Saturday, February 26, 2011

Why I Hate Buying Cars

You may remember that in the beginning of January I was approved by the finance committee hear and de-I World Headquarters for the purchase of a new vehicle. And you may have said to yourself, what happened? It's been almost two months. Hasn't he bought a car yet?

I'm not a car person. I don't lust after this kind or that kind or get all excited about them. However, I do like a particular kind of vehicle namely a nice performing Euro type vehicle with a standard transmission. I've had in the past an Audi Fox and two Volvo 740 turbos back in the day. And I prefer standard transmissions overall with 5 of the 8 cars I've owned in my life having them. As I am finishing up the 13 year stint with my current Dodge Durango, I am determined to get what I really want this time. As my criteria includes Euro performance, standard transmission, modest price, and a smallish SUV/crossover design (my old knees no longer like the low auto body style), my auto loving friends could only come up with one vehicle that would fit, a Volkswagen Tiguan.

Just my luck in a world where auto dealers are working like hell to move vehicles, I've picked one that is in very short supply in the US. Three weeks ago I finally went down to a dealer. They told me the only way I would get one is for them to find it somewhere at another dealer in the country. I asked if I should just order a new one to be built and they said no, no that would take you at least 6 months to get. They do there usual leave you in the waiting area while they talk to the 'sales manager' and finally come back and say they found one. I ask where it is and the sales guy doesn't know and I don't press the issue. We conclude the paper work.

Three weeks later I haven't heard a word. I go to the dealership and see the sales manager (as my sales guy has disappeared). I find out the car is being built in Germany. It's on the production schedule but they won't find out any news until March 19! To be honest, I'm not in that big a hurray to get the car. It just means a car payment that we haven't had for a long time. I'm just pissed that I wasn't given honest information in the first place.

Where to Find Me in March

The travel schedule coming up.

Not really the end of Albuquerque by nuclear explosion - just another sunset photo - but one that went wrong.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Battle of the Bulge - Flavor Combinations

Sorry it's taken so long to put out this installment. The energy just gets sapped during the work week. OK enough of the bitching on to the cooking.

My methodology for creating flavorful, varied, low calorie meals is based upon a set of cooking principles that were articulated in a book, no longer in print, published in 1973 titled, The Flavor-Principle Cookbook, by Elisabeth Rozin. In this book, the author broke down cooking into flavor combinations that were the bases of various international cuisines, and basic cooking techniques. Then she provided a variety of recipes of classic dishes that were examples of specific flavor combinations and cooking techniques, and recipes of innovative dishes that combined a flavor combination with a cooking technique that was typical of the flavor combination. This methodology has resulted in my having a mental filing system that has flavors on one side and cooking techniques on the other.

Here is a list of some of the basic flavor combinations I use:


This starts with a base of ginger and garlic cooked in oil and then adds some soy sauce, sherry, and broth. From this base one can add a host of Asian condiments and bottled sauces that vary the final flavor. These include but are not limited to:
Thai fish sauce
  • Chile garlic sauce
  • Five spice powder
  • Black bean & garlic sauce
  • Sa Cha sauce
  • Black pepper sauce

This starts with garlic sauteed starting with the garlic in cold oil and one or more of anchovy paste, tomato paste, or olive paste. Often augmented with basil and oregano.


This starts with a brown roux of oil (often a pork flavored oil with bacon, pancetta, or salt pork) and flour plus the trinity of onions, celery, and green pepper. To this is added Worcestershire sauce and bitters and white wine.


Wine and stock with herbs (bay leaf, thyme, rosemary, marjoram) cooked down into a sauce.

Misc Mediterranean

Onions and garlic sauteed in olive oil with herbs (parsley, oregano, basil) often with citrus such as lemon or orange.

New Mexican Red

Garlic mashed with salt into a paste with red chile powder, Mexican oregano, and cumin

New Mexican Green

Onions and garlic sauteed with roasted green chiles and Mexican oregano


A spice powder made of a combination of spices. The spices are toasted and ground up. The combination can consist of:
  • Cumin seed
  • Coriander seed
  • Cardamon pods
  • Fenugreek seeds
  • Allspice seeds
  • Cinnamon sticks
  • Nutmeg
  • Cloves
  • Black peppercorns
  • White peppercorns
  • Red Chiles - dried
The spice powder is added to sauteed garlic and ginger

Next - Raw Materials

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Battle of the Bulge - Let the Cooking Begin

Now we begin to delve into how you make meals for under 400 calories that is also satisfying in terms of flavor and hunger abatement. (Disclaimer - To make this work it really helps to like to cook!)

