Slow Days: Pasta DIY

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.

The dough has been mixed

Once a week, we have a meal involving pasta. And, yes, for those of you in the US who are from New England, the day we eat pasta is Wednesday. Many years ago, we bought a pasta machine. We were quite self-sufficient in those days, so making our own noodles seemed just right. It was fun, but then I returned to work and the machine sat in the drawer. Nowadays, it is back to DIY, and with lots of our own eggs, fresh pasta is on the menu again. There are two basic recipes: all-purpose flour + eggs OR semolina flour with water. I decided to combine them: 1 cup semolina flour, 1 cup all-purpose flour, 1 two-ounce egg [US Large], and some water. These are combined in a food processor or by hand, adding enough water to make a rough ball of slightly moist dough, like Sugar Cookie Dough.

Kneading and rolling it out is the job of the pasta machine. First the dough goes through the rollers at “1,” which is the widest setting. It is folded in half, and rolled again. Every time the dough goes through, it holds together better and becomes smoother. Then you gradually set the rollers at higher and higher numbers: 1 to 2, 2 to 3. Each time, the dough becomes thinner, longer, and more supple. Cut the dough in pieces cross-wise so that it is easier to handle. Eventually you reach the setting 6. You could stop there or make it really thin at 7. 6 is good for noodles, 7 is better for filled pasta such as ravioli or tortellini.

Now it is time to cut the dough into noodles. You could do it by hand, or by machine. Our machine has two choices: thin like spaghetti, or wider like fettuccini. Working with the smaller dough rectangles, one passes the dough through the cutters. Catch it coming out the other side and hang it up to dry. You can use it fresh, and it is delicious. Cook only 1-2 minutes and bear in mind that 2 oz dry pasta [one serving], is the equivalent of 5 oz fresh pasta. While the water is boiling and the sauce is heating, the pasta is drying slightly, which makes it easier to handle. What I don’t use for today’s meal is dried thoroughly and stored, air-tight, for use another time.

Would I make pasta every week? No, but it is great for special meals. Does pasta make a meal ‘Mediterranean’? Not automatically. How healthy a pasta dish is depends on what is on top of the pasta. Is Pasta a no-no for Fast Day meals? Yes and no. Chicken Tetrazzini, Tortellini with Black Kale, these are some of the Fast meals I’ve posted using pasta as an ingredient. Just remember that a ‘serving’ of dried pasta, of any shape, is 2 ounces. On a Slow Day, knock that down to 1-1 1/2 ounces and you can hedge your bet.

Slow Days: Election 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 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.

At last it is Presidential Election Day in the United States of America. Or, should I say, the last day to vote in this unusual election season. It used to be that all votes were cast during one day, all around the nation. One day for voting. The counting took longer, depending on how difficult the roads were between a given town and the state capital. That was back in the dirt-roads-and-horseback days. Nowadays, vote counts are sent to state capitals by phone. But Election Day has never been the end of the story — the votes must be ‘certified’ in each state, which can take days if there is a recount. Then it is up to the Electoral College to vote, with their selection of the winner on December 14. That’s a long time from today!

Let’s have some cake today — one with a long history and a tradition of being a ‘good keeper’: Election Cake. In Colonial Days and the early days of the Republic, popular cakes were made with dried fruits. If the fruit or the cake was suffused in ‘strong spirits,’ it would keep for a long time, meaning less baking for the housewife. In Connecticut, there was the tradition of a cake for Election Day. It could be baked days in advance, then put in the picnic basket for the day-long trip to the village center to be served there at lunch. My mother said that the alcohol in the cake was because sale of booze was banned on Election Day. Maybe not, but getting voters drunk was an early form of voter coercion, hence the ban on alcohol sales. Last March, I baked 2 loaves of this cake, using sourdough [since we all have plenty of that these days, right?]. We ate some on New Hampshire’s Primary Day and the other loaf went to the freezer. We had some in September for state primary voting and the remainder this morning, just to remind ourselves that it was Election Day. We voted Absentee and turned in our ballots to the Town Clerk weeks ago. Kudos to Deb and John and the election team in Bennington.

