Slow Days: Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie

People who are new to Fasting often pose the questions: “Can I really eat ‘anything I want’ on a Slow Day?” and “What should I eat on Slow Days?” To answer those questions, I have decided to add some blog posts to show some of the foods we eat on what the world calls NFDs [non-fast days] but which, in our house, we call ‘Slow Days.’ This feature will appear sporadically. 

Now for the answers. Can you really eat ANYTHING you want on a Slow Day? Not really. If you eat too many calories every Slow Day, you will not lose weight. There are many questions asked on the Fast Diet Forum which attest to that. Once in a while you can splurge, as long as it isn’t everyday. For what to eat on Slow Days, Dr. Mosley recommends a Mediterranean Diet. As for how we eat, an example follows.

Pie is wonderful. In the British Isles, ‘pie’ is a savory concoction, encased in a pastry crust. In the USA, ‘pie’ means a sweetened mixture baked in a pastry shell, topped with a pastry layer or a crumb top or a lattice or with no top at all. Apple pie, cherry pie, peach pie, pecan pie, mince pie, shoo-fly pie, lemon meringue pie — all have their season. May means rhubarb pie and June brings strawberry-rhubarb pie. This combination is so fabulous that it is worth the wait for the two ‘fruits’ to come to ripeness at the same time of year. Last June, Son #2, after a few bites of Sb-R Pie, proclaimed, “This is the best pie you ever made!” I’m happy to share the recipe with you.

First you need a crust. You could buy one or make one of your favorite recipe. Don’t have a good pie recipe? Here you go. A combination of butter and lard makes a good pie crust. Please do not use vegetable shortening. I often use a crumble top or cut out shapes from the following dough to decorate the top.

2 single pie crust or 1 double pie crust
2 cups flour: 1 c. white + 1 c. white whole wheat 1 tsp saltWhisk together in a bowl.
2/3 cup lard or butterCut lard/butter into the flour with a pastry blender or 2 knives until butter is ‘the size of small peas’
5-7 Tbsp ice waterAdd water bit by bit, stirring with a fork after each addition, until dough just holds together.
Gather gently into a ball, wrap, and chill 30 mins.
Divide in two pieces. Roll each out 1/8” thick and ease the round of dough into a 9” pie plate. Trim excess around the rim, crimp edge, and fill the pie.

People used to think that you needed tons of sugar to make a rhubarb pie. Those pies would set your teeth on edge, they were that sweet. I have learned to cut down on the sugar, especially if using a crumble top, which adds sugar. Recently, at a rhubarb pie-baking contest, the judges commented often on how a pie was too sweet, which detracted from the rhubarb taste. When you add sweet strawberries, you can reduce the sugar a little more. Make sure that the strawberries are fully ripe — no white or green areas and deep red all the way to the center. This is a pie to be served warm or cool. Ice cream would be gilding the lily, wouldn’t it?

One 9” pie, serves 8Pie plate lined with pastry dough. Preheat oven to 400F.
2½ c rhubarb, sliced ½” thick
2 c. strawberries, sliced or quartered
Slice the fruit and put into a large bowl. 
7/8 c sugar
3 Tbsp flour [use 5 Tbsp if fruit was frozen] one 2-oz egg
Stir together until combined. Pour over fruit in the bowl. Stir gently to mix the thickeners with the fruit evenly. Pour into the pie plate.
Cover fruit with crumb top or top crust. Leave a gap in crust at middle of pie. Bake in center of a hot oven for 15 mins.
Turn heat down to 350F and bake until the filling bubbles in the center, about 30 mins. Cool on a rack.

Since there are only two of us at the table these days, I often make a smaller pie, 6″ in diameter. That feeds us nicely for two meals, without having to eat the same pie all week long. Happy pie making!

Slow Days: Rhubarb Crumb Cake

People who are new to Fasting often pose the questions: “Can I really eat ‘anything I want’ on a Slow Day?” and “What should I eat on Slow Days?” To answer those questions, I have decided to add some blog posts to show some of the foods we eat on what the world calls NFDs [non-fast days] but which, in our house, we call ‘Slow Days.’ This feature will appear sporadically. 

Now for the answers. Can you really eat ANYTHING you want on a Slow Day? Not really. If you eat too many calories every Slow Day, you will not lose weight. There are many questions asked on the Fast Diet Forum which attest to that. Once in a while you can splurge, as long as it isn’t everyday. For what to eat on Slow Days, Dr. Mosley recommends a Mediterranean Diet. As for how we eat, an example follows.

