Category Archives: weight loss

The Comfort Food Roundup

Oh, my little blog, it’s been such a long time since I’ve written a proper food post…and not just used you to help celebrate friends’ birthdays…so, I think at this point, the wisest course of action would be to do a little roundup to get us back on track…:

1. Carrot Cake, I Seek Comfort in Thee

For all intents and purposes (…which I always say as, “all intensive purposes…”), I have a massive sweet tooth. And when things in life get rocky, I cope with an entire mouth of sweet teeth. And so I indulged myself recently with a carrot cake. My favorite recipe is one my mother found in Saveur that includes crushed pineapple and coconut flakes. (I used to really not like coconut, but I think it’s growing on me…) I was on a cooking binge a couple of weekends ago and wasn’t sure I’d have room in the fridge…but I’m glad I rearranged things to make space on the bottom shelf — this cake is best after it has been refrigerated (…and, frankly, it was so hot in my apartment that I’m pretty sure the frosting would have melted right into the cake had I left it out). In short, you cannot be sad when eating this cake. (I have to be careful though — I recently caught a snippet of Dr. Oz’s weight loss secrets…one of them? “Don’t wear pants with elastic waistbands.” And that’s basically what I’ve resigned myself to while I feed my feelings…)

2. Real Olive-y Olive Oil

A J-school classmate recently invited me to a launch party for a new line of olive oil. (Thanks again, Columbia! My degree still hasn’t procured gainful employment…but, thanks to you, I made a friend who works with a guy who knows a guy who launched his own olive oil!) For all my blathering about food, I have realized in more recent history that I’m not exactly a “foodie.” (I just wrote a cover letter for a editorial food gig in which I tried to explain that if I was ever on The Next Food Network Star and Bob Tuschman or Susie Fogelson asked about my chef persona, I’d have to call myself something like the “curious novice,” by which I mean that I experiment a lot and learn as I go…and there are plenty of quasi-disastrous teaching moments.) Case in point: I bought 1.5 liters of extra virgin olive oil the last time I was at Costco. And…I can say with complete certainty that the samples of Ritossa Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Delmonico’s — yes, that Delmonico’s — were definitely more olive-y than Kirkland Signature Filippo Berio…but that’s about it. I don’t think I have a very fine palate. My companion could tell subtle differences by sampling the oils in quick succession…but I, alas, could not. The Delmonico’s bottle says, “Savor the intense and alluring aroma of fresh-cut grass…” which my friend definitely picked up on. But…it’s kind of like me and wine-tasting or what celebrity someone looks like — I never pick up on it by myself…but once someone says, “This wine has a hint of cat pee…” (which some wines do! Ask any oenophile worth his or her salt!) or, “She looks like Chloe Sevigny,” it hits me. (This is certainly not the plug the folks at Ritossa were hoping for, I’m sure…and I hope they are comforted that a) my mother is the only one who reads this; and/or b) I have included a cheer-you-up carrot cake recipe above. I will also vow to experiment with Ritossa and Delmonico’s once my Kirkland Signature is gone…and maybe there will be a noticeable difference in my food. Stay tuned.)

3. Martha’s One Good Recipe?

I’m not a huge fan of Martha Stewart’s recipes. There — I said it. Like Rachael Ray, I think they sound good (and easy) in theory, but usually come out bland and are not worth the (minimal) effort and I vow to never make them again. Not true with Martha’s Mediterranean Tuna Melt though. (Tuna melts are another Lisa comfort food. I think one of the best I ever had was at Lori’s Diner at SFO. But…since a cross-country flight was not an option, I had to find a Plan B.) The olives and capers really give it some zing and differentiate it from all the other tuna melts you’ve had in your life…although I’d advise against spooning it on two halves of French bread — I think it’s easier to just make the tuna and store it in the fridge and make individual melts as you go along. And…since her Mediterranean Tuna Melt renewed my faith in Martha’s recipes a bit, I also stocked up on ingredients to make her Spicy Black Bean Cakes. I hope I don’t regret it.

