The Eating World -Divided Up

I hate the term Foodies.  It implies that one considers themselves superior to normal calorie-in-taking humans.  As far as I am concerned there are three basic types of people when it comes to food.


The first is the person who eats anything that is put in front of them with little concern for exactly what it is, where it came from and what it might do to their body, but they do like to eat.  This makes up are large portion of the American population including most teenage boys and people who vacation in the Ozarks.


The second group is a very minority population of people who never think about food at all.  Sometimes they are over heard saying things like, “Oh, it’s 4:00, I forgot to have lunch.”  The skinniest upper east side ladies who lunch, despite having the word lunch in their moniker can be in this group as is Carter’s Godfather, David, who uses his oven as storage space for his tax records.


The third group is the rest of the world.  People who love food, think about food, talk about food, read about food, watch it on TV, sometimes cook, sometimes can’t cook but eat in a lot of different restaurants, blah, blah, blah.  Those who have the greatest affectation call themselves “Foodies” trying to raise the standings of their taste buds above the fray, but really who cares.  This group lives to eat.  It does not mean they live to eat too much, but that what they are eating is important to them.


My husband Russ and I are in the last group.  I have always been a cook.  My first memory of cooking something by myself was making scrambled eggs at age four.  It was the 1960’s and my young parents still stayed out late on Fridays and Saturdays nights so I was often up alone for hours in the morning.  Learning to fend for myself was key.


Russ had a mother who always provided a meal for him, but flavor was not often a key ingredient.  Marrying me opened up a new world of culinary exploration that made Russ question whether he might have been adopted.


Today, Russ and I are in Seattle on vacation.  Seattle has a world of good food at every turn, smoked salmon, cupcakes, unusual cheeses, bread galore.  Normally we would take full advantage of such an opportunity and eat whatever tempted us from morning ‘til bedtime, savoring each new taste, Russ begging me to dissect new dishes in order to recreate them at home…but not today.   I’m on my weight loss challenge.


So for this trip poor Russ has been pulled from his happy group of people who love food into the minority group of people who don’t think about food at all, very much against type.  But he does not complain and he helps me pretend I am in the non-food-lover-society.   That is just one of the many reason I love him and am so lucky that he asked me to marry him exactly 21 years ago today.

Smelly Food is Your Friend


Happy 20th Anniversary to my wonderful husband Russ.  Ok, our actual anniversary was May 2nd, but today is the day we are off on our two-week trip to the cool Northwest to celebrate what seems like a blink of an eye.


We chose to go now because Carter is off in Taiwan going to Chinese language school and living with a family who I hope are not practicing their English on her.  One of the tips for kids going on this program was to just smile and nod their head yes when anyone speaks to them, whether they understand or not.  I practiced this with Carter before she left, saying things to her like, “Would you like to eat these smoked ox eyeballs for dinner?” and “I think a dragon tattoo would look nice on your face.”  I don’t know how much nodding she will do.


Since Carter was five foot nine inches tall before she left I hope her Taiwanese family takes advantage of having her live with them and gets her to change any burned out light bulbs or sweep away cobwebs from the ceiling they can not reach.


Today’s dieting tip is less about an exact food, but more an airplane strategy since I am on a plane for six hours today.  I know that I have already blogged about airline travel, but it seems that this summer I have spent more time flying than usual.


The tip I am about to reveal is one I learned from my father when we used to work together in Canada.  For over a year we had an office in Ottawa, which was a two-leg flight for me and a three-leg one for my Dad.  Every Friday we would come home to the US flying together to Baltimore where we usually would part and I would catch a flight to RDU and he would go on to Charlotte and change planes again to get to Pawley’s Island.  It was a long trip so to keep the peace for the whole plane it was necessary to feed my father at some point.


The answer to the no food problem was the Bojangles.  As we deplaned in Baltimore my Dad would make for the fried chicken counter, buy a box of chicken and high-tail it to his next flight.  As soon as he got on the plane and sat in his regular seat in the front row aisle he would open his chicken, which would smell up the entire cabin.  Our co-workers who flew with him described the looks on the faces of the other starving passengers as they boarded, wishing they had gotten chicken for themselves.


One week I flew with my Dad to Pawley’s Island and I partook in the chicken ritual.  Here comes the airline strategy tip… when the other passengers got on the flight as we were eating our chicken, none of them wanted to sit near us.  Perhaps they were afraid we might get some grease on their clothes, or that they did not have the will power to be so close to that delicious chicken without having any of it, whatever the reason we got to fly with empty seats beside us.


I have since tried this experiment with other foods and it works perfectly.  Passengers will chose to make a scene and ask to be reseated just to not have to sit next to someone eating something smelly.


So today Russ and I have the exit row on Southwest, the only one with enough legroom for Russ to fit in, with no one sitting in the middle seat between us.  Our flight stops in Nashville and then goes on to Seattle.  As soon as we land and the new passengers begin to board I am opening up my salad with blue cheese and lots of vinegar just to see if we can keep this middle seat empty.  I am doing everything possible to make sure Russ waits to eat his sandwich at the same time I eat to discourage anyone from thinking about sitting with us.

Bread and Butter Pickles- The Splenda Way


Today my friend Gerty came over to make Bread and Butter pickles with me.  She had made hers last week the real southern way – lots of sugar.  After making them she called and said she thought they could be done with Splenda and asked if I wanted to try them with her.  Gerty, being a scientist, brought a jar of her sugar pickles as a control to compare to my Splenda version.  Russ, as the official pickle taster, claimed the Splenda version to be equally delicious.


Since these are refrigerator pickles- meaning no canning is needed.   Anybody can make them without fear of killing a loved one with botulism.


1 ½ c. White vinegar

2/3 c. apple cider vinegar

2 T. pickling spice (just buy a jar at the grocery store, rather than measuring out the mustard seeds, juniper berries, bay leaves, etc. yourself.

2 c. pourable Splenda  (It measures the same as sugar)


2 ½ lbs of cucumbers

2 Vidalia onions

¼ c. kosher salt


In a sauce pan heat up the vinegars and when it reaches a boil add the Splenda, stir and remove from heat.  Add the pickling spices and let sit for at least four hours.  This can be done the day ahead.


Scrub the cucumbers clean and cut off one end.  Using a mandoline, cut then using the wavy cutter.  This gives you more surface to absorb the pickling vinegar.  If you don’t have a mandoline, you can cut them with a regular ‘ole knife and just be sad.


Slice the onions into slivers with the mandoline too.  Mix cucumbers and onions together in a large stainless steel bowl with the kosher salt.  Cover the whole pile with a tea towel- that’s a clean non-terry cloth kitchen towel inside the bowl.  On top of the tea towel fill the rest of the bowl with ice and put the whole contraption in the refrigerator to chill and let the cucumbers release a bunch of water.


After four hours, strain the pickling spices from the sweetened vinegar and heat it back up to a boil.


Using a slotted spoon so as not to get the cucumber water, fill clean glass jars with the cucumber-onion-salt mixture.  Put a spoon in the jar to help divert the heat from the glass jar and pour the vinegar mixture over the cucumbers in the jar.  Cap the jars with the top and place them in the refrigerator.  Let chill for at least 6 hours before enjoying.

