Tuesday, January 13, 2015

You can thank me later...

Seriously. No, srsly.

I can never pass up a chance to use this guy

Just pin these two tips right now to your "I can do it" Pinterest board.

Okay, #1:  I consider myself a pretty good cook - not gourmet by any means, but being a chemist, I can find my way around the kitchen. Except for one very basic technique: hard boiling eggs. Basic, easy-peasy, simple - right? Well, no. Mine used to be okay when I did it my mom's way, which was boiling them to death for 20 minutes. They peeled okay most of the time, but they were too hard and rubbery and had a green rim around the yolks. So then I started experimenting. For years. Big mistake. I used everyone's Never Fail Hard Boiled Egg recipe that I could find, and they all failed. I used salt in the water, baking soda in the water, putting the eggs in the water then starting to boil, putting the eggs in boiling water, ice water, timing differences, using old eggs - basically every permutation possible. And they all peeled horribly and looked like the surface of the moon:

So finally I quit following recipes and pulled bits and pieces from everything I learned and came up with my fool-proof (really!) recipe. And my eggs look like this every. single. time.


I bought these yesterday, so old eggs are not necessary. I use a bulletin board push pin to poke a hole in the wide end of the egg. Not sure if this is really necessary, but it's kind of fun and my motto is if it's not broke, don't fix it. Okay, use a large enough pot to hold the number of eggs you want to boil. I always make 11 eggs (they fit into my mason jar), and a 4.5 qt (I think) pot. A big one. Bring a bunch of water to a seriously rolling boil, sprinkle in some salt, and lower the cold eggs in using a slotted spoon. Start your timer for 13 minutes, then lower heat to about medium-low. You want a few bubbles, so maybe it's a high simmer? In the meantime, put a bunch of ice cubes in a large bowl and fill with water. You want a cold, cold, cold ice bath. After 13 minutes, use the slotted spoon and put the eggs in the ice bath to cool. When they are cold, crack and peel. And this is how I store them so we have a go-to snack:


Okay, hint #2. Totally unrelated as it has to do with plumbing, but maybe it will save you a service call. You know how when you start your disposal and it just grinds and grinds and water starts rising in the other side of the sink and you think oh shit? Well, this tip is from an actual plumber, who made a trip to our house years ago but didn't charge us because he was in the neighborhood anyway and I think felt sorry for me. I wrote it down then and taped it inside the cupboard below the sink. I've had to use it a few times since, and I had to use it the other week so thought I'd pass it on. The plumber said it creates more force than plunging.

Fill garbage disposal side with water.

Plug other side and hold down tight. The stopper will want to push up. Seriously, lean on it!

Turn on disposal.

And that's it!

You are welcome.
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EDITED: I forgot to add that I sprinkle some salt in the water when I put it on to boil. Half a teaspoon or so. Again, not sure if it's necessary, but it works for me. Look at those beautiful hard boiled eggs!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Meal ideas - stop now if you're easily bored

Okay, this is a dull post, but I really need to clean up my photo albums on my phone, so here are all the meals I had in the past week. I took pictures of literally everything (well, almost everything) in order to post them on the TwoGrand app. I missed some wine, a gin and tonic or two, dinner at friends' house, lunch at Panera - that kind of stuff. But I did enter everything into My Fitness Pal, and while there might not be photographic evidence, I put them in TwoGrand also. 


PB gluten-free toast, apple, OJ/club soda

oatmeal with berries, almond/coconut milk, and I'm pretty sure there is some PB hiding in there

gluten-free Udi's, berries, OJ/club soda

regular PB toast, berries, HB egg, OJ/club soda

mmm...bacon, eggs, toast

scrambled eggs and mushrooms with sriracha, berries
Kashi Go-Lean Crunch with almond/coconut milk

 Some lunches:

big salad with all kinds of goodies (but not enough protein; I was starving by 2:30)

leftover turkey breast, snap peas, avocado

leftover chicken, leek and wild rice soup, avocado toast

Skinnytaste's oven "fried" pork chop, brusssels sprouts salad (same amount of food - size does matter!)
These were the two recipes I was excited about in my last post, and if you click the title, it will take you to the recipe. The pork chops were really good - like a fake shake-n-bake. They were even good left over the next day. (Several days later, not so much). The shredded brussels sprouts salad was quick and easy, and while Dwight liked it, it was a little too high-FODMAP-ey for my tummy, if you know what I mean... I can eat them cooked (small amount), but as I found out, not raw. 

