Sunday, March 01, 2015

Pain de Mie or Pullman Loaf

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The recipe for this pain de mie is from the King Arthur flour website.  I made it a few times before when I lived in Denver. I had to adjust the recipe a bit to get the recipe to work at altitude.  It oozed out of the lip of the pan, right under the cover, onto the oven.  I’m now at sea level so this time around I made it as written.  The amount of dough is perfect for a 13”x4”x4” (1.5 pound) pullman pan.  
The recipe does include items that are not commonly stocked in most kitchen pantries. When I made this before, I had a difficult time finding potato flour so I used mashed potato flakes as a substitute. It turned out fine. This time I searched my pantry and found some potato flour.  I must have grabbed it because I made a mental note that I needed it. I don’t use powdered milk all that often but I purchased some for another recipe. I did not use King Arthur flour for this recipe. I usually buy the King Arthur bread, white whole wheat, and cake flours but for all purpose I usually buy the unbleached Gold Medal or Trader Joe’s brands. This loaf was made with Trader Joe’s all purpose flour. 

When I first started experimenting with yeast, I bought the Red Start and Fleischmann's brands but after reading Bread Baker's Apprentice, I started using instant yeast. I now use SAF instant yeast (the red bag) almost exclusively. There was a time when I used both the regular SAF and the SAF Gold but I found the Gold made a negligible difference for sweet dough so most of the time I only have the regular SAF in my freezer. 
I used to knead dough in a Kitchenaid mixer but I found that I get better results using the dough cycle of a bread machine.  I have an older model Zojirushi Bakery Supreme BBCCX20 that I feel does a terrible job of baking but does an excellent job of kneading and proofing dough. The recipe includes mixer, bread machine, and hand methods.  I’m sure you can even knead the dough in a food processor. 
When I was looking to buy a Pullman pan, the only brand I found was the USA brand.  It has a clear coating that I didn’t originally want but now love. Today I forgot to grease the pan and the loaf slid right out after baking. I was a little nervous but I decided to go ahead and bake it rather than scoop out the dough and disrupt the rise.  
Pain de Mie or Pullman Loaf
Makes 1 13”x4”x4” loaf
2/3 cup (5 3/8 ounces) milk
1 cup (8 ounces) water
6 tablespoons (3 ounces) butter
2 1/4 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons (1 1/4 ounces) sugar
1/4 cup (1 1/8 ounces) Baker's Special Dry Milk or nonfat dry milk
3 tablespoons (1 1/4 ounces) potato flour
4 3/4 cups (20 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
2 teaspoons instant yeast

Bread Machine Method: Place all of the ingredients into the pan of your machine, program the machine for Manual or Dough, and press Start. When the cycle is finished, remove the dough and proceed as follows.

Manual Method: In a large bowl, combine the milk, water, butter, salt and sugar. Add the dried milk, flours and yeast, stirring till the dough starts to leave the sides of the bowl. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased surface, oil your hands, and knead it for 5 to 8 minutes, or until it's smooth and supple. Because of the relatively high fat content of this dough, it's a real pleasure to work with. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl or dough-rising bucket, cover the bowl or bucket, and allow the dough to rise till puffy though not necessarily doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours, depending on the warmth of your kitchen.

Mixer Method: Combine the ingredients as above, using a flat beater paddle or beaters, then switch to the dough hook(s) and knead for 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl or dough-rising bucket, cover the bowl or bucket, and allow the dough to rise till doubled in bulk, 1 to 2 hours.

Lightly grease a 13 x 4-inch pain de mie pan. Transfer the risen dough to a lightly greased work surface, shape it into a 13-inch log, and fit it into the pan. Cover the pan with lightly greased plastic wrap, and allow the dough to rise until it's just below the lip of the pan, 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on the warmth of your kitchen (it may rise even more slowly in a cool kitchen; don't worry, this long rise will give it great flavor).

Remove the plastic, and carefully place the cover on the pan, let it rest an additional 10 minutes while you preheat your oven to 350°F. Bake the bread for 25 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven, carefully remove the lid, and return the bread to the oven to bake for an additional 20 minutes, or until it tests done; an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center will register 190°F. Remove the bread from the oven, and turn it out of the pan onto a rack to cool completely. 







Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Women's Bean Project Chili and Cornbread Mix


Many people assume that everything I cook is from scratch and are often embarrassed to admit to me that they use mixes. Just because I'm crazy enough to make my own soy sauce does not mean I don't have a bottle of Kikkoman in my house.

I love Women's Bean Project mixes.  The cornbread mix is my favorite. I keep several in my pantry for times when I'm too busy (lazy) to make my own cornbread. I know cornbread from scratch is not very difficult and requires just a few additional steps. But there are times I just need to turn off my brain. Just the other day I was making brownies and I doubled the recipe in my head. When the brownies finished baking I thought something was off.  I read over the recipe and instantly I realized I forgot to double the butter! I just wasted a cup and a half of my coveted high fat dutch process cocoa powder.

Just before the holidays I placed an order to replenish my WBP stash.  

The first time I tried WBP mixes was at a Bean Party hosted by a friend (who is a former board member of the WBP). I fell in love with the cornbread. It is seriously the best cornbread mix ever. I love it so much I buy it to give to people because I want to spread the yumminess

Today I made the cornbread to go with their old fashion mild chili. WBP also has a firehouse #10 hot chili mix but the mild was spicy enough for me.  I usually add diced jalapenos and shredded cheddar cheese. I realized I forgot the cheese as the cornbread was baking in the oven.

I soaked the beans overnight and cooked in them in a crock pot while I was at work.  When I got home, I browned a pound of ground turkey and sauteed some onions, garlic, and bell pepper.  I added two cans of Rotel (10 oz each) and one small (8 oz) container of tomato sauce instead of one large (28 oz) of diced tomatoes.


Monday, April 14, 2014

Kellie's Chicken Khao Pune (Laotian Curry Noodles)



I was craving some Laotian Khao Pune (curry noodles) so I texted my friend Kellie to see if she could send me her “recipe.” She texted me back and said she will email it later. The recipe below is pretty much Kellie’s version.

I use a whole chicken because it’s what Kellie uses. I think it makes a more flavorful broth. Some people simply use boneless breasts and augment with chicken broth or bouillon but I think the flavor payoff is well worth the extra step of having to deal with bones. Chicken feet and chicken wings are also great for making yummy broth. (Chicken feet is my secret ingredient for making the perfect matzo ball soup broth.)

Kellie's Chicken Khao Pune (Laotian Curry Noodles)

Ingredients for Sauce:
1 whole chicken
1 pound chicken feet (optional)
1 stalk lemon grass
3 kaffir lime leaves
1 knob dried galanga root
water to cover
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 shallot, finely diced
1 13.5 ounce can Chaokoh coconut milk
1 4 ounce can Maesri brand Namya Noodle Curry Paste
2 tablespoons red curry paste (or use about ¼ cup red curry and exclude the namya curry paste)
MSG, to taste
Fish sauce, to taste
1 disk palm sugar (or about 2 tablespoons regular sugar)

Ingredients for Serving:
Rice vermicelli noodles, boiled
Cabbage, shredded
Bean sprouts
Banana blossom, sliced (optional)
Long beans, finely sliced
Cilantro, chopped
Green onions, sliced

1. Cut up a whole chicken into pieces and add to a large stockpot. Add chicken feet (if using), lemon grass, lime leaves, and galanga root to stockpot. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Simmer until chicken is cooked. Remove chicken pieces and allow to cool. Continue to simmer broth.
2. When chicken is cool enough to handle, separate out the chicken meat, discarding skin and bones. Pound chicken meat with a mortar and pestle until chicken is shredded. (I think you can use a potato masher is you do not own a mortar and pestle. The goal is a finely shredded/mashed chicken without getting it too pasty.) Set mashed chicken aside.
3. In a medium saucepan, sauté shallots in some oil. Add curry pastes and sauté a few minutes until fragrant. Add coconut milk and sauté a few minutes longer. (Kellie doesn’t think that this step is necessary but I went ahead and followed it since it’s the way Kellie’s mom taught her to make the sauce.)
4. Add the curry coconut milk to the simmering broth. Add the reserved mashed chicken, MSG, fish sauce, and palm sugar. Return to a simmer until sugar is melted.




