It has been nearly 2 years since I’ve blogged. I have no excuses except that life has turned, twisted, and changed as it does for most people, and I wasn’t sure I felt like blogging anymore. But, last night I got inspired again, watching Chef with our great friends MM and CT at their gorgeous home in New Hampshire. These past 4 days have been a food and wine fest combined with swimming in their pond, long walks, a few hikes, and one restricted calorie dinner. As this blog’s subtitle notes, this is about “Food, Love and Life (not necessarily in that order)”, and it is again time for me to reflect on those and write about them here.
I have done so much and so little in the past 2 years since I’ve returned from Spain. Maybe one day I’ll revisit those years, but for me – for now – this is the time I want to write about. So, here it goes…
The top picture is a lobster boil we had on Sunday. Fresh lobsters, sweet corn, chorizo, baby potatoes, steamers, shrimp and garlic butter for dipping. Spectacular! Two nights ago, MM made pesto pizza with garlic, basil, and tomatoes from his garden. For several days running, we’ve had gorgeous beet root salads (again from his garden). Today, it’s cubano-esque sandwiches with fresh pickles and marinated onions (See Carnet’s ala David Chang’s salt and sugar quick pickle recipe, below), a sesame-tamari-dry mustard-olive oil-mirin-worcestire reduction from the pork tenderloin I marinated, gruyere cheese, and MM’s “mushroom bacon” (see recipe below). And, there has been cava, cava, and more cava, involved, every day – an ode to Quim. Cava goes with everything, especially rose cava on an 80+ degree fahrenheit day while floating in a tire in the pond.
There are no pics of us in the pond (thank goodness), but below are a few pics I took of this gorgeous farmland and NH’s wildflowers while I went on a long walk today. This is Americana at its finest.
To temper our very large and very fun caloric intake over the past several days, last night C and I decided to embark upon a new eating regime that MM and CT have instituted 2x/week at their house. It’s a calorie restriction “diet” (although I hate that word and dispute that I will ever go on a diet) that has some foundation in science. I’m not an expert, but MM (a software engineer with a very analytical mind) has done a bunch of research on it and he and his wife have been experimenting with it for about a month. The very broad idea behind calorie restriction for short durations (also known as intermittent fasting) is to change up your metabolic rate. There are some studies that show animals live longer and there are some that suggest that humans live healthier lives – less metabolic syndrome, Type 2 diabetes, less of the bad type of cholesterol that blocks your arteries – with less caloric intake while upping their fiber in the form of fruits and vegetables. This “eating regime” (not a diet) is more akin to eating vegan or vegetarian for a day or so and eating minimal or no grains.
MM strives to eat 600 calories on Mondays and Wednesdays. His wife: 500-600 calories each of those days. Here’s what we ate on the restricted calorie day:
1/2 cup corn and quinoa cereal with 1/2 c. almond milk – about 150 calories
or you could eat 2 hard boiled eggs and some steamed greens for about the same amount of calories
Salad of all greens, cucumbers and carrots with a fresh lemon juice, shallot, rice wine vinegar, water, salt and pepper dressing – about 30 calories
Christine’s lunch: 2 Tbl. hummus, 1/2 cup carrots, several cucumber slices, 10 almonds (6 calories each for a total of 60 calories in almonds), 1 slice of cheese – about 250 calories total
MM’s zucchini pasta with fresh tomato sauce – tomatoes from his garden, onions, garlic, fresh basil, capers, salt, pepper in 1 tablespoon of water, all steamed down to form a chunky, hot tomato sauce, served on top of thin strips of zucchini that have been steamed for 1-2 minutes + 1 glass of wine = 300 calories total (5 oz. glass of wine is about 120-150 calories, depending on the type of wine).
We also had a salad of fresh beet roots and baby lettuces, topped with a shallot, lemon, balsamic, water, salt and pepper salad dressing. About 30 calories.
Throughout the rest of the day, I sipped on lemon water and iced black coffee. I did not do any cardio or hardcore exercise that made me burn a bunch of calories but I did go on a 1.5 hour walk. Surprising to me, I wasn’t super hungry until about an hour before dinner (6:00 p.m.) and then my stomach was growling.
Here’s the trick: you can eat as many raw veggies you want throughout the day, as they are very very low in calories and high in fiber. Some are high in water content (especially cucumbers and celery), so they fill you up. You have to be a bit more careful about which fruits you eat. For example, a small red apple has about 70 calories, but peaches and nectarines in season now have less.
I’m not going to lie and say it will be easy if you’re used to eating a ton of food each day (especially rich foods), which C and I are. However, if you have some will power and treat it as a part of your eating regime, knowing that 5 out of the 7 days, you’re not restricting your calories, it is much easier than I thought. We’re going to try it 2 days/week and see how we do. To help each of us do it and to share new recipes with the calorie restriction theme, Carnet created a blog called the Hungry Wino at https://www.tumblr.com/blog/hungrywino. You’ll find the dinner recipes from last night on that blog.
But, back to today’s lunch: Cubano sandwiches done the New Hampshire way: thinly sliced roasted pork loin with the pork marinade reduction on baguettes with Carnet’s salt and sugar cucumber and onion pickles, freshly sliced tomatoes, mustard, gruyere and white cheddar cheese and MM’s mushroom bacon. They were sooooo good. Here are a few pics from prep to finished product.
Here are two prep pictures of the insides of the cubanos, pre-grilling:
Post-grilling and wrapped for safe transport:
Finally, here are a few of the super simple condiment recipes:
Carnet’s salt and sugar quick pickle recipe:
Combine 2 tablespoons of sugar and 1 tablespoon salt in a bowl (so a 2 to 1 ratio of sugar to salt). Cut up fresh veggies – cucumbers, carrots, onion, watermelon, whatever you want to pickle, and sprinkle the sugar/salt mix over them. Toss and let sit for 5-10 minutes. Serve immediately. We found that the onions needed to be rinsed as the brine was too salty on them, but the cucumbers absorbed the sugar/salt mix perfectly.
MM’s mushroom “bacon” recipe:
1 large bunch oyster mushrooms, thinly sliced. If you can’t find oyster mushrooms, shitakes are a decent substitute. Put the sliced mushroom in a bowl with a splash of EVOO, salt, and pepper (more pepper than the salt). Don’t use too much olive oil, a what you’re doing is drying out the mushrooms, essentially. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and put in the over at 180 degrees F for about an hour, depending upon the moisture content of the mushrooms. Then, crank the heat up to 350 and let them go for another 10 minutes or so until a little crispy. These are a delicious and healthy alternative to bacon on salads and sandwiches!
So, this is it for the day. Happy eating!