Roast Nectarine Frozen Yogurt

I was frugal long before the recession made it hip.  It has to be genetic. My mother probably still has every dress she ever bought and my daughter Carter is thrilled to get used textbooks because they are so much cheaper.


Today’s recipe is an attempt to use up an unripe nectarine and some Greek yogurt before I go on vacation.  The roasting is to pull as much flavor as I can get out of the fruit, which is not quite ready for consumption.  If you have a beautifully ripe peach or nectarine you can make this without roasting, but I do like the flavor heating the fruit imparts.


1 nectarine – chopped up with the skin on.  If you use a peach, peel it first.

1 ½ c. Greek Yogurt

1/3 c. skim milk

5 Splenda packets

½ t. almond extract

Pinch of cloves

2 pinches cinnamon



Heat a small nonstick fry pan up and spray with Pam.  Put the fruit in the pan and cook on medium high, stirring often until the fruit begins to get to be a little brown.  It will take about 5 minutes.  Add cloves and cinnamon at the end and let the spices heat up on the fruit for one minute.  Remove from heat and place in the freezer.


Mix the yogurt, milk, Splenda and almond extract together and pour into an ice cream maker.  Run it in the ice cream maker as long as it takes to get it to start getting creamy.  Add the fruit and continue running the ice cream machine for another 2 minutes.


Remove from the machine and place in the freezer to finish the freezing process.

Red Wine Vinegar Chicken


This is the worst picture of the best dish you will ever eat.  To top it off it is easy to make.  Don’t be shocked by the amount of vinegar, just go with it.  The acid breaks down the chicken and gives it a tang that is addicting.  You can make it with the skin on if you are a person who does not have to watch your figure, but honestly this version is so good you won’t even miss the skin.



10 boneless, skinless chicken thighs

10 minced garlic cloves

1 cup of red wine vinegar

1/2 cup of chicken stock

1 can of chopped tomatoes

Handful of fresh thyme- tied with a kitchen string

4 bay leaves

Salt & pepper




Heat a Dutch oven on the stove on medium high heat. (That’s a heavy cast iron pan with a tall straight sides and a lid.  I use a Le Cruset.) Spray the inside of the pot with Pam and add half the chicken thighs in one layer.


Cook for about 4 minutes; you just want them to get a little color.  Flip them over and repeat on the other side.  Remove those thighs from the pan and keep on a plate on the side.  The chicken is not cooked through yet.  Spray the pot with more Pam and cook the other half of the chicken the same way.


After you have cooked all the chicken and it is out of the pot, add the garlic to the pan and cook for one minute, stirring often.  Add your vinegar, keeping your face away from the pot when you do it so you don’t choke on the acidic cloud you will create.  Add the tomatoes, stock, herbs and chicken back in the pot.


Cover and bring the contents to a boil and then reduce to simmer for about 10 minutes.  Remove the chicken from the pot the best you can, leaving everything else in there.  Bring the liquid back up to a boil and reduce the sauce with the lid off.  I like to mash it all down with a potato masher to break up the tomatoes.  It will take about 15 minutes to reduce it to a sauce like consistency.


Pour the sauce over the chicken and serve.

It’s Hot…Let’s Run?

Let’s face it, global warming is here today and it’s been here for the last couple of months.  This morning while walking my dog it was already 91 degrees with a “feels like” temp of 101 according to the “weather bug” on my phone.  I wish that I could input my weight and activity level to come up with a real “feels like” temp.

Shay Shay, our chocolate labradoodle is not much on hot weather.  She stares at me as I drag her down the street with a look that says, “For god’s sake, why did we leave the air conditioning?”  She certainly does not subscribe to the phrase the “dog days of summer.”

While walking the dog, trying to get in a little exercise before the weather wins claim on the outdoors I was passed by at least 4 different women, two on bikes and two on foot who have not heard that the Olympic trails are over.  There might have been more who passed me, but I did blink once or twice.

One woman ran by me so fast that the hair on her ponytail slapped me in the face and almost cut my old dry skin.  Of course she said a big ‘ole hello as she sprinted by.  Another, well-past-the-middle aged woman rode her bike up the long hill of my street standing up while peddling, passing a car that was going in the same direction at the 25 mile per hour speed limit.

God Bless these Amazonian athletes who are unfazed by heat or hormones.  I am not one of these women.  Sport for me is taking a good friend’s quarters at Mah Jongg.  Perhaps throw in a little badminton or my new found game of Pe’tanque, the French version of Boulles.  I like a game that you can play with an iced tea in your hand.

Before any of you write me about the benefits of exercise let me tell you that I know.  I spend my time working out with my friend Amy under the eagle eye of our trainer Tom at Empower.

I have been through three different gyms with Tom and he is just who I need to keep me laughing even as my face is turning white, which he told me on Monday was just the precursor to throwing up from working out too hard.  I told him that I already knew I was about to throw up unless I stopped trying to lift my body off the ground with one arm.

The great thing is Tom knows I don’t run and never will, so he finds other ways to keep me moving.  My new favorite is boxing.  Getting to hit someone with out my mother screaming at me from the other room to stop is a childhood dream come true.

As the Olympics are just about to over take the world’s attention I know many people may be inspired to go out and try a new sport.  I think I will pay extra attention to archery.  Being good at standing still is a bonus in that sport.

Too Many Tomatoes Summer Soup

My first disclaimer is that I don’t have too many tomatoes despite the beautiful plants I have.  There are a bunch of stupid squirrels who come and eat a bite out of each tomato and after deciding they don’t like that one they move on to the next one to see if it is better. UGH!!  My next recipe might be low fat squirrel stew if I could just catch one.

Anyway, this is an easy soup that is good hot or cold.  It really is easy if you have a stick blender.  You can use a regular blender or food processor, but go to Target and get a stick blender and you will have so much less washing up to do because of it.

I am going to give you the recipe in a ratio so you can make any amount you want.  The base recipe is enough for about two servings so at least double it.

1 big yellow onion – peeled and quartered

2 Tomatoes – stemmed and quartered

2 Carrots – peeled

1 cup of chicken or vegetable stock

1 T. Pesto

Salt and Pepper

Preheat the oven to 400º.  Line a jelly roll pan with foil and spray with pam.  Put the onions and the carrots on the foil and place the pan in the oven for 15 minutes.  Add the tomatoes to the pan and continue cooking in the oven for 45 more minutes.

Dump all the vegetables from the pan into a stockpot and add the stock and bring to a boil.  Reduce to simmer for 10 minutes.  Using a stick blender, whirl everything up until pureed or pour everything in a blend and let it do its thing.  Add the pesto and salt and pepper to taste.  Summer in a cup and hardly a calorie in sight.

The $4.99 Full Body Lift

Yesterday on Good Morning America I saw a feature on a $25 face lift in a Jar called the Bungee Lift.  It only works on women who have enough long hair to make some really tight tiny braids by their face and then attach them to a small bungee cord that goes under their hair in the back.  Voila, few crows feet.

