Eating & Mindlessness

I’m a good cook, and I don’t care who knows it. Problem is, I’m not a good eater. Oh, it isn’t that I don’t eat what I cook (never trust a skinny chef, they say), and I certainly know how to eat. That’s the problem. If you read my posts tagged with “food” or “health” or “wellness” you’ll see how much of a struggle it is. You’ll also see how little real discipline and effort I’ve put into it. I mean, let’s be honest. Keeping a food journal seems to work for a while, but only for a while.

So it was months ago that I ran across a story in the New York Times (sorry if you’ve used up your free articles for the month… try next month) about mindful eating, not so much about dieting as about being more aware of what we eat and why, about putting food in proper perspective. Then, about a month ago I came across another story about binge eating among men and the “Fat Dad” NY Times blog bosts. My situation isn’t as dire, but there’s no denying that those extra pounds contribute to a range of undesirable outcomes, and I am about as far from being a mindful eater as you might care to imagine. And then I suppose there’s something to be said for the first step in any recovery program, recognizing that you have a problem.

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Zzzzzzzz……….. sknx! Hmph? What?!

Yes, I know it’s been a while, and it seems to have become a more or less constant condition. Still, the last few weeks have been busy, and I expect the coming summer to be full of its own comings and goings. A couple of comings and goings to note: middle daughter is home from college for the summer (yay!), eldest is moved into an apartment with roommates but we’ll still get to see her a couple of times this summer (yay, but also a harbinger of changes to come), and, though neither a coming nor a going, our youngest is itching for the school year to be over.

I did want to mention the end of a good friend’s blog, however. (Can’t link to it since it’s gone.) After more than a decade at it, my long-time friend Brian has decided to take a break from the grind of finding interesting and amusing things on the Internet to share, often with insightful comments about them. I’m not sure what, if any, plans he has to resume any kind of creative online presence but I appreciate both his efforts and the need to take a break.

Summertime will be full of softball tournaments, at least one college visit, side trip to Washington, motorcycle rides, hiking, gardening and grilling, family times, and, oh yeah, I still have to work at least some of the time. Maybe I will find time along the way to share; maybe you will, too.

Grind

It’s winter. The holidays are over (even Chinese New Year was a few days ago), and now it’s just the long grind until spring. Shoveling, budget, plowing, chipping ice, budget, snow removal, budget, snow removal, budget, rain, budget, etc., etc Spring brings an end – and hopefully a satisfactory conclusion – to all these things. More importantly, it comes with other happy things – grilling, riding, hikingsoftball games, evenings on the porch. Sigh. Doesn’t help that I’ve already been dreaming about these things.

Now why’d I go and do that? There’s still five months to grind out between here and there. Guess I’ll keep working in the budget, then.

Inspirations, Thursday Night Edition

Inspired by a post I found on Cripes Suzette through my friend Brian’s web site, meatloaf was on tonight’s menu. I didn’t follow a recipe, exactly, but I’ve accumulated enough experience over the years to risk winging it. When it comes to meatloaf I usually stick to the basics. Sometimes I’ll sauté some onion, let it cool, and add it to the mix, or add chili powder, but not tonight:

Tony’s Classic Meatloaf*

3-1/2 pounds meatloaf mix (ground beef, pork, and veal)
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon paprika (smoked is nice, but be careful not to make it too smoky)
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 large eggs
2/3 cup chicken stock (or beef, if you prefer)
2/3 cup dry bread crumbs

Heat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Beat eggs in small bowl, add stock and bread crumbs. Combine well and set aside.
Place meatloaf mix in large mixing bowl. Break meat up quickly with fingers or fork, but be careful not to handle it too much or mash it or your meatloaf could be tough.
Sprinkle seasonings over meat, add egg, stock, and bread crumb mixture.
Blend thoroughly but don’t overwork it.
Put meatloaf into non-stick 9-inch loaf pan, being careful not to leave any voids and evening it out, but don’t pack it too firmly. The meatloaf mixture should be just a little higher than the top of the pan.
Put loaf pan in the oven with aluminum foil or sheet pan underneath to catch drippings.
Bake about 1-1/2 hours or until meat thermometer reads 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
Remove from oven, let rest 5-10 minutes before slicing.

There are countless variations, of course, and I can honestly say my meatloaf is never exactly the same twice (much to my wife’s general frustration), but it’s almost always good. For such a humble comfort food, it’s a nice treat, especially on a cold Thursday night.

*Corrected. The recipe originally said five pounds and a 10-inch loaf pan, the trouble with writing off the top of my head when I really should be asleep. This recipe served five generously for one meal and a good half for leftovers, sandwiches, etc.

Over the Lips….

290-(15×7(2,750-2,250))=-10.34%

Please don’t call Mr. Leibowitz and tell him I should have flunked algebra in eighth grade. This is my formula for the next fifteen fourteen weeks. Our wellness committee at work has launched its version of “Biggest Loser,” just in time for the post-holiday guilt fast in which many of us are now engaged. I was going to do this anyway, but if there might be an actual prize, then I might try harder. Which is the point, after all.

I have spoken many times on this blog about my fondness for food. Much more the gourmand (gourmoo?) than gourmet, I don’t shy away from much and have little in the way of will power. Portion control in a world of double this and triple that extra value meals is a constant battle. As inaccurate as they may be I have to rely on the nutrition facts panels and a daily running calorie count of everything I eat in my little black notebook (and you thought that was for something else!).

Now if you’ll pardon me I have to go find my hiking boots or, if we finally get some snow, my cross country skis and work on the output side of the equation.

Lighten Up!

About a month ago I was on my way to work when I began to feel increasingly unwell. It was an abdominal sensation – epigastric, the doctors (including the apparently sixteen year old resident – not really) would later tell me. By the time I got to work I felt light-headed, clammy, and not at all well. I got into my office and sat down, thinking it would pass. Given my family history, and the fact that the symptoms continued to worsen, I decided it wouldn’t. I heard the fire chief’s voice out in the hallway, as luck would have it, and got his attention. We went in my office, and I told him I thought I had a problem. A few minutes later paramedics were in my office, I was hooked up to a heart monitor, and my symptoms were subsiding – nearly completely gone, actually.

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Food (B)log

A few days ago I commented on Facebook that “better habits are built one choice at a time.”  Though this could have applied to any number of habits and choices in my life I was mainly talking about my relationship with food.

I have always been – how do I put it? – a large-ish person.  Not really large since, when it comes to shopping for clothes I fall at the upper range of what are “regular” sizes and the lower end of “big and tall.”  I am, you might say, at that awkward, in-between stage.  It tells you something about where we are as a society, genetics aside, when at nearly 300 pounds I fall at the lower end of “big and tall.”

Anyway, since I can remember, food has been a major player in my life.  Not just eating, of course; almost everyone does that (and if they don’t, unfortunately, they don’t live long enough to write blog posts about it).  I enjoy food – the colors, textures, aromas, and, of course, flavors.  I mean, really enjoy it.  Food is, and has been, a source of nourishment, naturally, but also a source of comfort and a distraction from other things.  All in all, not a very healthy relationship at all.  What’s worse is that I cook and I’m pretty good at it, so I end up spending more time with food.  But it’s not just that.  When I’m stressed, bored, or tired, I eat.  And it doesn’t seem to matter much what it is, I find something.

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