Baking Day-Bread & Brownies

Being on a Keto diet has made me wish for things like bread, pastries, pasta, and all things that I ate while growing up. Earlier in the week I got the bug to research some recipes for Keto breads made from coconut flour. I found one or two that I liked and watched a video or two about making the breads. I picked up one hint from a baker which made perfect sense to me and today I tried his idea. Basically there is no yeast in Keto breads, there is no real sugar for the yeast to process and to make the bread rise. Keto breads are somewhat flat and are denser than regular breads. His secret improvement came about because there are so many eggs in the bread that the bread tastes “eggy” by adding the yeast you give the bread a more yeasty taste. It works.

I made one fatal error in making this loaf, I set the oven time for 55 minutes when I should have taken it out at 50, or even 45 minutes. The crust is very dark brown but the bread is baked through. The crust is very crunchy and grainy. The inside is a little dry near the crust but okay at the center. Another error was in using too large a bread pan. It will be better with a 3 by 7 pan, I used a 4 by 8. The batter was spread too thin and thus my slices are only two inches tall.

After baking the bread I immediately started a recipe for keto brownies, also made with coconut flour. This is the third time I have made brownies and this time I paid attention to not make the mistakes of the previous batches. One major mistake was in over baking the recipe, i.e. too long in the oven. Like the bread, my early batches of brownies were too dry around the edges and very nice in the center. This time the batch came out of the oven looking great all the way to the outer edges. I was surprised when I cut it. It is very rich with a creamy chocolate center.

In the major leagues that is batting one for two or .500 batting average, I would make millions if this effort was in the National League.

And that is all I’m going to say about that.

Falling Off the Wagon

Well, yesterday I truly fell off the wagon and hit hard. The KETO wagon is what I refer to. After religiously following a strict KETO diet for weeks, (to be honest I was really only close) what did I do to take such a fall? I cheated and went for a cherry milkshake at an old fashioned soda parlor. God was it good! I haven’t had ice cream or anything sweet for months, but this week I went for it.

It all began mid-week when I cooked a batch of stroganoff. I didn’t even attempt to make it KETO, I used real flour to make the gravy, man was it delicious. Then, to top it off I skipped the lame zucchini wide-noodles and cooked real flour based wide noodles. I’m still reeling in the deliciousness. By yesterday, I craved a summer treat hence the shake.

I’ve been on KETO since last summer and have lost some weight, but for the past six months have not lost an ounce. After analyzing the situation I concluded that I am only thinking I am on KETO, and not really practicing faithfully. I swore that today I would begin anew and really count carbs and calories and stick to low carb fruits and veggies. Except there aren’t too many fruits I can choose from. It seems that all the stuff I love has serious sugar in it. Sugar and KETO are incompatible. Sugar converts into serious carbs.

At least I learned how to make buns that I substitute for bread and they allow me to make a sandwich which I will thrive on. Making the buns using shredded mazzorella, cream cheese, eggs, and almond flour is simple enough and keeps me semi-happy. I was, and still am, a sandwich eater, but the bread part is substituted by lettuce leaves. I now call the sandwich a wrap. I watched a half dozen youtube videos on how to make lettuce wraps and am getting better at making something that holds together fairly well.

KETO is a lifestyle. I don’t like to refer to it as a diet, even though KETO is a way of eating. Actually, it is a lifestyle change on what you use for fuel. Instead of burning carbs I burn fat. A different body chemistry is involved. One benefit I derive from this chemistry is less dependance on insulin to convert carbs into body fuel. Being on KETO as a type 2 diabetic is a good thing, I think.

Since last June, I have shed twenty-five pounds, but I haven’t lost anything in the last six months. What that tells me is that I was more serious when I began and then started playing the system after getting accustomed to the foods. I also drink too much. Alcohol is allowed in strict moderation, but if you’ve been reading my posts you understand that when it comes to imbibing my favorite adult beverages moderation is redefined.

Anyway, beginning today I return to counting carbs, and eating only KETO approved foods, with no cheating. I will measure my ketone level to insure that I am on the right track. I will also remind myself of what is KETO and what is not KETO. Those who know me already know that I will vocally point out a food is “not KETO” then swallow it anyway.

Wish me luck, I’m going for the ring and have set my goal to weigh what I weighed in 1978. Most of us gain a pound a year after adulthood, so that means I am sixty-one pounds over weight. Subtract the twenty-five I’ve lost and I only have thirty six more pounds to go. Oh shit, that means I will weigh what I weighed when I married my first wife when I was a scrawny boney, pimple-faced kid.

