clad 12 quart Multi Cooker that I was hoping to receive as a gift some day (hahaha)! Knowing that it costs so much normally, I decided to buy it because it was an awesome bargain! I put some on my on-line shopping lists that were different models well over $300. I am not that particular, but those were the only ones I was seeing. This 59912 model appears to be around on the web for around $150 plus shipping and we are in Hawaii so shipping will either be another $50 or we won't be included as part of the United States! (Although, last Friday, Hawaii just celebrated its 50 years of Statehood... perhaps another 50 years and on-line retailers will consider us part of the United States and Google Voice will not charge long distance charges as high as calling international countries to call to/from Hawaii!!!) The regular price of this multi cooker at The Executive Chef is $105 + tax, which is already lower than on-line. With the 25% off and including tax it came out to $82.46! What a deal! If anyone finds it cheaper in Honolulu, Hawaii, don't tell me about it... just let me be happy with this great deal! They didn't seem to have the Le Creuset Oval Dutch Oven that I wanted so I didn't get that.

We then went off to the Macy's sale. It was already 1230p or so. By the time we got to the housewares department, we had missed the "door buster" specials that ended at 1pm!! =) Why the =)?? Because I decided to save several hundreds of $$ and not get a Le Creuset and replace it with a much cheaper but functional Martha Stewart Collection version. It was a door buster at Macy's. $79.99 for the 7 quart oval that I would like. Yeah, we missed the door buster time, but it also said in fine print, "May not be combined with coupons." The after door buster price was $89.99, just $10 more and still a great price. We asked the sales person if the 20% off 1 day pass would apply and it did!! The result is the same pot for $71.99 + tax, $8 less than the "door buster special". Yay!
lunch time @ the mermaid bar. on TwitpicThat box was heavy! I think it must be around 20 pounds because I weighed the pot alone and it seems to be somewhere just under 20 pounds using the high tech bathroom scale technique. I had to carry that thing all through Macy's then all through Ala Moana Shopping Center and by the end of my work out at Ala Moana, I think it seemed like it weighed 50 pounds! We stopped at Neiman Marcus' Mermaid Bar for some much needed sustenance. Had had a custom salad in accordance to my special diet restrictions and Kelli had a Greek Sandwich. It was delicious.
cute starbucks ceramic mugKelli also bought this ultra-cute ceramic coffee mug from Starbucks. It has all these animals around it and even a few birds inside!

You would think we went home and rested after all that. Nope.

I busted out the brand new pots and cooked a Beef Short Rib Curry to add another 5 hours of my work out for the day. That curry will be in the next blog post...

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Friday, August 21, 2009

Awesome Cash for Clunkers value at Saturn of Honolulu... Cash for Clunkers deal at SaturnOk... we all heard about the "Cash for Clunkers" program that the U.S. Government is promoting. If not, read about it here Anyway, in the recent days there have been many news reports of the cash for clunkers program not being offered any longer due to the difficulties the dealerships are having getting reimbursed for the $3500 or $4500 promotion. This is definitely true.

My parents' truck... <--- see that on the left??!!?? Ok, it wasn't always smashed up in the front like that. It did have the fender damage and also other damage on the back that isn't even significant enough to photograph compared to this. It's had the other damage for years, but the front end damage just occured a couple weeks ago amidst the cash for clunkers mayhem.

Let me add, this 2001 Ford Explorer Sport Track has been a "Clunker for Cash" since 2001!!!!!!! My dad bought it and it was a brand new truck from Ford. There were all sorts of problems that I told him to see the dealer about to have repaired under the warranty. So many issues that I won't even bother listing them. After all, Ford has enough of a questionable reliability reputation as it is. (Sorry if you are a Ford fanatic.) Cash for Clunkers deal at SaturnI took my parents to visit a Nissan dealership on the afternoon of that front end damage because we were immediately looking to take advantage of this cash for clunkers program. After all, would you buy this Ford for $4500?? =P The Nissan dealership here had nothing appealing to my parents. We went home and they drove that Ford home at night with the smashed up headlights (they looked like original carriage/buggy headlamps with candles in them... hahaha). They didn't do anything about getting rid of the Ford for the past couple weeks so I visited them yesterday and we ended up heading to the dealerships again.

