After my New York Public Library event with Deb Perelman (there were 230 people there!), I’m rethinking my whole blog.
Somehow, through my aggressive questioning, I forced Deb to give up her blogging secrets. And the one that’s really staying with me the most is the fact that she cooks during the day to have daylight for her photos. That’s why her blog pictures always look so good. It doesn’t happen at night. My blog happens at night. Again, I have to rethink everything.
It’s funny how, when a partner goes away on a trip, you start to cook things that you wouldn’t cook if they were there. For many people, that might be something really decadent (rib-eye for one, for example) but for me, lately, I move in the other direction: I go healthy.
Which is not to say that I don’t cook healthy when Craig is here (see: Craig’s Quinoa Conversion) but that it usually takes some convincing. So now that he’s in Seattle for the week, I decided to make a healthy dinner too healthy-sounding for him to accept. Turns out it’s one of my favorite things I’ve made in a long time.
If there’s one question I get asked all the time, whether in my blog comments or over Twitter, it’s: “How do you not weigh 500 pounds?”
It’s usually in response to a post about a very decadent meal or a recipe that involves several sticks of butter (like Craig’s birthday cake). The question implies that food with lots of butter or meals with lots of heavy courses are somehow responsible for massive weight gain; it ignores one’s own agency in the matter, assuming that when one bakes a cake with five sticks of butter that one is therefore going to consume several sticks of butter. If you visualize those five sticks of butter spread throughout a giant two layer cake, however, and then you cut an individual slice out of it, you come to realize that one piece of that cake represents just a few tablespoons of butter. And therein lies the answer.
The scene? My kitchen. The day? Last Thursday. The idea? Take everything out of my refrigerator–fresh mozzarella, a red onion, scallions, celery, parsley, dill, a nectarine (ok, that wasn’t in the refrigerator, it was on the counter)–and make dinner. I didn’t know what I was going to make but then I had a thought: “What if I make a pasta salad? And what if that pasta salad is kind of healthy? What if I uses Greek yogurt instead of mayonnaise and lots of these fresh herbs to perk it up?”
Ladies and gentlemen: a star was born.
There are two kinds of cravings: the bad kind and the good kind. Most of us are familiar with the bad kind: it sends us to Dunkin’ Donuts at 2 AM, keen on devouring a stale toasted coconut doughnut beneath the fluorescent glare. It’s the craving that forces hamburgers when you should be thinking salad, it’s the craving that tells you to add cream to that tomato sauce to make it oh-that-much-more decadent. And lots of cheese. And to make brownies for dessert which you serve with vanilla ice cream.
So, yes, we all know that craving. But every now and then a different kind of craving comes along; it’s a rare craving, the kind of craving that if it happens to you, count yourself among the lucky: it’s a craving to eat something heathy. When this happens, the clouds part, the sun beats down on your face and a choir of angels bursts into song. Should you have this craving, there’s no better place to turn than to my friend Heidi’s excellent cookbook, Super Natural Cooking.
Now that I’m a health guru you might suspect that I made granola last week because of my new fitness regimen. But you’d be wrong, very wrong indeed; I made granola last week because of the newest cookbook in my collection, a gorgeous cookbook that I bought for my friend Lisa’s 30th birthday and that I secretly wished I’d kept for myself. But then the publisher offered to send me a review copy and I was in heaven. The book in question is “Baked: New Frontiers in Baking” by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito of the Baked Bakery in Red Hook and next to Martha Stewart’s Baking Book this may quickly become my favorite baking book in my collection.
I have a theory. If you make spaghetti cacio e peppe for dinner, inspired by “Lidia’s Italy” on PBS–a dish of what is, essentially, spaghetti, pecorino cheese and pepper–you can undo whatever nutritional damage this does to your physique and/or health by eating a tub of green beans at the same time, as illustrated by the picture above.
This theory, which I’ll call Food Negation Theory, also applies to entire meals eaten in succession. For example, if you eat a braised pork belly for dinner on Tuesday night, you can undo its effects by eating sushi for lunch the next day. The sushi effectively negates the pork: this is Food Negation Theory.
I’ve yet to expose this theory to the rigor of full scientific exploration, but I am confident that my own personal application of this theory–an application that occurs on a daily, almost hourly basis (chocolate brownie 4:00; carrot stick 4:15: BROWNIE NEGATED)–should suffice to convince you of its merits.
May Food Negation Theory serve you well.
Recently, reader Amy from Madison, WI wrote me the following in an e-mail:
It’s November, and the rest of the month revolves around just one meal: Thanksgiving.
But I have a quandry. Every year, I try to contribute something that is NOT fat laden and IS full of veggies and anything else good-for-you . .and my steamed broccoli with lemon zest or roasted asparagus gets rather sadly overlooked for the (classic, and admittedly tasty, though completely devoid of nutrients!) green bean casserole.
Can you and my fellow readers help suggest something that will be enjoyed by all and will not leave me feeling bloated and guilty at the end of the meal?
Since I, myself, plan to use half a ton of butter in the Thanksgiving dinner I’m going to cook (and I’m cooking for 16 people! more on that later) I decided to send this question to our brand new interns to see who was up to the task. Intern Kathryn (who’s soon to attend the French Culinary Institute in New York) leapt at the opportunity and here’s her happy, healthy Thanksgiving solution.