Saturday, July 31, 2010

What I Did On My Summer Vacation

Is there anything more depressing than returning to reality after a fabulous vacation? I submit that there is not.

In an attempt to spare you all the gory details of my "Fall from Retro WW Grace", let's just say that I enjoyed every moment of my week in every possible way. I ate, drank and lived life to the fullest.

There is, however, one specific story I feel obliged to share...

It was a rainy Sunday at the lake, so we skipped the daily trip to the beach. While looking for something fun to do, my husband remembered an out-of-the-way diner that a friend had recently told him about. "They have the best pie you will ever eat in your life", they assured him, "Totally worth the 30-mile drive to get there".

So despite my protests, we spent our Sunday morning driving 30 miles into the middle of nowhere. To get a slice of pie.

phot credit:

When we arrived, I was so very pleased. This place was the very definition of RETRO. And I don't mean phony retro--like some of these new-fangled wanna-be retro diners. I mean this place was old school, baby. The menu had things like glazed ham and lima beans and jello on it.

But here's the kicker: one of the luncheon entrees was simply called "Diet Lunch". It consisted of........wait for it........

Cottage Cheese, Fruit and Gelatine!

I almost fell off my chair! I wondered if Jean Nidetch had been secretly involved in the planning of this menu back in the 1970's? Was it fate that I was sitting here all these years later about to place my order? Had some strange force pulled me into this quirky little diner to remind me of my Retro WW Experiment? Was this a message from Jean?

As I stared at the menu, I knew what I had to do.

I ordered the Rhubarb Pie. A la Mode.

What? I couldn't pass up the best pie on earth, could I? Besides...I was on vacation. There's plenty of time for cottage cheese and gelatine now that I'm back to reality.

Thanks for hanging in there during my vacation, bloggy friends! The Experiment is officially BACK ON!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

And Now For A Station Break...

Summer blogging is hard. Isn't it?

I was planning to devote this entire week to my favorite "legal" vegetable--the cucumber. I even had a bunch of fabulous Retro Recipes all lined up: Scalloped Cucumbers, "Creamed" Cucumber Salad, Braised Cucumber, etc. But it all fell through in the blink of an eye.

You see, every year at this time we are typically up to our eyeballs with cukes from our backyard vegetable garden. But when I went outside to pick some cucumbers the other day--there was practically nothing there. It seemed our friendly neighborhood groundhog stopped by and ate everything in sight. This is all he left me:

So no Retro WW Cucumber recipes this week for me. Suck it, Mr. Groundhog.

And on that cheery note, my dear readers, I must bid you adieu for an entire week. I am going on vacation and there shall be no Retro Weight Watchering allowed, no blogging allowed, and absolutely no scales allowed!

I'll meet you back here in about a week, and we will return to our regularly scheduled programming.

Until then, I shall be pondering this deep thought:

"I don't think any vacation is fattening unless you want it to be." - Jean Nidetch

Thanks Jean. I'll try not to let you down.

Thanks, But No Thanks Thursday - Loafing Around!

Is it really TBNT Thursday again? Really?

OK, then it must be time for another horrifyingly bad Retro WW Recipe!

This weeks dietetic disaster comes from the February 1973 issue of Weight Watchers Magazine. It features two great tastes that taste great together: Mackerel and Turnips!

Mackerel and Turnip Loaf

This one's a real budget stretcher! Feed your entire family on this dish, and watch them shudder in fear as you place it on the table. Disgust them even more with a side dish of creamed peas and a glass of prune juice.

Leftovers anyone?

Thanks, but No Thanks!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Gelatinizing Things Is My New Hobby

On a Monday morning, nothing perks you up like a good, strong cup of coffee. But coffee doesn't do much to curb those Retro WW hunger pangs.

Or does it?

Admittedly, I have never been much of a java junkie, but have recently become a fan since coffee is one of the few items that is "legal" in unlimited amounts on the 1972 Retro WW Program. I can drink all the coffee I want. Anytime I want. But I'm still hungry.

