Tuesday, July 26, 2011

theoretically giving up chocolate

I sometimes wonder whether the greater sense of wellbeing is achieved by temporarily resolving to permanently give up chocolate or by permanently resolving to temporarily give up chocolate.  It was while grappling with this purely theoretical question the other day that it occurred to me that I'd never shared with you my Philosophy of Food, viz.:

  • Don't eat food that has an artificially low fat content. Eat the full fat version in moderation instead. 
  • Don't eat anything that contains artificial sweeteners.
  • Bake your own cakes rather than buying them. They will taste better, and the effort of baking will limit consumption.
  • Never bother with biscuits (cookies to the US reader). They are not as nice as recipe books would lead you to believe. 
  • Don't buy ready-prepared meals. Have a boiled egg and toast instead.
  • Puréed young spinach leaves added to choux pastry will make interesting green canapés.
  • Rosewater fudge is delicious and will gain you points amid owners of mismatched vintage china.
  • Never order from a restaurant menu that does not mention goat's cheese. You don't have to actually order the goat's cheese, but its presence is reassuring.

Have I covered everything there or do you have anything important to add? 


  1. You've got the pith and essence there. I can only add from personal experience - You think you like red mullet, but you don't. Cinnamon is overrated. Baguette sandwiches make your jaws ache. Coriander is easy to grow and infinitely preferable to the bags that turn to yellow slime in the fridge.

  2. I share your chocolate dilemma.

    I'll add: if you're going to eat muesli remember it's meant to be soaked overnight ... 'raw' meusli really is like rabbit food; and however much you love figs, fresh or dried, don't eat too many of them!

  3. oh well said. mind you, not quite sure what biscuit offended you but they are all ok around here. All I can add is:
    note for fancy restaurants - putting tiny serves on enourmous plates is really a waste of washing up water - if it tastes amazing we are happy regardless of the plate size.


    always have a few recipes that you refuse to share - you know the ones that are ridiculously easy but when presented look amazingly complex - always talk mysteriously about these ones.

  4. Lucille: Important stuff there, thank you, much overlooked in cookbooks. Nutmeg is so much nicer than cinnamon.

    Annie: I've foolishly never soaked muesli, what with the advance planning required and all, but I guess preparing it could become a fixture of cocktail hour.

    Umatji: Yes, unshared recipes are vital for mystique. Things involving batter and cheese usually work well in this regard. Is it wrong to share misleading recipes?

  5. Two things:
    eat FOOD*, just a little, mostly plants (Michael Pollen)
    FOOD* is expensive, time-consuming and labour-intensive....always be grateful. (me)

    *(FOOD = seasonal, fresh, non-processed)

    on the biscuit/cookie thing...if you like I'll send you my biscotti recipe...might change your mind.

  6. Theoretically, I've given up chocolate many times...does it count if I've hidden thin, curved waves of Belgian chocolate with crunchy bits (Trader Joe's Milk Chocolate Crisps) deep in the freezer?

  7. Hi Mise,
    Well, raw peas in the pod and raw potato with a dash of salt are delicious and non-fattening.....a legacy from my mum, who ate them when she was pregnant and my sister and I still eat them. Not Michelen star but good all the same. I think that some of your readers will think I'm madand most people turn their nose up at the raw potato thing.
    .....but, a word of warning. Don't eat lbs and lbs of the peas as I have been known to do. There are serious consequences !!
    That was all that I could come up with on the spur of the moment but I wanted to comment because that is Rule 1 of Blogging Etiquette which I know you follow to the letter.
    PS: Please note that I do love proper food as well !! XXXX

  8. Jacqueline: I have that Michael Pollan book and thought it was excellent - it goes on a bit but its basic message is very wise. And your addition is a good one - many retailers would have us think that food should be very cheap and very easy, but what they sell is junk. Yes please to the biscotti recipe!

    Here's the link to the book, In Defense of Food, in case anyone is interested: http://michaelpollan.com/books/in-defense-of-food/

    Becky: Anything you have in the freezer just shows Admirable Prudence. I guess those slivers are all the better eaten frozen.

  9. Never refrigerate a tomato. Especially a garden tomato. They grow watery and lose all their summer.

    If you're invited to dinner at the home of friends who can't cook either insist on bringing something ( like the main course) or say oh you'll be too tired after work to cook, why don't you just make a salad and we can get a pizza from that wonderful spot down the block?

    When you've had enough to eat, stop eating. This irritates people no end, but keeps you a size 2.

    Don't become a vegan, they're confusing to cook for what with the soy granules.

    And if you are a vegetarian find some vegetables you like to eat.
    Don't sit there and pick a selection out of a carefully prepared dish.

    Apparently I could go on and on, excuse my ramblings.

    Either I've missed you or this is a topic close to my heart or both the above.

    xo Jane

  10. Jacqueline: As ever, you are the epitome of etiquette and original thinking. My potato peeler will have extensive use today. Perhaps even grated potato in salads?

