My mother’s idea of creative cooking was to heat together two different cans of Campbell Soup – such as Chicken Noodle and Beef Barley – and then top it with a cup of oyster crackers. Voila! A gourmet meal down on the farm! With respect for my mom, she also could prepare an evening banquet of two dozen fried pork chops, a mixing bowl of mashed potatoes, a vat of green beans with bacon, a platter of buttered corn on the cob, and a pan of warm apple cobbler with ice cream. Anticipating what would appear on the family table became a guessing game of feast or famine, which helps explain my lifelong battle with weight.
Over the decades, I’ve gained and lost the weight of a Buick. Or two, depending upon the make and model. Every few years I try the latest fad – lost a ton with Atkins and gained it all back in four hours, joined Weight Watchers and developed anxiety attacks because of the weigh-ins, attempted Zumba and broke my foot just before my son’s wedding, and I even tried using smaller plates but those salad plates still can hold six brownies. Sigh.
When I reached middle age, I finally acknowledged that I like to eat and probably would do so for the rest of my life. So, I decided to learn how to cook. A few years ago I attended a week-long cooking school in Tuscany, Italy, the ultimate place for good eating (and drinking, but that’s another story.) There I learned how to make delicious sauces, exquisite pasta dishes, and chicken parmesan so magnificent that it becomes a religious experience. Italians know how to cook – and eat. The mangiar bene – good meal – takes all day to prepare but is worth its weight in wine bottles. And, those wonderful Italians keep healthy because they walk everywhere, don’t sit around watching TV, and enjoy the sex lives of rabbits in heat.
I only fix a big meal a few times a month, and the rest of the time Studley and I try to eat small, healthy meals. I recently joined an exercise program called Body Back Boise, taught by my super-athletic daughter. The routine involves high-impact workouts that leave me gasping for air and crawling toward the exit door begging for mercy. Meal plans also are included, so last night I tried a “faux” Italian meal of lean turkey and spinach meatballs with whole wheat pasta. Let’s just say that Studley choked down the meal and then said, lovingly of course, “I don’t like dry balls.” And, no, he shouldn’t.
I admit that the meal was a disaster, but here is the dilemma: I lost a pound. So, maybe it’s ok to ruin a fine Italian meal once in awhile for the sake of the main goal – I want to lose enough weight so I can prepare a gourmet meal and truly enjoy it. And, there won’t be any soup cans involved. Buon appetito!
Today’s blog is fueled by a 2008 Menopause Merlot by Bitner Vineyards in Caldwell. It’s about $30 a bottle and helps tame those pesky hot flashes because if you drink enough, you’ll forget all about them. Enjoy it with a real Italian meal – no dry balls allowed!