Chicken thighs baked in bacon fat

Just a reminder that the original purpose of this blog when I started it in 2007 was to collect my personal recipes so that I could refer to it at work to get meal ideas for that evening. I’m not recommending this to anyone and apologies if this feels like a waste of your inbox space. It is part of a much larger and wacky experiment I am trying that I *won’t* go into at present but will eventually. Maybe.

So I’ve been cooking bacon for almost 2 weeks now and I keep pouring off the fat and putting it in a jar to do I dunno with. I was baconed out today, however, and did have like 8 chicken thighs that needed to be cooked lest they become a biohazard. They weren’t old by any means but I wanted to make sure they got used during their useful lifespan without playing some game of chicken (pardon the pun) with the expiry date.

So caveman brain here looked at the chicken, then the bacon fat still in the pan on the stove from the bacon I cooked the day before, and got an idea so lacking in effort I should get some sort of prize. So…

  • 8 chicken thighs with skin and bone in
  • 1 pan of bacon grease with all the drippings and crumbly bits from the previous day

I set the oven for 350 and plopped the thighs into the grease-filled pan. Then shoved it in the oven without even preheating because I don’t care. I set a timer for 20 minutes then came back, took the pan out of the oven and turned the thighs over. Crumbly bits had stuck to the bottom, which did not seem a bad thing. Put it back in the oven and it got another 20 minutes. I tested the temp and in some places it was 190 degrees F so it was certainly cooked. Then I had the bright idea to turn them upright again and try to crispy up the top part. I set the oven to broil and the time for 10 minutes.

It got to 5 minutes when the fire alarm went off and I put on the exhaust fan as the alarm screamed ‘Fire! Fire! and the dog barked. Note to self: in the future, turn on the vent fan and broil for 5 minutes.

They came out looking like this:

They came out juicy and had some crunchy parts on the skin, the crumbly bits from the bacon added a nice flavor, as did the bacon fat, and the grease contained enough salt that adding additional salt was unnecessary.

The kid texted she was hungry and I told her about these. She seemed excited. When she came home she didn’t go near them. Didn’t tell me why, just ate leftover pasta.

Would I make it again? Yeah. Except for the fire alarm part it was a pretty darn easy recipe to make. I did have to pour off some of the bacon grease/chicken juice when I turned it over because it was too high for the shallow pan.

But is it keto? Trick question. Of course. The is zero carbs – I had three today and my ketones are at 2.1 mmol/L right now and I had the last one an hour ago.

EOM

Quick update for anyone that cares (Bacon is mentioned)

First: not dead yet. I *do* have a cardiologist that sees this fat old fuck walk into his office and he is *sure* there has to be something wrong with my ticker. I had bloodwork not too long ago which – except for my cholesterol being out of whack from my crappy eating at the time, everything was normal. Not having any alcohol for the 2 months prior to the bloodwork seemed to correct the wonky liver enzymes from the last bloodwork so it seems my liver is happy about my decision to quit drinking.

I’m ok with it too. It was just a way of passing time that I tended to be over enthusiastic for.

I’m guessing if the liver enzymes fixed themselves my liver is not too far gone – I guess. I’ve read that ALD (Alcoholic Liver Disease) can have a pretty quick onset. From the first time you go to the doc for the symptoms you’re having, you could have a month to live.

And now past 90 days I still feel gradual improvements. I don’t act nor feel as old as I did – even eating junk – when drinking.

So anywho, as I’ve entered my 7th decade and turned 60, this is when you’re well past warranty and parts start to wear out – especially if you didn’t maintain the vehicle like you were supposed to. So when my doc gave me an EKG he found a ‘Right Branch Bundle Block’ and that’s why I’m seeing the cardiologist.

I looked up the RBBB and it said it’s harmless sometimes. The LEFT Branch Bundle Block is the really worrysome one and I ain’t got that. So my cardiologist – a nice guy who go from room to room with his laptop balanced on one arm why he rolls his mouse around on his belly – wanted to give me a nuclear stress test. I didn’t know much about them, shrugged and said sure, then went home to read up on it. Apparently the radiation is about the same as getting 400 chest x-rays.