Early Day 1 2 c flour  ½ cup + 2 Tbsp buttermilk  ½ cup sourdough, fed and bubbly 1-2 T water, as neededIn a large bowl combine the flour, buttermilk, and sourdough starter until you get a thick dough.  Add water if necessary. Form the dough into a round ball, place it in a bowl and allow it to rest, covered, for 8-12 hours
Evening Day 1 1 stick butter ½ cup + 2 Tbsp sugar 2 Tbsp molasses 1.5 tsp white wine OR Rum 1 Tbsp brandyIn a medium bowl, beat the butter, sugar, molasses, wine, and brandy together until well combined and fluffy.
1 egg 1.5 tsp cinnamon 1.5 tsp ground coriander ¼ tsp allspice ½ tsp ground nutmegStir in the egg and the spices.
Add the yeast dough to this mixture and beat until the mixture resembles that of a thick cake batter.
½ cup prunes, chopped ½ cup raisins/ cranberries/ cherries/ currents/ apricotsStir in dried fruit. Pour the cake into a greased “bundt pan (you could also use a springform or dutch oven)”. I used small loaf pans = two pans, 8x4x3”
Cover the pans with a clean dish cloth and allow to rise until it is almost doubled in bulk (about 1.5 -2 hours) Preheat your oven to 375F. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean.
This is the recipe I used, slightly adapted from the 
Nourished Kitchen.
Here is Fannie Farmer‘s recipe — lots of whiskey! In my handwriting, amounts for smaller batches.

We like to slice it and toast it lightly to serve at breakfast. A nice treat to mark the passing of the political year.

Election Cake served warm with fruit yogurt, bacon, apple cider, and frothy mocha cafe au lait: this is a breakfast to make one optimistic about an election outcome.

Slow Days: The Tale of a Chicken.

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.

When I was growing up, my mother served chicken for dinner every Sunday. It was delicious. When Dear Husband and I moved to the country [our dirt road looks much more ‘suburban’ after 40 years], we decided to raise chickens: for eggs and for meat. Since then, we have always had a supply of chicken: whole roasters and parts. We are very lucky to be so well fed. When our sons were in residence, we would eat chicken every other Sunday: roasted and served with mashed potatoes, gravy, and a side of peas. Classic. And then there were left-overs. Now that the boys are off on their own, a chicken goes a lot farther. Here is the tale of one chicken. [no, we don’t give them names nor are they our pets]

We’ll draw the veil of secrecy between chicken in-the-straw and chicken in the freezer. Dear Husband roasts a darned good chicken, with his herb and spice flavorings, and the carrots and onion in the cavity. Once it has been roasted and carved, one is left with a carcass that still has plenty of meat.

The onions and carrots were roasted inside the chicken.

Savory Roll, a recipe from the Fannie Farmer Cookbook, is a favorite use for cooked chicken. One and a half cups of shredded chicken meat, along with the vegetables, plus some gravy or stock for moistening, some dark leafy greens, chutney, egg, and bread crumbs: all goes into the Food Processor to produce 2 cups of ground filling.

clockwise from left: onion, chicken shreds, egg, spinach, crumbs, carrots, and chutney in center.

A pie crust or biscuit dough is then rolled out, and the filling placed down the middle of the dough, log-shaped. The log of filling is then encased in the dough, sealing the edges.

This roll provided 12 slices.

Baked in a hot oven until the dough is brown and cooked, the Savory Roll is now done. This time, I sliced it and served it like a ‘country pate’, with mustard and side vegetables. When encased in biscuit dough, it can be napped with gravy.

What’s next? Chicken stock [some call it ‘bone broth’] from cooking the carcass in seasoned water until, as Julia Child would say, ‘It has given its all.’ I then pressure can it to store in the pantry until it is time to make soups.

Slow Day: Dutch Babies

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.

Some people call these “German Pancakes” while others call them “Dutch Babies.” Since ‘Dutch’/Deutsch often refers to ‘Germans,’ we can guess that this might be related to the German Pflannkuchen, but the recipe for this breakfast dish seems to have been invented in American West-Coast kitchens in the early 1900s. Several restaurants claim to have been the first to serve it, and it appears without attribution in many cookbooks. We enjoy this on Sundays. And I do mean ENJOY. Our recipe and method are from Marion Cunningham’s The Breakfast Book.