$25 for a mini face left may sound like a steal, but I can go one better than that and give you a whole body lift for $4.99 with no cutting, dieting or exercising.

Many middle-aged and older women complain about their legs sagging above their knees.  Some people I know, and I am not going to name you, have a tummy that droops down ever so slightly in the front.  If you have breasts, and you know who you are if you do, you might be unhappy about the direction they are pointing.  Lastly, is your rear quarters the penthouse, and by that I mean top floor, version, or the sub-basement type?

If you resemble any of the aforementioned descriptions then I have the solution for you.  Just follow these cheep and easy, and no I’m not calling you cheep and easy, steps.

  1. Buy a roll of Duct tape.  Now that it comes in so many shades and patterns I suggest flesh colored for this exercise.
  2. Get naked.
  3. Unroll a little tape leaving it attached to the roll and stick the sticky side on the, excuse my description, flab right above your knee with the roll facing up your body.
  4. Gently begin to unwind the Duct tape attaching it to your skin and pulling up at the same time.  Lift any belly fat up before sticking the tape on.
  5. Continue to the optional breast area.  Once again, lifting the bosom to a desired, perhaps once familiar place and then attaching the tape to it.  If cleavage is desired tape around the outside of the breast rather than right up the middle.
  6. Now here is the key, when you get to the shoulders make sure you get a good stick because the shoulders are the key super structure to hold all the rest of the parts up.  Think of everything now being cantilevered off the shoulders.
  7. Continue down the back, you may need assistance in this part, but lift the cheek up gently and attach the tape to the underside of the now J-lo like buttocks.
  8. Cut the tape there.
  9. Repeat on the other side.

I could put the Duct tape in a jar and charge you $50 for it, but some information is criminal to keep to myself.

Grilled Shrimp and Vegetable Salad

Glad I was able to get all my grilling done for this yummy salad before the thunderstorms came.  This is a wonderful way to use any vegetable you like.  I used as many different things from my garden as I could and it was delicious.  I think it made enough to feed six people as a main course.


1 ½ lb. large peeled and deveined raw shrimp

1 T. olive oil

3 ears of corn

2 zucchini – sliced the long way into ½ planks

1 red onion sliced into ½ inch rounds

4 different peppers- one sweet green, 2 mild banana, one Anaheim and one Poblano- cut in half and seeded

1 c. cherry tomatoes- halved

1 lemon – halved

1 t. white wine vinegar

2 T. pesto base- recipe follows

Salt and Pepper


Heat the grill to high and spray with Pam.  Put the corn, onions, peppers, zucchini and lemon cut side down on the grill.  Cover and cook for 5 minutes.  Turn the corn a quarter turn and flip the peppers.  Close the cover and cook another 3 minutes.  Once the zucchini and onions get grill marks flip them.  Turn the corn again.


The peppers will cook fastest.  One they are soft, remove them.  You don’t want to cook everything too much, just until soft.


The lemon will be the next thing to come off, then the zucchini, onions and last the corn.  Let everything cool enough so you can handle it.  After it has cooled chop the peppers, onions and zucchini into ½ inch chunks.  Cut the corn off the cob and put it all in a bowl.


Turn the grill down to medium.  Cover the shrimp in olive oil and place on grill in ne layer.  As soon as you get them all down turn them over and cook for no more then a minute.  They will get pink very quickly; as soon as each side is pink remove them.  There is nothing worse than over cooked shrimp.


Squeeze the grilled lemon on the shrimp and add the pesto base to them.  Toss them together with the grilled vegetables and add the cherry tomatoes and vinegar, salt and pepper to taste.


Pesto Base


When my garden is producing an over abundance of basil I make this base of a pesto sauce and freeze it.  If I want to add pine nuts and Parmesan cheese I can thaw a puck of base and add those things.  But I also like to have just the base to add to recipes that use basil and garlic.


3 cups of Basil leaves- packed

7 cloves of garlic

1 T. olive oil


Put the garlic in a cuisine art and pulse until minced.  Add the basil and olive oil and pulse until paste like.


Foot Weight Loss Was Not My Goal

I pray for you that you are a person who has remained the same sensible clothing size for many years.  I am not.  My closets contain an array of sizes in everything from outerwear to underwear.  Of course it is not organized by size, which would make life easier, but none-the-less a range of about six to seven sizes exists under one roof.  That is in everything except shoes.

For the most part all my shoes are the same size in both length and width.  Thank goodness that there is one item I can pull out of my closet without having to go to the mirror and ask, “Can I wear this out of the house or does it look like I am wearing pajamas?”  I say this after a friend of my daughter’s who was too polite to tell me, told her mother that I looked bigger in my big clothes now that I was smaller.

She meant it in the nicest possible way, but it points out that I have to tackle the giant job of cleaning out all my closets and arranging my clothes by size.  I am certainly not going to go out and buy any clothes for this hopefully temporary interim size, and I certainly must have a few things to wear from my last time on the way up to this weight.  After my practically pants-on-the-floor trip to Texas I did find a couple of pairs of white pants in my closet that were the next two sizes down.  The good news-bad news is that one of them is already too big and the smaller pair is just a little tight across the tummy.   Why can’t I lose weight in perfect size increments?

For the most part, it does not really matter if I look like I might walk out of my skirt when I am just driving Carter back and forth to the barn, tending my garden or writing my blog.  But this week I had an important meeting where I had to look somewhat professional, even in the 100-degree heat.  I scoured the guest room closet and discovered a linen outfit that fit to a “T”.  Just a little pressing and I was set to go.  I grabbed a pair of cute squared toe flats and jumped in the car, barefoot for the drive to the meeting.

I got there just in time, slipping my feet into my shoes before running into the office building for the meeting.  To my horror, just as I entered the conference room and walked forward to shake hands with my host I walked completely out of my shoes, leaving them by the door as the rest of me continued onward.   I made some kind of joke that I thought we were holding a Japanese meeting as I retrieved my footwear.

So here I am doing everything possible to slim down my hips and thighs and what do I get…skinnier feet.

Smoked Pork Chop with Cherry Mustard Sauce

Smoked pork chops are a meat which is already cooked, and if you can’t find them you can use a ham steak, but they are worth searching out.  I get mine at the Durham Farmers market from Fickle Creek Farm.  I shouldn’t tell you that because now I may never be able to get them again.


Smoked Pork Chops



2/3 c. white wine or apple juice

4 T. good mustard- like Dijon – I used Swedish

3 T. dried cherries – you could also use cranberries – minced

1 T. fig preserves – or any jam like apricot or grape

1 t. honey

1 t. Worcestershire sauce

A couple of red pepper flakes — up to ¼ t. if you like it spicy


Put the wine in a saucepan and put on medium high heat and reduce by almost a half.  Add the mustard and whisk together continuing to cook for one minute.  Add the minced cherries, preserves, honey and Worcestershire sauce and cook another 2 minutes.  Add the pepper flakes and remove the sauce from the heat.  You can do this sauce in advance.


I like to grill the smoked pork chops, but you can also pan fry them.  You are just heating them up.

With the grill on medium high I cook them until they have good grill marks and then flip them over.


When the chops are cooked put them on a plate and spoon sauce over the top and serve.

