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.
Followed by this…
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
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
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.
I know, I know my new love for my slow cooker is as annoying as young love with completely obnoxious PDAs that make older and wiser folks in relationships just want to gag. Someday, they think to themselves, you will get over this Romeo and Juliet thing and just get back to basics.
But that day is not now and not yet. I make something with my slow cooker every single week and it is without exception amazing — from the very beginning where I only use one pot!!!!! to the end wonderfulness where I walk in the door and dinner is done!!!! and tasty!!!!! (Jeez, all those exclamation points are even making me a little nauseous.)
Anyway before I go on to a few things I’ve made that you can make too, some business. We have two cookbook winners to announce. Mari is the winner of Sweet & Easy Vegan by Robin Asbell and Grace is the winner of Roots by Diane Morgan. Congrats to you both and happy cooking from Rachel and me.
Okay back to slow cooker wonderfulness. This maple dijon chicken comes from a terrific cookbook I bought after buying my slow cooker: Make It Fast, Cook It Slow by Stephanie O’Dea. She’s the founder of A Year of Slow Cooking (the name explains itself) and is the queen of straightforward cooking. (Added bonus if it matters to someone in your cooking life: her recipes are gluten-free because someone in her life needs to eat that way.) Anyway I recommend the book and the recipe….as well as a ton of others she’s included in the book. Happy slow cooking!
I’m not gonna lie. I had never heard of salsify and I’ve never cooked — or eaten — a rutabaga. This despite having been a vegetarian since 1979. Then along comes Diane Morgan‘s wonderful cookbook/compendium Roots (put out by the incomparable Chronicle Books) and my veggie world was rocked.
This book is an amazing compendium of all veggies whose best bits are underground. Each chapter is devoted to a root and opens with basic info about its nutrition, basic use and preparation, and varieties, as well as a little history and lore. (Andean tubers, for instance, were cultivated by the Incans and are the second most economically tuber crop in the area after the potato.) This is followed by delectable recipes. Roots covers the obvious — carrots, turnips and potatoes — as well as the lesser-known, such as lotus root, yuca and salsify and scorzonera. (And just so I don’t leave you hanging, salsify and scorzonera are native to the eastern Mediterranean and brought to North America in the late 18th century. Thomas Jefferson planted them at Monticello.)
Not sure if you want to win this cookbook? Maybe these photos will inspire you. Just leave a comment about your favorite root below. We’ll pick a random winner on Sunday. Good luck!
Tis the season of eating and feasting. I don’t what it’s like at your office but the closer it gets to Christmas, the harder it become to walk by a workspace without some kind of tantalizing homemade goody calling my name. Here’s a way to feel slightly better about your sweet baking this holiday season: Win your very own copy of Sweet & Easy Vegan by the incomparable Robin Asbell. (I swear by her cookbook, New Vegetarian. You can read my ode to that and get a recipe here.)
Anyway she has partnered with the fabulous Chronicle Books to make this vegan wonder that features treats made with whole grains and natural sweetners. I’m not say they’re non-caloric. I’m just saying they’re better for you in general for obvious reasons. The book helps show you that going vegan, even a few days a week, does not mean going without interesting food, specifically desserts and goodies in this particular book. Take these incredible pistachio crusted brownies ganache topping…..yeah, the book has those kind of recipes.
Need more convincing? Here’s the cover with some olive oil cupcakes with hazlenuts and gianduja cream. (I don’t know what that cream is but I want some right now!
Anyway, you can win this cookbook, either for yourself or some vegan you love. Just leave a comment and tell us about your sweet tooth. How sweet is it? We will pick a random winner on Sunday night and announce the winner on Monday. Good luck! And happy baking?
I had an epiphany today. Some things you just can’t cook your way out of. Normally, heading to the kitchen gives me a sense of normalcy in the middle of a crisis. Today, I planned, I cooked, I created — and nothing worked. The food is fine, but that thing I was trying to fix, to think my way out of, well it’s going to be awhile before that gets resolved. And I’m not gonna lie; that doesn’t feel good.
But on the upside, we’ve got a cookbook winner — congratulations Phoebe! You’re getting a free copy of Saveur’s new cookbook! — and I’ve got a terrific casserole adapted from Faith Durand‘s Not Your Mother’s Casserole. It features butternut squash and bacon — and while the rest of my world is upside down, that’s pretty damn straight-on.
I’m not going to tell you the decidedly un-PC name for this Reynolds family dessert passed down from my mother-in-law who received it from an old family friend. I will just tell you that they are damn good and you should make them right now. With the holiday treat season upon us officially after Thursday, I can tell you that anyone who receives these will be your slave forever, they will be that grateful.
I made couple of these in the original format that spawned the family nickname (would it be appropriate to remind you I married into this family, that this is not in fact my family’s un-PC recipe?) but then decided to go the patty route because they’re easier to mold that way. But it’s the long ones that got the nickname going in case you want to stretch your mind trying to figure it out. In the meantime, when you wrap them up for friends and family, you can just call them Peanut Butter Goo Bars and after one bite, no one will really care anyway.
When I told Rachel what I was blogging about for today, she said something like “Oh you mean the kind of dish you would have served to torture me as a child?” See, I am a broccoli freak and I serve it at least twice a week — and have for years. And Rachel always said it tasted yucky and she didn’t like it. And I would give my pat answer: “Your taste buds change every 24 hours, so just go ahead and give it another try.” You know, standard mom patter to children showing you less than an enthusiastic response.
And then I read somewhere — or maybe Rachel read it somewhere and shoved it in front of my nose — about how some people have taste buds that actually taste things more bitterly than others, and that broccoli and cauliflower are in the group of veggies that some people can find especially bitter. In other words, Rachel was right about how broccoli tastes to her. So sorry, Rachel. I won’t serve broccoli when you’re around ever again. But for the rest of you, trust me, you’ll like this tasty casserole.
Broccoli and Cauliflower Casserole
3-4 cups of chopped broccoli florets
1 small head cauliflower, chopped
2 tablespoons butter
2-3 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons dried chives
1 1/2 cups grated cheese–cheddar? Gouda? Gruyere? Experiment to see what you like. I used Gouda.
pepper to taste
1 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup olive oil for drizzling
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the broccoli and cauliflower in the pot for about 10 minutes until tender. Drain and mash them together in a large pot.
Heat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9X13-inch baking pan with olive oil.
Heat the butter in a large skillet and saute the onions with some salt. Cook about 10 minutes or until translucent. Add the garlic and cook another minute. Add the chives.
In a small bowl, beat the eggs in a small bowl. Then stir into the veggie mash. Add the cheese and onion mix and stir. Salt and pepper to taste. Place in the baking pan.
Place the bread crumbs on top and drizzle with olive oil. Bake for 40 minutes until brown on top.
I just want to say for the record that I was a little — okay VERY — nervous about making this roasted vegetable tart for one reason and one reason only: It involved making dough and as anyone who follows this blog regularly knows, dough is not my forte. My attempts to make pie dough are, um, basically pathetic.
But because I am older and wiser, I decided to face my fears head on, and I am happy to report I succeeded. So there. Consider this a tale about overcoming your fears…or whatever….the result is an incredible veggie tart and really who cares beyond that? Make this and the people you make it for will sing your praises/be amazed/say you are a wonder in the kitchen. I’m not kidding.