Hot tamale!

When it comes to food, I am much blessed.  Not only is my wife a great cook — but so are all three of my children.

A couple of days ago, Aaron — my son who is home on winter break from grad school — decided to make something he’s never made before: tamales!

Aaron and his tamales

Alicia told him that they were a lot of work, and that it’s great for a family activity.  A kind of party.  With lots of people helping.  A tamales making party.

Yesterday, he went shopping.  Apparently, a nice Mexican lady at a Mexican grocery store took him under her wing and not only gave him the recipe, but sold him everything he needed to make them.

Today, he got up, had a cup of coffee, and got busy in the kitchen.  After about four hours, I could see he was getting frustrated.  He was in the middle of something bigger than he expected.

Tamale making is labor intensive.

Enter Alicia.  She helped.

At six o’clock this evening, I unwrapped the husk of my first tamale.

It was fantastic — so I ate another.  And another.  And another.

He made a huge number of tamales.  He plans to freeze some, and give some for gifts.

The kitchen looked like it had been hit by Hurricane Hugo.  Alicia cleaned it after the last tamale was cooked.

Thanks to Lose It!, I’ve lost 28 pounds in the past seven months.  Actually, I lost almost all of that weight in the first four months.  For the past three, I’ve maintained — intending (but without pressuring myself too much) to lose 10 more.  Thus, each day, I count my calories.

After about seven tamales, I announced that I would have only one more and wasn’t sure how to count these calories.

“You don’t want to know,” Aaron said.

“They’re a lot?” I asked.

“Oh yeah.  A lot.”

“Don’t tell him,” warned Alicia.

“There’s lard in ’em,” Aaron said.

I know when I eat out there’s a chance I’m consuming a little lard, perhaps bacon fat — but I don’t eat out a lot — and lard is not something I eat at home, knowingly.  At home, I choose tasty, nutritious food.  I’ve always eaten very healthy, but twice as much as I should.

“The lady in the store said they had to have lard,” he said.  “In order to taste good.”

It’s so true that context is everything.

Somehow, I’m not craving tamales right now.  They still smell good.  They still look good.  But I’m not hungry.  Not a bit.  I just walked a couple of miles and, as I sit here pondering how clogged my arteries really are, I’m quite sure I won’t be taking in a lot more food tonight.

My Curry Recipe. I hope it tastes as good as it smells

I’m not much of a cook, but I do love curry.

When I was a student in England, in the late ’70’s, I bought a little paperback curry cookbook. This, I think, is the only cookbook I’ve ever purchased.  I’ve still got it, but never use it.  I did use it, however, back in the 80’s.  And maybe I will again one day.

curry on the way

Now I just do what I do and find out later how it turns out.

It takes about ten minutes of chopping (and opening cans) and at least an hour of simmering.  Two hours is better.

Currently I have a veggie curry simmering on the stove.  Here’s what’s in it:

1. One large, organic onion
2. A gob of garlic
3. A small can of curry paste that I get at a small Asian store.  I have no idea what kind of curry paste this is.  They have a variety and I just grab an assortment and trust that it will delight.  It does.  They all seem to be very good.  And they’re plenty hot.  No additional pepper needed.
4. Olive oil
5. A can of Progresso lentil soup
6. Several carrots
7. One peeled and diced organic apple (it dissolves into the paste)
8. A bag of frozen cauliflower (it also dissolves into the paste)
9. A can of diced, organic tomatoes

Losing some weight with 'my favorite foods'

I’ve lost eleven pounds the past four weeks and plan to lose a little more.

Using a great little iPhone app called Lose It! It’s basically an easy way to log food and count calories.

Lose It! also has a website that offers a forum, social networking, and some interesting reports.  When data is entered on the phone, it’s immediately recorded on the website.  The site, however, doesn’t allow data entry; that’s strictly on the iPhone.

It’s actually been quite easy.  The biggest change I’ve made is cutting down on bread.  I love bread.  I’m also eating smaller portions of rice and pasta.  I also love rice and pasta.

I’ve increased my yogurt intake substantially.

Today, I took a look at the website and noticed it records my favorite foods.  No surprises here, since they are, after all, my favorite foods.

reduced calorie bread
half & half
brown rice
reduced calorie cheese
another kind of yogurt

23 Thanksgiving Statistics

the thanksgiving feast
the thanksgiving feast

1. Number of people in family: 5
2. Number of people in attendance: 5
3. Number of dishes: 8
4. Weight of turkey in pounds: 12
5. Number of helpings of turkey I ate: 4
6. Number of helpings of dressing I ate: 3
7. Years since I’ve been primarily a vegetarian: 7 or 8
8. Months since I last ate turkey: 12
9. Number of turkey sandwiches I ate on Friday: 3
10. Day we moved in this house: Thanksgiving
11. Weather that day: heavy rain
12. Years since that day: 22
13. Size of my waist this week: unknown
14. Kind of pie: pecan
15. Kind of wine: red
16. Number of hours of food preparation: 4
17. Number of people who helped wife cook: 3
18. Person who did not help: me
19. Number of people who helped wash dishes: 3, including me
20. Days ’til I eat meat again: 363
21. Taste of food, including moistness of turkey (1 to 10 scale): 10
22. Number of days we have each 24 hours: 1
23. Number of blessings each day: unquantifiable

Borscht for dinner

I remember my mother and my grandmother drinking borscht.

To the best of my memory, they mixed beet juice and sour cream, shook it in a jar, and drank it from glasses  at room temperature. My grandmother was born in Riga, Latvia. Presumably, this was her family’s Russian recipe.

I was a child. My memory may be off.  But that’s how I remember it.

borsch and salad
borsch and salad

They made no great effort to serve me borscht.  It was a sort of “grown-up” dish.   But I think they offered.  I’m a person who loves food and will try about anything.  I’m picky only to the extent that, at my age, I no longer eat meat and stay away from processed foods — only because I want to be healthy.  But almost anything and everything tastes good.  Borscht is one of the few foods I’ve encountered in my life that did not entice me at all.

We had borscht for dinner last night.  It was a hearty soup, served hot.  According to Wikipedia, it comes both hot and cold.

My daughter, Sarah, and my son, Aaron, spent two weeks last year, over Christmas, in Israel — thanks to the Birthright Israel program.

It was there that Aaron ate borscht.  He liked it, and he got a recipe.

Aaron's dinner
Aaron's dinner

When he returned to his home in Asheville, he made some.  According to Aaron, it was terrible.

A teacher at the Jewish school, where he worked had a recipe.  He tried that.  It didn’t work either.

He then asked a woman at a small grocery for her recipe.  The third time was the charm.  He’s made it several times since then.

And he made it for us last night.

Aaron’s borscht was nothing like the borscht my mother and grandmother made.  Served with Aaron’s Mediterranean salad, it was a great meal.