  11. I've never served processed food to my family (ok, the odd time). It's why I only put out a very small bag of rubbish a week and many people put out 4 big black bags.....

    Cake wins over cookies anytime.!

  12. Ha ha, the first line of this post caught my attention and made me smile :)

    I love the goat's cheese reference, that rules out Burger King for lunch so!

  13. I'm a great fan of eggs and toast. It is completely underrated in the culinary world of which I know not much. Rather fond of cakes too but can't bake to save myself. Can you come over and make me some please?

  14. Failte go dti Blogworld

    Sage advice. I love pasta and to eat less and get the flavour my "go to" is:-
    Cook Pasta (must be Italian noodles as the wheat differs to wheat grown elsewhere).Saute 3/4 zuccini(courgette) sliced in glug of olive oil, add garlic. Roast a tray of cherry tomatoes in oven, little olive oil and sea salt. Mix all tri na cheille (together). The addition of cougette cuts down on the pasta consumption.
    You are so right about home baked cakes and scones and it must be an Irish trait, I dislike biscuits/cookies, sorry Jacqueline, even biscotti fail to tempt me.
    Welcome back Mise
    Helen xx

  15. flwrjane: Good stuff. Especially about quitting eating when you've had enough. Apparently the more usual triggers in our overdeveloped society are "when the plate is empty" or "when the tv programme is over."

  16. Chania: The odd time is grand; we all do that. You have to know what you're doing without, and to relive the Angel Delight and Dream Topping days of your youth (or maybe that was only a European thing).

  17. This is excellent philosophy, although I don't share your beliefs regarding cookies (biscuits, you call them.) They do look a little flat, but they are portable, durable and often taste better than nearly anything.

  18. little t: Good. Burger King is banned in Blogtopia. We are against it as we are for certain shades of pink.

    Kerry: Distance is the curse of the Internet. I wish I could.

    Helen: Sin béile breá simplí - déanaimse rud cosúil leis ach le beagán ime in áit na dtrátaí. Caithfidh mé faire amach don pasta Iodálach sin.

  19. Barbara, as it's you, kind protector of public servants and cookies, I plan to give the Biscuit one more chance.

  20. Now I really want a boiled egg on toast.

  21. You can make many vegetables taste really good by blasting them to pieces at high heat. Otherwise known as roasting.

  22. My tupence - Use small amounts of real butter - spreads and margerines are an abomination. I don't know if you have noticed but 'diet' foods are eaten only by fat people.

    Respectfully - I think you are wrong about the biscuits, but you do have to kiss a lot of frog recipes in the search for the prince among biscuits. I have never tried the spinich and choux pastry but it sound perfectly yock... as does the rosewater fudge.

    Most apples take a lot of chewing for very little reward - there are nicer fruits to eat that are less work.

  23. Hello Mise:
    We shall, as always, be guided by your advice and expertise but, as you are most likely aware, we seldom enter a kitchen and so have little to offer in the way of practical support of your 'Philosophy Of Food'. However, once we enter the dining room, we come into our own. Here is some food for thought:

    -Salt is housed in a cellar, pepper in a mill and neither should appear in a cruet;

    -Table napkins are of linen and are never serviettes;

    -Fish is eaten with two forks, fish knives and forks being petit bourgeois;

    -Pudding [within Great Britain]is not to be confused with dessert which is always fruit;

    -Pudding [see above]is eaten with a dessert fork and spoon, whilst dessert [see above] is eaten with a dessert knife. For the correct way to eat figs, study the appropriate clip of Ken Russell's film 'Women in Love';

    -Asparagus should be eaten with the fingers;

    -Coffee served in demi-tasse is simply pretentious [instant coffee is never acceptable];

    -Cheese should be served either before or after the pudding depending on whether one considers oneself to be European or not;

    Here you are privileged to have a preview of an extract from the 'Hattatt Guide to Dining Room Etiquette'. At present, it only lacks a publisher!!

  24. I love your chocolate dilemma, I dealt with a 3 bar a day addiction to cadburys chocolate by turning to the 'dark side' (too much Star Wars being watched here) a few squares of 70% + and I'm sorted.
    Only thing I would add to your list is: if eating porridge try a few spoons of maple syrup or even Bailey's on top - amazingly delicious.

  25. Here you go Mise
    A couple of things:
    They are called Mary's Biscotti, because she is the friend who gave me the recipe.
    I make them with dried cranberries and almonds, I think you could use just about anything you wanted. (The last batch I made was dried cherries, chocolate chips and almonds.
    I've never made the icing, I don't think they need it.
    I know 60 sounds a lot, but they are quite small and you would be amazed how quickly they disappear!

