Slow Days: Ossobuco

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.

Italian cuisine runs the gamut from plain to complex, from North to South, from pasta dishes to pasta-less dishes. In the North, the Piedmont Region has foods that one never finds in the southern part of the country: beef in plenty, cheese from water buffaloes, rice, butter, corn, and fewer tomatoes. One famous dish from Milano in the Piedmont is Ossobuco. The word means ‘bone with a mouth’ since the meat in the meal is slices of veal shank with a hollow bone in the center — the bone with a mouth. As we get into the cooler weather and past Saint Martin’s Day [when the farm animals were slaughtered], our thoughts turn to eating rich, flavorful stews or heavier pasta dishes. Enter Ossobuco. Perhaps the most difficult part of the recipe is finding the veal, since veal has justly fallen into disrepute due to the sad way that the veal calves have been raised. Our veal comes from D’artagnan, an online source of many meats, and it is raised humanely in France. That solved, preparing Ossobuco is not a complex process. Our recipe is adapted from Marcella Hazen’s excellent Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking.

6-8 ServingsLarge covered Dutch oven or 16” cast iron pan with cover.Preheat oven to 350F
1 Tbsp vegetable oil + 1 Tbsp oil 4 veal shank slices, each 1½” thick white whole wheat flour, pepper, saltHeat oil in casserole over medium high heat until quite hot. Dry meat with paper towels and dredge in seasoned flour. Cook meat on both sides until ‘deeply browned.’  Depending on size of the casserole, you might do this in stages. Add more oil as needed. Put meat aside on a plate.
½ cup dry white wineAdd wine, cook down by half while scraping up brown bits. Pour it off and save it. 
1 Tbsp butter
½ c onion, chopped finely
½ c celery, chopped finely
½ c carrot, chopped finely
Put butter into casserole over medium heat on stove top. When melted, add vegetables. Cook, stirring a bit, 6-7 minutes to form the soffrittoIn Italy, they call it soffritto, in France it is mirepoix.
1 tsp garlic, finely chopped
1 strip of lemon peel, no white pith
Add these, cook and stir ~1 minute, until vegetables are wilted but not brown.
Put veal atop the soffritto, laying the pieces flat if possible, or overlapping them slightly.
½-1 cup homemade meat broth
1 c canned Italian plum tomatoes with juice 3-4 sprigs of thyme
2-3 sprigs parsley, chopped 2 bay leaves freshly ground pepper + salt
Chop tomatoes and parsley. Put all of these into the casserole, along with remaining deglazing liquid. Liquids should come up to top of the veal slices, but not cover them. Bring to a simmer and cover. Put casserole in the heated oven and set a timer for 2 hours.
Every 20 mins, check the cassserole. Turn and baste shanks, adding more liquid, 2 Tbsp at a time, if needed.
When meat is very tender, take casserole from oven. Remove bay leaves and thyme sprigs. If sauce is too thin, cook it down on the stove-top.
Now for the heresy! Remove meat shanks and slice meat, saving the marrow bone. Add slices back to the sauce, stirring them in. Nestle marrow bones in the center of the pot, standing on end.

For a vegetable course, we prepared an antipasto plate of vegetables marinated in Italian Vinaigrette. For bread, no-knead focaccia, sliced for ease of serving.

Fresh, hand-cut pasta, 5 oz per person drizzle olive oilCook pasta 1-3 minutes until al dente. Drain, adding some water to sauce. Drizzle pasta with a bit of oil.
focacciaPresent casserole and pasta separately, allowing diners to serve themselves and to take one of the marrow bones if they like. Serve with slices of focaccia loaf.

One could serve risotto or polenta, to be in keeping with Northern Italian cuisine, but we opted for fresh pasta which is more typical in the North than the South. For dessert, panna cotta with fruit coulis.

Slow Days: Cranberry Corn Sticks

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.

