Pages

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Cheese-Stuffed Portabella Caps



Cheese-Stuffed Portabella Caps
Serves 2

2 large portabella caps
2 tablespoons Greek Yogurt
1 ounce goat cheese (or cream cheese), softened
2 tablespoons shredded cheese (your preference)
1 cup baby spinach, finely chopped
1/4 cup bell peppers, chopped
1/4 cup diced Vidalia onion
1/8 tsp black pepper

1.  Wash mushrooms caps. Remove stem from mushrooms. With a spoon, carefully scrape the gills from the underside of the cap. (This will give you more room for the filling.) Set aside.
2.  Combine remaining ingredients.
3.  Fill mushroom caps.  At this point, the mushrooms can be kept in a refrigerator for several hours, loosely covered.
4.  Preheat your grill in high for 5 minutes.
5.  Reduce heat to medium high, and place mushrooms on the grate. Cover and let them cook for 5-8 minutes. When some juices begin to bubble up around the edges, they are done.
6.  Serve open faced on toasted whole wheat bread, or half a bagel.

Nutritional data:
Calories:     124
Fat:             5.6g
Sat fat:        2.8g
Chol:           16mg
Sodium:     101mg
Carbs:      10.5g
Fiber:         1.9g
Protein:      9.3g

The First Camping of the Season!

It was a wonderful short weekend camping. It was short because we only stayed at the campground for Friday and Saturday, so that we could get home for the neighborhood gathering on Sunday night.

The weather? Well, at least it didn't snow! It rained Friday night while sleeping until breakfast, so that was fine. Then the rain came back at about 5pm, and rained off and on all evening, finishing at about 4am with a tremendous lightning storm. It was incredible to observe that from our camper.

We had a late start (this was the first camping we did since the summer of 2010) so I was a bit rusty at preparing the gear. By the time we got to camp and were set up, I decided that cooking a meal just wasn't an option. I walked to a nearby restaurant and ordered a 12 inch veggie pizza and some onion rings. Yeah. Pizza AND onion rings! My wife was able to exert self control and ate a proper portion of the pizza (about 1/4) and a couple onion rings. I, on the other hand, ate as if the concept of leftovers was forbidden by law. (The aftermath of that meal was swollen hands and feet from the sodium.) But it tasted pretty good.

Saturday, I cooked a simple breakfast of scrambled eggs (I made two servings, using three whole eggs and three egg whites) with sauteed onions, crimini mushrooms and green bell pepper, topped with some sharp cheddar cheese, and served with an orange and a piece of my homemade bread (beautifully plated on a paper plate!) Nothing fancy, but really tasty. I used an electric skillet, cooking under the awning to stay dry, and that skillet made sauteing the veggies simple.


Lunch was a simple meal of hummus and vegetables (bell peppers, carrots, cucumbers and celery) along with some sweet Bing cherries. After lunch, we found a very relaxing path through the woods, and the three of us walked about 90 minutes enjoying the quiet of the trees. Tammy took some pictures of local wildflowers and when I get them off her camera, I will post some. We have no idea what most of the flowers were, just that they were part of a beautiful hike.

Dinner was burgers (equal parts ground venison and 80% lean ground beef), again cooked in the skillet, again under the awning because the rain had started. Nice symmetry to the day! I went back to the restaurant and ordered a basket of deep fried veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms, onion rings, and that Wisconsin standby, breaded cheese curds.) These were not as good as I had hoped for. Maybe by that point I was starting to feel bad about eating all that grease-soaked food (which is really not my usual diet.)

The evening was spent playing cards with Tammy (and getting my ass handed to me! She was on fire!) because it rained constantly.  Ozzy spent the evening in a drug-induced haze, because he really does not tolerate thunder.

Don't worry. He was his normal self by the time the really loud thunder started at 4am!

Sunday was spent in the neighbor's backyard. It was a "bring your own meat and a dish to pass" party. We brought Grilled Pepper Poppers for everyone, and Cheese-Stuffed Portabella Caps for us (recipe to follow.) I never made that exact recipe (sort of combined a few ideas into one meal) but it was a keeper!



We'll be camping again in two weeks. Hopefully I will have more exciting food pictures from that adventure.

Friday, May 25, 2012

And Now For Something Different

A few days ago I was getting the camper ready for the weekend and found that the taillights of the camper didn't work. Subsequent investigation found that the wires under the van were corroded and broken. Yesterday (two days before a holiday weekend!) I was able to get my van in to the RV repair center. (Thank you, Van Boxtel RV!) In about 90 minutes, they found and repaired the problem. And to my surprise, for less than $60!

While they were working on the van, I took a walk. I strolled the neighborhood for almost an hour. I really enjoy walking. It is good exercise, relaxing, and it gives you the chance to look around at more things than you can see when driving inside a care. I was in the western part of Green Bay, well inside the city limits, but with some nice green areas with untamed grasses and trees. In other words, land that was previously farmland that has not yet been sold to a developer. And as I walked, I saw this.


That is a mama wild turkey and her poults (babies.) I was across the street from them, and took the picture with my camera. Being a curious devil, I crossed over to get closer.



I'm about 10 yards away at this point. Mama is taking them back to the tall grass, not in a hurry, but moving faster than the poults (See the homes in the background.)



I'm as close as 10 feet at this point when she suddenly stopped, turned and looked directly at me. She stands about 3 feet tall. Probably weighing about 10 pounds, she can fly at up to 50 mph when needed. I decided that curiosity was suddenly not as important as not being chased by an angry turkey, so I back away. Still, it was fun to see the animals.

Another post that has nothing to do with weight loss, just about what you can see and experience when you get out and walk around with your eyes open and ears alert.

Asian Chicken Salad


Asian Chicken Salad
Serves 2 (as a BIG main course salad) or 4 (as smaller side salads)

4 cups chopped Napa cabbage
1 cup chopped snow pea pods
1 cucumber, peeled, halved, seeded and chopped
1 cup fresh bean sprouts
1/2 cup bell pepper (red or yellow)
3 scallions, sliced (the white and green parts)
2 chicken thighs, chopped (I usually use thighs saved from a previous meal)
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 tsp fresh ginger, minced

1.  Prepare all vegetables, and assemble on a large plate in the order given.
2.  Heat a non-stick skillet with the sesame oil.  When hot, carefully add the chicken and the minced garlic.  Saute until heated through.  Layer on the salad.
3.  Top with your preferred Asian-type dressing, or use the recipe below.  (That recipe is NOT low fat or low calorie, but is high in flavor.)
4.  As an option, add rice noodles for a little crunch.

