Big Fat Queer

October 2, 2011

I Satisfied a Craving

Last week I passed the sixth week after my weight loss surgery, and one of the things that was added to my approved foods list was pasta. Now, I’m supposed to focus on proteins and minimize carbs, but occasionally I can have some pasta. And now, with the smaller stomach, I can only eat a fraction of what I could before, so it isn’t much pasta at that.

A little over a year ago I saw Scott Conant, the celebrity chef at Scarpetta (among other restaurants), make his famous spaghetti with tomato sauce on the Food Network. I tried it and loved it. In fact I blogged about it.

Tonight I made it again, pictured above, and it satisfied a craving I have had for about a month. I froze enough sauce for two more servings, which I will not have anytime soon because if I eat too much of this I can undo all of my progress. Speaking of which, for those of you who have followed my YouTube postings, you know I have been at a plateau (not losing any weight) for three weeks. Well, over the last four days I lost five pounds, so the plateau seems to have ended. Oddly enough it ended when I increased my caloric intake, which apparently took my body out of starvation mode – or it was coincidence. Hard to know for sure.

The thing about this tomato sauce, is that once you try it you won’t be satisfied with any other tomato based pasta sauce. It is simple, but rich, creamy, unctuous and full of fresh flavor. If you want to make this sauce yourself, follow this link for details.

September 5, 2010

A Breakthrough in Fried Vegetable Technology

This afternoon I felt a little peckish and wanted a snack. Yesterday I went to the neighborhood farmer’s market, which is just a few tables at a weekly flea market a few blocks away. I bought tomatoes and squash. There are many ways to prepare squash, but growing up one of my favorites was fried. Lately I try to avoid breading things with wheat flour so I tried to think of some alternative. A few days ago I made some falafel from a mix and had some of the mix left. So I dusted the slices of squash with falafel mix and fried them quickly in very hot peanut oil. They were very tasty. Crisp on the outside with a strong cumin flavor. I can’t believe the spell check on this blog software does not recognize the word falafel.

The first day of my vacation I had an onion and tomato omelet (one of my favorites) and started doing housework at about 1:30 in the afternoon. I worked until after 10 pm, with a few breaks. It was good exercise. Things got cleaned that hadn’t been cleaned in a long time and I threw away a lot of crap. I also found a few things I could sell. I sold some stackable storage bins and a sewing machine today. I still have an old laptop computer and a brand new never used heavy duty (supports 800 lbs) folding chair. Come on craiglist, help me out. I had some chicken wings (delivered) and cole slaw (home made) for dinner. I rewarded my hard work with a cachaca collada for a night cap, which is basically a pina collada with cachaca instead of rum.

Yesterday I watched movies, took pictures of my items for sale, and had a nice long walk – two miles. It was a gorgeous day. I passed by Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital on my walk. Outside stood a guy with an IV running to his arm from the bag on a pole, and he was smoking a cigarette. I’m so glad I quit in 1986 and never started back. It’s hard to shake. Even cancer won’t scare some people enough to quit. During the day I had the rest of the chicken wings, a tomato sandwich and a burger. Both sandwiches on light wheat bread (40 cals a slice). Friends came over last night to hang out and I had two beers.

Today I had some granola around noon with a golden delicious apple cut up in it and non-fat organic milk. Later I think I will make Eggs in Purgatory again. I still have sauce from the last time. It is thawing now. I am cataloging scenes from my surfing shoot last week and I hope to get it edited soon. I have a couple of other projects I am working on today.

Tomorrow I will probably take it easy, maybe go for a walk and take a camera along. Maybe I’ll catch the guy at Sloan Kettering on break again.

August 30, 2010

Maybe I Need to Drink More

In my 20s and 30s I used to be a heavy drinker. I mean heavy. On some days I might drink the equivalent of two six packs of beer or the better part of a fifth of liquor. Most days I drank some. For a couple of years after that I stopped drinking altogether. In the last 20 years I would describe myself as a light drinker. I don’t drink every day and sometimes a couple of weeks go by without a drop of alcohol. On rare occasions (like a couple of Fridays ago when I went out with friends – I blogged about it here) I drink a lot – for me. But nothing like the old days.

Time magazine just posted a study that says that heavy drinkers outlive non-drinkers. Moderate drinkers live longer than heavier drinkers though. I’m not even a moderate drinker. I guess I should step it up.

