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The close friendship between my buddy Sterlin and me was soldered back in high school, when we first discovered that we were the only two girls in the entire school who had never had a boyfriend (well, I guess there was “BB,” too, but we figured that sleeping with the entire senior class had to count for something).  

This revelation prompted an immediate sense of community between us, after which we spent endless hours (in the way that only teenagers can) on the telephone, musing about why we didn’t have a boyfriend, how much we wished we could have a boyfriend, what we would do if we ever got a boyfriend, and what it was other girls like BB had that we didn’t, allowing them to seemingly conjure streams of drooling boys trailing behind them like empty cans tied to a “Just Married” car bumper.  Entirely unjustly, we thought, these girls enjoyed a surfeit of boyfriends, while we had to make do with an unrequited crush on our French teacher, Mr. Krauser.

But then, we discovered historical romance novels, and our focus shifted.  You know the ones: innocent, nubile, yet spunky lass is swept away (usually literally) by swaggering, swarthy, self-assured rake with a (very well hidden) heart of gold.  Over time, he wins her devotion, while she tames his savage nature.  Well, we were spunky, weren’t we?  Sterlin and I began to daydream, starry-eyed, about meeting a similar hero (even though we never fully understood exactly what a “rake” was) and riding off into the sunset, where he’d unravel the secrets of our nascent womanhood and we would charm his wild heart.

In the books, at least, we could get close to the most desirable of men. For some reason, these novels (at least, the ones I remember) all sported titles pairing two nouns, representing male and female: there was The Wolf and the Dove,  and The Flame and The Flower (both Kathleen E. Woodiwiss masterworks) or perhaps The Raven and The Rose or The Pirate and the Pagan (both by Virginia Henley).  And let’s not forget my favorite, The French Teacher and the Girl with Braces and Long Hair Parted in the Middle Who Liked to Bake (okay, my memory may be a bit fuzzy on that one–high school was a long time ago!). 

Well, given our combined paucity of feminine wiles  flirting ability lacy lingerie boyfriend-attracting attributes, we eventually decided to woo our guys with food (the way to a man’s heart, and all that).  So Sterlin developed Date Pasta as her staple, while I attempted to perfect an ideal chocolate cheesecake, or brownie, or even muffin (since, you know, I had high hopes of my imaginary beau staying for breakfast). 

Those erstwhile romantic efforts came back to me in a flash last week after I’d been browsing through some old cookbooks. Previously, I’d had a little email exchange with Lisa (Show Me Vegan) about buying or keeping cookbooks we no longer really use, or those that contain only a smattering of recipes still relevant to our newly acquired dietary habits. 

One such tome in my collection is called The Breakfast Book, by Diana Terry (and though I’ve owned this book since the 1980s, I never realized until today that it was published in Australia–which, I may have mentioned, is the land of my dreams, with its picturesque vistas, lush wilderness, stunning cities, enviable weather, and dashing, rakish Aussie gentelmen–all of whom just happen to speak with that sexy Australian accent). 

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Ah, yes, well.  Pardon me: back to the book. Terry offers a sample menu for a brunch with a decidedly orange theme.  The lucky boyfriend guest is treated to Champagne with Grand Marnier, Scrambled Eggs with Wholemeal Brioches, Fresh Fruit with Ricotta-Orange Dip, and Viennese-Style Coffee.  Of course, none of the recipes would suit me in its present form, but that certainly didn’t stop this spunky gal.

After reading about the citrus-suffused eggs that were then gingerly ladled over a split brioche, its top placed rakishly askew, I asked myself:  “Who said tofu scrambles should be savory, anyway?  Why not sweet? And why must they always be one shade shy of neon yellow?  And couldn’t my own, homemade, biscuits stand in for a brioche? And just what does “rakishly” actually mean, anyway?”

So I created this scramble, which is slightly sweet and not too yellow.  And it’s very creamy.  And it has orange zest and juice in it.  And you ladle it gingerly over the bottom of a carob and raisin biscuit, the top of which is placed rakishly askew over it. 

And may I just say–I ended up loving this dish.  In fact, our affair bordered on the torrid.  Who needs a boyfriend?  I’d rather eat this*.  But if you’re feeling generous, go ahead and share it with your wolf, or your flame, or your rake.

[PS. Giveaway, as promised, will be announced in my next post–stay tuned!]

*Okay, not really. If I had to choose between a sweet tofu scramble and my sweet HH, of course the HH would win out.  But just barely.

Sweet Scramble with Carob-Raisin Biscuits

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

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based on an idea in The Breakfast Book by Diana Terry

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

Carob and Raisin Biscuits

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

© 2009  Diet, Dessert and Dogs

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“Um, Mum, we are coming with you, aren’t we? Because (and sorry to have to tell you this), we actually have more fans than you do on this blog.” 

 

Thanks, everyone, for all your wonderfully supportive and encouraging comments about the osteopenia diagnosis.  I’ve been boning up on the topic (sorry-ouch) and have some great recipe ideas to share in the next while (and even one today).  I’ll also get to my responses asap. . . sorry I’ve fallen behind a bit!

