One day in my high school cafeteria I was delighted to find breaded veal patties.
I sat down with my lunch and my best buds, Bo and Rhi, eager to eat my unexpected bounty.
Excited, I took a bite — and shrieked. It didn’t taste like veal; it tasted like what Alpo smells like.
“Oh my gosh, they’re feeding us dog food!”
Ten years ago there was a paradigm shift that affected millions of hearts, but first, a very short story.
In the late 1990s, I stood at a checkered tablecloth covered table in front of a store in Northgate Mall that was selling my cookbooks and offered tasting samples from those books. A normal-sized, healthy looking young man walked up to me, asked for a small brownie sample and then questioned me closely about the fat content in my recipes. Overcome by curiosity, since more women than men buy my books, I asked him if he cooked.
I won’t twerk. So don’t ask me.
I also won’t watusi, foxtrot or tango. Not a big dancer. In the first grade, I took ballet, tap and jazz for about six months. My 137-year-old teacher frightened me so much I quit. Thus my chance at being a Solid Gold dancer vanished into thin air.
Mrs. Dawson, our music teacher, gave me the lead role in our second-grade play.
I played the part of a sweet potato. I was completely engulfed in the costume Dad built for me from wire and yards and yards of orange cotton. My best friend, Lynette, had the supporting role of a stick of butter. She carried a knife that was as tall as we were, and together we danced and sang with buttery, carbohydrate abandon.
Before Christmas and uncertain that Santa knew exactly what I wanted; I gave myself a gift: a new bundt pan to replace my 20-year-old pan that was too thin, too dark, scratched-up and barely nonstick any more.
Holidays, food and families have interwoven themselves, like braids on a loaf of challah or strands of colored beads on a Christmas tree, since time now forgotten. That continues to be true for me.
When I was a kid, this season’s parade of holidays always stepped-off with Thanksgiving and since my folks couldn’t decide whether we should be with Mom’s or Dad’s family, we settled on -- both. This didn’t happen just once, but for many years. If you ever wondered how I got to be over 300 pounds, knowing just that bit of holiday history should be enlightening.
The day I brought Petey home from the hospital, we also brought home a bunch of stuff.
We had instructions and prescriptions. We had unguents, lotions and a couple of pairs of ugly, strangely-fitting yellow socks (Who was the foot model for those things anyway?). We also carried a big box full of gifts from his amazing, generous co-workers at Duke.
How times have changed.
In 1990, Thanksgiving made me uneasy.
Not about getting together with my family. No. That year I'd lost more than 100 pounds for the first time and in my family, Thanksgiving dinner triggered the start of a food-centric race running for the next six weeks. T-Day 1990 marked the single toughest meal I'd faced that year.
When I was 4, my family went to a Christmas party. The adults were in the living room, and the kids were in the rumpus room. I was just getting ready to go to the restroom when a surprise visitor showed up. It was Santa Claus!
You should have seen me. I was trussed up like a Christmas goose.
I wore a tent-sized apron, and next to my latex swathed hands was a spray bottle of Clorox Clean-up. My hair was tied back, and my glasses were acting as safety goggles. The only reason I wasn’t wearing a face mask is because I freak a wee bit when stuff covers my mouth and nose. But I was drawing infrequent, shallow, nervous breaths.
A couple of days ago I received a note from my niece, Susi:
“Can you do an article on green bean casserole? For 10 years I have been making it and for 10 years it does not turn out. Now it's a running joke to everyone that I'm going to bring this casserole that no one eats. This year is the year for me, I can feel it.”
Almost anyone who cooks a little can prepare a six- to eight-ingredient recipe with results that, if not spectacular, usually exceed expectations. But, take that same recipe and join it with three, four, five or six more, all to be served sequentially or simultaneously and even experienced cooks start doubting their skills.
If controversy and confusion caused weight loss, anyone considering intermittent fasting (sometimes referred to as IF) would lose weight just by reading about it.
Intermittent fasting is this year's most popular no-calorie-counting, no-fat-gram-counting, fast-track to weight loss diet. When I wrote about David Zinczenko's "The 8-Hour Diet" book earlier this year I had no clue how widespread the IF trend was about to become. Head over to Amazon.com and you'll quickly find more than 100 books on the topic, each one slightly different; many with glaring similarities.
I recently received a master’s degree at Duke.
It’s not really that impressive. It was obtained at the medical center, and the degree was in survival of the long-term hospital visitor.
Petey’s been a patient for a while at Duke. Every day he’s getting a little better, but for now, this is his home.