Coming Clean

I just recently completed my annual 3-week cleanse. It’s the whole No plan: No caffeine, No alcohol, No sugar, No wheat, No dairy….and no nightshades like tomatoes, eggplant and potatoes, although by the time you get to that No, really who is counting and who cares. Unlike the quadrillion diets I’ve been on in my life, I am always amazed at how easy this detox is to do. There is virtually no craving at all other than mental — as in, my day at work has sucked beyond belief and what I really want is a glass of wine rather than diets in the past where I would have killed someone to have a piece of chocolate…before basically reaching for the chocolate because really who can resist? (Answer: Not me.)

This non-craving reality lends credence to the idea that one reason we crave this junk is because … wait for it … we eat this junk. In other words, the junk makes us want more junk….Not really much different than heroin or crack is it?

As with years past, I’ve been thinking how I’m going to eat now that the cleanse is over. I am less congested, my skin is looking seriously amazing (other people have commented on this rather than relying on my own narcissistic view here), I’ve lost a few pounds (I don’t weigh myself but certain barometer clothes are easier to wear), my joints are less sore and overall the digestion system is working more smoothly. So I should — at least in theory — just keep going right?

But I just can’t eat this way all the time (apologies to vegan, non-drinking, non-sugar people who are clearly stronger than I am). It’s just too boring.

So I’m trying to figure out what to add and what to delete. It’s not a science but a gut — literally — idea at this point, week one after the cleanse. I’ve decided to stay as gluten-free as possible and I am holding back on the dairy. (NO YOGURT YET!!!!!!! AAHHHHHHH!!!!). I also have not had a cup of coffee in nearly a month.

I have had some alcohol and some sugar. I am trying to consume less of each.

I was doing fairly well, until today when I saw this in the grocery story.

mega stuff oreos

Followed by this…

mega stuff oreos 2

Read the rest of this entry »


What I’m Cooking Up

Our youngest heads back to college tomorrow and I did my usual cooking for a cast of thousands to cope. I baked brownies, chocolate chip cookies, and buffalo chicken lasagne in my slow cooker because S, our youngest, would basically eat shoe leather if it was dressed in buffalo chicken flavoring and I knew he would love this. (He did.) This is the second time I’ve made this recipe and it was even better this time. Not sure why exactly but I’m telling you that if you have anyone in your life who loves buffalo chicken wings, make this. You will immediately be placed in goddess or god status, and really who doesn’t want that??

buffalo chicken lasagne

In the meantime, I’m been a bit absent from this blog because, frankly, I am struggling with the whole cooking thing. Our family has grown up (a good thing generally) and I am desperately trying to figure out how to cook for the next plan. I remember fondly cooking for my husband and myself when we were the only thing in the world that mattered and dinner was a reason to celebrate just about every night. You’d think getting back to that would be easy, desired even. And it generally is. But somewhere in between cooking for (eventually) five for decades, I have lost my ability to get excited about cooking for two. Somewhere in between the endless meals for many I forgot how to cook for two. And while it seems as if it should be as easy as just halving a recipe or cutting something down to make it work for two, I’m finding that actually the size and amount are not the issue at all. It’s bigger than that even as the cooking itself is smaller.


Molasses-Spice Cookies

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Tonight, lovely people, I’m trying my hand at leg of lamb. I’ve never cooked anything like it before. My first thought when the butcher handed me the neatly wrapped paper bundle was “I have no business with such a respectable piece of meat.” I almost put it back on the counter and ran. Realizing I’d never be able to show up at my favorite grocery again if I did, though, I tucked it under my arm and went in search of John and Max.

I’m making the lamb for John. It’s been too long since I did something nice for the guy just because. Out of fear that I’ll completely destroy this lovely lamb leg, then, I whipped up a batch of his favorite cookies with Max’s help while he was at work this afternoon. In my cookbook margin right below JOHN LOVES THESE and the date I first made them is now today’s date and MADE WITH MAXINE. It gives me the warm and fuzzies to look at.

Glazed Molasses-Spice Cookies
makes 15-20 large cookies

Ingredients
2 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
2 tspn. baking soda
1/2 tspn. salt
1 1/2 tspn. cinnamon
1 tspn. ginger
3/4 tspn. cloves
1/4 tspn. allspice
12 T. unsalted butter, softened
1/2 c. dark brown sugar, packed
1/2 c. granulated sugar, plus 1/3 c. for rolling cookies
1 large egg
1 tspn. vanilla extract
1/3 c. unsulphured molasses
1 1/4 c. confectioners’ sugar
2 T. milk

Method
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Whisk together flour, baking soda, salt and spices and set aside. Cream together the butter, brown sugar and white granulated sugar until fluffy. Add egg, vanilla and molasses, beating until combined. Add dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Place remaining 1/3 c. of granulated sugar in a shallow bowl. Roll dough into balls, using approximately 2 T. of dough per ball. Roll each ball in the bowl of sugar before placing on baking sheet. Bake, rotating halfway through, until the centers are soft and puffy and the edges are just beginning to set. These cookies will not look as done as you’re probably used to and you don’t want them to; this is key for establishing their super soft texture. If your cookies get hard as they cool or by the next day, then next time try cooking them less.
Cool cookies. Once completely cooled, sift confectioners sugar and stir in milk until smooth. Using a spoon, drizzle the glaze over your cookies (I suggest doing this over a piece of wax paper for easy clean up). Let set and enjoy.


