Archive for March, 2011

The cookie whisperer

My last, panic-fueled post about losing control made a whole lot more sense a couple of days later when I started my period several days earlier than expected.

My apologies to the fellas who may not want to or need to know this, but when a girl has her calendar nailed down and knows that hungry week happens a week before shark week but shark week happens to start several days earlier than expected, that whole scary food obsession makes a whole lot more sense when you realize hungry week happened a bit earlier than usual, too.

On a side note, the first time I heard someone use the term shark week, I thought she was referring to the hormonal food cravings that are common during menstruation (we may as well use the grown-up word here).  You know, because sharks are known for their violent feeding frenzies.

It turns out that’s not what shark week means, but now that I have mine behind me I am happy to say I’m more or less back on track and not as worried about trying to manage weight loss and grad school.  I’m still apprehensive, but if it comes down to choosing whether I do well in weight loss or do well in grad school, I’m going to put the weight loss first.  My priorities are such that feeling good about how I’m treating my body trumps an advanced degree any day of the week.

Now that I’ve said that, let’s talk about cookies.

I have become very picky about my cookies since returning to Weight Watchers a year and a half ago.  I guess you can say I’ve become a cookie connoisseur because if I’m going to spend 5-6 points on one cookie, it had better be a pretty damn good cookie.

I’ve managed to bake a lot of homemade cookies this winter, but recently our deep freeze in the garage broke and we wound up baking several batches of cookies made from store-bought refrigerated dough I had gotten on the cheap. Since I have trained my palate to prefer the cookies I make, I couldn’t stomach the cookies made from the dough we pulled from the freezer.  Autumn liked them enough and actually preferred them to the Hazelnut Chocolate Chip Cookies I had made the week before.   I don’t get that girl. She loves asparagus and all kinds of shellfish but turns her nose up at a cookie recipe from Giada DeLaurentis.

The Giada cookies, as we came to call them, were crispier than I prefer but still pretty awesome. I had a few out of the batch with the rest going into Nathan’s lunch every day.  The poser cookies, as we came to call them, were consumed after all the Giada cookies were gone and it’s pretty safe to say I will no longer be tempted to buy refrigerated cookie dough on the cheap ever again, especially since I found THE cookie recipe that will be my stand-by for the rest of my cookie-baking/cookie-eating life.

Betty Crocker’s Buttery Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Photo credit: bettycrocker.com

Ms. Crocker did not disappoint, though I can’t say if it’s the three sticks of butter and four cups of chocolate chips that contributed to their awesomeness or that I placed parchment paper on the baking sheet, but the result was perfection.

In all my years of baking cookies, I’ve never had a batch turn out like this one.  The bottoms were browned but not overly so and the cookies turned out moist and chewy, sort of like a Soft Batch cookie but without the underlying Keebler aftertaste.

All week I’ve been singing the praises of these cookies. Autumn is crazy about them and after I told my mom about them she asked that I send a few home for her and my dad. After hearing my mom’s request, Autumn said, “But their doctor says they’re not supposed to have sugar!”  I’m guessing the five year-old isn’t as concerned about her diabetic grandparents as she is about giving away the bounty.

Speaking of which, I had three cookies yesterday.  In the olden days I would eat 3-4 in one sitting but yesterday I had one with my morning coffee and two after dinner. It wasn’t supposed to be two after dinner, but that’s how it played out because the cookies are just so damn good.

Today there will be no cookies.

Let me rephrase that. Today I will try my best to stay away from the cookies. I do believe I’ve filled my quota for the week.

But still, I can’t wait to make them again.  Next week we’re having a little celebration for the student workers in our office and I’m just itching to fill their stomachs with buttery Betty Crocker goodness.

And it would also be nice to continue having the occasional cookie with my morning coffee.

So now that I have boasted about my cookies, I’d love to hear about yours. Do you have a favorite crowd-pleasing recipe that’s been passed down from generation to generation? Did you find your recipe in a cookbook or online as I did?

Which techniques do you find most reliable in creating a kick-ass cookie? Was my success with parchment paper a fluke or is it really the baking miracle I think it is? Since using the parchment paper with our cookies, we’ve used it to bake homemade granola and asparagus, both of which turned out nearly perfect.

Though if you ask my husband, the granola and the asparagus both turned out exactly perfect since he baked them both.



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Saturday I weighed in and was very happy to record a 3.2-pound loss. I was actually blown away because not only did I indulge in half a piece of Cracker Barrel Coca Cola Chocolate Cake, I also ate half a chicken Parmesan sub and a generous portion of waffle fries at a local pizza joint Friday night.

I’ve been dealing with a fair amount of anxiety lately. It seems the times I’m content to be lazy and unproductive are most conducive to weight loss. If I have little stress, I am not not a stress eater. That’s pretty easy math.

However, if I start thinking I need to “do something” with my life, say like go back to school, and start questioning whether I actually have the stuff to be a parent, a wife, a full-time employee and grad student who still has 100 pounds to lose, that’s when I start strapping on the feedbag in an attempt to medicate myself into sublime ambivalence.

