Sake Chicken

Let’s kick it up a notch AND keep it simple.

Yesterday I bought a small organic chicken. It cost $10.

Wash the chicken thoroughly, remove sack of giblets and neck if there and pat it dry with paper towel or dish towel. Next salt it liberally with coarse salt/kosher salt.

In a large pan set your self up a steamer basket. If you have a large (metal) mesh colander that will work also. (it’s what I used). Next add sake and water in a 1 to 1 ratio.

Make sure your liquid does not come above your steamer basket. So that when you lay the chicken in it, the chicken does NOT rest in liquid.

Turn up the heat to high, when you see the liquid starts giving of some initial steam, place your chicken in the steamer basket/colander. Now turn your burner to medium (5 0r 6 if your burner dial goes to 10) and cover with lid.

In about 45 minutes you will have the most succulent, decadent tasting chicken you have tasted in a long long time. After 15 minutes check your pan and make sure there is enough liquid left. Add some if necessary. The easiest way to have it come out perfect is to check it with a thermometer. When it reaches 160-165 degrees you’re good to go and it will be cooked uniformly. USDA guidelines quote 165-175 for poultry but I find that is slightly overcooked and you will end up with a dry piece of chicken.

Careful, it will be hot. You can save the left over liquid and reduce it down for some extra sauce, but be careful using to much of it as it will be salty from the juice of the chicken which you salted. Once reduced down, add a few drips (1 tbl spoon) of heavy cream to give the “sauce” some extra depth if you want to.

While the chicken was steaming, I boiled a few smaller (3) organic sweet potatoes. When done, drain and put in a bowl. Chop about 4 scallions (green onions) and add to the bowl. Mash it up and together. I added the following. 1 and a half table spoons of home made cream cheese with a dab of wasabi and soy sauce. Mix together and add to the sweet potatoes.

Home made cream cheese is so simple to make. Buy yourself some good quality organic and full fat yogurt. Line a colander with paper towel or cheese cloth, put a glass bowl underneath it and let it drip and catch all the beautiful liquid whey. After a few hours you will be left with delicious home made cream cheese and a bottle of liquid gold. If you ever suffer from a tummy ache, you can drink little sips of the liquid whey, it’s powerful home made medicine.

The chicken comes out looking like this. Make sure you try the skin, even though not crispy like we all enjoy, the taste and texture is unreal.

For the sake, just buy a bottle of the cheap stuff. At ABC Liquor (U.S based) I buy a big jug of it for 15 bucks.  Great to have in the pantry for cooking. Do you have a World Market near you? Surprisingly, they have a good selection of Sake and the prices are right.

Hit me up with some comments if you make this. Of course you can make it with bone in quarters of chicken also if you don’t want to buy a whole chicken. Very curious how you like it.

Think good thoughts…it’s important. Have you ever noticed how people seem to embody what they talk about most?? Talk about who you want to be, who you imagine yourself to be.

Simple doesn’t have to be Tasteless

A simple salad doesn’t have to be boring and tasteless.

Take a look and let me share how simple.

First let me check again…you ARE hitting the farmers market right (if it’s an option for you, get there)??

I bought some fresh organic romaine lettuce, organic yellow onion, organic tomatoes, organic peppers, organic yams, organic scallions and strawberries and avocados. All for a fraction of the cost compared to the super market (let’s not even mention Whole Foods)

As my beautiful fiancee was with her grandmother, I made dinner for one.

Here we go:

1 tomato, half a yellow pepper and a 1/3 of a normal size yellow onion.

Cut the veggies into larger bite size pieces. Put them on a piece of tinfoil and sprinkle them with some sea salt, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper and some turmeric. (I’ve been incorporating this ancient spice more and more into my cooking. It’s one powerful little fellow, with great PROVEN benefits) Drizzle with some extra virgin olive oil and put it in your oven. I pre-heated my oven to 350. If you have some type of flavor infused olive oil in your kitchen use that. Thanks to my mother in law to be, who is simply amazing (I know, I’m a lucky guy, but at least I know it and appreciate it), I had some “Chipotle Olive Oil” to drizzle on there.