Nutritional Data for the salad (no dressing or rice noodles):
Calories:        290
Fat:              13.2g
Sat fat:           2.6g
Chol:              49mg
Sodium:          86mg
Carbs:          25.8g
Fiber:             6.5g
Protein:        21.2g

Asian Vinaigrette with Sesame Oil and Peanut Butter
Serves 2

3 tablespoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
2 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
3 tablespoons water (I forgot this today, so my "dressing" looks more like a sauce on the salad--but it was still very tasty.)
2 teaspoons Hoisin sauce
1/4 teaspoon Chinese five spice seasoning

1.  Put the first three ingredients into a small microwave safe bowl, and warm in the microwave.  This will help you mix the peanut butter into the oil.
2.  Add the remaining ingredients, whisking after each addition.
3.  This makes about 1/3 cup per portion. That sounds like a lot, but the salad is big and almost entirely vegetables.  The dressing will add a huge punch of flavor and excellent fats (to keep you full for the evening.)

(Note: This is my preferred dressing. My wife like Kraft's Asian Toasted Sesame salad dressing. Another option would be Newman's Own Orange Ginger dressing.)

Nutritional Data for the dressing:
Calories:        422
Fat:              41.4g
Sat fat:           6.9g
Chol:                0mg
Sodium:        314mg
Carbs:          10.6g
Fiber:                2g
Protein:          8.6g

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Black Bean Burger





I can't claim this meal. I ate this at a local vegetarian restaurant in Green Bay. Kavarna has been around since 1999 when they opened in a small storefront less than two blocks from our home. We got to know their food, coffees and teas very well. At the time, I worked half time as a registered nurse at a local hospital, and took care of our sons the rest of the time. We walked a lot (generally they rode in a wagon that I pulled) and we made Kavarna a frequent stop. I got a good cup of coffee, and they both learned that Canada Dry Ginger Ale is a wimpy example of that type of ginger ale because they grew to love Reed's Ginger Brews.

But this post is not about soda, coffee or tea. (Their coffee is fair trade coffee from Alterra, based out of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Really good coffee!) This post is about one of their vegetarian sandwiches. I can't give the exact recipe, but based on the menu description this is close.

Kavarna's Black Bean Burger

1 soft whole wheat bagel
1 spice black bean veggie burger
1 slice pepper jack cheese
1 tablespoon herbed cream cheese
1 slice tomato
Red onion rings
Leaf lettuce blend

The bagel is not toasted, but the cheese is melted onto the black bean burger. I know they grill the burger and then let the cheese melt before assembling the sandwich. They won't tell me if they make the burger or buy them.  I have eaten them many times and the patties are always perfectly round and the same thickness. I think they are premade frozen patties, unless they are really fussy about production.

Approximate nutritional data, based on educated guesses:
Calories:    493
Fat:          15.5g
Sat fat:       7.3g
Chol:          36mg
Sodium:    889mg
Carbs:      73.7g
Fiber:         8.7g
Protein:    20.4g

The sodium content is high in the sandwich and is nearly unavoidable. I don't eat here often, so I consider this a special "splurge" meal. On the other hands, I anticipated this meal and ate accordingly, and still have a sodium intake of 1940mg for the day (which is less than half of the normal US diet.)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Die Hard!


All right!  I finally earned the LoseIt Die Hard badge! But even if you are not using LoseIt, you can have the same success. The secret?
Don't quit!
Log your food every day.  Don't take "a break". Don't decide that "today is skip day" and therefore a free day. Make logging your food a habit, simply part of your day.  (I mean, it's not like it is difficult to record what you eat, is it? There are plenty of online services and apps that will make it easy.)
Stick with it. Look to your long term goal. Enjoy the daily victories (both scale and non-scale) but never forget the ultimate goal. And don't give up the first time--or the second time--you don't see a loss (or heaven forbid, you see a weight gain!)
This is a long, challenging journey, and the only way you "fail" is if you quit. I know. I attempted a long solo hike and stopped during the second day. I did not fail. I chose to end that attempt out of realization that to continue could bring greater injuries. I decided that the need to feed my ego was not as strong as the need to succeed in a healthy manner. But I learned more from those 27 miles than I ever could have possibly imagined and those lessons will bring success at my next attempt.
Reaching my goal weight was not easy, but it was simple. I logged the food I ate, every day, and I kept moving more than I had moved before I started this path.  Did I see dramatic losses? No. Did I lose weight as fast as I wanted? No. Did I see days where the scale showed gains?  Yes. But I did not quit.
You all can reach your goals, whether it is weight loss, strength enhancement, or improving running speed. It is within your power.  Quite simply, it is your choice to succeed or not (however, the timetable of success is frequently NOT under our control.)
As stubborn and as focused as I am, I could not have achieved my success alone.  My wife, family, friends and the readers here all have given me the strength to continue and the reason to keep blogging. I am almost 18 weeks at goal, and still I need reminders to stay focused. I am changing decades of bad habits, and putting thoughts to electronic paper helps keep the focus.
Thanks for reading. 

Enough of the "weight-loss blah-blah." More recipes will be posted soon. I think tonight will be a simple and tasty Asian Salad.  Check back later!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Logan Bread

This is representative of my snacks while hiking. Logan Bread, roasted almonds (unsalted) and dried banana chips.

Logan Bread
Note: this recipe makes a LOT (24 pieces, each about 2.5 inches x 2.5 inches)

In a large bowl, add all the dry ingredients and whisk together until well mixed:
5 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup rye flour
1 cup milled flax seed
1 cup dried fruit of your choice (raisins, craisin, dried berries, etc. I used dried apples)
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup instant dried milk (nonfat)
1/2 cup chopped nuts of your choice (I used walnuts)
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp table salt

In a separate bowl, combine:
2 cups water
3/4 melted butter (I used unsalted)
3/4 honey
3/4 molasses (I used black strap)

1.  Preheat oven to 300F.
2.  Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients. Stir until thoroughly mixed. This is a STIFF dough.
3.  Grease a 11x17 inch pan. Pack the dough into it. It will be approximately one inch thick
4.  Bake at 300F for one hour.
5.  After an hour, reduce the oven heat to 200F and open the door enough that it stays open a little. Continue to bake for another two hours. (The idea is to dry the bread as much as possible.)
6.  Remove from oven and cut while warm (easier to cut.)
7.  Pack in Ziploc bags. 

