About Me

I have been cooking my way through life for over 50 years, beginning with mud pies as a child. I've turned a corner now and feel a Renaissance in my life. Recipes and Random Thoughts is my personal spin in a blog about how to prepare good food and how it prepares you for life. I want to share with you, honest to goodness food punctuated with perspective from the special memories and moments that have marked my journey.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Up Your Cooking Game With Sous Vide

Chicken Breast Stuffed with Duxelles
I've been fighting the urge to buy a sous vide machine for years until a smaller version for the home cook came on the market for about $200 so I took the plunge into modernist cuisine with the click of a mouse.  If you are the least bit serious about cooking, pay attention, times are changing.  Long used in high end restaurants,  sous vide machines are an immersion circulator that achieves evenly cooked food through out most any protein (i.e. meat, poultry, fish or egg). It also intensifies flavor and retains nutrients often lost in traditional cooking methods.  Think of a pork tenderloin seared in a pan and then finished in the oven; heat penetrates the exposed surface first then radiates to the interior.  While the center of the meat may register optimal desired doneness, the ends are more done due to the tapered shape of the meat.  With the sous vide method, the entire piece of meat is cooked to the same degree of doneness end to end.

Sous vide isn't necessarily quicker.  Like barbecue, it's a slow and low method in a circulating water bath.  The food is sealed in a plastic bag (vacuum seal preferred) then submerged in water heated to a precise temperature by the mechanism for an exact length of time.  It can remain at that temperature for an extended period without over cooking too.  It even saves on utilities by not running the oven and operates through an App on my cell phone.

Its hard to screw up and the end product is tasty, tender and amazing.  Some vegetables cook exceptionally well by this method.  A carrot taste more carroty.  Most surprising are eggs poached in their shells.  They come out a velvet custard texture that I can't describe any better.  This size mechanism has its' limits but can manage large roasts and burgers are suppose to be fantastic.  I'm still exploring the options.  It's an impressive cooking tool and would make a great Christmas gift for the cooking enthusiast in your family.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Marinara Sauce

I guess after that last post you might want the Marinara recipe.  This makes about 1 quart.  I like to simmer meatballs in the sauce and serve over pasta with lots of grated Parmesan.

3 pounds tomatoes, peeled, cored, seeded and chopped
1 cup
chopped onion
5-6 cloves garlic chopped
2 tbls tomato paste
1  1/2 tbls Italian seasoning
1 cup full bodied red wine
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
1/2 cup chopped fresh Basil
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat leaf Italian parsley
3 tbls olive oil
1 tsp salt
pinch of sugar

Heat olive oil over medium heat in a heavy bottom Dutch oven.  Add onion and cook stirring occasionally about 5 minutes (do not brown).  Add garlic, Italian seasoning and tomato paste and cook one minute.  Add tomatoes, red wine, crushed red pepper flakes, salt and sugar and stir.  Bring to a simmer, cover and lower heat and cook 30 minutes. Uncover and cook another 15-20 minutes or until slightly thickened. Add basil and parley.  Ready for canning, freezing or dinner.

If canning, do your homework, and follow the directions to the letter!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Canning Therapy

                                                                                                  I go over the edge about this time every year, out of control and consumed with a burning desire to save and savor all the glory of summer.  I admitted to a friend I had "wasted" a perfectly beautiful Saturday canning quarts of Marinara Sauce, and Gumbo, she said "you must be bored." No, actually, I was in heaven toiling away over the water bath and waiting for the sealed jars to pop.  Maybe I need a straight jacket or a good therapist.  I can just imagine a dialogue like this:

Doctor: "So what initiates these frantic episodes and how long do they last?"

Me: "I don't know, I guess it happens every August when all the beautiful fruits and vegetables are  abundant.  I see a vegetable stand and am just drawn to it like a moth to flame, and then I just buy too much and I have to do something with all that stuff.  I keep cooking until everything is preserved or consumed."

Doctor: "Can you describe your last attack?"

Me:  "Yes, I woke up with a compulsion to drive 20 miles to buy tomatoes at the State Farmer's Market. There where so many other fun things I should have been doing, like cleaning out my closets, paying bills or giving the dogs a bath. Then I got lost and almost ran out of gas, but I had to find the place.  My heart started to pound when I saw those tomatoes and shelled peas. I bought 25 pounds of tomatoes and 10 pounds of peas.  On the way home I started to sweat, I was so eager to start making Marinara sauce for canning and freeze shelled peas."

