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Saturday, April 30, 2011

Meals for a weekly diet

The USDA says we need to concentrate more on a weekly view of food intake, or our weekly diet, rather than a daily view.

So, from a food portion viewpoint, my diet is now meal based, but from an overall perspective, it's weekly based.

Weekly Meals
4 days a week, a meat meal. 2 of those days are for fish, 1 day for beef or pork, and 1 day for chicken. These meals are for a single meal. So, out of a total of 3x7, or 21 meals, 4 meals are include meat, and 17 include no meat.

Every day, 3 glasses of fat free milk. These are taken with a meal, or otherwise. I sometimes take a glass of milk as a snack, so don't always have it with a meal.

Every lunch and dinner meal includes vegetables.

Every breakfast meal includes either steel cut oats, or a selection of fruit, sometimes raw or sometimes in the form of a smoothie.

I try to use fresh vegetables as opposed to canned, because of the additional sodium that is frequently added to the canned.

I try to eat higher fiber, lower fat foods, lower sugar foods in my food selection, so the bulk of my calories are from vegetables and fruits. This means cutting down on cheese, pasta and other high starch (high in sugars) foods such as white rice. On the cheese,I use lower fat, but it's preferred to intake fat free milk instead. If I'm eating cheese, then I drop a milk for the meal.

I'm targeting 1500 calories a day intake. I think one of my problems has been skipping breakfast, eating too big a lunch, and way too big a dinner. I think that kept me from getting a full feeling as the sizes were inconsistent. So now I'm also targeting similar size (bulk) for each meal, in general terms, and always includes breakfast. So 500 calories, more or less, for each meal, gives me the 1500 for a day. That seems to be helping, and I find that I'm feeling more full after each meal now than in the past.

I only weigh once per week. Hopefully, I see a drop of about 1 pound per week, but maybe not. That's OK; I'm still going to be losing weight as opposed to adding weight.

I'm trying to fit a diet into my day, not fit my day into my diet. Taking a weekly view on foods helps in many ways. For instance, we might be out on the road traveling, and fitting my diet into my day means we may be stopping at a fast food joint. On that day, I may be able to hit my target meal allocation, more or less, for the calories, but I may be over allocated on the sodium. On a weekly view, since I'm rarely not eating a home prepared meal and thus am in control of the sodium placed onto my food, I'm always low on sodium, thus the meal at the fast food restaurant doesn't cause me any issues about getting more sodium on this meal - I'm under on sodium on all other meals throughout the week.

Diet Supplements
Since foods high in Omega-3 are considered by the USDA to be beneficial, I take 2 1000mg tables of fish oil every day. I also take 2 1000mg tablets of flax seed oil to help with keeping my skin pores open, as I have an issue with this. I also take a daily multi-vitamin high in B12. I looked into taking a vitamin high in potassium, but in analyzing my meals, by increasing my vegetables and fruits I'm getting enough potassium now, but was definitely low this before.

You know how many years you've been married by the TV shows you watch

When you are first married, a young marriage watches what the husband wants to watch.

Middle age marriages watch what both agree on to watch.

Older marriages watch what the wife wants to watch.

Paul's house had a big front yard

This story under development...

We all played at Paul's house because it had a big front yard.

All the boys lived on Paul's block; my block only had girls, four of them. That meant I had to travel to Paul's block. Girls were OK, but I mean, what do you do, at four, with four of them? I tried playing dolls with them once, where they bent little paper cloths that had paper shoulder tabs on them around the cardboard bodies. Then you were supposed to jig them up and down while moving them forward. I asked them what to do, and they said, grabbing the Father doll, jigging him up and down and walking him onto the towel that represented the house floor then saying "Hi, I'm home", then picking up a woman doll, jigging her up and down while marching her towards the father doll, saying "hi" and then making kissing-smacking noises.

This was stupid. I couldn't see any point in this, I mean it was me jiggy marching things around and me saying things I knew I was going to say, so what was the point in this? This was s-t-u-p-i-d.

So I had to travel to Paul's block to play with boys, where we could pretend to be robots and stick our arms out straight and march towards each other while the others ran away, all while making clicking noises. This wasn't stupid - this was thrilling!

Paul had an older brother Frank. Frank was in the first grade while we were too young to be in school yet.

Frank beat me up when he got home from school. He beat me up by making fists and punching me in the stomach as hard as he could. I didn't know what to do with this. So I would go home before he got out of school.

We lived close enough to school to hear the school bells.

My grandmother would tell me to quit going over there because he was going to beat me up, but the only other choice was to not play with the boys, and be sentenced to playing with girls all the time. So I went to Paul's.

Paul lived in my old home. It was sold to Paul's parents after my parents divorced and I moved in with my grandmother while my mother moved to Florida and my father went somewhere - I didn't know where.

I had a hard time understanding why my places in my old home were now Paul's.

I liked to crawl under the house when it was mine - it was cool, dark and the dogs would follow me in and lay around with me, now I couldn't. You could lay under there and listen to the grownups call for you. You had to wait until they were gone before coming out, otherwise they would know where you were and you knew, somehow, they wouldn't let you go back under there, so best to keep it secret.

The dogs always seemed anxious to go under there with me. Probably the heat.

I never met a kid with a bottle opener

I never met a kid with a bottle opener.

That thought came to me this morning as I was laying in bed preparing to get up. You prepare to get up if you have vertigo. No point getting up just to do a face plant!

Anyway, I was thinking about a crack the dentist found in one of my molars. It's from an old filling that has acted like a wedge and is being driven down into the tooth, causing it to split.

So I'm going to have to get a crown on May 12 2011.

This will be my 2nd crown, caused by the same problem, but on a different tooth.

The noise from grinding the tooth for the crown is the worst part. Last time, I mentioned it to the dentist while he was grinding. He disappeared for a few minutes, then came back with his iPod, selected some blues for me and handed it to me. I cranked up the volume, allowing it to mask most of the grinding. It made for a much better experience.

Anyway, thinking about my tooth cracking led me back to my childhood and visions of us kids walking up to the corner gas station to get a soft drink - either Pepsi or Mountain Dew, another Pepsi product. We preferred these over Coke because Pepsi gave you twice as much for a nickel, the cost of a drink in the 50s.

These were the old style bottles with crimped metal bottle caps on them.

We were four, five and six years old, plenty old enough to walk to the gas station by ourselves.

Buying the drinks was an experience. We had learned, if you were barefoot on the cool moist concrete floor of the service station, you would get a little jolt of electricity when you reached into the old top-loading drink cooler. It would make you dance, and everyone would giggle - us and the grownups. We giggled because we knew there was a secret. The grownups, not being barefoot, didn't know the secret. They thought we danced because we were happy.

So being barefoot was the preferred method of obtaining your drink.

Reach in, grab your drink, squeal, dance a little, giggle. All for a nickel.

We all left with our drinks. We didn't open them on the side opener. Instead, we all marched out holding our drinks. The grownups thought we were carrying them home to drink.

But we didn't wait to get home to drink them. We were going to drink them on the way home, after pouring a pack of salted peanuts into them.

Pouring salted peanuts into a drink makes the drink fizz. You have to drink the liquid down enough so there's room to accommodate the peanuts and the fizz. It's a delicate balance; drink too much and the drink is too salty; too little and it will fizz over when you pour the peanuts in.

But to add the peanuts, we had to open the drinks. We didn't open them in the store because we were going to all open our drinks by using our teeth to carefully lift an edge of the bottle cap. Lifting three or four of these edges would allow us to pop our cap off our drink.

This was the preferred method for opening a bottle cap. We didn't need no stinking can openers, we carried our own can openers! We could open a bottle any time we wanted one.

It gave us a little swagger. Four kids, heads held high, a swagger, and barefoot.

When you lift a bottle cap in this way, an instant of fizz gushes into your mouth, and a smile breaks out. Everybody laughs and giggles.

One kid said his momma said not to do that. He wasn't sure why. We thought about it and realized it was stupid. Stupid being telling his mother. We knew telling a grownup anything only resulted in one thing - being told "don't do that".

I still remember the day my best friend Paul told me his mother said for him not to eat his buggers, so he wasn't going to eat his buggers anymore. I asked him why we weren't supposed to eat buggers. He said she said they were dirty.