Potentially the World’s Greatest Invention

Right now before you read any farther I want to alert you that I have copy righted this idea because it has the potential to be bigger than any device you are reading this on.

I am not a scientist, doctor, nor engineer, but I think that during this hottest of all summers I might have stumbled on to a world changing new product idea — The Human Dehumidifier!

As I was emptying my garage dehumidifier’s 2-gallon tank for the second time in a day it dawned on me, “this sucker is damn heavy.”   I went to weigh it and it was 17 pounds.  I know the human body is mostly water.  According the always correct and very reliable Internet a body is between 45 and 79% water.  And everyone says when he or she starts a diet that those first 5 pounds are just water weight.

Well if we don’t need the first five pounds of water, how about sucking out about twenty or thirty pounds with the help of a machine like the one in my garage?  It’s such a brilliant idea I can’t believe no one has thought of it before.

It’s almost too fabulous and I can see how certain companies would be particularly unhappy if this machine existed, like all the weight loss businesses, Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig and Nutria system.  They have made billions on having a constant stream of heavy people in need of ongoing and expensive services to help them loose weight.

If fat people could just plug themselves into The Human Dehumidifier and suck out all that excess water that’s really making them fat then why diet?  Plus size clothing makers and retailers would also find this machine eating into their market share, as would the manufactures of elastic and Spanx.

But on the other hand certain businesses would find The Human Dehumidifier a huge asset.  Imagine how McDonalds could market Double Quarter Pounders with Cheese.  “Come on in and enjoy your burger while hooked up to our complimentary Mc Water Removal machine.  For every half pound in one half pound comes out.”

So for all you engineer, doctor, science types, get to work.  I gave you the idea now give me the machine.

Curried Mango and Chicken Salad

As a child, my sister Margaret would get stuck eating the same thing everyday.  One whole year she had the same conversation with me everyday.


“Dana, what are we having for dinner?”


It did not matter what I replied, from burgers to spaghetti she would then say…  “No thanks, I think I will just have cheese broccoli.”  Which she made herself with a package of frozen broccoli and some sort of processed cheese, Velveeta being her favorite.


Sometime in her teenage years Margaret’s dish of choice became chicken salad, which lasted a very long time.  I remember having a conversation with her sometime in her twenties about her idea for a chicken salad restaurant and if I thought it was viable.


Now I too have always loved chicken salad, but consider it a special occasion treat because I just don’t eat that much mayonnaise for thigh giggling reasons.


The sad part is that chicken salad is so easy to make these days if you use a grocery store rotisserie chicken.  Since I am going to a ladies potluck tonight I decided it was a good day to make a healthy chicken salad.  Too bad my sister is not here to eat it.


1 store bought rotisserie chicken

2 mangos – cubed

½ red onion- finely chopped

1 hot pepper minced

35 basil leaves- chiffonade  – that means cut in tiny ribbons



1 T. low fat mayonnaise

2/3 cup of fat free Greek yogurt

1 T. ketchup

1t. curry powder

1 t. lemon juice

2 packets of Splenda

1 t. salt



Pull the meat off the chicken in shreds making sure you don’t get any of the skin.  Put it in a large bowl and add the other ingredients down to the basil.  Mix the dressing in a separate bowl and pour over the chicken mixture and gently stir it all together.  It is better to get it refrigerate for at least an hour.

Things That Made Me Mad Today and Why Do They Make Me Want Cheese?

For the most part I had a pretty good day.  I had my first one-on-one meeting as the new Board Chair of the Food Bank with our CEO, Peter, which was very positive.  I won some great hands in Mah Jongg.  Was able to move Carter hither and yon to riding camp were she is a counselor, a friend’s house and a baby sitting job all while fitting in an annual exam at the Vet’s for Shay Shay and a visit to the dog groomer.


I ate my regular high protein Special-K with raspberries for breakfast and the “Dana Lange salad” at the club for lunch so I was on track for an excellent day of healthy eating.


Despite all this positive news just a few little things can really throw a wrench in a day and make me want to eat a huge hunk of fresh mozzarella.  Why is that?


I know that when I describe these very little things that made me so MAD, you will begin to question my sanity.  That is of course unless you have greatly fluctuating estrogen levels, which might actually be the cause of my “rage and crave.”


The first incident was the discovery that all but one of my sweet potato plants that I had been lovingly cultivating in my garden for two months had been stripped of all their leaves by some plant loving varmint that I would like to catch and boil in a pot in the back yard, Fatal Attraction style.  There on the brown dry earth of the garden were long vines with naked stems sticking off of them.


The second incident came just a half an hour later and was even more insignificant, but seemed to push me right to the edge.  While printing out all of Carter’s back to school lists for supplies and books an error message come up on my computer announcing the need for me to physically get off my butt and go downstairs to the printer to attend to it’s needs.  I assumed it was out of paper or was jammed up in some way, but nooooo!  The message on the minute little screen I have to find reading glasses to decipher read, “Pink cartridge ink out of date.”  Are you F#*&ing kidding me?  HP already only puts 14 pages worth of ink in any of the 5 different color inks you must buy, but now you mean I have not printed enough Pink S#*t to use my ink up in the allotted 47 days before it goes bad.  Who ever heard of ink going bad?  This was a new low.


My body immediately said, “Give me cheese.”  I went to the kitchen, but I stopped.  I was able to keep my hand away from the refrigerator door.  Instead I went back to the computer and started writing this blog.   God taught me two lessons.  One, I don’t have to let hormones, or my lack of control of them push me over the edge into a formage filled world and two there is always a diet lesson everyday as long as your eyes are open and need something to blog about.

You-Just-Thought-You-Hated-Okra Okra

I grew up a Yankee child of southern parents.  It was not until I went to boarding school did I learn that I actually had a Southern accent despite living in Connecticut from the age of 4.  My father taught me how to cook the way his mother had taught him so I was good at making things liked stewed tomatoes and fried chicken.


One purely southern thing my parents loved to eat was Okra, which was completely foreign in the northern climate.  The only place they could find it was in the freezer section of the Village Market.  Now frozen vegetables were a staple of our 1970’s kitchen.  I actually thought that all vegetables grew in little frozen squares.  Many frozen vegetables were okay, but not Okra.  It becomes slimy when cooked, a texture none of the kids in my family could abide.


It was not until I ate fresh Okra that I discovered the difference and learned to love it.  This recipe is so simple and healthy and not at all slimy.


As much fresh Okra as you can get your hands on (It is at the Durham farmer’s Market now through September)


Ground Coriander



Cut the big end off the okra and through it away.  Then cut each pod into ½ in disks.


Heat a skillet on Med. high heat on the stove and spray with Pam.  Put the okra in the pan and let it heat up for about 2 minutes before stirring it.  Stir it and continue cooking for about 7 minutes total.  You want the okra to start to get a little brown.  As it browns sprinkle coriander all over it.  Salt before serving.


A regular serving would be about 5 pods per person, make double.  If you live someplace you can’t get Okra come visit.



Never Eat Alone

The other day I was waiting in the car outside Tutti Fruiti while Carter ran in to get her self a yogurt.  I had the perfect parking spot to watch the people coming and going from Only Burger.