Doctor:  "So what justifies this bazaar behavior in your mind?"

Me:  "Winter, when there are only tasteless hydroponic tomatoes and no zipper peas.  I feel sort of insecure without them for 9 to 10 months.  I get withdrawal by February.  I freeze or can enough in August so I can pull some out any time.  I just gotta have fresh fruits and vegetables."

Doctor:  "Why don't you just buy what's in the stores or eat out like everybody else?"

Me: "Ah, well that's why I'm here, I don't know why I can't be like everyone else and just buy carry out or order pizza.  I tell you, I need help Doc, please.  Nobody, believes me when I tell them it's worth the effort.  They think I've turned into Martha Stewart!"

Doctor:  "I want you to try this therapeutic method until our next session.  Tomorrow morning, drive to Starbucks and waste 10 to 15 minutes standing in line and pay $5 for a Grande Moccachino Latte.  The next day, eat lunch at a Subway  and order a meatball sandwich.  The day after, order pizza delivered to your home for dinner.  Then start combining one or more of these meals each day.  If you start to slide, remind yourself, processed food is abundant too and that you'll have more time to play video games and text if you stay out of the kitchen."

Me: "Sure, Doc.  I'll try, I know I'm missing out on a lot of two for one and super sizing and my friends are worried the lack of preservatives in my diet will affect my health someday.

How much do I own you today?"

Doctor:  "I'll take a quart of that Marinara Sauce and a bag of Lady Peas in lieu of cash.  Next time, could you bring some Gumbo."

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Off the Beaten Path - The Isle of Mull

Starter Course at The Ninth Wave
Goat Cheese and Egg Tart at the Iona Hotel with a little jar of  chutney
Get your globe out and look hard at the western coast of Scotland, north of Ireland.  It's an island not far out from the mainland city of Oban and not easy to reach.  It took two flights, totaling 10 hours, 3 hours by train, 40 minutes by ferry and 1 hour by car to reach our destination near the quaint community of Bunessan.  Sheep sometimes blocked the way through the rugged, scenic terrain. Drivers heading straight for you on the one lane roads felt like a game of chicken.  Our friends had bought a B&B that had been an ancient hunting lodge 17 years ago and turned it into their personal dream - Ardfenaig Lodge.  We'd been beckoned many times to come.  Finally, my husband, his brothers and wives, decided to do some family bonding as a nod to the family's Scottish heritage.
We stayed in the property's charming gate keeper's cottage and did some of our own cooking in the modern kitchen with groceries ordered on line and then delivered from the mainland, plus all the fresh eggs we could handle from the owners' 60 exotic chickens.

 Outside our own devices, the island offered extraordinary dining from a pub that dished up fish and chips to very fine dining at The Ninth Wave.  The couple who own The Ninth Wave each contribute their skills to some really special cuisine.  The husband takes his boat out in the morning and catches what his wife, a talented chef, then turns into a beautifully crafted meal.  I never expected to find such on a remote island, but why not?  In addition to the bounty of the sea, we toured a large organic garden whose kitchen had baked goods sold on the honor system.  Just leave your cash in the jar.

Another 10 minute ferry to the tiny island of Iona (population 150) offered a lot to see, do and eat.
After hiking around the island, we had lunch at the Iona Hotel, a throw back to the 60's in feel with a friendly staff. I was hungry and chilled so their hearty soup and fresh bread hit the spot.  I thought to myself, "tastes like something I made."  Their food was fresh, organic and great.  I peeked in the kitchen to watch a single young baker working over her pies, cakes and breads.  Ah!  A beautiful site.

After Mull, we changed pace to the hustle and bustle of Dublin and later a golf resort.  Both are fine places to visit but there's something about the adventure and discovery of the remote unknown that make the best memories and Mull is one of them.  I've played golf on many of the finest courses in the world with spectacular scenery but equally fine in experience was "golf" on Iona.  Borrow a bag of assorted really old clubs to share, donate 1 Scottish Pound to play, walk 2 miles to the first tee, ask the sheep to get out of the way and enjoy scenery that rivals Cypress Point or Pebble Beach. Wow!  I love the routine of coffee in the morning and a quiet dinner with my husband in the evening but stepping outside our comfort zone, becoming a temporary local and unique personal experiences are the secret ingredients for a richer life.  Life is good.