Keep in the oven for about 10-15 minutes. You’re kitchen will smell tremendous by the way. They will be ready when you can’t take the godly smell anymore and you want to eat NOW, or when veggies are soft. (not mushy)

In a bowl, combine your romaine lettuce, half a diced avocado and your veggies. I had a few slice of left over steak and put that on top. You can add any left over protein you might have in your fridge. Of course you can make anything you want fresh (chicken, fish, steak, pork, sausage) and put that on top. it all works. Drizzle all of it again with a bit of extra virgin olive oil.

Simple doesn’t have to be tasteless.

Make it a great day, SMILE and be NICE.

Show Muscle, Strength & Weight Loss

I recently read a really cool article about the rise and popularity of body building, “muscle men” and the early days of Venice Beach and Gold’s Gym.

In the late 1960’s early 70’s when Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lou Ferrigno walked down the street, people would stare and point in disgust, not in admiration.

So what happened? How did the general consensus change? How did we come to think that 20 inch biceps were something we wanted? How did “pecs” become desirable?

Over time as Arnold got older and “macho” movies became less popular, (late 80’s and early 90’s being the height of it) people’s perceptions started changing. When the new decade arrived, muscle magazines became less prevalent and body building became a useless word that people didn’t want to be associated with. The buzz around body building those days was that “body builders”” were weak.  They carried show muscle not real muscle, most body builders couldn’t even do a pull up people liked to say. Why did this change occur? My guess is that the majority of people never really got the result they wanted. So in time just like anything else, when people become frustrated, they knock it. To go back to the question of why did this trend become desirable, it was simple. People have always been drawn to STRENGTH. It’s part of our evolutionary road. People started admiring the body builders not initially because of their physiques but because they were freakishly strong!

That’s right…they were STRONG! Bench pressing 400 pounds and doing deadlifts with 700 pounds was done before breakfast and sometimes in between shots of vodka. They were crazy times with guys pushing themselves to the limit. 150 pound dumbbells were all over the place and chest presses were done with those without spotters. you don’t see much of that anymore is my guess. Many smaller gyms now don’t even have dumbbells above 60 pounds.

To get stronger, you’ve got to lift something heavy and exert yourself. Yes crossfit is cool and perhaps if you want to run some parkour it is better suited than continuous strength building, but if you want to get strong…you’ve got to lift something heavy.

Following that line of thinking, you want lose weight, the formula is simple also. Eat real food and don’t eat too much!

If that doesn’t work for you and you are over weight and doing all the right things, something is wrong. Go see an MD and figure out what you’re body is busy fighting. It will be inflammation or some sensitivity to something that is holding back your progress. If you are like most of us, just a few pound overweight, eat real food, not too much and stick with it! It will get you the results you’re after. Thoughts??

Dinner last night;

Cauliflower rice with egg, asparagus and chicken sausage. Sprinkle with some cheese if you feel like beign naughty and can handle the dairy. (boil the cauliflower, mash it when done and fry it up with some butter, simple as that)

Enjoy the weekend everyone.

Hill Fit Review

Every now and then, someone in our ever bigger blog world, writes a book that gets attention for all the right reasons. Namely, it’s PERFECT!

After reading through the opening of the book, I knew that I would be able to buy this for a few friends and family members, so that they could come to simply read for themselves and understand, concepts I’ve been sharing with them for over 6 years now.

I hope I’m not violating copy rights with this, but I’m going to to take a quote from the e-book to give you an example of how perfect and straightforward this is.

