Tuesday, November 30, 2010

End of November update

Six months behind me with six months to go! This diet actually seems to be getting easier too. Go figure.

My official weight is unchanged from last month at 156 pounds. I'm happy with that weight and I'm now used to my new 'shape'. I still need to tone up and build some muscle mass back but that can wait for another day.

The fear I was developing that I was going to waste away to nothing has subsided ... I think I've found my equilibrium. That feels great ... truly it does.

That's the good news and now for the bad ...... it's cold being skinny!

For as long as I can remember I've always had a good heater. I'm the guy that wore shorts and a T-shirt in the middle of winter. I was rarely cold. Those days appear to be long gone I'm afraid. I've come to realize that I never really had a good heater ... what I had was good insulation. That extra weight was keeping me warm.

I'm too much of an energy conservationist to turn up the heat at home so I'm doing what I've told the rest of the family to do in the past ... Put on a sweater!

C'est la vie. In the end I'd rather be chilly than chubby.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

100 meter cheesecake

I've been so extremely busy this past week that I haven't had a chance to do any blogging. But late last night Barb baked me a 100 meter cheesecake that turned out so spectacularly good that I just had to tell you about it.

Barb bakes a mean cheesecake so when she gets going I simply get out of her way and let her weave her magic. Here's what I saw her do ....


2 cups fresh goat cream cheese
1 cup sugar with a dash of salt
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 fresh eggs
2 cups goat yogurt
1/4 cup of goat butter
1 1/4 cups of graham cracker crumbs

Obviously the graham cracker crumbs aren't 100 meter diet compliant but it's such a small violation of the rules that we'll let it slide ;)

Normally Barb would use sour cream instead of yogurt but the substitution worked well in this recipe.

She mixed the butter and the graham cracker crumbs together and lined the cake pan with them. She used beaters to mix the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, and eggs. Like a kid, I got to lick the beaters .... Mmmm, I knew this was going to be good.

Next she folded in the yogurt and poured the entire mixture into the graham cracker shell. She placed the cake pan in the oven and baked it for 1 hour at 350 F. After the hour was up she turned the heat up to 425 F for about 15 minutes.

I feel absolutely spoiled. She's such a great baker ... thanks Honey!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Blowing their minds ....

Occasionally, instead of reading a bed time story to Michael and Matthew, I'll give them a classroom style lecture on topics that I feel they're old enough to start to comprehend. These topics tend to be quite 'deep' and sometimes, but not always, the message sails way over their heads. I held a particularly good lecture just the other night. The topic was ''Space. It's mind numbingly big" and their little brains tried ever so hard to keep up ... I thought they did exceptionally well.

I started out the lesson by telling them that I was bored on the train ride home that night and a question popped into my head "What is the most distant object we can see in the universe?". I used my Blackberry to google an answer and I asked them if they wanted to know what I learned. "YES!" was their answer.

The data may be stale but I told them that we, humans, can see distant galaxies that are over 10 billion light years away from Earth. That's a mind numbingly far distance so I spent a few minutes trying to explain how far away that is. Light travels at a speed of approximately 300,000 km / second ... so, if we travelled at the speed of light it would take us over 10 billion years to reach these distance places. By comparison light from our Sun takes about 8 minutes to reach us. It's difficult to tell if someone can grasp the vastness of this distance but I know the kids understood it was extremely far away.

As their brains attempted to digest that distance I hit them with the next 'bomb'. So, if it took light over 10 billion years to reach Earth that means we are actually seeing 10 billion years into the past. Questions started flying from their mouths ... I don't get it? How is that possible? What does that mean?

The questions they asked took my lecture on to topics about quasars, black holes, dark matter and some theories developed by Einstein and others postulated by Stephen Hawking. It warms my heart that my kids share my passion for pondering about the cosmos. You can almost see the wheels turning in their heads as they try to absorb these concepts.