So the obvious question that everyone should be asking at this point is: Can I figure out a way to EAT my coffee???

And the answer of course is YES! But how?

Coffee Gelatine

1 envelope unflavored gelatine
2 cups cooled coffee
4 tsp artificial sweetener

Sprinkle gelatine over 1/2 cup coffee in small saucepan; stir over low heat until gelatin dissolves. Add remaining coffee and sweetener. Pour into mold. Cover. Chill until firm.

Now go grab a spoon and EAT YOUR COFFEE!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Thanks, But No Thanks Thursday - Go Green!

The Tropical Treasure recipe from The Best Of 1974 Weight Watchers Magazine has so many TBNT qualities! Where do I even begin?

First, let's address the color. Not only is it bright green, but this particular shade of green resembles a pot of glowing nuclear waste or perhaps something that was left behind after a supernatural encounter.

Next, let's talk about the ingredients: Pureed green beans mixed with orange juice, coconut extract, banana extract and instant milk powder? Wow. Now that's quite a combo.

Finally, let's address the presentation. It is baked in metallic custard cups and garnished with mint and orange rind. And if you are really lucky--it will be served to you in a giant treasure chest surrounded by jewels.

OK. Um. Why???

I am so puzzled by this dish that I am almost tempted to try it. But then I remember I live on the planet Earth, not Mars, and I prefer my green beans with a simple dash of olive oil and some salt & pepper.

Thanks, but No Thanks!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Celery and Punishment

Things are getting serious, people. I actually stepped on the scale this morning, and to my dismay, it told me that I have only lost a whopping 2 pounds since I started this crazy experiment. Whatever. Scales lie.

Anyway, I have to be on the beach in less than two weeks, so I decided that I really need to speed things up over here. It's punishment time... Retro WW style.

Today's dinner reflects how serious I am about this:

Celery Linguine

2 Stalks Celery
2 Cups Water
2 Beef Bouillon Cubes

Thinly sliver celery lengthwise. Bring water and bouillon to boil. Add celery and cook 10 minutes. Drain. Consume. Try not to hate yourself too much. Cry yourself to sleep.

Monday, July 12, 2010

There's Something About Mackerel

What do you do when you have some Mackerel in a can and 5 minutes to spare? You make a tasty Retro WW lunch, of course.

The only problem is - what recipe to choose? There are so many possibilities, but I narrowed it down to two of my faves:

The almost famous Snappy Mackerel Casserole and the ever-popular Mackerelly!

I decided to go with the Snappy Casserole, because I was in the mood for something, well, snappy.

It's a simple recipe consisting of 2 ounces canned Mackerel, 1 cup of (legal) Tomato Sauce, 1 ounce Cheddar Cheese, and 1 slice of toast, quartered. Bake the first 3 ingredients in a hot oven for 5 minutes until bubbly, and serve with toast quarters. Makes one serving. I'm pretty sure it is supposed to be accompanied by three glasses of water, too. I have no idea why.

There is only one word to describe this dish: SNAPPY!

One might also dare to describe it as MACKERELLY, but that would just be wrong wouldn't it? That's another dish for another day.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Thanks, But No Thanks Thursday - Save the Liver!

According to the 1972 WW Program, liver must be eaten once per week - and only once per week - either for lunch or dinner. Don't even try to mess with this rule. Seriously. You break-a this rule, I break-a you face. Go ahead. Try me.

Actually--I'm joking. Most of the Retro WWer's I know will tell you that they skipped the liver. I, myself, have never touched the stuff.

So...In honor of the rule everyone loves to break, this week's TBNT Thursday feature is a double-dose! Two for the price of one! Chicken Liver times two!