We love rhubarb. We’d better — our rhubarb patch has 16 clumps, each with multiple crowns, each crown producing five stalks at a time. We share crowns with friends and neighbors. For the town’s Rhubarb Festival, much is harvested for pies to sell. The town’s Library sells crowns from our patch. And still there is more! Pies and coffee cakes go into the freezer, to last into the winter. This is one of our favorite coffee cakes, adapted from a recipe in the New York Times. Dear Husband is a big help: he prepares the crumb, and we both assemble it for baking.

A perfect Sunday breakfast with fruited yogurt and chicken sausages.
12-16 slicesPreheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter a 9” springform pan.
FRUIT16 oz [1#] pound rhubarb 
¼ cup sugar 2 tsp cornstarch ¾ tsp ground ginger
Slice rhubarb ½-inch thick and toss with other ingredients.Set aside THE FRUIT.
CRUMB1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon salt ½ cup/1 stick butter, melted
¾ cup all-purpose 1 cup White whole wheat flour 
In a large bowl, whisk sugars, spices and salt into melted butter until smooth. Add flour and stir with a wooden spoon. It will look and feel like a solid dough. Leave it pressed together in the bottom of the bowl and set aside THE CRUMB.
WET1/3 cup plain yogurt /sour cream  1 large/2 oz egg
1 large egg yolk OR 3 oz egg total 2 tsp vanilla extract
In a small bowl, stir these ingredients together to form the ‘Wet Mixture.’ Set aside THE WET MIXTURE



B
A
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup white whole wheat flour 
1/3 cup sugar  ½ tsp baking soda ½ tsp baking powder ¼ tsp salt
Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, mix these ingredients together.. 
T
T
6 Tbsp softened butter 1 Tbsp of above Wet MixtureCut butter into 12 pieces. Add these to above. Mix on medium speed ’til flour is moistened. Increase speed, beat 30 seconds
E
R
½ of Wet Mixture = 3 oz other ½ of Wet Mixture = 3 ozAdd Wet Mixture in 2 batches, beating 20 secs after each addition, scraping down sides of bowl. Pour batter into pan.
Spoon rhubarb over batter. 
With your fingers, break/squeeze crumb mixture into big crumbs, ~½” -¾” in size. Sprinkle over rhubarb and cake. 
Bake 45-55 min until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean (it might be moist from rhubarb). Cool ~10 mins,then remove collar of pan. Cool completely before serving.

Slow Days: Carbonara Pasta

People who are new to Fasting often pose the questions: “Can I really eat ‘anything I want’ on a Slow Day?” and “What should I eat on Slow Days?” To answer those questions, I have decided to add some blog posts to show some of the foods we eat on what the world calls NFDs [non-fast days] but which, in our house, we call ‘Slow Days.’ This feature will appear sporadically. 

Now for the answers. Can you really eat ANYTHING you want on a Slow Day? Not really. If you eat too many calories every Slow Day, you will not lose weight. There are many questions asked on the Fast Diet Forum which attest to that. Once in a while you can splurge, as long as it isn’t everyday. For what to eat on Slow Days, Dr. Mosley recommends a Mediterranean Diet. As for how we eat, an example follows.

There is an idea that this dish was created in Rome during the 1940s with ingredients from American GIs, since ‘bacon n eggs’ are so American. Not so, says Lynne Rossetto Kasper. Rather, it is traditional food of country men who go into the woods for days on end to burn charcoal in the hills outside of Rome. Since that activity involves flat-out work during days of living rough, there was a need for a meal that was quick to prepare from portable ingredients: dried ham, pasta, Romano cheese. Thus this is the pasta of il carbonaio, the charcoal maker. I’ve tried recipes with more ingredients that claimed to be authentic, but this is the dish that I will prepare again and again.

