Category Archives: food

Writing Fiction for Foodies (repost)

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I have a love-hate relationship with cooking. The responsibility of putting something not only edible but healthy on the table wars with my longing to put up my feet at day’s end. But the sense of accomplishment I savor when dishing up a casserole made from unprocessed ingredients seems rare and beautiful–an achievement only outshined by giving birth to my daughters. Perhaps these periodic Martha Stewart impulses stimulate the same endorphins as finishing a Jillian Anderson work-out. No doubt such research would be easier if I actually completed both tasks the same day. Someone should really write a grant for this.

While I’m prone to rhapsodizing about food, I haven’t yet decided whether I am a “foodie.” No doubt a Buzzfeed quiz would be happy to impose their assessment on me, but I prefer self-evaluation. I finally settled on these standards of measure:

1) Preoccupation with exotic ingredients (saffron-infused oil? organic double matcha?) only available at a store at least thirty minutes from one’s home. Extra points if the store doesn’t sell Spam or cigarettes.

2) Possession of a sufficiently large cookbook collection to qualify one for a TV spot on “Hoarders” or similar. (and an equally colossal array of online recipes)

3) A marked preference for novels in which the main character’s favorite recipes are featured. Extra credit if recipes are listed at the back of the book. (or if the main character is a caterer)

4) Willingness and/or compulsion to make homemade (and probably organic) versions of common kitchen staples, such as ketchup or peanut butter.

And finally:

5) Frequent snapping of food selfies while fantasizing about becoming a restaurant critic. (being paid to eat–Lord have mercy!)

A score of two indicates developing foodie tendencies. Three or more positive responses correlate strongly with foodie-ness. Implications of scores of four and five should be obvious. My score fluctuates between two and a half and four, depending the amount of time until Christmas is due to arrive. No, I can’t explain the two and a half.

As I sat polishing my book The Reluctant Archivist, I noticed foodie-ness creeping in. Interesting food sightings pepper the narrative, which I’m now confident will enhance the plot. In fact, I think it’s time to embrace the food plot device–maybe even feature a recipe or two. Even if Mill Fairbairn, main character and earnest politician, is far from a chef.

Do you read about food? What does it mean to you?

Quench your thirst for meaning–read.

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Nurse Cynthia’s Lime-Pear Gelatin Salad

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http://www.joyofjello.com/

I can remember this modest dish at our table several times, as well as presenting itself at various church pot-luck dinners. The idea is simple: make two large box of lime jello in a 9×13 glass casserole dish. Refrigerate until the jello starts to set, about a half an hour. Finally, add canned or fresh pear halves to the jello, leaving a least an inch of space between them, and chill for at least another hour until well set. Cut into squares, one pear-half per person. If you’d like to dress it up, spread the top with a mixture of equal parts prepared whipped cream and sour cream, and sprinkle with chopped walnuts. It’s here to stay.

 

I can just imagine troubled but intrepid character Gary, compelled to spend several weeks attending an inpatient mental health program, eating more than his fill of Jell-O. He might even protest my including the recipe in The Reluctant Archivist, considering the close association with hospital food. But his complaints would probably be to no avail. Lime-pear gelatin is now a staple, including the ready-made Jell-O brand cups. What 70’s foods do you wish would have gone out of style with platform shoes? Let me know at juliehadler.com.

 

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Mill’s Campaign Canapes

In my upcoming book The Reluctant Archivist, Mill and John’s class presidential campaign rally at the University of Illinois showcases some foods that dominated the 70’s landscape in the Midwest. For example, Mill’s Campaign Canapes, composed of a tablespoon of deviled ham on rye with a gherkin to garnish, were and probably still are welcome finger foods for informal gatherings.

Do you remember the deviled ham in the white can with the red devil adorning it? If so, why share your 1970’s nostalgia and post a comment at juliehadler.com?

Quench your thirst for meaning–read. 14827095698_3f0083a596_z

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Filed under food, historical fiction, politics

Writing Fiction for Foodies

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I have a love-hate relationship with cooking. The responsibility of putting something not only edible but healthy on the table wars with my longing to put up my feet at day’s end. But the sense of accomplishment I savor when dishing up a casserole made from unprocessed ingredients seems rare and beautiful–an achievement only outshined by giving birth to my daughters. Perhaps these periodic Martha Stewart impulses stimulate the same endorphins as finishing a Jillian Anderson work-out. No doubt such research would be easier if I actually completed both tasks the same day. Someone should really write a grant for this.