According to Jean Nidetch, founder of Weight Watchers, there are many "versatile flavors and cooking styles" for liver--so you should never have to get bored with it. You can panbroil it, bake it, marinate it, cook it Portugese style in a skillet, whip it into a pate, fondue it, or run a skewer through it and throw it on the grill. The possibilities are endless when you also consider that you have so many types of liver to choose from: Chicken, Calf, Lamb, Steer, Rabbit, Venison and Turkey. Try them all!

Oh the things you can do with a plate of steaming, hot livers!

Back in the 1970's, many a WW-friendly household selected one lucky night every week to be "liver night". So how about you? When's your "liver night" gonna be?

That's what I thought. Thanks, but No Thanks!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

A Taste of the Tropics

Even though I live in the firmly landlocked city of Pittsburgh, PA -- I am truly a beach bum at heart. I often daydream about the sounds, smells, sights and even the tastes of the glorious seashore. So when I stumbled upon the "Caribbean and West Indies" chapter of my 1977 Weight Watchers International Cookbook, my tastebuds tingled for the flavors of the tropics.

Attention Fellow Retro WW Beach Bums! Sample this tasty, tropical beverage and you'll feel like you have just woken up on one of the enchanting islands of the Caribbean.

Cafe Puerto Rico

1 cup cold strong coffee
2 cups canned crushed pineapple
1 cup skim milk

Combine all ingredients in blender (in 2 batches). Process until smooth.
Chill. Stir. Serve.
Makes 4 saucy servings!

Try not to worry about the disturbing combination of flavors and textures in this chunky beverage. With every sip - whether you are sitting at home in your bathrobe or at work in your tiny gray cubicle - just close your eyes and tell yourself - "I am on the beach. I am a smokin' hot bikini babe. I am Livin' La Vida Loca." Repeat as needed.

Trust me. It works wonders.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Three Cheers for the Red, White and Cheese

It's Summer! It's a 3-day weekend! The forecast is nothing but blue skies and 80 degree temps through Sunday! Oh--and I also made a Retro WW recipe that was actually delicious.

I tell ya folks, I couldn't be happier.

This is a very special recipe. Why? Because it can only be made once a year, it is specifically designed and named for the holiday-at-hand, and it would just seem silly to serve it any other time.

The Fourth of July Cheese Salad

Combine the following in a blender and process until smooth:
  • 2 2/3 cups cottage cheese (I used fat-free)
  • 8 oz bleu cheese (I used low-fat)
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk (I used skim)
  • 2 tbsp chives (I used parsley)
  • 2 tsp grated lemon rind (skipped it)
  • 1 tsp Worcetershire sauce (this I actually had)
  • 1 tsp barbecue spice (I used cumin)
Place in freezer in a non-stick tray for at least 3 hours. Remove from freezer 15 minutes before serving; unmold onto serving platter. Garnish with pimiento strips cut in the shape of firecracker.

OK--first let me tell you that this mixture almost didn't make it into the freezer. The velvety smooth cheesy substance was so good, I started eating it with a spoon right out of the blender. I began to imagine various ways to use it in my everyday life: as a crudite dip, a sandwich spread, a baked potato topping, a salad dressing, a cocktail mixer, a body lotion, etc.

Have I mentioned I love cheese?

Honestly, it was one of the tastiest flippin' things I have ever encountered. I wondered, "How could THIS be a diet food"? It's way too delicious!

Then I froze it.

After the excitement of the unmolding (Yes, I get a strange, unexplainable rush from unmolding. No, I am NOT a freak--try it, and you'll see what I mean), I placed the frozen cheese "salad" on a festive platter and topped it with the obligatory firecracker pimiento garnish. I then cut myself a slice.

Hmmm. Somehow, it just wasn't the same. Less tasty, less zesty, less creamy and fabulous. Just a boring block of frozen cheese.

Well--I figure if I let it sit out on the kitchen counter for a few hours, it will go back to its original consistency. Then I can whip out a wooden spoon and go to town. Sometimes you just have to declare your independence from the mold. Know what I mean?

Happy 4th everyone!