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Thursday, October 30, 2008

World Champions!






video

With all the media coverage of the Phillies World Series Win of 2008, there's not much need for me to recap what happened. The Drought is Over! No more Reign Delay! WE WIN! As to be expected, South Philly erupted into a frenzy all along Broad Street. I've nearly lost my voice from yelling and screaming and running around in the cold, cheering along with thousands of other crazed Phans. It was an amazing fun time, and the amount of people swarming along Broad Street, surfing on the tops of cars, climbing light poles and otherwise dancing in the streets was a sight to behold. Back in 1980, I was all of 13, too young and not living in South Philly to enjoy the impromptu parade. In 1993, the Phillies didn't clinch the title, so our parade was delayed for the next 15 years. I had to experience the rush first hand. My neighbors, Fabrizio and Michele, their dog, Esmeralda, and I headed up to Broad and Mifflin. Later, Liz met up with us and the four of us watched in amazement and bit of shock as people packed cars 10 or more full, spilling out of windows and doors. Some sights were funny, others were scary, such as watching young kids stomp on top of cars and on occasion, break car windows. We witnessed people climbing onto the backs of pick-up trucks, dragging down the back of the cab. A flat-bed tow truck had the misfortune to get stopped at Broad and Mifflin; within seconds, people were flying onto the back of it, turning it's empty cargo area into a silver surfing platform. Stilt walkers, giant billboard sized Phillies "P", a man in Joe Biden Mask; Silly String squirting all over. It felt like New Years' Rockin' Eve! I can only imagine what the real parade will be like on Friday. Until then, enjoy the photos and video. I'm sure I'll have more to come!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Halloween Cakes



Allow me a cooking diversion, to clear my mind from baseball and foul weather. Tis the season for Halloween goodies. Found this fun silicone mold at the cookware store mecca - Williams-Sonoma; six decent sized cakelets, 3 pumpkins, a ghost, a bat and a witch. If you haven't used silicone bake ware you have to try it out. Incredible details, quick release and easy to use. And this one is a Halloween theme, my favorite holiday. The cakes, quick breads really, were from a mix that is sold at Williams-Sonoma, Chocolate Peanut butter Quick Bread. I'm not much for baking from scratch, as much as I love my desserts, baking is not my thing. There are so many good bakeries around where I can just find something good, why bother to bake? Of course, there is that thing called trans fats to avoid, excess sugars, highly saturated processed goodies. To combat these devilish side effects, I've devised a way to make a box mix, even a good mix, even better and good for you. If you find yourself wandering around Williams-Sonoma pick up a package of this mix. It's not cheap, $10.50 for a package, good thing I have a discount, but well worth the splurge. To make the mix low/non-fat here's what I did:

Replace the 1 Stick of Butter with one 5 to 6 ounce container of non-fat plain Greek Style-Strained Yogurt(Fage pronounced Fae eh; Oikos,Chobani, or Trader Joe's Greek Style)
Replace the 2 eggs with either 1 whole egg and 1 egg white or 1/2 cup of Egg Beaters/Egg White Substitute
Replace the 3/4 Cup Water with 1/2 Cup Brewed and Cooled Coffee (it makes the chocolate taste more chocolatey)
Bake - 12-15 minutes, rotating the pan and testing to see if the cakes are done.

Note - the mix only works as a loaf bread or in the silicone molds. I've tried them in mini and regular sized muffin cups. The peanut butter chips sink to the bottom and caramelize, making it impossible to get the cupcakes out in one piece.

This recipe adaptation is a good way to reduce the calories and fat in any box mix. Substitute the oil and butter with either 1/4 cup or up to 6 ounces of unsweetened applesauce, or pumpkin puree. I love to switch out the liquid with coffee, juice or booze (sweeter liquors work best); as for the eggs, I don't get crazy with removing all the yolks, but I do like to eliminate some and just use egg whites. Every little bit helps. Almost makes your semi-homemade desserts not so sinful.