My husband takes pictures of the scenery, I take pictures of my lunch!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Silver Queen Corn Ice Cream

I made them guess what the secret ingredient was and they didn't even come close.  Coconut and cake was all they could come up with but no one ever thought of sweet Silver Queen Corn as an ingredient for ice cream.  I'd heard of it before and thought it would go swell with my peach - blueberry cobbler.  It's summer and all I'm making use of the best offered this season in delicious recipes.

I've enjoyed corn this summer in a number of ways; grilled, stewed, sautéed but the sweetness of the Silver Queen variety lends itself to a special twist of vanilla ice cream.  I noticed a recipe for sweet corn ice cream in Garden & Gun Magazine which peeked my interest but I wasn't satisfied and a little more research led me to a wonderful custard based version from Spoon, Fork, Bacon.  I think this is truly worthy of the effort and time it takes.  Remember the key to this smooth, sweet summer treat is really sweet corn and patiently straining the ingredients and custard (twice). Get ready for a memorable summer treat.

1 cup Silver Queen Corn cut from about 3-4 ears, reserve any milk and cobs
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
1 cup superfine sugar (Castor) divided
6 egg yolks
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla

Combine corn, cobs, milk, cream and half of the sugar in a heavy bottomed sauce pan.  Simmer 5 minutes util sugar is dissolved.  Cover and turn off heat and let steep for one hour.  Remove the cobs and discard.  Pour the corn mixture into a blender and puree until smooth.
Strain through a double fine mesh strainer, pressing as much of the liquid through as possible.  Pour the mixture back into the sauce pan.

In a separate bowl combine the egg yolks with the remaining sugar and salt, beat with a whisk until light and fluffy.  Temper the eggs with one cup of the liquid mixture and beat vigorously to keep yolks from scrambling.  Add the egg mixture to the sauce pan and the corn mixture.  Heat over medium low, stirring and cook until the custard coats the back of the spoon.  Stir in the vanilla and stain through fine mesh lined with cheese cloth. Squeeze the cloth pressing as much of the custard through as possible.  Chill over night and then freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's directions.  Makes about 2 quarts.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Ladies Who Lunch - Mousse de Volaille with Mushroom Sauce

I'm fortunate to have the best girl friends. We've know each other since we where quite young and have seen each other through the joys and sorrows of life.  It started with spend-the-night parties eating pizza late at night as we giggled over boys and catty gossip. Now, it's periodic lunches at some place that serves nice chicken salad while we hash over our families, fashion and fret over the latest evidence time is not on our side anymore.  We mark each birthday with lunch and linger in our endless discussions of the progression of our lives.  What I've enjoyed the most with these girls is  laughter.  We can still laugh until we cry over something silly, mitigating the more unpleasant realities life has dealt.

Occasionally, I get my act together and get the good china and silver out and fix a special lunch for these BFFs because I know they will appreciate the effort.  This recipe was suggested by another friend and it reminded me of something my mother made for a ladies' luncheon.  It's an elegant chicken mousse accessorized with Alex Hitz's rich Mushroom Sauce. I've made a few minor alterations from his recipe.

Mousse de Volaille, serves 6

1 lbs. boneless, skin less chicken breasts cut into 2 inch cubes
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
pinch of cayenne
1 tsp Kosher salt
1 egg
1 1/4 cups heavy cream

Butter for ramekins. Parchment or waxed paper rounds cut to fit ramekins by tracing a circle on the paper around a ramekin.  Heat a kettle of water.

Brush the 6 oz ramekins with butter and preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Put the first 5 ingredients in a food processor. Turn on and slowly add the cream through the open tube space (remove the feed tube).  Process until mixture is blended. Scrape the sides with a spatula and continue to process until smooth; about a minute. Distribute the mixture in the ramekins evenly and smooth with a spoon or spatula. Press a paper round on top of the mixture to seal the mousse.
Place the filled ramekins in a roasting pan large enough to hold them and pour the hot water in the pan until half way up the side of them. Careful place the pan in the oven and bake 20 mins or until firm and internal temperature reaches 160 degrees.  Remove from oven and the water bath. They will hold at this point while you get ready to serve. Drain any accumulated liquid from the ramekin and remove the paper cover. Unmold onto serving plate and serve with Mushroom Sauce.

Mushroom Sauce

5 tbls unsalted butter                                                 2 cups chicken stock
3 tables minced shallot                                              2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 plus fresh mushrooms, divided,                       3/4 tsp plus 1/4 tsp salt
half minced, half quartered                                        1/2 cup chicken essence (1 1/4 tsp chicken paste)
1 tbls dried tarragon                                                   1/2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 cup plus 1/2 tsp medium dry sherry, divided       1/4 tsp ground white pepper

In a large skillet over medium heat, melt 3 tbls butter and when the foaming has subsided, add the shallots and saute' them until translucent, about 2-3 mins.