Autumn in New England means foliage in stunning colors, apple cider, the last of the sweet corn, apples, cranberries, and Thanksgving. In our family, Thanksgiving is not just a feast on a particular day, rather it is an unfolding process of celebrating local foods. Cornmeal was introduced to the early European settlers here [the Puritans at Plymouth, Massachusetts] by the First Nations people who had grown corn for centuries. Dried, it could last the winter, providing vitamins and carbohydrates all year long. The Puritans thought they would be growing wheat, but the climate was unsuitable. Cornmeal filled in for flour in many foods of the era. In old recipes, the word “Indian” in the title [Indian Pudding, Indian Bread] meant that the dish contained cornmeal. Cornbread caught on all over the Eastern seaboard and people now tend to think of it as a Southern thing, despite its deep roots in New England. For breakfast on Thanksgiving, we get out the old corn-stick molds for a history-soaked breakfast. These cast-iron pans allow you to bake corn-bread in the shape of little corn cobs. Mine were from my mother’s kitchen, though I don’t remember her ever using them. The design goes back to 1919, so I guess they were my grandmother’s pans. Bottom Line: corn bread + cranberries + cute cast-iron pans = Fun Fall Breakfast.

Here are two recipes that I have used, Fannie Farmer and Hayden Pearson, both as New England as you can get:

Corn Bread by Fannie Farmer8×8” baking pan or cast-iron cornstick pans. Preheat oven to 375F
¾ c cornmeal
½ c white whole wheat flour
½ cup white flour
¼ cup sugar 3 Tsp baking powder
¾ tsp salt
Sift together into a large bowl.
1 cup milk
1 egg, well beaten 4 Tbsp butter, melted
Add these to dry ingredients and mix well.
For Corn Sticks, one 7-stick pan is filled using 1 cup batter. The pan must be greased in all its crannies with melted butter. For Corn Bread, butter the baking pan.
½ – ¾ cup cranberriesAfter batter is in the pan, poke cranberries into the Corn Sticks, using 4-5 per Corn Stick. For Corn Bread, sprinkle the berries on top and gently swirl them into the batter.
Bake 15 minutes for Corn Sticks; 25 minutes for Corn Bread.Since I have left-over batter from the Corn Sticks, I bake it and use it in the turkey stuffing.
Sunny Acres Corn Bread by Hayden Pearson8×8” baking pan or cast-iron Corn Stick pans. Preheat oven to 425F
¾ cup yellow corn meal
2/3 cup white whole wheat flour
2/3 cup white flour
3 ¼ tsp baking powder
¾ tsp salt
1/3 c white sugar
¼ tsp allspice
Sift these into a large bowl.
2 eggs, beaten
1 stick/8 Tbsp butter, melted
¼ c milk 1 Tbsp brown sugar
Add these to dry ingredients and mix well.
For Corn Sticks, one 7-stick pan is filled using 1 cup batter. The pan must be greased in all its crannies with melted butter. For Corn Bread, butter the baking pan.
½ – ¾ cup cranberriesAfter batter is in the pan, poke cranberries into the Corn Sticks, using 4-5 per Corn Stick. For Corn Bread, sprinkle the berries on top and gently stir them into the batter.
Bake 15 minutes for Corn Sticks; 25 minutes for Corn Bread. Since I have left-over batter from the Corn Sticks, I bake it and use it in the turkey stuffing.

Slow Days: Corn Fritter Breakfast

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.

Fresh corn is a food that comes but once a year, and that is in late Summer. True, supermarkets will offer corn on the cob in May, but they have to bring it in from far away. To get the full effect, you must get your corn locally and in season. After you cook up a batch for dinner-time feasting along with burgers or grilled chicken, cut the cooked kernels off the remaining ears and turn them into Corn Fritters. Southerners would insist that a fritter must be deep-fat fried, but in New Hampshire, a griddle works very well and is easier. Here in Northern New England, these delights are served many ways: as a savory side dish, if chopped chives or scallions are added; as a cocktail nibble when prepared as tiny rounds; as a first course at dinner, with maple syrup [Yes, seriously. Children swoon at this]; as a dessert, with maple syrup; and at breakfast, with maple syrup. Can you tell that we like our fritters? Here are two recipes to try:

Fannie Farmer Cookbookmakes ten 4” diameter fritters
1 cup corn kernels, drained if canned 1 egg yolkStir together.
½ cup + 2 Tbsp white whole wheat flour ½ tsp baking powder ½ tsp salt
pinch of paprika
Sift or stir together with a fork.Add to the corn/yolk.
1 egg whiteBeat until stiff and fold into the corn/flour mixture.
Pan greased with bacon fat.