The mise en place above shows how easy this recipe is: 3 eggs, 1/2 cup flour, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 cup milk, 2 Tbsp butter. These were set out on the counter the night before so the eggs and butter could be at room temperature. Heat the oven to 450 and generously butter a 10 or 12″ cast iron skillet or, as we use, two 8″ skillets. Use an egg beater to break up the eggs in a bowl, then add the milk. Add the flour and salt, again deploy the egg beaters. Then mix in the melted butter to make a smooth batter. Pour into the pan/pans and pop into the oven. Bake for 15 minutes for the small pans. For the larger pan, after 15 minutes at 450F, turn heat down to 350F and continue to bake for 10 minutes more.

Great big popover bowls! One for each of us.

Magically, the batter rises up the sides to form a serving bowl of huge proportions! Serve with any fresh fruit in season, or with thawed and drained unsweetened frozen fruit. Maple syrup, lingonberry syrup, or cloudberry syrup are our faves.

Slow Day: Eastern Mediterranean Sampler

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.

The meal at Troy

When we visit Wolfville, Nova Scotia, Canada, we enjoy dining at Troy. We usually order the Sampler Platter, along with local beer and cidre. Since dining there is not an option during these Covid Times, I decided to try my hand at preparing such a meal. Happily, the elements were at hand — in the freezer or in the ‘fridge or made from fresh ingredients.

From the left, going clockwise around the platter: Lamb Gozleme; turkey breast; beet hummus**; oil-cured olives; tomatoes; feta + green olives; red pepper spread; dried figs. The flat bread in the middle is the same as in the Gozleme, but un-stuffed and griddle fried. A delightful meal for two, served with memories of visits to the orchards and vineyards of the Annapolis Valley in Nova Scotia.

**HUMMUS: 1 Tbsp = 27 calories 1.3 g fat 0.6 g fiber 0.7 g protein 3 g carbs 0.7 mg Calcium   PB GF  makes 2 cups Recipe from Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen . 1 can chickpeas, drained + rinsed 4 cloves garlic 1-½ tsp salt 4 tsp lemon juice 5 T tahini pepper + cayenne ¼ c chopped scallions

Put everything in the food processor and whizz until smooth. Taste for seasonings. Freezes well. Variation: Add a few slices of cooked beet to obtain an amazing pink color.

Slow Days: Summer Desserts

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 to how we eat, some examples follow.

In the Summer, we want our desserts to be light and cooling. Hot pie is out, ice cream is in. I remember when fruited Jello was acceptable. And then chiffon pie was in vogue. Ugh. Both highly processed. A waste of calories, in my opinion. Fruit is always the answer: fresh, real, delicious, versatile, good for you. I don’t usually give nutritional information on a Slow Day Post, because with the Fast Diet you need ‘diet’ only 2 days each week. But these desserts are SO good that the calorie counts prove that one can eat well without going hog wild on calories. Hope you like these!

‘Blue Strawberries’: In Portsmouth, NH, in the 70s/80s, James Haller and friends ran the Blue Strawbery Restaurant. They served a prix-fixe menu with only one dessert: their signature strawberries. Awfully simple to prepare and a delight to eat.

This plate will serve two diners.

5 oz medium-sized strawberries 2 Tbsp low fat French Vanilla yogurt 2 Tbsp brown sugar

On individual serving plate, place the strawberries, spoon out the yogurt in a separate spot, and place the sugar in its own space. Grasp a strawberry by the stem, dip into the yogurt, dip into the sugar. Eat. Repeat

Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries: each: 34 calories 2 g fat 1 g fiber 0.5 g protein 3.6 g carbs 13 mg Calcium PB GF These are so easy to make that I can’t imagine buying a kit at the supermarket. Is this ‘gilding the lily’? Yes! And they are SO good. 

