I Went Hiking Today
Not far. About three and a half miles. Ice on the trail cut the hike short. Not really wanting to break my neck… But it was a fun hike. I went with my friend PGB to Harriman State Park in Sloatsburg, New York. We have hiked there two or three times before, maybe more. The trails are more challenging than at the Rockefeller Preserve and it is MUCH closer to home. PGB is good company, intelligent, witty and patient. Who could ask for more.
I think we would have hiked five or six miles if the ice had not presented a problem.. Waiting for better weather….
Crampons would have helped…
It was a really good day for a hike. It was cold but not windy and once in a while a little sun poked through. Mostly it was gray and overcast and I think I say a few snowflakes. I wish we could have gone farther but there was that ice..
I have mentioned here many times how much I love to bake bread. With family coming to dinner tonight I wanted to make sure that I served a delicious dinner with some homemade bread. With the hike cut short I was able to make four loaves of bread: two whole wheat and two potato-flour and egg breads.
I am so relaxed when I make bread. So at peace. I really wonder if I should have been a baker.
The bread came out very well. The Older One loves the whole wheat and the guests enjoyed the potato-flour and egg bread.
It is always a boost when the foods I make are well received.
Here is the recipe for the Potato-flour & egg bread:
All my bread recipes assume you have a KitchenAid or similar heavy-duty mixer.
- 5-6 cups of All-purpose flour. I use King Arthur brand. I have tried many others and for breads I have found none as good.
- 2 packets active dried yeast
- 2 cups of hot water: about 110 degrees F.
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 teaspoons table salt
- 4 tablespoons potato flour. Again, I use King Arthur Brand.
- 2 large eggs
- Egg wash
- Sesame seeds
Dissolve the sugar and the yeast in the two cups of water and allow the yeast to proof. About five minutes. You should see a nice head of foam form after about 5 minutes.
Put the first two cups of flour in the mixer bowl and add the salt and potato flour.. With the flat beater and the mixer set at speed two blend the salt and potato flour with the two cups of all-purpose.
When the yeast is finished proofing give it a good stir with a fork and then pour all at once in to the mixer still mixing on setting two with the flat beater. Add the two eggs. After one to two minutes you should have a soupy mix in the bowl. Turn off the mixer, remove the flat beater, scraping clean with a spatula. Put in the dough hook. Set mixer to speed two and add two level cups of the all-purpose flour. When well incorporated add one more cup.
After the fifth cup is well incorporated you will add the sixth cups a small amount at a time until the dough is forming a ball and leaving the sides of the bowl clean. Stop the mixer and feel the dough. It should be SLIGHTLY sticky.
If it is very sticky add a small amount of flour and run the mixer until the added flour is well incorporated. Stop the mixer and feel the dough again. Repeat the additional flour until the dough is slightly sticky. Remove the dough from the bowl and form in to a ball. Place in an oiled bowl and cover. I use cooking spray to oil the bowl and I cover with plastic wrap. Leave in a worm place to rise until doubled in size. This should take about an hour.
Punch down the dough and cut in to two equal sized pieces. I use a kitchen scale to make sure I get this right. Form in to ball and place on an oiled baking sheet. I use the silicone baking sheet liners so I don’t need to oil the baking sheet.
Gently flatten the balls of dough until they are roughly 6 inches in diameter and as round as you can form them. Make sure they are far enough apart on the tray so they can rise properly.
Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise until roughly double in size, about 45 minutes.
Make an egg wash with one whole egg and an equal amount of water. Mix together well. When the dough is done with the second rise, gentle brush with the egg was so the entire surface of the dough has a light coating of wash. Sprinkle liberally with the sesame seed. Score the dough with an X. Place in a preheated oven at 400 degrees. Back until golden brown. Cool on a rack for at least 30 minutes.
I made Shrimp Creole with chicken and Chicken Sausage for dinner tonight. Of course you could use chorizo or any other sausage of your preference. I would not use Italian style sausage. Wrong flavor profile. I use a chicken and garlic herb sausage that we buy precooked. Very good and fits the Creole very well.
It was very well received by my family tonight and I really enjoy cooking it. It comes together very quickly. The prep takes some time as there are a lot of things to cut and cook ahead…
Much easier than it should be!
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast
1 lb Chicken Sausage. We use a fully cooked chicken with garlic and herbs sausage.
