figmo: (Default)
My right leg has been getting stronger since I started physical therapy, but my knee has been getting bigger and has been hurting a lot during the week. Last Friday I saw my orthopedist, and at the recommendation of my physical therapists, I got cortisone injections into the bad knee.

When injecting, my doctor found that there was very little fluid. Instead, I've got really badly inflamed tissue, or as he put it, "Those must be pretty bad contusions." Unfortunately, it's supposed to take around a week before the injection fully helps. Meanwhile, I am in massive pain. It is sapping my energy. I am doing my physical therapy leg exercises despite this, and I am somehow managing to get work done despite this (being able to work while lying in bed with my knee propped up helps). Still, it's frustrating. I'm told that if I don't show major improvement soon, the next step might be surgery. This scares the heck out of me.

I am at the stage where I'm not only bugged by the pain, but also by my inability to do things that I enjoy doing, such as cooking and sewing. I tried making pancakes a couple of weekends ago, and my knee never recovered from all the standing. I'm trying to come up with creative ways to cook, and my success has been limited. Basically, if I have to do too much prep or too much nonstop cooking, I'm hosed. What I have made, just to give you an idea of my creativity level:
  • Collard greens
    Take pre-cut, pre-washed bag of collard greens. Slightly open the bag in which they came, and nuke for 5 minutes. Add around 1/4 cup of bacon bits, a few dashes of sea salt, and a drop or two of Dave's Insanity hot sauce. Mix well, and nuke again for two minutes. Mix again and enjoy.
  • Taro in coconut milk
    Take pre-peeled, vacuum-packed taro root. Nuke for around 10 minutes or until softened. Cut into chunks (1/2" to 1"), and mix in a microwave-safe dish with a can of reduced-fat coconut milk and 1/2 cup of Splenda (you could use sugar, but I don't dare). Cover and nuke again for 5-10 minutes. Makes a tasty, nourishing dessert or snack that can be eaten hot or cold. (This would be much better if I cut the taro when raw and boiled it in the coconut milk, but that's more prep than I'm up to doing...sigh.)
  • Corn on the cob
    Take fresh, unhusked cob of corn. Put into microwave oven and nuke for around 6 minutes. Peel off husk and silk (it comes off easily), add butter or margarine and salt, and enjoy.
  • Peanut butter cup toast
    Toast bread. Top with peanut butter, around 1-2 tsp of unsweetened cocoa powder, and 1 packet of Splenda. Swirl while still warm.
  • English muffin pizzas
    Toast a split/sliced English muffin. Squirt on pizza sauce, and sprinkle on pre-grated mozzarella and parmesan, romano, or asiago. Sprinkle on oregano and some crushed pepper. Nuke till the cheese melts.
  • Cannoli/Blintz filling
    To ricotta or cottage cheese, add vanilla bean paste and Splenda. For cannoli filling, add a little milk to the ricotta to make it creamier; to the cottage cheese, add cinnamon.


Coming up when I am able to tolerate straight sitting for longer: Cheater's Cannoli.
figmo: (Default)
Today's experiment: Sugar-Free Nutella.

After much research and some experimentation, I wound up with the following recipe:
  • 1 c pre-shelled hazelnuts
  • 1/2 c unsweetened cocoa powder (the higher the fat, the better)
  • 1/2 c dry nonfat milk powder
  • 1/3 c artificial sweetener or the equivalent - 8 packets (you might want to use a few more)
  • 3/4 cup milk (I used nonfat)
  • 6 T walnut oil (I'd have used hazelnut oil if I'd had it available)
  • 1/4 c warm water
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
To make the not-tella:
  1. Get the skins off the hazelnuts. They taste bitter.
  2. Put the hazelnuts into the work bowl of your food processor and process for at least five minutes. You're trying to get this as close to a nut butter as possible.
  3. When the nuts are mostly a pasty glob, add the sweetener, milk powder, and fake sweetener.
  4. Once the aforementioned ingredients are combined and well-blended, add the cocoa powder 1/4 cup at a time, blending well between additions.
  5. Add the milk 1/4 cup at a time, incorporating each 1/4 cup before adding the next.
  6. Add the walnut oil, 1 T at a time.
  7. Add the warm water, drizzling it in slowly.
  8. Add the vanilla extract and blend until totally mixed.
Your Not-tella will be spreadable and immediately usable; if you'd like it a bit thinner, add more water.

This can be kept in the refrigerator in a sealed container for a week or two, depending upon the freshness of the ingredients.
figmo: (Default)
I called the Mac repair shop today. The logic board arrived, but they sent the shop the wrong one. I'll be lucky if I see Big Gay Al before Christmas. This mega-sucks, because I have family recipes on that beastie. I feel crippled without my PowerBook. I am afraid to do much on Windows for fear I'll infect my system with Yet More Malware and have to wipe it out Yet Again. I am hoping beyond hope that I'll have Big Gay Al back on my lap (where he belongs) by this time tomorrow.