This bread is dense, both in weight and calories. It is very tough, and was in and out of my pack repeatedly and none of the bars broke or crumbled. Yet it remains moist enough to bite and chew. The taste is reminiscent of a spiced fruitcake (sort of). I think it is delicious. It certainly was enough to support me while hiking (along with some nuts and dried fruit.)

At home, it is especially good if warmed in the microwave a bit, and then topped with peanut butter or Nutella.

Nutritional data (one piece, no additional toppings):
Calories:    304
Fat:            9.5g
Sat fat:          4g
Chol:           15mg
Sodium:       91mg
Carbs:       50.5g
Fiber:          5.8g
Protein:          6g

When I next make this recipe, I am going to substitute protein powder for the dried milk.

A Look At One A SIde Effect Of My Hike

I talked about the blister that ended my hike and the knee pain that was made worse by my inability to walk properly on my blistered foot. The blister still hurts to walk on, but I keep it covered and it is beginning to heal. The knee pain has resolved back to it's normal "background" pain level, and is just waiting for me to visit the orthopedic surgeon to see how it will be treated. The pain isn't even bad enough for ibuprofen or naproxen.

But here is a gift of the walk that will stick with me for much longer than the blister.


No, those are not toes that have been painted at a pedicure. (Pedicure? Me? Hah!) Those are five toes with various levels of bruising from improperly fitting shoes.

The first bruises were limited to the right great toe and the left second toe, and started with the practice hike on May 10. I was wearing shoes that were the correct size for me (9.5), but I noticed during the hike that those toes were rubbing against the inside of the shoe's toe box. I finished that hike with light bruising and realized that I needed larger shoes.

I bought a new pair of athletic shoes, made by Timberland and designed for off-road hiking. I also added aftermarket orthotic insoles for better arch support, and quickly broke them in by wearing them constantly and walking in them. They felt comfortable by the second day I had them. I bought them in size 10.5 (and I thought that maybe that might be a little too big,)  I was wrong.

So, when I take my next long hike, I will be wearing actual hiking boots (although a pair as light weight as possible) and sized 11 or 11.5. 

As ugly as the toes look, they don't hurt and are not swollen. But wow!  Ugly!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

"Planning Predicts Performance"

I heard the title of today's post while watching the TV show Survivor, and it is true. I thought I was fully prepared for my hike. And in my mind, I was. But physically, no, I wasn't. Nor did I really know what I needed to do and pack. Like I said yesterday, I read a lot of books and online blogs from other hikers and they all gave me ideas, but none really replicated the act of hiking.

So, my planning really did predict my performance. And that does not really disappoint me. This was a huge learning experience, and I will be better prepared in the future. As I said yesterday, this was a victory, because it has made me stronger and more capable the next time I try this. (A failure would be deciding that trying it in the first place was wrong and never trying it again.)

So, a few lessons learned for the next attempt (and as my friend Charles K. pointed out on LoseIt, there WILL be a next attempt):
1.  More water. If the first quarter of the trail is representative of the rest, water is a precious commodity and not easily found while on that trail.

2.  Smaller evening meals (or none at all) and more snacks. Exhaustion overpowers hunger. Food that is ready to eat is more important than food which requires cooking. 

3.  Big breakfasts are good. (The one thing that I did right.)

4.  Test the meals BEFORE you hike. Don't just assume that because they look good on paper they will taste good on your plate.


This is one of the breakfasts that I would have had today if I was in the field. Scrambled eggs with bacon and cheese. (Of course, it wouldn't be served on this plate with fresh chives as garnish.)  Looks pretty good. The recipe I found called for 6 dried eggs, some bacon, cheese and 1/2 cup hot water, then stir and eat.

        But this recipe taught me:

        4.1)  "Dried egg" is not the same as "dried cooked egg."  I bought "dried egg", and when that is rehydrated with hot water, it becomes "raw egg".  Ugh.

        4.2)  Raw scrambled egg is disgusting and requires a microwave or other heat t finish cooking.

        4.3)  The amount of water needed to fully rehydrate dried raw eggs is more than is required for dried cooked eggs.  These eggs were dry! Imaging eating a hard boiled egg yolk--just the yolk--and these eggs were drier. Ozzy ate a small piece and started retching because they were too dry to swallow. (And when a dog retches after eating something, that should say a lot about the food.)

5.  Loganbread is delicious, on or off the trail. That is a snack that I will continue to make. I will post the recipe soon. It is HIGH carb and moderately high fiber and fat, but a great energy snack.

6.  I think next time I will go without a tent and just bring my tarp. In nice weather, I will just sleep on it and if the weather become inclement, I will roll it over me. But I will test this theory sometime this summer, in my backyard, to see if it is feasible before I implement this plan.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

A Victory!

This is going to be a long-ish post.  Maybe make yourself a large cup of coffee or some nice green tea. Make a small snack. Find a comfortable chair. Relax.

Let's begin at the conclusion first. My hike is over. I called for evacuation yesterday afternoon. (That is much more melodramatic than it really was. I simply called my wife and asked her to pick me up when she was done teaching.) But I am calling this a victory.



That is me, with 39 pounds of food and gear on my back. When I first loaded the pack, it was nearly 43 pounds, but I was able to reduce it a bit. Next time, I can reduce it further.

The last blog post was short, posted from my phone, while laying on my sleeping bag. The bag was remarkably comfortable, even though I only had a sleeping pad that is 1/2 inch thick. The tent, advertised as a "2 person tent" is really only big enough for one adult and his/her gear, but it met my needs. It was roomier than I expected.

