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Old 07-28-2010, 02:41 AM   #1
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Default A few words on cheese...

Of late, I've been trying to lose a little weight. That picture which I recently posted of myself standing over the engine in my build thread was kind of a wake-up call. It was, I think, the six months I spent in Manhattan last year that did it. Even though I was on my feet all day, we ate like gods every evening and drank an ocean of good beer.

At any rate, things need to change a bit. Nothing over-the-top like crash diet plans, vegetarianism or workout regimes- I'm far too lazy and undisciplined to sustain that sort of lifestyle change for any length of time; I know I wouldn't last. So instead, I decided just to make little incremental changes- things like reducing portion sizes a tad, mixing my rum with diet Coke (actually diet Pepsi- diet Coke turned out to suck), and bringing simple meals to the office for lunch rather than running across the street to one of the fast food joints every day.

Now, one thing which I do happen to enjoy quite a lot is a good sandwich in the evening. Sliced turkey or pork, loads of diced onion and crushed garlic, and two slices of Havarti on coarse-grained bread, grilled on a sandwich press until blackened. Utter heaven. Seriously, giving up this habit would be a major quality-of-life issue for me. I recently quit smoking (going on 3 months now) and I don't think I could bear to part with another vice just at the moment.



I will diverge here for a moment to air a grievance concerning sandwich presses in this country. The recent popularity of Panini-style sandwiches in the US over the past few years has planted in the minds of most Americans the notion that the grilled Panini is prepared upon a ribbed press, which imparts unto the sandwich a peculiar and distinctive striped pattern, and also a uniquely rough texture which I cannot quite put into words.

This is bullshit.

An authentic western-European style sandwich press uses flat plates. It also has a simple but very effective articulated hinge which allows the press to accommodate sandwiches of any thickness while permitting the grilling plates to remain parallel, which prevents the sandwich from being flattened unevenly.

These crappy units that I see everywhere from discount stores to trendy upscale restaurants would make my dear Abuela turn in her grave if she ever saw them. (Fortunately, Wal-Mart had not yet made it to to Hato Rey, PR at the time of her death.) They might be good enough for a washed-out former heavyweight boxer to drain all of the moisture out of his hamburgers with, but if you want to experience a proper grilled sandwich, you need the right tool for the job. Several years ago, while on an assignment in Teaneck, NJ, I finally found a unit which I judged to be of comparable quality to those which I remembered seeing in the various Perez family kitchens as a child. It is made by Breville (ironically, an Australian company) and cost $90. It is worth every penny. Sadly, I have found it quite impossible to procure proper Cuban bread in southern California, however that is a subject best left to a separate rant.



Now, to return to the matter at hand. This evening after work, I was at the supermarket, and one of the items which I needed was cheese. I typically buy the Primo Taglio brand, which despite being the Vons' house brand, is actually rather richer and creamier than Boar's Head or any of the other common name-brands. It is, quite frankly, the best Havarti I have ever found outside of a proper artisan creamery or NY delicatessen. And as it happened, the deli counter at Vons was completely out. The woman behind the counter rather apologetically suggested that they had some O-Organic brand prepackaged Havarti over in the general dairy section. Well, what the hell. I trundled over to that aisle and pulled a pack off the shelf. Apropos of nothing, I flipped the package over and happened to note on the nutritional label that this cheese contained 120 calories per slice, and the slices were considerably thinner and narrower than the ones I typically get at the deli counter. (I like my Havarti really thick. 3mm per slice or so.)

This gave me a moment of pause. That's probably 300-400 calories surplus in an evening the way I make a sandwich. Surely there must be a better way.

So I started browsing around the other prepackaged cheeses and cheese-like products. And I happened to land on Kraft Singles brand American-style artificially flavored nonfat pasteurized prepared cheese product. (I'm copying this straight off the label.)

Ok, I know. This is probably a mistake. But I looked at the back and, hell, 25 calories per slice?! Ok, so the slices aren't quite as large and thick as I'm accustomed to, but hey, that's actually my whole plan to begin with. So I picked up a pack and tossed it in the basket.



Let me be clear: I went into this with reduced expectations. I knew that this probably represented a step down in quality, but small sacrifices are the name of the game here.