We thought about it. We decided the little hard buggers were, in fact, probably dirty. However, the clear runny kind that hadn't hardened yet were obviously clean, you could see through this, so we could continue to sop those up. We felt good, we had solved the issue - we were obeying Paul's mother, and not eating dirty buggers. Of course, it wasn't a problem for me anyway because my mother, who knew everything, hadn't told me to stop eating my buggers, so I knew Paul's mother was wrong. But I didn't mention this to Paul, I didn't want Paul to know his mother was stupid.

Paul and I had a favorite game. It consisted of going to a field behind his grandmother's house. If the field had just been turned over by a plow, and then allowed to sun dry for a day, the earth would have baked hard, which made for perfect dirt clods that could be thrown at each other.

I liked this game a lot because my aim was better and I could throw harder, and thus stand back out of Paul's throwing area. I could hit Paul, but he couldn't reach me, and if he threw harder, it went wild.

I remember hitting Paul in the chest with a clod. His surprised look when it hit him tickled me so much I fell down on my back laughing. When I opened my eyes, there was Paul, standing over me, backlit from the sun, holding a dirt ball over his head that was so huge, it took both hands to hold it. He raised it up over his head, and at that instant I foretold the next. It came crashing down on me. Paul ran into his grandmother's house.

This wasn't fair, and I was going to get Paul.

I couldn't just go into his grandmother's house, I had to knock. His grandmother told me Paul was in the bathroom. I waited a while then knocked again. He was still in the bathroom. Soon, she quit coming to answer the door.

I realized he was never going to come out to get his reward.

I left.

Diet - Final Daily Post

Well, if you are paying attention, you'll see that I didn't log data for days 11 and 12. I thought about catching this up, but decided not to.

You didn't miss much! I'm still on the diet, I didn't break the diet, and I just did more of the same.

I don't plan on posting any more about this as a daily log, as it is a lot of the same, and will be for the next year and a half. It was getting dull to post, and dull to read.

I may do weekly weight updates, or monthly updates. I'll have to see.

If something interesting comes up, like a new recipe or some special insight, then I may make a special post.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Diet Day 10 - 522 (75 Weeks) to go!

Went out to dinner tonight with our daughter H and her boyfriend S. We had Thai food. I'm not going to attempt to guess at the calories, as what would be the point of putting in a guess? I'll just say that I had a taste of the coconut soup, a couple of spoonfuls of rice, and about 75% of the chicken with vegetables. It was good, and I wanted more, but I was good.

I was quite the chow-hound at breakfast!

Breakfast: 688 Calories
1/4 cup almonds
1 cup fat free milk
1 cup Steel Cut Oats
1/4 cup Kirkland dried blueberries
1/4 cup golden raisins
1 serving V-8 Spicy Hot juice

Lunch: 432 Calories
1 serving Sardines - King Oscar
1 cup servings baby cut carrots
1 cup Snap Beans
2 Tbsp Sweet & Sour 3 Bean mix (yumma!)

Dinner: - not sure
about 3 oz boneless skinless chicken
assorted vegetables
2 Tbsp white rice

Daily Total (Breakfast and Lunch today only): ??? Calories
Total Percentages (Breakfast and Lunch only, so all will be below actual, but which is higher)
> 75% calories
> 46% fat
> 53% carbs
> 98% fiber
> 28% potassium
> 58% sodium
> 8% sat fat
> 40% cholesterol

None today.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Diet Day 9 - 523 (75 Weeks) to go!

Today was an all vegetable day. I had a lot of fiber from the vegetables, and am really feeling full right now, even though I am below my daily allowable calories.

Breakfast: 197 Calories
1 cup breakfast smoothie
1 v-8 spicy hot
1 cup kidney beans
Lunch: 378 Calories
1 cup fat free milk
2/3 cup sugar snap peas
2/3 cup kidney beans
2/3 cup lima beans
1 slice whole wheat bread
1 oz Pat's sweet & sour beans

Dinner: 621 Calories
1 cup fat free milk
1 cup sugar snap peas
1 cup lima beans
1 slice whole wheat bread
1 banana
2 oz Pat's sweet & sour beans
1 V-8 Spicy Hot juice

Daily Total: 1196 Calories
Percentage totals
80% calories
5% Fat
67% carbs
180% fiber
102% potassium
90% sodium
2% Sat fat
2% cholesterol

40 minutes at 2.2 mph with 3% incline.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Diet Day 8 - 524 (75 Weeks) to go!

Well, I'm happy! I managed to get through Easter, with family over and big meals, without blowing my diet!

Today at lunch I had a can of sardines. I'm mentioning this because it's a different brand than I had the other week, and this one was surprisingly good! So I wanted to mention the brand: "King Oscar, Finest Brisling Sardines in Extra Virgin Olive Oil, two layers". They were about half the size of the previous can and had a much better flavor. I will be eating more of those! I've come across sardines several times now, from entities such as Alton Brown, USDA, and other web locations, and I agree it supplies a lot of good nutrition.

Breakfast: 210 Calories
1 cup fat free milk
1 cup my smoothie
1 slice Whole Wheat Bread, double Fiber, Nature's Own
1 can V-8 Spicy Hot juice

Lunch: 664 Calories
2 cups kidney beans
1/4 cup almonds
1 can Sardines - King Oscar

Dinner: 614 Calories
1 boneless skinless chicken breast, roasted
1 serving sugar snap peas
1 salad w/o dressing
1 cup fat free milk
1 serving almonds

Daily Totals: 1488 Calories
Total Percentages
99% Calories
75% Fat
51% Carbs
120% Fiber
86% Potassium
95% Sodium
18% Sat Fat
81% Cholesterol

Walked at 2 mph for 1 hour: 2 miles

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Diet Day 7 - 525 (75 Weeks) to go!

I walked 4 miles yesterday. That really left me tired. It may be a mile too far yet. I was getting pretty tired, and my wife was too.

Last night we had tenderloin steak. A 7 oz serving came in at 221 calories....that's a lot lower than I was expecting, but its what the USDA specifies. It was very lean, with no visible fat anywhere.

I also put salt on the steak. This is the first additional salt I've put on anything since starting the diet.

Breakfast: 185 Calories
1 cup My Smoothie
1 cup Fat Free Milk
1 Banana

Lunch: 473 Calories
4 oz salmon baked
1 cup cowpeas
1 cup kidney beans
2 slices whole wheat bread, special double fiber

Dinner: 675 Calories
1 slice ham
1 boiled egg
1 cup green beans
1 cup fat free milk
1 small slice cake

Daily Total: 1335 Calories
Percentage Totals
89% calories
79% fats
45% carbs
113% fiber
82% potassium
156% sodium
54% saturated fat
150% cholesterol

We have family coming over today to spend the day and have dinner with us, so I may no walk today. Besides - I'm still tired from yesterday's 4 mile hike!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Weight - a perspective

As noted in my diet blogs, I've got to lose 76 pounds.

That's almost 80 pounds. Assume it is 80 pounds I've got to lose.

What are some common things you might find around the house that represent 80 pounds?

Let's start with a gallon of milk. It weights about 8 pounds. Imagine you place 10 of those 1 gallon containers of milk into a sack and start going up the stairs.....that's what I've been faced with.

Here's another example.

You know those big jugs of water that they sell in the stores that go into water dispensers? Like the ones in some offices? Those are 5 gallons each. They weight 40 pounds. So imagine you place 2 of those into a sack and start moving around. That's what 80 pounds represents.

You know those concrete building blocks, they are gray, about 8x8x16. On average, they weigh about 32 pounds. If you carry 2 of those around plus 2 gallons of water, you have about 80 pounds.

Man - that's a lot of dead weight to have to lug around every where I go!

I sure will be glad when it's gone! I'll be so light I'll just float up stairs! It will mean climbing stairs without the weight of 10 gallons of water going along with me!

Diet Day 6 - 526 Days (75 weeks) to Go!

Diet Explained: Patterned from USDA web information
Selected Messages

Weight Goal:
Reduce weight from 261 pounds to 185 pounds, which is 76 pounds.

My caloric daily balance is 2000 calories. Reducing by 500 calories per day leaves me with a 1500 calorie per day goal.
Since 1 pound of fat contains 3,500 calories, and I want to lose 76 pounds, then the total calories I need to lose is 76 x 3,500 = 266,000 calories. 266,000 / 500 calorie per day loss, = 532 days.

A short cut for this is, since I'm losing 500 calories per day, and thus in 7 days (1 week) I'll lose 7 x 500 = 3,500 calories (which is one pound by definition), then it is more simple to determine how many weeks it will take: 76 pounds / 1 pound-per-week = 76 weeks. 76 weeks x 7 days in a week = 532.

