Chocolate Puddle Cookies and a Rant for 'ya.

I'm getting ready to go out for a run.  The weather doesn't totally suck and I feel fantastic (usually) when I get in from a run.  I feel like I can do and eat anything.  Which is what has set me off here to be honest.  I mean why is it that after all these years I still feel like I need to go for a run or do a workout before I allow myself to really eat.
Now it's not like that all the time but still it pisses me off that it happens at all.  I've had a few minutes to do some blog browsing lately and came across this post on one of my favourite blogs.  Thanks Chandelle, you spoke to me.  I've been through the whole ringer when it comes to feeding my body.  I did some pretty dumb stuff.  Finally, after much pain and suffering and probably jacking my digestion to all hell, I've come to a new place.  What I'm hoping is a better place.  I finally think that it's ok that there is a little pudge on my tummy.  It's even a little cute... some might even find it a bit sexy (although that is still a stretch for me I can accept the idea).  I'm not obsessing about being a runner and a biker in order to lose weight.  I'm a size 8 and I'm ok with that.
I remember a moment back in University.  At the time I was nannying and teaching voice on the side, trying desperately to pay my bills (and failing with quite a few of them) and still finish my degree AND obsessing about being 110 lbs.  If there is one thing that can suck the joy out of everything that you put in your mouth it's obsessing about losing another 5 lbs.  On this day I was at my nannying job.  The kids were having their afternoon nap.  I was doing some laundry and in the laundry room was a scale.  I stepped on the scale (wrong move) and discovered that after weeks of not eating to the point where I felt faint and biking myself everywhere around the city that I was still 117 lbs.  I cried.  It felt like all that hard work had completely been for nothing.  It was a breaking point for me because in reality I was way to thin.  My friends were concerned.  My family was concerned and even I couldn't imagine myself any thinner.  But there I was crying because I was 7 lbs to heavy.  I realized that I had a problem that I couldn't ignore anymore.  That began a slow and not so steady journey back to 'normal'.
What is 'normal' in our culture though?  How can we even find a normal when everything we read and see give us mixed messages?  On one hand every ad and commercial places skinny women in front of us and we get the message that women shaped like that are all that exist.  Then the other ads tell us to go and eat a doughnut and a burger.  How do I help my own daughter face the onslaught of input about her own body and come out 'normal'?  I don't know if I could find a friend that isn't presently trying to lose weight or hasn't been 'working on it' recently.  I can't count the number of people that I know who won't eat carbs.  Does a world exist where women don't feel guilty at some level when they place a forkful of food in their mouths?  I want to try and find it.
I'm starting, just starting to be ok with the curves that my body has.  I think that I don't 'need' to be skinny or fat... I need to be me.  I'm guessing that 139 lbs and size 8 is probably my normal and that took me a lot of years to discover.
What's your 'normal'?  Are you ok with your size?  Do you want to change the way that you eat because it will make you stronger or thinner - they're not always one and the same.  Do you think that there is a way to replace the guilt with contentment and satisfaction?

In celebration of all shapes and sizes and in anticipation of a time when we can truly look at each ourselves and love what we see, I give you... Puddle Cookies.  Don't ask.  Just know that they are good.  If you try them and screw them up... no biggie.  Just crumble them into some vanilla ice cream and look like you meant to do it.  Now I'm going for my run and I'm going to enjoy every second of my heart pumping and my body working and getting stronger... not skinnier.

Chocolate Puddle Cookies adapted from 101 Cookbooks

1 1/2 cups walnuts or pecans, lightly toasted and chopped
4 cups icing sugar
1/2 cup + 3 tbsp dark cocoa powder
1 tsp instant espresso powder
scant 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
generous 1/2 cup egg whites (whites of around 4 or 5 large eggs)
1 tbsp vanilla (real stuff)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Line two (or more) cookie sheets with parchment.

In a large bowl sift together the icing sugar and the cocoa.  Add in the espresso powder and the salt.  Mix together.  Add the nuts and mix again.
Add in the egg whites and the vanilla.  Stir until everything is incorporated.
Drop by tablespoons onto the prepared sheets - don't place them too close together because they spread a lot.
Bake for about 12 - 15 minutes (if you under bake like I did the first time then you won't be able to get them off of the parchment in one piece -if you over bake... well duh, they'll be crispy and maybe burned.  Also, I found that if I let the cookies cool for at least ten minutes before taking them off of the parchment they came off much more easily)
Should keep well in an airtight container for a few days.

Celeriac and Potato Croquettes

Full disclosure:
I don't actually sit down to a big meal very often.  In fact, almost never.