March, 1960, University Of Illinois Shequan Parade

Like I said, wish me luck.

Okra

Strange thing okra. I learned of it some years ago and have developed a taste for it. Okra is not found on grocery shelves very often where I live. It is listed as a fruit, but used as a vegetable. Many people dislike it because of the seeds. They are described as being slimy. I kind of like that taste.

My first introduction to okra was at a Country Kitchen restaurant where it is served as a side dish. They slice the fruit into disks, battered and fried. My first taste was that of nothing special, yet I kept ordering them as a side for my usual entree.

This summer, I have been finding okra in the vegetable section of my local grocery chain. I buy a package of the green pepper-shaped fruit and eat them raw. By the and, they work well as a KETO snack. A cup full of this fruit provides the following nutrients:

  • Calories: 33
  • Carbs: 7 grams
  • Protein: 2 grams
  • Fat: 0 grams
  • Fiber: 3 grams
  • Magnesium: 14% of the Daily Value (DV)
  • Folate: 15% of the DV
  • Vitamin A: 14% of the DV
  • Vitamin C: 26% of the DV
  • Vitamin K: 26% of the DV
  • Vitamin B6: 14% of the DV

Okra is grown in sub-tropical climates such as Africa and South America, although I have grown it in my salad garden just to learn what it looks like on the green. I planted six seed clusters and got six robust thigh-high green plants resembling those of green pepper. I got lucky while exploring in the garden one day by looking under the leaves and found some rather attractive large pale yellow flowers resembling hibiscus blooming there unseen. That is when I began to watch more closely because I didn’t know when to pick the fruit or how they would present. Sure enough the long skinny green fruit developed from the flower. The next step was to learn when to pick them. I started picking when they were very young, maybe two inches long. Because I like them so much I tasted what I picked right off the plant. They were tender and delicious. In a couple of days they were between three and four inches long, and still tender. I picked more and learned it was time to harvest; except they never made it to the table. I ate them all as I picked. They were luscious. I let the plants rest for a week and picked again. This time I learned that if they are too aged they turn into fibrous pieces of rope. Ugh! The older longer fruit develop an outer layer of very stringy, tough, hard to chew fiber. I likened it to hemp rope. The time to pick okra is when it is young, tender and delicious. Maybe old okra can be saved by cooking it in a stew or gumbo, but I would prefer not to use it at all.

There are many ways to use okra. One is in fresh green salads, or french fried, or in a gumbo with other vegetables like tomatoes, onions, and peppers. Some people grill okra until it is charred, others broil it, then there are those who roast it. I am at a point where I will try it any way it comes.

Day 62-SIP-Stupid Fun Makes Dollars

This stay in place business has made me light headed. very morning is a hangover. I must be enjoying the wine by consuming more than usual. The hangover gets me going much later in the day. It seems like I drag my sorry ass behind me like an anchor.

Yesterday, I finally accomplished a new goal, I cooked another one of Mom’s favorite dishes, toltutt kaposta with umlauts over the o’s and an accent over the a. In our language it is simply stuffed cabbage. I watched my mother roll these beauties out in the kitchen too many times, but when it came time to remember what she did, I drew a blank.

As usual, I watched videos of my favorite cook Oma making stuffed cabbage. Oma is currently ninety-two years old and reminds me of my mother. She concentrates on Hungarian and German recipes. What a piece of cake this is, I thought. Wrong! I never handled a cabbage before and got into serious trouble with blanching. The pot I used for this gimongous head of cabbage was just a tad too small. Blanching is a pretty simple process, but since this was the first time I was doing it I made it hard to do.

Mixing the meat with rice, and spices was easy, but when it came to handling the cabbage leaves I was all thumbs. Mom’s recipes leave out all the basic stuff you need to know when cooking. Like how to trim the main rib of a cabbage leave to make it more pliable. The next thing she left out was stuffing the leave and closing it around the meat. That is a practice thing. Mom had been stuffing cabbage leaves since she was twelve, and for her it was an automatic process. Here hands and fingers were so well conditioned from repetition that it was automatic. For me it was a comedy of errors, I was all thumbs. I managed to make about twenty rolls and learned my next mistake was also my first mistake, the pot was a tad too small. I had cabbage rolls stacked to within a half inch of the rim.