We first stopped at the Subaru dealership to check out a Subaru Forrester, but the Subaru dealership made an executive decision to stop participating in the cash for clunkers program on Wednesday (the day before)! So we moved along to Saturn.

I had suggested to my parents that we get that clunker over to Saturn because they were advertising a promotion of cash for clunkers where they will match another $3500 or $4500 to the government amount. Essentially doubling the cash for clunkers amount. I had calculated on the website that if the 2001 Ford Explorer Sport Track was turned in for the purchase of the 2009 Saturn Vue 2.4L XE or XR they would receive a $4500 cash for clunker amount and Saturn of Honolulu would double that. That meant a whopping $9000 off the sticker price of a low-mid $20,000 vehicle. That's an awesome ratio!!!

Well they took a few hours making our salesman, Mike Gomes, work very hard trying to sort out all the features in the inventory. Mike Gomes is great, he sold my dad my first car back in 1991. It was a 1991 Chevrolet Camaro Z28 5.8L. Mike had to stay beyond closing just to finish the transaction so that my parents could drive home in a new Saturn Vue with headlights because the Ford would have been driving home in the dark if we left w/out a new vehicle. His poor wife had to wait around at a shopping mall for Mike to pick her up. (sorry!)

Here it is, the 2009 Saturn Vue. The sticker price is $24,650 plus the taxes and licensing fees. The end price is a few dollars over $17,000. Not bad... don't you think??

Anyway, Saturn of Honolulu says they are ending their cash for clunkers participation as of Monday August 24th because that's when the government advises them to end it. I don't think you should wait beyond today if you are thinking of going to Saturn. Who knows, they boss might decide to end it as of last night or tonight.

Good luck!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Excess amounts of $0.39 1st Class Letter Stamps!! excessive amounts of old 1st class mail stampsA couple of years ago I visited the post office to purchase some stamps. I was purchasing postcard postage stamps for a postcard mail out I was sending out that day. I asked the man working at the post office for 3 rolls of postcard postage stamps ($0.26 stamps at that time). The rolls are rolls of 100 stamps in most cases, which is what I wanted. I also had a few other items to get postage for at the same time. He placed 3 rolls of postage into a package after scanning them to my bill and gave me a total including the rest of my other items I got postage for. I quickly paid with my credit card and moved out of the way so the long line of people waiting could also get on with their lives.

I was planning to stick the stamps on the bundle of postcards while in the post office so I went on the side where there is an area to work on your shipments and I began. I open 1 roll of stamps and start to peel to place them on my postcards. I then realize that the stamp says, "39 First Class"! It was not the stamps I asked for!!! I looked at the other 2 rolls and my receipt. The guy charged me for 3 rolls of $0.39 1st Class stamps and that's what I received in the package!!

I immediately went back in line and waited until I got to go up to the same guy. I told him he sold me the incorrect rolls of postage stamps. I showed them to him and told him I asked for postcard stamp rolls!

I never use 1st class stamps. I rarely ever send anything that takes a 1st class stamp because my bills are sent through an on-line service so I don't even deal with stamps.

Normally, they do not allow returns on postage stamps so I was upset. I had 300 1st class postage stamps that I would most likely never use. The guy spoke with another manager or something at the post office to see what he could do. They let me return the 2 rolls that I didn't open only because it was on the same cash register till that he sold them to me on. Luckily, he didn't leave his cashier post yet! But I am still stuck with 100 $0.39 stamps. I knew I would never use them all, especially before they raise the rate of 1st class letter.

Anyway, here I am today... still stuck with that stupid roll of $0.39 stamps. I think I used maybe 3 so far. The current rate for 1st class letter is $0.44. I should probably stash this roll and wait until the postage for a 1st class letter goes up to $0.78. Then I can just stick 2 of these on the envelope and get rid of them simpler.

Of course, some of you may feel I should have reviewed my purchases prior to signing away on the credit card screen. Well, I didn't. So I will deal with these stupid stamps for the rest of eternity. Each time I get one out, it will be a reminder that I should carefully review those electronic credit card pads and thoroughly question every cashier about what is on my bill prior to signing it.

Hopefully you aren't stuck in the line behind me... = P

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Monday, August 17, 2009

Wheat/Egg/Cow's Dairy Free Chocolate Cookies sorghum chocolate cookies wheat freeI've been craving chocolate and cookies since being on this restricted diet for almost 2 months. I finally decided to try to bake some wheat, egg and cow's dairy free cookies. I've been looking forward to trying some baking since I found the goat milk butter at Whole Foods the other week.