I make 'meal' food for the fam.  I love cooking it.  I love it tasting great.  I love looking at it.  I love picking at it.  I don't always love getting a big plate of it and tucking in.  
How do it usually eat?
I snack.  Sometimes constantly.  It's a compulsion.  An apple.  A slice of cheese.  A little, eensy bowl of chips.  An orange.  Or a Croquette.  I usually eat two eggs and maybe even a little bacon for breakfast.  I might have an apple, a pear, an orange and maybe (just maybe) something I've baked as a snack.  I might (sometimes but not always) have a small sandwich or a little bit of leftovers for lunch while I'm teaching - the boys are used to this by now.  I might have another snack, fruit or something, when I get home.  Most evenings I have salad (my winter salad is comprised of thinly sliced cabbage, shredded parsnip or carrot and sliced beets with a little feta cheese and balsamic vinegar.  I'll also have some soup or something like it.  I always have a square or two or dark chocolate.  And there you have it... my food day.  Not a full meal in sight.  It's a little embarrassing actually.

However, these little cakes of perfection made it into my lunch for a full 3 days this week.  There are two reasons for that.  The first one is that they are perfect for picking up and eating while you are trying to accomplish something else.  Now I know that eating while doing about ten other things is not the way I should be going about eating.  Let's face it though, there is the ideal world and then there is reality.  In reality,  I just don't have the time while I'm at work to do it any other way, so spare me the lecture.
The second reason that they made it into my lunch for the better part of the work week is that they taste AWESOME.  I was shocked.  They were so simple and easy to put together (aside from the stupid flour/egg/crumb dipping part which I hate) that I really did not think that something so completely yummy would result.  And yet it did.  It so resulted.  I can tell you that the bacon is irreplacable, that the addition of bouillon cubes into the potato and the celeriac while boiling should not be skipped.  I can also tell you that a combination of different kinds of crumbs (corn flakes, shredded wheat, cracker and bread) produces and wonderful effect.

As you can tell by the pictures, I did burn a few of these puppies but after having eaten all of the burnt croquettes I hereby declare that it did not affect the taste detrimentally in the least.  Might have even enhanced it but I can't prove that with certainty.
So if like me you are a snacker OR you like celeriac OR you like bacon OR the idea of a little patty of stuff totally appeals then this is your thing.  

Celeriac and Potato Croquettes adapted from Delicious Magazine UK
makes about 15 small to medium sized

2 1/2 cups (1 med sized) celeriac, peeled and diced into 3 cm cubes
milk (you'll know what I mean)
2 1/2 cups floury potato, diced into 3 cm cubes
3 rashers bacon, diced
1 bouillion cube
3 cloves of roasted garlic (just place the garlic in it's skin on a baking sheet at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes)
1 1/2 tsp salt
pinch of pepper
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp basil
1/2 cup grated cheese
1 cup flour
3 lg eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups bread crumbs, crushed crackers or crushed cereal (or a combination of the above)
oil for frying

Place the diced celeriac into a sauce pan and add milk until the celeriac is just covered.  Place half of the bouillon cube in the pot.  Bring to a simmer for about 20 minutes or until the celeriac is completely softened.  Set aside to cool slightly.  Drain the celeriac but save the milk.  Place the celeriac in a blender and puree adding just enough milk to make a thick but stirrable mixture.  Set aside.
Bring the diced potato to a boil in a pot of water.  Add the other half of the bouillon cube to the pot.  Simmer for about 10 -15 minutes or until completely softened.  Drain and mash thoroughly.
Fry up the diced bacon, drain and set aside.
Mix together the celeriac mash, the potato mash and the bacon.  Stir to mix.  Squeeze out the roasted garlic and add to the mash.   Add the salt, pepper, nutmeg, basil and grated cheese.  Mix well.
Heat a large frying pan over medium heat and turn on your exhaust fan because you're going to need it (or take the batteries out of your smoke detector briefly).
Place the flour, egg and crumbs in three separate bowls.
Taking a large spoonful of the mash mixture dip it first in flour until coated, then the beaten egg until coated and then the crumbs until coated.
Add about an inch or so worth of your favourite frying oil and place the coated thing in the pan and pat it down until it's just a little flattened.  Turn after a few minutes or it's nicely browned (or slightly burned if you like).  Brown the other side.  Remove and cool slightly before eating.  Repeat with the whole bowl of mash until it's all used up.  If you need to replenish your flour, egg or crumbs before you've used up the mash then just go for it.  I had to.

