I recently found a series on YouTube recently called “Crash Course: World History”. Each clip runs about 15-20 minutes, and will tackle one topic of world history. In addition to the Western history that most of us learned in school, this series discusses Eastern history as well. I had no idea that the history classes I had in high school skipped so much!
If you like history at all, you should check this series out.
I normally eat a one egg omelet breakfast during the week. I crack the egg into the pan, pop the yolk and then throw a slice of cheese on top. It’s yummy. On Saturday, however, I usually eat a two egger, and throw some spinach (or arugula) into it for some variety. They’re dead simple to make, but here’s a recipe anyway!
2 large eggs (I like the brown ones, but use whatever you like)
1 big handful of spinach
grated parmesan cheese (or any hard Italian cheese)
1/2 tbsp butter
salt, pepper, cumin, Sriracha
Get a nice non-stick pan, throw the butter in and melt it. Once it’s all liquid and foamy, throw the spinach in. While the spinach is cooking, I beat the eggs. I usually put in about a tablespoon of water, some salt, pepper and cumin with the eggs before beating them. I use a fork and try to get a decent amount air in the mix. Make sure the whites and the yolks are completely combined. The omelet won’t come out as nicely otherwise.
When the spinach starts to wilt, I add the eggs and make sure that they get all around the pan. When the eggs start to thicken, I add a bunch of yummy cheese. Once the eggs are mostly hard (e.g., cooked through), I fold the omelet. After I let it brown a little more, I flip it onto the plate, throw some Sriracha on top and chow down!
Sorry—no pictures for this one. I forgot, and I’m out of eggs.
One of my major stumbling blocks in losing weight is that I go out to eat—a lot. I’ve found that when I make a meal plan for the week, I tend to not eat out as much. This is good for two reasons: eating out is not cheap—it is very possible to have homemade meals cheaper than anything from McDonald’s—and it’s not particularly healthy.
I don’t usually plan breakfast—my breakfast is too light to have a real plan. For a few months, I ate Nature Valley crunchy granola bars for breakfast. One packages has two bars and 180 calories. Lately, I’ve been eating one-egg mini-omelets with cheese. These add up to about 140 calories (70 calories from each component).
For lunch this week, I’ve planned salads. Salads are quick and easy to make, and they are very easy to change so that I don’t get bored. I have a salad recipe book that I purchased1 for ideas when I’m not feeling particularly creative. This week, I am eating a simple green tuna salad. The ingredients are: a handful of spinach; a handful of arugula; half a small onion, sliced; one can of tuna, drained and rinsed a few times; and some parmesan cheese on top. I make the dressing myself too: 3 parts grapeseed oil (I ran out of Extra Virgin Olive Oil…) to one part white wine vinegar, with a dash of salt and some herbes de provence to kick it up a notch. It’s a very tasty salad, and fills me up very well. Not bad for about 400 calories!
Supper is always the tricky meal. I have the most trouble eating my planned suppers. This week I plan to make a simple chicken stir fry, but I have already managed to not eat it once. The trouble I tend to run into is that I am not home many nights of the week. I won’t be home again until Thursday night, so we’ll see if I actually manage to get to my chicken stir-fry this week.
By keeping my meal plans simple and repeating the items throughout the week, I can buy ingredients once a week and everything averages out to rather low cost. A carton of eggs and a bag of cheese cost maybe $5 together if you buy the good eggs. That’s less than a buck a meal, because the eggs will cover two weeks. A couple of bags of salad greens, a bag of cheese (I’m lazy and grating cheese is a pain.), some onions and 5 cans of tuna cost around $15-$20, which is $3-$4 per meal. Not quite as cheap, but healthy and filling. My chicken stir fry is really cheap. The chicken was $6 for a 3lb bag plus about $3 for veggies. That’s around $2 per meal when you add in the rice and spice costs. Awesome.
1. Twelve Months of Monastery Salads: 200 Divine Recipes for All Seasons. This is a very nice recipe book. Brother Victor-Antoine d’Avila-Latourrette has quite a few very nice cook books—I’ve purchased three. Some recipes are duplicated between books, but overall they are all simple and delicious. I try to buy from my local Catholic book store, but they didn’t stock this particular book.
