About Me

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Just a simple gal living on the outskirts of Portland making ends meet. I have lived in Portland for over 20 years and I am happy to call it home. On this blog you will find everything from cooking to my crazy life. I hope you enjoy.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Excuse me how many calories are in that?

Last January I decided it was time for me to take some small steps to healthier eating, no I do not mean some fad diet like Paleo, Raw Vegan, and Gluten Free. No pills, drinks or patches because in all honesty those do not work. A diet that restricts or removes the food you enjoy is never going to succeed the way you want it to. I would hate to think that I could never sit down again and enjoy my favorite (fill in the blank) because it is not on the list of foods I can have. I also don’t want to take anything that hasn’t been approved by the FDA that ten/fifteen/twenty years down the road are going to find out that those little diet aids cause (fill in the blank), thank you but I have enough problems as it is.
Last January I did not set out on this mission to lose weight. For a person with my medical condition(s) it is extremely hard if not impossible to lose weight what I wanted to do was to see what I was eating every day, what I wasn’t eating and how much. The tool I chose to use asked that I set some sort of goal for myself, and in return, the tool calculated what my calorie intake for each day should be. I am able to record what I eat every single day right down to the last grain of whole wheat. Yes on occasion I have to do some research and math to figure out calories for home cooked meals, but for me that is actually very fun. I like figuring out exactly what goes into a home cooked meal that I prepare for my family. What it has come down to is portion control, and I have found some serious discrepancies in food manufactures serving size and weight. I am honest when I record meals and snacks, which I thought would be hard but I have found that it is simple. I still eat what I want just smaller portions, but I have changed what I eat to make sure I am getting more fruits, vegetables and whole grains into my body. You are also able to record exercise, which is hugely helpful.
I do not weigh in as a dieter does. My doctor weighs me every 12 weeks when I go in to see him. As I said, I never really expected to lose a single ounce I started this to keep track of what I was eating, and to see what was lacking in my diet. I still eat flour, sugar, butter, snack foods and the many other things I like just in healthier portions. Last week was a 12 week check up and to date I have lost 18lbs. Now those are hard won pounds and I have been steadily losing weight since I started this mission and for that, I am very grateful. I haven’t had weight loss success since I shed 291 pounds back in 2002…o.k. 217 of those pounds were my X husband, but the rest was all me and some really unhealthy eating habits that I had, lack of job(s), and no life. Therefore, getting two jobs with no time to eat and developing a social life made me shed pounds like crazy, but it was not healthy. The weight slowly came back and then I got sick in 2008, so the weight stayed. I didn’t go over X my weight stayed the same give or take 3 lbs for years, but as we get older are body betrays us, and an old illness reared it’s very ugly head a couple years back and my weight started to slowly creep up. My eating habits were the same, so I needed to look at what I was eating.
Simple you ask. No, being honest about your dietary shortcomings in never easy, being honest about what I was eating and what I am eating now has gotten easier. Therefore, you do not see me in line for that grande mocha frap anymore Mon through Fri, but you might see me in line for one on Saturday morning…a tall one with no whip, non-fat or maybe even coconut milk. I give myself weekends off from keeping track. Oh, I know the experts say that never works, well I am here to say that for me it works. Sure I could probably shed weight faster if I didn’t take weekends off, but I never signed on to lose weight remember. So being able to sit down to a huge steak with home made mac and cheese on a Saturday night with a bottle of my favorite (I have many favorites) is important to me. Want to hear something funny the portions have gotten smaller, and if we go out, I look to see what veggie is served up with dinner.
Knowing my way around a kitchen has certainly helped me change my eating habits I have become more willing to try new things and more meals with no meat. It is fun to try new things and to revamp some old recipes. The addition of Katsu to our household has also upped my activity level. My sweet puppy gets three walks a day. The warmer weather also aids me getting out (when not to hot) to take in a bike ride. What I find funny is if for example I get home from work on a Monday and I really want to have a bowl of (fill in the decadent dessert here) I know I need to take my sorry butt out to the garage and go for a bike ride…after I walk the puppy…Checks and balances that is really what it is all about.
At the end of the day, I am happy with my weight loss, but I am more thrilled that I have gotten a handle on what I am eating, and that I have started to exercise more. Now if you will excuse me I need a big iced mocha so I need to find my cycling shoes.

Friday, July 4, 2014

We call it Jumble Berry Jam

I just picked up and decided to can something about 30 years ago, and it worked out so well that I continued to can things through the years...easy. I didn't think about how difficult it was or how complicated the process. The first thing I just up and canned was a bunch of little jars of apple butter, and I used the inversion method (no longer recommended)and things just turned out. I probably inherited some strange canning gene from the women folk in my family.
Down through the years I have scaled back on canning things and the last few years I do small batch canning. It is really all my small kitchen can manage, or all that I can manage in my small kitchen...take your pick. I prefer canning jam over making freezer jam hands down there is no competition here. I have also found that using the previous seasons frozen berries that the BF and I have picked works fantastic. It also gives me room in the freezer for berry picking the current year. I call it Jumble Berry Jam.
I use liquid pectin for this jam and I follow the directions in the box of pectin to the letter. Canning is like baking there are rules that must be followed for success. You start with a whole lot of delicious berries.
Then you add a whole bunch of sugar. I know it seems like a lot, but you should see what they put in the stuff you buy in the store!
Go on just dump it in!
Add a teaspoon of butter. Some say it reduces foam and I don't know if that is true. I do it cause my Aunt always does it.
I always prepare my canning station before I cook the jam up. This just makes everything so much easier than to be scrambling around trying to accomplish things last minute. So prepare the lids, jars and seal before you start cooking jam.
Once you get the jars filled you are half way home. Make sure you wipe the rims down with a clean dish cloth before affixing the seal and rings.
All ready for a nice boiling hot bath.
Lower them down lid it bring it back to boil and set your timer. It is really that easy.
Maybe it is just me, but there is something supremely satisfying about hearing those lids "ping" when they seal up after they sit on the counter. Makes me feel happy.
Simply delicious Jumble Berry Jam.
I hope everyone has a safe and sane 4th of July! We're staying home and grilling steaks and relaxing.