Some may think that this is a cruel and unusual punishment to hold these lectures as bed time stories. Obviously I don't feel that way. I've always had an interest in the universe and I would have loved to have someone tell me stories about it when I was a kid. Back then I had to settle for Star Trek and Star Wars as my source of information. I actually studied physics for two years in university until I decided that the topic was more of a hobby than a career choice ... for me at least. I am determined to get my money's worth out of those two years by teaching as much of it as I can to my kids. I'm stunned by how much they retain ... their minds are truly sponges.

But the biggest pleasure I get is from blowing their minds for the first time. That's priceless.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Goat milk hand lotion

I was so impressed with the quality of the goat milk soap I've been using that I thought it was time to branch out and try to make some goat milk hand lotion. Of course, this is the season when the air gets a bit drier and my tender hands are in need of some moisturizing lotion ... so the timing is perfect.

As usual, I scoured the internet in search of the simplest recipe I could find. This is what I came up with.


1/8 teaspoon Borax
1/4 cup cold goats milk
1/2 cup coconut oil
1 tablespoon beeswax
1/2 cup aloe vera gel
1 teaspoon vitamin E oil
10 drops of lavender oil

Pour the goat milk into a small pot, add the Borax and bring the mixture to a scalding temperature. Remove from heat.

Next, in a separate pot, melt the coconut oil and beeswax together. Then slowly add the melted mixture to the milk and Borax. Mix together well using a whisk. Add vitamin E oil and the scented oil. Allow everything to cool to room temperature.

Once cooled, add aloe vera and whisk well one final time.

Once the lotion was completely settled the solution went a wee bit chunky. It still works quite nicely as a hand lotion since the oils melt quickly once they touch your skin.

I have noticed that the lotion tends to stay on your hands for a few minutes longer than the store bought lotions. But, in the end, this lotion is better for you since it has no harmful additives or preservatives and does a great job moisturizing.

I'm sold ... I'll be making this again when I run out.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Kinder egg rant

There's a kinder egg commercial running on TV right now, maybe you've seen it. The message is .... it's not just about the chocolate and the toy ... it's about the time you spend with your children and the wonderful memories you're creating.

Touching, very touching.

However, I couldn't help wondering how that scene would play out in our house.

I know exactly how it would go. It would end up with me complaining about yet another disposable plastic toy that will only get about 3 minutes of play time. It's happened before ... I'm sure it will happen again.

I don't like sounding like a broken record but my kids know how I feel about plastic .... no matter how small it is. I've talked to them about the negative impact plastic has on the environment and they know all about the massive islands of floating plastic in the oceans. I haven't banned them from having plastic but I certainly want them to think about what they purchase that contains plastic. I challenge them to consider whether they really 'need' something made of plastic or if they can find a non-plastic alternative .... even if it may be more expensive.

For example, the last time this topic came up was last week when the kids were looking at a Walmart Christmas flyer. When they showed me their choices I couldn't help sighing and asking them if we could have a plastic free Christmas this year. At the very least I asked them not to get me anything that has any plastic in it .... including the packaging.

It's tough being a kid. The plastic toys are so cool and everyone has them. Heck, we have a lot of them ourselves. But I still believe it's important to challenge the kids to think before they bring more plastic into our home. It may not sink in immediately but I think it will be in the back of their mind for the rest of their lives .... now that's a memory I really want them to keep.

Now I still use plastic myself, unfortunately. I even wrote about using plastic wrap in my olive oil cracker recipe a few blog posts ago. I struggled with that at the time but I decided to leave it in the directions. In hind sight I should have used a resealable container. As the kids say .... "My bad".

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A simple custard

My mother was up for a visit the other day and we had a conversation about the types of foods she remembers eating as a child. One of her memories included a simple custard dish that her mother, my grandmother, used to make when my mother was young.

I recalled seeing a simple vanilla custard recipe in my Junket rennet recipe booklet but I really didn't know what custard was so I didn't give it any thought. After hearing my mother talk so fondly about my grandmother's custard I knew we had to give it a try.

The recipe couldn't be any easier so we gave it a try with some fresh goats milk.


2 cups whole milk
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 rennet tablet (dissolved in 1 tbsp of water)

Heat milk to 100 F and add the sugar and vanilla. Stir until the sugar is dissolved.