In other words, at 500 calories loss per day, if I want to lose 76 pounds it will take 76 weeks.

Daily Nutritional goal:
Reduce calories by 500 calories per day while eating balanced nutritional meals per USDA guidelines. Reduce fat, sodium, cholesterol and sugars while increasing potassium and dietary fiber.

Daily Exercise Goal
Walk for one hour each day.

Weekly Totals:
Week 1: 6 lbs loss.

Total since start
261 start, 255 today, 6 pounds

Breakfast: 438 calories
1 cup Breakfast Smoothie #1
1 cup Steel Cut Oats
1/4 cup Kirkland Dried Blueberries
1/4 Publix Golden Raisins

Lunch: 471 Calories
1 cup cowpeas
1 cup pinto beans
1 cup corn
4 oz salmon

Dinner: 481 Calories
7.75 oz Tenderloin Steak
4 oz Spinach
1 corn on cob

Daily Total: 1390 Calories
Percent Totals
93% Calories
48% Fat
60% Carbs
114% Fiber
65% Potassium
100% Sodium
47% Saturated Fat
33% Cholesterol

Walked 4 miles, 2 hours
For my weight, that could be as much as 600 calories, but I don't subtract that from my daily intake.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Diet Day 5 - 527 Days to go!

Breakfast: 428 Calories
1 cup steel cut oats
1/4 cup dried blueberries
1/4 cup dried golden raisens
1/2 red grapefruit

Lunch: 537 Calories
Lean Cuisine Apple Cranberry Chicken
1 cup Kidney Beans
1 cup FatFree Milk

Dinner: 507 Calories
10 oz Salmon (baked)
7 oz Squash (steamed)
4.5 oz Broccoli (steamed)
.5 oz grapes
1 cup fat free milk

Daily Total: 1472 Calories
Daily Percents
98% Calories
46% Fat
70% Carbs
90% Fiber
86% Potassium
65% Sodium
32% Saturated Fat
47% Cholesterol

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Diet Day 4 - 528 Days to go!

Having some issues with my back, not sure where this came from; don't usually have any issues with my back. Feels like a muscle strained, may from bringing in luggage from return from Edisto Beach SC. Was supposed to help cook at church tonight (we feed 500 on a weekly basis), but took to bed instead.

Ended up with no meat today. Didn't really plan it that way, just the way it ended up. In reviewing todays totals, it's clear that no meat and all vegetables has moved the fiber up (good), potassium up (good), cholesterol down (good), total fat way down (good), sodium down (good). So everything is moving in the right direction!

Not sure that I've said this, but I'm trying to stay with fresh fruits and vegetables instead of canned. In looking at the labels vs USDA specs for a vegetable, there has frequently additional sugar and salt (sodium). That has been a real eye-opener, particularly with the amount of added salt.

I'm not adding any salt to anything. For right now, my wife is avoiding using it in any cooking, and I'm not adding any at the table.

We picked up a couple of steaks tonight to cook on Saturday. We plan on having beef once per week. USDA guidelines call for 1.8 oz per day, which can be consumed on a weekly event basis, which would mean 12.5 ounces. I don't typically eat more than 10 ounces, so I'll be under the USDA beef allocation for the week. I also picked up a bottle of wine for that steak dinner, which when shared with my wife, will result in 2 glasses for each of us, or in line with Alton Brown's Diet 2 alcohol servings per week.

Breakfast: 488 Calories
1 cup steel cut oats
1/4 cup dried blueberries
1/4 cup dried golden raisens
1 cup FatFreee Milk

Lunch: 236 Calories
1 cup Smoothie #1 (see post -2 days back for composition)
1 cup Pinto Beans
1 plate (1 lb by weight) of equal portions of spinach, squash, zucchini, asparagus

Dinner: 597 Calories
1/2 cup candied yams
1.5 cups corn
1 cup lima beans
1 cup kidney beans
1 cup fatfree milk

Daily Total: 1321 Calories
Daily percents
88% calories (target 1500)
14% Total fat
85% carbs
154% fiber
100% potassium
31% sodium
4.6% cholesterol

So far, I'm still staying with a full feeling, which to me is totally odd. I think the inclusion of milk is doing this, even though it is fat free. So far, I have not had any temptations to snack or over eat.

Saturday, I plan on weighting, and posting weekly results. I plan on doing this every week. I also plan on adding a blood pressure reading at that time, as I want to see if this will bring down my blood pressure any (I'm on medication for this problem right now).

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Diet Day 3 - 529 Days to go!

Third day. Went out to breakfast with a friend, thought I would keep it simple by having an, 3 eggs sure blows the cholesterol! Will have to find something else next time.

Breakfast: 656 Calories
3 egg omelet with cheese. 645 calories! 1217 mg cholesterol!

Lunch: 320 Calories
Fruit Smoothie. This sort of came from an Alton Brown recipe, but I didn't have all of his ingredients, so I just winged it. Per his suggestion, I obtained frozen prepackaged fruits, then took out the correct amount for the smoothie and left it in the refrigerator to thaw. 4 oz Whole Strawberries, 4 oz Blueberries, 4 oz Blackberries, 4 oz Cherries, 6 oz FatFree Milk, 1 container (5.5 oz) of yogurt (orange). Blended for a few minutes - not bad! Poured 8 oz (about 1/3) About 40 calories for the cup.

Tuna salad sandwich on whole wheat bread: 190 calories
FatFree Milk: 90 calories

Dinner: 402 Calories
Went for vegetables only: 1 cup of Corn, 1 cup of Cowpeas, 1 cup of lima beans. Calories: 312
FatFree Milk, 1 cup: 90 calories

Daily Total: 1367 Calories
I ended up with 443% of my cholesterol daily allowance because of the eggs!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Diet Day 2 - 530 days to go!

Man - the days are really clicking off now! Not!

Thought I would have issues with being hungry last night, but never was. Instead, I actually felt full. Not sure what is going on.

I walked for 50 minutes again today. Per the USDA site, that's worth 330 calories at my weight at a slow pace.

Breakfast: 480 Calories
This morning, I had steel cut oatmeal, raisins and dried blueberries, 2 cups of coffee and 1 cup of milk. I left off the V-8 Spicy Hot Juice.

Lunch: 470 Calories
I had a Lean Cuisine for lunch, 280 calories, unsweetened ice tea. Also, per Alton Brown, I decided to try sardines in olive oil. I didn't do his recipe, I just had them straight out of the can. Not too bad....a little on the dull side. When I was a child, I went fishing with my father once, and we had sardines out of the can, placed onto saltine crackers. I only went fishing with him 3 times, so that's a big memory to me. My wife doesn't like them, so I never eat them, but will probably do so now for the diet. High in omega-3, 180 calories, no sodium, so not a bad item.

Dinner: 536 Calories
Alton Brown has divided his 'diet' into 4 categories; things to eat every day, things to eat 3 times a week, things to eat once per week, and things to never eat. We will be having Chicken for tonight for dinner. It doesn't directly show up in his categories, however, the USDA actually gives it less weight (oz) per week than it does for Beef, so it's probably a once-per-week item. Anyway, that's what we're having tonight.

6.5 oz boneless, skinless chicken breast, roasted
4 oz zucchini steamed
4 oz asparagus steamed
1 cup milk fatfree
1 oz almonds

Total for Day: 1494 Calories

I bought some dried lentils today. I don't really have any experience cooking them, as we usually do canned peas and beans, so I've got to go find out how long to cook them. I just pored 1 lb of pinto beans into a quart mason jar (canning) and filled it to the top with water to let it soak till tomorrow - see how that does.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Diet - Day 1, 531 to go

April 18 2011 - Day 1! Looks like (see below) I only have 531 days to go!

Yeah! I've done it! I've reached my goal of a start date!

Think I'll go have a beef steak as a reward.


Just 531 days to go :-(

I weighed in this morning: 261.
I want to weigh 185 when I'm done. That's a loss of 76 pounds.

Worse than I hoped, better than I feared.

I'm having my usual breakfast: Steel Cut Oatmeal, 1 serving, topped with about 1/3 cup of while dried blueberries, and about the same green dried grapes.

I also had 2 cups black coffee, and 1 can (5.5 ounces) of Spicy Hot V8 juice.

For lunch, I had a Lean Cuisine, Beef & Broccoli. It came in at about 280 calories.