Yesterday I recovered from my Saturday at Montauk by watching tv and not much else. I had an onion omelet at midday with high protein, high fiber, low carb toast. For dinner I had two chicken thighs with a coconut milk curry sauce, steamed broccoli, and carrot/mango soup. Note to self: next time try a 2:1 ratio of carrots to mango. I did an even amount this time and probably too much mango.

Today I had a salad for lunch and some mixed nuts in the afternoon. Tonight I will have some low carb pasta with pesto sauce. I had basil left over from when I made Eggs in Purgatory, so last night I made a pesto. I usually like pine nuts with it, but I couldn’t find a small amount and the large amount was very costly. So I used almonds and it tasted fine. I will toss it with angel hair pasta tonight and some protein on the side. I haven’t decided which. Also I’ll have a salad.

Before the day is done I expect I will have walked a mile and a half.

August 26, 2010

Eggs in Purgatory

A couple of days ago my dear friend Diana (PrincessDiana161 on YouTube, @PDi161 on Twitter) posted a picture on facebook of a dish called Eggs in Purgatory. I had never heard of it, but it looked delicious. I looked it up and found several recipes, but it is basically taking your favorite marinara sauce and putting eggs in it and letting them poach 3-5 minutes depending on how well done you want them. Diana suggested adding onions, garlic and pepper flakes, which I did. I really onioned it up. You can serve it over mashed potatoes, pasta, whatever you like. I had it over angel hair pasta (Dreamfields low carb).

I am of the opinion that most food is better with a little runny egg yolk on it, so I poached them for only about three minutes. As is the case any time you make something for the first time, there are improvements I can make. First, my sauce was a little too thin. Not too thin for pasta, but I coudln’t make wells in the sauce to put the eggs in, so I just poached them on top of the sauce. It worked, but it would have been neater with wells. Also my heat was not evenly distributed, so one egg was runny and one was not so runny. Also my plating was not as neat as I would have liked.

Nevertheless, it was delicious. I have lots of marinara left over, so I froze it and will use it again. I had a red leaf lettuce salad on the side with balsamic and olive oil.

I walked a mile and a half today.

My three day weekend has started. The weather is supposed to be nice and I have a couple of video projects in mind, so I will be doing a lot of walking.

August 8, 2010

No Rest For The Wicked



Red Balloon, originally uploaded by FantasticBabblings.

This picture has no relation to this post, but I always think blog posts look more attractive with some kind of image. This balloon was tied to the little iron border surrounding the hedges here on Second Avenue, abandoned, yet still perky and red. This was from my walk yesterday.

I swore I wasn’t going to do any work today. I didn’t do a whale of a lot, but some. I recorded a video this morning about Gender, Sexuality, Violence and Religion. I had assembled the background materials during the week, so it wasn’t a big job; just turn on the camera, record and post. I did finish editing the video of the Prop 8 Decision rally from last Wednesday at Foley Square in NY. That took about an hour. It is rendering now. It will take overnight since there are many edits and it has lots of visual density. Otherwise I have been more or less relaxed for the day.

I had granola, banana and milk for breakfast. Mid day I had rye toast with sliced fresh Jersey tomatoes (they are available on my block this week, no need to travel far!) and some chopped smoked oysters mixed with finely minced Vidalia onion. It was tasty.

For dinner I took a half pound of ground turkey left over from making a turkey burger last night and sauteed it with onions, tomatoes, broccoli and shredded carrots to make a sauce for some Dreamfields low-carb pasta. I also made a slaw. Last night I watched Alton Brown’s “Good Eats” episode about slaw. I learned the technique of heavily salting cabbage and letting it drain for at least three hours in the fridge to extract the juices from it, then rinse the salt off and run it through a salad spinner. This makes the cabbage much crisper. I added finely shredded carrots. I dressed it with distilled vinegar, a bit of honey mustard, olive oil and a smidge of sugar. I like sweet pickles in it, but I didn’t have any in the house.

No walking today. About the only physical activity was sweeping the floor.

Now I am going to watch “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” and then off to bed.

May 23, 2010

Spaghetti Tomato and Basil and 368

While the rest of the world watches the finale of Lost, I shall blog.

First off, I weighed in this morning at 368, so I have lost my five pound yo-yo and an additional five. Altogether I have lost upwards of 35 pounds since mid March (my scales only went to 400, so I don’t know how much over I was).

Not to bore you, but for breakfast I had a repeat of yesterday: scrambled eggs, pumpernickel bread with organic peanut butter. The only difference is today I didn’t have a banana. For dinner I cooked. I mean really cooked, not just heating stuff up.