beef stir-fry with spinach. I found this recipe in the latest Costco magazine - it may be a Weight Watcher recipe because the points are listed. It's basically a stir-fry, but served over lightly wilted spinach instead of rice. And it was really, really good!

soup from a mix my sister-in-law sent. it was really beyond delicious

pierogis with a dollop of greek yogurt, sauerkraut, roasted peppers

leftover pork chop, brussels sprouts sauteed with bacon (or, pork with a side of pork!)


banana split smoothie
comfort tea

this should technically be under "lunch" since it was what I had yesterday between breakfast and dinner. what can I say; I was in a baking mood

Now as a reward for reading all the way to the end, here is a screenshot of the current weather from one of my favorite apps, Authentic Weather. I even paid 99 cents for it because it makes me smile every. single. time.

I'm pretty sure it will be warmer next time I write. TTFN!
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Monday, January 5, 2015

Just put on your lipstick

So happy 2015! I am starting the fourth year of this blog - hard to believe. Although don't expect great things; I wrote 81 posts in 2012, 35 posts in 2013, and 32 posts last year. At this rate, in a few years I won't be writing at all. But since it's time for the new year, new me, yadda yadda yadda, here goes:

I know I used this last year. Still cracks me up.

Now that I'm retired and our fall traveling schedule is over along with the holiday season, I am finding myself a bit at loose ends. (Although if you looked at our house, you'd be surprised that I'm not busy every second, but that's fodder for another post...) Several years ago when one of the girls was going through a bad breakup, I told her that I didn't care what she did, but every day she had to put on some lipstick and leave the house. It didn't matter if she walked around the block or sat in a Starbucks, she just had to get out. Now I'm finding myself needing to take my own advice. It's w-a-y too easy to sit around in yoga pants and no makeup and before I know it, it's time for bad and I haven't done anything. So I guess slapping on some lipstick is just another way of Showing Up... Although on Saturday, when we saw the forecast for yesterday and wind chills were supposed to be in the -20 to -30 range, I told Dwight that I wasn't planning on going anywhere on Sunday. He said, "Oh good, then I don't have to put on my lipstick!" It's the new euphemism around here. One of us will ask, "Where are you going?", and the reply is "I'm just putting on my lipstick".

I am redoing the last week of Sean Flanagan's weight training program (thank you Christmas and New Year's for throwing everything out of whack), and next week I am ready to start the second level. I looked up the proper form for all the new lifts and moves I'll be doing, and get ready for some whining! First off, I love lifting because it makes me feel like a badass. But starting next week, things I have been doing as part of my workout for the past month will now be my warm-up. Whining and whimpering, I tell you! Now to lose the five pounds of winter weight that I have gained on top of the few extra pounds I've been dragging around so I will be able to see the muscles I am making instead of just feeling them!

And so to that end, I'm back to food photos and accountability. (I'm sorry or you're welcome, which ever camp you happen to be in). Breakfast today was a MaryLu's protein waffle with raspberries and blueberries and coffee:

Lunch today was a Big Salad with romaine, red cabbage, avocado, pomegranate arils, and a hard-boiled egg with white balsamic vinaigrette, and a kombucha to drink (probiotics, you know):

Today's afternoon snack was an Abs Diet banana split smoothie:

If you are at all interested in a photo diary of what you've been eating, you can start a blog or Instagram your food (I'm cathyboll - follow me), OR you can try an app I've been using off and on for several months: TwoGrand. I'm cathyb if you decide to join. You basically post a picture of everything you eat, and you can also log your activity.You can follow anyone you want, or choose people at your goal weight, your current weight, your age, activity level, special diet, etc. I stopped using it for awhile because some of the people seem to be bordering on eating disorders. Like calling ten almonds and a glass of water breakfast. HUH?!?!?! I don't so much look at what others are doing as look back at what I've done. For example, I was looking at lunches I've posted and saw back in October I ate proscuitto, string cheese, carrot sticks, and a few Crunchmaster gluten-free crackers. It looked delicious so I made it again recently.

I'm looking forward to dinner because I'm really hungry I'm trying two new recipes. I'll just keep you in suspense for the next post...