For dinner, I had (thanks to my wife - I did the dishes): Baked Salmon (7 oz), Spinach (1 cup), Yellow Squash (1 cup), for a total of 500 calories.

The USDA stresses how important milk is for someone in my age bracket - says I'm supposed to drink fat free milk, 3 cups per day. I almost never drink milk, so this is a new add. That will also be 90 calories x 3, or 270 per day. I only had one today, after dinner.

My total for the day is 1273 calories. I'm a little low on the fiber stuff as well as calories, so if I get hungry, I may add another serving or two of Oats.

I'm keeping a log, and it has a lot more stuff in it, like the 'daily recommended percentages' that I compile for each food that I eat, but I think that would be too detailed for this blog.

Diet Research

Just 531 days to go :-(

I weighed in this morning: 261. Per the USDA, for my height 6'0", that's a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 35, or obese.

I want to weigh 185 when I'm done. That's a loss of 76 pounds.

From the USDA: A calorie deicit of 500 calories or more per day is a common initial goal for weight loss for adults.

Assuming that is correct, and that I can quantify my current caloric needs (which is different than what I consume), then since 1 pound of fat represents 3500 calories, in order to lose 76 pounds, I need to lose (76 * 3500 calories) 266,000 calories. At a loss of 500 calories per day, then I'm talking about 532 days. Since there are 365 days in a year, then 532 / 365 is 1.45 years, or about 1.5 years.

Let me see - since this is about 1/3 of a year today on 4/18, then that would mean I can add back 500 calories per day beginning about Thanksgiving, 2012!

Yeah! Looking forward to Thanksgiving, 2012!

Per the USDA, since I'm in the 51+ age category, and am retired, I would say that I'm in the Sedentary group. They give the estimated calories needed to balance weight (no gain, no loss) as being 2,000 - 2,200 calories per day. So let's assume I'm at the bottom end of that, at 2000 calories per day. That means my caloric intake per day, in order to produce a 500 calorie deficit, should be 2,000 - 500 => 1,500 per day.

I'm reading the USDA's 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans in order to see what our governments research on diet might yield.

One new term I have recently come across (originally from Alton Brown regarding his loss of 50 pounds), from the USDA: Nutrient-dense foods and beverages provide vitamins, minerals, and other substances that may have positive health effects with relatively few calories. The term “nutrient dense” indicates that the nutrients and other beneicial substances in a food have not been “diluted” by the addition of calories from added solid fats, added sugars, or added reined starches, or by the solid fats naturally present in the food. Nutrient-dense foods and beverages are lean or low in solid fats, and minimize or exclude added solid fats, sugars, starches, and sodium. Ideally, they also are in forms that retain naturally occurring components, uch as dietary iber. All vegetables, fruits, whole grains, seafood, eggs, beans and peas, unsalted nuts and seeds, fat-free and low-fat milk and milk products, and lean meats and poultry—when prepared without adding solid fats or sugars—are nutrient-dense foods.

I can really see that I'm going to have to reduce my intake of alcohol. Alton Brown has a good approach - about 2 servings once per week. Think I'll try that approach. Since being retired, I've noted that my intake of alcohol has increased considerably, so a reduction was probably in order anyway. Not really sure why it had increased, guess it was just the increase in leisure time.

Fast Food
Since we don't eat much fast food, that's not really a problem. We typically eat a Chic-Filet sausage biscuit about once every 3 weeks, and a chicken sandwich about once per week. Think I'll cut those out except for an occasional treat of the chicken sandwich. So that's the biggest fast food change.

Dining Out
That's going to be a bigger problem on what to choose, but it's manageable, so I'll just have to be be more careful on what I choose, what I eat, and how much of it I eat.

I've been eating breakfast with a neighbor once every other week. Think I'll continue with that since I enjoy it, but will change what I'm eating. Have been having 2 eggs, 2 pieces of buttered toast, 1 serving of grits with butter. Will switch to egg omelette with cheese. Since I don't really know how the local cafe prepares their omelettes, I'll just have to go with some research I found for averages - about 500 calories.

Diet Guidelines
From the USDA: One aspect of these patterns that has been researched is the concept of calorie density, or the amount of calories provided per unit of food weight. Foods high in water and/or dietary iber typically have fewer calories per gram and are lower in calorie density, while foods higher in fat are generally higher in calorie density. A dietary pattern low in calorie density is characterized by a relatively high intake of vegetables, fruit, and dietary iber and a relatively low intake of total fat, saturated fat, and added sugars. Strong evidence shows that eating patterns that are low in calorie density improve weight loss and weight maintenance, and also may be associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes in adults.

So, it looks like 'caloric low density' foods actually help make a diet that is trying to result in a weight loss is an important component. So, need to avoid things like alcohol and fat for sure, as those are high calorie items: alcohol is 7 calories per gram, and fat is 9 calories per gram (a gram is about the weight of a regular asperin tablet), while high carb items are just 4 calories per gram! From an energy punch, nothing appears to beat fat at 9 calories per gram, not even sugar at 4 calories per gram! So, from a caloric density viewpoint, fat is BIG!

Physical Activity
While on vacation at Edisto Beach SC, we walked at least 1 hour every day (weather permitting). I did this at a very leisurely pace, probably lower than most people. It averaged about 2 miles per hour.

At least while I'm so obese, I'm going to just keep it at that level - walk one hour per day. However, there's a big difference here where I live vs the beach - we have a lot of steep hills! So I won't be able to walk as far, but I can walk for as long. In other words, I won't be able to maintain 2 mph for 1 hour; it will be much slower for 1 hour. Hopefully, after I've dumped some weight it will be much easier to do and I can go further and faster.

Per the USDA, for ages 18 - 64:
For substantial health beneits, adults should do at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) a week of moderate-intensity, or 75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes) a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity. Aerobic activity should be performed in episodes of at least 10 minutes, and preferably, it should be spread throughout the week. Also, Adults should also include muscle-strengthening activities that involve all major muscle groups on 2 or more days a week.

Not sure where walking comes into play with the above, but I'm going to stick with my walking. Assuming some interruptions from weather and other conflicts, I'm going to assume 1 hour 4 times a week, for a total of about 4 hours or 240 minutes. It also looks like I've got to add something for my upper torso, so guess I'll need to lift some weights a couple of times per week.

Weight Monitoring
In the past, I weighed myself daily when trying to lose weight. I think this backfired - when I went several days with no weight loss, I got discouraged. I think I'll go with a weekly weight monitoring to start with, and if no real change, I'll go to monthly. If I don't see something on monthly, than somethings wrong with the diet.

When I do weigh, I will do it at the same time each day, dressed the same way in order to be consistent. So, for me, that will be first thing in the morning after rising, after a fast trip to the bathroom, wearing undercloths only. I'll record that weight, and it will be consistent with respect to samples.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Diet - a dirty word

Well, I'm going to have to go on a diet.


I'm not sure what I weigh, but it's probably around 260 - I hope it isn't more!

I'm going to weigh myself in the morning to find out for sure, as tomorrow I'm going to start to lose weight.

I think it will probably take 1.5 to 2 years of lowered consumption intake to get my weight down.

I want to do it slow like this because:
1 - I think slow is better for my health
2 - I think it will allow me to get a better grip on portion control.
3 - It's not as scary!

I lost about 50 pounds one time in the 90s. I did it by counting every calorie. I kept reducing my food caloric intake until at the end I was only consuming 500 - 700 calories. At the end, I had a melt down and couldn't seem to quit eating stuff. It was almost like I was watching someone else start eating. It scared me, and I came off of that approach. I don't intend to go through anything that difficult again.

It may take more than 2 years - who knows! I don't really care. I just want to take the weight off and not be adding it on.

So tomorrow, Monday, April 18th, I start reducing my intake. Not sure really how I'm going to go about it yet. I've started some research, but in the meantime, I'm reducing several things:
1 - red meat
2 - alcohol
3 - cats

I just threw the 'cats' in to see if you were paying attention! Hah!

I've taken a look at some work on dieting that Alton Brown of Foodnetwork has done for himself. He's dropped about 50 pounds over the past year.

I think I probably need to drop at least 70.

Tomorrow, the weigh in!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Golfers with Business to Conduct - Wyndham Resort Golf Course, Edisto Beach SC

We are staying on the 18th hole golf course here at the Wyndham Resort on Edisto Island.

We became aware of frequent side excursions, by golfers, usually without clubs, and no where near where their golf ball landed.

So I decided to start taking pictures of these side excursions, as they were happening directly in front of us, in plain view of everyone.