Grated cheese, egg, pasta, pancetta, flat green beans. These ingredients serve two [2] people.
Sv 8Sv 2
2 Tsp EVOO
6 thin slices pancetta
½ tsp EVOO 1½ slices pancettaCut meat into ¼“ strips. Heat oil and pancetta over medium, and cook until meat is crisp but not burnt. Take off heat, cover, set aside.
4 two-oz eggs
2 tsp grated Romano salt + pepper
1 two-oz egg
1 tsp grated Romano cheese salt + pepper
Grate the cheese to produce 4 oz [for 8 servings] or 1 oz [for 2 people]. Remove a bit for now and save the rest. Beat cheese into eggs, and add seasonings.
Boiling salted water
1# spaghetti
Boiling salted water 4oz wh-wh spaghettiCook pasta until tender but undercooked. Drain into a bowl and measure ¼ cup of pasta water.
¼ c pasta water cooked pancetta3 Tbsp pasta water cooked pancettaAdd pasta water to the pancetta in its pan and reheat, scraping up the brown glaze from the bottom.
Cooked pastaCooked pastaAdd cooked pasta to pan and stir to combine.
Beaten eggs
ground black pepper
Beaten eggs ground black pepperStir eggs into the pan until eggs are cooked and clinging to the pasta. Season with lots of pepper.
Scant 4 oz. RomanoScant 1 oz RomanoSprinkle with cheese and stir to combine. Plate, serve.
Delicious when served with flat green beans of the variety called Roma or Romano. Some crusty whole-grain bread completes the meal.

Slow Days: Oatmeal Cookies

People who are new to Fasting often pose the questions: “Can I really eat ‘anything I want’ on a Slow Day?” and “What should I eat on Slow Days?” To answer those questions, I have decided to add some blog posts to show some of the foods we eat on what the world calls NFDs [non-fast days] but which, in our house, we call ‘Slow Days.’ This feature will appear sporadically. 

Now for the answers. Can you really eat ANYTHING you want on a Slow Day?  Not really. If you eat too many calories every Slow Day, you will not lose weight. There are many questions asked on the FastDiet Forum which attest to that. Once in a while you can splurge, as long as it isn’t everyday. For what to eat on Slow Days, Dr. Mosley recommends a Mediterranean Diet. As for how we eat, an example follows.

Cookies and Milk — what a heavenly combination! My mother was an enthusiastic baker of cookies. Prior to their marriage, she had promised my father that ‘the cookie jar would always be full.’ A very sweet vow indeed. Dad’s favorite cookies usually involved molasses, so my mother baked an oatmeal cookie recipe with molasses in it. Dear Husband was given an oatmeal cookie recipe by his Good Sister Barbara with no molasses, which I thought was heresy, but I would bake them on and off. Recently, I decided to alter that recipe, and here is the result. Dear Husband requests it often. What are the ‘improvements’ that I made? More egg for texture; white whole wheat flour for more whole grain and fiber; less sugar; added chocolate chips and dried cranberries for fun.

4 dozen cookiesPreheat oven to 350F. Put silicon mats or parchment paper on cookie sheets.
¾ c. butter 1 cup brown sugar, unpacked
1/3 c white sugar
Cream together by hand or with an electric mixer.
2.5 oz egg [1.5 eggs]Stir in thoroughly.
2/3 c white whole wheat flour 1/3 c all-purpose flour
½ tsp baking soda 2 c. rolled oats
Stir into the mixture until well combined.
½ c chocolate chips ½ c walnuts
½ c dried cranberries
Stir in to form a stiff dough. Portion with a 1.5 tsp scoop or use a spoon to form 48 balls of dough on prepared sheets. Flatten each dough ball by pressing gently with your fingers.
Bake for around 7 minutes, until dough is no longer soft in center.
Cool on the baking sheets. Super warm. Good keeping cookie.

Is this a ‘diet cookie’, one that tastes like a pale imitation at best and like sawdust at worst? No, this is a really good cookie, suitable for spouses, children, and a mid-afternoon treat for yourself with a glass of milk.

Here is the recipe provided by Good Sister Barbara:

4 dozen cookiesPreheat oven to 350F. Put silicon mats or parchment paper on 2 cookie sheets.
¾ c. butter
1 c brown sugar
½ c white sugar
1 small egg
¼ c water
1 tsp vanilla
Cream/mix these all together.
1 c. flour
1 tsp salt
½ tsp baking soda
Sift together.
Add to the butter-egg mixture.
3 c rolled oatsMix oats with existing batter and combine thoroughly.
Use a 1.5 tsp scoop or a spoon to form 48 balls of dough on baking sheets. 
Bake 9-12 minutes.
Cool on racks.

Slow Days: Lord of the Rings Festival

People who are new to Fasting often pose the questions: “Can I really eat ‘anything I want’ on a Slow Day?” and “What should I eat on Slow Days?” To answer those questions, I have decided to add some blog posts to show some of the foods we eat on what the world calls NFDs [non-fast days] but which, in our house, we call ‘Slow Days.’ This feature will appear sporadically. 