The goal - a wide range and variety of meals that do not take forever to make

There are three components that are the building blocks. These are:

  • Raw Materials
  • Flavor Combinations
  • Cooking Techniques
Your flavor combinations and cooking techniques are the foundation. A relatively limited number of these provide the ability to take your basic ingredients and create variety.

Next - Flavor Combinations.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Bulge Battler's Best Friend

What you see above are the indispensable tools for our chosen mode of battle. The scale, a very good calorie reference book and a calculator. It is essential to not delude oneself about what one is intaking. To do that you have to measure and calculate in order to achieve the caloric intake desired.

One of the real positive longer term effects of this is that you start to get a visual picture of what volume of a particular food results in a particular number of calories. This is exceedingly helpful when one is eating out.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Glo In The Snow

Things warmed up enough that it was off to the mountains for snow hiking. I figured it'd be pretty good because it had been so cold since the snow came down on Tuesday.

Of course I wasn't quite prepared to see NO footprints at the trail head.
As it turned out the very first part of the trail had been walked on pretty well. But only for a short way.
This is where you turn off the initial path on to the main South Crest Trail and as you can see on the right the initial path - walked on - the main trail - not a foot fall.

After just short way, this was what was waiting for us - 6 inches of untouched powder.
It was this way for the rest of our hike.
Lot's of fun.
Lot's of work!

Hiking though new snow is really slow. It took us twice as long as normal.
And it started to cloud up again and get windy so we cut it short and headed back.
Just as well because we were pretty tired once we got home.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Battle of the Bulge - Breakfast

For my dieting psychology, eating a good breakfast is very important. The definition of good is:
  • I feel like I have eaten substantially
  • It carries me through the morning to lunch without hunger pangs
  • I have a feeling of enjoyment from the meal
This is my standard, at home breakfast that fills these needs. There are five components. These are:
  • A substantial portion of fruit - in this case it is a whole grapefruit. This is key. It provides a lot of bulk and a lot of flavor.
  • A reasonable amount of carbohydrate - that's the bread. This is probably the largest amount of carbs that I will eat during the day.
  • Three protein/fat components carefully rationed to minimize caloric intake and carefully selected to maximize flavor enjoyment - I like a European style breakfast so I usually have a small amount of some very good cheese, some kind of cured meat or fish (there's smoked salmon on this plate - I also eat a lot of prosciutto) and a few olives. You could substitute eggs, breakfast meats, etc.
The total here is around 600-700 calories.

I eat out a lot for business purposes. So I tend to go to the same places where I can design a breakfast where I can achieve the same goals - a lot of feeling of indulging/taste satisfaction while limiting caloric damage. I usually do this by focusing on an item I like a deleting items I can do without. For example at one restaurant they have a frittata with sausage in it. It is served with cheese and sour cream on it. I have that held off. I will have potatoes or toast but not both with an egg meal. Almost never other than above mentioned frittata will I eat breakfast meats.

Again what I've found works for me is making sure that I do not feel deprived-rather I've enjoyed myself, that I'm carried through the morning, and I stay within the caloric boundry.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Terri - No Need to Share!

My organ depletion buddy Terri lives in Minneapolis/St. Paul, where winters are cold, long, snowy, dark, depressing, etc. I on the other hand live in Albuquerque where winters are short, mild, snowless, and sunny.

Terri, I know you have a sharing spirit but really you don't need to go to the lengths that it takes to share this with us.

Our Temperature at 7:30 AM

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Battle of the Bulge - Basic Tactics

The key principle Mrs. de-I and have been using is calorie counting coupled with sustainability - the ability to use this as a long-term lifestyle change. That means it has to contain enough enjoyment so that it doesn't seem like an ordeal and lead to binge eating undoing all the gains.

I will only be speaking for myself as Wife does things a bit different given the differences of metabolism of sex. My basic outline for eating is:

  • A good breakfast - it is my largest meal of the day
  • A salad for lunch
  • A dinner of either home-made soup or some vegetable based dish which we aim to come in at under 300 calories per serving (I will be going into great detail in future posts as to how I do this and end up with very tasty filling meals - including recipes)
  • Fruit for a snack - most of the time in the afternoon, sometimes in the evening.
  • Significant limits on alcohol but not abstinence.
I'm getting ready to get on a plane - so more detail later.