Have a look at some interesting pictures! I took them in a 15 minute time frame.

I'm thinking about placing a banner on our deck that advertises golfing pictures for sale.

It's just a steady stream of these guys on the weekend!

Wonder what they were doing?

There's a "things to do" here at the resort, but I don't recall seeing this as a featured item!

McConkey's Jungle Shack - Edisto Beach, SC

We had ridden past the Jungle Shack every day for 3 weeks. We finally decided to give it a try for lunch.

I had a cheeseburger, while my wife had a hot dog. We split an order of onion rings.

The burger was good, and my wife's hot dog was good.

Believe it or not, so far, this is the best value, and most friendly place on the beach that we've been to.

The dinner menu is the best priced we come across so far, and that includes: Sea Cow, Whaley's, and Dock Side.

Located next to the Piggly Wiggly on Edisto Beach, SC.

SeaCow Eatery - Edisto Beach, SC

We had ridden by the SeaCow Eatery several times before my wife mentioned she would like to go there for lunch one day. I hadn't noticed it at all. It's on the West side of Jungle Road on Edisto Beach SC.

When we arrived, I was a little confused as to where the door is to enter. My wife saw the sign that pointed left, towards the marsh and away from the road, but I didn't see it, so I went right. Wrong.

On entering, we observed the 'wait to be seated' sign, so we stood at the counter for a while before a large African-American waitress told us to follow her. She got the menus and led us to a table. When we got there, she noted it hadn't been cleaned up. She said something to a white woman about it not being clean. The white woman turned around to go back and get a cloth to wipe down the table. Meanwhile the African-American waitress proceeded to start bitching while looking at us. We felt like she was bitching at us, but this didn't make any sense, so we just ignored it. She walked off, with the menus, leaving us standing there. Soon the white woman returned, and wiped down our table and left. We sat down, but without any menus. My wife, who had been standing behind me, wanted to know what the waitress was bitching at me, what had I said? I told her I didn't think she was bitching at me, but wasn't really sure.

After a while, the African-American waitress returned to take our order. We told her we didn't have any menus yet, so we didn't know what we wanted. She turned all the way around, said something to the white waitress, then turned back to use, started bitching at us again, then turned around and walked away! She's the same one I said earlier took the menus away when she left, and now she's pissed off that we aren't ready to order!

The white waitress came back to us and took our order. She also brought our order back to us when it was ready. Then she disappeared.

At some point I needed a refill on my tea. After a while had gone by without anyone else coming by to refresh my drink, I got up and went and stood at the counter holding my drink. Finally the African-American waitress asked what I wanted. I said I needed a refill on my tea. She grabbed a clean glass, reached into the ice bin with her bare hands holding the cup so her hands were into the ice(!), filled it up with ice, poured the tea into it, and was in the process of handing it to me when she saw I was holding my cup. She grabbed the cup I was holding, and instead of just swapping cups with me, she proceeded to dump the ice out of my cup, then pour the tea and ice from the cup she had just refilled into the cup I had been holding.

Seems a bit goofy, but whatever.

We finished our meal. No one appeared to give us our check. At no time did anyone ever come back by to see if we needed anything.

After a long wait, we went up to the counter to pay. The African-American waitress looked at me, and asked me where I would like to sit. I told her we had already eaten an were wanting to pay. She asked where I had been sitting, and I pointed it out to her - it was the same place she had told us to sit, and had been to it twice, but whatever.

When she realized we didn't have the check, she turned and looked at the white waitress, started bitching (I never could understand what she was saying - it was all under her breath, angry sounding stuff).

And that's how we were greeted, served and disposed of.

Food was just OK, nothing worth returning for for us.

Service was bad, attitudes of wait staff was worse than bad.

Not somewhere I would ever go back to.

Whaley's Bar - Edisto Beach SC

Good Times at Whaley's
Whaley's quickly became our go-to place on the beach. It's located on the south end of the island. It's a couple of blocks back from the beach, near the water tower. I use the point in the road where it changes from 4 lane to 2 lane as the point to turn in, and go back a couple of blocks to Myrtle St, where it sits on a turn in the road.

Our first waitress, whom we got to know by name, is very pleasant. I think she said her name was Tomikaa, but I'll have to run this by my wife - she's better at names than I am.

We typically go at lunch, while we are out on our walks. We sometimes eat a late lunch, but usually just pop in to have a beer. The locals seem to arrive around 3 PM, which makes having a beer more fun.

The food is OK so far, just bar food. But we enjoy going here. I've had the Buffalo Chicken Sandwich twice, and my wife has had their cheeseburger twice.

The Prancing Waiter
On one occasion at about 1 PM, I think it was a Thursday, we stopped by for a beer. Our favorite waitress was no where in sight that day. We were told by some skinny guy in his 60s, that was waiting on tables who yelled at us over his shoulder, to sit anywhere we wanted. This is a different guy then the older guy that serves the bar. The old guy behind the bar is an institution.

So we proceeded to a 2-top bar high bar table with 2 stools. We placed our order for 2 beers with this same guy. It took a while to place the order, but that's OK - we are retired!0

He sort of pranced around a lot, with a lot of wasted motions. By this I mean he would walk around a lot, but never consolidated any of his trips from tables to the kitchen area to bring water, etc., so he was moving around a lot without actually doing anything. For instance, if he had brought a pitcher of water along once every while, he could have filled up everyone else's tables with water at once; instead, he fills up a table, returns the water, then walks back into the dining area, where someone else asks for water, so he walks over and gets it, walks back to the person requesting it, fills up that person, walks it back and puts it back.....over and over. He never did more than one thing on a trip, so he was overloading himself for no reason.

After we had been there a long time, we began to take note of him a little more, as just how long does it take to bring 2 beers in a place with people just sitting at a few tables? We realized he was struggling with the Point of Sale (POS) system, so we figured he must be new, and to cut him some slack.

Since nothing else was really going on, we watched him. He just continued to prance around. By now he is yelling back over his shoulder at tables that he's sorry it's taking so long, while standing at the POS. He does this several times. He appeared to be getting more and more upset with the POS, and moaning at the people dining about it. We noted he would clear the POS a lot and just start over. Our previous waitress never had any issues, nor have any of the one's since - just him. While he's standing there with the POS trying to get it straight, another server would come up to the POS next to him, and badda-bing, badda-boom it's entered and done with.

But not this guy.

It took a long time to get our beers. We noted that a lot of people were having problems, either not being able to order, not being able to get their food, or not being able to get their checks, or their change. So rather than order another round of beers for a long wait, we decided to just skip any more beer and set up our exit strategy. I mean, we had to plan on our exit!

The next time he danced our way, I asked for our check. He didn't say anything at all, just stopped and starred at me, so I assumed he hadn't heard my request for our check. So I repeated it. He got upset, saying loud enough for the entire place to hear that he was doing all that he could. What!

Well, there's several ways to do 'all that you can'. One is a normal person with normal skills being overloaded, while another way is someone with poor skills to be trying to carry a normal load - all are doing all that they can, but having to do too much. He appeared to be just barely functional to us, so we assumed he was not capable of doing much and was therefore doing all of that type of 'all that he can'.

Some younger guy with a beard, I think seeing my surprised look and having heard the dancing waiter's outburst, came out from behind the bar, came over quickly and gave us our check, along with an apology for the wait, and a wink. We told him it wasn't any problem, but thanks!

At no time had we complained about the wait, but that younger bearded guy had observed what was going on, and was starting to pick up some of the customers.

I was still going to leave the dancing waiter a 15% tip, as I really felt he was probably new and was going to cut him some slack.

However, after the check had been delivered, the old dancing waiter came over to our table, and told us, again loudly, that we were sitting in the wrong place - since we weren't having any food, we should be sitting at the bar, and that was "your fault" and next time, if we weren't ordering food we had to sit at the bar.

The place is about 1/3 to 1/2 full. There are tables everywhere. We had sat at this table on our last three visits to the bar, and had never had anyone say anything other than "sit where ever you want", including from him. Our regular waitress had never complained - I suspect she appreciated the tips for beer, since we greatly overtip if we are just having a beer.

Several people from other tables turned around to stare as he was so loud with his complaint. This was embarrassing to us, and pissed me off totally.

Remember, when we came into this place, he told us to sit anywhere we could? Now he's bitching about where we sat? He's a clown waiting tables and he's going to bitch at us for his personal issues?

We left. I left him with $0.50 for his troubles.