4. The Best 25 Cents You’ll Ever Spend

I have a friend who knows that sweets make me happy…and who brought me some 25-cent candy bars. I sort of forgot about them until I ran out of carrot cake (and — cringe — pudding…but the latter has lots of calcium so it’s good for my bones!)…and was happy as a little clam when I discovered them in my refrigerator last night. They’re Sunbelt bars. And…you know what? They’re really good. The chocolate-covered coconut bar reminded me a lot of the Samoa Girl Scout cookie. And it was only a quarter! (I recently decided that I can’t be such a spendthrift and drop off my laundry anymore…and was pleased to discover that it actually isn’t that bad to do my laundry myself at the Laundromat around the corner. Just $3 a load to wash and dry…and a little over an hour. So…I have to save my quarters for laundry…but my dimes and nickles will be going toward Sunbelt bars from now on!)

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Filed under cake, chocolate, Food Network, grilled cheese, Martha, olives, weight loss

Proverbial Cojones…

I can’t say I ever watched “Ugly Betty” with any regularity…which I suppose makes me partially to blame for the show’s demise. But I always found it reliably enjoyable if I happened to catch it.

And that’s precisely what happened the other night for the big finale…and…I thought it was really sweet and poignant and wrapped everything up perfectly…(although I’m not sure about that hint of a Betty-Daniel romance…)

A couple of years ago, I was shopping with my mom and aunt and cousin…and my cousin said I reminded her of Ugly Betty — which I’m pretty sure she meant in a nice way, although my mom sort of jokingly gave her a hard time about it. And I returned to work shortly thereafter and told some colleagues about it and one said, “Well…you *do* have a firm moral center.”

And, I mean, I’m not entirely sure how I feel about that particular assessment…(Plus, I would be the most obnoxious person ever if I came online to tout my morality, wouldn’t I?) but I do feel — especially after “working” at various magazines — a certain affinity with Ms. Suarez. (I don’t have braces and a Guadalajara poncho…but there’s a certain shared black-sheep-ism, I think…)

And…the whole making-a-life-for-yourself theme hits close to home. (Plus, it’s New York. Plus, it’s a glossy.)

So…Spoiler Alert…

I’m really glad Betty went to London. And not just because I have a soft spot in my heart for all things English. I know how hard it is to make a big move on your own. (And I can’t even imagine how hard it would be if you had family nearby and had lived in ONE SINGLE PLACE your entire life…although I suppose that’s why it was so important that she actually made the big move.

So I watched Betty wave goodbye to her family and head to London alone…and knew *exactly* what she was feeling in the back of that car. I’ve made that precise move on my own. (In fact, I woke up that first day by myself in a foreign [albeit English-speaking] country and thought, “[Expletive!] What have I done??”) And it wasn’t even the first time I’d done something like that — two years prior, I’d moved to LA on my own…(and, subsequently, [obviously] I moved to New York by myself.) I guess I was always paranoid about missing out on some sort of life-changing experience and wanted to make sure I didn’t look back and wish I had done something I had avoided simply because it was too scary and didn’t want to leave the ol’ comfort zone. But, at the same time, those moves are really, really scary! (Which is also why I really liked Wilhelmina Slater’s “You’ve got big balls, Betty Suarez”-comment. [And Betty’s acknowledgment: “That’s the nicest thing you’ve ever said to me…”)

I also really liked the flash of just “Betty” at the end…a nice nod to her transformation. (Even though it perhaps takes *slightly* longer than four seasons to scale an actual, real life masthead…)

The universe hasn’t thrown any big, scary moves at me in a long time. And maybe it never will again. Maybe I’m meant to be in New York forever. I haven’t figured that out yet. And, while I like feeling like I have a home again, there’s still a certain appeal and excitement to starting over and discovering new things in a new place…but, as noted, nothing has presented itself yet, so…I guess I have to be patient until some big editor guy comes up to me and tells me that he’s starting a new publication and that I’d be perfect for it…

(PS: I knew Glee’s Emma looked familiar…but I only *just* made the connection that she was Henry’s rival love interest…)

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Filed under clothes, feminism, Red Hook, weight loss

July’s Most Memorable Food…

Well, here we are: August and I haven’t posted nothin’ in a real long time.