Thursday's hike was good, 13+ miles, 27,000+ steps. The Brown County portion of the trail is either built on very elevated and steep manmade embankments or is cut down below the grade of the surrounding land. Brown County has many hills and building the road this way made for easier transport because of smaller elevation changes (although my Fitbit still recorded 840 feet of increased elevation over those 13 miles.) And the entire path that I covered was hard-pack dirt and fine gravel. It was very easy to walk on. That was much better than my test hike of the Devil's River State Trail last week.

I saw many people biking on both days of the walk. One set of bikers were a young brother/sister pair. They rode past me heading west, right about the time I took my first rest break. I also reconfigured my pack a bit to get better balance. In doing so, I needed to remove my cell phone from where it was hanging. (Do you see where this is going?)

I hit the trail and about 15 minutes later the kids rode past me going back home.  And 15 minutes after that, they rode back up to me, and asked me if I had lost my phone. Wow!  It's nice to meet honest, nice kids. They saw my phone sitting on the bench, picked it up and called one of the numbers and reached Tammy. She told them that I was hiking the Trail, and the kids remembered seeing me. They rode back and really saved the day! (Emergency #1 avoided!)

The flying bugs were not as bad as I thought. I never even needed to use any bug spray. But I also did not see as much wildlife as I thought I might. There was the occasional chipmunk and rabbit. Random birds. And in one low area, with a great many watery swamps on either side, I shared the trail with this quiet fellow:



I was tired when I finally got to the place that I could camp. The city of Pulaski allows camping in the little park that is built around their access point to the trail (very unusual compared to all the others that I saw.) They even had a bathroom (not a porta-potty!) with running water. When I got to the site, I pitched my tent, threw the tarp over it and tried to sleep. I didn't make anything to eat. I just wasn't hungry, just thirsty. But as tired as I was, sleep was difficult. The park was bordered on two sides by busy highways and one a third side was a large parking lot that hosted many semi-trailers pulling to sleep for the night. 



When I finally fell asleep (around 10pm) I slept until 10:33pm before being awakened by the city police, who wanted to know who I was, and why I was camping in this park. When I asked if the city Public Works Department had called to notify them that I would be camping there, of course she said that no one had told her anything. She had no problem with me sleeping there, but she needed to know who I was. (The usual interdepartmental snafu!)

I got back to sleep. My plan was to wake up at 4:45am when it would start to be light, start breakfast, break camp and be on the trail before 6am. That would have been perfect, if I had remembered to turn the sound in my iPod up. My alarm when off, soundlessly, and I slept until 5:45am. Oh well. It's not like I'm on the timeclock or have a real schedule to keep.

I got my water heating on the foldup stove. It runs on cans of alcohol and works very good. Breakfast was going to be chocolate Malt-o-Meal with dried banana chips, pecans and semi-sweet chocolate chips.


If you look at the picture, you will see that the bag is labeled with both the directions (1.5 cups water) and the weight (9.3 ounces/ 260g.) I weighed everything that I packed. Every ounce carried get heavier with each step. (More on that lesson later.)  I was going to take a picture of the meal after it was prepared, but the image would not be impressively appetizing. However, it was tasty and filling!

I ate my breakfast and drank two bottles of water. I learned during my test hike a week earlier that carrying 1 liter water bottles in bottle holders designed for half-liter bottles does not work. Everytime I bent over, they fell out. So I changed to two 20 ounce (600ml) bottles. I filled them, repacked my pack and hit the trail at 6:45am.

Less then 2 miles later, I entered the Shawano County section of the Trail.

                                 
This wild turkey greeted me as I entered the Shawano County.  It was about 100 yards away.  To give you comparison, it was standing about 20 yards beyon that sign to the right and that sign it 5 feet tall.  Turkeys are fairly large birds.

This segment was very level. No steep embankments (or not many) and few swampy areas. Shawano County also posts signs at major road intersections, giving mileage to the next intersection or trail access in the next village. (Brown County only has mile markers.) I liked Shawano County's method better. It is helpful to know how far to the next stop--it provide motivation. Shawano County also has more rest stops, picnic benches with shelters built over them, and in other spots just benches to sit. That is another nice touch, and I stopped at the places with shade. The second day was much warmer than the first. MUCH warmer.

And that leads to the first problem. Water. Except for the bathroom at the Pulaski Access point, I found no public water sources. Oh, I could have left the Trail and stopped at a home (depending on if the Trail was in an area that I could get off it and then back on it, or if there were homes/farms in sight.)  But I sort of expected that at each major access point (any area with a parking lot and sign stating "Mountain Bay Trail access point") would have some type of water source. I would have LOVED to see an old fashioned hand pump. But there was nothing. If you don't carry it in, you don't have it. Major problem, especially in the 80+F temps yesterday. I went through my water in the first four hours of the hike.

On the other hand, the heat really sapped my appetite. I ate a piece of Logan Bread, but that was it. And I walked. I was still maintaining a 3mph pace. My knees were hurting, even with my braces on. When I woke they weren't bad, but the pain started less than an hour into the day's hike, and yesterday called for a 12 hour hike to make it to my next campsite. I needed those stops to give my knees a break, but that was slowing me down, and in all honesty, not really helping the knee pain. (Problem #2.) I thought I could power through the pain, but I was worried about what kind of damage I was doing to the already bad knees.

But the last and worst problem happened later on the Trail.  It was 10:30am and I had just crossed an intersecting road. The mileage sign said that Bonduel was the next town, 2.6 miles away. Cool! That is less than 60 minutes away. I knew that I could refill both water bottles somewhere in Bonduel. I was sure there would be a convenience store or restaurant near the Trail. So, with a renewed sense of vigor, I kept going.

About 10 minutes later, as I put my left foot down, I felt the blister burst. It felt as though a water balloon had popped into my shoe. Now, I knew I had a small blister when I got to camp the night before. In fact, it was the healed blister (or so I thought) that I got on my practice hike a week earlier. I had put some moleskin around and over the blister before I started the hike. When I got to the Pulaski site, I removed it. It looked unchanged. No better, but certainly no worse. I cleaned the area with an alcohol pad, dried it, and made another moleskin donut to go around the blister and then another large strip to cover the donut and beyond the edges. The blister was at the base of my middle toe, right where a lot of pressure goes when you walk.