1 lb raw shrimp, deveined and shelled. I like larger shrimp. Any size would probably work just fine.
1 green bell pepper seeded and coarsely chopped
1 red bell pepper seeded and coarsely chopped
1 yellow bell pepper seeded and coarsely chopped
1 medium onion coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons of fresh chopped parsley
28 ounces of canned diced tomato drained but reserve the liquid
1 tablespoon of crushed thyme
2 tablespoons of crushed or diced garlic
Black pepper to taste
1 teaspoon chili powder (more or less to taste)
Butterfly the chicken breasts and grill in a hot pan with a little olive oil. Make sure to give the chicken a good sear and turn as needed to brown nicely on each side. Cook until the chicken is JUST done. Set aside, when cooled enough to handle cut in to half-inch pieces.
If using the precooked chicken sausage, slice the chicken sausage in to ¼ inch thick slices and set aside.
If using raw sausage or a sausage like Chorizo, slice in to ¼ inch slices and fry in the pan you just removed the chicken from. You want to render the fats and give the Chorizo a nice sear. Set aside.
There should be plenty of fats in the pan now from the chicken (and the Chorizo if you used them). Add the peppers, onion and garlic in the pan and give them a good stir fry, you want the peppers and onions to begin to wilt and caramelize just a slight bit. Add chili powder and thyme and black pepper to taste. Add in the chicken and sausage.
Give the spice a little time to blend in and give up their flavors while stirring. Now add the tomatoes. Stir well and add a few spoonfuls of the reserved liquids from the tomatoes to help deglaze the pan.
Now add the shrimp and continue to cook until the shrimp are cooked through, stirring constantly. Add the reserved liquid a few ounces at a time to maintain a “wet sauce” but not make it soup-like. Add the chopped parsley right at the end of the cooking time and stir in.
As soon as the shrimp is cooked through the dish is ready. Taste the broth and season to taste.
Serve over rice with a bottle of hot sauce at the table. This is also very good over linguine
Talking about Weight Loss
Of course some of the conversation concerned weight loss. I have lost a few pounds as you all know. Inevitably we talked about it. When you lose over 100 pounds people want to talk about it and I am really happy to oblige.
The question always comes up and I cannot answer it strongly enough to make it clear I guess. I have not now, nor have I ever at any time during this Journey of mine been on a special diet. I am not on Paleo, Atkins, South Beach…… OR ANY OTHER dig name or little name or self invented diet. I am not on a diet.
The fact of the matter is that I eat less than I used to.
I don’t PIG OUT the way I used to. I had some more bread tonight than I normally would and I had a very small piece of pie today. I stayed within the calorie limits I place on myself and YES I COUNT CALORIES.
The point I am making here is simple to me. Eat less, eat right, move more. That is what I tell friends and family and complete strangers. I am thinking of making it in to the T-Shirt.
I want to live this way for the rest of my life. I love it. I enjoy being lean. I love the way I eat and I love talking about the weight loss. I am proud that I have done this without a special diet. Without Juicing. Without fasting. Without any of the fads that seem to crop up each spring along with the dandelions. This has led some to think that A) I am knowledgeable about weight loss and B) that I am disdainful of the diets and such.
I was able to do it and the temptation is to say that anyone can do it if I can but I know it is not true. I cannot tell you why I have been able to do it so far. Nearly 8 months since reaching my goal weight I am still under that weight and maintaining it. I fully expect to lose 5-10 more pounds with the arrival of spring.
So I want to clarify:
A) I am not knowledgeable about weight loss. I only know what has worked for me and what continues to work for me. I know that a proper nutritional profile is critical so I make sure to eat a well-rounded diet of grains, vegetables, fruits and proteins. I watch my calories to make sure that I stay within the plan.
I know that exercise is important so I walk, hike, bike…
I also know that most weight loss comes from how much you eat not how much you exercise. I try to maintain a balance.
B) I am not disdainful of, negative about, or against the diets and surgeries and medications that are out there. For me they have proven unnecessary. I cannot tell you why.
I am proud that I have done it without the diets and such but I know that there are people for whom they represent the best options. I can only say this: you need to learn to eat right and eat less if you are going to maintain the weight loss after you reach your goal and you move away from the diet.
And talk about it. Talk about it all the time. It will help you keep a focus on it.