For those of you who are not from Durham, Only Burger is a hamburger stand, which, you guessed it, only sells burgers, fries and onion rings.  With the exception of maybe a diet root beer there is hardly anything sold there that would qualify as low calorie, but boy everything they do make is really delicious, as my old brain remembers from so far back.


As I was people watching, I noticed a trend.  The largest people coming out of the store were coming out alone, all carrying full bags of you know what.  The skinniest people were coming out empty handed, having presumably consumed their meal inside.


I watched as one person (whom I did not know so I am almost certain it is not you) walked out with a full bag and got in her car and ate her meal there.  The outdoor tables were free so if she had wanted she could have had a seat under the cool night stars, or she could have gone home, but the burgers could not wait.


The scene reminded me of a food rule I made last time I lost a significant amount of weight, which I have stuck to – No eating in the car (disclaimer, unless you are on a road trip and are eating with the rest of your family, late to your destination.)


Since your primary reason for being in the car is to drive somewhere, eating becomes a mindless secondary task, which might be dangerous, especially for your hips.


As I watched this woman eat what appeared to be all the offerings Only Burger had, a new rule came to mind.  If possible, never eat alone.  I doubt that if she had chosen to eat her meal in public, at a table, even by herself, she might have only chosen either the fries or onion rings and not both, as was the case that night.


The best possible world is to have a companion to share your meal with. First, you might not put too much on your plate to begin with out of sheer embarrassment and second, you probably would take more time to consume your food because perhaps you would have a conversation during your meal.


Now I know there are exceptions, like for people in solitary confinement, or those with horrific communicable diseases, but for me I am going to try and follow this new rule, so if you are lonely at lunchtime, give me a call.  There is always room at my table and it is so much more fun to eat less with someone.

Pecan, Fennel and Squash Cake


This is not a diet recipe, but I figure you need a little treat and I still have too much squash.  I have made a ton of zucchini breads that are filling my freezer and being given away to everyone with a new baby or relative visiting.  I can’t remember where I got this idea for a cake but I know I read a recipe somewhere that inspired this one.  What is the difference between a zucchini bread and squash cake.  I am not a baker by trade, but breads are usually made with oil and cakes with butter.


I baked this one as a loaf and had too much batter so I baked this little ramekin cake.  I had one bite to make sure it was good.  I gave the rest to Russ who asked me if it had a lot of sour cream in it because it was so moist.  That was the squash.  It really does make a good cake.


6 cups of grated squash- I used zucchini and yellow squash

1 cup of pecans – toasted and chopped

2 t. fennel seeds

1 ¼ cups of butter

1 ½ cups of sugar

5 eggs

2 cups of flour

2 t. vanilla

½ t. salt

2 t. baking powder



Preheat the oven to 350º.

Grate the squash in the cuisineart and put in a colander and let drain for a half an hour.  Squish all the water you can out of it.


In a mixer put the butter and the sugar and beat together on med, high until if gets fluffy.  Add the eggs and vanilla and continue beating.  Add the flour, baking soda and salt and just mix it enough to incorporate it.


Take the bowl out of the mixer and add the squash, pecans and fennel and just fold it all together.


Spray Pam in a 9 x 5 loaf pan.  Pour the batter in the pan and bake for about 1 hour.


The Benefit of Coasting

Coasting (kohst-ing) – verb – to continue to move or advance after effort has ceased; keep going on acquired momentum.


I am a big believer in coasting.  When the price of gas soared a few years ago I made it a game to see how much better millage I could get out of each gallon by safely coasting whenever possible.  I would watch the stop light up ahead and if the odds were good it would be red by the time I reached it I would just take my foot off the gas and coast on up.  I increased my gas efficiency by at least ten percent.


After driving this way for a while I started to notice how, with a little planning, I often would not need to use the gas, nor the brakes because I was not just speeding up to have to stop all of a sudden.  When I ride in a car now with a non-coaster I have to work really hard not to point out not only how much gas they are wasting and brakes they are wearing out, but how scary it is to drive really fast right up behind someone and then have to jam on the breaks because the non-coaster in front was stopping suddenly.  If you know me you know I am fairly unsuccessful at not pointing that out, especially when I let loose a “this-is-not-how-I-planned-to-die-scream.”


Changing driving habits is very similar to changing eating habits.  I have become somewhat of a coaster when it comes to eating these days.  I try to eat just enough to keep the hunger pangs away.  If I think I am hungry before a real honest to god mealtime, I drink a big glass of iced tea or water to see if I can keep coasting until the time I should eat.  If I continue to be hungry I push it just a half hour more.  Usually I get involved with something else and keep what I call brain hunger at bay.  You see I am sure at this point in my privileged life I don’t know what real hunger is and I have boredom hunger.


Now the thing about coasting is you have got to build up momentum at some point in order to be able to coast.  As a child there was nothing more satisfying than after peddling my bike really hard on the upside of a hill I got to coast with legs splayed out, no feet on the peddles, on the down side.


The benefit of coasting is that you are still making forward progress without constantly expending energy and that has to help you go farther in the long run.  So in the heat of the summer I want to encourage you to find good places to coast and take advantage of energy you have already expended to get just a little farther for free.

Key to Sales Success

Last night I was lying in bed, watching TV, needle pointing a Christmas ornament.  Right now I would like to claim that needle pointing a Christmas ornament in July would help you lose weight.  If you call right now, I will send you a complete weight loss kit and you are sure to drop the pounds if you follow the simple instructions inside.  This for just $249.95 plus shipping and handling.  Don’t wait, call now, kits are limited.


How can I make this claim?  There are a very limited number of foods you can eat while actively needlepointing and most of them are lollipops.  I know this must sound a little familiar to anyone who watches at least one hour of TV a week because I am overwhelmed with the number of ads for non-food items that make weight loss claims as their number one sales proposition.


Perhaps you have seen the Ashley Furniture commercial for mattresses that claim that if you get a new mattress from them you will lose weight.  Brilliant.  All you have to do is sleep more and lose weight.  Sure, just like with needlepointing if you are asleep you are not eating.  That is of course as long as you are not taking Ambien, which has been linked to Night Eating Syndrome (NES which is also amazingly related to Restless Leg Syndrome, and I just thought they made that one up.)


Sketchers got is a butt load of trouble for claiming that their Shape-up sneakers which had an curved bottom would help you lose more by wearing them.    Sketchers settled their lawsuit for $40 million, but you know they made so much more than that on the shoes that making a dubious weight loss claim was worth the risk.


There are weight loss creams, patches, and Wi-games, which have all sold billions just because they appealed to our lazy nature to lose weight fast and without any pain.  All I can say is buyer beware.


But if you are interested I have a few new products besides the needlepoint kits that can certainly help you if dropping those stubborn lbs is your goal.  Just send me your money, lots of it, it really doesn’t matter what I send you back.  It will work as well as all the other products advertised on TV.


The Healthy is Hidden in it Chili

Chili is a great way to make not just a low fat dish, but one that has a lot of veggies that you would not even know are in there that add fiber and bulk without adding many calories.