I wanted to do baking this past day, but somehow I never got around to it. I hope to do some virtual tomorrow (yes, it's technically Tuesday, but in my mind it's "extended Monday"). I'm making dinner for Warren's folks Friday night, and I am much looking forward to it. I have persimmons that are ripe, I bought some dried "Just Persimmons" to hopefully avert The Persimmon Pudding Disaster Of 2006. Given the season, I want to send them home with something nice, too.
figmo: (Default)
Based on the results of this attempt, I decided to try again, this time aiming to get a fudgier texture.

The ingredients:
  • 2 Sorbee Dark Chocolate bars
  • Enough Guittard Oban chocolate liquor wafers (unsweetened chocolate) to bring the total weight up to 12 ounces
  • 1 can evaporated milk
  • 1 can evaporated skim milk
  • 1/2 stick (4 T) butter
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1.5 cups erythritol
  • 1 packet unflavored gelatin powder (IIRC 1 T)
  • 1/4 cup nonfat milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
Directions (or what I did, anyway):

Line a pan with cooking parchment (I once again used the 9x7 one, but suspect an 8x8 pan would be okay). Do allow excess parchment to hang outside the pan; you'll be using it later to help remove the fudge.

Combine chocolate, erythritol, the evaporated milk, butter, and salt in a saucepan, stirring off and on as the chocolate melts.

Between stirs, pour the 1/4 cup of nonfat milk into a microwaveable dish, then sprinkle the gelatin on it and allow it to "bloom" for 10 minutes.

Once it has melted, stir briskly, beating with a whisk if necessary, to combine.

Microwave the bloomed gelatin/milk mixture till the gelatin dissolves, stirring every 30 seconds to combine.

Slowly pour the gelatine/milk into the chocolate in the saucepan, beating/stirring briskly to incorporate.

Pour fudge mixture into the parchment-lined pan. Refrigerate until hardened.

The verdict:

The texture was much better. It was a tad gritty (I suspect I should have melted the chocolate separately from the erythritol and liquid heating), and it was a tad bittersweet for my taste, although the bittersweet aspect seemed to grow on me and the first few folks who tried it. I brought half the batch to a party last night where champagne was being served, and those of us who tried the fudge with the champagne felt the bittersweet aspect of it complemented the wine beautifully.

At worst, I've made something I can nuke back down into The World's Greatest Sugar-Free Hot Fudge Sundae Sauce. At least I took notes so I can recreate this if I ever want a huge batch of sundae topping!

For next time, I think this recipe was very close except for the overabundance of chocolate to the point where it was almost too bitter.
figmo: (Default)
The premise: I'm told erythritol caramelizes like sugar.
The experiment: Make a tarte tatin-like food that's totally sugar-free (or no sugar added) and see how it comes out.

The food geek stuff is behind the cut-tag for those of you who don't cook. There's some science geek stuff, though, so you might.... ) The top crust was a little darker than I'd have liked, but when I turned it upside down onto my plate, it looked -- okay. Any hint of caramel-anything from the now-top was gone, but it still looked pretty good because I had artfully arranged the apple slices and because the top had molded to the shape of the dish.

The flavor was excellent, albeit a tad oversweet from the now-dissolved erythritol, but it was also very filling (yaay!), healthy, and felt like a special treat. I think I'll just use the Torani syrup next time, as it'd make the whole thing much easier.

Calories: 237
Carbohydrates: 26.4g
Fat: 6.6g (mostly from the egg)
Fiber: 4g
Protein:19g
figmo: (Default)
The mission: Create a sugar-free fudge that doesn't contain nut butters or cream cheese. Ideally, create a sugar-free fudge that tastes and has the mouth-feel of The Real ThingTM.

I've been reading sugar-free and regular fudge recipes on the Internet for the last week. Regular fudge usually uses sugar or corn syrup as its thickening agent. Too many sugar-free recipes stick in cream cheese or peanut butter, both of which IMHO do weird things to the flavor. I don't want sour fudge, and I don't want chocolate-peanut fudge. More about what went into Try #1 behind the cut-tag so those of you who don't cook can skip it. )

The end result had a decent flavor profile but was a little "off" texture-wise. Warren tried it and (accurately) remarked, "it's a little Jell-o-ey." It kind of looks like fudge, kind of tastes like it (oddly enough, I think it needs more salt!), but the mouth feel wasn't quite right. I am guessing I need more fat in it -- way more fat -- and perhaps might have a better result if I made it with standard (4% fat) milk (which I don't normally keep on hand), cream (which I also don't normally keep on hand), or regular (not skim) condensed milk. I also wonder how using a sugar alcohol, such as erythritol (which I do have) might have made a difference.

Any other suggestions are welcome.

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