Early in our courtship, Dear Husband revealed that he was a fan of Tolkien‘s Lord of the Rings books. So was I – big time!! After we read the books aloud to our sons — one was 5, the other 3 — they were hooked as well. We began to celebrate March 25, the date of the Destruction of the One Ring, with special meals. For a book about Hobbits, those famous trencher-folk, there are surprisingly few actual foods mentioned in the four books [the Hobbit, The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, The Return of the King]. After combing through the pages, I came up with two breakfasts and two dinners. Of course the most memorable dinner is the ‘coney stew’ that Samwise cooks for Frodo in Ithilien, so we that was the first one we prepared. Now there are several meals from which to choose, and you can sample them too.

Bombadil’s Breakfast: When Tom Bombadil served his guests breakfast in FotR, it was plants, fruit and dairy of his own collection or production. The plants should be watercress [since his wife Goldberry was the River-Man’s daughter] and the fruit shall be Golden Berries [aka Peruvian Ground Cherries], again in a nod to his wife.

2/3 oz Camembert cheese ½ cup watercress leaves or microgreens ½ cup plain yogurt + 1 tsp honey 2 oz Golden Berries edible flowers [violets, chives, nastursium, or others] 

Warm the honey, stir it into the yogurt, and put into a ramekin. Plate the other items to your taste and enjoy a magical breakfast in The Old Forest. Wear a blue jacket and yellow hat.

Hobbiton Breakfast: In the Peter Jackson movies, characters mostly eat apples and cheese [that’s because the actor can still say lines clearly while chewing them]. Seedy Scones are in Bilbo’s larder in Hobbit, so they are on our breakfast plate. 

Seedy Scones*** apple slices Camembert cheese  

***Seedy SconesThis makes 2 cups of ‘Mix’. 1 cup all-purpose flour 1 cup white whole wheat flour 3 Tbsp sugar 1 tsp baking soda 1.5 tsp cream of tartar 2 Tbsp unsalted butter buttermilk or soured milk, as needed mixed seeds + a pinch of salt Combine the dry ingredients [except seeds] in a bowl. Cut in the butter until well incorporated. 

Prepare the Scone Mix. Stir in just enough buttermilk/soured milk to cause the dough to come together in a rough ball. TIP: store the remaining mix in the refrigerator in a glass jar with a lid. Ready to use when you wish. Knead briefly on a lightly floured surface. Shape into scones. Brush the surface with milk and scatter the seeds on top. Place in a buttered dish to bake  HINT: I did this the night before and left it on the counter to bake in the morning. Slice the apple and cheese. Bake the scone[s] at 400 F. for 7-10 minutes. Plate to please the eye.

Marish Mushroom Casserole: Farmer Maggot and his wife shelter the Hobbits at their farm in the Marish region as Frodo and friends try to escape the Black Riders and the Shire. Knowing how much Frodo loves mushrooms, Mrs. Maggot bakes a casserole for him. If you are a mushroom lover, like Frodo, this meal will make you happy.  HINT: This recipe is enough to serve two [2] diners.

BATTER: 1 egg + ½ cup all-purpose flour ½ cup white whole wheat flour
½ cup skimmed milk + 1 tsp baking powder
Whisk together and let the batter sit for 30+ minutes. You will need 2/3 cup for this recipe. Remainder can be frozen.
3 slices uncured bacon @ 30 calories/slice Chop bacon and cook until almost done
8 oz mushrooms, several varieties, if possible  1 clove garlic  one scallion, slicedChop mushrooms, slice the garlic and scallion. Cook in the bacon until softend and most of the liquid has evaporated. Take off heat.
2 T Worcesterhire sauce 
2 Tbsp white whole wheat flour
1 oz egg [that’s ½ of one US Large egg] 
3 Tbsp Parmesan cheese, grated
Stir Worcestershire and flour to combine. Then add the egg and cheeese, an stir.Combine in the pan with the mushroom mixture.
2/3 cup batterPour into an oven-safe dish which has been spritzed with non-stick spray. Smooth out the top of the mixture. Pour the batter on top.
Bake at 425 until batter is cooked.
½ tsp prepared mustard 
1½ oz green beans
Serve with green beans and mustard.

Samwise’s Rabbit Stew: A foraged meal [wild carrots and herbs would have been abundant], originally cooked over a campfire in Ithilien, can be easily prepared in your kitchen. Purists will note that the dried fruit, a gift from Faramir, was given to the Hobbits later, but it adds a nice flavor note to the meal. The potatoes were not part of Samwise’s stew, but he wished that they could be. This stew is the center-piece of our celebration.