3 onions chopped

5 cloves of garlic minced

2 lbs of 96 % ground beef or ground turkey breast

1 Green pepper chopped

5 cups of shredded squash (I used 2 zucchini and 1 yellow squash)

2 shredded Carrots

3 hot green peppers chopped

½ cup Chili powder

2 T. ground Cumin

1 T. smoked Paprika

2 15 oz. cans of chopped tomatoes

1/2 cup of liquid – wine, beer, chicken broth or water

1 can of red kidney beans

9 packets of Splenda

1 T. Red wine vinegar

Salt and Pepper


In a large stockpot on a medium high heat, spray with Pam and add onions and garlic.  Cook for 3 minutes stirring every once in a while.  Add the meat and chop it up with a spoon as you cook it until it is browned.  Add all the peppers, squash and carrots.  Stir and cook for another 3 minutes.  Add all the spices and the canned tomatoes.  Add the liquid and bring boil and simmer for 20 minutes making sure

there is a little liquid in the pot.  Add the beans, Splenda and vinegar and cook a few more minutes.

Cooking As Sport

As I child I was never very good at sports.  I swam on the club swim team and could ice skate on our pond, but other than that I did not participate in any organized teams.  It just was not the thing to do in the late 60’s and early 70’s.  The thought of my mother driving me to an after school activity or worse yet, watching a game where I sat on the bench was just unheard of, which was really too bad since my mother loves to watch sports


The good news was my youngest sister Janet was a real jock and by the time she came along my mother had more time to take her hither and yon to tennis, basketball and skiing.  It was also more satisfying for my mother because Janet was a superior athlete to watch with pride.


I was born about 30 years too soon because now a days cooking has become competitive.  Think about how many TV show there are with cooking competitions on them, Chopped, Top Chef, Cupcake Wars, Iron Chef, The Next Food Network Star and on and on.  When one of these shows is on in our kitchen my daughter often says, “Mom, you should be on that show.”  What nirvana that is for a mother to hear from her 13 year old.


Cooking has become akin to a sport.  Chefs are almost super heroes.  Bobby Flay is today’s Joe Namath.  The best thing is that to be a great cook you do not have to be born with any particular genetic advantage.  Being tall or strong does not help you produce a better soufflé.


The best part about being a good cook is it is the one skill you will use everyday of your whole life.  Before I was married my friends used to say that whomever I married was going to be very lucky because I could cook.  Amazingly enough my husband asked me to marry him before I ever cooked him a single meal.  In fact he proposed in the parking lot of the ACME supermarket as we were going in to buy groceries for dinner.


Although it was not the most traditional place to be proposed to, it was probably the most appropriate for me and he did not even know it.  I can report that after I said yes, I asked him if we should at least tell the produce manager in the hopes of getting a celebratory free tomato.


So if you are not a great sportsman, nor a great cook, just wait a few years.  Something new will emerge as the next competitive activity.  For all you great laundry folders, your day is coming.

Vegetable Frittata

This is not an original idea for a recipe, but it is such a good things to know how to make I am writing my own version of this Spanish classic.  It is also very healthy and good for any time of the day.


1 onion chopped (I like lots of onion so I use a big one)

1 ½ cups other chopped veggies – for this one I used Zucchini and green pepper.  You can use leftover cooked veggies or raw.  Asparagus, artichokes, red or green peppers, squash, cooked potatoes, green beans, spinach, broccoli or any creative combinations you can think of will work.

7 eggs beaten

½ cup of shredded cheese – I used a mixture of Parmesan, Jarlsberg and Gruyere


Salt and Pepper


Preheat the oven to 400º

You need a 12-inch skillet that can be put in the oven (that means it does not have plastic handles).  Put skillet over a medium high heat and spray with Pam.  Add onions to pan and cook for 3 minutes.  If you are using raw peppers add them at the same time.  Add any other raw veggies after the onions are partially cooked.  Cook until veggies for another 3 minutes.  Salt and Pepper the veggies.  If you are using pre-cooked veggies add them now and get them warmed up.


Beat the eggs and add salt and pepper to them.  Spray a little more Pam in the skillet with the vegetables, making sure the bottom gets lubricated and spreading out the vegetables evenly across the bottom of the pan.  Turn heat on medium and pour the eggs into the skillet.  Do not stir anything and let the eggs cook for about 5 minutes.  Sprinkle the cheese on top of the still runny eggs and put whole skillet in the hot oven.

Continue cooking in the oven for another 5 minutes.  The eggs may puff up a little.


Can be eaten hot or cold.

I Must Have Been a Thin Farmer in Another Life

What in the world makes me believe that I was a thin farmer in another life?  Well, the thin part is just wishful thinking, but my hunger patterns follow those of a farmer.  I am not a nighttime eater, nor am I a real snacker.  My hungriest time of the day is 4:00 in the afternoon.  Twenty-first century eating patterns are just not good for me.  Making a late dinner my biggest and often most social meal of the day is just not satisfying to me and surely contributes to extra pounds.


Let’s consider the life of a farmer 100 years ago, like so many of my kin.  A farmer got up early, ate a little something, went out and worked. When the hottest part of the day came and the loved one in the house had spent all morning preparing a big meal, mostly of the things they raised, like stewed chicken, pickled watermelon rind, stewed tomatoes and snap beans, the farmer would come in and take a break and eat their largest meal of the day.


After a little rest, said farmer would return to work.  At the end of the day after a small supper and I mean small, like some clabbered milk (that’s like yogurt to old southern cooks) and a peach the farmer would fall in to bed dead tired.


This spring I made a renewed commitment to my vegetable garden.  It involved digging out 10 yards (That is almost a full dump truck for those of you unfamiliar with how big a yard is) of old unproductive dirt from the gardens beside my driveway and replaced it with 10 yards of new compost.  That meant digging out and shoveling in was required.  By far the best free exercise program around.


This was the perfect year to do it because it turned out we had the most glorious spring I have ever seen in Durham.  Planting and weeding were not such horrible chores and the rain helped with watering.  As has been previously discussed, I became a one-person squash factory and thus far have harvested over 300 pounds of both zucchini and yellow squash and that is not because I let them grow too big.


My frugality and attachment to something I grew means that I have to try and eat my harvest.  Thank goodness I only grow healthy vegetables and don’t have cows from which I could make cheese; that would be a weight-gaining farming situation.


In the spirit or my farming heritage I am going to try the farm meal plan and eat my larger meal in the middle of the day to see if the 4:00 hungries disappear and have supper instead of dinner as my evening meal.  I will report later how this plan works.  For now, I am going out to the garden to pick my dinner.

Not Just for Bridge Luncheon Tomato Aspic

Cooking is not my mother’s favorite thing.  But there are a couple of dishes she has mastered because they make excellent menu items for bridge day.  One is her tomato aspic.  As a child I refused to even try anything called aspic.  It was not until I actually learned to play bridge that I tried my mother’s tomato treat that I learned how much I loved it.