Then add the dissolved rennet and stir for only a few seconds. Pour directly into dessert dishes and chill in the fridge before serving. That's it.

Five months into the 100 meter diet and I learn about this simple gem! I'm sure my grandmother followed a different recipe but this one is good enough for me ... for now.

One of the reasons I started this diet was to expose myself to new recipes. No matter how simple they may be. Actually, simple recipes are probably the best ones to learn because they form the foundation for more complicated dishes. So I truly appreciate having this simple custard recipe in my repertoire.

Thanks mom.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Angel Food Cake

I started this past weekend out with one recipe in mind ... angel food cake. However, before I could make angel food cake I first needed to make 3 batches of egg noodles so I could save up 1.5 cups of egg whites.

Because it's chicken noodle soup season I decided to turn two of the egg noodle batches into cute shapes for the soup. It takes significantly more time to cut out all of the shapes but with some help from the kids the time went by fairly quickly.

Once the egg noodles were done the way was clear to make the cake!


1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup cake flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups egg whites
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Sift the sugar, salt and cake flour several times to ensure a fluffy cake.

Place the egg whites in a large mixing bowl and beat them with electric beaters until they are fluffy but not yet making peaks. Add cream of tartar and vanilla and continue beating the egg whites until the peaks form.

Next, sift a quarter of the dry ingredients into the egg whites and fold the mixture together. Once the batter is mixed add another 1/4 of dry ingredients and repeat until everything is thoroughly mixed.

Transfer the batter into an angel food cake pan and place in a preheated oven at 350 F and bake for about 40 minutes. That's it!

Now, most recipes also call for 1/2 teaspoon of almond extract but I prefer it just with the vanilla.

If you decide not to make the egg noodles first you'll have to find a use for all the yolks ... lemon meringue pie comes to mind but I'm sure there are a few other recipes you can find. Personally, I believe that egg noodles and angel food cake should always be made together ... they're a perfect combination.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Olive oil crackers

Here is the recipe for the olive oil crackers that I made last week. These are really quite good and very simple to make. Please give them a try ...


1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 2/3 cups flour (I used 1 cup white and 2/3 cup spelt)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
A pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
Dried rosemary and/or sea salt

Place the dry ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Add water and olive oil and work until the dough forms a ball. Place the dough in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for about 1 hour.

Next, rework the dough and divide into balls of approximately 1 tablespoon size. This works out to about 16 balls. Place the balls under an overturned bowl to keep them from drying out.

On a floured surface, roll balls as thin as possible. Sprinkle additional flour on the thin dough to keep it from sticking to the rolling pin. Place on a large un-greased baking sheet.

Brush each lightly with olive oil, then sprinkle with sea salt and rosemary to taste. Pre-heat oven to 400 F and bake until dry and golden, about 6 or 7 minutes.

When you're done you should have about 16 crisp and tasty olive oil crackers. You can roll them oblong, round or use your imagination.

They have the slightest hint of 'heat' due to the black and cayenne pepper. Add more if you want them a bit spicier.

I hope you enjoy them!

Monday, November 1, 2010

End of October update

I find it hard to believe that I've only completed 5 months on the 100 meter diet. It feels like a lot longer and I'm starting to think that I should have made this a 6 month challenge instead of a full year :)

Even with my continued effort to take in more calories I still ended up losing 2 more pounds. I'm now down to 156 pounds bringing my total weight loss up to 40 pounds.

The weight loss is certainly slowing down but I would like to see it stop all together. I hope that in November I see my weight stabilize so I don't have to consider any changes to my rules. Please keep your fingers crossed for me.

Even while I'm still slowly shrinking the farm is slowly expanding. We picked up this little guy yesterday. He's a young billy goat (an Alpine / Toggenburg cross). He was advertised as being 8 months old but I suspect he's likely only around 5 months.

He's very skittish and nervous but I'm sure he'll settle in quickly. The hope is that he matures quickly and will be able to father our next batch of kids. We'll see ...

By the way, we decided to name him Donkey because we thought he looked more like a donkey than a goat.

Welcome to the homestead Donkey!