Slow Days: Blueberry Muffins

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.

People get lyrical about muffins. On the other hand, James Beard had a dim view of them, saying “Muffins have been inordinately popular for years. I, for one, have never been able to understand why.” For a long time, I didn’t care for most blueberry muffins I ever had — they were too much like biscuits or they were gigantic and super-sweet. Finally I found a recipe from Maine for a coffeecake with blueberries in it. Inspiration!! It struck me that this recipe would be perfect when baked as muffins. Many fine breakfasts have resulted from that recipe, and here it is:

1 cup unbleached flour, 1 cup white whole wheat flour, 3/4 cup sugar, 3 teaspoons baking powder, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/3 cup butter [fairly soft so it will mix], 1 cup milk**, 1 egg, 1/4 teaspoon almond extract, 1 cup blueberries [fresh or frozen — frozen are better since they don’t mush up when stirred in which turns the batter a nasty grayish-blue] **You could use buttermilk or plain yogurt instead of milk, and then you would need to add 1 teaspoon of baking soda to the above ingredients.

Combine and mix all the ingredients except the blueberries. Lastly, gently stir them in. Put into muffin papers or greased muffin tins.++ Bake at 350F for 15 minutes or so. How many muffins you’ll get depends on the size of the tins. I use silicon cupcake forms [see below] and I get 13-15 muffins.

++I do all this the night before and leave the pan on the counter, covered, ready to bake in the morning. Works perfectly.

What isn’t eaten for breakfast is put into zipper-locking bags, as these freeze and reheat very nicely. Have a happy breakfast!

Slow Days: Breadcrumb 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 FastDiet Forum which attest to that. Once in a while your 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 years we searched for the right foods to eat during Lent. We wanted foods that were connected to the meaning of the season; foods that were good to eat yet not so fancy that we seemed to be ‘living it up’; foods that had a nod to the traditional austerity typical of the 6-week period of religious contemplation. One of the thorny decisions concerned Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, which is a solemn day after the giddiness of Carnival before it. At last we decided: a breadcrumb pasta from the Puglia Region of Italy. The idea of dressing your noodles with a sauce of breadcrumbs struck just the right note of culinary penance. No meat, no butter: this is the perfect choice to begin Lent.

The ingredients are very simple: 3 oz pasta, 1/3 cup crumbs from day-old bread [we use whole grain for flavor and fiber], 2 Tbsp olive oil, 1 Tbsp sliced garlic, oregano, salt, 6 olives, 1 oz spinach leaves, grated pecorino cheese.

These ingredients are enough for two servings.

You will need a mise-en-place, this cools so quickly! Once you have prepared your mise-en-place, start cooking the pasta. Cook the pasta for about 4 minutes, then turn off the heat with the pasta still in the water. Stack the spinach leaves and cut them cross-wise [chiffonade]. Pit the olives and cut each into four pieces. Heat a cast iron skillet at medium heat and pour in the oil. When the oil is hot, add the garlic and briefly cook it until pale yet fragrant. Add the crumbs and stir into the oil. Add the oregano and take off the heat. Stir. Turn down the heat, then put the pan back on it. Cook, stirring until the crumbs are crispy. Take off heat again and stir in the olives. By now the pasta is ready. Using a slotted spoon, remove it from the water and put it in the pan with the crumbs. The trick is to incorporate a little of the noodle-water into the dish. Stir to mix. Add two pinches of salt and the sliced spinach. Toss it all together, then add the grated cheese. Plate. This took such a short amount of time that I barely called out a pre-dinner alert, than it was time to plate up.

Such an unusual combination of flavors and textures!

This is not a meal for a low-carb menu. But then, this is a Slow Day, so we don’t need to count calories. We eat this one time each year and we enjoy it.

Slow Day: Grilled Vegetable 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 FastDiet Forum which attest to that. Once in a while your 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.

Sometimes, there is a crowd to feed and that’s when we turn to one of our stand-by meals: Grilled Vegetable Pasta with Sausage. The vegetables include: zucchini/summer squash, yellow or orange sweet peppers, red onion, and or other colorful fresh items of the same texture. Choose any pasta you wish — 2 ounces by weight per person. Bratwurst or Italian sausage will do just fine. Make 1-1/2 cups of your favorite white sauce and add 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese.

The colors of the vegetables are echoed in the colorful pasta.

The sausages are grilled, then sliced. The vegetables are sliced or cut into chunks, as you prefer. In a grill basket, toss and shake the vegetables over hot coals, then empty into a large bowl. While one person is doing the grilling, the other preparing the cheese sauce. SLOWLY, over low heat. [Sometimes (often), my sauce ‘breaks’ and becomes clotted. The solution is to whisk flour into the milk to bind the sauce back together.] Cook the pasta and combine everything in the bowl with the vegetables. Easy to prepare and always a hit.

Often, seconds helpings are the norm.

Slow Days: Tree-Decorating Dinner

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 your 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.