I was not prepared for what happened. This product is completely and totally unfit for retail consumer sale.

First off, it liquefies when you heat it. I don't mean that it goes all gooey like Velveeta, it actually turns into a nearly water-like consistency! In other words, I opened the sandwich press to retrieve my bounty and found a nicely blackened sandwich standing in the middle of an ORANGE PUDDLE.

(deep breath)

Ok, I can do this. It's for a good cause. I retrieve the sandwich from the press and flip it onto a plate, being careful not to slosh too much artificially flavored pasteurized prepared cheese product around in the process. I let it cool for a few minutes while sipping my Rum and Diet Pepsi (admittedly, I'm doing OK with that one) and finally pick up the sandwich and take a bite.


Now, I consider myself a reasonably well-educated and intelligent person. I'm no Henry David Thoreau, but I did go to college, got reasonably good marks, I read quite a lot, and I've been known to compose the occasional scholarly paper in the course of my employment.

And yet I find myself utterly unable to describe the horribleness of this gustatory sensation. I simply lack the proper vocabulary for the task. Honestly, there is not a single experience familiar to me with which I can compare the flavor of this product. I doubt rather seriously, in fact, whether there exists within the English language an adjective of sufficient fervency to convey the opprobrium which I harbor towards this product. Perhaps if I were fluent in Arabic I would be able to put into words the sheer magnitude of the contempt which I feel right now (the Arabic people, as a broad generalization, seem to possess a particularly refined aptitude for hating things), though of course only Kotomile would understand.

I imagine that if one were to collect the sweat from ten thousand Bedouin gypsys' ********* into a large basin, add a few drops of the pus from a gangrenous wound, allow a camel to bathe in the resultant broth and then, after it was done, jump in yourself and fart copiously into it at great length, and only then add some yellow food coloring and artificial cheese flavor, that one might then begin to approach the horribleness of this food-like product.

Honestly, I just cannot imagine how the various layers of management, QA, marketing and product qualification which I imagine to exist at such a corporate entity as Kraft Foods would have permitted such a blight to find its way into production. I would stake that if they have ever had but a single repeat customer for this particular item... well, I don't even know how to finish that sentence.

I scoured the packaging, looking for the smallest print which might indicate "satisfaction guaranteed" or some such nonsense. Hell, I didn't even bother writing to Minute Maid to inform them that, speaking from the perspective of someone who grew up in an environment where there were always orange trees in the back yard, their orange juice is nothing at all like "eating a fresh, ripe orange." But this blight on the culinary landscape simply cannot be afforded to remain unchecked.

Last edited by Joe Perez; 07-28-2010 at 02:51 AM.
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Old 07-28-2010, 02:47 AM   #2
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Too long did not listen.

Cheese can be cheesy
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Old 07-28-2010, 03:02 AM   #3
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TL;DR I'm drunk and want cheese too. Will read when able, I always enjoy a good JP post, he is my favourite author.
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Old 07-28-2010, 06:19 AM   #4
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Did you take the plastic off?
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Old 07-28-2010, 06:55 AM   #5
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When I was back at school full time I lost about 50lbs in right around 9 months by just cutting back on portion size, and eating almost nothing but fresh, home made foods, nothing processed. Now that I have been back to work for a few months I have had to maintain my weight with as little effort as possible. I stick with Boston Market microwave meals, which are damn tasty and decently low in calories, depending on the meal. All are ~1lb of food for $3, and the meals like Salisbury Steak (which is the highest calories one I have found) is approx. 600 calories, and the Chicken Primavera which is also damn good is only like 350 calories. Up in the number for some, but for me only 1/3 of the calorie limit I have allowed myself. I don't get to eat breakfast since I wake up at 3pm and go in to work at 6, so I just eat one of those for lunch at 7, then eat a small meal or snack when I get home and have been able to maintain my weight just fine. I could easily still be losing weight with a little self control, but I'm already in my target weight loss area, so I'm not too worried.