Maesri brand namya sauce, coconut milk, an assortment of rice vermicelli noodles and banana blossom.


To Serve:
1. Boil the rice vermicelli. Soak the noodles in cold water and create little bundles of noodles by grabbing a handful and laying it down on a colander. (This makes it easier for everyone to grab a bundle or two when assembling their bowls so make small serving size bundles.)
2. Layer the noodles and the various topping in a large “pho” bowl and ladle boiling sauce on top. Enjoy.

Plate of vegetable toppings:


Layer noodles and vegetable toppings in a large "pho" bowl.


Ladle hot sauce over noodles.


Saturday, February 15, 2014

Blueberry Muffins

I've spent the past several weeks testing out muffin recipes.  The Everything Muffin recipe is not quite there yet but the blueberry muffin testing is done.






Blueberry Muffins
yield: 12 muffins


1 cup sugar
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup canola oil
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
2 cups fresh blueberries
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
 coarse sparkling sugar

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Line or spray 12 regular muffin tins.
2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together sugar, flour, baking powder, and salt.
3. Add cubed butter and mix until sandy.  Add oil and continue mixing until incorporated.
4. Combine buttermilk and vanilla and add to the flour mixture.  Beat until smooth.
5. Add egg, one at a time. Beat until smooth.
6. Using a rubber spatula, fold in blueberries and lemon zest.
7. Divide the batter among the prepared muffin tins.  (The tins should be pretty full.)  Sprinkle with coarse sparkling sugar.  Bake 17 to 20 minutes. Let muffins cool in tins for 5 minutes then transfer to wire rack.

***If using fresh blueberries, reserve 2 tablespoons of flour and lightly toss the berries with the reserved flour before adding to batter.

I don't always have buttermilk on hand so I tested the recipe using regular milk instead of buttermilk and felt it was so much better with the buttermilk.  I use buttermilk in a handful of recipes but always end up buying a full quart.  I freeze leftover buttermilk in 1/4 cup cubes.  Frozen buttermilk does separate when thawed but I find it works perfectly fine in cake, pancakes, and muffins.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Golden Vanilla Cake


It's been a long while since I last posted.  During my absence, I moved from the Mile High City to America's Finest City (aka my hometown).  I look forward to baking without having to adjust for altitude. Today I'm testing out a yellow cake recipe.

I've been searching for the perfect homemade yellow cake and have tried several recipes over the last few years. I've been disappointed each time.  My last attempt went into the trash.  I'm not looking for a fluffy boxed cake mix cake.  Cakes from mixes are too gummy in texture and artificial tasting for me.

I'm looking for a dense cake but I don't want dry or crumbly and many of the recipes I've tried resulted in a dense, dry, and crumbly.  I want dense but also moist with a fine crumb.  It is the texture found in many bakery cakes.

Bakeries use the high ratio method that utilize special high ratio flours and shortening. The problem with high ratio cakes are they tend to be too sweet and lack flavor.  This is because high ratio cakes are made with a lot of sugar and a special high ratio shortening containing emulsifiers. To top it all off, they are then frosted with shortening "butter"cream. So is there a way to get the results of a high ratio cake without using special flours and shortening? 

I came across this recipe on the King Arthur website.  I think I looked at this recipe a while back but decided to not make it because of the many negative reviews.  But after reading through the several pages of reviews, I found that people were either very happy or very disappointed by the results.  I decided to give it a try.  I've had a lot of luck with King Arthur recipes. 

This recipe from King Arthur utilizes the reverse creaming method used in high ratio cakes but subs butter for the high ratio shortening.  The result is a very flavorful butter cake with a very fine crumb.  The cake is still pretty sweet so I frosted it with a not too sweet chocolate cream cheese frosting.  The only reason I frost cakes is because everyone expects them to be frosted. I don't like frosting and find it a waste of calories.  I would rather eat a larger piece of cake than eat the frosting. 

I love the texture and flavor of this cake but it is very sweet and the texture while very good, reminded me of pound cake.  I think I will have to tinker with it a bit.  Perhaps make it with cake flour instead of all purpose and decrease some of the sugar. 