“‘The functional myth

You do not need to mimic the motion of hillwalking to improve the strength to walk. This fallacy of “functional training” has led many astray in recent years. The key is to strengthen the muscles and then apply this strength to your skill area, be it walking or throwing a discus. For example, walking with weights attached to your ankles and wrists might add load to your muscles but there are safer ways to stress those muscles. In any case, walking with weighted hands and feet is a different skill from normal walking. The idea is to build strength with sensible training, then apply that to the skill, which is walking.”
Years ago when I was doing a lot of martial arts training, I remember that one of the guru’s at the time advocated (this was in the early 90’s) taking light dumbbell weights and practicing punching and evading movements while holding the dumbbells to “get stronger”. Very quickly this was dismissed as no buenno by the old japanese teachers and clearly explained to us why this was so. Many of us thought it pretty simple and straight forward….do the movements under load and it will make you stronger. But in their broken English they explained the EXACT thing Chris explains. “build strength sensibly, then apply that to the skill”.
I told Chris that I liked the Ebook for another if not the most important reason to me. If you are buying this book with the expectation to get something out of it, you either will or you won’t. Meaning…here it is folks, laid out simply and straightforward beckoning action. You either will or you won’t. But there are no excuses. This fantastic resource won’t have you re-reading, making spreadsheets, over-analysing, cross-referencing, NO…it’s all spelled out for you and there for the taking. Like I said in a private email to Chris, I like the book so much and I’m excited for him because this is truly a little book that CAN help people. How wonderful is that prospect?

Indonesian Food, Beef Short Ribs & a touch of History

Where I grew up in Amsterdam, Indonesian food is perhaps just as good as Indonesian food in Indonesia. Indonesia used to be a Dutch colony. It was in 1596 a.d, that the Dutch first returned from the area with a boat load of spices. The oppression, raping and pilaging then continued for another 300 years. But the Dutch controlled that early spice trade together with the Brits. It lead to the creation of one of the worlds first global corporations, the Dutch East India Company. It was the first company in the world to issue stock and arguably the worlds first mega corporation with governmental powers…including the ability to wage war. Not a very nice part of the Dutch history, but only by making mistakes do we grow and evolve. This is the same for countries as it is for people.

One of my favorite restaurants back home is an Indonesian restaurant that has been there since the early 1900’s. The restaurant was started by an husband and wife from Indonesia. When I was a little kid, the owners grandma (the original owner) was still overseeing the kitchen. I truly miss Indonesian food and I try and make it when I can and when I have the necessary ingredients. I’m by no means an expert, and when I cook I do rely on ready made spice packets from a company called “Conimex”. (you can find online resources to order it, but many asian grocery stores carry the brand also.)

The spices are vibrant and the flavors complex, and yet good Indonesian food also tastes like home cooked comfort food. Another staple of Indonesia is called KRUPUK UDANG. Basically these crackers are tapioca flour, ground shrimp and salt. That simple. The dry “chip” is friend in oil for just seconds and expands. Traditionally this was fried in palm oil.

S0 last night I made some Rendang Beef and Sajoer Veggies. Rendang is a classic slow cooked beef dish. Spicy, hints of coconut and delicious flavor.  Sajoer is kind of a spicy green bean dish, but I made it with green asparagus instead. I made some basmati rice to go with it and little cucumber salad to have something cool to offset the spices and heat.

I used beef chuck boneless short ribs cut into bite size pieces for the meat.  Simmered slowly this turns into melt in your mouth consistency. Total cooking time for the dish is about an hour or more. An hour of simmering is needed.

I really like the flavor of boneless beef short ribs (chuck). I’ve written a post somewhere before about the cut. Tira Asado in Argentina and Brazil, they use this cut for their bbq although the south american butchers cut it slightly different with the bone in. It’s not the most tender, but the flavor is unreal. You can slow cook to get it really tender or grill with a simple coarse salt rub and a drizzle of olive oil. Don’t over cook and slice thin.

Make sure you let your meat rest before slicing. I’m sure you’ve heard it and all the reasons behind it, but do you remember to do it? It’s a night and day difference, so please let it rest for 10-15 minutes before slicing.