Go Phillies!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Baseball, Interupted

Bud Selig has to be the worse thing that has ever happened to baseball. He is a despicable excuse of a human being and a terrible baseball commissioner. As Angelo Cataldi said today on the WIP morning sports show, Bud Selig has ruined baseball. The only other person who has wrecked such damage on the American psyche and spirit - George W. Who, by the way, had he been picked to be the baseball commissioner when he was involved with the Texas Rangers would have surely wrought havoc on our greatest national past-time sport, but possibly we could have avoided the havoc and hostility he caused to the entire United States. I guess you can figure out, I am royally pissed today, along with the rest of Philadelphia and Phillies Phans. We've been momentarily cheated of our place in baseball history. Along with the cold and rain, there is nothing more depressing than a major event interrupted at an inopportune time. Mitch Williams - "WILD THING" was jawing off this morning about the unfairness of Cole Hamels (the phenomenal dreamy Phillies pitcher) having to pitch the top of the 6th inning in adverse nasty conditions; our outfielders having to stand in mud and rain puddles; yet the cry-baby Tampa Bay Rays didn't have to face these conditions when it was the Phillies time at bat. I quite agree. BOO Bloody BOOHOOHOO. Oh, the Phillies Fans are too tough and rough on the Rays' Fans. Oooh, the fans are making it tough on the Rays' baseball players. The fans behavior and loudness is hurting their confidence and ability to play. Cry me a river. What the heck did the Rays think they would be facing? Nuns? Saints? Deaf Mutes? What would have happened had they played the Mets? Think the Philadelphia fans are crazy, try any other sports intense city. Look at Boston - Red Sox Nation is horrid. I know first hand, having sat in an area that became a mini-Red Sox Nation at Citizens's Bank Ballpark several years ago when the Sox played against the Phils. Those fans out screamed, out yelled and out misbehaved all the Phillies fans in the Cit that night. Tampa Bay - your team is young. Grow up.
Good going MLB and Mr. Selig. Keep on chasing that mighty dollar. If you haven't nearly ruined baseball with the steroid crisis, the strike of 1994, surely you are doing your part to rain on the Phillies Parade of 2008. Baby, we're not dead yet. We've still go a lot of Fightin' left in us. Go PHILS!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Spreading the Phillies Love

I have been so busy, too busy in fact, to really devote thoughts and time to writing. Work at the Shul has been odd due to the month of High Holidays. Working at Williams-Sonoma, one or two shifts a week, and getting in a few tours here and there with City Food Tours, as well as studying and practicing my tour materials. Not much time left over for feeling inspired to write, recipe develop or even bike much for that matter! Frankly, I've been feeling bereft of ideas and inspirations, I've been in a definite low-grade funk lately which has not been aided by my lack of work outs, biking and exercise in general. I realize now that I've become slightly addicted to exercise. There could be worse things to get addicted to, food, drugs, booze, baseball. Oh, wait, I am addicted to baseball! The Phillies! How great have these series play-offs been? Fantastic! Last night, for game 4, you could hear the roar of the crowd at Citizens Bank Ballpark all the way in our neighborhood, nearly 2 miles away! It was a still night, with the winds most likely blowing northwest out of the ballpark. Every time a great pitch, hit or play was made, the uproar and cheers would carry down 9th and 10th Streets into the heart of South Philly. It was amazing to hear, made it feel like we were at the ballgame. I hope my next entry will be about the madness and parties I'll see tonight after the big win. In the meantime, here are a few inspiring sights of Phillies love I've spied around the neighborhood and city.



Monday, October 20, 2008

Biketoberfest 2008: Drive 1st, Drink Later

What a fine way to spend a sunny and chilly Sunday afternoon. Sue S. - my biking partner and now, Driving Instructor, and I went to the Bicycle Coalitions Biketoberfest 2008 event at Dock Street Brewery, 51st and Baltimore Avenue. Earlier in the day, Sue came to pick me up and to take me for some driving lessons at an empty parking lot area down around Columbus Boulevard aka Delaware Avenue. We - I, drove through the parking lot and then we actually went onto a service road that runs parallel to Delaware Avenue near Oregon Avenue. For those of you who are unaware, I don't drive. I have never driven! I don't have a driver's license, yet, and have for all of my adult life, been scared to learn and in the ensuing years, I have built up a major amount of neurosis around driving. I've got to hand it to Sue, she not only pushed me on the why's of why I don't drive, but pursued the question to the point of just saying, we're doing it. Which made the first lesson a good one. Without having to wait for me to make a decision, the choice was just put forward to me. It helped a lot since I tend to do what I do best, procrastinate and do nothing.