In the center of the photo, dried fruits and Mallorn-wrapped lembas. In the rear, dishes of Marish Mushroom Casserole.

4 oz boneless rabbit meat, cut into bite-sized pieces 2 oz carrots, sliced or cubed 2 oz po-ta-toes, cubed bay leaf + thyme + sage + lavender buds dried apricots + dried pear dried apple + dried cherry

Put the meat, vegetables, and herbs in a sauce pan and cover with water. Cover and simmer until all is cooked. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with the dried fruit on the side. Long live Frodo!

Lembas: The ‘way bread of the Elves’ is described as being made of honey and nuts so that it will keep well as food for traveling. To me, that sounds like the German cookie “Lebkuchen” which I prepare every Christmas. Undecorated and wrapped in ‘Mallorn Leaves,’ Lembas is always on the LotR table. I will leave you to find your own recipe.

March 25 is a week away, which gives you LotR fans plenty of time to plan your own celebration. Have fun!

Slow Days: Aunt Ethel’s Hot Cross Buns  

People who are new to Fasting often pose the questions: “Can I really eat ‘anything I want’ on a Slow Day?” and “What should I eat on Slow Days?” To answer those questions, I have decided to add some blog posts to show some of the foods we eat on what the world calls NFDs [non-fast days] but which, in our house, we call ‘Slow Days.’ This feature will appear sporadically. 

Now for the answers. Can you really eat ANYTHING you want on a Slow Day? Not really. If you eat too many calories every Slow Day, you will not lose weight. There are many questions asked on the FastDiet Forum https://thefastdiet.co.uk/forums/ which attest to that. Once in a while you can splurge, as long as it isn’t everyday. For what to eat on Slow Days, Dr. Mosley recommends a Mediterranean Diet. As for how we eat, an example follows.

When I was a child, the religious season of Lent meant that there would be Hot Cross Buns for breakfast. Maybe on Sunday, maybe on Friday. My Mother bought them at the A&P supermarket, Jane Parker brand. We loved them. When Dear Husband and I set up housekeeping, I wanted to make Hot Cross Buns for Lent. Many recipes were tried, but I wasn’t satisfied. When Good Friend Joe mentioned that his Aunt Ethel made great hot cross buns, I asked for the recipe. Ever since, I have made these prior to the start of Lent. Of course, I changed the recipe with the addition of candied citron [part of the Jane Parker recipe] and white whole wheat flour [to make it more healthy]. One ingredient that did not change was the use of potato water — water that is drained off from boiled potatoes — a key to success. Some people want their HCBs on Sundays during Lent, some on Fridays. Some eat them on Ash Wednesday and some on Good Friday. Some eat them only on Easter. Whatever. We like them on the 1st Friday of Lent, then every other week until Good Friday. And every year I sent a half dozen to Good Friend Joe and his Dear Wife, to eat whenever they like. Here’s how I prepare them:

Mise en place for 18 Hot Cross Buns.
¾ cup milkScald milk, pour into bowl
¼ cup sugar
1 tsp salt
¼ cup butter
Stir in sugar, salt and butter. Cool to lukewarm while the butter melts.
½ cup warm potato water
2 pkgs dry yeast = 4.5 tsp
Measure warm water into medium bowl. Add yeast and let sit while yeast dissolves and starts to bubble. Blend into lukewarm milk mixture.
1 egg, beaten
1/3 cup each raisins + citron + candied peel 1 tsp nutmeg
1½ tsp cinnamon 3 cups flour + more for kneading
Toss the fruit with a bit of flour in a bowl. Stir together egg, fruit, spices, and flour. Knead well, adding flour to prevent sticking.
Put dough in a buttered/oiled bowl, turn to coat the top of the dough. Cover with a clean towel. Let rise for 45 mins.

Punch down, divide in half, cut each half into 9 equal balls.  **freeze at this point: put dough balls on a cookie sheet and freeze them until solid. Portion into zipper bags for Lenten breakfasts.

The night before serving, take frozen dough balls from the freezer and put on a buttered baking dish. Cover with a tea towel and let rise overnight in a cool place. 
Before breakfast, bake at 350F 15-18 mins.
Confectioner’s sugar milk or orange juiceMix icing until just a little runny. Spoon icing in the shape of a cross onto the top of each bun and serve warm.