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Thursday, December 18, 2014

i haven't written in so long that i can't even think of a title

We were at a party this weekend when my friend mentioned how much she liked my blog. I got to thinking that I haven't written for so long because I had kind of lost the focus of writing. I first started this blog to help me stay accountable in getting in shape for our son's wedding - because everyone is looking a the mother of the groom, right?! When that goal was (relatively) accomplished, I lost the concentration of this blog. And then one of my friends (who I don't think reads this - at least I hope not!) was talking about how everyone was posting pictures of their food and who wants to see that? Oops. Guilty here. I don't know. Maybe this will just be a journal with a fitness basis. Who wants to read rambling? If you're still here, then I guess you do. (And thanks).

I thought that when I retired from Evereve I would have all this time to, you know, blog and stuff, but somehow that just isn't happening. Within the first few weeks of my being unemployed, we made car trips to Michigan (10 hours one way), North Dakota (9 hours), and Minneapolis (a mere 6 hours). Good thing I get along with my traveling companion. And then I got called back to work an occasional day here and there since I offered to stay on-call as the back-up IS. That kind of bit me in the butt these past few weeks as I was needed to fill in as the IS was recovering from surgery. That's what everyone needs this time of year, right? Just throw something unexpected into the mix during an already stressful time. Good thing most of my shopping was done.

I just reread my previous post and it was all about the low-FODMAP diet. I had just started reintroducing foods and figuring out what bothers me. Well, I think I have a pretty good handle on it, but I guess time will tell. I no longer buy gluten-free bread, I just eat way less of it gluten-containing products than before. Toast at breakfast is just fine, but I won't have a sandwich at lunch on those days. One apple a day is fine, as are a few cocktails (whew)! I think I just have to monitor myself; at least I know how to "reset" things if issues flare up again.

I started a fitness program when it started getting cold outside here and I started getting whiney about having to bundle up. I have been following Sean Flanagan for over a year now, mainly because he is a voice of reason who doesn't advocate miracle weight loss or strength gains. He is all about eating moderately, not eliminating food groups unless medically necessarily, lifting progressively heavier weights, and some cardio to round it all out. Nothing revolutionary there.

I purchased (for $7) his 4-week at-home program, which is actually a 12-week plan since there are four weeks of three different levels. I started at the lowest level even though I consider myself relatively fit, and am I ever glad I did! My quads were on fire that first day, but I can tell it's working since - be prepared to be impressed - I'm up to 25-pound dumbbells (in the middle of week 3) for some of the moves. I read an interview by Anna Quindlen (I think) whom I love, and she said she started weight lifting so she could comfortably carry the case of wine from the delivery man to the kitchen. My kind of woman!

So that's pretty much it, except to wish everyone a Merry Chrismukkah!!

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Sunday, October 12, 2014

FODMAP much?

Apparently I did, too much. And what, might you ask, is a FODMAP? Well, it stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides Disaccharides Monosaccharides And Polyols. You know the old rhyme "Beans, beans, the musical fruit, the more you eat the more you toot"? Well, it's not always just beans and it's not always just toots. I have been feeling pretty crappy (pun intended) for quite awhile - like, a year, and mentioned it when I went for my yearly check-up. My gyno promptly sent me to a gastroenterologist, and based on my symptoms, and while awaiting the date for my colonoscopy, he put me on a low-FODMAP diet.

I told the kids about it, and Emily couldn't call me fast enough to say, "And you thought Whole30 was restrictive!!!" I may have made that comment when she was doing her Whole30...  Basically, this eating protocol was developed in Australia to help people with IBS symptoms. To show you how awful I felt, I jumped into it without a second thought, restrictive or not.

What it means for me is no lactose (milk, ice cream, yogurt, cottage cheese unless they are lactose-free), no gluten (wheat, rye, barley), no artificial sweeteners, eliminating certain fruits (among them apples, pears, watermelon), certain veggies (cauliflower - although strangely enough, broccoli is okay, corn, garlic, onions). There are a whole bunch of other restrictions, but these are the ones that will make you ask:

Which is exactly what I asked when I sat down to make a shopping list that first week. It really is not so bad, and it really, really, really makes me feel better, so it's worth it. Eating out is the biggest challenge, but we did find out that our favorite pizza place in town, Zio's, has fabulous gluten-free pizza. And one alcoholic beverage a day is allowed, so it's totally doable. Erin's 26th birthday was at a microbrewery on day 2 of this little eating adventure, so I had my one glass of delicious beer and filled up on water.