I searched the web for some sorghum cookie recipes, but they weren't adequate for me because they seemed to include things like Crisco, eggs or rice flours in addition to the sorghum flour. I decided to just wing it. I used to bake butter cookies years ago so I kind of just went with that feel...

I used the force and just threw in a block of goat milk butter (approximately the size of a normal "stick"... I'll refer to it as "1 part"). About the same amout of sorghum flour, 1 part. Then about 3/4 part potato flour, a 1/4 part corn meal, a 1/4 part unsweetened cocoa powder, 1/4 part white sugar, 1/4 part brown sugar, couple pinches cream of tartar, couple pinches of baking powder, couple dashes of salt, a few drops of vanilla extract and 1 shot of fresh pulled espresso (ok it wasn't really "pulled" since my machine is a full auto...). sorghum chocolate cookies wheat freeI mixed these all together with a wooden spoon while preheating the oven to 350F. After the ingredients were all combined, the consistency looked and felt perfect (like past cookie doughs). I spooned small amounts onto a thick baking tray because I prefer firm & small cookies. I popped it in the oven on the bottom rack for 9 minutes then checked it. It wasn't quite done yet unless you like soft cookies. I left it in for about another 5 minutes, but I did open the door a couple more times during that to check on them. If they were left in continously without opening, I estimate cooking time to be adequate at about 12-13 minutes in my oven with this pan.

I immediately placed them on the cooling rack to get them crisp. They taste nice and cocoaey (is that a word?). I've already eaten a few of them. I want to keep them as a snack when I have cravings, but I don't know how long they will last. They don't taste like "normal" cookies, but they do fill that void in the snack category. I like them enough to continue making them this way.

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Silly Silicone Cup Coasters from Target... Silly Silicone Cup Coasters from TargetThese silicone coasters come in a set with other colors. Kelli and all her friends always comment that they are "so cute". I'm certain they are very popular and Target must be selling tons of them. Why am I posting this photo??

As you can see, they aren't very functional. They may be cute, but the moisture either on the coaster of from the condensate of the cold drink on the coaster is not retained on the top surface of these coasters. The result is moisture dripping off the coaster and leeching under the silicone coaster. This results in moisture being retained between the coaster and the counter or table top surface. If you are using these on wood finishes, it will leave marks such as these where the coaster was. It's quite disturbing and makes the coaster non-functional. Of course if it was on a glass, Corian, granite, formica, stainless steel or some other solid surface material that is easy to wipe away water stains, just wipe it off. If it's used on a more delicate surface like this wood dining table, you can only hope it will wipe away and not leave a permanent mark.

Luckily there are no permanent markings left... yet! Since these are soooo cute, perhaps they should remain on our table tops for decorative purposes only!

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Ginger-Orange Chicken Breast Orange ChickenHere's a boneless skinless chicken breast with a ginger orange glaze.

The chicken breast is seasoned with salt and pepper then I floured it with sorghum flour and grilled it in a pan with a little olive oil. After it was nicely browned and cooked pretty much through out, I began dipping it in a mixture of orange juice, ginger powder, sugar and cayenne pepper then putting it back in the pan. I did this a few times then poured the remaining orange juice mixture into the pan and removed from heat to allow it to reduce a little.

It had a nice moist inside and a tangy taste with a slight spice from the cayenne.

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Monday, August 10, 2009

Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Browned Goat's Milk Butter and Mizithra Cheese Broccolini... Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Broccolini drizzled with Browned Goat's Milk Butter & Mizithra CheeseOK... We bought a huge tray of boneless pork chops from Costco the other day. Combined with the fact that we're a household of two, we're also house/dog sitting at Kelli's parent's house for the week. I don't know how we'll consume all the perishables in our refrigerator!!!