We've since been back to Whaley's several times, and have never seen him since. I don't know if they let him go, he danced out of here, or if our schedules just haven't lined up yet. If I go in and see him, I'm going to get his name so I can post it as a dancing waiter to consider missing.

Edisto Beach - Dock Side Restaurant

Our first night on Edisto, Wednesday March 23rd, we went to the Dock Side Restaurant.

This is located on the South West corner of the island, across from the entrance to the Wyndham Resort.

We were given two seats next to the windows overlooking the river and marsh.

We both got the seafood platters. I opted for the larger platter, the Captain's Platter (about $22), while my wife had the regular seafood platter (about $21). This came with a trip to the salad bar, and a fish stew.

We thought everything was OK, but no more than that. For the price, we felt it was a little high, certainly more than we would have paid in Charleston at a restaurant of similar decor and surroundings.

The service was OK too.

So, overall, in our opinion, just OK, and we looked forward to finding something a little more interesting and possibly better, at a better price.

I'm not sure the price isn't warranted, because restaurants on islands like this only have 3 - 5 months to make enough sales to carry them through the whole year, so it may be a fair price, but felt high to us.

Botany Bay Plantation - Edisto, SC

We met a couple while walking on Edisto Beach, and they mentioned a beach owned by DNR of SC, Botany Bay Plantation. This is an old plantation that was deeded to the state of SC a couple of years back. It is over 3,000 acres! It has a large protected beach north of Edisto Beach, across the sound from Seabrook Island SC.

The plantation is on a dirt road, which you turn into by the 'Edisto Tree' landmark. It's probably a mile down that dirt road.

You will have to park your car and walk about 1/2 mile to the beach, which at a slow pace for us is about 15 minutes. Once on the beach, you will notice the abundance of large seashells. You are not permitted to take any home with you, so the beach is in a natural setting as all of the beaches would have appeared prior to development.

It is stunning to see all of the shells, and so many large shells!

We walked south for about 30 minutes before turning around.

Our total time: 15 minutes walking to the beach, 30 minutes south, 30 minutes back north, 15 minutes out, for a total of 1.5 hours.

It was something to experience, and we would recommend it!

There is no charge (4/15/2011) to access any of this, at this time.

How to Cook Shrimp

Here's the cocktail sauce we like to serve with our shrimp!

Buy 1 pound of fresh shrimp, which is about right for 2 people for a meal primarily of shrimp. We prefer ours with the heads off. If fresh, they should be gray in color; they start turning orange as they lose their freshness.

Get a colander and try it out in several of your tall pots. You want a colander/pot combination that will let your colander sit in the pot, suspended by the handles on the colander, inside the pot, without touching the bottom of your pot. You want a lid that will drop down onto the colander. It doesn't have to be too snug. You can also buy these enameled pots with lift-out strainer at the grocery stores

The idea here is that you will be boiling water in the bottom of the pot, which will be producing steam, but you don't want the water to rise up to the shrimp. It's OK for froth to rise up, but you are wanting to steam the shrimp, not boil them.

Pour the water into the colander. You don't want them to be crowded, as you want the steam to be able to work its way through them. We are able to cook 1 pound this way at a time, without over crowding them.

Keep the lid on until you see some steam coming out around the lid. Periodically lift the lid to see the shrimp. Using a long cooking spoon or ladle, stir the shrimp, so that all of the shrimp will get exposed to the steam.

Continue to periodically stir while steaming the shrimp, until all of the shrimp are a uniform orangish color - any gray means that shrimp is undercooked.

Pour onto a serving platter, pull off the shells, dip in the sauce, and eat!

Tip on taking the shell off: Pinch the shell at the first joint about the tail and pull, while with other hand hold at the bottom of the 2nd shell joint. This will remove 2/3 of the shell in one single stroke. Now remove the legs and shell in an easy twisting motion.

How to Make Seafood Cocktail Sauce

We cook a lot of seafood, and my wife has perfected the best cocktail sauce ever!

Ketchup, about 1 cup
Worcestershire Sauce, about 1/4 teaspoon
Horseradish (cream style, prepared), about 1 teaspoon
Lemon juiced, about 1/4 of lemon

Mix together.

I like mine hotter than my wife, so I add hot sauce (Texas Pete) to a separate serving for me.

You may want to adjust up/down the horseradish. It should be enough to have a kick to it, but not so much your nose is burning!

How to Cook Oysters

I've just completed writing a restaurant review for Bowens Island Oyster Roast, and decided I needed to write an article about the proper way to cook oysters.

Roasting oysters, such as the way they are prepared at Bowens, is not the way I prefer.

I'm going to show you the best way, developed over years of cooking oysters for small and large groups of people.

First, the oysters.

If you have oysters on the shell available to you, than this is the preferred method.

Steamed Oysters in their Shell
We buy our oysters by the box at a local grocery store, with 100 to a box. This is about the same as a bushel of oysters, which is how I bought them when I was younger, but stores don't seem to carry them this way now.

I take the number of people that are going to eat oysters, and divide by 6, and that's the number of boxes of 100 I buy. Since I can't buy a part of a box, I round up to the next box. So for 20 people that are going to eat a meal of oysters (not talking about those people that either don't like them, or not had them, but people that know they like oysters and know they want a full meal of them), I'll end up with 3.3 boxes, rounded up to 4 boxes, or 400 oysters.

For 20 people, you will need 5 turkey fryers (burners) in order to keep the people supplied with oysters in a constant flow. This is going to be a lot of work for the main oyster cook! These are the propane cookers with stand, a lift out boiling pot, and a metal pot. It's probably about 5 gallons.

We pour all 400 oysters into a hard-plastic pond liner (about 20 gallons) and cover with ice. We take them out one-at-a-time wearing water proof kitchen cleaner gloves, inspecting each one before it goes into the boiling pot.

Place about 3 inches of water in the bottom of the pot. Bring it to a boil. Do this for all the burners you have, as some oysters will have died and their shell will be open; you don't want to serve these. Use an oyster knife to pull the lid off of these or discard the whole oyster if not in a cluster.

Fill up, about 3/4 full, the boil pot (the one with the holes in it), and lower it down into the boiling pot. The water in the pot should be below the level of the oyster boil pot; if it's too high, then use a ladle to remove some. You'll be removing water from the pot all night, so you'll need a long handled ladle for this task.

Put the lid on, and kick up the burner to high. It will be making a roaring noise. You'll need to do this because the cold oysters will take a lot of heat out of the pot.

When steam starts coming out of the top of the lid, take a look. If there's just wisps of steam, you are too early - you want a cloud of steam rising up and through the oysters, indicating that all of the oysters have been heated enough to be cooked.

I like to leave mine in the pot until a froth bubbles up, but you'll need to experiment with this.

Do it this way, you'll be able to cook the oysters at a much more precise, lower temperature, than that used in roasting. For this reason, you don't have to be as precise as to the time to cook, they are harder to over cook, and all will come out at the same temperature. Plus, the steam helps clean everything!

Oysters from a Pint Container
Depending on where you live, you may not be able to obtain oysters in the shell (not the half-shell; that's a serving of raw oysters that have had their lid removed). However, you may be able to find, if your grocery has a 'seafood' or 'fish' section, oysters that have been shucked and placed into a pint container. I'm not talking about oysters in a tin can or sardine-like container. You should be able to see the shucked oysters through the clear pint container, in their liquid.

At home, depending on how many people you are serving, get a large pan, and pour all of the oyster liquid into it. You'll want the liquid in the pan to come up about 1/4 inch, or about half way up an oyster. It doesn't really matter if you have more water, it just will take longer to bring it up to temperature. You don't want less water then would come up half way on the oyster.

Bring the water up to a simmer, then immerse your oysters into it carefully so you don't splash hot water out of the pan. You'll want a pan big enough so you can serve one serving to everyone at the same time. If you have more people, either add more pans, or cycle between people. You want to serve a small serving to everyone, so everyone will eat their oysters hot before they have had a chance to cool down.

So you'll be cooking many servings. When its just the two of us, I'll cook the pint in 2 or 3 separate servings, so they are all hot.

Serve with Tobasco, Texas Pete, or your favorite condiment.

We usually don't put anything on them.

Dining in Charleston - Bowens Island Oyster Roast

I lived in Charleston from 1964 until 1971 while attending school, leaving to attend college at Furman University.

During this time, I ate a lot of seafood, all of it fried.