Here we are in early December with Christmas fast approaching — how can one fit everything in? Years ago we worked out a multi-tasking method for the day we trim the Christmas Tree, and it works so well that we still do it that way. We always decorate the tree on December 13. [Dear Husband grew up in a German family where the tree went up Christmas Eve and came down seven days later. He loves having the tree up longer. Me too.] Dinner consists of finger food which can be prepared ahead: salmon piroshki

, with cheeses, vegetables, and a dipping sauce [plain, fat-free yogurt + dill weed]. For dessert, the full array of our families’ cookies. And to add to the celebration, a glass of sparkling wine. The meal is for ‘grazing’ — nibble, hang an ornament, nibble, sip.

The salmon piroski are filled with cooked salmon mixed with enough Dijon mustard to make a moist pate. One tablespoon of the mixture is placed inside rounds of pie crust which are folded over and crimped, turn-over/empanada style. [Yes, I know this is very non-traditional, but that’s how Craig Claiborne made them.] Made a day ahead, they are kept cool until being baked at 400 F for 15 minutes. Each year we enjoy this very special little feast — and still get the tree decorated!

Slow Days: “French Lunch”

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 your 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.

This is one of my favorite meals. Restaurants will call it a bread & cheese board or a charcuterie platter and we call it a ‘French Lunch.’ I don’t care what you call it — it is easy to prepare and it is good to eat. “Charcuterie” is the French word for the meats you don’t get from a butcher [boucher] — such as pates and sausages. Cheeses come from a ‘fromagier’ or sometimes from a ‘charcuterier.’ Then there is good bread — very important! We add fresh fruit, chutney, and/or mustard to the board. Pair that with a nice wine, settle down, and enjoy a very nice repast without having to cook/prepare anything.

Here we have two artisanal breads, some salad, a variety of cheeses, two jars of chutney, and four spreads: chorizo paste, chicken liver pate, salmon pate, and mushroom pate. [The pates store very well in the freezer if you don’t eat them all now.]
Here’s another version of the idea, with three cheeses, olives, a duck liver mousse, a country pate, and an artichoke spread — all served with a salad and lovely bread. Washed down with cidre from apples.

Slow Days: Lamb Gozleme

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 your 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.

While browsing the Web, I saw a reference to a Turkish dish made with lamb, spices and feta cheese. The concoction was called Gozleme [approximately pronounced as: guzz-leh’-mah] and I wanted to try it. The blog ‘wife ofaturkishlife‘ had just the thing.

1-1/4 c flour
½ tsp salt
¼ c water
¼ c plain yogurt
Mix flour + salt in large bowl. Combine yogurt/water and stir in until well-combined. Add a bit more water if too dry. On a floured surface, knead for ~3 mins, until smooth and elastic. Cover and let sit.
½ tsp Olive Oil
1 cup onion
1 clove garlic
4 oz ground lamb
Saute onion over medium heat 3-4 minutes until onion is soft. Add garlic and cook 1 minute more.Add lamb and cook while breaking up into chunks for ~5 minutes.
½ tsp coriander, ground
1 tsp tomato paste/puree
¼ tsp pepper + ¼ tsp salt ½ tsp paprika 1 tsp cumin, ground 3 oz spinach, fresh or frozen
Add tomato puree and spices. Add spinach. Cook and stir for a few minutes. Set aside to cool for a bit. Divide equally into 4 bowls.
¼ cup fresh mint 1 scallion ¼ cup parsley ¼ cup feta ½ medium-sized tomatoDivide these ingredients among 4 bowls so that each bowl has equal amounts. Divide the dough into 4 parts. Roll dough into 10-9” squares and spread ¼ cup of lamb mixture over each. Top with fresh ingredients. Fold over dough to form a triangle or rectangle. Moisten and crimp edges to seal.
Lemon wedges
olives
Spray a large skillet/griddle with cooking spray. Cook Gozleme 3-4 minutes/side until golden brown and crisp. Cut each in half diagonally and serve with lemon wedges and olives.

This is half of the recipe on line and it made enough for Dear Husband and me to eat it twice. [He eats 1-1/2 pieces and I eat one half, which is filling.] This is a recipe that calls for a mis en place, just to keep you organized.

Here is a full serving — one Gozleme cut in half.
The calories in this portion actually qualify it as a Fast Day meal! It suffices for me any day.

This is delicious and really quite simple to prepare. You don’t need to be experienced with bread-making, since the dough is not yeast-based. I will definitely make this again!

Dear Readers: What do you think of this ‘table-style’ format for ingredients and directions? To me, it is very clear and easy to follow, but I’d like to know your opinions.

Slow Days: Baked Bluefish

People who are new to the Fasting Lifestyle 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 your 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 grew up fishing for and eating Bluefish. It is a migratory fish off the East Coast of North America and they run in large, hungry schools. This is not to be confused with “Boston Bluefish” which is Pollock named after its betters. The genuine article is a dense, dark-fleshed fish with a fine taste. I enjoyed it once at Legal Seafoods in Boston, where it was baked with a very nice sauce. Rarely do we see it in markets, but when we do, we snap it up. When I tried to emulate the restaurant sauce, I do believe that I succeeded very well.