PS, I put calories WAY above fat or carbs, like some people "diet". It takes roughly 3500 calories surplus to make a pound of fat, so even going over 500 a day means in 7 days you have gained a pound of fat. Actual fat amounts in food however are typically very low in comparison, only grams or tens of grams, and it takes 450 grams to make a pound, so I put their importance much lower on the scale, they add up slower. So cut calories, and the weight WILL come off.

Now that I have said that, I have no idea what this thread is actually about, the post was too long to read.
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Old 07-28-2010, 07:09 AM   #6
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I honestly think that was the longest post I have ever read on this forum from start to finish. Ive no input here, just sharing that I read the whole thing, and Eel for you. BTW, I'm5'10 and check in at 123lb so I eat what I want when I want and don't worry about it.
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Old 07-28-2010, 07:15 AM   #7
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NEVER buy cheese food, cheese product or the like. Only cheese. Not 'made with', as that is only distantly related to real cheese. It is retail code speak labeling for congealed oil. It is nasty, as you discovered.

Very good rant, I give it a A-. Minor loss of points for lack of venom, but bonus points for vivid descriptions.
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Old 07-28-2010, 08:36 AM   #8
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Joe never fails to deliver an excellent rant about things we encounter in everyday life. Good read
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Old 07-28-2010, 08:41 AM   #9
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Good read, good chuckles as always.

I can't even imagine you, with the care I'm sure you take in preparing everything from paninis to daughterboards, actually placing one of the slices on something you planned to consume. I'm a bit of a cheese freak, and avoided anything that even resembled a Kraft slice of "American" cheese. As an American, this is the only thing (besides the cast of characters in both Hollywood and Washington D.C.) that causes me shame when abroad....knowing that many must make that one-time purchase of this horrid product, and assume that we know NOTHING about cheese.

On the sandwich press:

http://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/prod...383103&RN=692&

I scored this one for something ridiculous at Bed, Bath and Beyond while looking for a remote control that could skip through my wife's nags. Once you're on their mailing list you get a 20% off coupon almost monthly. That combined with it being on sale or mislabeled somehow found it in my home for $45. Does great waffles, grills everything, and the flat plates are impressive for both pancakes and other breakfast, and of course sandwiches. Proper hinges, three sets of removable plates for cleaning.



I'm also cutting calories. Eating foods you like, with high fat content, will satiate your appetite, which is what causes you to overeat. You can easily due this while cutting down on actual calories, which as our pedophile friend pointed out are what really pack on the weight.

Fat or carbs, the actual calorie is the measure of thermal energy you are providing your body. Just like any other system, if IN - OUT > 0 there will be stored energy. Once you get good at that, then you can start looking for "good" fats and carbs. The one substance I've been paying close attention to recently after much reading is HFCS...the highly subsidized sweetener propped up by outdated sugar levies, supported by corn lobbyists, which can affect insulin levels and is not a form of sugar our bodies have yet acclimated to processing. I'll let you come to your own conclusions after some research, but cutting back on the "loaded" sodas is the first step, and I commend you.

Now go get some real damn cheese. If I ever catch you not in front of the deli counter again I'll chase you around the store with a stick of pepperoni (although you may like that..).

Last edited by gospeed81; 07-28-2010 at 10:00 AM.
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Old 07-28-2010, 09:03 AM   #10
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On the back: "Placenta extract is derived from animal placenta."
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Old 07-28-2010, 09:03 AM   #11
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I read half and scrolled down and realized it was useless.

Don't stop eating what you love, reduce portions and count calories for the rest of the day. If you do light exercise you can probably afford yourself somewhere in the range of 2k-2200 calories. Sounds like your sandwich is probably around only half of your intake...just be smart with the rest. Also, if you drink soft drinks - stop.
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Old 07-28-2010, 09:18 AM   #12
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Thanks for the great read. Cutting out deliciousness to avoid calories is possibly the hardest thing to do.

Not sure if your up for this one or not. But try Veggie cheese, it doesn't melt as easily as the Krap slices and is Soy based. Sprinkle a little bit of oregano on top as well depending on if your Havarti is flavoured or not.

Best of luck!
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Old 07-28-2010, 09:49 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Newbsauce View Post
I read half and scrolled down and realized it was useless.

