I was cruising through my latest Twitter updates and saw this one from Food Network Canada on Fall Pantry Essentials.

Excellent, I thought, clicking on the link, expecting to see all sorts of wonderfuland interesting ideas of what I should stock in my pantry this fall.

Yeah, so I was wrong.  Dead wrong.  Instant hot chocolate mix?  Canned soups, broths and stocks??  Pancake mix?  Salad dressing?  INSTANT stuffing???  and who, please tell me, buys PARMESAN cheese IN BULK?????

I am not a food snob, really, ok well maybe I am, but why encourage viewers of the Food Network to eat sodium enriched cardboard and keep their pantries stocked with same??

For the most part the shows on Food TV Canada serve to educate and expand our views of food as we know it and extol the virtues of the HOMEMADE not the pre-packaged crap that gets sold in, to quote one of my Food Network faves Alton Brown, the MEGA MARTS that plague North America.

Sure, some canned goods are a necessary part of modern life, but really, INSTANT STUFFING?  Who is too lazy to make stuffing from scratch??  Ditto hot chocolate mix and salad dressing.

and the thought of Parmesan cheese in bulk is simply frightening

so tell me, what would YOU put on a list entitled “Fall Pantry essentials”??

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Am I  pissed that she lost all that weight?  absolutely not – I think it’s fabulous.  What I am pissed about is how they are promoting it and the unrealistic image she is portraying while posing in a bikini.  Hey, she looks GREAT! but at what cost?  and to what end? as far as I can tell all it serves to do is propagate the unattainable and unrealistic (not to mention completely unhealthy) body image that Hollywood and the media force upon us.

Like most women I know, and don’t know for that matter, I have struggled with my weight pretty much all my life.  I have been WAY up and WAY down, neither healthy, and right now I am pretty much where I should be but of course am still not completely happy with it.  I lead an active life but think I should be more active.  I eat well 95% of the time, but then go through spurts, like right now coincidentally, where a 250 calorie bag of baked pretzels dipped in almost no calorie Dijon mustard makes a perfectly acceptable meal of the day.  Yeah, I know, SOOOOO healthy, right?

I had a mini melt-down the other day, thankfully in the privacy of my own bedroom, brought on I suspect by watching an interview with the aforementioned Ms. Bertinelli, tuning in to the Biggest Loser (a show I actually enjoy and think for the most part promotes a healthy attitude and approach to weight loss),  and the fast-approaching spring/summer season.  Ms. Bertinelli admitted to dropping her caloric intake to 1,200 for several weeks prior to the bikini shot.  Well of course she did?  If I knew I was going to be photographed in a bikini for millions of people to see you had better believe that I would pretty much stop eating and start working-out 6 hours a day for at LEAST a month. 

But then what? What happens when you go back to real life? What happens when you HAVE  a real life, with a real job and real responsibilities?  Most of us don’t have 6 hours a day to dedicate to working out.  Most of us don’t have a weight-loss company PAYING us to promote them thus enabling us to have those 6 hours a day to work out.

Which brings me to my next “issue” – the whole weight-loss company thing.  Jennifer Lancaster made this point over and over in her book “Such a Pretty Fat” (which I LOVED, by the way – READ IT!).  Sure, Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers work great IF YOU EAT THEIR PRE-PACKAGED FOOD.  But then what?  Are you stuck eating that crap forever??  Because, yuck. And so not healthy – it’s all processed and full of stuff you can’t pronounce and so contrary to that other dietary trend we are being inundated by – the 100 mile thing (but that’s a whole other topic for a whole other entry). And they don’t emphasize (or even mention in some cases) that exercise is the key.

This is a point that The Biggest Loser makes over and over again – change your life, change the way you eat, change the way you move.  Sure the contestants on the show have the luxury of being on a ranch with some fabulous trainers and the ability to work out 24/7 should they so choose.  But it’s not a permanent situation and they, for the most part, leave the ranch with a new approach to how they live their lives.  They are shown healthy alternatives to their favourite snacks.  They are encouraged to MOVE.  Their lives and lifestyles change – they are not dependant on a series of pre-packaged “meals”.