I have another good excuse though!

I mean, partially it’s because I feel no one in the universe reads this except for my mother (which is a scene right out of Julie & Julia! Except that in the Nora Ephron/Julie Powell version, people actually *do* start reading eventually)…

But it’s also because I’ve been on the road. With my mother. In a giant trailer. (You know, like you do…)

And I certainly can’t sum up the whole trip in a measly blog post…but I can hit some highlights.

First? Nick’s Bar-B-Q & Catfish in Carlisle, Arkansas. Whoa. SO good. I felt like I was back at Penn’s in Brandon, Miss. A welcome change from all the McDonald’s (remember, kiddos, we were 52 feet long and needed big parking lots that were easy-on, easy-off…), but also one of the best meals I’ve had in a long time. Everything was fried though — fried catfish, fried pickles, fried okra and fried pies. Well worth the splurge…though it’s probably a good thing I don’t actually live there. It was so memorable, in fact, that I brought my catsitter a bottle of Nick’s barbecue sauce. (Even though I didn’t try the barbecue…)

Next? Chocolate-covered bacon at the Wisconsin State Fair. They also had TONS of fried goodies…from s’mores to cheese to green beans. In fact, I tried my first fried Snickers bar at this fair (which my mother kept calling “frickers” and “frandy bars”)…and I had part of the traditional cream puff. I was really excited about the chocolate-covered bacon though — totally intrigued. It seemed like one of those things I had to try so I could report back to everyone who was sending me links to news stories about it…but, alas, the chocolate-covered bacon stand did not immediately make itself known to us…and after a long day at the fair, most people in my party were ready to head home. And since, like Nick’s, I’d probably already consumed well over my standard daily caloric intake, I opted to head home without complaint, too. Maybe next year.

And…finally, there’s boeuf bourguignon, which I feel I have to make after seeing the aforementioned film. (Although I’m not totally a fair-weather Julia fan! I’ve read both of the books and liked them a lot!) I’m a little nervous about it — the first step, for instance, is to cut bacon into lardons. Yikes! And I’m not sure I have a 9- to 10-inch fireproof casserole dish that is 3 inches deep. But I think I can handle drying 3 pounds of lean stewing beef. And, you know, perhaps this act will help me commune with Julia and Julie and find some sort of meaning and purpose in my life, too. (For the record, I’m still searching. And, to that end, it’s been a little tough being back in NYC…)

(Ooh — I also really enjoyed it when we were at a restaurant in Norton, Virginia and the waiter described a salmon special with haricot vert…but I’d need sound effects to truly make you appreciate it…)

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Filed under Brooklyn, candy, cheese, chocolate, fish, food on a stick, frying, Mississippi, pickles, pie, weight loss, wine

Maybe My Master’s Project Wasn’t a Waste of Time?

Broadly speaking, my master’s project was on nutrition education programs in New York City. At however many thousand words, it obviously touched on a lot of issues, but one was access…and so I was really interested to see news yesterday about the Food Retail Expansion to Support Health (FRESH) Food Stores program.

I really should have done a better job of trying to get my project published somewhere…although now that it seems unemployment will loom forever and ever, maybe this is a sign that I should revisit it and make a push for publication…in case a baking publication *does* snap me up someday and I am then super-busy writing about all the cakes and pies I’m making.

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Oddball Cookbooks, a Soapbox & Kenny Chesney

At the last “party” I “hosted,” one of my “guests” remarked that I have a lot of oddball cookbooks.

Case in point: there’s Erica with my copy of “More of Jesus, Less of Me.”

This is a Christian guide to weight loss that I found at my junior class rummage sale at St. Andrew’s Episcopal (but my sister says, “Epispocal“) School in Ridgeland, Mississippi. When I first saw the title, I thought, “This is NOT about weight loss!” But it totally is a literal take on “less of me.”

