Sunday, October 3

Cooking Ahead

I felt like such a whiner after my last post. I nearly deleted it but it had already hit RSS and feedburner so I didn't bother. Many thanks to the commenters for being so kind and supportive. Actually, I have to say the lowcarb community is probably the most friendly genre of the several I've been in online over the last 17 years!


So after thinking about it I decided the first and primary problem is that if I get lazy or work too much so I'm not prepared, I end up running out of food that is decent to eat or that doesn't take eons. Worse, it only takes going without food for awhile or even worse eating badly, to ensure I have no energy for a major cooking job anyway. I know what I can do, should do, I know a whole list of steps that are ideal for making this sort of thing easier, but following them is another story!

The Cook-Ahead Plan:

Chicken breasts are easy.

Last week I cooked 5# of chicken breasts ahead and used them in stuff all week.

Stir-fried veggies are a little more time consuming. But versatile.

Then at some ungodly hour Monday morning-Sunday night, I used the wok to sautee onions, peppers, sliced zucchini, sliced yellow squash, and sliced crimini mushrooms. I dislike veggies. I can eat peppers in any way, and tomatoes in most, and I love mushrooms sauteed, but if I'm to eat zukes or squash, it will only be sauteed so it kinda blends in with other stuff. I make zero effort to eat anything outside this group.

I use organic nonhydrogenated palm shortening from on this. I only buy the gallon if it's on sale, when it's about half price, or I just can't afford the stuff at all. I love it though--it imparts a 'warmth' but has no real taste, is more solid than bacon grease at room temp but softer than coconut oil, and has a really high smoke point so is ideal for stir-fry. I have a slightly oversized grease-holder on the counter that I keep full of the stuff.

I'm wondering if adding it (melted but not hot) to bacon grease for homemade mayo would work. I'm not sure what the real diff is between the shortening and the oil.

I put the veggies in a storage bowl and Monday nuked a little and dropped it inside an omelette for the kid's breakfast. Tuesday did the same thing and made one for me. And Thursday I used the remainders, pureed with some water in the blender, to add to my beef stock and spiced tomato sauce/paste soup. (Even just sauteed mushrooms dropped in are awesome with that.) Friday we added shredded baked chicken and let it simmer a long time, and then it was gone. We serve that soup with some cream mixed in the bowl on serving... it's wonderful.

That worked very well as a 'food ahead'. I had thought of cooking actual 'food' ahead like the chicken, but hadn't before given too much thought to cooking 'ingredients' ahead. That worked out really well and gave me some options. For example I could have shredded a chicken breast, added some of the veggies, heated it up in a small sautee pan, and then put some pepperjack cheese over the top till melty. That would have been good too. There's lots of options.

I am hoping to do another batch of fresh veggies in the wok tonight, for this coming week.

Mountains of Pork

Today I prepped 11 pounds of pork loin for my big 8.5 quart crockpot. I am making carnitas meat. I've never done this before. I usually make chili verde with the pork, but it requires cubing it -- a huge process as there is a lot of meat -- then braising it, yet more work -- then sauteeing the onions and peppers -- all before I can even turn on the crockpot. With the carnitas recipe, I just had to add a bunch of spices to chicken stock, I cut the 5.5# loins into 5 pieces each, and put in the pot and walked away. I'm cooking it a long time, because the pork loin (as opposed to tenderloin) is a lot tougher. I have these "bear claw" things I got from long ago (to make carnitas, ironically, and I have never done so until now!) that makes short work of shredding meat.

Oh yeah. I thought the freezer Ziploc was chicken stock but it turned out it was beef stock. Whoops. So we will see how this is with beef stock. Actually, I had one 14.5oz can chicken stock I'd already added, and what was probably a little over a quart of the beef stock, and then a bunch of water (as my recipe was for 3# and I had 11#, and it had 4 cups of ckn stock). I am sort of infamous for my inability to make any recipe just as-is but this time truly it's just that I was mistaken about what I had on hand. The beef stock smelled pretty good (from one of my roasts) so I hope it still comes out ok!

Need some chicken stock. Maybe a stew while I'm at it.