What’s for Breakfast?

A little toddler puke in my mouth before sun-up, that’s what.

Or, that’s what I ate yesterday morning for the second time in my parenting career. And yes, that means this has become an annual occurrence in our house. Or in my mouth. Or whatever.

Happy new year?


Holiday Break

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We are pausing here until after the holidays. We’ll all be in California, spending Christmas together for the first time in seven years. We hope you are hunkered down with those you love, too. Thank you for visiting us here all year. We are oh so grateful to share this space with such lovely folks.

Eat, drink, and be merry!

Love,
Janet and Rachel


Holding Tight

Like most of America, and in particular anyone who is a parent, I have been gut-wrenched in ways that continue to evolve as more details about Friday’s shootings in Newtown, Connecticut, emerge. I work part-time in an office located in the town next to Newtown and the tentacles of that crazy day have reached into the office where I work. One of the teachers who died protecting her students is the daughter of a copy editor in the newsroom of my part-time office, and my design director lives in Newtown. Thankfully, her children were not students of Sandy Hook Elementary.

I do not know how you go on when your child dies, much less is senselessly murdered by a deranged person in a place you once thought of as safe. I suppose this is just another example of how God or Biology or Whatever so wisely made breathing part of the autonomic nervous system; it happens whether or not we want to make it continue and so, under moments of extreme horror and sadness, we can’t literally choose to stop breathing.

I am the mother of older children. They are in the 20s and on their paths. And yet, I continue to worry, depending on the moment, on where they are going and how they will get there. I read something recently that made total sense to me. An older woman was handed a baby. After tickling her and hugging her, she turned to the mother and said, “When they’re young, they sit on your knee. When they’re older, they sit on your heart.”

And so, when our youngest child, Sam, was in the air on Saturday, winging his way home from a semester in Prague, I was more worried than I usually am when someone I love is in the air. And when he happily arrived and I hugged him for the first time in four months, I took a deep breath and for just a moment relaxed.

Sam loves bacon and ranch dressing and cheese. It was a no-brainer to make this recipe for his first dinner home.

Bacon and Cheese Slow-Cooker Chicken

from Make It Fast, Cook It Slow

serves 4

ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil

4-6 chicken breast halves or equivalent number of thighs

1/4 cup teriyaki sauce

1/2 cup ranch dressing

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

12 pieces cooked bacon, crumbled

method

Pour the olive oil in the bottom of the slow cooker. Place the chicken pieces on top.

In a small bowl, combine the teriyaki sauce and ranch dressing. Whisk together and pour on top of the chicken. Add the shredded cheese and bacon pieces, trying to place in between chicken pieces where possible. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high 3-4 hours.

 

 

 

 

 


Great Great (Great) Aunt Eurania’s Snowball Cookies (Redux)

20121211-173240.jpgMax and I took to the kitchen this week, embarking on the first weekend morning in the kitchen of many in December. I pulled out my Great Great Aunt Eurania’s address turned recipe book and handed Max the ingredients for her Snowball Cookies to toss into the stand mixer.

20121211-173828.jpgMax was dutiful. She tasted the butter plain and then after we’d added sugar and then again after we mixed in the nutmeat. I tried not to think too hard on her declaration that her first taste–the one that was PLAIN BUTTER–was the best. Kids, right?

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My brother is on a health kick, singing the praises of grass-fed everything and, I have to say, the grass-fed butter we used really did taste better than it’s counterparts. With a cookie that is essentially butter, stuff like this really counts in terms of flavor. It also, of course, is better for you. Why not bake a little health into this holiday labor of love?

My praises for this simple recipe are just a strong as they were last year when I first followed it’s neat script. They are both fantastically easy and simply delicious, with a single batch churning out four dozen perfect little sugary balls. Plus, this is Max’s Great Great Great Aunt’s recipe, a fact that makes them a gem in their own right. Though I try not to daydream too much about Max’s future in the name of remaining open to the kid’s path, I found myself wondering if Max won’t someday make them with a tiny person of her own for whom they will be a Great Great Great Great Aunt’s recipe. That, after all, is some of the stuff that holidays are truly wrought from.

 


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