Monday, 30 June 2008

Please cheese me, oh yeah.

This homemade cheese stuff is amazingly healthy. Not that I have made any of it yet, but I have had some really good exercise footslogging from shop to shop trying to get the equipment and ingredients I need! I found the recipes on the internet and I deliberately chose the ones designated as easy. The first requirement was a dairy thermometer, or at least for the ricotta recipe one that would read 185 to 195 degrees and for the mozzarella, between 55 and 145. Problem number one – there are two sorts of cooking thermometers easily available; one for confectionary which records really high temperatures, and one for meat which goes from about 100 to 200 F which was the one I got. So I am OK for part of the range but for the lower temperatures it will be a clean fingertip, and a spot of luck. Luckily the recipe does describe what the mixture should be doing at various stages, so that will be my guide. Cheesecloth was hard to get but I managed it at the fourth shop.

I never thought I would get rennet but I finally tracked it down. The one thing I still haven’t got is citric acid, but Wikipedia tells me that lemon juice is 5% citric acid so I will have to use that for the time being. I didn’t even bother to look for cheese salt, which sounds very specialised, and is supposed to be optional anyway.

Both the recipes stipulate using whole milk, but of course I will be using skim, and I may decide to whisk in some powdered skim milk to increase the yield.

Phew! Now I am too tired to make the cheese.

Sunday, 29 June 2008

Drop Zone

I have just stepped on the scales with some trepidation as I have been away for a few days but thankfully it has not resulted in a weight gain. Always tricky when you are not in a position to cater for yourself. I usually reckon that holidays mean a choice between being CRd by just eating less at the cost of not being ONd, or going for good quality food and accepting that I will not be CRd. So far the latter course has worked out as I am pretty active on hols so burning more calories than usual, and it was after all only for a few days, on the first of which I took packed food of my choice. This was another of our battlefield tours, the follow up to the Normandy beaches one we did last year, this one being Arnhem and the Rhine crossings. It was excellent and I learned a great deal. I think the highlight was Remagen, where there is a wonderful museum located in one of the original towers of the bridge. We were in Holland for two days and Germany for two. I don’t know if either of the hotels was typical, so can only comment on what we found. The breakfast buffet in Holland included a good selection of fresh fruit as well as yogurt and quark. The cereals tend to be refined, but for those who eat bread, there is good coarse wholemeal and rye often with sunflower seeds. Obviously I avoided the cooked breakfast in both countries! In Germany it was trickier as there was no fruit at breakfast and just plain yogurt but there was coarse bread, and one morning boiled eggs. Lunch was pretty easy as it is possible in hotels restaurants and supermarkets in both countries to get really good crisp fresh mixed salads. I can find my way around a German menu without any problem but in Holland we had some difficulty as neither of us speaks Dutch, and some restaurants don’t have a menu in English. In one really beautiful place we found a helpful waitress who did her best to translate for us. I pointed to an item on the menu. ‘What is this?’ She gave it a long hard consideration and eventually said ‘It is - part of a cow.’ No further elaboration was forthcoming. I decided to go for the vegetarian option and it was a good choice, a big platter of vegetables and chickpeas in a spicy tomato sauce, with far more couscous than I could eat. Being Holland it also came with a sort of egg and cheese bake on the side, which I had a taste of. We had a set dinner for two nights in Germany so I simply had to be a bit careful, but we did get a good salad, plenty of vegetables, and tomato and vegetable soups. I am sure I ate far too much on those occasions but was able to adjust later! In the end it is not about what one does on any particular day but what one does overall. Back home I have raided the markets for vegetables salads and fruit, and have settled back into my normal healthy CRON diet. No temptation to depart from it! After all, as I said to my other half when we were in a cafe getting coffee ‘that chocolate pastry twist looks good, but not as good as the way my jeans fit’.

Wednesday, 11 June 2008


I have read The CR Way with great interest, and now I am hoping that MR will someday be able to produce a book with his own views of how CR should be practised. Then I will be able to buy it, study it and put it on my bookshelf; but at the opposite end to Paul’s book as the fizzing and crackling that would go on between them if they were placed together could be distracting. I read what both Paul and MR say on the CRON daily list, I plough through the archives, (not as easy a task as one might think, as following the long threads of debate sometimes blurs exactly who is speaking, but I think I can make sense of it) and of course the differences are obvious. A recent comment on the raw food/cooked food issue added another item of divergence, but the main one as far as I can see is the question of protein. If I followed Paul’s guidance I would consume 0.8gm per kg body weight, that’s 32.8g a day, or approximately 11% of my total calories. MR on the other hand advocates at least 1.5g per kg for AL people and believes there are good grounds for 2g per kg for CRd people. Following MR’s advice I would be eating 82g of protein a day which would be just over 27% of my calories. This is a huge difference, and when one lives at the cutting edge where every calorie must do its job or be evicted from my diet, the choice achieves measures of importance unheard of by those whose greatest dietary decision is whether to have another beer.

The problem is that while in the CR society mailings it is possible even for the ignorant layperson to winnow out the anecdotally based theories from the ones with sound scientific underpinnings, the whole area is so vibrantly a work under construction, that differences will happen (and boy, do they happen!) even amongst those whose opinions I respect, and who know more about CR than I will ever know – in other words, the very people to whom I look for my guidance. So here I am being pulled, protein-wise in two opposite directions.

In the meantime I look forward to the day when MR and April can find time in their incredibly busy schedules to encapsulate their practice of CR in a book, both the scientific side and the practical.

I have done some number crunching on CRON-o-Meter and it is possible to achieve my DRIs (or at least the average woman’s DRIs, which I have to use in default of being able to find out what mine are) on both a 11% and a 27% protein regime, so that at least is good news. The one thing I can’t do is get those DRIs from food alone on 1200 calories a day if I include any but the most modest amounts of cereals or legumes in my diet.