    Mary's Pistachio Cranberry Biscotti

    60 servings
    1 1/2 cups dried cranberries
    2 tablespoons orange juice
    1/3 cup butter, softened
    2/3 cup sugar
    2 eggs
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    2 cups all-purpose flour
    2 teaspoons baking powder
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1 cup pistachios, shelled and chopped
    4 teaspoons lemon peel, grated

    1 cup confectioners' sugar
    1 teaspoon lemon peel, grated
    1-2 tablespoon nonfat milk

    Place cranberries in a bowl and sprinkle with the orange juice.
    In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar.
    Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each.
    Beat in the vanilla.
    Combine the flour, baking powder and salt; gradually mixing in to the creamed mixture.
    Stir in the pistachios and lemon peel.
    Drain the cranberries and stir in to the dough.
    On a lighly floured surface, divide the dough into thirds.
    Shape each piece in to a 12 inch by 2 inch log.
    Place on a baking sheet covered with cooking spray.
    Bake at 350 F for, 20 minutes.
    Transfer to a cutting board, and cut each log into about 20 slices with a serrated knife (cut at an angle).
    Place the cut side down on baking sheet coated with cooking spray and bake for 12-15 minutes turning once.
    Remove to wire racks to cool.

    For the icing, combine the confectioners' sugar and lemon peel in a small bowl. Stir in just enough milk until achieving a drizzling consistency.
    Drizzle over biscotti, and store in an airtight container.

  26. The deliciousness of raw carrots is improved (or so it seems) by the acoustic effects of eating them.

  27. I always liked, "Never eat anything bigger than your head".

  28. This post could be Blogtopia's Larousse Gastronomique! Spinach and choux pastry idea sounds delicious. xx

  29. Whole foods, whole foods and more whole foods. Shop from around the edges of the supermarket, not the processed stuff in the middle. If you're going to eat ice cream, eat full fat but only a wee bit.

    Eat a rainbow of colours of fresh vegies each day:) Love Bossy Boots. Over and out.

    p.s. 70% cacao choc is a health food:) The other stuff is just sugar, milk and hydrogenated fat. Apart from Lindt balls....they're a separate food group and therefore exempt from chocolate Nazi tendencies.

  30. Perfect. Well said. Couldn't agree more! I could never cut out chocolate completely though. Can't even imagine.

  31. ..and..
    You are what you eat eats too! So only grass-fed beef (not corn-fed).
    Now I'm done...

  32. Don't eat anything you cannot pronounce.

  33. Many excellent points here, Mise. I go for full-fat in moderation, too, and believe no good can come of artificial sweeteners. I'm now desperately seeking rosewater fudge, in spite of an appalling lack of mismatched china.

  34. Eggs are my go to meal, anytime, almost anyway Mise. And I'm totally in agreement with you about the biscuit thing. Very easy to turn down, whereas cakes = now that's another story!

  35. I have no problem going without chocolate. I'm currently theoretically giving up high test coffee. I'm instructed to change to de-caf. I'm very picky about my coffee. Oh woe.

    Picky about my goat cheese too, fortunately there are a couple of good local choices here in No. CA.

    Like M. Palin's books, all of them.


  36. There's no reason to *ever* give up chocolate (real chocolate that is, giving up the half wax kind is perfectly fine!)...better to give up your whole days worth of food if you're worried about it. It has all the necessary requirements of a food group and has the benefits of keeping one sane.
    Your food philosophies are spot on! with the exception of the 'no biscuits/cookies...which I 'sometimes' love more than chocolate. There's half of a peanut butter one in my purse as we speak (it's from my favorite cookie bakery). The store bought ones can be quite scary but homemade ones are magical...I couldn't live without them.
    Artificial anything should be banned from the planet...high fructose corn syrup and diet anything as well.
    Delicious topic Mise!
    xo J~

  37. did you miss anything? you missed a whole food group darl.

    champagne, wine, malt whisky, gin, cognac, port, brandy, cointreau....to name but such a few.

    as a person who writes alot of contracts....i shall deem all of the above mentioned items, which have not been specifically referred to within your theory (or ammendments), to be freely attained at any given time, as deemed necessary.

  38. I am reassured. I feel that we could definitely flat together happily discussing our mismatched vintage china, as the children fuss about making us cakes and choux pastry delights in the kitchen. I do feel that we should add a permanent bottle of champagne to the fridge though just for those 'special' occasions. Long live smaller portions of 'real' food.

  39. Don't forget to eat your 5-a-day ..... blueberry muffin, strawberry cheesecake, lemon meringue pie, carrot cake and rapberry pavlova. And of course, drink wine as it is made from grapes so must be good for you.

  40. I agree with everything you say except the bit about cookies...I love making Nigel Slater's hazelnut ones, delicious and sort of theraputic...rosewater fudge sounds too, too good to be true...am currently battling addiction to Lindt excellence dark chocolate with sea salt...tastes like caramel!!

  41. I would add - Make friends with a baker.

  42. I have to disagree with Lucille. Cinnamon scones are completely delicious.


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