I gave that a big ol’ nope. I also had an echocardiogram and it was normal. I also had a stress test which showed the RBBB, naturally, but the heart doc wanted that nuclear stress test I gave the hard nope to. He countered with a ‘Stress Echo’: first, a relaxing echocardiogram – imagine a sonogram of a baby that’s growing in your chest as you’ve probably seen a sonogram. Then they make you do a stress test with, for me, is not pretty. Then they rush you back to the echocardiogram room and check out your stressed heart.

I was supposed to have that next week but I’m stalling – I canceled. I’ll get it, though. Just too many doc visits on top of one another.

This past week after Thanksgiving I just sorta decided to go on a hardcore keto diet because it’s all I know, really – I can’t be more honest. They have been failing me for the past decade since I had my appendix out, but this time I’m not attempting to drink at the same time. That makes it easier.

I’m really lazy and late Sunday I found the first keto calculator I could find, got my macros, and then – just for the fun of it – looked up bacon. I remembered ‘Dan the Bacon Man’ who ate bacon for 30-days straight and lost weight.

I looked up bacon and the nutrition profile almost matched my macros perfectly.

So I ran to the store and bought 6 packages of bacon – you have to eat 2 pounds (or what left after cooking) of bacon to get near the correct calories. I figured I’d do this until I gave meal planning more thought.

So the week has been somewhat chaotic. First off, I couldn’t eat just bacon for more than ONE day and I found myself eating some celery. So I figured I can riff on the bacon by adding low carb above ground veggies. This sorta worked, While I had bacon every day, I have some leftover cheese, some hot dogs, and some other old keto faves – but that wasn’t what I really wanted to do. I wanted to try to eat a very minimal diet of bacon, other meats, and veggies – and that’s it. I was also trying an 18:6 fast which worked sometimes.

So some days my calories were over, sometimes under, and I lost an unimpressive 5 lbs. during a chaotic week of winging it.

In the meantime I accomplished 3 goals I was too distracted to notice until now:

  • I had no takeout for a week – that’s big for me
  • I had no grains for a week – another biggie
  • I had no sugar – not a sugar fiend but I do like sweets on occasion
  • I got into ketosis and got up to 1.5 mmol/ml or whatever the measurement is

Ok – that 4 – I’m not going back and changing it.

So you know I spend Sundays working on my goals for the next week – right? Last week it was to get into a keto diet and eating less. Well, I did one, sometimes did the other, and did the 4 bullets above without thinking. The most interesting observation was the monotony of bacon made me crave green healthy things. I had no cravings for bread or takeout. That’s usually the first roadblock. Something abut the bacon, maybe.

But it made me think that if I was able to quit bread and takeout so easily, maybe I can do the same for MiO and dairy this coming week. I was lactose intolerant as a baby and maybe milk still causes issues I don’t know about because it doesn’t give me the trots?

And sucrolose – the ingredient in MiO that makes it sweet – seems to have a reputation for mucking up your gut biome.

So I had neither today.

I only had a spring mix salad with about 4oz. of cooked bacon, olive oil, apple cider vinegar (ACV), and nutritional yeast that you can shake on stuff like canned parm cheese leftover from a very brief fling with a no cheese attempt from a while ago.

I’ve been up since 5am, had only that salad, am under 1,000 calories, and now it’s nearly 7pm and I’m not hungry.

I enjoyed the salad, by the way.

I have typed this without editing as it’s been a long day, I’ve been pretty productive and busy, and it’s just a blog post…

I wonder what the coming week will be like. I am leaving out some other details just because I’m tired of typing and tired in general.

Signing off.

Instant Pot Hearty Beef and Tomato and Mushroom and Radish Soup

Hey Peeps. Last time I posted I was deep into ketosis. I screwed that up but I’m back at it with a new plan with some big changes. Not ready to get into all that yet, but I *did* slap together a decent recipe I’d like to add to my collection.