There is a slight problem with writing every day’s memorial, feast or solemnity—not every day has one! Instead, here are a few of the things that I keep up with on a (mostly) regular basis.
National Catholic Register (website) – this website is a great daily read. They publish a couple of interesting articles every day, in addition to hosting about a dozen blogs. They also have a twice-daily blog roundup. You have to be careful that this doesn’t take your whole day.
XKCD (website) – this is a nerdy web comic published on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. It’s a fun combination of current events, math, physics, engineering and computer nerds. Sometimes I disagree with the author’s viewpoints, but I’ve never seen one that’s not safe for work.
Crash Course World History (youtube) – this is a YouTube video series published weekly. I haven’t watched all of them, but the first dozen or so are very well done and seem to do a good job of seeing the whole picture.A 15 minute video can’t teach everything about a topic in history, but these do a good job getting the important facts out. They also have a biology course, but I haven’t watched any of those.
Catholic Stuff You Should Know (website, podcast) – this is a semi-regular podcast made by some seminarians and seminarians who are now priests in the Denver Diocese. They are awesome and cover all sorts of interesting Catholic topics. I’ve probably spent way too much time listening to these guys in the last couple of weeks.
In December, my Knights of Columbus council elected me Grand Knight. Since then, life has been a little crazier than usual.
I still plan to finish the “Love” article series, but haven’t had a chance to get the rest of it out. While browsing my local Catholic book store, I found Pope Benedict’s encyclical Deus Caritas Est (God is Love) and want to read that before continuing with that series.
My weight loss plan is not gone, and I have not gone up. I just haven’t dropped as much as I’d have liked. I’m at 229.8lbs as of today. By the end of May I plan to drop to 225lbs or lower–the final goal being between 190lbs and 200lbs. It seems that it is getting harder to drop weight as I get lighter and lighter. My workout has also changed a few times–I’m due for a workout update soon.
I have also retried my gardening attempts this year–last year was not a good year to try it out. Something about setting a record for most days over 100 in recorded history.
I have several other interesting articles planned; hopefully, I will be able to get those written (or at least started) this summer!
I don’t want tiny meatballs that sit, dwarfed, atop a pile of spaghetti. I want meatballs that stand on their own—that don’t need a base of spaghetti to fill you up. I don’t even want spaghetti with my meatballs—that means that I’m just eating filler.
So, without further dramatization, I present my recipe for big meatballs. This time I made them with lamb, but they’re pretty much the same with any meat. The main difference is the spices, and even then not much…
I use dried herbs. Purists will probably insist on fresh. Fresh is fine if you get excited about mincing herbs and go through them before they go bad. Otherwise: dried is close enough.
I cook these in a tasty tomato sauce, so you get a bonus recipe here: zesty tomato sauce!
We need to make the tomato sauce first.
2tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can (14.5oz) diced tomatoes
1 can (6oz) tomato paste
1/2cup veggie/chicken/whatever stock (or water)
2tbsp each: dried oregano, dried parsley
1/2tbsp dried thyme
salt & pepper to taste
1tbsp Tabasco-type sauce
Step 1: Fry the garlic for about a minute in the nice, hot EV Olive Oil.
Step 2: Add the diced tomatoes, tomato paste and stock.
Step 3: Add the herbs, sugar, salt and pepper.
Step 4: Squeeze all that tasty juice out of the lemon and into the sauce.
Step 5: Add the Tabasco. You could also add dried chili flakes or something else spicy. We’re really just doing this to give the sauce one last kick in the pants.
Step 6: Stir it all up. (I hope you felt inclined to stir as you added things, but it should be OK either way.) Set it to simmer while you prep the meatballs.
1lb of ground lamb
8 Ritz-style crackers, crushed up into tiny bits
2tbsp dried basil
1tsp garlic powder
1/2tsp curry powder (yes, really: curry powder)
Step 1: Put it all in a big bowl and get dirty mixing it up with your hands!
Step 2: Fashion 3 MASSIVE 1/3lb meatballs. I said I like them big and I meant it. They may be just as tasty small, if you are so inclined.