The recipe can be found on the King Arthur website:
http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/golden-vanilla-cake-recipe

The recipe makes:

One 9x13 pan
Two 9" rounds
Three 8" rounds
Twenty four cupcakes


Golden Vanilla Cake

2 cups sugar, preferable baker's sugar (which is a finer than regular granulated sugar)
3 1/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, cubed and at room temperature
1 1/4 cups milk, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

4 large eggs

1. Bring butter, milk, and eggs to room temperature.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line pans with parchment paper.

3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, measure out sugar, flour, baking powder and salt.  Using the paddle attachment, mix until combined.



4. Add the butter and mix on low until mixture looks sandy.  (It should look like bisquick or cake mix.)



5.  Combine the milk and vanilla and add to flour mixture.  Mix on low speed 30 seconds and increase to medium and mix another 30 seconds.


6. Add egg one at a time mixing on medium for 30 seconds after each addition.



7. After the last egg, scrape down bowl and mix another 30 seconds.


8. Transfer batter into baking pans.  Drop pans on counter a few times to release air bubbles.  Bake until golden and toothpick inserted comes out clean.  (I didn't read the instructions carefully and baked the batter in two 8" pans instead of three.)




Saturday, January 26, 2013

Pad See Ew -- Thai Soy Sauce Noodles


I usually order drunken noodles at Thai restaurants but every once in a while I will crave a good pad see ew.  Pad see ew is no nonsense noodle goodness. While pad thai and pad kee mao (drunken noodles) are more complex in flavor, pad see ew is simple.  The key ingredient is the dark sweet soy sauce. 

I must have about 15 different soy sauces in my pantry.  I believe every bottle serves a different purpose.  For this recipe, I bought a different brand of sweet soy sauce to try out.  I've been using the Healthy Boy brand but wanted to try the Dragonfly brand.  I remember seeing a bottle of this stuff in mom's pantry. I give it a thumbs up.

In San Diego, fresh rice noodles can be found in almost all Asian grocery stores.  The noodle factories deliver warm noodles daily.  In Denver, we get the noodles from California and instead of warm and soft, they are refrigerated and hard. Refrigerated noodles do not stand up well when fried but the only other option is making your own noodles.  My aunts are expert noodle makers.  They helped my grandmother run a noodle soup stand when they were teenagers. They still make noodles from time to time.  I should attempt making fresh noodles one day.

My mom doesn't like factory made noodles.  She says the oil used to coat the noodles cycles through the machine continuously.  She prefers to buy the dried noodles and soak the noodles in warmish-hot water.  I used refrigerated fresh noodles and blanched them in boiling water.  The noodles do fall apart a bit but I think they are still pretty yummy.

Pad See Ew
adapted from Serious Eats
yield: one generous serving 

For the meat:
4 ounces chicken breast, pork, or beef; thinly sliced
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons thin soy sauce (sometimes called white soy sauce)

For the sauce:
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
2 teaspoons thin soy sauce
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons rice vinegar
1 clove garlic; minced

For the stir fry:
4 tablespoons oil
1 large egg
8 ounces fresh wide flat rice noodles; separated or noodle sheets; separated and cut
2 tablespoons sweet soy sauce
3 stalks gai lan (Chinese broccoli)
2 ounces fried tofu


1. Marinate meat with baking soda and thin soy sauce.  Set aside.
2. Combine ingredients for the sauce.  Set aside.
3. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Place noodles in a strainer and dip noodles into boiling water for a few seconds until soft.  Set aside.  Place chicken in strainer and dip in boiling water until cooked.  Set aside.
4. Heat a wok on high.  Add oil and when oil starts to smoke, add egg.  Allow eggs to set then scramble.  When eggs are cooked, add noodles.  Stir noodles to coat with oil and then allow to cook a minute.  Drizzle in 2 tablespoons of sweet soy sauce.  Toss well.  Cook until slightly charred.
5.  Add gai lan, meat, and tofu.  Toss until all ingredients are heated through.  Add the sauce mixture.  Stir fry a few more minutes.
6. Serve immediately.

To substitute dried noodles: Soak noodles in warm/hot water for about 30 minutes and drain.  Skip the blanching in hot water.


