Saturday, January 17

What to DO With All These Eggs? Need Ideas!

I live in a small town. We have no health food stores. In fact, since the local expansion to Super-Walmart, we now have very little else; other grocers in the city closed down not long after S-WM made their mark. There is a teeeny grocer a few doors down from me, fortunately, but that's it.

So on the internet, people are always waxing on about organic this and that. I laugh. Ha ha! Like I'm going to find organic stuff ANYWHERE short of driving an hour up Interstate 44, over the state line and into Joplin Missouri, a relatively large city that locally appears to famous for an interesting combination of things, such as "having the only halfway real (if mostly chain) restaurants in 100 miles" and "having the largest gay/lesbian population in the Midwest" and "having actual health food stores and metaphysical bookstores."

(How the middle one got in there I don't know, but I attribute some relation to things like the first and last to it. Some degree of 'thinking outside the box' like health food stores and metaphysics does seem to parallel that culture, if my coworkers, based in San Francisco, are any clue.)

So when I find something in Wal-Mart that is organic -- rare, but it does exist -- it costs a small fortune. Too much for a single mom to easily splurge on without feeling more guilty about the money than about the non-organic butter.

So Regina Wilshire's advice to me previously had included really trying to find organic sources of eggs, butter, etc. in particular (high-fat foods). (I guess since toxins store in fat, this probably makes sense.)

One day I was standing in Wal-Mart pondering eggs. This had become a really major philosophical endeavor. There were various designations on eggs. Free range? Organic? Omega-3? I read the boxes carefully. It seemed to me that the ones most pushing how gloriously healthy the eggs and chickens were, had a rather narrow parameter for that. In my head I imagined some employee in muck-boots walking past chicken cages holding out a polaroid in front of the bars of a field under the blue sky, and this qualifying them as 'free range' -- "they saw field and fresh air daily!" or something.

While pondering deeply, some woman nearly ran her cart into me. I was not distracted from the important task of deciding whether ANY of the eggs were worth the substantial price more than "plain" eggs though, and I pondered without interruption, until my stepmother said, "HEY!" and broke my trance.

"Good grief! Must be FASCINATING reading," she observed, as I stood with two cartons of eggs in my hands.

"Which is better?" I asked. "And why do they all cost so insanely much? Does it really cost that much more to NOT torture chickens for eggs?"

She shrugged. "I have no idea. I buy the Omega-3 because they're healthier."

I pondered whether I should buy the free-range because I want animals to be treated well. But reading the fine print bothered me. I finally gave up altogether, after another look at the prices, and bought the typical eggs.

I was reading Craigslist online later on and what should I see, but an ad for organic eggs from someone with chickens. Now, it's not very near me, but I was going to the city at least sometimes back then (before my car died, sigh!) so it was an interesting chance. I worked out a visit, and I went to see the fellow.

He's an old navy guy, long retired, permanently on oxygen, living alone in a trailer house out in the middle of nowhere, on about 5-10 acres. As my kid and I walked toward the house, several of the stars of this show came to see us, clucking and fluffing and pecking in the grass and dirt. In the grass leading to a big field next to the house, I saw a duck waddling around.

The son of the fellow living there said, "My dad opens the barn door in the morning and they follow him out, walk around all day in the field and around the property, and in the evening they follow him back in again. He has corn in the barn in case they are still hungry, so they do eat that grain, but they also eat lots of bugs and things like that. The eggs range from off-white to darkest brown."

He was asking $1/dozen. Now given the eggs in the store are more than that, and they are crap comparatively, that didn't seem fair to me. I told him I'd pay him $2/dozen. And a month ago, seeing how the prices had gone up for eggs in the stores, I started paying him $3/dozen. If he were selling them IN a store he could get more than that. I am not averse to the price. They're good stuff. AND in spring through early fall, he has (unfertilized) DUCK eggs too! They're light green, large and awesome.

Every two weeks I buy whatever he has. This is in part because I know he needs the money, and this way he doesn't have to worry about finding someone else to sell to. Usually he was getting about 3-4 dozen a week, and the kid and I on lowcarb can go through a dozen a day between us. But my car blew a headgasket that is not fixable, I haven't money for another car, which has made it hard for me to get to him. He has driven out to me and I pay him extra for that. And I haven't been eating very many eggs in some time.