Among foodies some recipes become legend, like Julia Child’s Beef Bourguignon or Thomas Keller’s roast chicken (which I have made a few times – delicious!). Another rising star on the recipes-from-celebrity-chefs is Scott Conant’s Spaghetti with Fresh Tomato Sauce and Basil. Conant is a frequent judge on Chopped on the Food Network. He seems to be a bit of a jerk, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be a good chef. In fact I think it is quite common 🙂

I made it tonight from fresh plum tomatoes, which I blanched, peeled and seeded and cooked down to a delicious sauce. I had Dreamfield’s spaghetti, which I have written about before. Only 5 grams of carbs per serving are absorbed, so it does not raise blood sugar. The recipe is labor intensive, but very simple. It was quite good, though if I had some really fresh local organic tomatoes available to me I am sure it would be better. I made a tomato water from the seeds and peels and cooked Brussels sprouts in that. I’m at about 2000 calories for the day. Above target, but not obscene. I did not walk today.

Spaghetti With Fresh Tomato Sauce and Basil

Recipe from “New Italian Cooking,” courtesy of chef Scott Conant of Scarpetta

Total Prep: Roughly 40 minutes, 4 servings

This is a straightforward, traditional, fresh tomato sauce in which ripe tomatoes — and little else — get cooked quickly to retain their vibrant flavor. Why then is it such a hit? The key is in the finish. Here’s how I put the dish together at the restaurant: I take a single portion of pasta cooked just shy of al dente and add it to a sauté pan that holds a single portion of hot, bubbling tomato sauce. To toss the pasta and sauce together I use that pan-jerking method we chefs are so fond of. I do this to look cool. Just kidding. The real reason is that this technique not only coats the pasta evenly with the sauce, but it also introduces a little air into the process making the dish feel lighter and brighter. To accomplish this aeration with larger portions and without fancy wrist work, cook the sauce in a pan with a lot of surface area. When you add the pasta to the sauce, gently toss the pasta with a couple of wooden spoons (tongs can bruise and break the strands), lifting the pasta high above the bottom of the pot. Finish the dish with some butter, some cheese, and some basil.

Ingredients

About 20 ripe plum tomatoes

About 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more to finish the dish

Pinch of crushed red pepper

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tbs. unsalted butter 1 oz. freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (about half a cup)

6 to 8 fresh basil leaves well washed and dried, stacked and rolled into a cylinder and cut thinly crosswise into a chiffonade

1 lb. spaghetti, either high-quality dry or homemade

To peel the tomatoes: Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Have a large bowl of ice water nearby. Cut a small X on the bottom of each tomato. Ease about 5 tomatoes in the pot and cook. Let boil for about 15 seconds and then promptly move them to the waiting ice water (do this with the remaining tomatoes). Pull off the skin with the tip of a paring knife. If the skin sticks, try a vegetable peeler using a gentle sawing motion. Cut the tomatoes in half and use your finger to flick out the seeds.

To cook the tomatoes: In a wide pan, heat the 1/3 cup of olive oil over medium-high heat until hot. Add the tomatoes, red pepper flakes, and season lightly with the salt and pepper (I always start with a light hand with the salt and pepper because as the tomatoes reduce, the salt will become concentrated).

Let the tomatoes cook for a few minutes to soften. Then, using a potato masher, chop the tomatoes finely. Cook the tomatoes for 20 to 25 minutes, until the tomatoes are tender and the sauce has thickened. Refrigerate for up to 2 days or freeze it for longer storage.

To serve: Bring a large pot of amply salted water to a boil. Cook the spaghetti until just shy of al dente. Reserve a little of the pasta cooking water. Add the pasta to the sauce and cook over medium-high heat, gently tossing the pasta and the sauce together with a couple of wooden spoons and a lot of exaggerated movement (you can even shake the pan) until the pasta is just tender and the sauce, if any oil had separated from it, now looks cohesive (If the sauce seems too thick, add a little pasta liquid to adjust it). Take the pan off the heat and toss the butter, basil and cheese with the pasta in the same manner (the pasta should take on an orange hue) and serve immediately.

April 16, 2010

The Undertow of Tired

The rain is falling, the air is cold and soggy. On my first day off of three, I did a lot of things around the house that have been put off for a few months, and while the stress of the workload is off, the physical tiredness is starting to catch up. Sometimes when you have to keep going you push yourself and when you finally get a chance to relax, you realize how tired you are. I am going to try to spend the next couple of days actually resting. There is nothing urgent that needs doing except that.