And what a fine Lenten breakfast this is, with fruit yogurt and Canadian Bacon. Thanks, Aunt Ethel!

Slow Days: Cornmeal Pancakes

People who are new to Fasting often pose the questions: “Can I really eat ‘anything I want’ on a Slow Day?” and “What should I eat on Slow Days?” To answer those questions, I have decided to add some blog posts to show some of the foods we eat on what the world calls NFDs [non-fast days] but which, in our house, we call ‘Slow Days.’ This feature will appear sporadically. 

Now for the answers. Can you really eat ANYTHING you want on a Slow Day? Not really. If you eat too many calories every Slow Day, you will not lose weight. There are many questions asked on the FastDiet Forum which attest to that. Once in a while you can splurge, as long as it isn’t everyday. For what to eat on Slow Days, Dr. Mosley recommends a Mediterranean Diet. As for how we eat, an example follows.

Dear Husband’s father was the breakfast-maker in the family. Sunday was the day for something special: waffles and an array of pancakes would appear in rotation. Interestingly, Dear Husband and his brothers all assumed the mantle of breakfast-maker, much to the delight of their wives. The first time Dear Husband ever invited me over for a meal, it was for a dinner of pancakes: thin pancakes made from yellow cornmeal. Since my mother’s Sunday breakfasts were often based on Bisquick, griddle cakes of cornmeal — made from scratch — were a revelation. Over the years, Dear Husband has refined the ancestral recipe, moving from the family’s hand-written copy to one by Marion Cunningham in Breakfast Cookbook. This is his adapted recipe for Cornmeal Pancakes.

This recipe yields 12-14 pancakes.
½ c yellow cornmeal ½ c boiling waterPut cornmeal into a 1-Qt measuring cup and pour the water over it. Stir briskly until blended.
1 egg, beaten ½ c milkIn a small bowl, beat the egg and add the milk. Stir/whisk to combine.
¼ c/ 4 Tbsp butterMelt the butter and add to the cornmeal-water along with the egg-milk. Whisk thoroughly until blended and smooth. 
½ c white flour
½ tsp salt
1 Tbsp sugar 1 Tbsp baking powder
Whisk or sift these together to blend.
Add to the wet ingredients and beat until smooth.
Let sit while the griddle heats.
Heat griddle to medium-high. Spray it with non-stick spray or smear the griddle with a bit of butter.
Optional: 1 Tbsp blueberries, fresh or frozen [unthawed] per pancake, Use 3-4 Tbsp batter per pancake. Cook until bubbles form on the top surface of the pancake and break. Then cook on other side. Optional: sprinkle blueberries on the pancake while the bottom cooks.***
Serve hot with maple syrup and sausage or bacon.

***Some recipes say to stir the blueberries into the batter and then cook them. The problem with this is that the blueberries break and turn the pancake batter to an unfortunate shade of grey. Then, too, the pancakes can be individualized for those who don’t like blueberries.

Slow Days: Favorite Birthday Cake  

INTRO: People who are new to Fasting often pose the questions: “Can I really eat ‘anything I want’ on a Slow Day?” and “What should I eat on Slow Days?” To answer those questions, I have decided to add some blog posts to show some of the foods we eat on what the world calls NFDs [non-fast days] but which, in our house, we call ‘Slow Days.’ This feature will appear sporadically. 

Now for the answers. Can you really eat ANYTHING you want on a Slow Day? Not really. If you eat too many calories every Slow Day, you will not lose weight. There are many questions asked on the FastDiet Forum https://thefastdiet.co.uk/forums/ which attest to that. Once in a while you can splurge, as long as it isn’t everyday. For what to eat on Slow Days, Dr. Mosley recommends a Mediterranean Diet. As for how we eat, an example follows.

When I was a child, the birthday cake that my mother always made for us was an angel food cake: white and towering, sweet, and fluffy, decorated with Royal Frosting. It was my ‘gold standard’ for birthday cake, even if it was made from a boxed mix. When Dear Husband took over the job of providing birthday cakes, he wanted to cook his dream cake: yellow layers with chocolate icing. For years the Darling Sons and Dear Husband made a series of layer cakes. Dear Husband had never made a sponge cake and was a bit spooked by the prospect. At last, I said, “I’d like this cake for my birthday — a hot water sponge cake from Fannie Farmer’s Cookbook.” He said, “OK, but with a chocolate ganache icing.” So we set to work to make it happen.

