Where I’ve been

Before I get into the meat and bones of the past year, I’d like to point out that rib injuries are significantly more painful than I’d ever imagined.  I’m taking Tylenol and codeine multiple times a day to offset the crippling discomfort that hasn’t lessened over the past two weeks.  It’s a little frustrating knowing that I’m going to be dealing with this for weeks and weeks.

My last post with a completed recipe was September 25 of last year.  My posting had obviously gotten sparse and I wasn’t enjoying writing like I had when the site was first started.  That’s not saying that I was tired of Mr. Henderson’s book, I want to make that very clear.  But trying to do everything I need to with family and friends, work and life had gotten so taxing that the site was the first thing to slip.  Going back and reading how flat and boring some of my last posts were is embarrassing.  I was phoning my efforts in and it shows.

About a week after that last post I had a pretty scary doctor appointment where I was told that I needed to deal with my weight and blood pressure immediately or suffer the very real and dire consequences of being so unhealthy. Consequences like heart attacks and strokes.  All through high school and some of college I had played tennis religiously and was very fit.  The idea of possibly dying at such a young age was sobering.  I got a gym membership, hired a personal trainer and got to work.  Part of the process involved removing myself from the food community completely.  It’s impossible to take weight off when you’re eating upwards of four thousand of calories constantly.  During the process I found out that my thyroid wasn’t working correctly and that my testosterone levels were pretty much nonexistent.  Addressing those issues helped my mood, my metabolism and my energy levels.  I could have come back to the site about six months ago with a proper mindset to keep updating regularly, but I still had work to do on myself so I stayed away.  I think the results speak for themselves.

Here I am at my top weight, about 280 pounds.  My lovely wife and I were in Vegas with some friends.  I rarely posed for pictures back then because of how much I disliked myself.


This is a picture of me not quite at my heaviest.  I had been trying to work out and lose weight but had not found out about my thyroid issues yet.

And here I am now.  I’m down to about 210 and my blood pressure and other health concerns are under control.  Recently I’ve tried my hand at being a goalkeeper for a lower division adult amateur soccer team. I have a good friend I regularly lift weights with and I watch what I eat very closely.  Do I treat myself now and then? Of course! I still love well executed food but I have a greater respect for what eating can do to a person.  No longer do I abuse food for comfort.

So, there you go.  That’s why I’ve been gone for so long.  I think the break was worth it though and I still plan on trying to finish every recipe in the cookbook. It’s going to be a struggle, but everything worth doing is.  I learned that over the past year.

Next up, vanilla ice cream.  See you in a bit!

 

The more things change, the more they stay the same

Finally!  My stars and garters, I’m finally back into the admin area of my website.  I started writing a post earlier this week that explains where I’ve been, what’s going on and what I plan on doing going forward as I had stated in the post directly below this one.  Halfway through I decided to take a little break and thought it would be a good time to finally update the backend software that my website uses, AKA WordPress.  A simple click here and a click there and I’d be updated to the 4.0 version which seemed like the right thing to do.

Five minutes later and I found myself unable to log in at all to finish my post.  I spent the next few days trying to juggle work, life duties and picking up one of these bad boys while troubleshooting WordPress.  About 15 minutes ago I was ready to wipe everything clean and start fresh when I came across a solution that worked!  If tonight weren’t my 18 year dating anniversary to the love of my life I’d bang out the rest of the post, but it is my anniversary and I will not let my wonderful wife down.  I plan on taking her to Uchiko to celebrate followed by an all day music celebration at the Austin City Limits festival.

I apologize that it’s taking me a little while to knock the rust off but I’m determined to get back into the routine.  I hope you have a great weekend and next week I’ll have some content and explanations.

Cheers!

Change of plans

As you might have gathered from the below picture I’ve started playing goalkeeper in a recreational league.  Today was the second competitive game I’ve ever played and during the 90 minutes I was kneed really, really hard in the ribs.  The pain killers are starting to kick in so I’m going to have to put it off a post with real content by one day, but I promise you it is coming.

Thanks for your understanding.

My, it’s been a while

Obviously, I’ve been away for a little bit.  There are some really good reasons for the lack of updates but that’s going to change this weekend.

I ain’t giving up.

St. John Chutney

There is nothing finer, after having a good stock up your sleeve, than having a reserve of chutney.

Two updates in a month?  My goodness, the insanity!  Oh, that’s depressing now that I think about it. Let’s get to it before I start the inevitable downward spiral into self loathing.

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This recipe started last Saturday during the Manchester Derby.  While my allegiance is strongly elsewhere, any chance I can see the Scum beaten can’t be missed and I’ll be damned if it wasn’t entertaining. Back to the recipe, the chutney started off with me peeling and coring a couple pounds of apples…

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… followed by chopping the apple slices up into smaller chunks.

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Next I worked on chopping up a few pounds of Roma tomatoes. It seems like I’m making ketchup again, doesn’t it?

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Here’s where things took a new direction.  I peeled and minced roughly a half pound of fresh ginger…

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… and peeled a bunch of shallots. These were large shallots too, roughly half the size of a tennis ball. I have no idea where our markets are getting these monstrosities, but this is Texas. That might explain a few things.

At this point I threw all of the previous mentioned items into a stainless steel pot along with the following:

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1. Almost two pounds of brown sugar

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2. A bunch of raisins and dates.

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3. A cheesecloth bag full of black peppercorns, coriander seeds, white peppercorns, allspice, mace, bay leaves, celery seeds, cloves, fennel seeds, mustard seeds and whole chilies.

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All of the ingredients were places in the stainless steel pot, along with a fair amount of malt vinegar, and placed on a low heat for about an hour.

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Mr. Henderson warns against going too far and ending up with a “brown, jammy consistency” but the shallots I’d used were not fully softened because of their size. So I kept things going.  Eventually the shallots had softened, but I was fairly close to that jammy consistency that I’d been warned against.  If you make this recipe yourself, try finding smaller shallots that will soften quickly without compromising the integrity of the other ingredients.

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Quickly I moved the chutney into sterile jars and sealed as much of it as possible away for later use, per Mr. Henderson’s instructions.

Flavor wise, this chunky chutney is delightful with its fruity sweet/sour/savory nature all mixed together with a wallop of spice combination.  I love blathering on and on about flavors and such, it’s just tough to describe other than… it’s chutney.  A very fine, delicious chutney that you’ll have to try and make yourself if you’d like to understand where I’m coming from. Wow.

If you do decide to give this a go, you should try pairing it with grilled meats or as a side dish to various Indian dishes.  I even like to take a little, puree it and add it to mayo for sandwiches.

One down, thirty to go.