But now I knew I had a problem. I was about 2.5 miles from the nearest place to stop. And the pain was bad. And I had no water. I walked the next 2.5 miles on the with my left foot rotated so that I walked on the outside edge (which of course put additional strain on that knee.) I reached the access point at 1pm. Then I walked another 15 minutes to get to any sort of business (nothing was closer to the trail.) My pace had dropped from a nice 3 mph to 1.25 mph. I knew that I was not going to be able to finish my plan.

I hobbled up the road, and found a bar and grill (Wayne's Place.) It had air conditioning. It was open. I walked in (got a lot of odd looks from the patrons), limped up to the bar and ordered a Coke and a large glass of water. When I downed both (quickly) I ordered a repeat, and then lunch. Now that I had realized the hike was over, I was hungry. I have never tasted a bacon cheeseburger and basket of fries that tasted sooooo good. I think a beer (or two) would have tasted even better with the food, but as tired as I was, just smelling a beer would have made me fall sleep. I never thought to take a picture of the meal. My brain was not very functional at that point.

While waiting for Wayne to cook my food, I called Tammy and asked her to pick me up. When she walked into the bar, she looked like a guardian angel sent to protect me. Seriously. She drove home (was still sort of punch-drunk) and when I got home, I unpacked, undressed and showered. And looked at the blister. It is nickel-sized but the skin, while it had burst and leaked the fluid out, was still intact and protecting the wound. I redressed with with triple antibiotic and a dressing.

I covered about 26 miles, beginning at 3:40pm on Thursday and ending at 1:15pm on Friday. Over 57,000 steps combined. And even though I never even came close to finishing my goal, I consider this a success.

I tried. I gave it everything I had. If it had only been my knee, I would have pushed on. If it were only a blister, I still would have tried to keep going. But developing a blister on the same leg as my bad knee, I knew that I could not safely continue. I would not let my ego, my stubbornness, and my foolish pride get ahead of my safety, my health, and my family. What would be the point in pushing further at the potential cost of greater injury?

And that is really why I consider this a victory. It taught me that "not succeeding" is not the same as "failing".

My son made a great point (sometimes he is far wiser than his father) when he told me, "You know, Dad, when people try those challenges, they practice for months to get ready. You only practiced a little." And of course, he was right.

I do not regret any of this (well, the blister still hurts, but that will heal.) I will try again, but I have learned a lot to make my next attempt have a greater chance of success.

I need to carry less. As I walked, I realized that I could have stopped at least once a day and eaten at a restaurant or bought food as a convenience store. Sure, that would be more expensive and less self-sufficient, but I could have saved a LOT of weight by bringing less food. Skip the tarp. If it rains, it rains. No suncreen (I wore long sleeve and a covered my neck by wearing a bandana under my hat.) Much less food. As hungry as you get hiking, the hunger is diminished by the exhaustion. Better shoes. I thought light-weight hiking athletic shoes would be best, but I think more rugged boots may have prevented a blister. And plan for no more than 15 miles in a day. I did 13 each day, and I was beat by the end. If I had taken more rest stops, I could have maybe done 15 miles, but that's probably it. The only reason that I was able to do 18.8 on my practice hike was that I knew that I had no way of gettnig home from that trail if I couldn't walk back out. It was truly sink-or-swim (so to speak) and that provided the drive to finish. But it wasn't fun. I want to be able to spend more time enjoying the hike.

So, the bottom line is that I did not reach my goal, but now I know more than I did before. It does not matter how many hiking books you read, or how many hiking blog-journals that you read. Learning happens best by doing. I have not lost interest in hiking. In fact, I am more interested than ever, because now I know what I didn't know before. And Wisconsin has many trails all over the state.

But first I need to let my foot heal and get my knee checked out.  So, no big hikes this season. But next year?  Who knows?

I would have rather given a day by day account of a long journey, but this is it. I hope you think reading this was worth your time. The blog will return to its usual food-based topics. I am not sure what I am making for dinner tonight, but if it is worthy, I will post it here.

Oh, and just a quick comparison. When I woke up Thursday morning, I weighed 184.4 pounds. This morning, when I woke, I weight 181.4 pounds.  That was not dehydrated weight, because I drank a lot of water yesterday. But that tells me that when I next go hiking, I will need to eat calorie-dense foods often through the day, and not just plan for large breakfasts and dinners (which are both very heavy.)

Friday, May 18, 2012

First Day

My "suite". I was worried about rain sneaking in the tent under the tiny rain fly so I covered the tent with the tarp. It worked! No rain in the tent.

Of course, that's because the predicted rain was all of 4 drops.

Slept poorly. The campsite is near the intersection of two heavily used highways. Many trucks all night. But I stayed warm and relatively comfortable.

More later.



Thursday, May 17, 2012

First Leg Complete

Very briefly. my tent is up and I am crashing. 13.4 miles in less than 4.5 hours. According to my Fitbit, that is 27,912 steps.  840 feet of elevation increases.  Very tired. No food pics, because I didn't make anything tonight. Lived off trail snacks. Wasn't hungry after pitching tent, just thirsty.

More tomorrow.

It Begins Today

I will hit the trailhead at about 3:30pm today.  Today is a short day, only about 12.5 miles, so I will reach my stopping point at about 7:30pm.  Tomorrow is the longest leg, almost 30 miles and hope to be on the trail by 6am.  I will arrive at my next camp by 4pm (if I push it) and 6pm (my more likely pace give the length of that leg.)

When I update here, I will post pictures of my food and some of the sights.  They won't be long posts, but just something to let you know what I am doing (and that will be one of three things:  hiking, eating or sleeping.)