Miraculously, I completed the job and ate stuffed cabbage for supper last night. It is not 100% KETO, but it is close. The only non-KETO ingredient is rice. The whole process got my mind off the COVID-19 b-s for a few minutes while I struggled with stuffing and wrapping the rolls.

The kitchen was a mess after I finished as it always is after making something for the first time. Lucky me, the dishwasher was broken and the repair man didn’t come until today so I had to wash all the stuff by hand.

At my Tuesday Night At The Stray Bar Club Zoom meeting yesterday I learned about two things:

1. CD&Me a local entertainment venue is going to open under strict guidelines the first week of June. It will be a parking lot event limited to one hundred cars spaced one car apart. There will be a live band entertaining and a roll out bar for food by the Dancing Marlin. Adult beverages will not be sold but will be permitted (bring your own). Admission is by ticket bought online.

2. One of our group told us a story about her great grandson who is making a ton of money off videos on Youtube and Tik-Tok. I searched Youtube for him and found his videos. They are stupid of course, but he is a very energetic and out-going personality and pulls off his stunts with his girlfriend Mariah. As an example the video I watched had 39,000 likes. As another example this blog GrumpaJoesPlace is lucky if a post gets ten likes. I guess I’ll have to start doing dumb stuff if I want to make some money doing this. The funny thing is I feel like I am doing dumb stuff when I write these posts. Another example is my own grand daughter who writes for a blog called Fan Fiction and gets 5-10 thousand views per post. While my daughter-in-law in Michigan has a blog about her horse hobby and will get hundreds of views for a post. On my best day if I get fifty views and two likes I feel I’ve reached the pinnacle of success.

Making money in the digital world is for the very young. We old folks will only shake our heads in wonderment as to how it can be. I see it happening, I believe it is happening, but I’ll be damned if I can make it happen.

Day 61-SIP-KETO Be Damned

After two days of intense rain we have sunshine again. The wetland behind my house looks like a swamp, filled to the edge of my yard with water. The geese honk on a continuum, probably warning other geese to keep their distance. I haven’t seen any sign of babies yet, but I know they are there. My Mallard ducks are not in the pond, but I know they are close by. Yesterday, I watched the male sitting comfortably in a growth of sedum in the pouring rain with water running off its feathers like they were made from silicone. He was happy. I never saw his mate, but she may have been sheltering her clutch from the pouring rain.

I spent most of the day writing and watching videos. Later I descended into my shop and worked on intarsia. This project is turning out fairly well. It is the fastest I ever completed a piece, one week from pattern to production. Today, I will embellish it to make it uniquely mine.

The virus noise has changed its frequency and now smacks of how people are violating all the government recommended protocols for maximizing safety. For us in the Chicago area it was easy yesterday, because of the rain, but I sense a relaxation all around me. Traffic is heavier, there are more people walking the paths, more bicycles, more picnicking, more people shopping, as compared to a couple of weeks ago when we were still in full hunker. I will say one thing though, almost everyone wears a mask when in a building like a grocery store.

My phone went through an automatic update a week ago and I now have new feature on my weather program. I get a daily update of the latest COVIAD-19 confirmed cases. The very first report I saw showed 47 confirmed, and I was pleased that it was low. Then everyday since, the number has grown to a peak of 147 confirmed in a single day, and today it dropped again to 76. This tells me as I suspected all along that we are lagging New York and our epidemic is still on the rise. This is not the time to let our guard down. On the other hand, our businesses are really feeling it. Our little town has lost three businesses permanently. Thankfully, the sit down restaurants repurposed themselves into carry out places and are doing some business.

Last Friday, I treated myself to a restaurant meal. I dumped my KETO diet in favor of a good old fashioned Italian meal, chicken parmegian with mostacolli, topped off with the restaurant’s signature banana cream pie. KETO be damned, I needed that. Today, I am back on the regimen of low carbs, fat and protein. Since I haven’t lost any weight lately, I found a ketosis meter and test strips to see if I am really on a true KETO diet. My numbers so far have been .3 and .8 just barely in the range. Just like people relaxing the COVID-19 protocols, I have fallen off the KETO protocols. It is sad because I slowed to a crawl just five pounds short of my goal.

It is time for me to sneak off to the grocery store for the final ingredient in my mother’s recipe for stuffed cabbage, then the day turns into Cooking for Joe. I wish I had the sense to video my cooking, everyone could see how sloppy I am. Maybe that would be the title of my cooking videos “Cooking Sloppy With Joe.”

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