Ingredients:

  • 3 Lbs. stew meat
  • 4 – 14.5 oz. cans Hunt’s Fire-Roasted Diced Tomatoes
  • 16 oz. dry weight canned mushrooms – pieces and stems
  • 3 bunches of red radishes
  • 1 teaspoon of ‘Better than Bouillon’ beef flavored
  • 6 shakes of Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce
  • 6 shakes of salt
  • A glug or two of olive oil

This took maybe 10 minutes to prep. Open cans, open meat packages, drain mushrooms, chop radishes from their stems – a lot of work. I tossed all of this into my Instant Pot, added the salt, Lea & Perrins, the bouillon paste then put the top on the pot, made sure the little lever was set to pressurize, then pressed the ‘meat/stew’ button on the pot and walked away. Didn’t bother to vent when it beeped it was done – just let it depressurize naturally.

An hour later I was left with a ‘hearty soup’ as the kid characterized it. I thought it tasted pretty good. Then came the kid test. She added some additional spices to it though I didn’t feel the need, and had it with some crusty toasted bread with butter on it. Said she enjoyed it, mentioned how tender the meat was, and went back for more, then used the bread to mop up the final bit of soup.

The only thing I would change is next time I’d add another 1.5 Lb. package of stew meat.

Fun fact: did you know that red radishes turn white in the pressure cooker? I didn’t. Told the kid they were potatoes as she might have put her nose up to radishes.

Trader Joe’s Hearts of Palm Pasta is the low carb noodle I thought could never be

When I do the mental math that goes into my food choices, a number of variables are analyzed:

Keto-friendly – I am not so strict as I only go for 1 gram carb or less per serving foods. I’ll live a little and have found that eating things with way more carbs can keep me in ketosis while stuff with fewer carbs can knock me out. Red wine, for example, is keto-friendly for me. It screws with weight loss but doesn’t knock me out of ketosis.

Cost – Pretty important these days. I’ll probably die poor but then again there’s real benefit in dying before the money runs out. I don’t require much in the way of ‘things’. I’ve dined in Paris and had gourmet meals in the Caribbean, but I can still appreciate a good bologna sandwich on white bread. This makes me a pretty cheap date. I DO still live bathed in the echoes of my parent’s stories of growing up in the Depression and I tend to be choosy about where I spend my money.

But then I remember ‘don’t postpone joy’ and ‘the richest man in the graveyard’. These opposing ideas battle one another and sometimes it’s no contest and other times there is a grudging cold war that lingers everytime I buy some stuff.

Flavor – I rank this third because – as I said – I like bologna sandwiches on white bread. Perhaps you could say I have an ‘eclectic palate’ – or that I lack discrimination or have the palate of a dog. Mentioning I like bologna sandwiches made a friend of mine the same age as me go: ‘ewwwwww’. Another aspect of this is I am accepting of ‘variations in flavor/texture profile’ that throw other folk. Some people operate in a world where food has a name, a flavor/texture profile, and a look that must remain consistent or they will avoid that food. Me? Not so much.

The ILF (Inherent Laziness Factor) – How much time, effort, and cognitive burden must be put into prepping this? This is a scale of 1 through 10 with the highest number being better. Recipes that contain the line ‘…in a separate bowl…’ are a 5 or less just for that. A great recipe to me leaves little or nothing to wash. The phrase ‘…in one pot/pan…’ can be high as an 8.5 but no higher because it involves actual cooking.

A 10 would be ‘eating the food nearest to me’ which right now is Trader Joe’s Macadamia Nuts which would actually be less than a 10 because I have to find and open a new bag.

I made a chili early in the week, ordered all the ingredients online, browned the beef in the pot that I threw all my ingredients in, even using the chili mix instead of the spices we have, and let simmer for an hour. It was an 8.5 because there WAS a pot to clean, and a few cans to be opened and disposed of.

You might be wondering why you just read all that (and if you got this far, me, too) but it is my subconscious (up until now) scoring system for low carb food substitutions.

So let’s analyze the IHF of the Trader Joe’s Hearts of Palm Pasta (Linguine-shaped).

My heart be still…

The stuff is shelf-stable, next to the regular pastas in the store, and is essentially already cooked pasta that doesn’t need to be washed nor drained. It doesn’t clump or stick. The biggest hassle might be finding a knife to open the bag and maybe untangling a portion with a fork.