Keep watching!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Pork Steak with Basil Pesto and Mozzarella



Pork Steak with Basil Pesto and Mozzarella, with Grilled Baby Carrots
Serves 4

Pork
2 pounds pork chops or pork shoulder steaks (four pieces)
4 egg whites
2 tablespoons water
1 cup flour with the seasoning of your choice (I used 1/2 teaspoon Penzey's Sunny Spain)
1 cup panko bread crumbs with an Italian-type seasoning  (I used 1 teaspoon of Penzey's Tuscan Sunset.)
2 ounces finely shredded mozzarella

Pesto
1 1/2 tablespoon dried basil
2 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
1 teaspoon dried onion flakes
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoon water

1.  Preheat oven to 425F.
2.  Separate eggs.  Throw away the yolks (or cook them and feed them to your dog.  Ozzy loves the treat!)  Whisk with the water, and set in a large shallow dish.
3.  Mix seasoned flour in a shallow dish (serving platter works well.)
4.  Mix panko bread crumbs with seasoning.
5.  Dip each piece of meat in the flour mix, the egg wash and the panko crumbs (pressing down to help the crumbs adhere to the meat.)  Set aside.
6.  Spray a non-stick skillet with cooking spray. Cook each piece of meat over medium-high heat, for 2 minutes per side or until lightly browned, and place on an oven-safe pan.  When all meat is done, place pan in oven and bake for 14-16 minutes, or until the meat is cooked to 165F in the middle.
7.  Remove from the oven and sprinkle 1/2 ounce of cheese on each.
8.  While the pork is baking, mix together all ingredients for the pesto in a microwave-safe bowl.  Microwave for 1 minute, remove and let sit for 5 minutes.  Stir to mix well.
9.  Serve 1 tablespoon pesto on each piece of meat.

Nutritional Data (for 8 ounces pork steak--lean pork chops will have lower numbers):
Calories:        577
Fat:                 22g
Sat fat:           7.8g
Chol:             213mg
Sodium:         282mg
Carbs:             13g
Fiber:             0.7g
Protein:           75g

Nutritional Data (for 1 tablespoon pesto):
Calories:          66
Fat:                7.1g
Sat fat:              1g
Chol:                 0mg
Sodium:          0.7mg
Carbs:            1.5g
Fiber:             0.5g
Protein:          0.3g

In case you are wondering, the garnish is fresh chives from my garden, harvested just before the blossoms open. This is when they taste the best, blossom and all.
Carrots
2 pounds baby carrots
1/2 cup white wine
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons Penzey's Sunny Paris

1.  About 1 hour before the meal is to be served, place carrots in a microwave-safe bowl.  Add the wine, loosely cover and microwave for 8-10 minutes, stirring once halfway through the cooking.
2.  Remove from the microwave, drain any wine off.  Top with olive oil and seasoning.  Toss to coat.  Set aside.
3.  Start preheating grill and grill basket on high about 20 minutes before dinner will be served.
4.  Ten minutes before service, place carrots in grill basket.  Toss occasionally.  Let the carrots get a little brown.
5.  Remove and serve with a hint of dill.

Nutritional Data:
Calories:        137
Fat:                   7g
Sat fat:              1g
Chol:                0mg
Sodium:          62mg
Carbs:          12.8g
Fiber:             2.7g
Protein:          1.4g

Thursday, May 10, 2012

No Recipe In This Post

I am planning a hike of the Mountain-Bay Trail (in case no one has been reading my other blog posts about it.) Today was a test walk, with my fully loaded pack, on a local trail, the Devil's River State Trail. It is a 14 mile trail. I wanted to hike three hours out and then come back, and was hoping for a total of 18 miles.

The walk back was a little slower than the walk out. The entire walk took 3:28, but I walked 18.8 miles in total. I hit the trail at about 8:45am and got back to the car (I was never happier to see my car in my life!) at 3:15pm. The hike was good and I learned a few important things.
  1. Pack weight is important. I loaded my pack with my tent, sleeping bag, supplies and enough books to equal the weight of my food, and then a little extra. (I had planned to hike with a total pack weight of 35 pounds, so I loaded today's pack to 40 pounds.) Then I added another 4 pounds in water (2 liters.)  Yeah.  I'm going to find ways to reduce that weight. I can carry it. But it get HEAVY around mile 12.
  2. I need better shoes. I need shoes with a stiff sole. Parts of today's trail were crushed rock or nicely grass covered. Those were the great walking areas. Other areas (it seemed like forever) were large (half-fist sized) rocks that were loose and moved under foot. 
  3. I need larger shoes. My right great toe rubbed against the shoe and while it didn't really hurt, it was uncomfortable. When I got home, I found that I have a large bruise under the toenail of that toe.
  4. Have my camera ready. I saw a lot of wildlife, and I would have like to get pictures of them, but by the time I got it out, they were gone.
  5. I will attempt this hike, but I need to realize that I do have the option of calling for pick up from my wife. Today was good. I wouldn't use the word "enjoyable", but it was peaceful and relaxing. Sort of. But when I get out there, I do not need to finish just to protect my fragile ego. If it gets bad, or if things start hurting too much, I can call for a pick up. And that is okay.
  6. Take my naproxen in the morning before I leave.
  7. I don't need to carry 2 liters of water. I think two half liter bottle will be enough.
So, what about the good things on the hike?

I saw a few deer crossing the trail ahead of me. A woodchuck looked at me as if he wasn't sure what I was doing in his territory (I felt the same way.) Wild turkeys are an epidemic and were all over the trail. Three gangs of turkeys (two with four, and one with three) were in the area, along with one lone tom. If you have never seen a wild turkey, this is not what you see at your Thanksgiving Feast.  These are bad ass birds, standing about three feet tall with wing spans of nearly five feet when they fly. And they fly fast. That lone tom was hiding in the brush right next to the trail and took off when I was abreast (get it? poultry pun!) of it, not more than three feet away. Loud! Explosive! And nearly made me, well, let's not get that personal, okay?

Other birds seen frequently other than the commonplace robins were orioles, cardinals and I heard (but could not find) a woodpecker.

I strongly smelled a skunk, but only a residual aroma. (I am not worried about large predators while walking, but I never thought about skunks.)

I wore my Fitbit (but that is normal, I always wear it.)  Here is what it showed when I got home:

Big numbers. I'm tired. And I lost my voice. Not sure why that happened.