While I’m prone to rhapsodizing about food, I haven’t yet decided whether I am a “foodie.” No doubt a Buzzfeed quiz would be happy to impose their assessment on me, but I prefer self-evaluation. I finally settled on these standards of measure:

1) Preoccupation with exotic ingredients (saffron-infused oil? organic double matcha?) only available at a store at least thirty minutes from one’s home. Extra points if the store doesn’t sell Spam or cigarettes.

2) Possession of a sufficiently large cookbook collection to qualify one for a TV spot on “Hoarders” or similar. (and an equally colossal array of online recipes)

3) A marked preference for novels in which the main character’s favorite recipes are featured. Extra credit if recipes are listed at the back of the book. (or if the main character is a caterer)

4) Willingness and/or compulsion to make homemade (and probably organic) versions of common kitchen staples, such as ketchup or peanut butter.

And finally:

5) Frequent snapping of food selfies while fantasizing about becoming a restaurant critic. (being paid to eat–Lord have mercy!)

A score of two indicates developing foodie tendencies. Three or more positive responses correlate strongly with foodie-ness. Implications of scores of four and five should be obvious. My score fluctuates between two and a half and four, depending the amount of time until Christmas is due to arrive. No, I can’t explain the two and a half.

As I sat polishing my book The Reluctant Archivist, I noticed foodie-ness creeping in. Interesting food sightings pepper the narrative, which I’m now confident will enhance the plot. In fact, I think it’s time to embrace the food plot device–maybe even feature a recipe or two. Even if Mill Fairbairn, main character and earnest politician, is far from a chef.

Do you read about food? What does it mean to you?

Quench your thirst for meaning–read.

 

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Filed under e-book, food, Uncategorized

True Confessions

As promised, this post is dedicated to the confessions of a woman seeking freedom from carb-dependence. (see “The Carb-Sensitivity Diet” by Dr. Natasha Turner) Below I’ll try to explain how I’ve cut corners on the diet. I wish I could also nail down how bending the diet “rules” has affected my weight loss. That may have to wait pending further research (or more coffee to keep me alert as I write)  

I feel a little defensive as I get ready to reveal my mistakes. I’m tempted to brag about how virtuous I have been in the past, even when I was fifteen pounds heavier and confused about what type of diet I should be following. I analyzed all kinds of extenuating circumstances (excuses!) I considered factors in my weight gain–everything from menopause, to insulin resistance, to not getting enough sleep. I found I couldn’t rule out anything! They could all be contributing factors, and it wasn’t doing me any good to try to figure it out. Don’t you hate it when life isn’t cut and dried?  

My True Confessions are listed below in no particular order (such as from least to greatest sins) Maybe they will serve as a “heads-up” so you don’t make the same mistakes. 

1. I found it difficult to keep the Breakfast Smoothie recipes distinct from the Between-Meal Snack Smoothie recipes. The Breakfast Smoothies have more calories, so aren’t interchangeable. But they are very similar. 

2. There are subtle differences between the varieties of legumes and squash you can eat in different Phases. When I didn’t keep on top of that, I intermingled the Phases. 

3. During the Phase where whole-wheat pasta is allowed, I served and ate white pasta once or twice. I could have made time to go to the store, but didn’t–mostly because of my part-time job, the kids’ sports practices and violin lessons, writing this blog, and wanting to have periodic conversations with my husband about something other than grocery lists. 

4. Ditto number three above, with eating (gasp!) full-fat cheese. I couldn’t find the low-fat Cabot brand. It is the only brand of hard cheese allowed, and I guess they don’t sell it in the average Chicago grocery store. 

5. On Phases One and Two, before I was granted a weekly Cheat Meal, (which Weight Watchers wisely would probably call a “Treat Meal”)  I used ketchup, bottled pasta sauce with sugar added, and occasionally had restaurant food with forbidden sauces–like at the Hibachi Grill.

So how do you like me now? I hope this drives home the point that to start, make mistakes, and keep going is better than to endlessly procrastinate. If you need (and want!) your health and body fat composition to improve, the Carb-Sensitivity Diet may help. It helped me better understand and reduce my carbohydrate reliance. It won’t promote World Peace, but won’t you feel all sciency and virtuous after giving it a try?

Next week–Transitioning to a Related Subject? Where Do I Go From Here?

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March 4, 2014 · 3:04 am