Compare this to the shiritaki noodles that come floating in water and need to be washed – only to provide a paltry amount of slightly slimy and chewy noodles. I’ve had access to them but they need to be refrigerated and, really, they weren’t worth the hassle.

Then there’s zoodles – zucchini sliced into a noodly shape with various gadgets – all of which work poorly and can even draw blood. I have used the ‘Sweeny Todd’ of the kitchen – a mandoline – an insidious kitchen tool designed from the get-go to ensure all motions with the gadget include you moving your fingers toward the sharpened blades.

With a combo of bloody experience, even if you navigate the device without blood-letting you are left with a some extra bits that tempt you to risk blood by pushing them through the gadget, and a pile of noodle-shaped zucks that you can’t use just quite yet. To use them to their best effect you want to pat them dry on some clean dishtowels and let them dry out for an afternoon. Then, you can create some tasty dishes with the stuff.

For this Hearts of Palm ‘pasta’ I cut the bag open and microwaved for 2 minutes, then dressed the top with pasta sauce, olive oil, and butter, then gave it another 2-minute or so go-round in the nuke.

Mixed afterward and covered liberally in the grated cheese in a can, I had a pasta dinner in 5 minutes – faster than if I made actual pasta. This stuff rates the rarest of the rare ILF of 10. Now Chef Boyardee canned ravioli also rates a 10 but it’s not low carb.

But the ILF is not the only thing that matters or I’d be eating the canned ravioli. Is it keto-friendly?

It sure is. The entire 9 oz. package has only 8g net carbs for goodness’ sake! It’s also filling in that I was ready to eat the entire 9oz. but only ate half last night. I think other than coffee, cream, and wine, it was the only caloric intake for the day as I’ve drifted into a one or two meal a day routine. Again – not paying too much attention to what I eat as long as it’s keto in my book – and measuring ketones and blood glucose today show blood glucose at about 106 and ketones at 1.0 – which is better than a number of days I’ve had prior.

The cost is pricy for pasta – $4 per 9oz. – but it’s not ‘pasta’, first of all, and it’s not meant to be an everyday meal. So is it worth $4? I guess this is where the flavor of it comes in.

And for flavor, it does pretty good. It is not the perfect pasta replacement but it’s damn near the closest I’ve come across. It has an almost al dente texture to it, and with pasta sauce and the other stuff you top pasta with, it is close enough.

Oh – and it’s supposedly healthy for you. Vegan, gluten-free, high-fiber. It’s even harvested in such a way that the plant that provides the noodles somehow survives the extraction, I guess like maple trees and their syrup, bees and their honey, and fruit trees. Note that I do not include ‘healthy’ in my ranking system because I find it so tiresome. Someone, somewhere, will turn up an obscure fact that a molecule found in Hearts of Palm can do something to something that can cause some people to have some reaction some time over some number of years.

Ugh! Get over it. We’re all gonna die. Life is full of bad decisions and we’ll gleefully make them willingly and unwillingly. Have some pasta and relax.

Since I don’t have a plan I’ll ask you

So I’m about 3 weeks into ketosis and at one point had probably lost about 15 lbs. from my worst to where I’m close to 10 lbs now. I lost the weight not really paying attention to what I ate, except that it came from a long list of what can be considered ‘low carb’. This can be an Atkins shake, some sliced salami, hot dogs with cheese, beef chili, and bologna.

A vegetable or two did creep in. A kid’s party resulted in 2 side salads that I ate the other day but it was just to prevent food waste mostly. Nothing really carby on these two – mostly iceberg lettuce. I haven’t really left the low carb ranch at all.

But here I am at day 21 or something like that and I have a decision to make. But I’m NOT on day 21 of anything! If you’ve read some of my recent previous posts, I didn’t intend to start a keto diet – it just sort of happened.

Since I don’t want to ask this question of myself, dear reader, I ask you: I have come to a fork in the road.

Do I keep using the keto blood tests instead of the scale as my guide? Do I let my ketones guide me – scale be damned – or do I expend the effort to ‘dial in my macros’ – and start to follow my eating so that every gram of carbs is tracked and their origin is also tracked so that I can define my low carb food triggers and accelerate weight loss? Do I monitor it it so that I determine that carbs from bologna are worse than those from olives? Or vice versa for me?

