Friday, December 27, 2013

After Christmas Weight Loss

Once again it’s time to take off a few pounds. Every year I give it a try with limited or no success. A couple of weeks of holiday eating can’t be wished off or prayed off even though a good attitude should help. I can’t blame Aunt Molly, as my mother did when she put on extra pounds. Aunt Molly was remembered for her spherical shape. Mother would groan and say, “I take after Aunt Molly.” Did she lose weight with this strategy? No. She spent less time looking into the mirror.

I turn to the books. After all, I spent a lot of my life as a librarian. When I worked in libraries, every January I made displays of diet books to enable everyone to eliminate excess holiday pounds. Maybe my co-workers noticed; I don’t know. I was doing something to help the world and maybe myself. Well, we all know that making displays is nice but it doesn’t bring about weight loss. It’s better to read them. It’s even better to do something.

I have noticed some recent weight loss trends such as intermittent fasting and the paleo diet. Goodbye Weight Watchers and the Atkins program. What became of calories? What happened to too much junk food? Low carb has morphed into low glycemic. The diets and weight loss programs all have books. Pick one and live better. Are we confused yet?

The latest weight loss wonder with book, The Daniel Plan, comes from megachurch pastor Rick Warren in collaboration with Dr. Mark Hyman and Dr. Daniel Amen. It has a different approach. Here is what says about it:  “Revolutionize Your Health ... Once and for All During an afternoon of baptizing over 800 people, Pastor Rick Warren realized it was time for change. He told his congregation he needed to lose weight and asked if anyone wanted to join him. He thought maybe 200 people would sign up, instead he witnessed a movement unfold as 15,000 people lost over 260,000 pounds in the first year. With assistance from medical and fitness experts, Pastor Rick and thousands of people began a journey to transform their lives. Welcome to The Daniel Plan. Here's the secret sauce: The Daniel Plan is designed to be done in a supportive community relying on God's instruction for living.

I’m not sure how well this works. It deals with weight loss science from Dr. Hyman, the brain connection from Dr. Amen, and grouping from Rick Warren. These three guys have appeared on several television venues to promote their program and their book. They want groups of people to lose weight as Rick Warren has. The two doctors look slim enough already. I haven’t read the book.

Intermittent fasting is interesting. It works for some people. I have read about two types and blogged about one. They are said to be very good for health, as obesity reduction should be. One type, with book, The Mini-fast Diet, is the mini-fast, from weight loss doctor Julian Whitaker, and Peggy Dace. This program works by eliminating breakfast and thus bringing about a sixteen hour fast, with no food ingested from after supper through the morning. I tried it for two and a half weeks and gave up after seeing no results. In the book people said they lost pounds immediately. The other intermittent fast challenge is the fast diet from medical journalist Michael Mosley. The book is The Fast Diet, published in the United Kingdom. This program is supposed to work when the dieter eats 500 or 600 calories per day for two non-consecutive days of the week. The dieter does not go into starvation mode when he/she separates the days or does not eat 500-600 calories every day. The difference in calories is gender related: women 500, men 600. Both the Whitaker and Mosley programs promise weight loss and better health as long as the dieter doesn’t binge on the other days and stays to a diet that is low on the glycemic load.

Here we have three dieting possibilities for the next weight loss attempt. Would it work for Mother and Aunt Molly? Since they have gone to their rewards in the next life, we’ll never know. Will it work for me? Or you? We can check in on that next year at this time, maybe.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Swedish Rosettes

When it’s time to make Christmas cookies, it’s time to make rosettes. Rosettes are crispy delicate cookies made of batter and deep fried in shapes like the floral rosettes for which they are named, or stars, snowflakes or concentric circular shapes. They are beautiful and melt in your mouth. People who want rosettes mostly have to make them. People who want results without process are better off eating something else because the road to rosettedom is about process. You aren’t going to do this in five minutes. Dipping those little goodies in hot fat and waiting for them to turn into heaven takes time.

Is it possible to buy rosettes? I haven’t seen them in grocery stores, although at Christmastime I suspect that we can find them at Fosdal’s Bakery in Stoughton, Wisconsin, where the slogan is “here to make life a little sweeter.”

Rosette making is inexpensive and not difficult.  Rosettes are made from everyday ingredients and fried like doughnuts. They are made on an iron, which actually is aluminum. It would seem awkward to call a rosette iron an aluminum. Rosette irons can be bought in some stores or online from NordicWare or (you guessed it)

Here is how I make them. Required equipment includes rosette iron and deep fryer. Take your time.

Swedish Rosettes                   (about 3 dozen)          
2 eggs                                                  1 cup whole milk
1 tablespoon sugar                             ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon salt                                   oil for deep frying (I use canola oil)
1 cup all purpose flour                        powdered sugar

Have milk and eggs at room temperature. Beat eggs slightly in a small deep bowl. Blend in sugar and salt. Add flour and milk alternately; add vanilla. Mix until smooth. In your deep fryer heat oil to 375 degrees. Put the rosette iron into the hot fat. When it is well heated, remove it from the fat and immediately dip it into the batter. Do not let the batter run over the top of the iron or the rosette will stay stuck and not be removable. Immediately put the batter coated iron into the oil for at least 30 seconds or until the rosette is crisp and beginning to brown. Remove it from the oil and let it drip, then slip the rosette off the iron and drain it on absorbent paper such as paper toweling. Put the iron back into the oil for a few seconds before making the next rosette. Sprinkle the rosettes with powdered sugar.

Some things to know:
That iron isn’t ready to go right out of the new box. It must be seasoned first. I learned this the hard way rather than from my mother, who never made rosettes. If your iron is already seasoned, you may disregard this paragraph. To season it, coat the shaped frying part with oil and put it into the oven (in a dish) at an unspecified temperature (I don’t remember what temperature) and let it bake for a half hour or so. At this point the iron should be ready for rosette making. If you don’t season the iron, the batter will become stuck on the iron. The first rosette onto the iron might stick anyway, so don’t give up.

If rosettes drop from the iron after cooking, the fat is too hot. If they are soft when cooked, they have been cooked too quickly. If they have blisters, the eggs have been beaten too much.

My source says the rosettes will keep for about two weeks, but in my home they have never lasted that long so I make no guarantees. I keep them in a covered container until the wild hordes discover them and start to eat.

Wash the iron in water but do not use soap or dish detergent, or you will undo the seasoning.

It is ok to use cream or diluted evaporated milk in place of the fresh whole milk.

My source for this recipe is The Electric Company Christmas Cooky Book, which I acquired in about 1962 from The Wisconsin Electric Power Company in Milwaukee, the city where I lived for about a year with my new husband Rick. The booklet shows no author and no publication date.

Another source for rosettes is Swedish Food: 200 Selected Swedish Dishes, The Smorgasbord, Traditional Party and Everyday Menus, published in Gothenburg, Sweden, 10th edition, undated. I got it from my mother, who was not Swedish but loved to cook during her life. Fortunately, the book is written in English.

A third source is a departure from the others. It is a recipe on the back of the package of an angel rosette iron piece that I got from one of my daughters. It suggests use of beer in place of milk. I haven’t tried that. Also, it suggests that you purchase ready made rosette batter. I don’t stand behind that suggestion and have never actually seen any.