Step 3: Place these meatballs gingerly in the tomato sauce, which should be slightly bubbly by now. If the sauce doesn’t cover the meatballs, add some water so that it does. Stir things up a little bit, but be careful not to destroy your works of art.
Step 4: Put a lid on the pan, and let it all simmer 20 minutes.
Step 5: EAT YOUR MEATBALLS. Make sure to ladle copious amounts of sauce on them. I had green beans (you just heat them…) on the side and creamy leek soup as an appetizer with my meatballs.
This should feed 3 hungry people, or 1 massive beast of a hungry person.
This is an Italian recipe for leek soup. I’ll be honest, I got it off another website and didn’t change it much. But my recipe has a picture and much more lively text.
3 average, ordinary, whatever your grocer sells, leeks
2tbsp Olive Oil (Extra Virgin or Pure)
1 box (32oz) of veggie stock—if you get broth don’t add any more salt!
1tbsp ground cumin
2c milk (I like 2%)
parsley, chopped (a nice sized pile)
parmesan cheese (don’t get pre-shredded—it shreds fast and easy and tastes better when you buy a wedge)
Step 1: Clean and chop the leeks. Leeks are somewhat annoying to clean. They are grown by piling sand/dirt up around them so they tend to have lots of dirt in the leaves. The easiest way is to cut the tops off about 1/2 inch below where the leaves all join together and then cut about 1/2 inch off the bottom (that’s just to get rid of the roots). Then cut some slits through about 12 of the remaining leek from the middle to the greener end. Open it up and you should see the dirt. Wash the crap out of these things. In fact, if you can, soak these for a while before proceeding. It’s worth it not to get yummy sand in your soup.
Chopping these things is easy. I just slice them. Since we quartered the thing earlier when cleaning it, it works out nicely.
Step 2: Heat up the Olive Oil in a big pot. (OK, maybe a medium pot works, but my pot is big.)
Step 3: When the Olive Oil is nice and hot (if it’s smoking it’s too hot) add the chopped leeks and fry them for a minute or two—just long enough to show those leeks you mean business.
Step 4: Add the flour and stir it up really good. You want the leeks to be thoroughly coated with flour so that it won’t make clumps when you…
Step 5: Add the veggie stock. Stir while you add it to prevent flour clumps. I use this stuff:
Step 6: Wait 20-30 minutes. Stir occasionally. You want a simmer here. NO BOILING!
Step 7: Remove the pot from the heat and add the milk. Stir while you do this.
Step 8: If you want to blend it, this is where you would do it. I’m lazy, so I didn’t.
Step 9: Put the pot back on the heat for 5 minutes. Remember: Simmer.
Step 10: While simmering, add the chopped parsley and a bunch of freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
Step 11: Scoop it out into bowls and eat up!
This can serve 5 or 6 as a first course and 3ish as a main.
I found this recipe in a cookbook I own, and I didn’t make many changes to it. The cookies came out nicely. They aren’t hard, but they aren’t chewy—the best way to describe it is crumbly.
lemon disassembly in pictures
1 c. butter (softened)
3/4 c. sugar
peel of one lemon, finely shredded
2 c. flour
powdered sugar (if desired)
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Put the butter into a big bowl and mix it for 30 seconds to a minute on medium.
Add the sugar to the bowl and beat it in.
Add the lemon peel and then ad the flour in thirds. It will not seem very doughy, but just beat it until the flour is somewhat mixed in. At the point, mix it a bit with your hands or a spatula.
Make little balls of dough (just grab some of the stuff in the bowl and roll it in your hands). I like to flatten them. The original recipe did not include that step, but I think they’re better when flattened.
Bake them for about 15 minutes, or until the sides are just getting golden. Let them sit for about 5 minutes and transfer them to a wire rack or some other cooling surface. At this point, you can optionally sift powdered sugar onto the cookies. (The powdered sugar is definitely worth it!)
I was watching No Reservations a few weeks back. It was the episode where Bourdain visited Egypt. There were several dishes on that episode that meet the requirements of "my “hardcore” Lent. One of these was a dish called Fül—it consists of mashed up fava beans and several other ingredients. I will post the recipe for it when I get it worked out.