2 packages sugar free lemon Jell-O

1 envelope knox unflavored gelatin

4 cups of V-8 (I use hot and spicy, but if you don’t like things too hot use regular) – divided.  Half hot and half cold

2 T. Worchester sauce

1 T. lemon juice

1 cup chopped veggie of your choice- celery, green peppers, red onions

½ cup sliced olives

1 T. horseradish


½ cup fat free sour cream

½ cup Greek Yogurt

2 T. horseradish

In a saucepan heat 2 cups of the v-8 to almost boiling.  Put Jell-O powder and knox gelatin in a bowl and pour hot V-8 over it and stir until dissolved.  Add the Worchester sauce, lemon juice and lemon juice.  Add the cold 2 cups of V-8, the veggies, olives and horseradish.  Mix together and pour into a 9 x 9 pan.  Put in the refrigerator to chill for at least 4 hours.

Make sauce by mixing together the sour cream, yogurt and horseradish.

Grilled Butterflied Leg of Lamb with Grilled Figs and Balsamic Reduction

This picture in no way conveys how yummy and easy this main course is.

1 leg of lamb – with the bone removed, which is called butterflied.  It is often sold rolled back up with netting holding it together and wrapped in plastic.  After removing it from the plastic just cut the netting off


4 T. olive oil

8 cloves of garlic – minced

Enough chopped fresh herbs to make ½ a cup – I used oregano, rosemary and thyme

Salt and pepper

10 fresh figs – they are in season and so yummy

1 cup of good quality balsamic vinegar

Juice of a lemon

At least one hour, I did 6 hours before you need to start cooking mix up the olive oil, herbs and garlic.  Spread the leg of lamb out and slather half the marinade on the meat and salt and pepper it.  Flip it over on a platter or container large enough to hold it spread out and slather the other side with the remaining marinade.  Salt and Pepper and cover it.  If you are only going to marinate it for one hour you can leave it on the counter, otherwise put it in the refrigerator.  You want to take it out of the fridge an hour before cooking so the meat can come up to room temperature.

Balsamic reduction

This can be made in advance.

Put vinegar in a small saucepan and bring to boil and reduce to simmer.  You want to reduce the vinegar by ¾, which will take about half an hour.

Grilled figs

This too can be done in advance

Cut the figs in half the long ways.  Spray Pam on a medium hot grill and place the figs cut side down.  Grill for about 4 minutes with the lid down.  Flip over to the skin side, close the lid and grill for another 4 minutes.

Grilling the lamb

Heat the grill on high and turn it down to medium high.  Place the lamb fully spread out with the fat side up to start.  Close the lid.  The oil and fat will make the fire grow big so don’t go far from the grill.  You want to grill one side for about 10 minutes.  If the fire has gotten too high, move the lamb to one side of the grill and turn off the burner on that side.  Don’t let it get too charred.

Once you have done one side, flip it over and cook the other side for 10 minutes.  Watch for big flames again.  Use a meat thermometer getting the lamb to 125º internal temp.  With a butterflied leg of lab there is going to be some thicker and thinner parts so check multiple places.  Don’t cook it until the fattest part is 125º unless you like really well done meat.

When the average thickest place is the right temp remove the lamb from the fire and place on a platter and cover it tightly with foil and let the meat rest for 15 minutes.

After resting slice the lamb and squeeze lemon juice over it, place figs on top and drizzle the balsamic reduction.

After you taste it you will want to kiss me.

I’m Fat Because I Can’t Fly

While at my friend Jan’s house in Texas I had a lot of time to watch the millions of sea birds that live on the gulf because her house is right on water.  All day giant pelicans and ring necked gulls would fly over her deck.  Every once in a while you would here a big splash as a pelican would dive bomb into the water to gulp up a mouth full of food.


As I watched it occurred to me that those birds only job was to look for, catch and eat food.  Once in a while they make new birds, but how much time could that take?  They never go to the movies or have to wait in line at the DMV and outside of an annoying mate they don’t have a boss.


I’m sure I’m over simplifying things, so before all you ornithologist write me to report the complicated social order of birds and that they live in highly sophisticated groups, just stop and really boil it down.  What the hell does a bird do 90% of their time?  Look for food.


That is the problem with humans now.  We hardly have to spend any time looking for food.  It is all around us.  Now we do have to come up with money to buy it and some of us actually grow it and cook it, but if you have money you can have food.


Trying to eat less food and more healthy food is making me much more like a bird.  I spend almost all my time looking for, growing, cooking or eating better for me food.  Now I also spend time photographing it, writing about it and reading about it.  The main bird characteristic I am not doing is I am not getting lots of exercise flying around trying to find it.  If only I could fly?  I might be as light as a sparrow.

Roast Corn with Deconstructed Pesto


The last few years pine nuts have been way out of sight price wise.  I don’t know if the whole Italian economy was propped up on pine nut futures, but I felt that $40 a pound was just too much to pay.  So today when I noticed that my basil crop was in need of a good harvesting I decided to make half a pesto.

What is half a Pesto?  I just wanted to chop the Basil with very little olive oil and lots of garlic.  My thinking behind this is I can use that as a base and add what ever I want at the time of using it.  Tonight I roasted corn on the grill and spread the partial pesto on each ear and then sprinkled Parmesan over each ear.  The only part of traditional pesto that was left out were the pine nuts.  We did not miss them a bit.


2 T. olive oil

150 basil leaves

7 cloves of Garlic


Put the oil and the garlic in the cuisineart and pulse until the garlic is minced.  Add the basil and run the machine until the basil is finely minced.  This will make about a cup of Pesto Base.  Keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or freeze it in for up to a year.


1 T. of Parmesan Cheese for each ear of corn

Corn – You may want more than one ear per person


Heat the grill on high.  Husk corn, and wet the ear.  Place on grill and closed lid.  Cook for 8 mins. Until grill marks start to blacken the kernels.  Roll the corn ¼ turn and close the lid and cook another 3 minutes.  Repeat until the whole ear has been rotated all the way around.


When you remove the corn from the grill, brush with the pesto base and sprinkle cheese all over and enjoy!


What Did You Want Independence From?

If you are American — Happy Independence day. According to the stats on my blog there are a good number of you readers from Canada, The UK, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, The Cayman Islands, Cyprus and various other places. I’m not sure who you all are, but welcome to the U.S. Independence day, lovingly known as the 4th of July — or the 4th for short.

The fourth is traditionally celebrated with families, picnics and fireworks. Since our child is observing the day at sleep-away-camp Russ and I did what is surely 432nd on the list of traditional 4th celebrations and cleaned out the garage. Since we are not Jewish it probably should be considered our day of atonement.

Two years ago my mother walked into my garage in order to get into the house and on the way she casually said, “You should move.”

“Move, why should I move? I love my house.”

“Yeah, but your garage is a disaster.”

“Oh,” I replied, “I don’t need to move. I just need to clean out the garage.”

What I did not tell her was that I needed to clean out the attic, my office, the toy cabinets in the playroom, the gift closet in the guest room, my closet and dresser, Carter’s whole room, including the closet, every place that we hang coats which is two closets and one bathroom, and the craft shower. Yes, the shower in my office bathroom is where I store overflow crafting materials. I feel as if it is Russ’ responsibility to clean out his office, but I should do the gift wrap closet which is in his office.