Last week, out of nowhere, I made a monumental resolution.  Flushed with excitement, I rushed home from work and announced to the HH, “I have a great idea. I think we should be more spontaneous from now on.”

He appeared flummoxed (this happens all too often when I make my pronouncements, it seems). “Okay, so now we’re making plans to be spontaneous?” 

Hmmn.  I SO hate it when he’s right.

“Well, how about this, smarty pants?” I countered. “I went grocery shopping today and I spontaneously bought these overripe tomatoes on sale, even though I had no specific plans to cook anything with them.”  Touché!

“Oh, well, then, that settles it,” he capitulated.  “You’ve convinced me. Okay, let’s go to Paris for dinner!’ 

Foiled again. But did he have to look so darned smug about it?

Well, this past weekend, I am proud to say, I did manage some spontaneous fun.  My friend Eternal Optimist rang me late Friday afternoon with an invitation for the HH and me to attend a show at the local Yuk Yuk’s Comedy Club–to which she just happened to have free passes! 

Well, without a second’s hesitation, I told her, “Um, I’ll just have to call and check with the HH to be sure he hasn’t booked anything else. Oh, and then I’ll have to walk The Girls. Oh, and feed them. Oh, yeah, and after that, I’ll just finish cooking tonight’s dinner before I wrap up a few things for work–but hey, if I can manage to get all that done before the show tonight, then heck, YEAH! I’M THERE!” Whoo-hoo!  I love this unfussy, impromptu, last-minute socializing!

Okay, I’ll concede that I may not be the most spontaneous person in the world–but with good reason.  In the faraway days of (non-alcoholic) wine and roses–in other words, high school–my best friend Sterlin was sleeping over at my house one late-October weekend when my parents were out of town.  As we sat, eyes transfixed on the TV (I think Dallas was on), our friends Gary and Jackie dropped in unexpectedly (how spontaneous of them!).  They invited us out to the local Dunkin Donuts.  It was late; we were tired; but then, they made us an offer we absolutely could not refuse:

“Okay,” Jackie challenged, “If you two come out right now as you are, the donuts and coffee are our treat. ”  Had we heard correctly? TREAT? No matter that our garb at the moment was our flannel nighties; no matter that it was 11:15 PM; FREE donuts?  FREE coffee?  We flung a blanket round our shoulders and hopped in the car!

Once there, of course, the rules changed (these were, after all, seventeen year-old boys.)  “Okay, we’ll still treat you,” Gary announced, “but you have to go in there without us and buy the donuts.” In our nighties. With a blanket wrapped around us. Would we possibly be that gullible?  Well, we were, after all, seventeen year-old girls.

I’m sure you’ve guessed the end of the story.  The second we exited the car–scree-eech!–they were off like–well, like two seventeen year-old boys in their father’s car.  And we were left abandoned, streetlights trained on us like the spotlight at a prison lineup, at 11:30 at night, in the middle of Dunkin Donuts’ parking lot, wearing flannel nighties and a blankie.

So you see why I’m perhaps a bit spontaneity-shy these days. 

Despite my adolescent trauma, I did end up joining the EO on Friday–solo, as it turned out, since the HH was felled by a major cold and didn’t feel up to it.  It was actually a most enjoyable evening: the show was hilarious and I really appreciated being able to share some long overdue “Gal Time” with my buddy.

This morning, browsing through my Google Reader subscriptions, I came across this mention of Dreena Burton’s Carob Pancakes on Trust My Intuition’s blog.  The description of these was so enticing that I decided–entirely extemporaneously!–to whip up a batch of my own devising. I vaguely remembered learning in nutrition school that carob is (surprisingly) high in calcium; so, with my newfound attraction to all things spine-supporting, I threw together a combination that was both appealing and brimming with bone building nutrients. 

The resulting pancakes were extraordinarily light and fluffy, with a cakelike texture (versus the sometimes damp, heavy griddle cakes you’re served in restaurants).  Carob on its own is slightly sweet, so you may not feel the need for maple syrup on these; in fact, we had ours with syrup, and I could easily have omitted it (if you spread with almond butter instead, you’d be adding even MORE calcium!).  The carob flavor is subtle and melds beautifully with the soft pockets of sticky, luscious date.  (and don’t worry–even if your dates are stiff to begin with, the cooking process will soften them). For nutritional info, see my calculations after the recipe instructions.

I adored these pancakes.  Made with carob, they were even safe for The Girls to taste a bite or two. (“We loved those pancakes, Mum! Let’s have pancakes every day!”) Unfortunately, the poor HH couldn’t really taste these at all, since his congested sinuses have dampened his sense of smell. (“Sorry Dad’s sick–but since he didn’t like them, can we eat his, then?”) 

I may not be having dinner in Paris any time soon, but here in Toronto, these made one very delicious–and spontaneous–breakfast. One that would beat Dunkin Donuts, any day.