Don't stop eating what you love, reduce portions and count calories for the rest of the day. If you do light exercise you can probably afford yourself somewhere in the range of 2k-2200 calories. Sounds like your sandwich is probably around only half of your intake...just be smart with the rest. Also, if you drink soft drinks - stop.

I've 40 lbs over the year or so (215 to 174)... I still eat mcdonalds, kfc, quiznos and dunkin donuts often. I had to cut out soda completely (nearly) and use less sugar in my coffee each morning, but I just don't eat as much (read: portion size). I also don't snack as much, don't eat dessert as much, and I still don't excersize

I just have a banana in the morning and PB&J for lunch and that's about it. Actually this week I've been doing turkey and gouda sandwiches for lunch. You get used to it after a while and you find yourself satisfied and content with eating less and less glorious amounts of food.

Where I used to consume an entire rod of kabob (6 chunks of meat) and a platefull of rice and extra bread, I just now share one "serving" with my wife. Also, I fart less and sit on the john for smaller periods of time...this repulses the wife less and allows me more free time to swoon her.
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Old 07-28-2010, 10:00 AM   #14
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I too need to cut down on calorie intake to get down to fighting weight and to gain a little more room in my Sparco Circuit (non-fat) seat. I'm 5'7" 140lbs BTW... Need to get back down to 130 or so.
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Old 07-28-2010, 10:32 AM   #15
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Good read as always. Gave me a few laughs.
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Old 07-28-2010, 11:14 AM   #16
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Funny, but seriously cheese is just cheese to me. If you're trying to lose weight and flip out about low-fat cheese, I'd hate to see your reaction to something like nutri-system which DOES work.
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Old 07-28-2010, 12:43 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe Perez View Post

At any rate, things need to change a bit. Nothing over-the-top like crash diet plans, vegetarianism or workout regimes- I'm far too lazy and undisciplined to sustain that sort of lifestyle change for any length of time; I know I wouldn't last.
You're fucked. Having gone from 160lbs down to 125lbs up to 205lbs down to 140lbs up to 180lbs down to 140lbs up to 190lbs down to 170lbs over the past 20 years, I'm pretty experienced with weight gain and loss. You can't loose weight and keep it off without a lifestyle change. Baby steps is a good idea, but you need to make baby steps to a healthier way of living. This includes diet (what you eat), caloric intake (how much you eat), and yes, exercise (how you spend those calories). I understand your fear of all three and know that yes, a lifestyle change is difficult and painful. During the transition period. In the end though, after you adapt to your new diet, calories, and exercise, you will feel pretty darn good.

Note that those three factors of diet, calories, and exercise result in gains or losses. Eat a crappy diet and your health and well-being will decrease. Eat too many calories and your weight will increase. Exercise to have a calorie deficit and your weight will decrease and your health may improve as well.

For optimal overall well-being, I recommend:

First, get your diet straight. Heart disease, cholestrol etc is a bummer.

Secondly, start counting and limiting your calories. Yes, you can eat whatever you want under your calorie limit, but it's best to have a healthy diet.

Third, start exercising. Even walking a mile burns 100 calories. Exercise can also greatly improve your emotional and mental health. A lot of overeating is caused by emotional or mental stress. Exercise can help you deal and when you feel better, it's easier to have discipline with what you put into your mouth.

You can get away without exercising but it really helps a lot, and you can probably find something that is fun to do. Something that you can do to start today is just track your calories eating normally for a couple of days. Then, keep counting and start to restrict your calories slowly. Your diet soda is a good idea but remember that a shot of rum does have 100-150 calories in it so count that too. Good job for starting!
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Old 07-28-2010, 01:13 PM   #18
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This reminded me of how I used to split a bagel, lay it open, and then take a string cheese and rip bits off and lay it around each half of the bagel, then microwave it until the cheese was nice and melty. Sometimes I'd put a layer of frozen pepperonis underneath the cheese.
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Old 07-28-2010, 01:59 PM   #19
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i decided at some point to start always leaving something on my plate. sometimes it was 2 or 3 bites of a sandwich, sometimes a handful of french fries, etc. I also never go back for seconds. eventually, my family learned to stop pushing food on me when they decided "eat that last piece of...", or "what do you want for dessert?" wasnt worth the hell i put them through after they suggested it. also started taking 4 bottles of water to work instead of 4 cans of mountain dew
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Old 07-28-2010, 02:08 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by curly View Post
Did you take the plastic off?
Yes, I took the damned plastic off. I think the plastic was the only thing holding it together in a slice-like shape. As an experiment, I'm going to let an unwrapped slice sit at room temperature for a while and see what happens to it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by caideN View Post
Too long did not listen.
UselessPost is useless.

