Friday, October 21, 2011

Scones and Almighty Sympathy

A journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step. I understand what this dude was getting at, that you can't get to your destination by sitting on the couch in your underwear, eating Cheetos and drinking Mt. Dew unless you're Bill Gates and can afford to hire 4 hefty dudes to carry your couch on that journey. And how awkward would that be for the dudes? I mean, you're in your UNDIES...I guess having a zillion dollars means you DON'T have to give a shite what people think of you. But enough about my dreams, I just think that, even if the intent is inspiring, one step towards a 1000 is not very encouraging. BUT, you can't get there without it, so wipe those cheesy-stained fingers on your BVD's and put on some pants...time to get movin' Cheeto breath.

I joined Weight Watchers 1 year, 1 week, 1 day, and 4 hours ago. Last night I broke the 100 lb. mark of weight loss, and I could hardly believe it...not so much that I finally did it, but that I was TERRIBLE for a couple days before weigh in. When I stepped on the scale, I was .2 lbs shy of 100, so I stepped off and removed my (size 18-20) sweater. I'm just glad that worked, 'cause I'm not entirely sure I can get my undies off without removing my pants first. I am totally in awe of the support and encouragement I get from my co-workers....they are a fine group of people I am privileged to know, and probably have no idea how instrumental they are in my success thus far, but they've been with me since I started, and a comfy crutch they are. Not to mention a bunch of busybodies that watch every single bite of food that goes into my's like a whole BUILDING of pictures with eyes that follow you wherever you go. OK, that was paranoid and I'm SURE not true...but it sure keeps me honest at work! And when I started, looking ahead to a 100 lb. weight loss was like looking into the wrong end of a telescope....very tiny and far, FAR away. But here I am.

So the night before weigh-in, I was making eggnog scones for a delightful friend of my daughter, and because we were also busy making candied jalapenos, dark chocolate truffles, and bacon jam, I forgot to set the timer and burnt the hell out of them. I was tired, I was hungry, and my "It's not worth it" governor bit the big one....I ate the tops of at least 3 of them, aided by a smidge or 10 of butter. The kids said they were delicious, and they weren't really burnt, but I am a perfectionist, and would NEVER give anything I didn't think was my best as a gift....that's the stuff I leave on the island for my family to eat. Which has been rudely commented on in the, I do not love my work peeps more than you, but when you leave the toilet seat up, throw your dirty socks on the living room floor, and put toothpicks in the sink you aren't helping your cause. And oddly, it did not make me feel any better....although I'm fairly certain my tummy was smirking. But taste testing the truffles, the jalapenos (FRICK THEY'RE HOT!), and the ooooOOOOOOMGoooodness Bacon Jam was completely unnecessary - and then I ate dinner. *sigh*

I think God finally broke the dam though - He knows how much I've been struggling and stressing, especially with the last 10 lbs, and I think He took sympathy on me. And although a pity loss is not very noble, if it's from God I'm not going to argue. So after dinner, I drug myself back into the kitchen and executed a perfectly pristine and absolutely BREATHTAKING batch of eggnog scones. If I don't say so myself. I found this recipe on the side of an eggnog carton, and when I lost it and could not find it on a carton anymore, searched the website of every single dairy that produces eggnog for the Pacific NW to no avail...not even creative googling helped. I was inconsolable....I've eaten a lot of crappy scones and only a few really good ones, so I know it was a rarity....and then I found it again, cryptically written on the back of something else, already spotted with dried eggnog and dusted with flour even though I only made it a few times. Another gift from the Big will want to thank Him if you make these, just make sure it's on bended knee so you can pick up crumbs that fall to the ground and lick them from your finger.

Eggnog Scones

I love eggnog, and eggnog in almost anything...although once when Handsome Stranger and I were away, Son #1 attempted to make a batch of eggnog fudge I had found a recipe for and proclaimed it "DIS-gusting". I love eggnog lattes, and miss them...too much sugar, but these I would figure out the points for and eat anyway - they just scream the holidays! And you can FREEZE eggnog....I suggest you get some plastic jam containers and freeze it in one cup containers when it goes on clearance, that way you don't have to wait for November.

3 C. flour
1/4 C. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
3/4 C. cold butter
1/2 C. dried cranberries
1/2 C. pecans, coarsely chopped
1 C. eggnog
Extra eggnog and BIG sugar

Preheat oven to 425. Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, soda and salt, cut in butter until small crumbs. Stir in cranberries and pecans, the add eggnog and stir with a fork until it forms a ball. If too dry, add a little more eggnog....just to the dry parts so they'll stick to the ball. It may be sticky, but no worries. Flour the counter or board and dump the ball of dough out on it. If it's really sticky, sprinkle a little over the top too, flatten the ball slightly, forming into a disk. It's up to you what size you want, I like little ones so I cut the ball in quarters, then shape each into a rough disk, about the size of a corn tortilla...don't be fancy, they are rustic and should have ragged edges and lumps, and the less you handle it the more tender they'll be. (If you want bigger ones, cut the ball in half and just do 2 disks.)