The mise en place, for a one-half version of the recipe

Hot Water Sponge Cake for a 9” springform pan. From Fannie Farmer Cookbook.

Heat oven to 350F. Have an ungreased 9” springform pan.
1 cup pastry/cake flour
1¼ tsp baking powder
few grains salt
Sift together and set aside.
2 egg whitesBeat into soft peaks
¼ c sugarBeat gradually into the egg whites and set aside.
2 egg yolks
¼ c hot water
½ tsp vanilla
Whisk the yolks. Add the water and vanilla, and beat until thick. The heat will cook the yolks a bit.
½ c sugarBeat into the eggs.

Now you have three bowls containing different components of the cake.

Pour the yolks over the whites and fold until blended.
Fold in the flour until blended.
Gently scrape batter into the unbuttered pan. Bake 20-30 mins. Cool cake in pan.

For whatever reason, the first time we prepared it, the cake turned out with a sunken center. Time to turn lemons into lemonade — or in this case, lemon curd. Determined to fill in that divot, I spooned some lemon curd [from a jar] into the center, pretending that it was part of the original plan.

Baked, cooled cake Remove the wrap-around part of the pan from the cake, but leave the cake on the metal plate that is underneath it. Place on a rack over a larger plate.
Lemon curdIf there is a low spot in the center of the cake, spoon in enough curd to fill it completely. If there is no low spot, top the cake with a thin, even layer of curd.

Then we made a Chocolate-Cream Ganache Glaze from the Cake Bible by Rose Levy Biranbaum.

3 oz bittersweet chocolate Break or chop or process into very small pieces. Put into a heat-proof bowl.
1 c. heavy creamPut into a saucepan and heat until starting to boil.
Pour ¾ c of cream over the chocolate, cover, and let sit 5 mins. Chocolate should melt. If it doesn’t or ganache is too thick, add more hot cream, tablespoon by tablespoon, and stir.

Pour the glaze over the center of the cake, guiding it a bit so that it covers the top and runs down the sides. Smooth any rough spots with a knife and place on a serving plate.

Here is a full recipe of the cake: on the cake stand, ready to be served to friends with Champagne at my birthday party.
You can see the lemon curd under the ganache. A marvelous contrast of flavors and textures.

After he sampled it, Dear Husband said, “I want this for my birthday too!” So we repeated it a month later. It is now our traditional favorite birthday cake. I hope you will like it too.

Slow Days: Pistachio-Cherry-Chocolate Biscotti  

People who are new to Fasting often pose the questions: “Can I really eat ‘anything I want’ on a Slow Day?” and “What should I eat on Slow Days?” To answer those questions, I have decided to add some blog posts to show some of the foods we eat on what the world calls NFDs [non-fast days] but which, in our house, we call ‘Slow Days.’ This feature will appear sporadically. 

Now for the answers. Can you really eat ANYTHING you want on a Slow Day? Not really. If you eat too many calories every Slow Day, you will not lose weight. There are many questions asked on the FastDiet Forum https://thefastdiet.co.uk/forums/ which attest to that. Once in a while you can splurge, as long as it isn’t everyday. For what to eat on Slow Days, Dr. Mosley recommends a Mediterranean Diet. As for how we eat, an example follows.

‘Biscotto’ means ‘twice baked.’ Twice-baking is an old way of preserving baked goods. The 2nd baking dries them out, so they can be stored for future use. Examples include the dried bread called rusk or zwieback or sukhariki. Their origin seems to be as marching food for the Roman army. Army forts always had granaries and bake-houses, producing vast quantities of fresh and twice-baked bread. In the Renaissance, the twice-baked bread was reborn, made delicious with almonds. A baker in Tuscany is given credit for the introduction of ‘cantucci,’ perfect for dunking in the local Vin Santo as a dessert. It is a delicious combination, as sampled in Firenze. As fresh baked goods became readily available, not many people bothered with preserving bread. And then biscotti were reintroduced, taking America by storm in 1990s coffee houses. At first, many customers were put off by the ‘stale cookies’ but dunking became popular again, and so did the twice-baked cookies. If you think that biscotti are born in a package, wrapped in plastic, then you must try baking them at home.

This particular version is adapted from Chocolate by Nick Magliere. The biscotti are lovely as a Christmas gift or for enjoying at home with a leisurely cup of coffee during the holidays. I like the green nuts and the red cherries, seen together in a slice. A real treat from your very own kitchen.

