Ego-Busting Women’s Mags

January 20, 2010 at 6:11 pm Leave a comment

   On this partly-sunny January morning, I sip a steamy cup of Constant Comment tea, enjoy the view of icicles melting from my eaves, and ponder whether or not to renew my subscription to Better Homes and Gardens® magazine.  It’s a tough decision.  I’m enchanted by the glossy, full color format offering pages and pages of recipes and decorating ideas, but does anybody else find these spreads simultaneously inspiring and discouraging?  

Take a recent issue which lures the reader into an article about holiday decorating with a photo of a handsome couple and their three cherubic children, beaming out at you from a perfectly maintained front porch strewn with unique handmade Christmas garlands.  Just when I’ve started to think, “I, too, could adorn my windowsill with three conical boxwood shrubs dressed in decorator ornaments, and stitch up a replica of that adorable table runner,” I land with a thud back in the real world upon reading that “keeping things simple” to this family entails an entire two-story house being seasonally festooned with a “sunny, Southern California color scheme.” 

But wait; here’s a Minnesota family finding “holiday spirit in nature…with a simple mix of evergreens…and supersize pinecones.”  So why am I intimidated by the glorious vision of perfection before me?  Well, this homemaker is a successful (just take a gander at that humongous upscale home) designer by trade, and a self-described free spirit, and the mom in an article on “effortlessly” building your own personal style is the creative director of her own paperie.  Of course she is.  Thud.  I won’t even talk about Gunda Sabel-Sheehan and her flawless suburban New York home, decorated primarily with handmade, eco-friendly items and inspired by the “same aesthetic Gunda brings to her home and furnishings boutique.” 

Then there is the fact that the BH&G food editors recently ignored my submission of two perfectly lovely recipes I created exclusively for them in response to a call for new ways with bread puddings and chili.  Although their rejection does free me up to share these recipes with you, so I guess there’s a silver lining to that cloud.  A winter-friendly menu, then, born of my love-hate relationship with Better Homes and Gardens® magazine:  Quick Fix Black and White Chili, Broccoli Slaw, and Baked Apple Bread Pudding.  Just thinking about the fun I had developing these dishes helps restore my feelings of adequacy. 

For the chili, assemble: 

1-13 oz can water-packed chicken breast          1 small carrot, in ¼” slices                     

chicken broth                                                             ¾ cup each, canned, rinsed        

½ tsp butter                                                                garbanzo, large lima, cannellini,

½ tsp canola oil                                                          and black beans

4 green onions, cut in ¼” slices                          ½ tsp coriander                                

1 large stalk celery, cut in ¼” slices                   ½ cup fat free sour cream   

Drain juice from canned chicken into 2-cup measure and add enough chicken broth to make 1-1/2 cups.   Melt butter with canola oil in small non-stick skillet over medium low heat.  Set aside 2 tablespoons green portion of onion and sauté remaining onion and celery over medium low heat until softened and aromatic – about 5 minutes.  Place broth, sautéed vegetables, carrot, beans, and coriander in medium size sauce pan, bring to a simmer, and cook for at least 30 minutes or until carrots are tender.  Before serving, stir in sour cream and heat through.  Garnish each serving with 1 tsp chopped onion green.   Makes 6 servings. 

I pick up prepackaged broccoli slaw in the produce section of the grocery store and simply dress it with equal parts fat-free plain yogurt and Miracle Whip flavored with lemon juice, liquid stevia, onion powder, salt, and pepper to taste. 

And for the bread pudding: 

2 eggs                                                                          4 med gala apples

2 – 14 oz cans evaporated milk                                   2 tsp butter

1 tsp cinnamon                                                            2 tsp canola oil

1/3 cup pure maple syrup                                            2 TB granulated sugar    

8 – ½” slices sesame semolina bread                          ¾ tsp nutmeg 

In large bowl, whisk eggs, milk, cinnamon, and maple syrup until well combined.  Cut bread into ½” cubes and fold into egg mixture, combining well.  Cover and refrigerate at least four hours, stirring occasionally. 

Core and halve apples from stem to base.  Cut each half into ¼” wedges, stack wedges, and cut crosswise for half-slice sized pieces.  Heat butter and canola oil together over medium low heat in a large nonstick skillet and sauté apple slices until golden in color, about 20 minutes total, turning frequently with a spatula.  

Preheat oven to 350°.  Fold cooked apples into bread cube mixture and turn out into greased 1-1/2 quart or 8” square glass or ceramic baking dish.  Combine sugar and nutmeg and sprinkle evenly over top.  Bake for 60 minutes.  Makes 9 servings. 

Now, to subscribe or not to subscribe?  This being a lean year for many of us living in over-extended economies, perhaps I’ll wean myself from magazines altogether.  I can always trot over to the library for a “fix” if I find myself having withdrawal symptoms, or if I sense that my ego is in need of a little deflating.

Entry filed under: Musings of a Midwestern Foodie. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , .

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Recipe. According to Encarta, "a list of ingredients and instructions for making something." The thesaurus offers the alternate terms, "formula, guidelines, directions, steps, technique."

And what is the "something" we are aiming for here? Simply a life of robust good health in every important area - spiritual, physical, cognitive, and emotional.

To that end we offer inspirational real-life stories about PEOPLE OF FAITH AND COURAGE; menus and cooking directions meant to fuel your creative inclinations and your healthy body in the form of MUSINGS OF A MIDWESTERN FOODIE; and ADVICE FOR LIFE from the perspective of those who have lived it to maturity. (Click on the green category tabs at the top of this page to learn more about each section.)

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