Weeks 24 to 28

It’s been a while, and kind of a lot has happened. Mostly, we’ve moved. We no longer have boarders, (we can eat mushrooms again!), and we live in a smaller apartment. The CSA baskets have started arriving, and I shut down my garden, (there’s no garden in the new apartment). I’ve become more active, riding my bike around, and we’re trying to buy much, much, less packaging.

Our move took us from a 7 1/2, (3 or 4 bedroom, depending on how you look at it), to a 4 1/2, (1 or 2 bedroom, again depending on perspective), apartment. We don’t have a garden, but we do have two balconies. We have the biggest kitchen that we’ve ever had, and are loving it. The office isn’t in the laundry room. So far we’re happy here, and so is our cat.

Since we’re now in a 1 bedroom apartment, we no longer have boarders living with us. This means that we’re much more free to try random and strange foods without worrying about them not liking it and going hungry. We love mushrooms, but someone else didn’t, so we’ve been going a bit crazy with the mushrooms over the last couple of weeks. We also got some Kale in our CSA basket last week and are trying to figure out what to do with it.

The CSA baskets have brought us an abundance of early season veggies. We’ve had various kinds of salad, some root vegetables, dill, cilantro, bok choy, and more. We’re working on eating them all. A vegetable soup helped us clean up some odds & ends this weekend, and I’m interested to see what we get this week.

Our new mission to buy less packaging is going well. There have been some interesting hurdles, and it looks like it’ll be quite a ride. It has meant that I am not being tempted by convenience foods, so I can’t complain about that. There’s going to be an announcement about our no garbage mission soon.

Finally, I have become more active. Joanie is working in a part of town about 5 kilometres away and we’ve started riding our bikes up there. I often go up there twice a day, (when she goes and later when she’s done work), so I’m actually getting some real exercise in. There’s even a tough hill at the end of the ride there. This brings us to my waist size, I’m down to 40 inches – the smallest this year! On the budgetary front it’s been tough to calculate. We’ve been shopping more at farmers markets where you don’t really get receipts, so budget updates are on hold until we get some sort of record-keeping figured out.

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Week Twenty-Three Roundup

It’s been a busy week of work & moving, so this is a quick one. The waist size is 40 1/2 inches – down 1/2 inch since last week so climbing up & down stairs moving stuff into the new place must be having some affect. As for the food budget, we spent $150.35 last week, which seems kind of normal.

That’s it for now.

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Hairy Sourdough Starter

The flour & water are mixed

I’ve been trying to start some 100% rye sourdough starter for a while now, and things keep on going wrong. I’m using Gaarp’s Starting a Starter tutorial but using rye flour all of the time, and every time things shut down and go mouldy during the Day 3 step.

Day 1 looks normal, not much action:

Day 1

Then on day 2 things go kind of crazy – in a good way I think. This is what the starter looks like at the beginning of Day 2:

Start of Day 2

Then by the end of Day 2 it looks like this:

End of Day 2

I’ve read that I should expect up maybe 200% growth, but this is crazy. Either way I continue with the directions, throw out half and add my flour & water, then wait for the mixture to double on Day 3. The problem is that there’s never any significant growth on Day 3, things just sit there for a couple of days then go mouldy:

Day 3 - after a couple of days of waiting

After my two previous failed attempts at growing starter I tried moving the jar into my office, hoping that the lower temperatures would help the yeast grow and discourage the mould, but all that appears to have done is make the mould take longer to form, and make it less colourful.

So, the question is: What am I doing wrong, and how do I get my 100% rye starter to grow?

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The Saga of the Rye Bread

I’ve mentioned a few times before that I’m trying to make great 100% rye bread. After that one successful attempt things haven’t gone so well. I tried again to make a yeast-leavened rye. At the beginning the dough looked normal, or so I thought:

Rye Bread Dough, freshly mixed

It rose really well in the bowl, then I put it in the pan. Because of scheduling I had to leave it almost 12 hours in the pan, but before it went in the oven it looked like it was ready to go:

A well-risen rye loaf

When the bread came out of the oven it looked pretty good, but stuck a bit in the pan, so after some wrestling I decided to let it cool in the pan, then took it out. However, this is the cross-section of the loaf:

Rye Fail.

Yeah, total rye fail. A hollow loaf with an inedible mass on one side. Gross. So, I’m going to have to figure out what went wrong. I may try this again, perhaps with a shorter pan proofing time. Also, I may try to let the bread cool in the pan before messing with it – I’m thinking that the inside of the loaf may have been pretty liquid when I was trying to get it out of the pan, (it always seems sticky for a day or so with rye bread, and I’ve read that some rye stays liquid for quite a while). Either way, I’ll bang my head against the rye wall a few more times.

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Week Twenty-Two Roundup

Brown Rice Paella with Shrimp & Sausage - one of the dinners this week, and I'm still eating leftovers!

