Sunday, December 23, 2012
Several of you commented on my activity feed about canning jalapeņos and smoking sausage. Preserving foods for later consumption has always been a hobby of mine. It's both a way to keep food from spoiling and also a way to try the food in a different way.
When I have a garden, I always have too many tomatoes, too much okra, and a lot of extra peppers. The solution is canning. I make homemade tomato sauce, stewed tomatoes, and even salsa. I also make pickled okra and pickled peppers. Pictured below are some of the pickled jalapeņos I made yesterday. I added a few of my habanero peppers, and also a little sliced carrots and onion for flavor.
The smoked sausage takes a LOT longer to make. I grind up some wild hog and venison. I also grind some beef fat to make the sausage a little tastier (the other meat has no fat and would be too dry). After adding the spices and mixing it well (using a little Shiner Bock to make it easier), I stuff the mixture into natural casings. I then smoke the meat for 12-18 hours, starting at about 110 degrees and gradually moving up to 160 degrees. If you do it too fast, all the fat melts and the sausage will be too dry. I actually don't apply the smoke until the meat has an internal temperature of 125 degrees - it adheres to the meat better once the casings have dried out a little. I continue the process until the sausage has an internal temperature of 152 degrees (safe to eat without cooking). I then take the sausage out, spray cold water on it (to keep it from shrinking), and then let it hang for an hour. Finally, I put it in the refrigerator overnight to firm it up just right. It then looks like this:
Why do I like doing all of this? Maybe it is my obsession with food (ha!). But I also just enjoy making something unique that I've done myself. It tastes great and they make excellent gifts, especially this time of year. I just have to make sure I give a lot of that sausage away so I don't eat too much myself!
Friday, November 23, 2012
I've been feeling a little "down" after eating too much during Thanksgiving yesterday, but I got an "eye opener" this morning that helped get me back on track.
I don't normally take part in the "Black Friday" shopping, but I was awake at 3:00 AM this morning, so I decided to wait in line for an hour for a smoker I really wanted. I got the smoker (normally $329 - a limited few on sale for $179), and I also picked up 4 pairs of jeans at $9.99 each. Since the place was "crazy" with people, I decided to buy 2 of each size (38" waist and 36" waist) instead of waiting forever to try them on. I was wearing a 42" waist when I started this journey, so I figured a 38" is about right for now, and I can wear the 36" ones after I lose a little more weight. Guess what - the 36" ones fit just right! That certainly cheered up my day. I can still wear the other 2 with a belt, so I'm not going to return them. It just made me feel so good to see the progress I've made, and I'm determined not to go backwards!
While I still need to work on my choices concerning food, I'm going in the right direcion. We all "slip up" now and then, but if we just keep working at it, we can achieve anything we want to!
Saturday, November 17, 2012
We just finished week 6 of the 8-week 5% Fall Challenge. Although I never had the most weight lost for any single week, today I achieved that 5% goal and dropped 10.5 lbs during the challenge.
This accomplishment was really due to two things: consistency and commitment. I exercised hard and, for the most part, I kept my calories within my calorie range. I didn't always succeed on the calories, but looking back, I probably needed the extra calories a few times with all of the fitness activities I was doing. I also was determined to succeed - not just for myself, but also for the Teddy Bear team overall. There were many days when I really didn't feel like a lot of exercise, but I pushed myself anyway (sometimes after dark) to make sure I didn't let the team down. Perhaps my military background helped in the challenge - when you see that other team members are struggling for various reasons, you know you have to step it up meet the team objectives.
We still have two weeks to go in the challenge, and I don't plan on letting up (well maybe a little on Thanksgiving...). I hope everyone is successful in their journey to a healthier lifestyle. You can make it a reality if just commit yourself to success. I saw a great quote recently on SparkPeople:
"There's a difference between interest and commitment. When you're interested in doing something, you do it only when it's convenient. When you're committed to something, you accept no excuses; only results." (Kenneth Blanchard)
Good luck to all of you!
Saturday, November 10, 2012
As the 5% Fall Challenge makes a "virtual" trip to the Grand Canyon, I remember back to a hike I made in March of 1984 with my 10-year old son. It was a trip I'll never forget.
We were to hike down the South Kaibab trail, walk along the river, and hike back up the Bright Angel trail (15.8 miles total distance). This is a hike not recommended in a single day, but I was confident my son and I could do it with no problem.
We started out early in the morning at a comfortable temperature of 56 degrees. By the time we reached the river (almost 5,000' change in elevation), it was 82 degrees. As a former Boy Scout, I was prepared for anything that could possibly arise (or so I thought). Relaxing at the bottom with my feet in the water, I slipped on a jagged rock when I tried to stand up - leaving about a 3" cut on the bottom of my foot. No problem, I cleaned the wound, put "mole skin" around it, and covered the cut with gauze and tape.
Then we started the hike up... My sore foot made the hike very difficult and my son was actually having to wait on me in places. All of a sudden, the weather took a turn for the worse - the temperature dropped and it started to rain. No problem, I pulled out the rainjackets I brought. Then it began to hail and we had to "scrunch" under a rock ledge to keep from getting pummelled too badly. As the temperature dropped some more, the hail turned to ice and snow, and we continued our hike out. I, obviously, didn't see the weather forecast - a critical mistake on such a long hike. I had become drenched from all the wet weather, and was getting chilled as the temperature dropped below freezing. To make matters worse, I was still hiking slow from my foot injury. By the time we finally reached the top (just before dark), it was 22 degrees, and I am certain I had hypothermia - it took several hours to get warmed up - even sitting in the car with the heater on. But I felt good!
Why did I feel good? Because we had done it! Despite everything that could possibly go wrong, we still finished the hike! I learned some very valuable lessons that day. First you need to be better prepared for any difficult undertaking. Plan, plan, and plan some more. Second, it taught me a great lesson about handling challenges in life overall. Never give up when life gets tough - you may have setbacks along the way, but you can reach your goals if you just keep going. The trip may seem slow at times, but if you get there, who cares!
Good luck to all of you in your journey to a healthier lifestyle!
Tuesday, October 30, 2012
I had a freakish accident about 8 years ago and broke both of the bones in my lower right leg (freakish meaning I broke my leg jumping for beads at Mardi Gras... ). Although the doctors put it all back together with plates and screws, my tendons were a mess and they said I would never run again. This was extremely disappointing as I was an avid runner before that. I gained weight and just couldn't find another exercise I liked as well until I started going on long hikes. I tried playing softball several years ago, but the pain was always too unbearable the next day.
Anyway, to make a long story short, my recent health improvements made me want to try it again. I started my jogging slowly - only an eigth of a mile. I gradually built it up to a quarter mile, then a half mile, and then a very slow full mile. Today I ran a mile in 9:52. Nothing spectacular, BUT I WASN'T SUPPOSED TO BE ABLE TO DO IT! Although I'm tired (especially since I did strength training afterwards), the legs are fine! My right ankle is permanently swollen a little bit because of the past tendon damage, but it didn't bother me!
I won't be running a 5K within the next few months, but I do plan on getting there!
I saw a quote recently on the SparkPeople site - "A great pleasure in life is doing something that other people say you cannot do." (Walter Bagehot) I'm feeling pretty pleased right now!
Get An Email Alert Each Time WILSONWR Posts