For each fritter, pour 3 Tbsp batter into the hot pan. Don’t let it spread too widely. You should get 2 or 3 into a 10” pan or use a larger griddle. Cook a few minutes until bottom is set and brown. 
Flip and cook a little longer. 
Maple syrupServe hot with maple syrup.

For a complete breakfast, I cooked up some back bacon and wrapped it around slices of sweet, ripe melon. Here are those fritters, waiting for the maple syrup!
thekitchn.com7 three-inch fritters
1/4 cup all-purpose flour 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
1 Tbsp fine yellow cornmeal 1.5 tsp granulated sugar
1 tsp baking powder 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
Whisk flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, salt, and cayenne pepper together in a large bowl.
1.5 c. corn kernels 
1 Tbsp New Mexico green/red chiles 1 Tbsp chopped fresh chives
Seed and mince the jalapeno, if using. Toss these with dry ingredients until the vegetables are coated.
1/4 c. whole milk
1 large egg
Mix together in a measuring cup until incorporated, then pour into flour-corn. Stir until all flour is moistened. Batter will be quite thick, but do not overmix. Let sit.
Wipe pan with a paper towel dipped in vegetable oil OR spray with cooking sprayHeat oil into a large cast iron skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Drop 1/4-cup portions of batter evenly around pan and flatten each slightly. Cook until golden-brown on the bottom, 2-3 mins. 
Flip cakes and cook until puffed, brown and cooked through, 2-3 mins more. If using frozen corn kernels, they may need 1-2 minutes more cook time per side.
Remove fritters to a towel-lined basket. Keep making fritters with remaining batter. 
Maple syrupPlate fritters, serve warm or at room temperature.

Slow Days: Gateau aux Fruits Frais

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.

In Summer, there is an abundance of fresh fruit. Heaven! And there are many ways to eat it, besides eating it fresh, of course. For a few years, I worked in a restaurant owned and run by a Frenchman. [He would have insisted that he was a Breton, but we will let that go.] Although I did not work in the kitchen, I was happy to glean as many tips as I could about cooking. Chef did not give out his recipes. However, I managed to get enough clues to produce a reasonable version of Gateau aux Fruits Frais — a simple cake made special by a topping of fresh fruits.

The base of the Gateau is a simple yellow cake — you could use sponge cake or pound cake as well. It was baked in a 4×8″ loaf pan, then cut lengthwise into two slabs, each about 1-inch thick. If you are serving a large gathering, put the cake slabs end to end on the serving board to create one 16″ long gateau. I freeze the other half for a dessert in the future. Next, the top of the cake is slathered with pureed rhubarb or thick applesauce. The sauce should be lightly sweetened, but not too sweet at all.

Then you need a cream mixture, the sort that could be the filling of a cake or the piping at the edge. It could be an Italian meringue, or a butter cream icing, or whipped cream. I stirred together vanilla yogurt, almond meal from unpeeled almonds and let it sit for a bit to thicken. Spoon or pipe the ‘vanilla cream’ around the edge, on top of the pureed fruit. Rake the cream with a fork to pattern it or get creative with your piping bag.

Arrange any sort of fresh fruit over the cake: whole strawberries, kiwi slices, raspberries. Since we had blueberries and red currants ripe in the garden, I arranged them in stripes. For the final touch, melted jelly was brushed over the top of the fruit to give it a gloss. Voila! Gateau aux Fruits Frais.

Slow Days: Porcini 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.

