Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Art of Beets

First off - let me just start this post with a confession. When I found this recipe in my 1978 Weight Watchers Hot Stuff (Volume 4) Pamphlet, I knew I had to make it. But I fully had absolutely no intention of eating it. Ever.

Truth be told: On certain rare occasions, I will make a gelatin mold solely for its artistic value. Or for the simple pleasure of basking in its jiggly, glistening beauty.

Wow! It actually feels great to get that off my chest.

So when I woke up at 5:30am on a Saturday morning and began boiling eggs, dissolving gelatin and opening cans of beets - I felt a little bit like an artist preparing her canvas.

Beet Salad

1 tsp mayonnaise
1 medium egg, hard boiled
1/3 cup cottage cheese
1/4 cup cold water
3/4 cup boiling water
1 tbsp vinegar
1 tbsp unflavored gelatin
1 tsp cherry extract
1/4 tsp salt
3 tsp artificial sweetener
4 drops red food coloring
1/4 tsp ground cloves
4 oz shoestring beets, drain and reserve liquid

Dissolve gelatin in water, add extract, vinegar, salt, sweetener and food color. Stir in cloves and beet juice. Pour into mold. Let set until mixture thickens. Stir in the beets, Place lettuce leaves on a plate and unmold the salad on them. Top with the cottage cheese, egg wedges and mayonnaise. Chill. Makes one serving.

Now I don't like to brag, but I have some pretty mad molding skills, people. I know just when to add the beets so they'll be suspended perfectly in the gelatin like tiny pink angels.  I know exactly how long to wait for the best mold consistency. I know the perfect ratio of liquid to gelatin for any mold size you can imagine.

And the un-molding? Forget about it. This one popped right out of that mold like a perfect little pink newborn baby. It looked up at me from the plate, did a little dance and said "Howdy Mimi - how ya like me now?"

So how did the finished assembled product turn out, you ask? See for yourself...

Please. Bask in its beauty from all angles.

Extreme close-up. Have a moment with the beets.

Go ahead. Take it all in.

After a few snaps with the camera - my masterpiece is complete. I like to keep it around for a few hours to horrify and disgust my husband before saying goodbye to it forever.

As Andy Warhol once said, "An artist is somebody who produces things that people don't need to have." Well. I guess that makes me a true artist. Because, trust me - NO ONE needs to have this thing. Ever.

Friday, September 21, 2012

We'll Be Right Back

I'll be away from Blogland, Facebook, and the Twitterverse for a few days to take a much needed vacation.

But don't worry. When I return - you guys are in store for some good times.

October will bring many new adventures for The Retro WW Experiment. Including a Beet Mold, a "Pink Thing" and a Sauerkraut Cookie. Just to name a few.

But for now I am headed to the beach, my friends! My pink caftan is neatly packed in my beach bag and my petal swim cap is ready to go. You gotta cover up those bleach blonde tresses - am I right, ladies? I really can't wait to enjoy some legal beverages by the pool, and work on my tan.

In the meantime - please watch this message from our "sponsor". Guess who?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Church Lady Smackdown

I love casseroles. Luuuurve them.

So when I was invited to participate in a full-on balls-to-the-walls Casserole Cook-Off using old "Church Lady" recipes, I jumped at the chance. And even though it might compromise my Retro Weight Watchers code of ethics, I figured - why not? What could possibly go wrong??

Then I got my assignment. (Courtesy of my pal, Yinzerella)

Ruth Silverstone Will Casserole Your Ass Off!
Recipes and Napkin Folding from the JCC of Harrison County

Aside from the fish (which we must eat 5 times per week on the Retro WW Program) and the broccoli (which is my favorite "legal" vegetable) - the rest of the dish is a multi-layered pile of gooey dietetic wrongness.

But -- Since the Casserole Cook-Off rules demand that substitutions are not allowed, I wasn't able to lighten this dish up for my dietetic needs. In true Retro WW fashion, I would normally replace the celery soup with a gelatin/buttermilk combo and I would swap the margarine with a butter flavored extract. And for the love of Jean Nidetch -- poach the fish in WINE?!? Dear lord - alcohol is at the top of the list of forbidden foods. We do our poaching in plain old water, people. I could go on, but you get the idea.

So after making an official public apology to my entire Retro WW Sisterhood, I present you (layer by layer) with...

Anything Anytime Casserole!

Butter and Broccoli and Noodles - Oh My!

Water Chestnuts. Unexpected, but totally made the dish.

Poached Fish? Nailed it.
Celery soup, mushroom and seasonings. The Great Gooey Goodness!
Top with cheese and pop in the oven!

This casserole had 7 layers, and required me to dirty 6 dishes. Seriously? I almost ran out of Palmolive half way through my clean-up.

And what about the name of the recipe? Anything? Anytime? Wow! Do you mean I can whip this up at 3:00am? Can this dish possibly be more versatile?

But how did it taste?

It. Was. Delicious.

