May 13, 2010, 09:14AM

When More is Not Enough

Bathing suit season and food to dream about...

Chris dropped by to visit this past weekend.

"Hey, you losing weight?" he asked.

"No. Oh no. Quite the opposite," I said ruefully.

"Huh," he said. "Maybe your ass is getting so big your waist just looks smaller by comparison." I threw a dishtowel at him. But oh, thanks for the reminder, Chris. Bathing suit season is near and the winter has not been kind to my thighs.

So I filled the fridge with fruit and veggies and low fat yogurt. I made brown rice and vegetable curries to last me through the week. I made hummus and switched from beer to wine. I even went down into the basement and dusted off the treadmill. I tried hard not to think about pizza. I took fiber pills and drank my weight in water and tried not to think about cheeseburgers. But when you love food as much as I do it's so hard to stay focused.

 was hungry and dreaming of decadent things, and not just chocolate-cake. I make chicken stock one of two ways—with raw scraps like backs and necks and thighs or with the spent carcass of a roast chicken. Either way I like to take the strips and scraps of skin, salt them well, pierce them with a sharp paring knife, and put them in a hot skillet until they're perfectly crispy, fatty, salty and hot. I eat them straight out of the pan while the stock simmers. Dieticians and cardiologists may tut-tut but I don’t particularly care. I like to take mac 'n' cheese, not the fancy handmade kind but straight from the blue box made with extra butter and maybe some shredded parm thrown in, and chill it overnight.

The next day I cut it into wedges, dredge in egg and breadcrumbs and some paprika or cayenne, and fry until golden. If you really wanted to live, you could take the fried mac 'n' cheese wedges and put a layer of pork—bacon, barbeque, Virginia ham—on top, add Swiss or muenster, and bake it until the cheese bubbles. I'm not saying that you should, just that you could. And have you ever tried to make French toast out of stale cake? If you did you could pour melted butter that had been infused with orange zest over it and top with powdered sugar and a dollop of raspberry jam.

So, tummy grumbling, I asked the peanut gallery: what's the best beyond-the-pale food you make?

Erin: Breaded and fried manchego drizzled with honey a la Tapas Teatro.

Kate: My mom called them "croquettes" or something fancy but basically leftover cheese grits, spread on a deep cookie sheet, chill in fridge, cut with a biscuit cutter, dredge in flour, fry in skillet. Delicious covered in more cheese and/or gravy and cradled in bacon. Also, bbq cups: my fat friend from fifth grade got me hooked on scooping out the innards of jiffy muffins, filling with Manwich sloppy joe slosh and topping with cheese. Haven't had the trots that bad since Boh ice.

Christine: Philly Cheesesteak Dip

1 package frozen Philly steaks

1/2 finely chopped medium onion

1 package cream cheese

1/4 c mayo

1/4 c sour cream

1/4 c ketchup

1/2-1 c Velveeta. Break apart meat and follow frying directions, allow to drain on paper towel. Keep some grease in the pan then sauté onion for few minutes and spoon out onto paper towel to drain when almost caramelized. You could always throw in some peppers with the onion if you're into that on your cheesesteaks. Soften cream cheese and Velveeta (microwave until melty). Stir in meat and onions, mayo, ketchup, and sour cream. Serve with good crusty rolls sliced or if you're in Baltimore and cannot get good Amoroso rolls, baguette will do.

I don't know if I can face lentils over brown rice and an apple tomorrow.


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