Our first lesson went well. I figured out how to start and stop, turn and sort of park. We picked up some speed and I felt more comfortable with the car in general as our lesson progressed. I just have to figure out how to become "one with the vehicle", which unlike riding a bike, I don't know how this happens. The bicycle becomes an immediate extension of my body. A car is huge and it surrounds you. I'm not quite sure how you figure out how to drive, be aware of your surroundings and not freak out at the cars turning and stopping around you, but I guess I'll get it eventually. Everyone keeps telling me if I can ride my bike in traffic, I can drive. I hope!

After our lesson, Sue drove us up to the Bicycle Coalition's Biketoberfest celebration. We hung out at Dock Street Brewery for a few hours, and I enjoyed a few pints of Pumpkin Ale, brats and pizza. Since Sue was the designated driver, she slowly sipped one ale. A roaming photographer snapped a bunch of photos of the event, and lo and behold, Sue and I appeared in a few. Alex Doty of the Bike Coalition is talking to us, asking if we would like to buy a raffle ticket to win a new bike. It looked like a nice bike, but as neither of us needs another bike, we passed on the raffle. Now if it had been a mountain bike or cross-breed, I might have purchased a chance to win it. For $5 to $20, who could argue with another bicycle purchase? From the photos put up online at the Philly Bike Coalition's Flickr page, it looks like the right person won the Lager Bike raffle. Besides, I had too many beers to drink to allow any more driving of any sort - cars or bikes.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

On the Road to the World Series!

In case you have been in a coma or living in a cave with a terrorist named Osama Bin Laden, The Phillies clinched the Pennant last night to win the National League Division Title for the Best Team in the National League for 2008! Yeah! Thank You Phillies! Now we head into the World Series, but first there is a bit of celebrating to do. I was at Misconduct Tavern, a bar at 15th & Locust Street last night, watching the final innings of Game 5 vs the Los Angeles Dodgers. It was the most exciting shared communal television view experience as any I can remember. Certainly lightens my memories of other news worthy television events that I've witnessed in my lifetime - The Clarence Thomas/Anita Hill trial and the infamous OJ Simpson Trial. The Phillies win is the highlight of the low lights of being with strangers on the street all watching in anticipation the outcome of a major, almost life altering event. Strange that these are the tv memories I have, but there they are. Glad that the Phillies are on the positive side. Here are some of the sights and fans of the winning final inning.

Waiting for the final pitch and catch of Game 5.
This is our friend, Colleen applauding a great final inning.
Fans cheering Ruiz's awesome catch to win the game.
Group Hugs are about to ensue!

Fightin' Phils rally towel as a shirt.
The parking lot might be full, but the phans are hungry for a win!
Signs of the Season are everywhere! Halloween, Phillies and Obama - Perfect Together!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Gingered Carrot and Pumpkin Soup


Soup Season is here, or it ought to be. The topic of conversation at my weekly Weight Watchers meetings has been about how we have 12 weeks remaining for the year. 12 weeks can you believe it? Our leader discussed ways to realize our goals and dreams and remake ourselves over in the next 12 weeks. Soup is a part of the 12 week/12 step program. Go figure. It was the first topic covered last week and is one of the smarter food choices you can make when trying to lose weight. The idea is that soup is nourishing, filling and should be full of low-point and good for you vegetables. Like the ad states, Soup is Good Food.

I very much enjoy making soup but I don't enjoy eating it nearly as much. It's a mental/stomach thing. I love the way I can make a lot of soup from few ingredients. I love that I can pack in tons of flavors with minimal effort. When I worked at the mostly vegetarian restaurant at the Reading Terminal Market, soups were our main menu items. I was the soup queen when I worked at Whole Foods Market, making stocks from the hundreds of rotisserie chicken carcasses and creating good food from almost nothing. Soup appeals to the frugal side of my soul. However, I haven't always been satisfied with eating soup because as an over-eater, I often find myself wanting a more hearty meal. Loads of bread, sandwiches, a fat-laden meat and potatoes kind of meal. 65 pounds ago (yep, it's official, I've now lost 65 pounds), I liked soup, but it was not my first meal choice. Now I see the error of my ways. Start off with a vegetable based soup and you may find that you will eat less, or at least eat the rest of your meal slower, while filling up quickly.