The sauces (from left to right): rice vinegar (either mizkan or marukan brand), Mae Krua brand oyster sauce, Healthy Boy thin soy sauce, Kwong Hung Seng or Dragonfly brand sweet soy sauce (blue cap), and Healthy Boy sweet soy sauce.  Behind the Healthy Boy sweet soy is a bottle of Healthy Boy dark soy sauce.  I used Kwong Hung Seng for the sweet soy but some people prefer Healthy Boy sweet or dark soy.
gai lan, noodles, eggs, marinated meat, sauce mixture, fried tofu.
Add egg to hot oil

Scramble the eggs

Add the noodles

Add sweet soy sauce

Add gai lan

Add meat, tofu, and sauce mixture



Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Som Moo (Naem or Sour Pork Sausage)


I called my mom on Christmas Day.  I was on my way to the Asian grocery store.  She's coming to Denver in a few days and usually brings me goodies.  She was just in town over the Thanksgiving weekend and brought rambutans, guavas, seaweed, mangosteen, and other goodies.  When J* was in San Diego a few weeks ago she sent him back with a large bag of guavas for me and a bag of snickers for his plane ride.  While we were talking, my mom said that our Lao sausage guy passed away a few days ago.

He's the guy that we always got our sai krok and som moo from.  I didn't eat beef or pork for a long time.  I started eating pork but only in certain forms (when the flavor is hidden enough that it no longer tastes like pork).  I always brought back a few packages of sai krok and som moo.  The sai krok is the best I've ever had.  It's sour, garlicky, and lemongrass-y.  (Maybe I'll attempt making sai krok and lap cheong when I feel like dealing with the casings.) I never eat som moo by itself but I keep it around for nam khao.

One of my favorite Laotian dishes is nam khao.  A few years ago I was looking for a recipe on the net and I couldn't find one so I came up with something based solely on my memory of eating it. I've been told that my recipe is missing the red curry paste.  I think it tastes fine without.  One of the key ingredients for nam khao is som moo.  Now that my sausage guy has passed away, I must come up with a way to make my own or else settle for American ham doused with lime juice.

I looked at a few recipes.  I love the directions on the Lao Cook website so I followed the instructions but went with the seasoning recipe from Thai Food Master because he included sugar and MSG.  I made two batches -- one using just sticky rice and another using the nam powder I thought I used nam powder but I guess I threw away the actual sodium nitrite packet mistaking it for one of those oxygen absorber packets.

Please visit the Lao Cook and Thai Food Master websites for a recipe.

I started off with some pork. I bought these from the Asian store.  In hindsight I should I have bought a leaner pork loin and the frozen pork skin instead.

I trimmed the meat, saving the ski.  I boiled the skin and sliced them up.

I ground the meat user the grinder attachment on my Kitchenaid.  While I don't feel that it's the best meat grinder, it works for occasional meat grinding.  I had to cut the meat into small pieces to get it to fit the chute.  I bought my mom a stand alone meat grinder and took it with me to San Diego. It was surprisingly difficult to find a meat grinder in San Diego but almost every store in Denver carries it.  (Excuse the mess.  I was working on a few different cooking projects.)

I kneaded the meat using the dough hook of my Kitchenaid.  This can be done by hand but it takes a long time.

After kneading, I divided the meat into two batches.  The one below has the sticky rice.  (I didn't think I had enough pork skin but it was perfectly fine.  I should have trimmed off more of the fat.) I finished the kneading by hand after I mixed in the ingredients and the pork skin.

I wrapped the batches differently.  The one without the rice were wrapped smaller and has the chili on the outside.  The one with the rice were wrapped larger (I was a little tired by this time) and had chili in the middle (like how Lao Cook does it).

I ate the sausages (even the batch without the rice or the sodium nitrite) and I survived.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Beignets


Happy Christmas Eve!!  I know I haven't posted many recipes lately.  I've been cooking and I have several recipes in draft right now but the whole process of food blogging takes a lot of time.  I can't manage to pull out the DSLR camera, find the cord to upload, and edit photos so right now iPhone photos will have to do.  I need an SLR camera that will email photos to me. 