Brush the top of each disk with eggnog, then sprinkle with big sugar....if you don't have that I just don't know what to say. Cut each disk into 6 wedges, and space them out on a cookie sheet - you don't have to grease it, but I like to put parchment paper on it if I have it - they should be at least an inch apart because they do puff up just a bit. Bake at 425 for 10-15 minutes....check them at 10, the bottom should be golden, the top maybe just slightly browned around the edges. Remove to rack to cool, but eat one before it cools off so you know how you want to serve them if the Pope comes to visit. Even though he's German and possibly not privy to the ways of the warm scone, his blessing will pack more of a punch if you give His Grace one fresh out of the oven with a pat of cold butter he can put on it and it won't drip on his white cape.

In closing, I would like to extend a huge THANK YOU to God for all His assistance in keeping me on the path to better health and smaller pants, and to my family, friends and co-workers - you are the perkiest damn cheerleaders EVER.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

It's a Gramma thing...

It's fall again, I can no longer wear my flip flops to work, and not just because my pedicure is starting to grow out, but because my toes turn an unfashionable shade of blue. That and "flip-flop" turns into "squish-squash" because of the rain, and then there are those weird looks from people who think maybe I should be the recipient of a Salvation Army box for the upcoming holidays. I miss the sun and the warm (only because in Oregon it's rarely so hot that, in order to keep cool, you'll make unfortunate fashion choices like daisy dukes and a tube top at ages that are nearing the Basic Rule and weights that are only admirable in a pumpkin growing contest), but am delighted that we're back to "soup weather". I LOVE SOUP, even if some think it's "Gramma food" - put that in your pipe and smoke it.

Soup was not a staple growing up, that is unless it came out of a can or was being used to empty the coffers of a large number of vegetables that would have been better off on the compost heap. My dad did not like most veggies...he was pretty picky, and when Mom started including them in our food as "vitamins", she frequently had to make him "special" dinners that would have made Jack LaLanne blanch in horror. (Jack was like 150 years old, and still appeared to be in his 60's...all due to exercise, vegetables, and pulling boats around in ice cold water...look him up) For us there was no ate what was put in front of you, and if it happened to be some kind of soup with many veggies blended up in it in a failed attempt to trick Dad into eating it, you only hoped that there was ketchup on the table to help you choke it down. It was especially egregious when Dad was sitting pretty at the head of the table, wolfing down a steak sandwich or a hamburger steak with mashed potatoes - how RUDE.

The other experience was Campbell's....most of the time it was tomato, chicken noodle, bean with bacon, or cream of mushroom, all of which I loved, but a far cry from homemade, stick to your ribs, full of flavor, meaty and satisfying soup that I am now a proponent of. Yesterday, thanks to a score on some reduced beef roast (did you know that when it's older it has more flavor, and that's how they age premium steaks? True story....) and a shopping trip that included half a cart full of just produce, I decided to make a HUGE batch of one of our favorites. AND it's good for you and only 3 points plus per cup - and it will produce a TON of leftovers that can be refrigerated for many other meals, or even frozen. And soup is always better as it ages....somehow flavors just multiply, not unlike bunnies or Catholics prior to the 1970's. And it is so comforting to eat hot soup on a cold day....kind of like a sweater, but inside your tummy instead of outside. Just beware of leaky spoons....a napkin tucked into the neck of your shirt is less gauche than soup splotches from your collar bone to your navel.

Beef Barley Soup

It's REALLY thick....if you like it more soupy, you can add more water and beef base if you want, maybe less cabbage or veggies, but you're missing the point. VEGGIES ARE GOOD FOR YOU!

23 oz. lean beef, cut in small cubes about the size of your little fingernail.
1 T. oil
1 large onion, diced
3 large carrots, diced
4 stalks celery, diced
3 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
3 C. chopped mushrooms (fresh or I use the dry mix, reconstituted in hot water)
1/4 C. red wine (optional, I just think it gives the broth more depth)
1-1/2 C. barley
12 C. hot water
3 T. beef base
1 T. salt
1 tsp. fresh ground pepper
4 C. diced cabbage
1-1/2 C. diced yellow squash

Heat oil to smoking over medium-high in dutch oven or stock pot, add beef and let sit until it gets a good sear on one side, then stir and allow to sear again. Add onion, celery, carrot and garlic and stir occasionally, about 10 minutes or until onion and celery softens. Add wine, barley, water, beef base and salt and pepper and stir; bring to a boil, then add cabbage and squash. Bring to a low boil, then simmer for 1 to 1-1/2 hour or until beef is tender. Adjust seasoning as needed.

Yes, it's that simple....and you only got a cutting board, a knife, a pot, and a spoon dirty. And if you serve it with some of Creative Daughter's multi grain and Son #2's potato buttermilk breads, it will make you feel like you put on wool socks, a soft Grammy sweater, and burrowed under a cozy fleece blankie in front of a roaring fire....if it's summer, you may want to crack out the daisy dukes and tube top. Or maybe just take a nap....