Or do I just tell myself: ‘meh – you can’t fake ketosis – if you’re in it and you’re not stressed out, don’t worry about weight. It might take 5 years – you don’t care. It isn’t the scale you’re bound to – it’s the ketones.

And even if you never lose the weight, it’s OK. It’s all about the ketones.

Which one?

Somethin’s happenin’ here

Here’s where I’m at. Since I last wrote I got COVID-19, and I got Paxlovid.

And I’m still in ketosis.

And my weight went from like 308 or 309 to about 293. Now I don’t know how long I’ve been on a diet – heck – like I said, it’s not as if I started a diet but rather fell into a diet. I could probably dig up the exact numbers but the thought bores me.

I’m also not really tracking what I eat. Mostly meat and cheese. Some veggies and sausages, burgers and cheese, some eggs, an Atkins shake here and there, and of course coffee and cream. There’s also been some wine – not too much as the Paxlovid can hammer on the liver and I would like to keep it running for at another decade at least.

As to the rest of my life I haven’t changed routines much – more that my routines have changed in the way I respond to them. As I mentioned, I was a doom-scroller, going from link to link, watching the end of the World unfold in 20 different ways at the same time in between Ads for shoes and odd industrial equipment that the ad-bots think I might purchase for some reason (no thank you, I do not need a manometer).

But I am numb to it. I read the news. I understand it. But it doesn’t touch me anymore. I have some intense pressure in work, but there I am also calm. Or numb. Despite some catcalls from the crowd at the moment, I’m performing. I’m present (at least now that I am over the worst of the COVID that is), I have to make things happen, I have to have ideas, and have the passion to convey them to others, but it’s almost as if I am doing it by remote control.

Going back to the food, while I have been surrounded by things I can’t eat, there’s not much of an impact on my psyche. I was eating a lot of takeout and I just…stopped. I’ve even gotten the kid takeout and it really didn’t register.

This all feels, well, unusual. This total noncommittment – a lack of investment in things I felt invested in just recently – makes me wonder: is this the beginning of Mild Cognitive Decline? The first steps on the slippery slope to vascular dementia or Alzheimer’s? Am I beginning ‘the long goodbye’?

Then I think to myself: gee, this seems a deep look at the notion that one might be losing one’s mind – losing one’s grasp on what a diet is supposed to be, what is going on in the world, and in my job, and in the rest of my life – is this the type of thinking that comes along with a cognitive decline? Do people in decline have such thoughts?

Or could this be some transition I am going through where I shed some of my Ego and ease into my 60s leaving behind some of the earnestness – or something else I can’t put my finger on – and just stop fighting some things? Like the diet. Like turning 60 soon. Like the world going to Hell.

Being in Ketosis for a few weeks isn’t it – I’ve found it can lead to personality change before – certainly a calmness from stable blood sugar at least – but I felt this way prior to starting the diet.

Might, despite my overthinking, it be the beginning of somthing as simple as spending a lifetime overthinking only to actually finish?

As simple as the answer to the old joke: why did the chicken cross the road? Or is even that not really as simple as it appears?

Gluttony – a scene from the movie ‘The Loved One’

I am supposed to be working but I woke up with a head cold and brain fog (COVID home test read negative) so I have been wasting my time just surfing the web – but focusing on diets / low carb / being fat = anything but the news. I have gone on a ‘news diet’ before and while I might be uninformed, it does wonders for my mental health.

So I’m surfing around and I came across one of the most bizzare scenes from a bizzare movie from 1965 called ‘The Loved One’. It was marketed as ‘The motion picture with something to offend everyone’. There is no nudity or swearing, but this absurdist satire about the funeral industry with an all-star cast for the 1960s is certainly offensive in so many ways – this is only 3 minutes from a full-length movie – the entire movie has scenes equally…well, whatever you want to label this.

If art is supposed to elicit a response that lasts beyond your initial exposure to it, this is art. It is also disturbing in a way I cannot describe. It’s not ‘ha-ha funny’ – satire isn’t like that. I think of satire as being cut with a blade so sharp you don’t feel the cut and only notice it when you see blood.