Squash and Chard Gratin

It's an obsession.  I can't stop with the cheese sauce.  You've probably seen this a million times.  You're probably bored completely with the whole thing.  'This again'... that's what you're thinking right?  I know... I'm thinking it too.  This one is a little different though.
I used squash.  Duh.  That's all.  Well, that's not the only difference.  I roasted the squash before I put it in the baking dish.  That's worth something right?  Thing is that I'm really trying to jazz you all about squash.  Hell, I'm trying to jazz myself about squash.  I'm still getting used to this whole squash and root vegetable thing.  It's gonna take a while for it to feel all normal.
There have been some things that have helped me so far.
1.  I just don't have summer vegetables in the house.  I don't buy them.  I've got roasted red peppers and oven roasted and dried tomatoes in the freezer.  I've got my green beans from the garden and peas and corn all bagged up for use.  Aside from that we'll be eating those vegetables fresh again when they grow fresh... here, where we live.
2.  I'm combing for recipes all the time.  On the net, in magazines, in my cookbooks.  Looking for good ways to incorporate winter vegetables into our everyday eating.
3.  I allow myself to douse pretty much anything with cheese sauce if it means that we will all eat it.  Even though I am craving a squash/cauliflower/chickpea coconut milk curry, I made this cheese sauce stuff instead.  Because... I just know.

Slowly (very slowly but surely) the thought of eating squash isn't something that I have to negotiate with myself about.  Slowly.  I don't immediately think about how much I'm not going to like it.  It's not 'chew and swallow' food anymore.  I don't know if it will ever become like making bread for me but that's ok.  I'm happy with where things are right now.  If I'm not getting quite as creative as I might like but we're all eating squash as a result, then I can live with that.  Besides, squash is orange and right now, in the middle of winter in Canada, I could use more than a little orange in my life.  AND it's really good for you.  It's gonna make you strong and help you face winter head on.

Serve this with rice or mashed potato or even egg noodles if you like.  Do yourself a favour and add some squash to your life every once in a while.  Soup, curry (yearn *sigh*), cheese sauce, muffins, cake or roasted all by itself with some soy sauce and some rice.  Cook it in whatever way will guarantee that you eat it.  And don't feel guilty, feel good.

Squash and Chard Gratin... with Broccoli adapted from Canadian Living Magazine
serves 4 - 6

3 - 4 cups butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed (1 inch cubes)
oil for tossing squash
1/2 med onion, diced or thinly sliced
2 med cloves garlic, minced
4 tbsp butter
1/2 cup flour
3 1/2 cups milk
dash of Worcestershire
2 tsp dijon mustard
2 tsp salt
pinch of pepper
1 tsp nutmeg
dash of cayenne
2 1/2 - 3 cups sharp cheddar
1/2 cup parmesan
2 cups broccoli in large chunks
3 cups Chard, the spine taken out and torn into large strips

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Place the cubed squash on a baking sheet.  Toss in enough oil to cover and sprinkle with a little salt.  Roast for about 25 minutes a little more if needed.  The squash should be nicely browned.  Remove from oven and set aside.
Steam the broccoli until just softened (about 5 minutes) and set aside.  Using the same steamer, steam the Chard until just barely wilted and set aside.
Place a heavy bottomed (that sounds funny) sauce pan over medium heat.  Melt the butter and sauté the onion and garlic for a few minutes, until just beginning to brown.  Add the flour and stir until the flour is completely mixed in.  Add the milk little by little whisking the whole time.  Whisk regularly until the mixture begins to thicken.  Add in the Worcestershire, dijon, salt, pepper, nutmeg, cayenne and mix well.  Add in the cheddar and about 1/2 of the parmesan and mix until melted.
In a large baking dish mix the squash, broccoli and Chard.  Pour the cheese sauce over the top.  Sprinkle the rest of the parmesan on top.  Bake for about 25 minutes or until bubbly and browned on the top.
Cool for about 15 minutes before eating.

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St Michael's Choir School is celebrating it's 75th anniversary year of service to St Michael's Cathedral. Part of the school celebration is a trip to Italy where our boys from Grades 5 - 12 will be performing and celebrating Mass. This blog will be chronicling our adventures. Wanda Thorne is the Vocal Coach at St Michael's Choir School. Gerard Lewis is the Grade 7/8 Homeroom teacher at the Choir School.

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  • Naparima Girls High School Cookbook
  • The Silver Palate Cookbook
  • More-with-Less Cookbook
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About Me

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Wanda Thorne
St Michael's Choir School is celebrating it's 75th anniversary year of service to St Michael's Cathedral. Part of the school celebration is a trip to Italy where our boys from Grades 5 - 12 will be performing and celebrating Mass. This blog will be chronicling our adventures. Wanda Thorne is the Vocal Coach at St Michael's Choir School. Gerard Lewis is the Grade 7/8 Homeroom teacher at the Choir School.
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