I've made this recipe a few times over the past several months. I've tweaked the recipe a bit, decreasing the amount of flour just a bit to get a more pliable dough.  I've starting converting many stand mixer bread dough recipes to work with my favorite Zoji bread machine.  

I find that this dough tastes best when allowed to rest overnight.  It still tastes find after refrigerating a few hours but the complex yeast-y flavors take longer to develop.  The dough also poofs up nicely with the longer rest.  I've fried half the dough the first morning and the other half the second morning.  The dough can be kept in the fridge for a few days but I find that after day 3, it starts to get too flavorful.  I've also frozen the dough and it's worked beautifully.

I love eating beignets with Vietnamese coffee made with either Cafe du Monde or French Market chicory coffee rather than cafe au lait. 

Beignets

adapted from Tyler Florence "Ultimate French Quarter" episode

Ingredients
  • 3/4 cups warm water
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • Pinch kosher salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk
  • 3 3/4 cups bread flour, plus more as needed
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
  • Cooking spray
  • Vegetable oil, for deep frying
  • 1 cup powdered sugar for dusting
Directions

1. Add all ingredients except for cooking spray, oil, and powdered sugar to bread machine.  Set dough cycle but don't let the dough complete proof cycle.

2. Place dough in oil bowl (cooking spray or butter) and cover.  Refrigerate dough overnight or at least 4 hours.  (Beignets are most flavorful if allowed to rest overnight.)

3. Once rested, gently turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Sprinkle a little more flour on top so you can work with the dough. Gently shape the dough into a 1-inch thick rectangle so it can be cut into squares. Using a sharp knife or pizza cutter cut into squares, (you should yield 12 large squares, depending on how thick you rolled the dough).

4. Heat about 2 inches oil in a pan over medium heat. Fry the beignets in batches, turning them and gently bouncing them with tongs to encourage them to poof, until golden. Remove from oil onto a paper towel lined plate. To serve, transfer beignets to a serving plate and dust generously with powdered sugar.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Review of FitBit Ultra -- My Experience

This post is not about food.  I've been using an activity tracker (fancy pedometer) for over a year.  It all started when I was at a Wellness seminar at the Four Seasons Denver.  I started talking to the guy next to me.  (I'm an introvert but I talk a lot.)  He's a wellness expert and as part of his job, he tests wellness products.  We started talking about pedometers so I asked him what was his favorite pedometer.  We were using Omrons at work.  He showed me his FitBit Ultra in blue.  I was with a few coworkers and we all got excited.  When we got back to the office, we convinced our boss to buy FitBits for everyone.

So that's how it started.  I ordered about 50 FitBits (five at a time on the 24 Hour Fitness website using my member discount and coupons).  This triggered the 24 Hour Fitness fraud department.  I called them and assured them that they were valid orders.  I was one of the first ones in the office to test it out before we distributed it to the staff. 

Set-up was a little finicky so I wrote up a Q&A and tip sheet for everyone.  I was already starting my pre-wedding diet before I started using the FitBit but it was a handy tool to motivate me.  I found that often I was hovering below 10,000 steps per day.  I would then get in the car and drive to a store in the middle of the night and start walking around.  When I returned home without buying anything, J* would ask where I was at.  I would tell him I was at the store to get more steps.

It was tough to get over 10,000 steps most work days. The day of our company picnic I was over 17,000 steps and I was still continuing to walk.  I think I ended up with over 20,000 steps that day.  During a trip to Vegas, we did a lot of walking and there were days where we were at 40,000 steps. I wish I could consistently reach 10,000 steps per day.

By dieting and using the FitBit, I lost over 20 pounds.  Keep in mind, I'm just over 5 feet tall.  Then one day after returning from a trip to California, I recall taking my FitBit off and putting it on a table.  I couldn't find it the next day.  I looked around but couldn't find it. A while later when J* was doing laundry, he found my FitBit in the dryer.  My FitBit had gone through the washing machine and dryer.  I suspect our cat Tasha, who has a habit of knocking things off tables, knocked it into the hamper that was near the table at the time.  I tried letting it dry, putting it in rice, and resetting it and nothing worked.  I googled "fitbit washing machine" and found that I am not the only person who has done this because FitBit has troubleshooting instructions on washing a FitBit.  I followed the instructions and nothing worked.  The troubleshooting page said to contact support using the provided link for additional help so I contacted them. 