The topping mixture consists of mayonnaise and Dijon mustard with salt, pepper, and maybe a little lemon juice. Combine the topping and spread it evenly over 3-4 oz fillets of fish per person. Bake at 400F. for 12-15 minutes. Ordinarily I would cook fish for 10 minutes per inch of thickness of the fish. But Bluefish is denser, so it takes longer to cook.

And here it is plated with 2 sides: wild rice pilaf and cut green beans. Delicious. If you want wine recommendations for blue fish, have a look at https://wordpress.com/post/peterspicksblog.com/610

Slow Days: Strawberry Breakfast Crepes

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 Forumwhich attest to that. Once in a while your 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.

Sunday Breakfast is enshrined in our house as a special meal: a day for something out of the ordinary. Pancakes and waffles were popular in Dear Husband’s family, while yeast-raised cinnamon buns were my family’s favorite. Recently, a large supply of luscious strawberries gave rise to inspiration: crepes in a strawberry-maple syrup. The crepes were already prepared and in the freezer, which made it SO much easier. [You know how I always urge you to make things in bulk and freeze them for later? This is why! And crepes don’t take up a lot of room, even in a small freezer.]

In the foreground, you see 1/3 cup maple syrup with a teaspoon of butter.

Six crepes [not the savory ones made with buckwheat flour, but the sweet ones that were made for the Strawberry Moon blog on 16-June-2019] were taken from the freezer and thawed in their plastic storage bag overnight. They were warmed on a griddle. The maple syrup was warmed with a little butter and the strawberries were put in briefly, so they didn’t cook down to mush. The syrup took on a wonderful color and flavor from the berries! Chicken sausages were cooked and plated. The crepes were put on the plate open, generously laced with syrup and berries, folded in half and doused with fruit and syrup again.

Served with mocha cafe au lait and a berry-yogurt smoothie, it was a fabulous meal for strawberry season.

Slow Days: Lavender Scones

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 Forumwhich attest to that. Once in a while your 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.

Breakfasts at our house are a treat. True, cereal [hot or cold] is on the menu twice a week, but the other days see a succession of delightful baked goods or savory egg dishes. I like to bake and Dear Husband likes to get up early to prepare breakfast — our’s is a marriage made in heaven. Often, the night before, I will prepare something to be baked and then leave it on the counter to be finished and presented the next morning. This works for most yeasted recipes and definitely for ‘quick breads’ which are raised with ‘double acting’ baking powder. One such recipe is Lavender Scones.

You’ll have to find your own recipe for scones — I’m sworn to secrecy about mine. The key is adding fresh lavender buds: 1-2 tsp of buds which have been picked off the stems.

That’s buttermilk, by the way, not plain milk. It makes the leavening act differently.

Since there are only 2 of us, all I need to bake are 4-5 scones for a breakfast. This requires 1 cup of the dry ingredients, even though the whole batch has been prepared. The remaining dry ingredients are stored in a jar for another day.

I’ll use 1 cup of the scone mix to serve 2 people with 2 scones each. The storage jar is labeled ‘buttermilk’ to remind me to use that. If you don’t have lavender, you could add dried black currants or zante currants or other dried fruit to the mixture.

Here the table is set with the full meal: fruit yogurt [we add our own fruit to low-fat yogurt], Canadian bacon [back bacon to many of you], cafe au lait, rhubarb juice, and of course the Lavender Scones. A delightful Summer meal.

Slow Days: Siracusa 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 FastDiet Forum which attest to that. Once in a while your 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.

This recipe is from Lynne Rosetto Kasper’s book The Italian Country Table. She describes visiting the market in Siracusa, Sicily: the people she chats with and the ingredients that inspired this recipe. From them she makes a wondrous pasta dish. The following ingredients make enough for TWO [2] servings.

You will really need a mise en place for this preparation, so set it up now.

Garlic [3 cloves], 1/4 cup red onion, zest of orange/lemon, oregano, 1/2 cup basil + 8 oil-cured olives, 1 cup quartered cherry tomatoes, 3 oz mozzarella, 3 oz ditalini pasta. The garlic is sautéed until pale gold and removed. Over medium-high heat, the onion is sautéed the same way before the zest is added for 30 seconds. The oregano is added and cooked for 30 seconds. Take off heat while you cook the pasta for 5-6 minutes until it is still firm to the tooth. Reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water. Add the pasta water to the sauce pan and cook, along with the garlic, for 30 seconds. Add the pasta, basil, and olives, tossing everything to coat it with the flavors. Put the tomatoes in the pan and taste for seasoning. Plate with the cheese. I added basil leaves and clementine sections for even more color and bright flavor.

Gosh it is good.