As the topic at my Monday Night WW meeting lead to discussions on how to make healthier soups, I wanted to share this version of a carrot puree soup. Once again, it's a variation on an old favorite of mine. Usually I use an Idaho potato, but with it being pumpkin season, I switched out the potato for the pumpkin. I found this version to be creamier and more visually appealing. It is practically non-fat and completely vegetarian/vegan. It's basically a five ingredient dish, not counting salt, pepper, oil and water: Carrots, Onions, Garlic, Ginger and Pumpkin Puree. It takes about an hour to make which is mostly the cooking time. Here's a step by step how to for this extremely satisfying and curiously creamy vegan low-fat soup.

Gingered Carrot Pumpkin Soup Ingredients:

  • 1 Tablespoon Vegetable or Olive Oil
  • 4 Cups Diced Carrots (about 6 large carrots) - peeled,cleaned and medium dice
  • 1 Large White Onion - large dice
  • 2 Tablespoons Ginger - Minced (about a 2-inch piece, peeled and minced)
  • 3 Cloves Garlic - minced
  • 4 Cups Cold Water
  • 2 Teaspoons Salt
  • 1 Cup Pumpkin Puree
  • Salt and White Pepper to taste
Directions:
  1. In a large heavy bottomed stock pot, heat the tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat until it shimmers.
  2. Saute/sweat the onions and carrots for about 8 minutes, until the onions turn translucent, the carrots start to release their water and the onions are starting to take on a golden color.
  3. Add in the minced ginger and garlic and stir to combine.
  4. Pour in 4 cups of cold water and bring the mixture to a boil.
  5. Reduce heat; add the 2 teaspoons of salt and keep the mixture at a gentle simmer for about 25 minutes.
  6. Check the soup, when the carrots are fork tender but not falling completely apart turn the heat off.
  7. Strain the solids from the liquid, reserving the broth. Set the vegetables aside in a large bowl for about 10 minutes to cool before pureeing.
  8. Working in small batches, puree the carrot, onion and ginger mixture in a food processor or blender - CAREFULLY! The vegetables are still hot and will feel like napalm on your skin if it splashes on you!
  9. Use some of the reserved broth to thin the soup and to get the puree to whiz in the food processor or blender.
  10. Add each batch of puree back to the stock pot. When you are finished pureeing the carrot mixture, stir in the cup of pumpkin puree and any remaining broth. Stir thoroughly to combine.
  11. Taste and adjust seasonings with salt and white pepper. Use white pepper, since the black would appear as annoying little specks, and this soup is all about the gorgeous orange color.
  12. Serve hot with pumpkin seeds as a garnish (optional). Makes about 6 cups of soup.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Photos of the Week - October 6 to 12

A special shout out to all of you who have been following my blog! Hello out there Lynette, Dana, Jen, David, Leslie, Renee, Lisa, Rabbi, the Susan's and Sue's, Roger and Astrid and many other readers! It gives me such a thrill to know that you all have been following my journey of cooking, biking and photography. I do try to write as much and as often as I can but sometimes time just gets away from me - what with all the cooking, biking, photography and that pesky thing called my many jobs! To be frank (and no, I'm not cross dressing here letting you onto my alter-ego named Frank, his name is David anyway...), because honesty and being forthright and upfront are a few of the qualities for which I am known (those and for just plain speaking my mind and inserting my foot into my mouth a lot. Good thing my shoes are tasty.) I'd rather be biking and cooking and taking pictures so I could be writing about my three passions more often. But we have to be able to afford to eat and pay for my hobbies and the clothes that they require, so off to my jobs I must go. And oh, I do love my jobs, even though I can bitch about the High Holiday ticket debacles and what whinny bridezilla or greedy inept groom we've had to deal with for a registry at the pot and pan heaven. I love my co-workers fiercely and have formed many a close bond with so many people with whom I work. As you know, if it weren't for the Rabbi, I wouldn't be biking. If it weren't for my team of co-workers and managers at Williams-Sonoma, I wouldn't be able to afford cool kitchen gadgets or have met the guys for City Food Tours. So in celebration of my jobs, which affords me the possibilities of my life I pay homage to the daily grind and say, thank you! And now onto my regularly scheduled installment in the life of the Bicycle Chef!