Enjoy your day…smile and be nice.

Tri Tip Steak

This unbelievable cut of meat is a gem. If you find it at your butcher or market BUY IT!

I had read on Dr. Eades site that it was a Santa Barbara, California invention a while back. I dismissed that as bias and the good Doctors part, as he loves his beloved Santa Barbara; and who can blame him, the area is unbelievable.

But as I did a bit of looking around online, it was confirmed. It is indeed an invention and staple of that area. You can read about it here.

There are lots of different marinades and rubs online to prepare this delicious cut of meat. As much as I love my marinades, this piece of beef has so much flavor, that in my humble opinion, a marinade will take away from it. This calls for a classic rub.

Make yourself a good rub, of salt, pepper, garlic powder, a bit of cayenne powder, onion powder and some paprika. Plenty of rub recipes online, make yourself one that appeals to you and make it your own. It’s simple and you can’t screw it up. Take your piece of tri tip and generously coat it with your home made rub. Let the trip tip come to room temperature before cooking.

Two ways to cook it;

BBQ; Get you grill nice and hot but make sure you have a “low heat zone”. Sear the tri tip on both sides and then put it away from the direct heat source and close the lid. I use a thermometer and let it get to 135-140 degrees. Let it rest for AT LEAST 10 minutes before slicing. I actually take two pieces of foil and make a little tent. Lay it on a bottom piece of foil, cover with the second piece and crimp the ends to seal. This keeps the steak warm while the juices pull back in. Slice THINLY against the grain. One option for the grill (which I did use) is to smoke some wood while it’s cooking. I had a bit of mesquite wood and made a little foil packet and had it in the grill. It gives it a nice extra flavor. If you can get your hands on some “fruit wood” like apple wood or peach wood, that’s awesome.

Cast iron; get your cast iron pan nice and hot and pre-heat your oven to about 250-275. Sear the steak on both sides in the pan, when you’ve sealed in all those delicious juices stick your pan in the oven. Use a meat thermometer and get it to 135-140. Same as above let rest in your foil tent and slice thin against the grain.

Whole foods had trip tip steak on sale last week for $5.99 a pound. I bought a few pounds 🙂

It’s not always readily available, some butchers you will have to ask for it. Try it, you won’t be disappointed.

Keep your portions appropriate for your daily level of activities…

Smile and be nice.

Weight Loss & Bruce Lee Food

So it’s that time of year. A lot of blogs have addressed it, but here’s my take and advice which I will be following myself.

My pants are tight. Yup, I’ve simply been eating and drinking too much over the last 8 weeks. So time get comfy in said pants again and feel good.

So what to do? Calorie counting? Strict no carb? No dairy?

Calorie counting and calories in calories out is bullhockey. BUT…guess what folks, you DO need a calorie deficit. Like I’ve asked many a time of the very smart and scientific bloggers, researchers and MD’s, “has there ever been a study of how many calories a person needs when they sit 8 hours a day behind a desk?” From experience I will tell you this, you need very little food. But you do need real food. Nutritionally dense food…pound for pound food. Let’s call it “Bruce Lee Food” (for those that don’t get my incredible wittiness Bruce Lee was often called pound for pound one of the strongest man/ fighter in the world)

No carb? Well, after much reading and experimenting I put my N=1 with Dr. Paul Jaminet of the Perfect Health Diet. I just feel better with a few carbs. Be it potato or white rice. Especially if I’m also hitting the weights.

Dairy is for some just not tolerable. My ancestry is from Europe and my dad’s family line traces back to the 12th century, I think having a bit of dairy is something my body tolerates. So to have a bit of K2 from hard cheeses or a bit of good yogurt is something I do.

So how do we apply this “Bruce Lee Food” theory? Very simply, PORTION CONTROL.