As I wipe the drool from my chin, I would just like to say thank you Ruth Silverstone. You are the creator of this casserole. You are the mastermind behind this delicious combination. You deserve a spot in the comfort food Hall of Fame! I am sure the rest of the ladies in the Jewish Community Center of Harrison would agree. Mazel Tov!

So just how am I supposed to go back to my Retro WW eating after this? Hmmm?

I mean, really.

Wanna check out the other Casserole Challenge posts? Including the Potato Casserole which I threw in the mix - courtesy of the Polish Hill Civic Association of Pittsburgh? Go ahead. Tap into your inner Church Lady! Here are the links...

Caker Cooking - Polish Potato Casserole
Dinner is Served 1972 - Cock-a-Doodle Casserole
Mid Century Menu - Sausage Apple Noodle Casserole
Retro Recipe Attempts - Lazy Bride's Dish

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Results Not Typical

Sometimes it is better to just leave well enough alone.

This next "recipe" is a good example of the all-too-common Retro WW mistake of taking a perfectly good food and turning it into an utter catastrophe. 

Chocolate Covered Banana

1 tsp unsweetened cocoa
1 tsp brown food coloring
1/4 tsp coconut extract
1/4 tsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp butter flavor
1 tbsp water
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup non-fat dry milk
4 tsp artificial sweetener
1 medium banana - peeled, cut in half and frozen

Combine first 7 ingredients and add milk and sweetener. Pour over frozen banana and return to freezer. Serve frozen.

So here is a pictorial review of how to take a perfectly good banana and turn it into a barely edible mess:

Assemble the culprits
The unholy mixture


The lesson here: Sometimes, when you need a snack, simple is better. Sure, it may sound like a great idea to top a frozen banana with a grainy, artificially colored and artificially flavored chocolate sauce from Hell. But trust me on this one - it is not. Just eat a banana, and be done with it.

Food should not stick to the plate like this.

After one bite, I threw this one in the trash.... Plate and all.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Regret and Results

Forgive me Jean Nidetch, for I have sinned. It has been 70 days since my last Jello mold.

Summer wreaked havoc on my Retro Weight Watchering. And it shows.

Sure - I could sit here and make lots of excuses about how busy I have been or how tired I am after a long day of work or play. I could go on and on about my job, my crazy schedule, or my countless obligations. But I know all too well that excuses don't fly when it comes to Jean. She always knows the truth.

In fact - If Jean had given me a call last week, I think our conversation would've gone a little something like this:

Mimi: Oh hello, Jean... Guess what? I am totally NOT eating chili cheese fries right now. 

Jean: Uh. Mimi, dear - stop what you're doing, put down the french fries, and go eat a grapefruit.

Mimi: But Jean, I'm just so tired of eating cottage cheese and celery and gelatin. I just want to eat whatever I want.

Jean: Darling. Everything we eat, or don't eat, shows up on the scale eventually.

Mimi: Ugh. I hate the scale.

Jean: Stop whining and suck it up!

Mimi: Ouch.

So here I am. Sucking it up.

It starts with breakfast. My sad punishment of a breakfast is 100% Retro WW legal, and I eat it with the knowledge that it is just the first step back to a routine that isn't easy. It isn't fun. It isn't for wimps.

But as Jean says:
If you feel strongly about having a body that you like, then surely you don't have to love cottage cheese, surely you don't have to get excited about a tossed salad with lemon juice, surely you don't have to lose your cool over a strip of green pepper. You simply have to love the end result.    --The Story of Weight Watchers, 1970
You know what? I do love the end result, so I am totally going to get myself super excited about this sad excuse for a breakfast. Woohoo! Hell yeah!!!

Apple "Danish"

1 medium apple, cored and sliced
1/3 cup water
Artificial sweetener
1 slice enriched bread, toasted
1 ounce hard cheese

Combine apple and water in blender and process 30 seconds. Pour into saucepan and bring to boil. Cook 2 to 3 minutes. Cool and add sweetener to taste. Place apple mixture on toast, top with cheese. Broil until bubbly and brown.

Check out my mad portion control skillz, yo

Cooking a pureed apple is very humbling
Legal? Damn Straight.

Anyhoo. Breakfast is done. Now what's for lunch?

Saturday, September 1, 2012

The Party's Over

I have had such a lovely time at the Retro Mimi Potluck Party. But now, as I look around, I can see that maybe the party has lasted a bit too long. There are jell-o remnants everywhere, and my guests look angry.

You can only serve up so many Retro WW dishes before people start to rise up against you in protest.

So that's it, I guess.

In my opinion - this potluck was a HUGE success. I would like to thank the FABULOUS guests who took the time to prepare and bring a legendary Retro Weight Watchers dish. In case you missed anything here's a rundown:

Carl  and Surprise Chowder
Brian (Caker Cooking)  and  Cocktails

Go check out all these awesome people and their fantastic posts. Seriously. They deserve a medal for bravery.

As for me, I have some cleaning up to do. Sigh. Thank you all for coming to my party. I must admit, I'm a little emotional and sad to see it end. At times like this - I often burst into song. Instead, I will let Ms.Shirley Bassey express my musical melancholy, and I will bid you a fond farewell.

Until next time, darlings...