Some of my earliest memories are of trips to NC, we would occasionally stop at Calabash, which is advertises itself as 'The Seafood Capital of the World', and I suspect, at least from a per-capita standpoint, that may be correct. While at Calabash, I would usually order the steamed oysters, which were served on a tray still in their shells, which had opened from the steam. They were hot, tender and flavorful. There was a hole cut into the middle of the table where everyone would throw their empty shells.

So it was with great anticipation that we were going to Bowens Island Oyster Roast!

Our arrival is around 6:00 PM, Wednesday, April 13 2011.

The restaurant itself is located on the south side of the James Island - Folly Beach road. The pavement ends about 3/4 of the way into the restaurant, so the final stretch is on a dirt road. Parking is to the right where the road runs runs out at the river.

It's a jumble of buildings, none of which appear to have ever been painted. Looking around trying to figure out where to go, we spotted a huge ramp, the most dominate feature, so we proceeded up the ramp to the top, which is a 2nd floor screened in area. A few of the tables had people at them. No one said anything, so we proceeded to one of the tables and waited. No menus were in evidence. Finally, a young woman (Heather) called out to us to come over to the left side of the bar, where we could view a menu and place our orders.

We decided we would each have a tray of roasted oysters, at $14.50 each. We placed our orders, were given a ticket with "2" on it, and were told to go downstairs(!) to pick up our orders.

So down we trudged, this time using the stairs instead of the loooong ramp.

On entering, we were greeted with a view of two rooms, both as bare as could be, with lots of old wooden self-made tables with holes in the middle - oyster tables!

We met Dale, and handed him our "2" ticket, and sat down. While there, we decided we would just eat down there, as we could watch Dale cook the oysters.

Dale cooks his oysters over a sheet of plate steel, under which are several gas burners, and over which is spread a wet burlap bag to produce and retain steam. This was the first time I had ever seen this arrangement before; I've seen oysters over coals with burlap, but never on sheet steal over gas burners. An interesting innovation. I noted there were already oysters on the sheet; Dale turned up the gas to get the steam going.

Dale delivered our oysters to us via one serving each from a large, new steel shovel. They were in clusters. They had been washed on the outside, so no mud was apparent.

If you haven't had oysters served this way, then you will occasionally be surprised to open an oyster and find it completely full of mud. This is going to happen in clusters, so get used to it; just toss it away and look for another.

After trying a couple, all of which were cool, I called Dale over and told him they were too cold to eat. Dale tossed both of our servings away, and started a new batch for us.

He soon arrived with two new batches for us - these were hot and good. As is typical with roasted oysters, the heat is uneven, so some oysters are cooked more than others. We had many that were over cooked (small, dried up things), some that could have used a little longer in the heat, and some that were just right. There are plenty of oysters, so even if you toss the ones that aren't cooked to your liking, you'll have plenty of oysters.

The area we were eating in is at ground level, on the march, concrete walls and floor. All of the juices from opening the oysters ends up on the floor, so this is a high humidity area, that smells of oysters.

We noted 'no-see-ums', which are small biting gnats that frequent marsh areas. Nothing new here with that, but it's made worse by the high humidity in this area. If we had been smaller, they would have carried us off.

They were terrible. I mentioned to Dale how bad they were, and he went searching for some "Off!" bug repellent. My wife, with more skin showing than me, used it; I elected to just get bitten rather than use it. They got into our hair, then crawled around on our scalps. They bit everything they could get to. I rubbed my hair and scalp the rest of the evening!

As soon as we could, we finished up our oysters and moved upstairs. We would have liked to have hung out more on the ground floor with Dale, but it was too much - too much humidity, too much smells, and way too much biting gnats!

Moving upstairs, we noted almost all of the tables were now full.

The outside porch, which overlooks the marsh and river, looked inviting with hardly any people, as did the setting sun, so we took a couple of beers and wandered out onto the porch. I thought the 2nd floor location would give us a respite from the gnats, but I was wrong, wrong, wrong! We stayed outside long enough to take a couple of pictures, then went back inside.

Inside, we sat at the bar, where we could have easier access to the bar maid. This was an issue because our bar maid was the only person taking orders and supplying drinks. The 'order station' was backed up about 20 feet, almost to the door. She was working as hard as she could go, and doing a fine job of it, but it appeared to us that you would have a 30 minute wait before you would be able to place your order, get your ticket, and trudge downstairs then back upstairs with your oysters. However, if you ordered anything other than roasted oysters, e.g., fried seafood, they were brought to you at your table.

So, would we go back? Maybe. I don't think we would do the roasted oysters again, but the fried seafood was saw being served looked like it had been cooked well, so we might come back for that. But we would definitely eat upstairs and not go downstairs, because the gnats are just too bad.

I wouldn't order the roasted oysters for several reasons.

I host large parties back at our home, serving 25 - 30 people steamed oysters (not roasted oysters). Using steam, I can cook every oyster to perfection, as the heat is uniform throughout. The steam also carries away any left over mud off of the shell exterior, so they are also cleaner.

My way is a superior method, resulting in hot, sweet cooked oysters - why would I want them any other way?

Would I recommend this place? Yes, particularly if you had never been around some of the old oyster houses. But I would recommend long sleeves, long pants with socks, a baseball hat, and liberal doses of 'Off!' before attempting!

Dining in Charleston - The Glass Onion

Wednesday, April 13 2011, we went to the Glass Onion restaurant for lunch.

We had ridden by this place several times as we rode into and out of Charleston on other trips. Coming in from Edisto Beach SC on hwy 17, it is located on the right, a couple of miles past the I-526 intersection. It's nondescript, looking sort-of run down as you pass by. As we rode by, I remember glancing over to my right and thinking - that's somewhere we'll never eat!

That changed last week when our daughter S sent us an email with a list of three restaurants she had come across while reading a Rachel Ray magazine - the Glass Onion was one of three featured!

Piquing our interest a little, we did some research on the web and found quite a bit of information, certainly enough to warrant a stop for lunch! Since we were already going into Charleston on Wednesday in order to eat at Bowens Island Oyster Roast, lunch would be the perfect time to hit the Glass Onion.

On entering, we proceeded straight ahead to view the big chalk board with menu items. A young guy with a black beard handed us a menu to make things a little easier to view.

Since we are in town only briefly and may get to a restaurant only once, we tend to get a lot of side dishes along with one main dish each, sharing all, in order to get a wider exposure to the restaurant and chef.

We decided on our first selections: I would have Crispy Braised Pork Belly (I think it was $7 - it's not on the menu onsite today), a side of grits $2 from Anson Mills. My wife ordered Fried Chicken Livers with Local Lettuce $7.

The pork belly was a burst of flavor! About 1 inch square, and 1/4 inch thick, on top of slaw and lettuce. I think it was cooked just right - a touch of crust, lots of flavor. The grits were creamy and cheesy, and some of the best we've had.

My wife's fried chicken livers $7 were "Good! Lightly battered and fried, with a buttermilk type dressing". She's looking forward to the Chicken Liver Mousse on her next trip here.

I later added Chuck's Pork, Andoluille and Okra Gumbo $6 (small portion). This was also a great, flavorful excursion!

And the finally, I ordered Roasted Chicken Salad Salad $8. This was OK. This has shown up in several sites as being one of the most popular items, but it was just OK to us. Nothing wrong with it, just not a lot of flavor compared to the other dishes, and maybe that was the problem - it came in after at the end, following a lot of dishes that were bursting in flavor. Maybe like someone humming following a bright brass band!

So, would we come back? Yes, for everything except the Chicken Salad sandwich.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Dining in Charleston - Cypress

We had reservations at 6:00 PM at Cypress. We were going here because we had heard of it via the James Beard Award Nominees list that had recently been announced. Cypress is located on E. Bay at Queen St.

We arrived a little early, so we stopped at Griffon's bar, a half block East, for a couple of drinks. An interesting place; their motif is dollar bills stapled to everything, and signed by everyone. Interesting!

Arriving at Cypress, we found the dining area to be interesting. As I work with microcontrollers, I noted that it appears all of the ceiling lights are using RGB LED lights, which move through a spectrum of colors before repeating about every 5 minutes.

On the North wall is a 2-story wine storage, behind a glass wall. Impressive!

The kitchen is completely open, and is at the back.

We sat in a private clam-shell booth, on the right side of the dining room. Our backs were to the wine storage.

My wife ordered a small min-bottle of wine, while I had Talisker Single Malt Scotch, served neat.