The name “Kay Fant” is written in pencil on the very first page…so I can only assume this book once belonged to Ben Fant’s mom. (Ben was one of my classmates. My basketball coach used to tease him and ask him if he had a sister named Ella. I just looked him up on Facebook…and there’s a photo-less guy who is an Ole Miss grad, so it HAS to be him. But he has no friends. So I assume he doesn’t use it very often…and even if poor friendless Ben *does,* I never knew him well enough to be, like, his first friend.)

His mother’s spiritual guide to slimming down begins: “To all of God’s children who have been called Fatso, Tubby, or Two-by-Four, my fellow sufferers in life, especially those who have asked God to help them lose weight. I was an utter failure at weight loss until I found God’s way, and He asked me to share it with you.”

I’ve gotten a lot of mileage out of this book. It’s like a peek into this whole other world where being fat is “no glory to God.” (But…there are testimonies in the back…so clearly it *has* worked for some people…and who am I to judge? Clearly not, well, Jesus. And…*that* is kind of ironic because my blended family went to a Christian therapist for a brief, shining moment in the great state of Mississippi. Classic stuff. We were assigned personality animals. I was a — wait for it — beaver. [Because I am hard-working and conscientious, they said.] And…to make a long story short, I had some issues with what was expected of me. And after the word “perfection” was bandied about, my Christian therapist said, “Oh, honey, the only person who was perfect in the history of time was Jesus Christ!” And it was like, “See? My point exactly. I am not Jesus.”)

But…back to oddball cookbooks.

Last week, I saw *another* cookbook at work…and couldn’t help myself: The Little Black Apron: A Single Girl’s Guide to Cooking with Style and Grace.

And, you know, I like cooking. And I’m totally a fan of learning new things. And I like to read. And I don’t even really take issue with chick lit all that much. (Hello, Bridget.)

And it’s my own stupid fault for opening the book anyway…because clearly what can be expected from something like this? (But, at the same time, it’s sort of this voyeuristic peek into another world…kind of like Christian weight loss…and how much fun have I had with that??)

But…the thing is that Christian weight loss isn’t really all that offensive. Crackpot, maybe. But not offensive-offensive. I mean, don’t get me wrong — I think it’s a totally crazy that the author had to ask her husband for permission to have an ice cream sundae on their anniversary…and he told her that it was between her and God, but if she really wanted one, he would buy it for her.

But THIS is essentially the kind of relationship that the authors of “The Little Black Apron” profess most young, single career girls are really waiting for while pretending to be professional and stuff:

“We know you exist because we’ve been exactly where you are…You’re a single girl who doesn’t know a can opener from a whisk. Deep down inside, however, you have dreams of living the domestic life and being an amazing mother and wife while residing in your newly remodeled Connecticut farmhouse. And, although you never admitted this openly, you already neurotically contemplate the day when you won’t be able to fix your three-year-old child a grilled-cheese sandwich…”

First things first, NO ONE is more neurotic than I am…but this begs sooo many questions…least of all which is: who on earth doesn’t know how to make grilled cheese sandwiches? Slice cheese. Butter bread. Put it in a pan. Grill one side until it starts to make noise. Flip it over. Repeat. Serve.

And I’m totally not saying that there’s anything *wrong* with wanting to be an amazing mother and wife (one might even argue that *I* have the same aspirations, making me quite hypocritical, indeed)…but — indulge me in a feminazi moment — it really irks me that this is ALL they say women want to do with their lives…when, in actuality, my dears…I would imagine there’s SO much more for a good chunk of the population.

But, okay, off the soapbox…

The less heated comment I have to make about this book is that it *also* kind of reminded me of a song in which the guy croons, he “(ate) burnt suppers the whole first year, / And (asked) for seconds to keep her from tearin‘ up…”

And I can’t embed the video from YouTube! But…if you’re into it: Kenny Chesney – The Good Stuff.

(You may recall that Mr. Chesney was the *real* Bridget‘s husband for a brief, shining moment. And everything comes full circle…)

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Filed under basketball, books, Bridget Jones, feminism, grilled cheese, Kenny Chesney, Mississippi, Ole Miss, weight loss