Thursday, December 15, 2011

Who is this harridan and what have you done with Jennifer?

Gretchen Rubin says to "act the way you want to feel." Doesn't work. I have been acting like Donna Reed these last few weeks, and still feel like Medea.

I haven't been very nice lately. I haven't been very happy. Is it the holidays? Is it hormonal? Too many hours spent gazing at the river of time? Too much time cooking things that people make fun of? An innately bad disposition?

Last night I prepared our first meal from The Best of the Best of California, which Isabel chose for me to cook from over the coming weeks. I made the enchilada casserole, which she had flagged. Brown some ground turkey and chopped onion in a skillet. Add taco seasoning from a packet, a cup of yogurt, two boxes of thawed frozen spinach. Layer with corn tortillas, salsa, and pre-shredded low-fat cheese. Bake. It's like something Roseanne would have cooked, except she would have used ground beef, sour cream and full-fat cheese and it would have been better. I, too, used full-fat cheese. I didn't see any low-fat cheese at the market that looked at all appropriate or Mexican.

Everyone was ostentatiously infatuated by this casserole. Owen ate three cups in about three seconds. "This will reheat great as leftovers!" exulted my husband.

I sulked.

I baked for dessert the Milky Way cake.  I can't pretend I wasn't excited about melting six Milky Way bars with a stick of butter and pouring it into a bowl of cake batter.

Let me tell you, that was some delicious cake batter. But the recipe in The Best of the Best of California makes a point of saying not to grease or flour your bundt pan. I read this and thought, no, no, no, this is wrong. But I sighed and obeyed.
I brought this to the table, vengefully.

The broken cake tasted fabulous. I sulked. (Pioneer Woman has a somewhat different, very enticing recipe for Milky Way cake, if you're interested. And you should be!)

Then, yesterday afternoon, I went to visit a weight loss counselor. I never thought I would do this -- losing weight isn't a mystery!, it's all about character, etc. -- but I made an appointment and kept it. I'm glad I did because it was both clarifying and motivating. This nutritionist was sensible and reasonable and her estimate of what I should lose, based on body fat content (sobering), height, weight, and age: 27 pounds. That's not nothing. If I manage to lose it, I will be right back where I was five years ago, except this time I will  actually believe I am thin. Or thinnish. Or only need to lose 5 pounds. Or maybe 10. Okay, ideally 15.

I guess this will probably influence how I blog for a while. I hope not too much, but probably some. Certainly fewer Milky Way cakes for a while. It's a drag in short run, but in the long run for the best.


  1. Why in the world would she tell you not to grease that pan?

    The enchilada casserole sounds fake and vile, and my sympathies are totally with you. I'm also sure it was "delicious." My husband's favorite food in the world is the "garlic bread" at a local steakhouse, the kind of old-school joint that used to be considered classy, but is now patronized by the very elderly. Their garlic bread is made with mayonnaise and Kraft macaroni and cheese powder. It's very powdery. I vowed to replicate it for him, but I couldn't bring myself to actually use the powder, so I faked it with a combination of other ingredients. I think it's just as good (and also better, because not fake.) He humors me. The point is, he honestly prefers fake, cheesy crap, but I will bend over backwards to make something much more complicated, much more "real", and not nearly as up his alley.

  2. The gastronic love of my husband's life is Tater Tot casserole. He'd rather have that than Chicken Kiev. I do not understand it.

  3. That cake sounds amazing, despite its haggard look. The enchilada casserole does not. My toddler is very picky, and I've yet to get him to eat any meat or vegetables. I hate that I can already foresee a future in which I'm cooking food like that casserole, just to make him eat something--anything!

    Not that it will make you feel better, but I quite enjoy your surly self. I hope, for the sake of improving your mood, that by the time you finish up with the California book, your family is sick of that kind of food.

  4. Dear Tipsy -
    You are not crazy. Fake food is engineered to taste great and to meet our innate cravings for salt and fat. I used to make a casserole with frozen hashbrowns, cream of chicken soup, sour cream, onions, topped with crushed cornflakes doused in butter. It was amazing - and really bad for you.
    As for the weight - you have done tougher things just since starting this blog, so you can definitely do this.

  5. Every once in a while, you just need to eat some crappy dish with some sort of nasty fake food in it. Or at least I do. But I am wary of enchilada casseroles and their ilk. Are we really in such a rush to get sour cream and cheese in our faces that we can't take the time to actually roll an enchilada? I guess the short answer is yes.

  6. I am lucky, almost everything I make is univeraslly loved and almost none of it has cream of mushroom soup. Maybe you should cook yours and the "fake" version side by side and have them see which is better.

  7. I think Margaret has a great idea: cook both and taste test a la tipsybaker.

    I think you also have a great idea: letting your family choose a cookbook. It will help make them buy in......good luck with it!