With THAT intro I will not be offended if you quit reading here. I’ll bet most of you have never heard of this movie. And you might not want to watch the link that follows.

What this particular scence is doing on this blog is portraying ‘gluttony’. We the fat know that many of us are still fat despite portion control and exercise – but this clip is what many thin folks think of when see how much we weigh.

How to Make Sure You Fail On Your Diet (repost)

I’m doing something I never really did before: reading my own posts to see if they have any value to me now. It’s a great substitute for reading the news – that’s for sure.

I came across this snarky number from 2014 and though it dovetails nicely with my post on how I might fail this time around. Some good pointers on ensuring failure.

So how am I going to fail on my diet THIS time?

I didn’t wake up one day, jump out of bed, and exclaim to the heavens: ‘Today is the first day of my new diet!’ As I mentioned, there was no committment, No burst of excitement of a fresh start. I can’t even telly you what day I started. I just started weaning myself off of carbs gradually and over the past cuple of days I’ve had ketone measurements of 2.2 – which is pretty high – and blood glucose as low as 92 – which is amazingly low for me.

The scale is NOT keeping in sync with the dramatic numbers above. I am hovering at 300lbs. and no dramatic moves.

But because I didn’t start a diet as much as fall into one, and I don’t have any clearly defined goals, in a weird way I have insulated myself from failure. No goal means I can’t really fail on my diet – at least the weight loss aspect of it.

I feel better eating like this. The first month of ketosis can be a bit rocky and make you feel weird but carbs – the carbs I love – make me feel sick afterward.

So maybe my fate is to remain 300lbs. Maybe I eat keto to feel better. Maybe I eat keto to eat less in general and eat less crap at all. Maybe weight loss shouldn’t be the goal as much as health. Maybe one day the scale will start to be kind to me but blood glucose levels of 92 are also a good thing for a guy that with an entire family of diabetics. Neither parents nor siblings were spared. And the onset was in their 40s and 50s – and I am in my 60th year.

Maybe I take in too much arachidonic acid for Dave Brown’s taste, but despite this, my appetite lessens, cravings morph into something less severe and do not consume my time with food fantasies. My lovely daughter, God bless her, had me get pizza for her from the best pizza place in town and then waxed poetic abut how great their eggplant pizza is, maiking ‘nom-nom’ sounds as she ate. It only registered mildly.

We are not a house that normally stocks candy but a bag of different candies appeared out of nowhere and sits by the microwave where I heat up my coffee. It, too, doesn’t register too high in terms of desire or cravings.

I seemed a bit more hungry today and I had some steak, a lot of steak, actually, but I didn’t measure. Afterwards an Atkin’s shake. I’m hungry now but I’m thinking tomatoes on cheese rather than the leftover pizza.

So how am I going to fail this time? This is not negative thinking: this is engineering. When you build something, a good portion of the thought put into the design has to take in what the failure points might be and design out these failure points.

I am a ‘fan’ (if you can call it that) of failure analysis. How things break is fascinating to me. There’s a Reddit sub called r/catastrophicfailure where other failure geeks post pics and videos and some pretty smart people post there – though there is also a lot of stupid posts as well as some of the content is quite grim and disturbing so I don’t recommend it for kids or sensitive folks.

A lot of the questions are around failure points. Going back to my diet, why have I failed in the past? I think stress would weaken resolve, a lack of losing weight would make me double-down on counting and measuring what I ate (which I hate) and the cognitive burden would weaken resolve, and social events and the leftover goodies found at work nearly every day would also weaken resolve.

But if I am doing the diet because I feel better and didn’t start is as much as fall into it, and I work remote so no suprise goodies appear, will I fail for different reasons? Will I fail because I’m not being honest with myself and I really AM on a diet to lose weight and don’t know it yet? Am I doing it because the world is so out of control that this ritual makes me feel I am in control of something? Or is this just something to do out of boredom – a novelty from being bored and feeling slightly better than I did for 9 months?

I’m stumped at the moment. Any futurists out there want to predict where I’ll be a month from now?