Anyway, to conform with my special diet, I prepared this dinner. The pork is seasoned with the basics, some salt, pepper, garlic, rosemary & olive oil. Nothing fancy just because it's not necessary. Kelli wanted to eat the Mizithra Cheese we bought from the market last week. We bought some broccolini from Whole Foods and while we were there I was so happy to find Goat's Milk Butter! (Because I can't have cow's milk.) It's been almost a month of no butter for me and I was having withdrawals. Almost to the point of giving in and sticking a spoon in a bowl of butter just to lick it clean. Thank goodness I found this butter! Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Broccolini drizzled with Browned Goat's Milk Butter & Mizithra CheeseI pan roasted the broccolini then added a couple tablespoons of butter in the hot pan to get the butter brown. Then I added some freshly grated Mizithra cheese. **Note, don't add the Mizithra cheese when it's too hot because it browns/burns very fast.** Anyway, dinner was served with microwave prepared baked potato.

This Meyenberg Goat's Milk Butter is great! It tastes like conventional butters. I think the texture of the butter might be a little softer and it certainly seems to melt faster. My next test, now that I've found butter I can eat, is to try some baking like scones, crusts and such that pretty much require the use of butter.

Now if I could just find a decent bread substitute for me to slap some of this butter on it and just endulge...

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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

"Special" Corn Muffins... Special Corn MuffinsWhile I'm on this restricted diet, I am having withdrawals from cakes, pastries, breads and such. Click to more details on the restrictions. Last weekend I decided to try to bake corn muffins without any wheat flour, eggs or cow's milk. I used the recipe that comes on the box of Albers Yellow Corn Meal. I replaced the flour with about 75% sorghum flour and 25% potato flour. The egg was replaced with a whole ripe banana, crushed into a paste. The milk was substituted with goat's milk and I used extra virgin olive oil in place of the vegetable oil.

I have never baked corn bread or muffins before so I cannot compare them to any of my past results (because there are none...). The result of this recipe is good. I ate a couple of the fresh and immediately froze the rest of the batch. It's recommended to freeze products that use alternatives to wheat flours to keep them moist. For breakfast or a snack, I pull one out of the freezer and pop it in the toaster oven for about 10 minutes to get it nice and toasty. It has a nice cruchy corn meal texture with a light essence of banana.

I'll definitely be keeping my freezer stocked with a batch of these for me to snack on every so often.

Have you tried any good recipes using alternatives??

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Monday, August 3, 2009

Harvesting Our Compost & Re-Bedding Our Worms... worm compost binIt's only been 3 months since we started our worm compost bin. Click for the 1st post<. The guidelines suggest re-bedding your worm bin after 6 months. We couldn't wait! Hahaha. It seemed that they were rapidly consuming the food we fed them and creating a lot of vermicast so we decided to "harvest". This photo collage to the left is in chronological order. The top is what the top layer of the bin looked like when we decided to harvest. We removed the newspaper layer to get to the decomposing food and worms. There are thousands of other insects and things that also live amonst the worms and help break down the food. (Btw, their "food" is our vegetable waste and coffee grinds.)

We made a pile for the large chunks of paper & food, a pile for medium chunks & a pile for finer vermicastings. After that, we sorted through to get as many of the chunks of things out to be re-bedded. At the same time, we are also separating our worms. This is so we can see how much our worm population has increased and so that we can put as many of the worms as possible back into the new bedding. worm compost binThis is what our worm ball looked like when we started 3 months ago. It was a quarter pound of worms at that time. worm compost binThis is our worm ball when we harvested & re-bedded couple weekends ago. We weighed them and they weighed a little over half a pound. This is great because they are estimated to multiply at an average rate of twice it's weight every 6 months under ideal conditions. This means our conditions must be a little better than ideal because they have more than doubled their weight and population in only 3 months! Whooo hooo! This is good news to me because a quarter pound of worms to start with cost $40! I'm glad my worms have more than doubled it's value. Too bad my money in the bank doesn't do that. :P

We have set aside our vermicastings in a different containter that I'm keeping watered. I'm trying to let any baby worms and sneaky worms that are hiding in it consume what ever food is left in it. I'll try to separate as many worms out of there in a few weeks and then be left with the compost to add to the plant soil.

We love doing this... I'm thinking of starting multiple worm bins at different stages so we can harvest and play with our worm friends more often. I know some of you must think it's gross. There is no smell and the worms are cool... literally. They have a therapeutic affect on you. It is relaxing to have the vermicast (worm doots) flowing through your fingers and squigly worms dancing around in your palm. It also reduces your waste and provides you with nourishing compost and "compost tea" for the plants around your house!

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