Add the minced mushrooms, tarragon, and 1/2 cup sherry to the shallots, and cook this mixture slowly until all liquid has evaporated, about 30 min.  Add the chicken stock and increase the heat to high, bring to a boil.  Let it boil for 10 mins. and then reduce the heat to a simmer and stir in the heavy cream, 1/4 tsp of the salt, the chicken essense, lemon juice, 1/2 tsp of sherry and the white pepper.

Turn off the heat.  In a heavy medium skillet over medium heat, melt the remaining 2 tsp of butter and when the foaming subsides, add the 3/4 lb quartered mushrooms and sauce' them until they are brown.  Add 1/8 tsp salt to the mushrooms and stir well, and then add them to the sauce.

Let the sauce cool, cover it, and let it refrigerate overnight. Reheat it before serving over the individual unmolded mousses.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Millennial Meals on Wheels

Home cooking now arrives at your door step in an insulated box.  It is the Millennial's version of Meals on Wheels. Perfect ingredients, perfectly proportioned for a perfectly delicious dinner for 2 (or maybe 4).  It's the latest popular trend targeting Millennials.  It's going gangbusters and they say it could eventually kill off the grocery store. Shopping for groceries is too time consuming so some smarty figured if they just delivered exactly what you need for a recipe, you could participate with a little bit of stirring and chopping and enjoy a tasty meal at home .  It's seems to satisfy the time and hands on dilemma. We supposedly spend 5 years of our life standing in lines but now it's cut it down to 3 because we've demanded faster alternatives.  I kind of like perusing the scandal magazines while I stand in the grocery check out line.  It keeps me up on popular culture but Millennials get that kind of info from Twitter and Facebook.

 I've noticed embracing some type of dietary fad or fetish is absolutely essential to a Millennial's identity.  Can they order a door step meal that addresses those finicky demands?  Yes! Meal delivery caters to the specifics of pescaterians, vegetarians, vegans, gluten free, lactose intolerant, "clean eaters" etc.  They even demonstrate  how to chop the herbs and suggest they might sell you some of the cooking tools you'll need-like a knife.  There are just some things an iPhone will not do for you. I've heard the weary voice of a child calling me at 6:45 from the grocery store, "Mom, what can I cook tonight?"  Well, this brain child has some answers Mom doesn't.

My father thought fast food chains where positively un-American and a sign the world was going to hell. Hot dogs and hamburgers where only acceptable grilled in your back yard or consumed at a collegiate football or baseball game.  The TV dinner and the drive-thru were a Communist plot to my parents although I longed to eat in mindless solitude in front of the TV and ignore the boring rituals and conversations they engaged in, but the seeds where planted and with the inspiration of Julia Child and Martha Stewart, I took the culinary road less traveled.  I like the lengthy process of creating a menu, selecting the ingredients with my eyes, nose and hands and transforming an array of ingredients into something worth eating with a command of techniques.  I'm rather proud I can cook a perfect soft boiled egg and decorate cakes with a pastry bag of icing.

I've been reading Michael Pollan's latest book, COOKED.  He's the author of The Omnivors' Dilemma and has been sited as one of the most influential people in the world.   His philosophy is summed up in, "Eat real food, mostly plants, not a lot." There's a lot to digest (pun intended) in his research and writing but what resonates in this book is that cooking, whether by fire, water or air, is distinctly human.  No other species cooks.  So why do we keep trying to minimize it, avoid it and turn it over to a surrogate? Cooking connects us to our families and friends, our culture and to our land.  It is the single most unique human quality.  The shared meal is the foundation of civilization.  We learn to share, make conversation and listen at the table.  Then there's the uncivilized version when someone yells "Food Fight!" at the fraternity house.  My son said it was the most fun he ever had in college.

