Captain's Table

Mark Austen

2019.09.02 - Fast 800 - Week 24

I looked at myself in the mirror this evening and decided that I am starting to look a little gaunt. It is time to stop the diet and start eating 'normally' again.

I have achieved a weight of 70kg (~11st) having lost 28.5kg (~4st 7lb). My waist now measures 77cm (~30 1/4") having lost 29cm (~11 1/2"). It is enough.

Now comes an interesting phase as I transition back to non-diet eating. I shall have to be careful not to over eat I the next few weeks and let my body get used to having more calories to digest.

A very successful 24 weeks.

2019.08.20 - More Bread Experiments

Today's investigation is in the use of Amish Friendship Starter and wholemeal/white bread, again using the Turbo, No-Knead method. Since the white flour version of this came out so well I used the same proportions except that I used half strong, white bread flour and half strong, wholemeal bread flour. The initial rise time was longer again that the 100% white loaf but still acceptable and the second rise was about twice as long at a hour.

The results?

Not bad at all. It hasn't risen as much as the 100% white bread but it is not as flat as some of the wholemeal breads I have baked.

Again with my mug as a size reference.

This bread was also made with a starter that was nearing feeding but the bread still tastes a little sweet, so I guess that the sweetness or not of the starter is not that important to the taste. This loaf will also have to be frozen until required otherwise 'll just eat it all. I'll save a piece or Tina but after that, in the freezer it will go.

The next experiment will be the same recipe but with the addition of Vitamin C and some honey to increase the rise.

Stay tuned.

2019.08.12 - Fast 800 - Week 21

Progress these last few weeks has slowed to the point where it is becoming increasingly difficult to maintain enthusiasm for the diet. The slow down is not unexpected since I have lost a large amount of weight and as a result my body is burning fewer calories per day. The only way to increase the weight loss now is either to reduce my calorific intake significantly below 800 calories per day or by doing some exercise or both. Neither of these avenues are particularly enthralling so I am of a mind to continue the diet until 16th September and stop at that point. I will have been on the diet for 6 months at that point and I figure that whatever weight I have lost in 26 weeks is probably as far as I am going to get.

So, the statistics. I currently weigh 72kg (11st 4lb 11oz) having lost 26.5kg (4st 2lb 6oz) which is just under 27% of my original weight. My waist measurement is 79cm (31.1"), a loss of 27cm (10.6").

I am very pleased at this result but, as I said, it is becoming harder to stay on the diet due to the slow down. The new target of 26 weeks is probably the only reason for me to stay on the diet right now and I will be glad to stop at that point.

I think it is fair to say that the Fast 800 diet has done me a great deal of good and hopefully I shall be able to keep the weight off in future.

Stay tuned.

2019.08.10 - Amish Friendship Cake [Updated]

For some reason a while before we went on our Broads cruise at the end of June, Tina mentioned that it would be nice to bake an Amish Friendship Cake to take with us. Now this involves making a starter and it requires ten days before you bake with it, as I found out when I looked into what was required for such a cake. The best website I found is the aptly named Friendship Bread Kitchen which has all you need to know about baking Amish Friendship Cake (or bread as the Americans call it) as well as a lot of different recipes to try with the starter once made.

So, I duly started the starter going and cared for it for the required ten days and baked two loaves from a cup of the starter the day before we went on holiday, and very nice they were too. However, this left me with about 4 cups of starter, one of which is supposed to be used to continue the starter going. However, since we were going on a holiday for a week I could not stir it daily as required so I froze the lot in single cups amounts. On our return I took one portion out, defrosted it and continued on. This is recommended practise and I have the starter still going today. I also have a lot of frozen portions since you end up each week with about four or five cups of starter to either give away or freeze.

Now, in Germany, Amish Friendship Cake is known as Hermann Tieg, or Hermann Cake, and a friend, who took one portion of starter in order to have her own, combined Hermann and Amish to get Hamish with which she named her starter.

I liked this idea but didn't want to use the same name for fear of confusion, so I named my starter McHamish!