I have the other half of a dozen chicken drumsticks to cook. I don't like drumsticks. But, they were really cheap at 4.5# for $5. So I figured I will roast them, fork off just the most obvious meat, use that to make something like a pesto chicken salad (or to add to omelettes for the kid before school in the morning), and then throw all the drumsticks into a stock pot. So there'd be some roasted meat and bones. I don't know how well this will work because I've never done it before. But I feel like I need to make a better attempt to learn to cook the less expensive stuff.

I've back-slid on my kefir.

My kefir's been in stasis in the fridge for quite a long time. I rinsed it off and put it in a fresh jar with some milk. I will have to do a few milk changes (not drinking that) to get them back to decent health I imagine, but I have hope. I would like to use kefir to make the occasional berry dessert -- I don't want to ingest 'milk' unless it's kefir. I read everything I could find about gut bacteria and it seemed like a good thing.

I read this article about gut bacteria. They found that (don't read this if you're eating) an actual injection of a bit of the feces of a healthy person into the large intestine of someone who is not, can have astounding effects, as the bazillions of bacteria colonize and can change the gut bacteria in a major way. I don't have any healthy donors to get that gross with me unfortunately (I can just imagine asking someone for this. Haha!), and kefir may well die in the stomach for all I know (if even a tad bit survives, it's worth it), so that's what I have for now.

Tonight's Dinner

I found this thing in the jar section called "Vodka Sauce." (Tomatoes, cheese, vodka, herbs.) It sounded good. There was a ridiculously expensive "home made Rao's" version so I thought I would try that. I cut up some organic boneless/skinless chicken thighs into small pieces (quite small) and mixed it in that in a pyrex square baking pan and I'm cooking it for an hour. I didn't know what else to do with it... I don't eat pasta, after all, which was the only reference on the jar. I did add a tiny bit of italian herb seasoning, and 2 diced garlic cloves sprinkled about, and just a few red pepper flakes, to it before baking. I hope it's decent. If it is, I will look into how to make my own homemade "vodka sauce." I am not real big on the taste of spaghetti sauce (not without pasta under it anyway :-)) but maybe I'll like this better. It's in the oven.

I'm hoping that all this effort means I eat well this week.

Oh yeah. I did lose a lot of water weight... 16# of it the last 7 days (current weight 404, from 420). This is not unusual by the way, so it's no big deal -- I carry about that much or more water if I'm eating high carb.

I certainly feel more limber, and energetic, as a result. Getting a lot of exercise even though the restroom is across the hall... going back on LC, for me, is a rather trying period of running to the loo every short while!



WyomingDiva said...

Congrats on the weightloss! And...I applaud your efforts to cook ahead. I know that helped me when I was first doing LC. Hmmm...maybe I better do that again! Hope your week is great, PJ. Glad you are posting!


carne said...

Congrats on the weight loss. Hot damn! 17 pounds is 17 pounds......

Glad to hear you're cooking and preparing....very good idea!

Also would be good to have some foods that are easy to eat such as nuts, cheese, and deli meats. Can make some pretty nice roll ups with deli meats and cheese.

Orodemniades said...

Funnily enough, I just got some red palm oil from Tropical Traditions the other day. I've not tried the shortening, but I can tell you that the oil is chock full of Vitamin A (the reason I bought it, as I have acne rosacea and am just starting my horrible winter breakout) and very strong tasting. Which isn't bad, I love carrots, but a leetle bit goes a long way. Having said that, I totally get why it's necessary for some African cuisines, for which I now must do some experrrimenting.

I, too, need to cook more in larger batches. Unfortunately I'm so frequently exhausted (I work part time and have a 2 1/2 yo) that working up the oomph to do that style of cooking is beyond my reach.

I don't know about you, but it's been a hard summer, foodwise. It' been so hot and I haven't wanted to cook, I try not to eat the deadly nightshades and I'm trying and failing miserably to quit dairy apart from butter. Veggies are so freakin' expensive I rely on frozen stuff, or the cold-weather veggies like kale and cabbage and brussels sprouts, and honestly, there are days when I don't want to eat a boiled vegetable.

/heavy sigh

PJ said...

Carne - I forgot about rollups, that's a good idea, thanks!

Oro - I was so exhausted when my kid was a toddler! You have my sympathies there. :-) I don't care for palm oil; the shortening has no flavor really, the oil certainly does. As for nightshades wouldn't it figure that's about the only veggie I actually like!!