I think I approve of this new trend.  It encourages cooking and I'm in favor of anything that does that. My grandmother ordered her groceries by phone and they where delivered to the house, so this isn't a totally new idea. It's just a new chapter in finding balance in life and a better alternative than the cooking escape routes of my generation. If they would put as much thought into making the dish washing and clean-up disappear, that would truly be revolutionary. That's where time is wasted for me.  Could we send the dirty dished back in the box? Come on Millennials, get on it, time is wasting!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Just A Little Something - The Simple Valentine Cookie

I used to make elaborately decorated Valentine cookies.  I had the idea to sell them at Valentines as, "Just a little something" for the hairdresser, the teacher or your grandmother.  I labored over 300 cookies and sold out quickly a few days before Valentines.  I could have sold 3000 if I could have mass produced.  We all want to express special appreciation to someone without buying a dozen roses.  This year, I came across a way of marbling the cookie dough to give it something extra and not having to sweat a piping bag full of royal icing.  It was the right thing at the right moment when my housekeeper teared up over her divorce and the difficulty of single parenting.  I handed her one of these cookies and she.....well, she just needed a little love.  Pass it on.

For the cookie dough:

1 stick unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp table salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.  Add the egg and beat until incorporated.
Add the flour, baking powder, salt and mix well. Add the vanilla and mix until incorporated.
Divide the dough in half, wrapping the half you are not working with in plastic wrap and refrigerate.
Add Deep Pink gel food coloring to the other half and knead until well incorporated.  It's a good idea to wear latex gloves to protect your hands from the food coloring. Now divide the pink and the plain dough into 8 portions about the size of a golf ball. Arrange the dough balls alternately on a well floured surface.

Knead half of the dough balls into one mass.  Do not blend the colored dough too much or you will wind up with an all pink cookie. Remember rolling the dough with a rolling pin will also blend the color.  You're striving for a marbled effect.

Roll the dough out on a well floured surface and cut with any size heart you like.  Bake 10- 13 minutes depending on size on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Cool on a rack.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Quinoa, Golden Beet & Feta Salad

Well the title gives you the gist of this recipe but that's just the beginning.  Quinoa is one of those hot super foods that is a platform for so many options that contribute, not only, to nutrition but a for base  combining so many different flavors and textures.  It's one of those, "what's your thing" moments when you start to consider the options.  I don't think I've come up with anything surprising, it's just tasty and good for you.  Quinoa is a nutrient dense pseudo cereal that requires simple preparation. Adding your favorite herbs, nuts, fresh vegetables and a light dressing delivers a powerful and filling meal or side as you choose.  Use you imagination.

1 cup quinoa, rinsed in a mesh strainer under cold water
2 cups water or stock
1 tsp salt
1 tsp neutral oil

Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and let simmer for 20 minutes or until liquid is absorbed and quinoa is puffed.  Allow quinoa to cool to room temperature and transfer to a mixing bowl.
In the meantime, roast two golden beets.  Wash, trim and coat the beets lightly with oil.  Wrap tightly in foil and roast in 350 degree oven for 45 minutes until tender.  When cool enough to handle, peel away the skin and cut beets into bite size pieces.

Add the golden beets,
1/3 cup chopped chives
1 cup crumbled Feta cheese
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts

Dress with a simple vinaigrette.

May be served cold or at room temperature.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

The Bone Broth Buzz

Every morning I peruse the Internet for food related material and recently noted that Bone Broth is now being touted as a natural miracle cure for everything from wrinkles to arthritis.  People are lined up in NYC for a $4.50 shot of the stuff.  "Isn't this already in my freezer", I'm thinking.  Not just the stock I make but what my Mom called "essence" that I collect to flavor soups, sauces and stews.  I even collect the "essence" when I smoke a pork butt and use it to flavor my prize winning BBQ sauce (see blog post The Secret to Brand X BBQ Sauce, June 2013).  It's the juices from cooked meat that congeal when chilled.

After chilling and removing fat
When meats are cooked, the collagen from the connective tissues and joints of the bird or animal dissolve and run off mixing with melted fat.  Once collected and chilled the fat rises and solidifies on top.  It's scraped off and discarded leaving a gelatinous product.  I toss it in a container and into the freezer.  It's already seasoned and ready to go whenever I pull it out to add to a recipe.

I'd never really given its' properties, beyond flavor enhancer, much thought, and now, here it is as the latest health craze.  It seems beef marrow bones are favored for the most mineral content and cooked bones actually crumble when the broth is completed after many hours of cooking.  Broth flavor comes from roasting the bones first and then transferring to a stock pot or slow cooker with aromatic vegetables and covering with water, then cooking down for hours and hours.  My sister-in-law uses a pressure cooker which significantly speeds up the process and really extracts the marrow even better.  Weight bearing bones, such as chicken necks and backs are also excellent for a bone broth.  I always grab a package when I see them at the grocery.

