The White Stuff



Yes, it’s snowing again.

We’ve gotten plenty of snow here on Beaver Island this Winter. The last time I checked, we were at one hundred and thirteen inches (that’s over 287cm!!). And now it’s coming down again.

Our all-time record is 138 inches of snowfall in a season. We’re in position to beat that record this year.

That’s not the “white stuff” I’m talking about here, though.

Potatoes, rice, pasta…that white stuff.

The foods that seem so comforting this time of year.

The foods that are most friendly to my budget.

The foods that – according to the experts – women my age should avoid, for optimum health and weight control.

I’m pretty careful most of the time.

I center my meals around fresh vegetables from my garden in the summertime. Salad bowls are my usual dinner in warm weather, with chickpeas, egg and nuts added for protein and crunch. If I have a bit of meat, I’ll add it for variety.

In the wintertime, soups are the staple of my diet. I use stocks and vegetable purees that I put up in the Fall, from my harvest. Beans and grains give it substance. Meat, when I have it, for flavor. I make a whole-grain bread that’s a nice accompaniment.

Oh, I have my little indulgences: a glass of wine; chocolate in almost any form; coffee; cream; cheese…still, pretty healthy, for the most part.

Not this winter, it seems.

When the first wave of cold came through, I started wanting “comfort” food. The “white stuff.” Macaroni and cheese; tuna casserole; baked potatoes. As layer upon layer of snow came down, the craving continued. Goulash; fried rice; stew. The many (so many!) extremely cold and blustery days where the wind drove the temperature down and my drafty house was in a constant state of refrigeration, I warmed myself around the oven cooking one heavy meal after another.

Last week, I made a nice turkey soup. Broth and diced turkey that I’d put in the freezer after Thanksgiving, fresh celery, onion and carrots. “Substance,” I thought, “It needs some substance in this cold!” Barley was one healthy choice that I had on hand. I could have also chosen brown rice, wild rice, spelt, wheat berries or quinoa. I opted, instead, to make home-made egg noodles. You know, the white flour and egg recipe. That’s substance, all right.

One night I decided I’d just have breakfast for dinner. I mixed up a half-batch of pancakes. I made them in the silver-dollar size. Added blackberries that I’d frozen last Fall. Ate them with just butter. Looking back at the meal, I thought, “Congratulations, Cindy, you have just eaten one cup of white flour…butter added.”

Yesterday I made St. Scholastica’s Soup. It’s a lentil, barley and wild rice soup that’s one of my staple recipes. I usually top a bowl of the thick vegetarian soup with a dollop of sour cream and a splash of balsamic vinegar. Yesterday, because I had the time, and it was cold, I also made two loaves of crusty Italian bread so that I’d have that to go along with the soup.

I also took time yesterday to try on some clothes, in anticipation of a trip to the mainland. The snow is softening the landscape; it seems my shape has shifted and changed as well.

There is no doubt about it, it’s time to give up the white stuff!


11 responses »

  1. I hear you re: White Stuff. Much snow and also, more starch than usual this winter for me. too. One of my favorite things this winter is a big Baked Potato with huge gobs of Cilantro Pesto. Nothing comforts me quite like that, also ice cream, usually with raspberries I picked and froze last fall. My waist line is still where it belongs and not hanging over the waist band on my jeans but if this winter lasts any longer, it won’t be too much longer before that happens. I’m so longing for spring….

    • Oh, now see, Cilantro Pesto sounds like a health food to me! No wonder you’re still trim! I, on the other hand, am having to rethink my entire wardrobe…between the big, starchy meals and the lack of good exercise, it has really caught up with me! I’m right with you on wanting warmer weather. Thanks for reading, Gretchen, and for your comments!

  2. But you have to wait until the weather’s warm, Cindy! You said it yourself — you’re in a constant state of refrigeration this winter. Salads won’t warm you from the inside out like a nice baked macaroni and cheese will. (But the wine will help.)

  3. I have to admit I love the white stuff. Potatoes? I could eat them in any form any day. But I totally get what you’re saying. I commend you on being able to stock up and make things from scratch, not to mention your ability to grow your own food. Are you serious – you make your own egg noodles?! Can I please come and visit you in the wintertime? What you’re making sounds really good to me.

    • Egg noodles are amazingly easy (TOO easy when I’m in this frame of mind!), but what a lovely thought, to have you come visiting! Me too, the white stuff is my downfall. I love it. I’ll make a meal out of just fried potatoes with onion or hot buttered noodles with parmesan…and a meal without a starch rarely seems complete. But, this winter, over-indulgence and lack of exercise…and that goddamn afternoon spent trying on clothes…have made me think twice. Thanks for reading, Sara, and for your comments!

      • You had to go say “noodles, butter, and parmesan,” didn’t you? I love that!

        Piffle on the clothes. Bust a button or two because with the winter we’ve been having we need that extra layer of fat to keep us warm.

        Noodles to you! 🙂

  4. I tried to leave a comment yesterday – I obviously haven’t mastered my new smart phone yet! But I wanted to say the soup you mentioned last (St. Scholastica’s Soup) sounds delicious! Perfect for winter fuel. Now to burn some of that fuel off 🙂

    • It is a lovely soup, Claire! The recipe comes from “This Good Food: Contemporary French Vegetarian Recipes from a Monastery Kitchen”. Lack of exercise this winter has done me as much harm as the wrong types of foods, I’m sure. Time to change all of that! Thanks for reading, and for your comments!

  5. It is so easy to down that white stuff–especially this time of year. And so easy to gain those pounds, alas, alas. I have to fit into summer clothes again next month when visiting my parents, so am trying very very hard to eat mindfully with an eye to the calories. We should start a support group!

    • I’m with you…sorry, I had to wait until I got back from my own vacation to say that…and then a friend gave me a beautiful loaf of freshly made sourdough bread at the airport today. I’m with you maybe just as soon as that’s gone?!?

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