The second dish was a dish called koshari. I based my recipe off of a recipe I found online. I made a few modifications, but kept it mostly the same.
2 medium onions, sliced
3/4 cup uncooked rice (white)
3/4 cup brown lentils
1 cup shell macaroni (elbow macaroni works too)
1 cup cooked chickpeas (at least) dried work too, if you feel like cooking them
I cooked the chickpeas the day before everything else. I bought them dry, because dried chickpeas are cheaper. Cooking them is simple. I soaked them in lots of while I was at work and running errands for a total of about 12 hours. I then drained the water. I then simmered the chickpeas in plenty of new and salted water for a little over two hours. When they were finished, I drained them and put them in the fridge.
Cooking the koshari (the second day)
In a saucepan, put the lentils in plenty of water and bring it to a boil. (Make sure it is salted.) Once the water starts boiling, drop the heat to medium-low and simmer the lentils for 25 minutes. Drain the lentils after they’re done cooking.
Add the lentils back to the saucepan, add at least four cups of water and the rice (and a little salt). Bring the water to a boil, drop the heat and simmer again. This time, simmer the rice and lentils for 20 minutes.
At this point, cook the macaroni according to the package directions. You will want to cook it until tender, not al dente.
In a skillet (or a saucepan), heat about 2 tbsp of vegetable oil until it shimmers. Add the garlic to the oil. After a minute or so, add the tomatoes, cumin, sambal and vinegar to the pan. Bring the sauce to a boil. Once it boils, drop the heat and simmer the sauce until everything is ready. Make sure to crush the tomatoes well when stirring the sauce occasionally.
In yet another skillet, heat some more oil. (You’ll want maybe 3 or 4 tbsp this time.) Once it’s ready, add the sliced onions and brown them. Once they are brown add some water and continue cooking the onions. You’ll want to repeat this a few times until the onions are caramelized.
At this point, you should have five separate dishes. These are traditionally layered in the following order: rice/lentil mix, macaroni, spicy tomato sauce, chickpeas and finally onions.
I decided that I wanted to take Lent seriously this year and do something that I would notice and might do me some good. A good friend of mine said that last year he did the Orthodox Lenten fast. He told me a little about it, so I decided I should investigate it a little bit.
It basically boils down: no meat, no fish with backbones (shellfish and squid is ok), no olive oil, no dairy/eggs and no wine/hard liquor. According to one source, this actually includes all oils and all alcohols! So, I did some more research on the topic, and I found that before the 20th century, the Catholic Lenten fast was much closer to the current Orthodox Lenten fast. It essentially bars eating meat and dairy products. Both traditions (the current Orthodox and former Catholic) make exceptions for the ill, pregnant, young, etc.
So I decided I would use older Orthodox food restrictions (i.e. beer and non-olive oil are acceptable) with the common fasting tradition. The Orthodox Lenten tradition also calls for totals fasts on several days, but recognizes that it is very difficult for most working people to complete these. The Orthodox tradition also does not completely relax their restrictions on Sundays and Holy Days during Lent, which I think is partially due to the different method of counting the days of Lent used by the Orthodox churches.
So, my Lenten sacrifice, which I like to call “hardcore” Lent (because it sounds cool) and many people I know like to call “you’re crazy” Lent boils down to the following:
No fish (excepting shellfish)
No dairy or eggs
No alcohol (excepting beer)
No eating between meals
One full meal a day and two smaller meals that do not add up to the larger.
So far, it’s been rough for me. I haven’t quite gotten my meal sizes figured out yet, but I’m carefully monitoring and adjusting them. I’ve also cut down my workouts a bit due to the decrease in calorie intake. My current workout schedule is:
Monday: run 2 miles
Tuesday: Leg weights
Wednesday: Arm weights
Thursday: Leg weights
Friday: Arm weights / run .5 miles
So far I’ve already lost more weight than normal with this Lenten diet. I also look forward to Sundays and obligatory feast days a lot more than I used to. (The two feast days during Lent that we are taking off are St. Joseph’s feast day on March 18 and the Annunciation on March 25.)