Carob and Date Pancakes

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

Feel free to change the fruits in these cakes if you prefer something else.  Next time, I’ll likely make these with chopped prunes, as I’ve been told they’re also good for improving bone health (thanks, Andrea!)  P.S. When I said these are light and fluffy, I meant it–that’s only 3 pancakes in the photo, above!

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

Pudding is a Virtue

February 21, 2008

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Both our dogs contain a generous sprinkling of Border Collie, a breed known for its patience. As a working breed, BCs were meant to guard sheep all day; and since sheep are not exactly what you’d call wild and crazy guys, the BCs must be willing to sit still for a very long time. Moreover, they exhibit what’s known as the “Border Collie Stare”–that steely gaze that bores right through you  and makes even the most obstreperous mutton acquiesce to their wishes.

I’ve been the object of that stare, more times than I can tell you. You see, the house we live in is an “open concept” design, so the living room opens on to the kitchen, which opens on to the rest of the house.  After many hours of sweat (mine) and a lot of practise (theirs), I’ve trained The Girls to “stay out of the kitchen” on command.  Basically, this means they are not allowed to put paws to tile (but wood or carpet–the floor coverings of the living room–are acceptable) while I’m cooking.

Chaser learned fairly quickly by emulating Elsie that, if Mum’s cooking, it’s time to “take up the position.”  Situated at the border between living room and kitchen, they are willing to lie for hours–literally–until I finally finish my culinary experiments and reward them with a morsel of whatever I’m cooking, or a treat, depending on what’s in my pot or pan (no chocolate or onions, obviously, for them).  Now, that’s what I call patience.

And what has all this talk of breeds and patience to do with food? Well, when I started my Week of Chocolate Asceticism, I knew it would take no time before I craved something sweet and soothing.  And since I’ve also vowed to avoid added sweeteners–or pretty much anything baked or sweet–my options are severely limited.  But then I remembered:  Raw Pudding!  Cashews and carob and dates–oh, my!!  And for this recipe, despite its matchless simplicity (only 3 ingredients), patience is definitely required.  The Girls, however, never mind waiting for this one. (“Oooh, Mum, is this that date and carob thing you make?? We love that thing!! Can we have some?? When will it be ready?  Now?  WHEN???”)

Even though my One True Love will always be chocolate, I am a big fan of carob as well.  And I have nothing but admiration for fellow bloggers like Deb at Altered Plates and Veggie Girl, who regularly choose to bake with carob instead of chocolate. In fact, carob even made a chance appearance this week over at another blog, Have Cake, Will Travel.  So I felt it only fitting that I grace the blog with Raw Carob Cashew Pudding.  (“Oh, it IS that carob-date thing you make!  Is it ready yet, Mum?  Can we have some?  When??”). 

I was first introduced to carob years ago when I was a Teaching Assistant, at a university English Department party.  Another one of the TAs, a quintessential Child of the ’60s,  brought along two hippy-dippy dishes, quinoa salad and brownies made with carob.  She was one of those graceful, ethereal women who seems to glide effortlessly just above the ground as she moves, skirts undulating softly behind her (quite a feat, actually, since she was wearing a miniskirt, as I recall). 

Ms. Flower Child also spoke with the lilting, velvety voice of FM radio, the kind of voice that causes you to crane your neck and focus intently on her lips so you won’t have to repeat, “Pardon?” after every sentence she utters. So when I asked about the recipe for the brownies, and what was in them, I never quite caught the entire answer.  All I knew was that they tasted good, and I liked this newfangled ingredient, and I’d be using it again.

I ate quite a bit of carob over a two-year span several years ago, when I followed an ultra-strict, sweetener and fruit-restricted diet. I discovered that carob is naturally sweet (it’s also low in fat and surprisingly high in calcium).  At a local organic grocery store, I happened upon whole, dried carob pods. Resembling brown pea pods, they conceal diamond-hard (inedible) carob seeds inside.  But if you gently warm the whole pods in the oven for about 5 minutes, they soften, become pliant and chewy, almost like fruit leather.  Delicious!

 So, back to the pudding (see, I told you you’d need patience for this recipe).  This is actually a variation on a simple cashew cream, cashewcreamspoon.jpg a vegan cream substitute that’s perfect over pies, cookies, fruit, or other sweets.  I’ve taken the concept just a step further, using raw cashews (which produce a creamier product) as well as dates for sweetness, carob, and optional vanilla.  Three main ingredients–four if you add the vanilla–and the result is so rich and creamy, you’d swear it took hours to make.  (Oh, wait.  It sort of does take hours to make–but only the soaking part).

Oh, and The Girls like it, too. (“Okay, so does that mean we can have some now?  Can we? How about now? MUM??”)

Raw Carob-Cashew Pudding or Mousse

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

The hardest part of this recipe is having enough patience to blend the mixture thoroughly, until it’s sufficiently smooth and creamy. When I’m feel that gnawing impulse for something sweet, I’m tempted to dig in early, but I’m always sorry if I do. So don’t skimp on the blender time with this recipe–you’ll be rewarded with a truly rich and celestial pudding. 

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[The Girls, finally rewarded for their patience.]

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.