I received an email from support within a day.  (Support is not instantaneous but someone does respond.) "Emily" gave me additional instructions on troubleshooting and still nothing worked.  All I got was the flashing "FITBIT 4.14" on the screen.  Emily then told me she was sending me a replacement.  I couldn't believe it!  I thought that perhaps they would offer me a replacement at a reduced cost (like my little sister usually gets from the Apple store) but they were sending me a free replacement. 

The replacement came rather quickly.  Emily also sent me instructions on syncing a new FitBit to an existing account.  I couldn't get the darn thing to sync at all.  I tried resetting using the paperclip, rebooting the computer, trying a different USB port, uninstalling the software and reinstalling, standing on my head while holding my breath, and pleading with the darn thing before I decided to give up and try syncing to my Mac at home.  I went through the same steps but this time instead of uninstalling and reinstalling, I was installing, uninstalling, and reinstalling the software.  Finally the screen on the FitBit just died.  I thought perhaps, I used up the juice while trying to get it set-up so I left it on the base overnight to let it charge before I tried again.  It never charged, the screen never came back up and I was never able to get it to sync.

I contacted support to see to see if they could point me in the right direction.  I remember it being a pain to get my first one to sync but it eventually worked. Support got back to me and apparently I had a defective FitBit.  They were sending out a new one but wanted me to send a picture of the FitBit.  Below is the picture I took.  FitBit Left was the original FitBit that was washed.  It keeps flashing "FITBIT 4.14" when on the base.  FitBit Right was the replacement FitBit that died within 12 hours.

The second replacement took a while to get to me.  I waited anxiously.  By this time I've been without my FitBit for a few weeks now.  I received notification that the my FitBit shipped on 10/4 but I kept checking and nothing.  Finally on 10/10, it showed that it was actually shipped.  I received it on 10/13.  When I finally received my second replacement, I was able to get it to sync right away on my Mac.  It worked the very first time but I noticed that the screen on this one was blurry and there's a rectangular illuminated frame around the letters.  You can see below the lines above and below the clock.  It looks like it wasn't assembled correctly.  For now it works (although it's not crystal clear like my old FitBit) but remember that I have 50 other coworkers with FitBits (plus several of my coworkers purchased units for their partners and spouses under my 24 Hour Fitness membership) and I've had reports from a few people that their displays have since died.  Hopefully mine does no die. 


Another thing I've noticed about me wearing the FitBit is that I've developed a rash near where I wear it.  (One of the locations recommended by FitBit is on your bra and that's where I find it's most secure.  Many of my male coworkers wear it on their pants (either on their waist or in their pockets) and it has fallen off without them noticing since it's so small and lightweight.)  After several months of dealing with this rash, I went to see my doctor and he quickly diagnosed it a yeast overgrowth and prescribed a cream.  The cream worked and the rash would go away for a little while and return.  Since I have not been wearing my FitBit, I haven't had a rash.  (I disinfect my FitBit every few weeks.)

I hear that FitBit has introduced two new trackers.  The Zip is a cheaper version missing the sleep tracker and the One, which is a replacement for the Ultra tracker.  Honestly, I only used the sleep tracker the first few weeks.  I was tired of it telling me that I wake up over 30 times per night.  The Zip looks like it's a little larger than the Ultra so it might not be so easily lost.  It also operates on a battery so maybe people won't have issues with their battery dying over time.  The One looks really sleek but I'm not in love with the burgundy color.  I'm liking the new wireless bluetooth dongle but it looks like the charger is separate unlike the Ultra.  It's also sweat-proof!!  Not sure if the new One is worth trading up for.  I can't say I'm always one of the first adopters of new technology.  I'm still using IPhone 4S and did not run out to get the new 5 when it came out.  Heck! I haven't even upgraded the OS on it yet.  J* asked if I had since he was updated the OS on his IPhone and on his IPad.  When I had the 3G, I never updated the OS and wondered why I could not participate in group texts with my friends.
 
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