Twenty-two weeks in and how are things – well, my diet hasn’t improved much from Week Twenty-One. I’ve had a lot of doughnuts & coffee, which, while not meat, are not exactly healthy.

So, the vital stats are: Waist size: 41 inches, Cash spent on food: $125.03.

I made some pretty good hummus this week with roasted red peppers. Here are a couple of photos of the pepper roasting process:

Fresh on the grill

Almost Finished Roasting

Ready to Use

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Week Twenty-One Roundup

For the first half of last week I was the most hardcore food matters eater ever. I ate so may veggies on Monday that I barely ate on Tuesday, then ate more vegetables & fruit salad on Wednesday & Thursday. Then I got into a really busy weekend, and ate at a pub on Friday, Wendy’s on Saturday, and back at the pub on Sunday.

So, how did this work out for us? Well, after all that pub food & beer, my waist size is up 1/2 inch to 41 inches. On the budgetary front I appear to have lost my paper where I calculated everything yesterday, (note to self: Put the paper somewhere safe), but I I know we spent very little on groceries – something like $60. However, the pub/Wendy’s bill made up for it at around $120, so in all we spent $180 on food last week.

This week I’m eating much better so far, and we’re working hard cleaning, and probably painting, a new apartment so hopefully I scrub & sand off some that half inch from last week, and maybe more.

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Great Panini Photo

I had a panini for dinner tonight. It looks good in a photo. Enjoy, and drool:


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End of the Heat Wave

I had mentioned that we were about to have a heat wave here in MontrĂ©al, and would be trying to avoid cooking, or any heat-generating activity, in the house. The heat wave came, and it was hot, but now we’re back to weather that includes low enough nighttime temperatures to cool off the house and make things bearable, even pleasant. So, how did we fare?

We ate a bunch of the veggies & salad that we had prepared ahead of time. Joanie drank some smoothies, I barbecued some smokies, we both drank a lot of iced coffee, and generally we did pretty well. Something that we didn’t take into account was that when it’s hot people are less hungry, so we still have a bunch of veggies that need to be eaten, as well as the stuff for panini sandwiches that never got made.

So, it’s possible to eat like food matters when you’re roasting. We’re ready for summer.

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Continuing (Mis)Adventures with Rye Bread & Rye Sourdough

About the bread. A while ago I was pumped about 100% rye breads. Today I am not so pumped. I tried making another loaf of yeast-leavened 100% rye and it turned out like this:

Yeast-Unleavened Rye

I used bacon grease, and kind of too much of it, to grease the pan, so we refer to this loaf as “the cracker that smells like bacon.” Not exactly a success.

I had also read that the best way to make rye bread is to make sourdough rye, so I started making myself a 100% rye sourdough starter. Instead of becoming great sourdough starter it became great mould. So I tried again, and this is that it looks like:

Mouldy 100% rye sourdough unstarter.

Also mouldy, so I’m 2 for 2 growing mould, and 0 for 2 growing a great yeasty starter. I’m not going to let this stop me – I want sourdough – but with the crazy heat this week it’s too hot to either grow sourdough or use the oven so bread-making is on hold for a week or so.

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Week Twenty Roundup

Twenty weeks in my waist size is 40 1/2 inches and we spent $121.79 on food last week.

I’ve been doing some thinking on the waist size and while it is going down, it is going down very slowly. Now, this may be the route to long-term, permanent weight loss, but more likely it means that I’m being lazy and eating a lot more meat and processed carbs than I should be, so starting this week I’ve refocused and am trying to eat more plants, and eat them as close to their natural state as possible.

We’ve started another food-related exercise here too. We realized that we have a lot of food just sitting in our pantry, freezer, and fridge, that we’re not eating. With a move coming up we don’t really want to cart all of that food to a new apartment just to not eat it there so we’re trying to make as many meals as possible with what we have in the house. We inventoried our food and hit up RecipeZaar to see what we can make with our food, and have a whole folder of recipes that, along with salad from the garden, should feed us for a while. I had some German Lentil Salad for lunch today.

Something else will be affecting our menus for the next few days: the weather. More specifically, the heat. It’s been quite hot yesterday and today and it’s getting hotter so we’re not going to be cooking much. We picked up some tofu today to put into smoothies and I’m making some humous right now, (it’ll be roast garlic humous, using the garlic I roasted the other day), and have a fridge full of vegetables to eat with the humous. It’s a real possibility that we’ll be having smoothies for dinner for the next couple of days.

Finally, with the arrival of the camera, (mentioned in last week’s roundup), and my refocus on eating like food matters it looks like I’ll be posting more often.

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  • What is Choices That Matter?

    I'm a guy named John, and I do most of the writing around here. I went from a really active lifestyle to a really inactive lifestyle very quickly and my body is noticing. On top of that I'm worried about what's happening to our planet, so, I'm trying to do something about it.

    For Christmas I received the book Food Matters, which I found very interesting and inspired me to start changing. Check out my first post for the beginning of the story.