When I read back this extensive list of what needs to be cleaned out I am reconsidering moving as the catalyst to get this all done.

But I digress. Today I am celebrating one small independence — that of too much clutter my mother can see when she walks in my garage. Granted that does not sound like much of an accomplishment, but please consider what went into my being able to claim that.

1. Russ had to get our best builder, Joe, to come over and design and build a four cabinet system with a 4′ x 8′ sheet of plywood as a counter to serve as a giant laundry folding table and storage unit for the garage.

2. Joe had to leave his 20 foot trailer at our house so we had a way of disposing of anything that required going to the dump.

3. Since it was just under 100 degrees today, we had to get up early and touch 80% of the stuff in one half of the garage and decide if it went to Goodwill, got recycled, went to the dump or was allowed to be restored in a more appropriate place.

This last step took over seven hours and filled half the dump trailer and my whole Land Cruiser with Goodwill items.

At this point I can report that the garage is 50% cleaned up, but looks more like 75% due to the pre-existing cabinets hiding a few things I did not get to today.

I liken this whole process to losing weight. First, is is harder to do than you think. Second, it will take longer than you want. Third, once you you complete it you have to have a system to keep it the new way.

Just like my weight loss plan, I am taking the cleaning out every part of my house that no one sees one step at a time.

In celebration of July 4th I want independence from too much junk that I don’t even know I have. What about you?

Advice for dieting travelers

Pack a belt. Ok, if you are thinking that is lame advice let me relate to you my story.

Since this is a trip that involves flying,I did my best to think strategically about exactly what I needed in the way of clothes so that I could fit everything I needed for a five day trip in my roll-a-board suitcase and one large purse. No one else was flying with me so I did not have the possibility of adding an extra pair of shoes or a hair dryer into a family members bag.

The roll-a-board five-day-plan only works when flying someplace with warm weather so no bulky coats or sweaters are needed. Lord knows it certainly is warm enough almost everywhere in the US right now.

I usually help myself by wearing all my most bulky clothes on the plane so they are not taking up valuable bag space. This trip that was not possible because my most bulky item was my bathing suit, what with it’s giant built in padded bra, full-torso-spanx-like-stretchy-inner-nude-liner, the patterned body hugging suit that covers the liner and the giant flowing, practically knee length, dress-like outer suit. So as not to scare the traveling public, I packed that and opted to wear the second most bulky item, a giant molded bra that sets off every security monitor the TSA ever invented.

For the most part my packing was dead on. I wore everything I brought, except a white linen skirt. When I went to dress this morning for my return flight I looked at my clothes to determine what was clean enough and what was needed to be worn because it would not fit in my suitcase and nothing went with the white linen skirt. I only had one green tunic blouse as a top and paired with the skirt the outfit made me look like a sister-wife with a little better haircut and lipstick.

I should not care what I look like when I am getting on a southwest flight between Houston and RDU, but even I could not bring myself to wear that combination. It did not help that my bulkiest shoes are a pair of Dansko clog-like sneakers which are sure to be best sellers in the sister-wife community once they discover them.

So I pulled out my next cleanest pair of white pants, No problem. A cute outfit with the green tunic and foot-happy sneakers. So I thought, until I took two steps and my pants practically fell to the ground. Quickly I went from potential Utah loving Mormon to the whitest-middle-aged-woman-hip-hop-artist with my drawers not covering one bit of my underpants in the back.

Just days ago these pants had fit adequately, but my strict living and great diet supportive friend Jan had shrunk my butt just a little more than anticipated in five days. A belt would have solved the problem, but no, that extra item of clothing was not considered in my absolutely-nothing-more-than-I-need packing plan. So two giant safety pins and three inches of gathering the waist later I was off, with pants securely in place. That was until I reached security and between the giant molded bra with its metal super structure and the giant safety pins, the TSA agent patting me down was sure I could assemble some sort of weapon from all these parts. Thank goodness she was a large woman herself and when I explained the pants falling down situation she smiled and said,”That’s a problem I would like to have.”

Next trip I’m not going to take my chances on having such an understanding TSA agent and I’m going to go on and horrify the rest of the flying public and wear my bathing suit.

Tiki Island Shrimp

Today I am at my friend Jan McCallum’s house in Tiki Island Texas, on the gulf coast. We had a pound of beautiful shrimp to cook for dinner. So we made up this recipe which was yummy and good for you.

1 lb. shrimp – peeled
2 T. Fat free Greek Yogurt
2 T. Sriracha sauce – garlic chili sauce
2 cloves of garlic – minced
1T. Sherry
1t. Grated ginger
2 T. Cilantro – chopped
Juice of a lime

Mix all the ingredients adding the shrimp last. Marinate in refrigerator for one hour. Heat a non-stick skillet on high and add the shrimp and the marinade. Cook quickly on high just until the shrimp turn pink. For large shrimp it should only take about 3 minutes.


What The Plan?

Any one who has ever ridden in a car with me knows that my pet peeve is people who don’t use their turn signals. Not that the driver ahead of me can hear what I’m saying, but I usually scream something like, “Turn signals are not an optional item on cars for a reason.”

It is not that the person who was just too lazy or inconsiderate to let the rest of the world know where they going that really bothers me, well a little of that, but I am a person who likes to know the plan. Not just my plan, but the plan of the perfect stranger who is driving in front of me too.

I recognize that this might be genetic, “the planning gene” because I have birthed a planner. One of Carter’s early multi-word sentences was, “What’s the plan?” And if I had kept statistics on everything she has ever said in her 13 years, “What’s the plan?” could easily be in the top three most repeated phrases right behind, “What’s for breakfast?” and “What’s for dinner?”

When I had my first job out of college selling mail opening and extracting machines I had a boss who used to say, “Fail to plan and you plan to fail.” He never gave Benjamin Franklin the credit for the original quote, “Failing to prepare, is preparing to fail.”

That boss was not teaching me anything I didn’t already know. I love planning. I love lists. I love them even more now that my middle-age brain can’t remember what I was looking for that made me go to the garage.

Dieting for someone who loves food as much as I do is really all about planning and sticking to the plan. Even if you are a planner, being someone who follows a plan is a whole other animal.

So here are a few of the things I do to plan my work and work my plan. First I eat the same thing for breakfast 99% of the time. This way I don’t have to think about it when I get up. I know that I am going to have 3/4 of a cup of High Protein Special K with a 1/2 a cup of skim milk and 3/4 of a cup of berries. See, there is variety, it could be raspberries, the top choice, black, blue or strawberries, or perhaps even a sliced peach, which for this exercise I will call a peach-berry. My friend Jan, whom I am visiting right now, even knows this and bought my cereal before I arrived.

The second tip is that I always look at restaurant menus online before I go. It is much easier to plan my whole days meals if I have an idea what I am going to order and not be tempted by a special at the last minute. Now, I have been known to chose a really good special as long as it is healthier than my previous choice.

I also plan my exercise and have a commitment to go to my trainer with a friend. Knowing that she is planning on me being there with her helps me keep my commitment.

Whatever you are trying to accomplish start with a plan. Eleanor Roosevelt put is simply, “It takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan.”