Friday, November 12, 2010

Dehydrator time! and more

We went on a little dehydration kick recently.

We bought some steaks ages ago to turn into jerky, so we did; found a decent soy-free recipe online to try. It came out alright, but there is an undertone of vinegar that I'm not a big fan of in jerky; we'll have to try again with a few adjustments. It doesn't help that we dried that one for a little too long.

But we also made two ground-beef jerkies that came out great. We used beef from our meatshare, so it's pastured and near-organic; it was interesting because the texture was quite a bit different than what I'm used to from Costco. One had a chili spice blend and the other had an Italian herb mix. Ground-beef ones are fun; they're easy, since there's no marinating needed, the spice mixes are easy to make up and don't use soy, and they're also easier to eat when they're done since they're a bit softer. Unfortunately they need to be eaten fairly quickly; they tend to mold. But that hasn't been an issue for us much.

We also dehydrated a lot of fruit. Several apples, two bunches of bananas, half a coconut (ate the other half fresh), and a pineapple. We've decided we like homemade dried coconut better than either fresh coconut or store-ought dried; the dehydration kills the slight astringency one can find in fresh coconut, and we can make larger pieces than we can buy. Also, fresh dried pineapple is nothing like the candied 'dried pineapple' you can buy in a store. It's far more awesome - despite (or because of?) the lack of added sugar. Of course, none of these fruits hung around for long. And we certainly increased our fructose intake for a week. By the way, Syntax adores dried fruit, especially coconut, for some odd reason. But then, he'll eat anything.

We also had fun with our crockpot. We used several meats from our meatshare this time - hot Italian sausage (not sausages, just sausage), bacon, and stew beef - along with one pound of potato, a few onions, and a butternut squash. Using loose sausage meat was certainly different. (We tried to make sausage patties with the sweet sausage, and it worked ok after I added an egg - the texture's a little difficult, but it's very tasty stuff!) What was unusual for us this time was the spice blend we added to the chicken stock base. Because of the butternut, we added some cinnamon and a touch of nutmeg, along with a couple dried chipotle peppers, salt, and black pepper. It came out great. For once our broth is not bland.

We did end up straining it though, in order to let the fat rise so we could skim some of it off. The sausage and bacon rendered quite a bit, and although I don't mind eating a lot of fat now the way I used to, it was just too much. But then we added the skimmed broth back in, and had some extra to use elsewhere; two days ago I made a 'miso soup' by adding some Nori seaweed to that broth. I know, it's not actually miso at all; it's just a seaweed soup, but it's a pretty good substitute.

Then last night was burgers. We got some hamburger patties from the meatshare that we were eager to try, and so we pan-fried them and topped them with cheese, pan-fried pineapple and some avocado slices (and, of course, mustard and ketchup). Rich wanted hamburger buns for his, but mine were great without a bun. And yes, the pineapple/avocado combo came home with us from Hawaii, and it's one I'll do again. We get leftover burgers for lunch today :)

In other news, my doctor wants me to take the glucose blood test sometime soonish to test for pregnancy diabetes. One problem with that is that people on a low-carb diet nearly always test positive, since the body gets used to processing fats instead of sugars and so sugars stick around for a while. The other problem with that is that, if I test positive, they'll recommend... a low-carb diet. WTF? So for a little while I'm going to try to estimate the number of carbs I eat, and see how low-carb I really am. So far today it looks like I'm not very low-carb at all:
1 apple, according to wolphram-alpha, averages 24g carbs.
Half a serving of roasted squash seeds is 15g (a blend of butternut and acorn, but unfortunately wolphram-alpha can't discriminate, and goes with pumpkin and squash)
Each slice of pineapple is probably around 5 g, and I've had one slice dried and will have one on my burger in a little while.
Some mac nuts, about 5g
I'll get another 3-4 in my ketchup with lunch
But the seaweed, coffee, mustard, cheese, and actual burger measure in the milligrams.

So total carbs so far today: around 70 already, with dinner still to go. Well, anything under 100 is considered low-carb, with 30 being the cut-off for very low carb; so I'm still there today, although the fruit really adds up. I'm going to have to look into that glucose test more to see how I'm likely to react. In any case, I don't think it's worthwhile doing, and my midwife agrees; unfortunately the practice she and my doctor work at apparently requires it. Or something. But we'll see,maybe I can skip it.

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