Deprive yourself and you will fail. You have had a life time of “food reward“. To change this, is very very very difficult. Crap, you have a hard time getting over the fact that “you’re lazy”, “not good at math” “un-organised” ‘not good at whatever” these are just thing you heard for a few years of your life in grade school, and we all struggle letting these issues go for the rest of our lives. But food reward is something we have been building up our whole lives.

So for ME, and I would be just delighted to get some comments going on this, the answer is simple portion control. Take a look at this dinner I had with my fiancee.

In NO way depriving ourselves of a yummy dinner BUT, the portion was very small. A few pieces of lamb sausage. A couple of dabs of the cilantro and mint condiment (has yogurt in it) and some red cabbage with bacon and onion simmered in a splash of beer and chicken stock.

A meal like this “hits your senses” and makes you feel good. On a non-sensical calorie counting scale what do you think this came in at?

“Pound for pound” this WAS a meal! Thank you Bruce Lee.

Share what YOU are doing weight loss wise if your pants have gotten a bit tighter than you like.

Smile and be nice.

Holy Guacamole!

My good friend has a beautiful avocado tree in his front yard. Thanks to his generosity, I get a steady supply of beautiful organic “Florida Avocados” from September till around February/March. If you have never had them, the are greener and 2 to 3 times the size of a California avocado also know as a Hass avocado/ the hass variety has more fat and a deeper flavor. But the Florida ones pack all the nutritious goodness like the hass ones. They are perfect for making guacamole, especially from a cost perspective. Also great as spreads. Mash in a bowl with some spices and spread over chicken or fish.

Going in to the weekend and lots of kids and loved ones, thought I’d get prepped up this morning.

I had 2 big guys that were ready to use. When you buy these they will be hard. Let them ripen for a few days on your kitchen counter. When softer to the touch, they are ready. Do NOT refrigerate them before they have softened, or they will never ripen.

Chop some garlic, onion, scallion, fresh cilantro and a chili pepper. I get these little devils form my asian grocer who grows them him self. I don’t know what kind they are, but they are FIRE. Paring knife shows scale. Anyone want to take a guess what they could be??? Would love to know. I just call them chili peppers.

Mush it all together in a bowl and add some salt to taste and fresh lime juice.

And guacamole for a small platoon:

Have a great weekend, if you have kids…cuddle them a lot, if you have a loved one…kiss them a lot.

Enjoy and be happy. In life, we have a choice. choose to be happy ALWAYS. How do you do that you ask?? Simple, when you have a thought, run it past your happy meter. If the thought makes you happy…you’re on target and your feeling happy…if the thought does NOT make you happy and instead gives you anxiety, worry, fear, dread…change it and think a thought that makes you happy instead. More to follow on this. Because it’s not possible just to go from a thought that makes you worry to a thought that makes you happy….but there is a “way” to do it.

Sweet Potato Shrimp Bisque

This is an easy one to do, but requires just a bit more time.  When done, will feel like you’re eating in a restaurant. I had a bit of time yesterday and I made it for lunch. Overall this doesn’t take more than 30-40 minutes, but well worth it. You do need one key ingredient…Shellfish stock. Most of the time when I buy fresh shrimp here (less these days actually because I think it has gotten to expensive), I buy head-0n shrimp. When I don’t grill the heads, I put them in a big ziplock baggie and save them in my fridge until I have enough to make stock out of it.

Shell fish stock has wonderful flavor and color and serves as a base for many classic dishes. Think Bouillabaisse for one. In a stock pot and a bit of fat (I like using butter for stock), saute cut up onion, celery and the shell fish parts (lobster shells work perfect too). I ALWAYS use the skin of the onion too when I make any kind of stock as it helps in creating the beautiful golden color of the stock. Added a bit of seasoning. When it all started getting fragrant and hot I added the water. Water should be about 3-4 inches above your “stuff’ in the pot. Bring to a quick boil and turn down and simmer. Great news here is that you only need to simmer it for about an hour and you have yourself delicious stock. Find yourself a good mesh colander or similar and drain the soup to reveal the broth only. (I had made the stock the night before)

Now for the soup recipe.