Praying Angel and Go Phils #6 (that would be Ryan Howard by the way). Found this charming scene around 20th & Delancey Street in Center City on Saturday, October 11th.




















Just when I thought all of the folks in my neighborhood had lost their minds and were all voting a McPalin Ticket, I came across this sign that just gave me pause and hope. Say no more!




















I've been finding random shoes left in random places all over the city. The great thing about always having a camera is that I can snap this images just as soon as I spot them. Case in point, here are a perfectly good pair of Aerosol Shoes that someone left next to a cup of Dunkin Donuts Coffee, on top of a Philadelphia Weekly newspaper box. I have several pairs of shoe photos at my Flickr photo website. Check it out sometime. And if you care, send me photos of found shoes too. I'll add them to my growing collections.


And speaking of my photo collections, I've also been documenting cool and unusual bikes or mopeds that I've seen in my travels. On Tuesday, October 7th, we spotted this van outside of Via Bicycle loaded with used bikes and spilling onto the street behind it. Via is a used bike shop that specializes in old bikes and great repair work. My guess is there are over 100 bikes loaded up here. On another bike excursion this week, I spotted a man on a bike with a dozen or more bike wheels and parts strapped to his back, body and bike. I didn't have time to snap a photo though, so I'll have to keep on the lookout for this fellow again. I suspect he's a regular in my neighborhood who does a lot of salvaging and scavenging for scrap.

If you enjoy these photos, don't forget, you can click on my photo sight to the right of these entries. I have a Flickr Photoshow running with my most recent uploads. At my Flickr sight you can see more than 2,000 of the images I've captured in the past two years. Whew! I told you all I'm busy! My Flickr ID is Neenyd03 in case you want to do your own search!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Turkey Vegetable and Pumpkin Chili

This is a recipe totally inspired by the Fall Season. I have a basic chili recipe which I vary to suit the season and what I have on hand at any given moment. Anyone who read my old blog at Yahoo! will immediately recognize this recipe adaptation. I've made the chili for cooking classes I've taught; cooked gallons of it for a church supper; and I make pots of it around this time of year to put up in the freezer to keep for the next several months. The secret to my chili - layering flavors. I start with sauteing onions, carrots, garlic and then bell peppers. Next I add in the dry seasonings to toast and coax out their flavors. I add a good dark or amber beer, a shot of coffee or instant coffee powder. Sometimes I add cocoa powder for even more flavors. Before I add any other liquid ingredients, I finish with sauteing the squash and zucchini. Add in the beans, then add the tomato sauce, pumpkin puree, water, if it's needed, and then the corn. Before I'm done, I add in more dry seasonings and some fresh cilantro, to ramp up the flavors a bit more. Slowly simmer the chili for at least an hour, or cook it in a slow cooker for several hours. Serve over brown rice. You can omit the meat, or use ground beef or ground chicken. To make this completely vegetarian, skip the meat and either use soy crumbles or Bulgar wheat. This chili is packed full of flavor, vegetables, fiber and protein. You could eat it morning noon or night!

Ingredients:

  • 1 Pound Lean Ground Turkey
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil - divided
  • 1 Large Onion– peeled & medium dice
  • 5 Medium Carrots - peeled & medium dice
  • 6 Garlic Cloves—finely minced
  • 2 Tablespoons Cumin
  • 1/4 Cup Ancho Chili Powder
  • 1 Tablespoon Oregano
  • 1 Tablespoon Instant Coffee or 1/4 cup strongly brewed Coffee
  • 1 Large Red Bell Pepper— medium dice
  • 1 Large Green Bell Pepper - medium dice
  • 1 Medium Zucchini—small/medium dice
  • 1 Medium Yellow Squash—small/medium dice
  • 3 Cans Beans: Black Beans, Kidney & White or Pinto Beans (15-16 oz each) – drained & rinsed
  • 1 Large Can Tomato Puree Sauce (20 ounces or more)
  • 1 14 Ounce Can Pure Pumpkin Puree
  • 2 Cups Water or 1 12 ounce bottle of a good quality dark or amber beer
  • 2 Cups Frozen Corn
  • 1/2 cup packed Cilantro– minced
  • Salt & Freshly Ground Pepper—to taste

Directions:

  1. Use a stock pot, Dutch oven or other large and heavy bottomed pot. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil until it shimmers over medium-high heat.
  2. Add in the ground turkey and brown it until it is thoroughly cooked through. Remove the cooked turkey from the pot and set aside. (skip this step if make a vegetarian chili)
  3. Heat the 2nd tablespoon of olive oil in the same pot, over medium-high heat until it shimmers.
  4. Add in the onions and the carrots; saute and sweat them about 8 minutes.
  5. Add in the garlic, stir & cook another 5 minutes.
  6. Next add in all of the dry seasonings, and stir to combine & toast.
  7. Pour in the brewed coffee or instant coffee powder.
  8. Add the peppers and saute another 5 minutes.
  9. Add in the squash, zucchini, beans, tomato sauce, pumpkin puree and water or beer. Stir to combine.
  10. Add the cooked ground turkey, corn and chopped cilantro to the vegetable mixture and reduce heat to medium-low.
  11. Simmer for 40-60 minutes.
  12. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed, adding in additional cumin, chili, oregano, dried garlic powder, salt and pepper.
  13. Garnish with freshly chopped cilantro.
  14. Makes about 1 gallon of chili or enough to last several meals and still freeze some for the rest of the year!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Fall Comforts: Biking and Cooking

Sunday - October 5th: A gorgeous fall day in Philadelphia. The Fantastic News - The Phillies won the National League East Division Title and move onto the Pennant Race, one series closer to the World Series. WOOHOO! I couldn't be more excited, I've been on a wacky high from their win. While all the news of my day hasn't been the most stellar, the Phillies winning the division went a long way in making what has been a stressful few weeks a lot better. Exercise endorophines help especially after a long bike ride or good run at the gym. Because of my work schedules, I have not been to the gym as often as I should. I think I was there once in the past week. Biking has been better, though I'm not riding as much as I want either. It's too dark and chilly for my 6:30 am rides, and it gets too dark for an early evening ride after work. Sue S. and I got in 3 or 4 rides in the last week, with today's being the longest and best - 33 miles, out to Pennypack Park in the Northeast section of Philadelphia. We cut our ride a few miles short in order to get home earlier than planned. It's fun to take a ride to a new destination, exploring parts of Philadelphia that I don't know or have never seen before. Adss a bit of momentum and adventure to our rides. Each bike ride also adds on the mileage without my realzing it. I have more than 700 miles on the bike odometer since I bought it in July; I added another 140 miles within the past three weeks. Not bad considering I haven't been consistent riding since I returned from our beach vacation.
Today's amazing perfect weather day inspired me to make a few comfort foods for Liz and I. We needed the nourishment and sustenance to help right our blah moods. I've come to learn in the year that I've been in the Weight Watchers program, that food and eating cannot solve one's problems. However, cooking is what I know best and it does serve a therapeutic purpose in helping me to relieve stress, feed my soul, and allow me to take cake of those that I love. What I have learned is that while food cannot be a substitute for problem solving it can be good for you if you learn to cook healthy. In the end, eating well and healthy can be an aid to helping one feel better. You have to not over-indulge and avoid the issues that are the real root problem.
Tonight I made two perfect Fall Comfort Food Classics - Roast Pork Shoulder with Apples, Carrots and Sweet Onions with Ale and a Low-Fat Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Peanut Butter Frosting. Both dishes were relatively low fat, simple and full of vegetables. The pork was easy to make - an inexpensive shoulder roast with rib bones, trimmed of visible fat. Seasoned with salt and pepper and seared in a hot dutch oven pan. Took the pork out and sauteed sweet onions, garlic and carrots until they were tender and beginning to caramelize. Added some BBQ 3000 Seasoning from Penzey's (a mixture of salt, paprika, black pepper, nutmeg, mustard, allspice, citric acid, garlic powder, ginger, sage, thyme, white pepper, cinnamon, and natural smoke flavor). Deglazed the pan with a bottle of Hop Devil Ale and added in 2 peeled and diced golden delicious apples. Put the pork into the pan and submerged it under all the vegetables. Covered the dutch oven and put it in the oven set at 400 degrees and roasted the pork for close to 4 hours until the meat was tender and falling off the bones. I served the roast pork over mashed potatoes made with 1/4 cup of warmed skim milk and light butter. On the side I had grilled zucchini and squash.