Set rack in middle of oven. Preheat to 350 F.
Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
1¾ c flour
2/3 c sugar
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
Combine these, mixing well
8 Tbsp/1 stick butter Cut in 8 pieces and toss with flour mixture. Rub or cut butter into the flour.
¾ c dried cherries or cranberries
¾ c chocolate chips
¾ c/4 oz unsalted pistchios
Stir into the flour-butter.
2 two-oz eggs
2 tsp vanilla
Whisk together, then stir into above mixture with a fork until dough comes together. 
Cherries, chocolate chips, and pistachios all mixed together with the flour-butter.
2 two-oz eggs
2 tsp vanilla
Whisk together, then stir into above mixture with a fork until dough comes together. 
Divide dough into 2 portions, then roll each half into a log 12” long. Place the 2 logs on the prepared pans with 2” between them.

Bake 25-30 mins, until dough is browned and firm to the touch. Remove to cutting board to cool.
When cool, cut each log with a serrated knife into ½” slices, straight across or on diagonal. Put slices back on parchment paper on the cookie sheet.
Bake at 325F 15-20 mins, until light brown in color.
Cool, then store in an air-tight tin.

Slow Days: Lussekatter

People who are new to Fasting often pose the questions: “Can I really eat ‘anything I want’ on a Slow Day?” and “What should I eat on Slow Days?” To answer those questions, I have decided to add some blog posts to show some of the foods we eat on what the world calls NFDs [non-fast days] but which, in our house, we call ‘Slow Days.’ This feature will appear sporadically. 

Now for the answers. Can you really eat ANYTHING you want on a Slow Day? Not really. If you eat too many calories every Slow Day, you will not lose weight. There are many questions asked on the FastDiet Forum https://thefastdiet.co.uk/forums/ which attest to that. Once in a while you can splurge, as long as it isn’t everyday. For what to eat on Slow Days, Dr. Mosley recommends a Mediterranean Diet. As for how we eat, an example follows.

For the December 13th Feast of Saint Lucy, the Swedes have a special bread for breakfast. The bread is called Lussekatter and the giving of bread, especially yeasted breakfast bread, is an important part of the entire celebration of the day. Lussekatter can be baked in many different shapes. In 2014, it was featured in a Master Class of the Great British Bake Off. The recipe is simple and easy to prepare, even if you’ve never worked with yeast before. We enjoy it every year on Lucy Day, and you can too. You could use Paul Hollywood’s recipe if you wish, but our’s comes from the Var Så God cookbook by the American Swedish Institute

OOPS! That 1 cup of flour in the right-hand position should be 2 [two] cups instead of only one.
1 pkg active dry yeast  ¼ c water, warmDissolve yeast in warm water and set aside for ~15 minutes to wake up the yeast. 
¾ c milk ½ c butter = 1 stick
¼ tsp saffron, powdered or in threads
Warm the milk, add butter to melt. Add saffron to infuse for 5 minutes. Then cool to lukewarm and add the yeast water.
2 eggs
2 cups white whole wheat flour ½ c sugar
Put these in the mixing bowl of a stand mixer. Pour all the liquids through a sieve into the bowl. Mix for 3 minutes with a stand mixer.
2 cups all-purpose flour ¼ tsp salt Add flour and salt, and beat with wooden spoon. Fold and push the dough on a board, adding a little flour for easy handling. When smooth and shiny, put in a bowl and let rise to double in bulk.
After kneading, the satiny dough is ready to rise.
2 oz dough per bun OR
Divide dough in 2 for cakes
Turn out on floured board. Curl buns for a Sicilian ‘S’ or other Lussekatter shape. Let rise on greased cookie sheet or in pans. OR put the pan of shaped rolls, wrapped, in the freezer.
1 egg 
2 T water Raisins or dried black currants
If freezing the shaped buns, take out the night before to rise overnight in a cool place. Brush with egg and water mixture before baking. Put a raisin in each curl of the buns.  Bake at 450F. for 10 minutes.

After baking, the Lussekatter becomes the star of the breakfast on Saint Lucy Day.

A Lucy Day breakfast of Lussekatter, Canadian bacon, and clementines, presided over by a tiny Saint Lucy herself, complete with a wreath of candles in her hair.

Since there are but two of us, not a village, I make only enough buns for one breakfast. To the remaining dough, I add dried fruit and candied peel, and knead it in. The dough is nudged into a Christmas-tree-shaped pan which is then wrapped and frozen for a breakfast closer to Christmas. Yippee! I love preparing in advance!