Today the diet started. Well, not diet exactly. Just a more conscious decision to pay attention to what I’m eating. Which means limiting the junk food. And if ya’ll are anything like me, the moment you decide to be good in terms of food, you immediately start thinking about potato chips and cupcakes and nachos and butter on everything. Wow, my whole mouth just filled up with saliva.
So I’m sitting at work, eating my applesauce, tuna fish, and crackers, thinking about all the things I’m eliminating. Here’s my basic system. For two weeks, I’m cutting out all crappy food, sugar, bad fats, junk, etc. Like hardcore. Then I’ll add back in a few things but focus on a priority where indulgences are just that and not a daily habit. Apparently this plus exercise is some weird thing called a healthy lifestyle.
But the idea of indulgences (and my mind playing a food parade on a loop) got me thinking. An indulgence is technically the gratification of desire. So I thought, okay if I had to narrow down the foods I love the most, what would they be? And why do I love them? Take potato chips. I enjoy potato chips with either French Onion or Ranch dip. But they have no special meaning for me. Yes, I understand that most people wouldn’t attach special meaning to potato chips. So take tortilla chips & salsa instead. That holds so much more meaning to me. Chips & salsa make me think of long poker nights with all of my extended family during holidays. It brings to mind late fall evenings at Joe T Garcia’s in Dallas. Add guacamole to it and I’m instantly thrown into memories of football games, where my mom always has guacamole whipped up. And getting a bag of Mexican Inn chips in the mail from family is one of my favorite things in the world. So you see, there’s junk food and there’s comfort food.
This leads me to the point of today’s blog. I thought I’d list some of my favorite indulgenty (its a word) comfort foods and why I love them. I’m hoping it’ll help me stay on track but more importantly be a nice reminder of why even little things are important. Feel free to share some of your comfort food in the comments too!
Big Red soda: You can’t get Big Red soda in Idaho. I’ve actually only rarely ever seen it outside of Texas but it is nowhere to be found in Idaho and believe me I’ve looked everywhere. This is one of those things that is probably full of crap that will kill you and like burn away your stomach lining. But I can’t help but love it. Second only to Dr. Pepper, Big Red is my favorite soda. And it reminds me of my granny. She used to always have several cases of Big Red at her house so that us kids could have one. My parents didn’t like us having soda either so it was an added bonus that Granny would yell at my mom to quit fussing and sit down, none of us were going to die from a soda.
Wassail: I don’t know if this technically counts as an indulgence since its just juice but I’ve always thought it was. Wassail is made by mixing apple cider, cranberry juice, orange juice, lemon juice, and spices and steeping it for about an hour. There is nothing that says the holidays to me quite like wassail. My grandmother (not the Big Red one) would make it every year during the Christmas season. When I was little, I was only given the littlest bit (it’s very hot) and it was one of the only times my cousins & I got to sit at the adult table, made entirely of glass with these plush purple highback chairs, while we sipped our wassail. My mom makes it now but the smell of it still instantly transports me to the best Christmas memories.
Red Velvet Cupcakes: There’s this little bakery, was this little bakery, in Arlington, TX that used to make the best red velvet you have ever tasted. I’ve never quite been able to replicate it. Still, red velvet says birthdays to me. And it’s the best fix I know for a bad day. Sure the flavor is having a comeback, and its really just chocolate cake with red food coloring (sorry if that burst any bubbles) but it still feels like an indulgence.
Burgers: It has to be the right burger though. Fast food? Yuck. Restaurants? Meh. My favorite burgers are the kind made at outdoor barbecues with friends. Are they the best I’ve ever tasted? Not hardly. But sometimes it’s not about the taste so much as the experience. Sitting on the porch, watching the stars come out, listening to a little country music and drinking with friends over homemade burgers is hard to beat. I don’t even need fries with that.
King Ranch Chicken & Cherry Cobbler: I don’t think the chicken dish would be that much of an indulgence if I didn’t eat 4 servings. This is the one dish that we always had camping. Well two dishes counting dessert. When I was younger, my parents would take us camping every weekend. Literally. We’d pack the suburban up on Thursday, leave about noon on Friday (after my dad’s half-day of work) and come home late Sunday night. Then do it again the next week. There wasn’t much of Idaho I don’t remember discovering as a kid. A lot of our trips were up to McCall but sometimes we’d backpack in to the most gorgeous lakes. But on camping trips, we always brought the dutch ovens (old school dutch ovens that sit on coals to cook for like 6 hours and are made of cast iron). And at least once on every trip, we’d have king ranch chicken & cherry cobbler. The cobbler remains my favorite dessert ever, which seems sad sometimes considering it’s a can of cherry pie filling, yellow cake mix and a can of sprite. But those two things make me think of pine trees and long days fishing on the docks and sunsets over the lake and trying to see how close we could get to a deer or earning ranger badges.
Chicken Fried Steak & Mashed Potatoes with Flaky Buttermilk Biscuits: Last but absolutely no way least is my all time favorite meal. I get this on my birthday every year. And for pretty much every meal when I visit Texas (unless I’m eating barbecue at the time). It’s a meal with a good couple thousand calories but it tastes better than anything in the world. And if I go to a diner & order biscuits or chicken fried steak, I’m always thinking about family.