For the chocolate cake - it was a Deceptively Delicious recipe that I altered slightly to reduce the fat. The recipe calls for using a box cake mix - I used a Devils' Food box mix. You add a cup of pumpkin puree, 2 whole eggs, 1 egg white, 1 small container (5.3 or 6 ounces) of plain, non-fat Greek yogurt, 1/2 cup water or cold coffee, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Mix all the ingredients together and stir until smooth. I baked the cake in two 9-inch cake pans for about 20 minutes, rotating the pans and checking on the cake about 15 minutes into the baking time. I only used one of the cake rounds, the other one I froze for another use. For the frosting, I melted 1/2 bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips with about 1/3 cup of peanut butter chips; melt in a microwave safe bowl in 20 second intervals until the chips are melted. To this I stirred in a light butter; we use Land O'Lakes light butter with Canola Oil. I stirred in about 2 tablespoons of butter to make the melted chocolate smooth and spreadable. As soon as it is pourable, spread the frosting over the cake and ice the top and sides. Work quickly as their isn't enough butter or fat in the frosting to keep it from setting up firm. I topped the cake with additional peanut butter chips. The cake is super moist, dense but not heavy and not overly sweet. The frosting, with the addition of the peanut butter chips in it and on it made me think that I was eating a Peanut Butter Kandy Kake from Tastykake! Only this was better.
Lessons learned of the day: Exercise is important. Your team winning a division or championship can make a crappy week better. Food is good for the soul. Eat well and feel better.

Take me out to the Ball Game

In honor of the Phillies winning the 2008 National League Division Series, I wanted to share this video I recorded at the 1st game from the NLDS East series, taken Wednesday, October 1st. The fans were so into the spirit of the game and it seemed that everyone was standing and singing this good 'ole classic during the 7th inning stretch. Among the many memorable baseball games I've attended, this one will rise to the top of my list.

video

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Phillies NLDS East Game

It's been an unusual week and it's only Wednesday. The High Holidays are upon us at the synagogue, and after five "seasons" of working the door at the Temple, I still find the whole process stressful. This year has not been as bad as last year. Mostly people have been nice and there haven't been too many tales of "I just moved to the area" and I want to "try your synagogue out for the High Holidays." This translates into, I don't want to be responsible, pay dues or support your temple, and I want you to do me a favor even though you don't know me and I am most likely never going to be supportive or nice to you and the synagogue...Ugh. I wrote a lengthy rant about this last year on my old blog so there's no need to rewrite the same stuff again. You can read my account from last year, or watch a YouTube video of Curb Your Enthusiasm about the madness of High Holiday Ticket Scalping. As Woody Allen said in Manhattan - and I'm paraphrasing here, the more expensive high holiday tickets get you closer to God. And speaking of tickets, because I was...The Phillies have made it to the Playoffs. Liz and I are big Phillies Phans with a Capital PH! She went to the Saturday game where they clinched the Division, and we both attended the final game of the regular 2008 Season. Exciting games and lots of fun. Today was the first game of the National League Division Series East, to determine which team will move onto the Pennant Race. The Phillies played the Milwaukee Brewers. We live just about 2 miles from Citizen's Bank Ballpark and I figured it would be fun to take a quick bike ride down there to check out the fun and festivities. I had a vague notion that I would try to get a ticket to the game. However, since I am cheap and tickets through scalpers and Stub Hub were outrageously expensive, I wasn't sure how I would actually afford to purchase a ticket. It's not like at the Temple where I can just walk up and expect to be accommodated...Anyway, as I was wandering around and taking in the sights and sounds of the 1st game festivities, I noticed that one of the ticket sales windows was open and doing a brisk business. I went up to the window, not expecting any thing to happen and low and behold, I was able to purchase a ticket for $40, in section 107 - not in the nose bleed vertigo inducing upper decks! Yeah! I had no idea that I would get into the game and when I called Liz to tell her, she was, as one could imagine, a bit, ahem, upset with me for a moment. She had to work at 6:15, and the timing of the game was a bit wonky. While it was not nearly as much fun as when we go to the games together, and I really did miss sharing the experience with her, it was a great game because the Phillies won. Here are a few of the high lights of the day: