Sunday, January 27, 2013

Mining Freezer for Summer Goodness

Summer's berries about to star in a cobbler. These are fresh from the freezer, part of the 2012 garden harvest. 
Winter months are pay-off time for all the garden and kitchen grunt work that occurs August thru October. I whine about toiling to harvest and process food. But dang, it is so satisfying to thaw a quart of ratatouille, crack open a pint of salsa, or dump a frozen rectangle of marinara sauce into the spaghetti pot. We have a large pantry in an unheated porch to stash canned sauces and salsas and winter squash,  and the pump house protects potatoes from freezing.

An old refrigerator in the garage holds apples and onions, and its freezer, once loaded with berries, now keeps pork that was raised nearby. A small upright freezer in our back porch stores chard, kale, berries, corn, peppers, eggplant, green beans, tomatillos, whole Roma tomatoes, pesto, chili verde, walnuts, and chipotle cubes. Ditto the kitchen refrigerator/freezer. Whew. It was a lot of work, but winter meals are a breeze.
About to dive into berry cobbler with vanilla ice cream.

Here's one of my favorites—a delectable melange of summer berries in a relatively low-carb cobbler. This recipe evolved from a berry concoction that used yellow cake mix as the topping. My low-carbing sister, Monette Johnson, ditched the cake mix and substituted oatmeal and a bit of flour. I tweaked further to include almond meal and oat flour. As you can tell, there's a lot of leeway with the topping! It always gets rave reviews. I make this when company is coming. In this case, son Chris, is due home today!

Just out of the oven. Looks like I baked it a bit  too long, but it still tasted great.
Mixed Berry Cobbler
For the fruit layer:
Four to five cups of berries, fresh or frozen: blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries
One 3-ounce package of sugar-free JELL-O, raspberry
One cup of water

For the topping
3/4 stick butter, melted
1/4 cup oat flour
1/4 cup almond flour (or 1/2 cup almond flour and omit the oat flour)
1 1/4 cup old-fashioned oatmeal*
3/4 cup Splenda or equivalent non-sugar sweetner
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

*I've been meaning to eliminate all but a quarter cup of oats and instead mix an equivalent amount of almond and coconut flours with the butter and Splenda for a lower-carb count. If you try that, let me know, please, how it turned out.

Spread the berries in a 9X13 inch baking dish. Distribute the J-ello powder on the berries, then drizzle with water. Mix the butter, oats, flours, Splenda and walnuts. Sprinkle atop the berries.

Bake at 350 for 45 minutes. Serve warm or cool with ice cream or half and half or unadorned.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Putting Wine in Its Place

Weekdays, wine glasses will be for purposes other than
chardonnay or cabernet sauvignon. *
I know this will come as a terrible shock to my wine-loving friends, and that includes almost all of them, but I'm putting wine in its place. Its place is on weekends and special occasions. It is not for every single day, as it has been for more years than I care to count. Why this sudden loss of sanity? Why the deprivation? The suppression of desire to swill wine while cooking dinner and eating it?

It's about a couple things. Weight is one. I've been seeing the same 3-4-pound-range on the scale for more than 10 years. Ten years ago is when a near-death experience and 9 days in intensive care led to a 15-pound weight loss.  I started to regain the weight (which I was ecstatic to have dumped), because I still believed in the erroneous low-fat-equals-weight-loss theory of dieting. Too many bowls of brown rice, dry baked potatoes, and boxes of fat-free Junior Mints later, I discovered low-carb nutrition. I committed to the lifestyle and yada yada yada. I lost the weight I'd regained and stabilized, with a few minor corrections through the years.

Now, I'd like to drop a jean size or two. But I detest dieting and don't want to give up anything. I already said goodbye to bread, pasta, rice, sugar, potatoes, bananas, wheat and most grains ten years ago. I'm NOT putting aside butter, cream, eggs, meat, berries, olive and coconut oils, mountains of kale, chard, spinach and broccoli, plus a little bit of chocolate at night. What else is there?


Let's see. At 3-4 glasses of wine daily, I'm consuming around 15-20 carbs and between 300-600 calories, which adds up to as much as 140 carbs and 4,200 calories a week. Yikes.  I know, I count carbs, not calories. But still. I can't ignore these numbers. PK has suggested several times over the years that we test our shared wine habit with a period of abstinence.  Go ahead, I've always said. I wasn't ready to stare at the stove in the twilight without a glass of wine nearby. What changed my mind?

I'm not sure. Just a gradual dawning that I was indulging a daily habit that, despite claims to wine's health benefits, probably wasn't doing me any good. Plus the fact that the ugly A word kept bobbing  up. After all the years of routine wine-ing, could we really quit?

Yes, it appears, but on our terms. We've decided to drink only on weekends or special occasions, including vacations. So. A couple weeks ago, we put away the corkscrew and Sunday through Thursday did not imbibe. Come Sunday night, we were back on the wagon again for a second week, which included the 3-day MLK weekend, technically a special occasion. Come Monday, though, a return to alcohol-free living. It's been a lot easier than I thought.

The truth is that I needed to push the reset button on everyday drinking. I'm going to stick with it for a year and see what happens. In the meantime, we're spending a week in Mexico soon with a group of friends. It will be a special occasion, indeed, and I will raise a margarita to toast my new relationship with wine.
*Those lovely geraniums are growing in our living room!