3 bicolors, 1 cep

Neither Dear Husband nor I grew up eating mushrooms, but we have come to relish them. Foraging is one of my favorite pastimes and when it yields a bounty of wild mushrooms, it makes my day. Imagine our surprise when we found mushrooms coming up in the moss under a Red Oak tree on our lawn. NB: One must approach wild mushrooms with caution: many species look slightly alike and correctly identifying the fungus is very important. In this case, the identification was unmistakable: dome-like cap the color of a well-baked bun; no gills under the cap, but a mosaic of tiny pores; bulbous stem, unlike any other species. These were Boletus edilus, the prized cep/cepe/porchini mushroom! Then, another edible Bolete showed up: the Bicolor, Boletus bicolor. We were in hog heaven!!

A search for mushroom recipes yielded this excellent dish from skinnyspatula.com and we are eternally grateful to her for it. The original calls for fresh shiitake and dried porcini, but we had lots of fresh ‘shrooms, so I changed the recipe a bit. Because the sauce is cream-based, we know that the recipe is from Northern Italy. To stay true to the region of origin, fresh pasta is preferred to dry pasta for the meal. I have found that my recipe for pasta made of white whole wheat and semolina flours works very well. For the record: this is NOT a recipe for weight loss!

Serves 2
105 g FRESH pasta nb: pasta made with white whole wheat flour is good here.Boil pasta in salted water until almost al dente – 1 minute. Reserve ¾ c water (~ 120 ml) before draining. Rinse pasta.
8 g/ 0.28 oz butter or more
80 g/ 2.82 oz Bicolor Boletes, sliced  90 g/ 3 oz King Boletes, sliced 170 g total = 3.8 oz fresh
Slice the mushrooms.
In a cast iron skillet, melt butter + add mushrooms. Cook for 4-5 mins until tender and lightly browned.
Take skillet off heat. Very IMPORTANT
20 ml double [or heavy] creamAdd cream + continue to stir, about 2 mins, until it evaporates. Scrape the bits on the bottom often.
60 g mascarpone
40 ml pasta water
40 ml pasta water
Add mascarpone and 1/3 of the pasta water. Cook until sauce is creamy. Add more water if needed, but keep it creamy, not watery.
Salt as neededAdd drained pasta + toss over moderate heat, until it’s cooked through (~ 2-3 minutes). Add more pasta water if needed.

Serve with zucchini or a green salad, and a Tuscan red wine of your choice*. Oh! So good!

from peterspicksblog.com Wines That Pair Well with Pasta and Wild Mushrooms:  Barbera d’Asti (Italy), Pinot Noir (Oregon), Pomerol (Bordeaux, France), Barolo (Italy), Rioja (Spain)

Slow Days: New England 4th of July  

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.

Hot dogs. Hamburgers. Potato Salad. Macaroni Salad. Rich desserts that are Red, White, & Blue. These are typical 4th of July fare all across the country, so it must be all-American, right? No, actually. Hot dogs, hamburgers, and potato salad came to us from German immigrants in the 1800s. Macaroni salad is a combination of Italian and German culinary traditions. Where do you go for an ‘authentic American’ meal for Independence Day? New England, of course. Salmon was very common in New England during the 1600s and 1700s, before the Industrial Revolution dammed the rivers. If you wanted inexpensive protein, salmon was the thing. In early Summer, salmon would return to the rivers, swimming far up-stream to spawn. At the same time, the first peas were available in the gardens. By coincidence, the first new potatoes could be found in the fields. [Potatoes originated in South America, were taken to Spain by Columbus, then to Ireland by Walter Raleigh, then to New Hampshire by Scottish settlers.] Thus, by early July, a fine dinner was available to all and sundry: cooked salmon served with peas and new potatoes.

Coat the salmon fillets with olive oil on a plate, then strew with salt and pepper. Put the shelled peas into cold water, ready to cook. In a bowl, put small new potatoes — preferably with flesh of different colors — salt, pepper, and olive oil to coat. Stir well to cover the potatoes all over with oil. Put the potatoes on a glass pie plate into a 400F. oven and set the timer for 25 minutes. By now the grill is hot. Cook the salmon, undisturbed, for 5 minutes on each side. Turn on the heat under the peas and simmer them uncovered. The peas will be done first, so keep and eye on them. Drain and salt them, cover the pan and let them wait.

And there you have it: a fine meal for early Summer. For a delightful wine paring go to peterspicks.com.

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: 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.