The mac and cheese was ok, but I honestly enjoyed the parsnip and squash puree more. I feel stuffed, which is an unusual feeling. I am about 1400 calories for the day. I may have a snack before bed and I may just go to bed early.

I ran a few errands this afternoon (a half mile of walking) and as I was lugging bags up the stairs I was curious as to how much my packages weighed, since the trip up the stairs was a bit of a struggle. I weighed with the bags, then without. The difference was only 17 lbs, which is less than what I have lost in the last month. Try walking several blocks and up a flight of stairs with 17 lbs and you understand why I feel so much better now.

April 4, 2010

A Walk in the Park

Ok, I said I was going to walk without taking a camera. I forgot about my Blackberry camera, so I did take a few shots and a video or two. Hard for me to resist the urge. At least it’s an urge that won’t pack on the pounds. I walked two and a half miles today.

It was a perfect day, few clouds, low humidity, bright sun and about 75 degrees F. The park was full of people. There were the usual performers, although I didn’t see Thoth in the Angel Tunnel, where he usually prayforms. From his website it seems he is in Portugal on tour. I did see a balloon folder I had not seen before and posted a Twitvid of him. And I eventually sat by the lake with a stunning view and just sat. Did nothing but empty my mind and enjoy the warmth and the light and the park.

For dinner I had some Dreamfields low carb pasta (about 400 calories worth) with a sauce made of roasted red peppers and roasted garlic, pureed. I used about 2 tablespoons of olive oil in the sauce. The total was about 650 calories.

For an afternoon snack I had a raw turnip. For my night snack I will have an apple. I am on target for the day, and surprisingly I feel full, no cravings.

March 30, 2010

Pasta Follow-up

Filed under: Eat Less; Move More — bigfatqueer @ 8:37 am
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This morning my fasting blood glucose was 114, which for me is outstanding. This seems to verify that Dreamfields pasta has not only a low glycemic index (the amount that it spikes glucose soon after eating), but a low glycemic load (the total amount that it raises glucose over the full period of digestion). I am happy when I can get my morning reading under 150. To measure 114 the morning after having two cups of pasta is very, very good.

March 29, 2010

Pasta and Data

Filed under: Eat Less; Move More — bigfatqueer @ 10:27 pm
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Over many years I have frequently visited a site by David Mendosa, www.mendosa.com for information about diabetes. A while back  on his site I learned about Dreamfields brand of Pasta, which as made so as to reduce the amount of digestible carbs significantly. How they sequester the carbs is a mystery to me, but the label doesn’t seem to have anything mysterious or dangerous listed. I love pasta so I decided to try it. I bought some about a year ago at a supermarket nearby, but I looked for it recently and they didn’t have it. So I ordered some from Amazon.com. The shipment arrived today, so tonight I decided to collect some data. Those of you who know me know that I love empirical data.

I used an amount of pasta that, according to the box, was about 380 calories. Let’s round it to 400. The box indicated that while the total carbs were 82 grams, the digestible carbs were 10g. Hard to believe. While I boiled the water I sautéed some onions and mushrooms in about a tablespoon of olive oil (120 calories). I added half a cup of Muir Glen organic Cabernet marinara sauce, 60 calories and 9 grams net carbs (11g-2g of fiber). Altogether dinner totaled about 600 calories and 30g of carbs. My blood glucose level before eating was 231, a bit high. I didn’t take my meter to work today and I didn’t inject any insulin at work. I had a light carb load for lunch, but I didn’t know my baseline and I didn’t want to risk a crash. I injected 40 units of insulin before dinner. For two cups of normal pasta, with a baseline of 231, I would usually inject 60 units (my insulin resistance is pretty high).

Dinner was delicious. Here is a picture of the actual dish:

An hour after eating my glucose reading was 198. Remarkable. Usually pasta would put me in the high 200s or even over 300. Two hours after eating it was 177. Starting at 231, eating 2 cups of pasta and two hours afterwards at 177 is stunning, in my experience.  In fact, I probably over estimated the insulin, which usually continues acting 3 to 4 hours for me. I will have some fruit before bed. I am a little low on the daily calorie target anyway.

Like all things results will vary. This is just anecdotal and large as I am, I’m not a large enough sample to have any statistical meaning. But for me, it was pasta, it was good and it was guilt free.

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