The eggs last a LONG time. WAY longer than I've ever seen a store egg last.

So today I bought what he had, which went back to end of December since I hadn't had a car to get to him (his son brought them to me).

Look at this picture. This is what I had in my fridge when he came. IN ADDITION to THREE DOZEN I had in a pan on the stove boiling.

To which I have now added TWELVE AND A HALF DOZEN MORE!

(No comments about my PROCESSED FOOD refrigerator there -- it doesn't always look like that, I swear. ;-))

OK, so I have several dozen in the drawer, 12.5 dozen in the fridge, and 3 dozen boiled. I can probably give away 6 dozen of the new ones to family. But that still leaves me with like 12 dozen left!

What the heck do I DO with all these eggs?? I mean it's only humanly possible to eat so many eggs at once!

Idea #1: I've decided I'll get some more yogurt and half&half, I have lots of frozen berries, and I will make more fruity-shakes with a little protein powder and a few eggs -- I could go through a few like that daily.

Idea #2: Since I just got my new container of organic non-hydrogenated palm shortening, I can have fried eggs. If I make a few strips of bacon, and then add some shortening, it's awesome for bacon-grease-fried-eggs... yum. OK I can go through a few like that daily.

Idea #3: No. I'm so sick of scrambled eggs I could vomit. So that's out.

Idea #4: I'm thinking if I made a quiche (or three??) that had onions, mushrooms, bell peppers, cheese and herbs -- lots of them -- I could freeze that, right? I've only kept those in storage containers in the fridge and nuked them. Do eggs freeze??

Idea #5: Deviled eggs. I can only eat so many of those though, and the kid doesn't like the white part so they're wasted, so not that one.

Idea #6: Egg salad. I can do a little of that, but we can only eat so much of that and it's a little carby and VERY caloric thanks to the mayo. Can you freeze egg salad??

What else?? Do you guys have ideas for what I can do to USE THESE UP in a way that maybe stores them for the future -- or at least gives me some way to ingest them I'm not sick of?

(If I chopped up the boiled eggs and dehydrated them, then what? Could I use the powdered eggs in some way??)


Thursday, January 15

Foodism and My Freezer Fetish

Every time I return to lowcarb (and let's not laugh about that phrase -- why do I leave it??), I experience the same kind of humorous effect: Foodism.

Suddenly everything is defined by food. And every food is defined by its qualities. Not only that, everything ELSE is defined by food's qualities, or issues of diet. I can come up with analogies to everything from football to metaphysics, based solely on my lowcarb philosophy and food. It's like there is this giant filter that shrinks down into "lowcarb-colored glasses". I see everything through it.

So this cycle has a funny new element: I have become unusually obsessed with my freezer. You know how some people collect kitchen stuff with roosters, or everything that has clowns, or God knows what else -- a "collection" obsession. I have one. With me, it's about food -- in particular, lots of "stored food that is lowcarb and fast/easy to cook."

Having several times gone off lowcarb in part because there was nothing to eat, and what "else" I ate promptly led to even worse decisions, and because my child in my view is chronically hungry for some reason, I really want to have STUFF IN THE FREEZER. I have a huge freezer in the garage and a normal freezer above my fridge. I'm working on a gradual collection of these square 5.2 cup rubbermaid containers that freeze or nuke just fine.

I gotta make stuff the kid likes, although I like spicier foods. I make stuff that is CHEAP and FAST as much as possible. I crockpot all kinds of stuff, ladle it out into 'take-alongs' rubbermaid storage containers and stack 'em in the freezer. I can take one out when I know I need food tomorrow -- it's 2-4 servings for the 5 cups of food in the bowl. I mean 'real' servings, LOL, not the size normally allotted but what we actually eat. If I need to eat soon I defrost it in the microwave, takes about 30 minutes for that, then a few minutes more for each bowl to heat it.

I'm a proletariat when it comes to food, apparently. We try to have hamburger and eggs and bacon and shred-cheese around all the time since those are pretty much the details we do "around" our staples of "stew and meats" (still working to minimize the cheese thing).