Our waitress, JoAnn, was very well informed about all aspects of the menu. She's probably the best informed wait staff we've had in the past 10 years.

We each picked a 'Starter', even though we were going to order the 'Prix fixe' menu, which comes with a starter, but we enjoy doing this when dining at a restaurant so far from our home area, as it gives us an opportunity to sample more of the chef's abilities for a small increase in the overall price.

My wife picked from the regular starters, and selected the Almond-Fried Brie
cranberry-walnut chutney, baby greens, champagne vinaigrette for $10.

I selected from the Seasonal Starters, and selected the Sweet & Sour Lamb Meatballs ricotta gnocchi, tomato-orange marmalade for $11.

We enjoyed both, but we both preferred my wife's Almond-Fried Brie. I'm not really big on brie, but I really liked this! It had just the right amount of crust on the outside, while being warm and soft on the inside. It was great!

Next we ordered for the Prix Fixe, which is currently $39 each. We both felt afterwards that this was a very good value.

For my wife's Prix Fixe Starter, she ordered the Charcuterie, while for my Prix Fixe Starter, I ordered the Crispy Pork Shoulder. Again, we both felt my wife's choice was superior to my choice. I thought my Crispy Pork Shoulder was a little overdone, but how can one be sure when it's cooked 'Crispy'? It was good, but we both preferred hers. BTW - Chef Craig Deihl makes his own Charcuterie, and I think it's the best I've ever had. Some of the meats just melt in your mouth - so flavorful and tender. Here's a video of the interior of the restaurant along with his team making their Charcuterie.

For our Main Course, my wife chose Pastured Pork Schnitzel, while I chose Braised MiBek Farms Beef. My wife's Scnhitzel was good, but my Beef was outstanding - we both thought it was the best. At home I have a Sous Vide Supreme, and think this was pprobably cooked via that method, as it was fork tender. We asked the waitress if this was true, and she confirmed it was cooked this way. Well, all I can say is he's doing a much better job with it than I am! It appears that it was cooked in the Sous Vide method, then either 'torched' or placed on a grill for a few minutes to get some Maillard Browning toast on the outside. Whatever - it was great! So I've got something to look forward to cooking-wise when we get back home!

For our desserts, my wife chose Chai Spiced Panna Cotta, while I chose Goat’s Milk Ricotta Cheesecake. My wife enjoyed hers, saying it was tasty without being heavy. I liked mine too.

Our tab consisted of:
1 half-bottle of wine
2 glasses of Talisker Single Malt Scotch, served Neat.
2 Starters
2 Prix Fixe meals at $39 each
Total: $196.

Total time dining was about 2 hours.

This is much more than we spend on average, but once or twice a year, when going somewhere special like Cypress, we will do this.

We feel that we had a great time, and the price was reasonable for what we received.

For a deeper look at Cypress and Chef Deihl, please have a look at this article.

We look forward to going back!

Next Up on Dining in Charleston:
Glass Onion - lunch
Bowens Island Oyster Roast - dinner

Monday, April 11, 2011

Charleston Dining - Anticipation of Cypress!

Tonight we head back into Charleston, where we will dine at Cypress. We are planning on having the 'prix fixe' dinner for $39 each.

S, our daughter, alerted us to The Glass Onion, so we are planning on having lunch there this coming Wednesday, and possibly a dinner there next Tuesday week for fried chicken.

This coming Wednesday, we travel to Bowens Island Oyster Roast, between James Island (south of Charleston) and Folly Beach for shovel fulls of roasted oysters! This guy is a pro! At home, we host parties for 20 - 25 people where we serve 500 steamed oysters, which are my favorite...roasted are very difficult to cook to just the specific-right temperature because of the hot fire; steamed is much easier to control the 'doneness'.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Women in My Life

I realize this is a somewhat provocative title, but it's the most appropriate.

All of the men in my life, my father, my uncle, my step-father, they all disappeared out of my life, leaving me to my find my own way. The women, however, stayed and took care of me, giving me the direction in my life.

My parents separated when I was three, and divorced at four. I had no siblings - two brothers died at birth. We all carried the same name; I'm the III for this reason.

My mother was relatively old when I was born, certainly older than the average for a child during this era. She was 33, while my father was 38. Because of this, my mother never made friends with any of the moms of my friends - by the time I went to 1st grade, they were in their mid-20s, and my mom was in her 40s.

Prior to 1st grade, I spent all of my days with my grandmother. Later, after the divorce, my mom also moved away for a couple of years, so during this time I was raised by my grandmother.

With the divorce, my father moved away, and I only saw him infrequently from this point on; I never got to know any of his family, so my family consisted of my mother's family.

My maternal grandmother was very important to me. She was devoted to me and showered me with love and attention. When I was with her, she took care of me; when I was with my mother, I took care of myself.

So my grandmother was the first woman that was very important to me. She continued to be so until her death, two months after I was married at age 22.

I had two maternal aunts. One, a twin to my mother (J) and the other a few years older (K). J was less interested in children than even my mother; my Aunt K however, was a warm loving person. She was the 2nd important woman in my life.

Aunt K had a daughter, S. She is 13 years older than me, and has also been an important influence in my life. Both K and S, along with J and my mother, were women that took charge of their environment; they were a generation or two ahead of their contemporaries. For example, both K and S drove boats for skiing when we would go to our local lake. They were the only women I ever met at in the 60s that would, or could, drive a boat. My wife drives our boat now, but I still see few women driving boats, 50 years later.

These women, my grandmother, my Aunt K and S, all stepped into a void in my life and taught me so much. I obtained the central Christian beliefs from them, along with other moral values. With them, I always felt I had a family. With my mother, it was always a lonely, isolated, hateful environment. After my mother remarried when I was 10, she and her husband C seemed bent on finding out how much they could argue in restaurants, how much of an aggravation they could be to other people, how much they could embarrass me in public with their mean, hateful dispositions.

My mother, meanwhile, mocked Christianity as "an old, backward religion". I suffered from her religious views, her constant switching from one belief system to another, until she died when I was 34. I referred to her religious beliefs as "the religion of the month club". I don't miss her.

My Aunt J has similar beliefs, or non-beliefs, depending on your view. I don't seek to spend any time with her either.

Both my mother and my Aunt J felt they were little princesses. They both came up the daughters of a wealthy man (for that area). Because of this, they spent considerable time pretending to have money, pretending to be important. But in reality they were mean, cheap, stingy women. My Aunt J used to drive her travel coach van across country, stop and spend the night in a WalMart parking lot to avoid paying for an RV or motel room, meanwhile wearing furs and driving Cadillacs.

They both learned that they could coerce my Aunt K and get their way by getting into a public place, then create a scene. My Aunt K, embarrassed by their course behavior and public scene, would agree to almost anything to avoid the embarrassment.

My Aunt J, at my daughter's wedding, seized this opportunity to force her way over something which, because of the wedding, was not convenient or appropriate to the rest of us. However, I had observed this stunt too many times, and I refused to be manipulated by this. When she couldn't get her way, finding herself publicly humiliated, she stomped out of our house and has never returned. I don't miss her either.

So my mother, and her twin sister J, have been influences to avoid in my life - to reject anything they use to coerce people to get their way. They have also been important in my life - how not to conduct your life. I'm glad their negative influence has been removed from my life. I'm glad my daughters and wife have not had to spend any time around them.

At age 21, I truly met my wife. I say truly, because while I had known her slightly since I was 14, I only got to really know her at 21, when I started to date her. We got married at age 22.

My grandmother loved my wife. She got to know my wife during the last year of her life, and said she felt good leaving me to P, that I would have someone to take care of me. It was like a release, and I think she felt OK to move on.

My wife has been both the most wonderful woman in my life, as well as the most important person in my life. She has been with me now for 36 years of marriage. She has been a solid foundation for me to draw from. My goal, everyday, is to make my wife feel appreciated and loved. I think it is easier to make someone feel loved then it is to make them feel appreciated.

My life has been wonderful and fulfilled since I met and married my wife.

My two daughters, H and S, as adults, have shown me a lot of attention and have made me feel special. They are both strong women in their own right, and making their way in the world. They are topics of a later blog, as they are too big in my life to be limited to the topic of this blog.

And finally, my wife's sister V, has always been a good, kind woman to me. She has suffered more than I would have liked to have seen, but goes through her life with a positive outlook, and makes a positive contribution to everyone around her. We are so happy she has found more happiness in her life in recent years, and has a husband that appreciates her.

And that's the women in my life!