But this isn’t about extolling the virtues if a reality television show.  It’s about why I am pissed at Valeri Bertinelli.  You look great, I’ve already said that, and you do.  Really, you do.  But how will you look in 6 months?  Probably still great, but likely not “posing in a bikini on the cover of a national magazine” great because how could you? unless, of course, you continue on your 1,200 calorie a day regime which is setting such a great example for all the real women and impressionable young girls out there.  Does being thin and bikini ready make you a better person? Because that’s the message that’s being sent.  thin=better, happier, worthier

Here’s the thing – I love food.  I love reading about it, watching about it (bad grammar, I know), talking about it, preparing it, and eating it.  Life would be pretty damn boring if I was restricted to 1,200 calories a day for life.  (also, I would be ridiculously thin and that’s just not such a great look on anyone over 35 – hello, a little fat does wonders for the wrinkles) Food for me is a social activity and one that I am not willing to give up.  The moving thing?  I do that – sometimes more than others but on average I am way more active than apparently 90% of the general population.  I have 2 dogs that require lots of exercise and that translates into 2 45-minute walks a day during the week (including HILLS – I live in the mountains) and a 2 to 3 hour hike on Saturdays and Sundays.  Plus other stuff.  So yeah, I am active.

I also know that I feel better a little “lighter” and I am in a better mood when I am eating healthier and when my favourite clothes fit. But I really don’t need the, admittedly mostly self-inflicted, pressure of having to be bikini-ready or risk being shunned or marginalised.

So Ms. Bertinelli and those of your ilk, I am pissed at you (but you do look great!).

 

As mentioned many times, I love cooking.  Love reading cook books,  surfing recipe sites, watching the Food Network, reading cooking blogs, etc.  Love all that.  I also love cooking for people, LOTS of people.  Dinner parties, family suppers, you name it.  However, I HATE cooking dinner for myself .  Moreover, I hate thinking of something to cook for dinner for myself, so I sometimes just spend time thinking about what I would havefor dinner if  I could have anything that I wanted.  And then sometimes I cook that, like last night I made myself a spinach, mushroom and goat’s cheese souffle with a mixed green salad.  Yummy

 

 

But more often I don’t

 

 

Last week I asked a some other people that question:  if you could have anything you wanted for dinner tonight, what would it be?

 

 

here are some of the answers …

 

my father:  Halibut fillets, about an inch thick and pan fried in lots and lots of butter and capers for about five minutes and then five more minutes in a very hot oven, served with spinach and French fried potatoes of the type offered in Le Mas des Oliviers (thick and salted, but not too much). Start the meal with a green salad and delicate vinaigrette and finish with a medium age goat cheese and room temperature Stilton served with a baguette warmed in the oven. The wines would be a  Chablis and a Californian red, not too heavy. All this followed by Espresso with a couple of 80% dark chocolate truffles. 

 

 

my friend Sue:  A pile of hot wings with lots of Ranch and 3 or 4 beers!!!  Mmmm…and only 5000 or so calories too! 

 

Julia, a new mum: someone to cook it for me (funny, this was a VERY common response!) 

 

my mum:  a plate of roasted vegetables on a bed of fresh pasta with goat cheese on top…. 

 

my friend Kathleen:  Whitefish as DB Bistro Moderne did it three weeks ago for a special – lightly sauteed on a bed of blanched vegetables and white truffle sauce.  For the appetizer, beet salad with goat cheese.  For dessert, that tequila souffle we had at Chambar (which was AMAZING!). 

 

my brother-in-law, Marcus (a vegetarian): a rib-eye with a side of ribs – ha ha!

and my favourite answer, mainly because she is vegetarian, deathly allergic to eggs and has major lactose issues (and because my mother & I so called it)

 

 my sister, Paula aka Lola’s mum:  Eggs Benedict with roast beef and Yorkshire pudding and a side of Rocco’s (owner of our fave restaurant in Montreal) carbonara, and for dessert I would have sugar pie from the Alpine Inn (in the Laurentians) and tartufo!

 

 

 

 

I had a dream last night that BOTH Gordon Ramsay and Jamie Oliver wanted to give me a restaurant to run as my very own.  In the dream they were both vying for my attention (NOT in a romantic way whatsoever) and kept one-upping each other with what they could offer me.

How fun would that be??

I have always said that if I won BIG at 6/49 that I would open a restaurant to run as my very own.  I already know what local Vancouver chef I want, kind of a location in mind, and the concept is pretty much a done deal – west coast casual yet elegant where one would feel as comfortable eating a grilled cheese sandwich as dining on the very best fillet.  Somewhere I could entertain my friends, explore my culinary creative side and just have a good time.

Like I said, only in my dreams but man it was a good one!!

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