And BannedUser is banned.



Quote:
Originally Posted by NA6C-Guy View Post
Boston Market microwave meals, which are damn tasty and decently low in calories, depending on the meal.
Now this is a genuinely useful bit of information. I've walked past these in the freezer case before, thinking that they looked yummy but were probably dripping with calories. Will have to check that out a bit more closely.


Quote:
Originally Posted by KPLAFIN View Post
and Eel for you.
Uhm, ok, that seems kind of gay.

Quote:
Originally Posted by KPLAFIN View Post
BTW, I'm5'10 and check in at 123lb so I eat what I want when I want and don't worry about it.
Also, I hate you.
Quote:
Originally Posted by thagr81 us View Post
I'm 5'7" 140lbs BTW... Need to get back down to 130 or so.
And you.

(though I must admit, I have no frame of reference for comparing 6'2" / 215 lbs to 5'7" 140 lbs, other than to do it mathematically, which would be that you are 90.5% of my height but only 65% of my weight, so yeah, I guess I can keep on hating you.


Quote:
Originally Posted by gospeed81 View Post
I can't even imagine you, with the care I'm sure you take in preparing everything from paninis to daughterboards, actually placing one of the slices on something you planned to consume.
Just thought it would be a worthwhile experiment.

I think that there's some sort of triad of food qualities at work here, where a singular exclusion principle defines the inter-relationships between the extent to which any particular food is:
1: Yummy / rancid
2: Healthy & nutritious / unhealthy & fattening
3: Natural / an abomination against nature.

Take good cheese, for instance. It is yummy, and it is natural, however it is fattening as hell.

Tofu, by comparison, is natural and not terribly bad for you, but it tastes like the package it comes in.

Diet Pepsi is tasty, and it's calorie-free, however I'm pretty sure it doesn't contain a single ingredient which can be found in nature. Even the water in it is probably synthesized from petrochemical byproducts.

I believe a Venn diagram is in order... What can possibly fill that missing segment of perfect overlap?



Synthacheese is neither yummy nor natural, so it occupies basically the same level of prestige as a chicken nugget.




Quote:
Originally Posted by gospeed81 View Post
I'm a bit of a cheese freak, and avoided anything that even resembled a Kraft slice of "American" cheese. As an American, this is the only thing (besides the cast of characters in both Hollywood and Washington D.C.) that causes me shame when abroad....knowing that many must make that one-time purchase of this horrid product, and assume that we know NOTHING about cheese.
Yes, I now have a much fuller appreciation for Jeremy Clarkson's perspective on Americans and cheese.



Quote:
Originally Posted by gospeed81 View Post
Yes, that one is about right. A bit fancy with all the ***** and whatnot, but definitely the correct design.




Quote:
Originally Posted by Preluding View Post
Not sure if your up for this one or not. But try Veggie cheese, it doesn't melt as easily as the Krap slices and is Soy based.
I shall do no such thing. I was once exposed to a product of this nature while dining at a friend's house, and it made me want to stab her in the eye. I'd rather eat a bowl of dicks.




Quote:
Originally Posted by ThatGuy85 View Post
Funny, but seriously cheese is just cheese to me. If you're trying to lose weight and flip out about low-fat cheese, I'd hate to see your reaction to something like nutri-system
Agreed, which is why I prefaced this observation by saying that I'd unlikely react well in the long term to fad diets.




Quote:
Originally Posted by faeflora View Post
remember that a shot of rum does have 100-150 calories in it so count that too.
I haven't been able to locate diet Rum yet. Were I to find it, I doubt seriously whether I would find it palatable. Some things are simply not worth doing without.
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