My Poker Chip Diet

My desk at work is near the kitchen/breakroom. I think some people working from home can relate to that. There are all kinds of available goodies and it can be hard not to get up and go to the breakroom for a treat. Repeatedly. I’d imagine people working at home might be able to relate to that too.

I’ve sort-of-tried to lose some weight for four years now, and I’m right about where I started in January 2017. I’m not at a really unhealthy weight, but I think I’d be healthier if I were lighter. The biggest issues for me have been the breakroom food, regular food, “calorie laden adult beverages”, and the fact that I’m never excited about “working out”. That, and a general lack of self-control when it comes to stuffing my face sometimes. And I enjoy good, rich food.

Given that I’m spending about half my waking hours at work I thought it would be a good start to limit my excess calorie intake when I’m there. Ideally the “don’t eat junk food” reminder could be something visual that I’d see every time I went to grab a quick snack, and it would gamify dropping weight. So — The Poker Chip Diet:

My computer monitor risers at work.
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Joy of Cooking Gingerbread House Recipe – Step by Step

Note the little window box on the left. It’s a Kit Kat with bits of gummy. We were pretty pleased with how that came out. I like the snowman too — neither of the snowman nor the window box were my contributions. I contributed the oddly shaped tree.

The Joy of Cooking 75th Anniversary Gingerbread House recipe. I chose this recipe because it seemed to be the simplest dough, or, at least the dough that was the most similar to something that I was familiar with. I treated the house-pieces as crackers and I think that “grounding” helped.

The dough recipe begins with 1 cup (2 sticks) butter melted over low heat. Add 1 cup sugar and 1 cup unsulfured molasses and stir until the sugar dissolves. Let cool to lukewarm.

In a large bowl whisk together 4-1/2 cups AP flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 tablespoon ground ginger, and (I left these out) 1 teaspoon cinnamon and 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg. Make a well in the center and mix in the wet ingredients. Add another 1/2 cup AP flour until the dough pulls away from the bowl. Knead on the counter a few times, wrap in plastic, and move to the refrigerator to fully cool for up to 3 days. I removed the dough from the refrigerator 1 hour before rolling out — I’d suggest allowing 3-4 hours for the dough to come to room temperature instead.

Note: I found this dough too grainy and loose to knead, so I added a couple of tablespoons of water. Interestingly, the recipe thinks the dough may already be too wet and calls for adding more flour if needed…

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Container Garden Recap 2020

2020 was not kind to the garden. The weather was marginal for much of the summer and the wildfire smoke finished off a prime part of the growing season.

To quote the 2019 Recap

20-25 pounds of produce per box is pretty normal. (“Normal” is around 30 pounds of tomatoes per box, 10 pounds of peppers, and 25 pounds of tomatillos.)

This year we grew fewer boxes overall, and the yield per box was way down as well:

“Slicing” Cucumber (2 boxes, 6 plants):  22.5 pounds

Taxi Tomato (1/2 box, 1 plant):  9.4 pounds

Black Krim Tomato (1 box, 2 plants):  8.1 pounds

Oregon Spring Tomato (1-1/2 boxes, 3 plants):  23.0 pounds

Roma Tomato (1 box, 2 plants):  8.6 pounds

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Epi De Ble, And Drying Basil For “Italian Seasoning”

We had a socially-distanced birthday dinner on the covered back deck. Everyone got their own tear-apart Epi De Ble — instead of messing around with whole loaves and bread knives.

These Epi De Ble were inspired by this King Arthur webpage. Note that two Epi will fit on an 18″ sheet tray, at 150-175 grams of bread flour per Epi. The recipe below makes four Epi.

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Summery Flatbreads And A Few Words About The Garden

It’s been a very mild summer here Vaguely-North-of-Seattle. We finally got a few days that could be called “very warm or hot” strung together and the basil really responded. Happy and productive basil means it’s time for panzanella (last week, didn’t get a picture), flatbreads (more below), and pizza:

The toppings are basil, roasted red pepper puree, and fresh mozzarella that I squeezed as much water as possible out of so it wouldn’t make the pizza soggy.

Recipe: 300g bread flour, 175g water (58% hydration), 6g olive oil (2%), 6g kosher salt, 3/4 tsp instant yeast. Knead and let rise 2-3 hours, folding the dough about halfway through. Preheat oven to 425F. Stretch the dough out over the screen, top with red pepper puree and bake 10 minutes. Top with mozzarella and bake 4-5 more minutes. Remove from the oven. After the pizza has cooled somewhat top with the basil, unless you’re ok with dark green wilted basil, in which case putting the basil onto a hot pie will work fine too.

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Pepperoni Pizza

We really enjoy Salt Blade’s cured meats. The business is small and local and we like to support local artisans. Salt Blade is distributed in the Seattle area through Haggen’s, Met Market, and many other outlets. They also ship through their website. Tonight it was Pepperoni Pizza:

200629 pizza

The full pie. It’s 1/2 really cheesy and 1/2 with sparing amounts of cheese:

200629 full pizza

The Salt Blade package:

200629 salt blade

The pizza was topped with the pepperoni, a Roma tomato sauce from the garden by way of the freezer, and mozzarella.

The pizza dough recipe is simple: 300g bread flour, 160g water, 6g kosher salt, 9g olive oil, 1 tsp or less of instant yeast, depending upon how long you want to wait for the dough to rise. I used 1/4 tsp of yeast, let the dough rise for a couple of hours, then put it in the refrigerator until the next day.

The pizza was baked at 450F for about 15 minutes on a pizza screen. The cheese was was added at about the 11 minute mark.

The 2020 Vegetables

Our patio “Container Garden” consists of twelve EarthBoxes and three City Pickers. This year we’re going to leave a few idle, or fill them with a rotation of short-season veggies and greens. I don’t feel like this is the right summer to be committing to wrangling a jungle of big plants.

Here’s a picture of the almost-complete garden. you’re looking basically East. The first sun hits the grassy edge of the patio at around 10am and by 11am-1pm (summer day-length dependent) the rear trellises will be in full sunlight:

200516 overview

In the front there are (L-R) –   two empty boxes, a box of Taxi and Oregon Spring tomatoes, a box of two San Marzano Romas, and a box of two Oregon Spring. They’re all determinate and should play well together.

In the mid-left back there are two indeterminate Black Krim tomatoes sharing a box. Behind that under the trellis are Fortex (pole) beans in a City Picker box — 20 plants in a 4 x 5 layout.

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Our First Asparagus Harvest

Three years in, we can now begin to harvest asparagus. For reference, the Space Invader cutting board is 12″ high:

200412 asparagus

The asparagus we started in 2016 ultimately didn’t work out due to poor planning and a bad location, so we tried again in 2018. This time around we have a much sunnier spot and raised beds to help the drainage and soil temperature.

A picture of the raised bed from this Container Garden Update post — June 9, 2019.:

190609 bed 3

Dinner will be asparagus with salmon and small potatoes.