Santa Claus, the reindeer and various and sundry elves are back at the North Pole, all but forgotten for another year. New names are the order of the day … names like Doctor Atkins, Jenny Craig, Richard Simmons and Dr. Phil. Instead of concentrating on the weighty tomes of Dickens, Shakespeare and Stephen King all eyes are on the South Beach Diet, All-the-Fat-You-Can-Eat Diet, Weight Watchers, and any and all products that are low-cal, sugar-less, fat-less and tasteless. The market shelves are filled with vittles and nostrums that will melt away all those layers of fat that have accumulated during the holiday orgies.
In case you’ve been isolated in a gulag in Siberia, sequestered in a monastery in remote Tibet or held captive by headhunters in the rain forests of the Amazon, it should come as no surprise that January has been designated as Diet Month.
No self-respecting television hour is safe from the advertisements for all sorts of remedies for bulging hips, thunder thighs, flabby arms, extended stomachs and well-rounded bottoms.
Thronging to gyms and health clubs are the guilty masses who want to redeem their bodies and rid themselves of the shame of ……FAT. Rich eggnog, crystal goblets of bubbling champagne, huge helpings of mashed potatoes swimming in gravy, pumpkin pies frosted with layers of whipped cream, fat-laden slices of roast beef and Christmas cakes are now memories reinforced by several extra pounds hanging on our bodies.
I for one have no regrets. Each morsel consumed during this holiday season was savored and blissfully enjoyed. So, it was with great joy and glee that I received a book written by a man after my own heart (or should I say my stomach). Kim Bailey is a former hunk with a slender waist, sculpted biceps and a thin, but muscular body that screamed MACHO-MAN.
Kim Bailey is a motivational speaker. He has written many a corporate manual and conducts seminars that inspire success and confidence. Alas, this American Idol loves to eat and as a result that Greek God body has been long gone; replaced by a balding head, a generous paunch and a beer-belly that has been filled with every forbidden food offered at table. He describes himself as a Florida native, who lives in Tampa, surrounded by great restaurants.
His book, “The North Beach Diet” contains over 60 high calories recipes, made with lots of butter, refined sugar, white flour and chocolate. The bathing beauty featured on the cover weighs in excess of 300 flabby pounds and the message inside, along with fattening recipes is to inspire gorging, feasting, lots of sedentary occupations and a total disregard for health.
I was mesmerized by the startling information I found on almost every page. After considerable research, author Bailey concluded that practically every evil person on earth has been thin. Thin villains such as Hitler, Charles Manson, Ted Bundy, Jack the Ripper and Lizzie Borden were all svelte. To verify his theory that thin people are more evil than fat, Bailey consulted criminologist Dr. Stephen Robert Cribb, dean of students at the Institute for the Criminally Insane. Dr. Cribb stated “The evidence is overwhelming: 98 percent of all mass murderers and serial killers (in all of history), were committed by the thin.”
At last there is someone to defend the fat and rejected. Here is a celebration of wanton greed, lust and the love of food by someone who has been there and defends those who are reviled and ridiculed. There is something hypnotic about recipes that totally disregard calories and concentrate on the wicked enjoyment of overindulgence.
I must admit that as I perused the book I was salivating over such recipes as:
New Orleans Bread Pudding with Whiskey Icing
1 large loaf Pepperidge Farm white bread (about 25 to 35 large pieces)
2 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons cinnamon (or more if desired)
3 eggs, beaten
1 quart whole milk, room temperature
4 tablespoons butter
1 cup raisins (more if desired)
1 stick salted butter, room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
Best quality whiskey or bourbon
1-1/2 cups sugar
½ cup water
1 cup heavy cream, room temperature
1 stick salted butter
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut all the crusts off the bread and put crustless bread in a large mixing bowl. Combine all bread pudding ingredients in bowl with bread and stir until completely mixed. Place in buttered 9x13-inch baking dish. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until a knife inserted in the middle will come out clean. For whiskey topping, beat together the butter and sugar with electric mixer. Add whiskey about 1 tablespoon at a time until desired consistency. We recommend a soft but firm icing-like consistency so you can place a small dollop on each slice of pudding. A glaze can be developed just by adding more whiskey. For caramel sauce: In a large saucepan or skillet, caramelize the sugar and water until it is a medium brown color. Remove from heat. Immediately add the cream, slowly whisking the entire time. Be careful of rising steam. Whisk in small pieces of putter. Pour over pudding, warm or cold. (Kim Bailey suggests this makes 2 or 3 servings). I suggest that it will easily feed 6 to 8 normal eaters.
I am sorely tempted to try the recipes for Darn Good Quiche (which even men in Texas eat) or Cognac-Braised Short Ribs and the Potato Chip and Miracle Whip Sandwich but alas, I have been brainwashed by my doctor, my alteration lady (you don’t dare gain another pound) and my own vanity.
And so I leave you with this message from Tootie Fields, which is the universal lament of dieters:
“I’ve been on a diet for two weeks, and all I’ve lost is two weeks.”
Q: I love onions in any form or in any dish. At Christmas I had dinner with my cousin who prepared the most delicious dish of creamed onions. I want to serve this dish at a potluck supper but have no recipe. Please help.
— Larry Ferguson, Marco Island
A: I also love creamed onions and this is the best recipe I’ve ever used. It’s the raisins and the sherry that make a difference.
1-1/2 pounds small boiling onions
1 quart water
1 teaspoon salt or to taste
6 tablespoons butter
6 tablespoons flour
1-1/4 cups water from the boiled onions
2-1/4 cups light cream
¼ cup white seedless raisins
¼ cup dry sherry
Cover the unpeeled onions with hot water. Bring to a boil and remove from the heat.
Drain. When the onions are cool enough to handle, peel, scraping the root ends (do not cut). The skins will slip off easily. Bring the quart of water and salt to a boil and add the peeled onions. Cook until barely tender, about 15 minutes. Drain, reserving 1-1/4 cups onion water. Heat the butter and mix in the flour, stirring until bubbly. Add the 1-1/4 cups onion water and cream. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring. Heat the sherry and add the raisins. Let stand for 5 minutes. Add this to the sauce with the drained onions. Heat but do not boil. Serve with a dusting of paprika. Serves 6 to 8.
Doris Reynolds is the author of “When Peacocks Were Roasted and Mullet Was Fried” and “Let’s Talk Food.” They are available for sale in the lobby of the Naples Daily News. Also available is a 4-part DVD, “A Walk Down Memory Lane with Doris Reynolds. Contact Doris Reynolds at email@example.com.