6 fresh strawberries [½-3/4 oz each] with leaves and stems attached 3 oz dark [60-70%] or bitter-sweet chocolate [chocolate chips/bar chocolate/melting wafers] — you will end up using less than 1 oz and will have some left over

Put the chocolate in a wide-mouthed jar or glass bowl and place it in a small pan. Add water to the pan to about half-way up the vessel with the chololate. Gently heat the water so that the chocolate melts. Do not let the heating water bubble, lest water drops end up in the chocolate. Stir the chocolate to make sure it is all melted. Put the berries on a piece of waxed paper [or a silicon mat] on a small tray that will fit in the ‘fridge. The berries must be perfectly dry – no water drops, lest the chocolate ‘seize up.’ Pick up a berry by the leaves/stem and dip into the chocolate until it is coated about 2/3 of the way up. You may have to roll it a bit to coat it. As you remove it from dipping, wipe it gently against the side of the vessel, as you would wipe excess paint from a paintbrush. Lay the coated berry on the waxed paper and continue with the other berries. Put the berries in the ‘fridge to harden and cool. Cool any excess chololate and keep in the ‘fridge for any future use.

S’More: 145 calories 4.7 g fat 0.5 g fiber 2 g protein 24.5 g carbs 22.5 mg Calcium The Girl Scouts of America tell their members that this campfire treat was invented by them. No summer is complete without the gooey-chocolatey goodness of the s’more. The name is a contraction of “I want some more.” I must say I was surprised at the low calorie count.

These are the fixings for THREE s’mores.

1 graham cracker, broken in half cross-wise along the perforations 1 marshmallow – regular size, neither mini nor monstrous 3 sections of one standard Hershey Milk Chocolate Bar

On one of the halves of the cracker, place the chocolate. Cook the marshmallow the way you like it. Put the marshmallow on the chocolate, top with the other piece of cracker. Push down on the top to squish the marshmallow so it oozes out the sides a little. Eat immediately.

Watermelon Sherbet:  54 calories 2 g fat 1 g fiber 1 g protein 9 g carbs 42 mg Calcium   PG GF   Such a delight for a hot Summer night! Goes together very quickly at dessert time. Serve with a simple cookie, such as chocolate biscotti. HINT: One serving = 3/4 of a cup. This is really good!

3 cups watermelon1-½ cup melon Freeze the watermelon cubes in a single layer on a piece parchment paper or foil for at least 3-4 hours.
¾ cup frz melon ½ cup plain yogurt OR lite canned coconut milk/ sweetened condensed milk/ Vanilla yogurt1/3 cup frz melon ¼ cup plain yogurtWhen ready to make, add half the watermelon to the food processor and blend until smooth. Scrape down the sides and add the yogurt/ coconut milk/ condensed milk. 
¾ cup frz melon 3 Tbsp mini choc chips1/3 cup frz melon 1.5 Tbsp mini chipsAdd the remaining watermelon and the mini chips. Blend until smooth and creamy.
Eat immediately or freeze for 2-3 hours for a firmer texture. If frozen longer, leave it out for 30 minutes before eating so it can soften up and become creamy.

Slow Days: Lammas Bread

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.

One of the most popular topics on which I have blogged is that of Lammas. Maybe it is a love of all things Celtic. Maybe it is a yearning for simpler times. Maybe it is a renewal of interest in growing and producing one’s own food. The festival was called Lughnasagh in Ireland; Lunastain, in Scotland; and became Lammas [Loaf Mass] after the missionaries Christianized it. As a harvest festival, it was observed on the mid-Summer cross-quarter day around August 2 — usually August 1, 2,3. At that time the cereal crops* [wheat, rye, barley, oats] were being harvested. Flour was quickly ground from the grain, baked into loaves to be savored by the entire farm family while giving thanks for a successful harvest and offering prayers for future crops. Bread, therefore, is the recipe of the day. *Note: in the UK, cereal crops are all called ‘corn.’ This is confusing to Americans, to whom ‘corn’ is Zea mays for eating on the cob or for popping. When you follow the links, keep that in mind.