1 large yellow onion

4-5 cloves of garlic

5-7 smaller sweet potatoes

2 celery stalks

1/2 cup dry white wine

1/2 small chili pepper (seeds if you like spicy)

4-6 cups of shrimp shell stock (total liquid will depend a bit on how big your potatoes are)

Salt and pepper to taste

In a soup pan, saute your finely chopped onion (no skin here), celery and 1/2 a chili pepper in some olive oil. On low-medium heat  saute until translucent and soft but NOT browned. Next add your diced up peeled sweet potatoes. Stir frequently until potatoes are nice and hot. Now your add 4-6 cups of stock. Bring to a boil quickly and turn down heat/burner.  Let simmer until sweet potatoes are nice and soft. Mushy is ok.

Removed from heat and in batches puree the soup in a blender (careful if your soup is hot) or if you have an immersion blender (which I used) puree right in your pan.

Once pureed rewarm your soup and add 1/2 cup of heavy cream. (even a 1/4 cup will work perfectly).

While the soup was doing it’s thing, I made some shrimp in the pan (frozen shrimp). You will need about 4-6 smaller shrimp for each soup bowl you serve. On very low heat, in a non stick pan, warm the shrimp. When close to done add a few tablespoons of shrimp stock. If you have never done this, try for once cooking your shrimp on really low heat and slowly. I think you will be amazed at the flavor and consistency…even from frozen shrimp.

When everything is ready add your shrimp to a soup bowl.

Now ladle in your soup. Top with a bit of thinly chopped scallion

This kind of soup is a complete meal. YUM

Also made some more Miyagi Steak. Please try this and let me know what you think. Chuck steak, marinate for at least 24 hours in a bit of miso paste, mirin and sake. You have to trust me on this one, finger licking, addictive and downright sensational.

Smile and Be Nice

Condiment Addiction # 2

I’ve written before how some of my FeelGoodEating little sauces and condiments take me to the edge of addiction. Back in May I suffered through this one.

Well, I’ve found a new one. When my fiancee and I were in New York city we ate at a wonderful little Indian restaurant in the village. I LOVE LOVE LOVE Indian food. The subtlety and abundance of flavors has me feeling giddy when I eat it. Very happy there are not a lot of options locally, because I ALWAYS eat to much in an Indian restaurant. In hindsight I now remember where my love affair with Indian food came from. In 10th grade I had a friend from India. His name was Sanjay Khanna. When I would go over to his house, I would smell cooking fragrances that were completely foreign to me. His mom always gave me some of whatever she was making. I remember just now as I’m typing this, how blown away I was by her rice. Rice was tasteless to me then if it wasn’t covered in some sauce, but Sanjay’s mom rice was delicious on it’s own.

When I came home, I realized I really like one of the staple condiments of India. Mint cilantro chutney/sauce. This is straightforward to make and you can make it spicy or leave the spicy-ness out.

Get out your food processor and put in 3 cloves of garlic, 1 inch piece of sliced ginger, 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice. Add about 2 cups of fresh mint leaves (no stems/stalks) and 2 cups fresh cilantro. (stalks ok) If you buy your cilantro and mint at a farmers market, wash thoroughly. I use my salad spinner to give it a good wash. Hit the one button and let is whip into a nice paste. Maybe a quick stop is need to scrape down the size of your food processor bowl. Until consistency above and transfer to a big bowl. If you want a spicy version, add 1 or a half of a small green or red chili pepper.

Next add 6-8 oz of good greek yogurt.

Mix well and add some salt to taste .

Voila…or in Hindi  WALLA 🙂

This is sooo good and versatile. You can use it as salad dressing, on fish, with chicken, with lamb, with veggies etc etc….or just with a spoon out of the bowl. It will keep 3-5 days in the fridge, but don’t worry, it won’t last that long.

Smile and be nice