Here's what I'm gradually adding to my freezer, at the same time we're eating the stuff. The beans are carby but make a big difference in quality, especially if when you're done, you use beaters to get rid of any burger chunks; the beans cook out and blend well so it's thicker. We are not VLC (very-low-carb <30) anymore, I will let it go to about 70 carbs a day but usually if we exceed VLC it's because of quantity eaten of something like beans.

The more meat and fewer beans, the more lowcarb it is of course. When I say "a bunch of" burger I mean, "most the pot is burger, with some veggies and beans and spices/sauce." Because these don't have highcarb fillers like potatoes or corn starch when it's over, much of their thickness is because they are dominantly MEAT.

Low-Carb Proletarian:

Bulk Crock-pot Freezer Food Galore

Burger Stew
bunch of cheap burger
every veggie you can find, cut small
bunch of seasoning, we mix taco and chili
a jar of spaghetti sauce
bunch of soaked shell beans, we mix black-pinto-red

Sloppy Stew
bunch of cheap burger like turkey burger
every veggie you can find, cut small, especially peppers/onions
a jar of spaghetti sauce
bunch of sloppy joe seasoning
bunch of soaked shell beans, we mix black-pinto-red

Turkey Stew, v1
bunch of turkey burger
Turkey stock from some previous turkey I baked (save in freezer)
(if I didn't have the real deal I'd have used water and a LOT of bouillon)
Onions, carrots, peas, mushrooms
bunch of soaked shell beans, we mix black-pinto-red
(v2 of this stew uses the remains of a baked turkey, instead of turkeyburger.)

Chili Verde
pork loin cubed and braised (grilled a little)
onions and peppers grilled a little, anaheim chili is good--tasty but fairly mild
Bunch of tomatillos, blendered (if you're lazy: few big jars salsa-verde)
Garlic, spices. Dump into crockpot on high for 7 hours till meat is much softer. This is not a 'stew' so much as 'spiced meat'.

Spicy Burger Chili
bunch of cheap burger
whole package of decased spicy italian sausage, cut up small
onions and peppers and peas and carrots and soaked shell beans
a jar of spaghetti sauce
Bunch of italian herbs

Chili with Beans
bunch of burger, any kind
all the onions/peppers you have
bunch of chili seasoning
a jar of spaghetti sauce
I use leftover taco or spaghetti meat to dump in this
if I have any roast I braise small chunks and add that too

Alfredo Stew
Cut fat off then chunk up as much chicken as possible, any kind
make alfredo or buy it in jars (I'm lazy, I buy jars!)
some peppers, onions, peas and mushrooms are good with this
good with italian spices and lots of peppercorns

I was shocked to discover that turkey burger at walmart sells for $1.79/lb in 3# packages. That's cheaper than even the cheapest beef burger in quantity. So we're going to be having a lot more turkey-burger stews from now on!

I hope in the next couple of days to experiment with using turkey burger and pesto. I love pesto but can't have pasta; it's great with chicken small-chunked, pesto and sliced peppers/chilis, some red pepper flakes; cook the chicken and peppers however you like then dump into the pesto, YUM. (If you like quick chicken dishes or often have cooked turkey/chicken, try the Mexi-Chicken Mixes I posted eons ago - good stuff!)

I have a 5qt and 8.5qt crockpot (and a small sauce/side-type). Basically I buy 6# of turkey burger ($10.74), 2# of shell beans (soaked at least 12 hours) (they're really cheap, that's usually about $1.50-$2), a jar or two of sauce depending on the thing I'm making (most are around $2.38ea at walmart -- alfredo, spaghetti, etc. so around $5), and whatever veggies are fairly cheap and bulky... green bell peppers, carrots, onions, and I usually add frozen peas (not super cheap but yummy), around $10 depending on what you buy and how much. I mix stuff in two huge bowls, chunking the meat as small as possible, then dump the contents into the two crockpots. I mix it a couple times while cooking and then usually use beaters to break up burger chunks.

The beans usually require cooking longer than the 5 hour norm I find, they're slightly crunchy if not cooked longer, even if they are soaked a really long time. If you're cooking a tough meat like cheap pork roast you'll want to do it as long as you can to soften it. If you're cooking peppers you should wait to dump them in until there's max 4 hours left (peppers 'turn' odd when overcooked in the crockpot... trust me on this, your digestive system will thank you). I usually make two things with similar ingredients but different sauce/flavor focus (such as turkey chili and turkey stew).