Here is a non-yeasted recipe, making something like a biscuit. This is probably the “real” bread for Lammas, since it is prepared quickly. Buttermilk Bread Charm for Lammas goddessandgreenman.co.uk

3 mugs strong white flour 1/2 tsp salt 1 tsp bicarbonate of sodaPlace the flour in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre. Sieve in the blended salt and soda
500 ml of Buttermilk Pour in the buttermilk. Mix well with a wooden spoon or your hand until the dough feels springy.
Sprouted seeds – these represent regenerationMix in the sprouted seeds. If it feels too sloppy, just add a little more flour.
Turn it onto a board and cover with a fine dusting of flour. Pat it with your hands until you have a round shape. Take a sharp knife and score lightly into eight sections, one for each festival. Take time to focus on the bread you have created. Turn the loaf three times saying “From the fields and through the stones, into fire, Lammas Bread, as the Wheel turns may all be fed. Goddess Bless.”
Place on a greased baking tray and pop it into a moderate oven for 20-25 minutes. Keep an eye on it. When the bread is ready, it will change colour and will sound hollow when you tap the bottom.
Cool completely on a wire rack. When it is cool, tie it with Lammas ribbon in your choice of colour – gold, orange, yellow

Sour Dough Fruited Summer Bread: The one I’ll make this year is based on a sourdough, in keeping with all of those who are attempting that during the current lock-down. This bread is easy to make. [Original recipe from Paul Hollywood] With the addition of Summer fruits and whole wheat, it seems fit for a festival.

All the ingredients, ready to mix.
64 g bread flour 64 g white whole wheat flour 125 g active sourdough starter 3.8 g salt 65-88 ml H20 + 2 tsp honeyCombine dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add the honey to the water. Pour it in a little bit at a time and mix with your hands to make a soft dough. You may not need all the water. If you have extra water, add it to the next step.
½ cup chopped dried apricots ½ cup dried cherriesPut the fruits in a small bowl and cover with boiling water. Let sit for 15 minutes, then drain, reserving the water. Add to the dough.
Coat work surface w/ olive oil + knead the fruit into the dough on the oiled surface for 10-15 mins or until the dough is smooth + elastic and the fruit is well-incorporated.
Put in lightly-oiled bowl + cover w/ film. Rise in warm place 5 hr or overnight in a cool place
Knead dough until smooth, knocking the air out. Shape into an oval. Let rise on a well-floured towel [a couche], up-side down, in a loaf pan for 4-8 hrs or overnight in a cool place.
Bread is rising on a floured towel in a small loaf pan to help it to keep its shape.
Reserved soaking water 2 tsp honeyPut in a small pan and simmer while adding the honey. Cook down until it is syrup-y, not runny.
Put a tray of water on the bottom of the oven. Preheat to 425F Gently tip the risen dough onto parchment paper on a baking tray. With a lame or sharp knife, score the top of the bread: down the center, then 3 on each side at an angle – sort of like a fern or the veins on a leaf. When you open the oven, add more water to the tray at the bottom of the oven to produce steam. Bake 30 mins at 425. Brush loaf with fruit syrup, then reduce oven to 400 F and bake 15 mins more.
The very dark syrup made the crust a rich mahogany color. Serve with comb honey.

Slow Days: Hake with Green Sauce

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.

In April, disappointed that our trip to France was canceled, we decided that if we couldn’t be in Gascony, we could eat as if we were in Gascony. After scouring our cookbooks, we chose recipes for dinner, and sometime breakfast, that would be typical of where we would have been on a particular date. Thus we “dined out” in the restaurants of our imaginations. One of the earliest meals was named Hake in Green Sauce. There is no sauce. “Green Sauce” is a centuries-old term for vegetables served on or with the protein of the meal. In Spanish, the term is ‘salsa verde,’ which we today think of as a mild-hot condiment in a jar. The recipe, called “Merluza, Salsa Verde,” is found in Anne Willan’s French Regional Cooking.

The ingredients you see pictured are enough for two people.