I was about a week into this protocol when we went to Michigan to visit the kids, and Aly, bless her heart, the Queen of the Internet, had done some research and had wonderful low-FODMAP meals and snacks (mmm, popcorn...) all ready for us. It required some tweaking, such as not lightly dredging my chicken in flour, but in parmesan (strangely enough, while milk is a no-no, hard cheeses are just fine). And luckily, gluten-free crackers are delicious!

My favorite breakfast of peanut butter toast or bagel thin required a change:

It's pretty good toasted, but not fabulous by itself. And thank God peanut butter is allowed! As far as berries, another part of my breakfast, strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries are okay (up to 1/2 cup), but no blackberries. Bananas? Yes if ripe, no if slightly green. (The way I like them, of course).

I found some other goodies:

corn is out, but polenta, cornmeal, and grits are okay

no milk chocolate, but hello dark chocolate!

pretty good

haven't tried 'em yet, but since maple syrup up to 1.5 T is allowed, they are on the menu!

I've been doing the elimination phase of this diet for several weeks now, so am playing around with reintroducing certain foods to see how my body tolerates them, the premise being to allow you to eat the most varied (and therefore healthiest) diet as possible. So far, I think I can have about half a cup of milk with no adverse effects, although I really do like coconut-almond milk on my oatmeal, so eliminating cow milk is not a big deal. I've tried apples, but they might be a little iffy. That is too bad, since I eat (used to eat?) an apple a day. After trying a day or two of eating just one of the groups to see what I can tolerate, I need to go back to the elimination diet to get back to a baseline. It sounds so scientific, which just makes so much sense to me.

I had my colonoscopy this week, and if you follow me on Instagram (cathyboll), you saw that I posted this. It just cracks me up!

Everything is okay in that area, but this is what half an hour of Propofol, an hour in recovery, and several naps during the day looked like:

sloth. i'm surprised i didn't have moss growing on me

Here's to more activity!

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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

what i'm loving - the food

I thought I'd share a few treasures I've found or rediscovered lately:

Emily brought us this from her vacation to Daytona Beach and the Ocean Deck restaurant. She has brought us Rasta Sauce before, and I loved it so much that a few years ago I ordered some. I thought it was in a warehouse or plant or something but I talked to someone at the restaurant and they just shipped  it out.

This is thick, almost with a gravy-like consistency. It is delicious on pretty much anything. I particularly like it on scrambled eggs, but we use it any time we need a bit of heat. It's not hot like Sriracha or runny like salsa. It's spicy, but not searing. Alex described it as more "peppery".

just look at those ingredients - yummy!

Let's jump from the savory to the sweet! I found these at Costco, and I particularly like them because you can break them into whatever size you need. If you want just a bite of chocolate, you can have it. If you want an entire sheet, well, that's yours as well. And they come in Costo quantity!

So I guess this next item technically isn't food, but maybe nectar of the gods. I'm a little late to this particular party, but I discovered Moscow Mules this summer, and our friends brought us four copper mugs as a hostess gift when they came to visit. I know you don't really need the mugs, but they sure make them take taste better. Vodka, lime, and ginger beer - why wouldn't you love it?! As I posted on my Instagram account, #youknowyouwantone.

Two spice blends at Penzey's I'm loving are Adobo and Sunny Paris. Adobo is, as the catalog describes, a "traditional and popular Mexican spice mix. Not hot, but spicy and rich in flavor, and salt-free". You can add it to taco meat, rub it on meat before grilling, use it in guac - I'm sure there is much more you can do with it; just haven't discovered it yet.  The Sunny Paris's main ingredient is freeze-dried shallots, but also chives, green peppercorns, dill weed, basil, tarragon, chervil, and bay leaf. You can almost imagine how wonderful it tastes just by reading the ingredient list. If you have a Penzey's in your town, but all means visit it, but you can order everything from penzeys.com. I have been ordering from them for decades, long before Omaha had a shop. The labels used to be typed, not printed. One time I ordered a particular kind of cinnamon and they needed to substitute another, and instead of crediting my card, they just sent me the difference in actual change with a nice handwritten note. I love personal attention like that!

I wanted some dessert the other night, but cannot be trusted around a container of ice cream. What I really was hungry for was a Drumstick, but rethought that craving when I saw they were 300 calories apiece. Then these caught my attention, and I can tell they will be a permanent fixture in our freezer. Well, not these, because they will be gone shortly, but you know what I'm saying...

these just might be the best 160 calories I have ever tasted

Has anyone else found anything fun lately?
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