My 8 qt will give us each a bowl for dinner plus make 5 of the 5-cup containers to put in the freezer and another partial container to stick in the fridge for the next day. My 5 qt will make about 4 containers and a bowl for dinner. So I grant that overall it costs me about $30. But each container for us is at least 2 meals if not more, so that's about 21 servings (meals) total for that which is pretty damn good! My freezer's top-half fits a stack of ice trays and a couple small things, plus 18 of those containers. The bottom half of the freezer is usually a mess of everything-else. I have a big chest freezer in the garage that I put most stuff in that I don't intend to eat right away. Including these containers sometimes! At left is a rather bad cell phone pic the kid took for me to illustrate 10 containers in my freezer. ;-)

Since money's an issue for most single moms like me, it's cool to find stuff you can make that is yummy, requires cooking far less often, can be frozen indefinitely, can be just nuked for a quick meal, and is lowcarb 'real food'. If you make your own ingredients like spaghetti sauce it might be cheaper and a little healthier. If you grow a garden so you've got peppers and onions or peas from that, that's great.

Bulk food may be the only way I survive the long term of lowcarb.


Sunday, January 11

Reverse Psychology and Low-Carb Parenting

As a single mom, I sometimes think that it doesn't matter what the subject under discussion is: whether we're talking about eating well, budgeting, or why my dang bedroom still isn't painted, the answer to the question "What is the factor of most difficulty in this situation?" is always "parenting".

For quite awhile I was pretty miserably depressed over my body having lost interest in losing weight, despite that I seemed to be eating fine. Then my eating got 'iffy at times', which didn't help, but if the result is "not losing weight" no matter what you do, it gets rather difficult to convince yourself that you really should eat 'meat' instead of 'everything else'. I lost interest in blogging here because I don't want to be a bad example. I lost heart in talking to my friends in a forum because I feel like a poser if I'm not "doing" what I'm talking about well-enough.

Me and the kid ("R") as you may recall from ancient history of this blog, were on lowcarb together for awhile. She lost 5 pants sizes and felt great and was very happy. She lost interest after that though, and the more I leaned on lowcarbing, the more every single meal became a drama-queen event. She is 12 going on 15, 'became a woman' a few months ago, and is SO hormonal it's hard not to pity her frankly. Puberty to mid-teens is like 5 years of solid PMS.

But it became such an issue I finally said, "Fine." and we went back to eating some of what we used to eat, spaghetti with meat sauce and other kinds of grains (thanks to gluten I could barely breathe), and a lot of junk, whatever was fast and near and cheap. At times, I made an effort to be LC myself despite this but I just felt depressed and the urges didn't last long.

I regained a little weight, not a ton but enough to annoy me. About 20#. More than that, but the rest is water weight that will be falling off me over the next few weeks if I'm eating low-carb, so I don't really count that as a weight loss accomplishment.

Over time she has really regained weight. She's also grown a few inches. Her hips and scale weight nearly made me keel over when we measured this morning. I didn't weigh that much until I was 23 and definitely overweight, and I'm a couple inches taller. I tried not to hyperventilate; I try to be casual with her. "Yeah, that's too much babe, we'll have to get that off you, ok." I want her to understand it's possible and believe in it and know she is responsible for not sabotaging her own eating plan and mine as well.

So over the last month she has mourned her size and talked about going back to eating lowcarb. I shrugged, I made it seem like something I didn't consider her seriously interested in so I wasn't either anymore. No more fights 3x a day at meals, no more having a hard enough time making food for ME to eat several times a day let alone her when "she won't eat meat or eggs." About a week ago she admitted that she'd never really disliked meat but was just mad and wanted 'other stuff'. But every time she has brought up something I've basically shrugged it off. Once I said, "Aw, well, I'm fat, I might as well get fatter, it's too much trouble to eat lowcarb." Heh.

Last night she insisted that we "return to lowcarb" today. "Mostly meat," she says. She is insisting also that we take vitamins and drink water, and she wants to exercise a little. Now she insists; it is HER decision and I MUST support her in this, she says!

I tried to be casual. Sure, ok.

I did not leap into the air yelling HALLELUJIAH THANK YOU JESUS YAY-UH! and happy-dance around the room.

Some days, the world goes ok.