I'll post a recipe or two tomorrow (maybe.) I'll be getting ready for a Mother's Day brunch on Saturday. I'll get the salmon souffle recipe on here soon.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Baked Salmon with Tomatillo Salsa and Spinach-Strawberry Salad

Baked Salmon and Fresh Red Onion-Tomatillo Salsa
Serve 4

Salmon
1 pound salmon fillets (4 pieces)
Spice blend (Penzey's Sunny Paris works very well)

1.  Preheat oven to 375F 
2.  Place salmon in a baking dish. Season.  Bake until done (approximately 16-18 minutes.)
3.  Top with tomatillo salsa

Nutritional data (per one 4 ounce fillet):
Calories:        190
Fat:                  9g
Sat fat:          1.5g
Chol:             70mg
Sodium:         50mg
Carbs:              0g
Fiber:               0g
Protein:          24g

Red Onion-Tomatillo Salsa
Serves 4

While the salmon is baking, mix together:

3 medium tomatillos, diced
1/2 cup red onion, diced
Juice of 1 lemon (2-3 tablespoons)
1 tsp fresh lemon zest

Set aside to let the flavors blend.

Nutitrional data (approximately 1/3 cup portion):
Calories:       46
Fat:             0.5g
Sat fat:           0g
Chol:             0mg
Sodium:         0mg
Carbs:         3.4g
Fiber:          0.8g
Protein:       0.4g

Spinach-Strawberry Salad
Serves 4

In an large bowl, toss together:
6 ounces baby spinach
1/2 cup sliced, toasted almonds
8 ounces fresh strawberries, sliced

To toast the almonds, heat a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add almonds and saute dry (no oil.) Toss frequently. The almonds are done when they begin to turn light brown and are fragrant.

Make the dressing:
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons white vinegar
2 tablespoons Splenda (or 5 tablespoons table sugar)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon poppy seeds (optional)

Pour dressing over spinach and strawberries. Toss to coat.

This salad does not make a good leftover salad. The spinach wilts, and the strawberries get mushy. Eat it freshly made.

Nutritional data:
Calories:     142
Fat:           10.5g
Sat fat:           1g
Chol:             0mg
Sodium:       39mg
Carbs:         9.8g
Fiber:          3.5g
Protein:       4.5g

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Ideas Can Come From Anywhere

You never know where the next idea and inspiration will come from, which is why I am always looking in books and magazines, and keeping an ear to the radio and TV. About a week ago, I was at the hospital, running the clinical experience for my students, and I heard a couple of local grilling gurus talk on Good Day Wisconsin, a local morning show on our Fox affiliate.

The gurus, who go by the names of Mad Dog & Merrill, were talking about thin crust whole wheat pizzas and that caught my attention. We love homemade pizzas, especially thin crust. And we always try to use a whole wheat product whenever possible. But some of the whole wheat crusts left a lot to be desired.

They were talking about a new product available locally. An "ultra-thin" crust. Hmmmm.  It might be worth looking at. I found a package (at Woodman's Market). This is what they look like:


It is a very thin crust 12 inch crust (it's almost a thick tortilla) but it holds up to the pizza toppings very well.  And very tasty! Don't bake it as long as the label suggests (10-14 minutes) because after 7-8 minutes it was already too brown.

I've already posted the veggie pizza recipe that I made using the crust.

On a totally unrelated line of thinking, I tested by portable camp stove and find that it will boil 2 cups of water in 20 minutes. I take my practice hike on Thursday, and leave on the real hike next Thursday. I've got all the food purchased and now I only need to put it into ziplocks as ready-to-cook recipes. I am getting excited--and nervous--about this walk.

More on it as it gets closer.

Ultra-Thin Crust Veggie Pizza



"Ultra-Thin" Crust Veggie Pizza
Make 3 portions (1/3 of the pizza)

1 Ultra-thin whole wheat pizza crust
1 tablespoon olive oil
2-3 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
1 teaspoon Italian spice blend  (I used Penzey's Tuscan Sunset.)
2 ounces finely shredded mozzarella cheese

1.  Mix garlic, spices and oil together.  Let sit for 10-15 minutes. 
2.  Spread garlic-oil mix evenly over the crust.
3.  Top with half of the mozzarella cheese.

Add your favorite ingredients.  In the picture above, I used:
1 small can mushrooms
2 tablespoons sliced black olives
10 sliced green olives
2 tablespoons red onion, minced
1 cup baby spinach, chopped
15 cherry tomatoes, sliced

4.  Place all toppings on the cheese.
5.  Top with remaining mozzarella.
6.  Place in a pre-heated oven at 425 degree, for 5-7 minutes.

Note: the label suggested 10-14 minutes in the oven.  Hah!  I checked it at 8 minutes at it was already a little too brown at the edges.  I suppose I could have avoided that by piling the topping on right to the edge, but that would defeat the idea of a light pizza.

Nutritional data:
Calories:         261
Fat:                12.7g
Sat fat:             3.2g
Chol:             14.7mg
Sodium:          484mg
Carbs:            28.8g
Fiber:               5.2g
Protein:            8.9g

(Fresh mushrooms would reduce the sodium load by 153mg per serving. But at 484mg for 1/3 of a pizza, that amount of sodium is not bad.)

Monday, May 7, 2012

Chicken Thighs with Chimmichurri Sauce


Grilled Chicken Thighs with Chimichurri Sauce and Grilled Vegetables
Serve 4
8 Chicken thighs, boneless/skinless (each are about 3 ounces)
1 tablespoon canola or olive oil
Your preferred seasoning (I used Penzey's Bouquet Garni)

1.  Place chicken thighs on a platter.  Rub oil over both sides.  Sprinkle with seasoning.
2.  Preheat grill for 5 minutes on high.
3.  Grill for 4-5 minutes on each side.
4.  Remove and cover to keep warm.

Nutritional Data (6 ounces of chicken thighs):
Calories:         310
Fat:                  31g
Sat fat:               4g
Chol:              140mg
Sodium:          170mg
Carbs:                0g
Fiber:                 0g
Protein:            38g

Chimichurri Sauce
10 garlic cloves (this is delicious but a bit pungent)
1 bunch parsley
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon fresh grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1.  Process garlic in food processor until chopped.  Add remaining ingredients.  Process for 1 minute or until finely minced. It will not be smooth.

This is a very tart sauce. If you don't like it this sour, add sugar (or sweetener) to taste.

Nutritional Data (1/4 cup serving):
Calories:         104
Fat:                    8g
Sat fat:            1.1g
Chol:                0mg
Sodium:          38mg
Carbs:            7.7g
Fiber:             3.8g
Protein:          1.6g

Grilled Vegetables
1 head cauliflower, cut into moderate size chunks
1 head broccoli, cut into similar sized chunks
3 small zucchini, cut into 1 inch pieces
8 ounces mushrooms, whole, washed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Spices (I used Penzey's Sunny Paris.)