Despite baking quite a lot of Friendship Cakes since I started I still have about eleven cups of starter in the freezer which would be enough for twenty-two cakes and needless to say, the number of frozen starter grows each week. This isn't too bad in recent weeks since I can take two cakes to our events and offer them around. Likewise, the next three weekends, including this one, will give me an opportunity to bake more cakes to give away but not enough to reduce the amount of frozen starter, although it helps.

I decided that I would try using a starter when baking bread. The Amish Friendship Starter is a bit like a sourdough starter except that it contains milk instead of water and has additional sugar. This generally means that when you bake with the starter it has just has been fed with more milk, flour and sugar and as a result it is quite sweet. However, if you remove a cup of starter from your live batch just before you feed it, then most, if not all, the sugar will have been consumed by the yeast and it will be a lot less sweet if not sour as a result. So it is not so far out as one might have thought. The Friendship Bread Kitchen website does have a couple of recipes for bread but these are for kneaded bread and I wanted to try the no-knead, turbo bread that I've been baking.

Today was the day. I baked the required two Friendship cakes this morning, one for Tina to take to her Working Equitation session tomorrow and one for use to freeze and after that I started a no-knead bread but reduced the amount of yeast, water and flour in the recipe and added the cup of starter instead. The resulting dough seemed to be about the correct consistency but did take about twice as long to rise the first time than before. Nevertheless, it did rise and I put the dough into a cane Banneton to rise the second time. This time the dough rose in the time I expected and it was transferred to the hot Cloche in the Rayburn.

Here's the loaf fresh out of the oven and not yet removed form the cloche, just the cover taken off. Looks amazing.

The loaf on a cooling rack with my tea mug just for the sake of size comparison so that you can see just how well risen this loaf has become.

On cutting the loaf after it had cooled the crumb was fine and the bread had a soft texture as well as a very slightly sweet taste, not surprising as the starter was ripe (just been fed) and the consensus was that this bread would do very well with both sweet and savoury toppings but especially jams and marmalades.

We will see how it is tomorrow after it has had a chance to dry out a little and I'll toast a slice to see how that tastes as well.

A successful experiment. The next loaf to be tried will be the same in quantities but with a starter that is take from the live batch just before it is fed. Then it will be on to a white-wholemeal blend which is the type of bread I'll want to be baking once the diet is done.


The bread makes very nice toast, possibly too nice considering that I'm still on a diet. The loaf has now been wrapped in cling film and put in the freezer otherwise it will get eaten very quickly.

2019.07.29 - Fast 800 - Week 19 and Kilt Adjustments

I am pleased to report that the weight is still going down and at my morning weigh-in today I had reached 72.3 kg (11st 5lb 13oz) with a loss of 26 kg (4st 1lb 5oz). The end is getting closer. Just 7.4 kg (1st 2lb 5oz) to go.

I will need to be extra careful in the next four weekends since three of them are events and I normally get a slight increase in weight at events and I really do not want that to happen again, especially not three weekends in quick succession. That would be most disappointing.

I have needed to attend to my clothing. I looked over the Kilt Kollection, of which I have 17 and found that 2 are still too small to wear. Interestingly these two fitted me ten years ago. Of the remaining 15 two just about fit one on the too small side and one on the too big. One kilt fits reasonably well and the rest, all 12 of them, are too big. So I sat down at the sewing machine and, having removed all the straps and buckles from four of the Summer weight kilt, I sewed on some velcro. Now I have four fairly good ones that not only fit but have another 50cm or 2" of adjustment. This means that I now have a few more that are fit to wear.

I think it is also time to go through the remaining too big kilt and throw away those that are beyond saving. Several of them have epoxy, paint and wood glue on them and it is not worth adjusting them. I think three fall into this category. I'll take off the straps and buckles and wash them and put them in the rags box. Some of the material can be used for patches and other Kilt Repairs.

This leaves five that are too big. I can adjust four of them by carefully cutting out sections, especially since I made two of them myself, but the last one is a professionally made kilt and there's no way I want to fiddle with that one. So, this one will be sold, hopefully.

A lot more clothes will be thrown into the rag bin once the diet is done, most of my shirts and T-Shirts and my kilt hose also need to be pruned. Those that have holes need to go and since I think I just just 5 pairs that are still wearable, more kilt hose will need to be bought before the colder weather sets in.

I am not looking forward to the new clothes bill once I am off the diet and have a stable weight.

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