  8. Hey, I just heard you on NPR. Fun story by Melissa Block. Congratulations!

  9. funny, i made tacos tonight- seasoning packet and packaged shells and pregrated cheese and all- it took me about 5 minutes, as compared to the usual hour or two i spend preparing dinner, and i got total raves, not a single 'suggestion' about how next time i'd want to do the recipe a little differently. it was a tiny bit gratifying, but mostly maddening. so i understand.

    hey would you consider doing a healthy/diety cookbook for your next one? i would love that. i'm sure there are good ones that could make eating super healthy/low calorie food more pleasant, but would love to have someone test one.

  10. I loathe any cookbook dedicated to "healthy" or "light" cooking. But I do own such a book -- and I recommend it. It's co-written by the late Richard Sax ("Classic Home Desserts") and Marie Simmons (who has several fine cookbooks of her own). It's called "Lighter, Quicker, Better." It came out in 1995, but it doesn't feel dated because it wasn't very trendy at the time. The food is real and doesn't make you miss the fattening versions of the dishes, nor does it make you feel like you're punishing yourself. And like the title says, the dishes aren't labor intensive either. Also, I think it's probably very family-friendly as well. You can pick up a used copy from Amazon for a penny.

  11. Hi! I just heard your piece on NPR and loved it. I just spend four days making marshmallows so I could have four different flavors for my kids' teachers. Money saving gift indeed... :-) But they loved it, and they're delicious, and I'm never going back. I just ordered your book. I can't wait to get it - I've been baking all of my own bread this year, tried butter, and have been trying to do as much homemade as possible. And we're getting chickens in the spring. But at least *one* of my kids likes all of the weird things I cook. :-)

    Cheers, and good luck!

  12. *spent

    ARGH. Proofreading.

  13. I realize this is very dense, but I've been following your blog for about 2 years, and this is the first time it's occurred to me that you have a name other than "Tipsy."

  14. I have just read your book - Make the Bread, Buy the Butter. It was passed on to me from a friend with the message - 'you have to read this book!' You are hilarious. I loved your writing style, your sarcasm, your wit, etc. Your attitude that everything will work out and your family will adjust is too funny.

    I will definitely be following your blog and recommending it to others. Keep up the great work!!
    And - I look forward to future books.


  15. I have a question about the weight loss plan. Do you have dessert every day, or just when you ccok a dinner that you plan to blog about? I have noticed the prominent place of dessert and thought about the calories. In my family, we only have it on the weekends and then it is usually just the kids having ice cream. BUT I do have to say, my mom has to have desset every day, I think she regards it as a separate food group...

  16. I'm lucky with my husband in that he honestly is willing to try and like everything I make.

    That being said - he probably would have flipped over the enchilada casserole too :( He's also a big fan of sloppy joes (from the can) and when I made a version of sloppy joe's using real actual food (which I thought was better) he said it was alright but didn't taste the same - GRR

    I blame it on years on his mom making sloppy joe's from a can, hamburger helper, and other assorted boxed and canned foods

  17. Margaret -- We don't have dessert every night. But it's pretty fun to cook and write about, which is probably why I write about it so much. It has more personality, at least in my mind, than stew or stir fry.
    Dessert isn't really happening now, unless you count half a pink grapefruit.

  18. Tipsy/Jennifer,
    If it makes you feel better, in a moment of organizational fervor, I decided it was time to "eat out" of the freezer before traveling over the holidays. So tonight we had Trader Joe's fishsticks and potstickers (where did they come from??) and my husband (mid bite) said, "this is a great dinner, we need to eat like this more often." Heavy sigh. I could just do that and save much energy but it just doesn't taste that good/qualify as creative! Hang in there....

  19. I made this for dinner on Monday night and told my family about your post. I told my boys (they are 8 and 6) how your son ate 3 servings. My 8 year-old ate his carrots and apples, then pushed the casserole around, tried a bite and said "oh wow, this meat is really good". He then ate his brother's portion. So I thank you for letting me use your kids to try and get my kids to try something new!

    I am currently lamenting the fact that there aren't any Milky Ways in the Halloween candy stash!


  20. we are in Hawaii for the holidays so any thought of healthy eating has gone straight out the window...I ate SPAM yesterday. Funny that hanging out in a bathing suit all day has done nothing to diminish the appetite. Maybe we need a weekly healthy blog challenge in 2012 which means I will have to hold off on the mozzarella making, and a race on the calendar--the family can just suffer with you :)

  21. I love the idea of watching you cook from a "healthy" book. I have really enjoyed the few recipes included in Mark Bittman's Food Matters, I would love to watch you cook from the Food Matters Cookbook.

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