My mother used to serve jellied consommé with a dollop of sour cream as a starter at many a bridge luncheon.  It was considered chic in the '60s even though it came out of a Campbell's soup can.   Consommé is a clarified bone broth.  She told me frequently it was good for my nails and hair too. Beef bones and their marrow are served as a first course in some of the finest restaurants and consumed with a clever little spoon to scoop out the marrow.  Bone broth would also be a close cousin to demi glace'. The broth and Maderia cooked really way down for some serious flavor.

Well, enough of my know it all.  Nutritionist are skeptical of this elixir du jour but it can't hurt to try it.  The best part, is it's encouraging people to be more mindful of their diet and getting us back in the kitchen.  It's getting pretty hard to get beef marrow bones, so make friends with the butcher.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees sprinkle bones with salt & pepper and roast bones 30 minutes turning once.  It's not necessary for them to be done.  Add the browned bones and vegetables to a slow cooker and cover with cold water.

4 lbs. beef marrows (may combine with ox tail)
1 large onion sliced
2 carrots trimmed, unpeeled cut in quarters
2 ribs celery, quartered
1 parsnip, trimmed, unpeeled cut in quarters
2 cloves garlic
2 bay leaves
4 sprigs of thyme
6 pepper corns
2 tsp sea salt
2 tbls cider vinegar
cold water to cover in a slow cooker

Set on low for 10 hours, then reset for 8 more when cycle is complete.  Strain through a colander lined with cheese cloth.
A pressure cooker will reduce the cooking time to 3 hours or less.  A chicken carcass will be ready in 1 hour.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Sobering Thoughts

My husband announced he was "going on the wagon" for the month of January as redemption from the holidays.  I thought we did that sort of thing for Lent but he'd read something about a respite from spirits doing wonders for the liver, sort of like spring cleaning or changing the oil in your car.  I blithely took the bait and agreed to join in, there's not much on the social calendar in January and his birthday on the 30th makes it a good ending point.  I'd just shed the extra pounds I'd put on in the last few years testing recipes and thought this was a great opportunity to continue the theme.  Its the first time in memory when I haven't had to consider losing weight at New Year's so I might as well lose the wine to make the reformation complete.

 I've really been on the "clean eating" bandwagon whipping up kitchen sink smoothies packed with super foods and baking my Brown Irish Soda bread more often than baguettes.  I've incorporated more Omega-3's and antioxidants into my daily diet and avoided a lot of the things that make cooking intriguing, like butter and sugar.  That isn't to say I haven't strayed now and then but giving up alcohol for a month is a whole other thing.  The rhythm of my life is disturbed a little.  Between the hours of 5 and 7 p.m. I have to be preoccupied with something else but it's not a big deal.  It really isn't hard until the weekend comes around and I feel like the label "special needs" would be noted by my name.   I'm reminded of a friend who's way of offering you a libation was to query, "Could I get you a little personality?"  After sitting through a very pleasant meal with in-laws the first weekend of abstaining, I'm thinking how dull I am.  I doubt I was any more so than usual, it's just that I think I'm more charming after a glass of wine.  That just doesn't happen after a cup of green tea.

I noted Time magazine's recent cover, "The War on Delicious".  That's the best title I've ever read for a food related article.  It's about the campaign against bacon, beef, sugar, sausage, frying, high fructose corn syrup, white flour, processed foods, preservatives and just about anything that makes food taste good in favor of  "clean eating" and "super foods" that rely on their naked flavor and well documented nutritional benefits.  Popular wisdom has us culling from vast media campaigns  and ignoring a good bit of science and statistics which begins by reading food labels.  The food industries have to make their product appealing to the masses versus personal responsibility for what you ingest. That takes a bit more time and thought than super sizing at the drive through.

I'm attending a "reveal" party this weekend.  This is an event where the parents reveal the gender of the baby to family and friends.  It seems like the perfect excuse to give in. The thought of passing on pink champagne or Blue Moon is too much  for me.  I might as well stick a pillow under my shirt and pretend I'm pregnant too.  If only I could ask my liver how things are going and are we cleaned up yet.  I can see that my clothes fit better from weight loss; I can see working out improves my figure and fitness; I can see drinking a quart of water daily helps hydrate my skin; I can see a good night of sleep helps everything but I can't see what's going on inside my insides. 28 days isn't much to ask but I need tangible results like stepping on the scales and finding you're another pound lighter. I just want some evidence this is a worth while sacrifice.

One think for sure, I'll think about this differently before I do it again.  Old habits die hard.