Hake, new potatoes [our’s were multi-colored], garlic, oil, crushed red pepper, peas and asparagus comprise the ingredients. The potatoes are simmered in boiling water for 15 minutes, then drained. The peas are cooked until just tender, then shocked in cold water and drained. Same for the asparagus. The hake is seasoned, then dredged lightly in flour. Brown the hake in an oil-coated pan until lightly brown on both sides, but not cooked through. Arrange the dish in an oven-safe dish [I used the tart pan you see in the above photo] and sprinkle with the hot pepper flakes and chopped garlic. Put the potatoes around the edges of the fish, then put the vegetables on top. Sprinkle with parsley, salt, and pepper. Pour 1/4 cup water into the dish, cover it, and bake at 375F/190C for 15-20 minutes, when the fish will be tender.

This is really good — I ate the whole thing!

Slow Days: Sourdough 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 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.

It is almost a joke now that during the Pandemic Lock-Down, people vowed that they would use the time to perfect the art of baking: specifically sourdough bread. It seemed to be the culinary equivalent of reading War and Peace — something to get around to when you had time. Early on, bread flour and yeast were GONE from supermarket shelves. New England’s flour-of-choice, King Arthur brand from Vermont, was not even available on-line. For those who have sourdough starter [don’t be a wimp — start your own starter!], be aware that there are many things to do with it, besides making bread. Recently, we made Sourdough Pancakes [click link for recipe] for Sunday Breakfast. A real treat and easy to do.

HINT: For two people, I cut the recipe in half. The night before, I combine the flours with the sugar, oil, buttermilk [substitute = soured milk], salt, and starter. This is left on the counter overnight to ripen.

The next morning, the batter is stirred. An egg and the baking soda are added in. The mixture needs to sit a few minutes while you heat the griddle, set the table, and make the coffee. By now the batter is foaming in the bowl.

This recipe resulted in 14 pancakes: enough for today’s breakfast, another meal later, and 2 for a snack with peanut butter and jelly.

Lightly butter the griddle and use a 1/4 cup measure to pour 3-4 Tablespoons of batter on the hot surface. Continue until there is no more space on the pan. When the top of each pancake starts to develop ‘eyes’ [little holes], it is time to flip them to the other side.

Served with maple syrup [our own, I’m happy to say] and sausages — what a treat! The breakfast is completed by the berry-yogurt smoothie and mocha cafe au lait which we enjoy every morning. Great start to a great day. A lot easier than making bread.

Slow Days: Bruschetta

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.

“Bruschetta” … what does that word mean to you? And how do you pronounce it? The cookbook Diary of a Tuscan Chef gave us a recipe for this concoction, which we ate happily for years — a tomato relish on bread. And we called it ‘bruce-SHET-ta.’ Had we turned the cookbook page, we would have had the real story. When olives are being pressed into oil, [a late-Fall, cool-weather activity] one of the workers will toast bread over a fire, rub it with garlic, and drizzle the new oil over it so everyone can have a snack and a taste of the crop. THAT is bruschetta!

Bread, garlic, and olive oil = bruschetta

Of course, as the idea of ‘putting some food on toast’ moved around the world, something was lost in translation, including the pronunciation. When on tour in Italy, I asked the guide, a Roman, how to pronounce this culinary creation. Chuckling, he said that Americans always ask that and for the longest time he had no idea what they meant by ‘bruce-shet-ta.’ The correct way to say it? ‘bruce-KAY-ta’ The aforementioned Tuscan Chef Cesare Casella writes: “Americans seem to think bruschetta is chopped tomatoes, garlic, basil, and olive oil on toast. I don’t know why. For us that is crostini con pomodoro.” He concludes that there seems to be an “American craving for cubed tomatoes.”

On the right you see Cesare Casella’s ‘tomato relish’ on the bread.

When Older Son began baking, he sent us a recipe for his ‘no-knead focaccia’, which is great but makes more bread than Dear Husband and I can eat in a week. So Older Son prompted us to eat it as Bruschetta. I protested that there would be very little protein in that: just bread and tomato relish. Being wise, our son suggested additional toppings: herbed ricotta cheese, slices of chicken or turkey breast. Anchovies would be good.

So here is the evolution of a meal that is perfect in Summer or any warm evening. Perhaps we should call it ‘Crostini’ but we don’t. We’re Americans, you see.