My last three weeks have been filled with poor, poor food choices and it’s starting to freak me out a little bit. I mean, if I’m this anxious about the thought of taking a graduate class, how stressed am I going to be when I sit down the first night with the syllabus?

I didn’t want to move forward in any other area of my life until I was sure I had my eating problems under control. I wanted the ability to make good food choices be so ingrained that I could withstand the rigors of academia without falling off the wagon.

I thought I was there, but I guess I’m not.

Last night Nathan went out to run errands and came home with the largest bag of smoked cheddar popcorn I’d ever seen.

“And if you don’t want the popcorn, I did pick this up for you,” he said and pulled a box of Cow Tails out of his bag.

I ate both. Not the whole bag of popcorn and not the entire box of tails, mind you, but enough.

“Why did you bring this stuff home when you know I’ve been struggling with my eating?” I wailed as though he had forced me into gluttony.

“I don’t know,” he said.  He was confused and I think a little scared. I was being unreasonable in blaming him for my own weaknesses and he handled it as any man in his position would; he left the room as soon as possible.

Later, after I had calmed down some, we talked about what’s been eating me lately.

“Remember Christmas?” I asked. “Remember all that CHOCOLATE we bought on clearance afterwards and how I didn’t have any problem with any of it and was able to limit my portions without going all crazy? What the hell happened?”

“I don’t know” he said.  “Maybe you just don’t care anymore.”

Yeah, I know. He does try, though.

I do care. I really do. I am two pounds away from 100 pounds lost. I am ten pounds away from being halfway to goal, but where I am now is where I’ve been every other time I’ve lost weight. I’m at the point where I start to gain it all back.

The stress starts to increase, the exercise starts to bore me, the menu planning becomes a chore and I am suddenly unable to say no to yeast rolls from Logan’s Roadhouse.

The thought of adding more to my life is stressing me out, but the thought of adding the weight back onto my body scares the hell out of me.  How I get through this block is going to separate this time from every other time I’ve lost weight. Yes, I’ve lost more than I’ve ever lost before and yes, I have stuck to the plan longer than I ever have before, but this time is not going to be any different than the others if the scale starts moving back up again.

I want my life to move forward. I want to feel productive and useful. I want to exercise my mind as well as my body and I want to be able to do it all while making that slow, slow progress towards my goal. I can’t put my life on hold while I try to lose weight. I can’t make my whole life be about losing weight because one of these days I may find myself in a position where I don’t have to worry about losing. What then?

Maintenance, yes, and I suppose that will be just as tough as losing if not harder.

I have been doing so well this time that I didn’t think I’d find myself back in this place, this vulnerable, gluttonous place full of insecurities and fear of failure.

There’s a word for that; COCKY.

I’ve been cocky and it’s now time for a generous portion of humble pie which, thankfully, is completely free of carbohydrates.

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Last night I had an extremely vivid dream that I was pregnant again.

In this dream I was at the very end of my pregnancy, just days away from another c-section and not at all prepared to bring a baby home. We had nothing for a baby since we gave away or sold everything once Autumn couldn’t use it anymore.

I was so unprepared for this pregnancy that I hadn’t even picked out a name. It was as though the previous nine months hadn’t happened and I suddenly found myself in this state of incubation, which when you think of it, was exactly how it was because I went to bed not pregnant and found myself very much so in the dream.

As it so happens, I found my inspiration for the baby’s name in the dream and wanted to share it with everyone including Nathan who, while not present in the dream, was most asuuredly the daddy of our new daughter Mary Ellen Virginia.

I remembered that name this morning as I was driving to the gym. In the dream I selected that name because it supposedly paid homage to my side of the family and Nathan’s. But that’s really not the case. Mary is my mother’s name and Virginia is my paternal grandmother’s middle name. I don’t know where Ellen came from, but it’s not from Nathan’s family and I’m sure any future daughter of ours would be given his mother’s name, which was Pamela.

While I was looking forward to this baby, I was not at all thrilled with the prospect of having to pay for five more years of child care.  My weight wasn’t even a consideration, which I find odd because finally taking off that baby weight was a huge milestone I celebrated not too long ago.

I can only assume I dreamed of being pregnant because six years ago last week I found out I was going to have a baby and I knew her name, should she be a she, was going to be Autumn.  Then again, maybe the answer isn’t that obvious.  Maybe the personal and professional changes I’ve been considering and the potential those changes have for jeopardizing my hard-earned happiness are weighing me down like a 40 week-old fetus.  The funny thing is I wasn’t that unhappy or apprehensive about the pregnancy in the dream.  I may have been resigned and was definitely optimistic, but it was only after I woke up and remembered the baby’s name that I felt relief.

Mary Ellen Virginia.

Even though I’m glad I’ll never meet her, I can’t help but hope she would have been all kinds of awesome.

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Pretty red bow

Even though I have nothing to wear them with nor can think of any event I’d wear them to, I can’t stop envisioning my ugly feet in these pretty shoes.

If they were closed toe and about $100 cheaper they’d be perfect for me.

Well, they’d be perfect if I actually knew how to walk in heels.

For now I’ll just have to stare, sigh wistfully and hope my fairy godmother has both Kate Spade and the gift of graceful balance tucked away in that magic wand of hers.

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