1.  Place cauliflower in a microwave safe bowl, and cook on high for 3-4 minutes. The goal is to get the cauliflower hot and start to cook, but not cook it completely.
2.  When the cauliflower is out of the microwave, add all other veggies, and top with the remaining ingredients.  Toss to coat and set aside.
3.  Preheat your grill, and if you have one, a grill vegetable basket.  (Mine is similar to this.)
4.  Pour veggies into the basket.  Occasionally toss them around to ensure more even cooking.  You want some browning of the veggies for the best flavor. 

Nutritional data will vary depending on the vegetables used.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Chicken Scaloppine with Pan-Roasted Asparagus and Cherry Tomatoes

In case you are wondering the meaning of scaloppine, it generally refers to very thin slice of meat (usually veal or chicken), dredged in flour, sauteed and served with a sauce. This recipe uses whole chicken breasts that I pounded flat and panko bread crumbs for the breading.


Chicken Scaloppine with Pan-Roasted Asparagus and Cherry Tomatoes
Serve 4

4 chicken breasts, boneless/skinless (5 ounces each)
2 egg whites
1 cup panko bread crumbs
Your preferred seasoning (I used Penzey's Sunny Spain.)

2 pound fresh asparagus, tough ends trimmed off and rinsed
1 pint cherry tomatoes, whole

1.  Separate egg yolks from the whites. Throw away (or fry and give them to your dog. Ours loves the yolks!)
2.  Mix the panko crumbs and seasoning to taste. I used about 1 teaspoon of the Sunny Spain.
3.  Place the chicken breasts between heavy sheets of plastic or in a Ziplock freezer bag. Using a mallet, pound the breasts flat (to about 1/2 inch.)
4.  Run the breasts through the egg wash, and then dredge in crumbs. Set aside.
5.  Preheat a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Spray with cooking spray.
6.  Pan fry on each side until done (3-4 minutes per side.)  Remove from the skillet, set aside and cover.
7.  Respray the same skillet and return the the heat.
8.  Lay asparagus in skillet.  Season to taste (again, Sunny Spain works well here.)  Cook for about 2 minutes over medium-high heat, turning once halfway through.
9.  Add whole tomatoes to the asparagus.  Continue to cook until the tomatoes begin to burst and get soft.

I did not serve this with a sauce, but you could certainly make a red sauce, or deglaze the pan after cooking the chicken with about 6 ounces of white wine, and cook that down to 4 ounces and serve over the chicken. However, in my opinion, the chicken is moist and flavorful and does not need to be sauced.

Nutritional data (one chicken breast):
Calories:     233
Fat:             5.3g
Sat fat:        1.9g
Chol:         81.2mg
Sodium:   122.4mg
Carbs:         9.6g
Fiber:          0.5g
Protein:     34.5g


Hello? (tap, tap, tap) Is This Thing On?

Wow, I feel like a slug. It's been about half a lifetime since I posted anything here. And it wasn't that I was not eating anything but more that I was swamped with end-of-semester garbage and family stuff that needed to take a higher priority.

But the semester is almost done (classes end formally next Friday, and my last mandatory day to be on campus is Tuesday, May 15.)

I will be teaching some classes in June and again a short session in August, but none of those classes have any of the paperwork associated with my "normal" classes, so I will have much more time to post my mental wanderings and new recipes. And I WILL have a bunch new recipes over the next month or so, because my hike of the Mountain-Bay Trail begins in about 10 days. I will try to update the blog from the trail, with pictures of the food I will eat and a brief synopsis of the day's events. Be forewarned that the food I will be eating while hiking will not be as nicely plated and garnished as my usual pictures. This will be true one-pan-cooking, focusing on high caloric values with minimum carry weight. It will be interesting. I don't want to tell you about the meals yet (I can't ruin all the surprises!)

To prepare for the hike, I have been wearing my backpack, loaded with books and weight so that the load is 45 pounds, everytime we walk the dog. That helped me customize the fit and get used to the change in my center of gravity. The first time I walked with it, it was a little rough but subsequent walks has been much easier. This week, on one of my off days I will walk 14 mile trail that is near my home. My goal is to walk the length and return in less than 9.5 hours. That pace (approximately 3 mph) and that duration will guarantee that I will be able to hike long enough to make it to the various campgrounds sparsely scattered near the trail.

Why am I doing this hike? (Sometimes I don't really have an answer to that question.) I think I am doing to to prove something to myself, that I can do something that is so far outside my normal comfort zone and essentially foreign to my nature. I am doing it as a way of rebooting my mind after this very hectic year (school was not a lot of fun this year.)

And I am doing it to prove (mostly to myself) that my new physical nature is real and not imaginary. About a week ago, I took the profile picture that is here (some of the people on LoseIt were telling me that they were tried of seeing my look grimly at them.) Yesterday, I opened up LoseIt and was surprised when my profile pic popped up, because I wasn't sure who that was. I still am only just beginning to realize the changes that I have made. I still look in the mirror and do a double-take at the image looking back at me. I spent most of my nearly 49 years on this planet wearing clothes that were husky (as a child) or found in the big-and-tall department (as an adult--and NOT because I was tall!) This is first time I have ever worked my butt off to get to a healthy size, and I am still getting used to it.

To anyone out there who is making a journey toward greater health like I am, enjoy your successes, and work to correct any weeks that were challenging. Revel in the fact that your clothes fit looser than before. Hopefully you have some nice thrift shops near you to help replace your wardrobe without breaking your finances. Marvel at the fact that you are walking further than ever before and believing you need to walk a little more to get that "just exercised" feel in your muscles.

And find new goals as you reach your current goals. Even when you achieve a goal weight, don't stop setting goals. Find something new on which to focus your energies. I have been at (or under) my goal weight for more than 15 weeks, but it is only because I have new goals that I can make that maintenance claim. And I will continue to stay at my goal. I have worked hard to achieve this--I will not slacken and return to my old ways.

Now, because I have heard through the grapevine that people miss my recipes, I will post some food pictures (and the recipes, of course!)