Foodie Tuesday: You are So Sweet!

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I'm bananas over you, my darling . . .

I love food of every kind enough that I’m often quite satisfied to have meals and days without much sugary content. But my craving for sweet tastes always returns at one time or another, and sometimes in overwhelming fashion, and then I may as well feed the monster with a little bit of indulgence rather than trying to be more abstemious than my nature will long tolerate–that always only ends in the eventual pendulum swing of brazen excess, if my history serves as any example. Besides, I don’t really have to be so very wild to find a little sweet solace.

Sometimes a great piece of fresh fruit will suffice for the need of the moment. Then, though I’m well aware I’m eating nearly pure sugar, it’s not so over-processed and hyper-refined as some treats and I console my conscience, if it’s at all nagging, that I’m getting a few dashes of vitamins or other goodies of however tiny nutritive value, as opposed to simply crunching down a fistful of plain sugar, which, you may be surprised to know, I don’t find all that compelling even when my sweet tooth is aching for appeasement. A glorious, juicy, perfumed peach or pear is pretty hard to resist, though, or a handful of brilliantly sun-ripened blackberries or strawberries bursting with juice. Now, I won’t lie: if there happened to be a piece of dark chocolate to nibble alongside said fruit, I would certainly not offend anyone offering it by refusing such an option, because I’m far too nice for that sort of behavior.

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With almonds, black and white sesame seeds, orange segments and pickled ginger and a citrus vinaigrette dressing, salad becomes close enough to pass for dessert . . .

Sometimes even the less dessert-oriented dishes, if I add a hint of sweetness to them, will happily assuage my yearnings for candy-like substances. The cabbage slaws and salads I make are by far most often on the sweet or sweet-tangy side rather than strictly savory, because I love the clean crispness of fresh crunchy cabbage and perhaps a little carrot or celery or cucumber or such when complemented with sweet tastes. A jot of honey or agave syrup, maple syrup (the dark, Grade B stuff, if you please–the whole point of maple syrup is lost if it’s refined to the point of tasting like sugar-water)–these bring so much, even in small quantities, to offset the heaviness or intensity of good fats, savory and umami tastes, and even to enhance them. Of course, if there’s any meat, especially a mild flavored one like pork or chicken, or maybe a nice solid seafood like sashimi grade tuna, wild-caught salmon or big meaty prawns on the plate, these can be so beautifully magnified in their satisfying richness with the addition of a bit of glaze: a sauce or a chutney, for example, with sweet or citrusy fruit, with reduced wine, with floral essences like rose or vanilla, that they can rein in my sweetness-compulsion quite nicely. Until the next time, at least!

Sometimes, of course, only something that seems genuinely like dessert will do. But it still doesn’t have to be an outrageously carbohydrate-centric sugar bomb to be perfectly marvelous and fully delicious. Rusticity, simplicity and even a little hint of good nutritional qualities can win the day when they’re just what I’m craving. Take the little baked custard I made when I was longing for pumpkin pie but really didn’t want to fuss over or consume a floury pastry piecrust: yummy as those can be, I’m finding the disagreement between wheat-based foods and my digestive system just isn’t worth the price of admission anymore. But when I took a plain little tin of prepared (plain) pureed pumpkin, stirred it up with a spoonful of vanilla, a pinch of salt, a good dose of raw wild honey, a couple of eggs and a big powdering of Vietnamese cinnamon, whipped it up and put it in a buttered ceramic bowl in the microwave (I ‘waved it, covered, on High, checking from about 4 minutes on until it was nearly non-wiggly), it came out willing to imitate a freshly baked pumpkin pie quite nicely and the sweet-toothed dragon was greatly mollified by the whole. It may not have been Thanksgiving Day, but I know I for one was thankful enough! And that’s all I really want from a bit of sweetness.

Ask my husband.

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I may be cracked, but the sweetness you give me keeps me feeling like I'm enjoying my just desserts . . .

18 thoughts on “Foodie Tuesday: You are So Sweet!

  1. Wow, I’m hungry now and it’s almost time for bed! πŸ™‚ I have a sweet tooth, Kathryn, although, maybe plural would be more accurate. But, all of your recipes look yummy for alternatives. And your “new” pumpkin pie “smelled” great, too! I’m actually currently passing on sugar and I’m doing fine. However, pass me over a piece, okay?
    πŸ™‚

    • I’ve found that the sugar-free syrups sold (in the US, with Splenda to sweeten) for coffee and Italian soda flavoring work pretty well for me when I really want to avoid sugar–I like the plain unflavored variety or various vanilla versions are the least obvious and artificial tasting. I would definitely try that in the pumpkin custard, as I could always add another egg if it looked too runny, and I love eggy foods. Any time you come by I’ll be happy to sweeten your teeth all you can tolerate–company is such a fine excuse for desserts, in my opinion! πŸ˜€
      xo

      • I will admit that I am a great baker πŸ™‚ and take after my Mom, bless her soul…but, I’m just not baking as much, except for special occasions. My “special day” is this month and my absolute favorite dessert is carrot cake, so yes, I’ll will indulge! And, you’re right, company is a perfect excuse for desserts! Enjoy! xo

        p.s. It’s funny how we think of those little things in life when a loved one passes…Mom used to make special recipes for the holidays and for my Dad’s birthday, now she won’t be making those, very sad, but my sisters and I will step up to the plate~

  2. What a great idea to turn pie into a cute little custard… Then I wouldn’t have to worry about the whole “making the pie crust” step that can be so daunting! Your salads.. they really are a thing of beauty and the flavors, heavenly. They really put me to shame that I make the same lazy salad here so often!

    • I know that’s not true, since I’ve seen some *dee-lectable* salads on your blog! But you may have noticed that most of the salads hereabouts are variants of the same old same old, because they’re dead easy *and* we like them, too.

      I can’t think of any pies I wouldn’t willingly eat in a filling-only version, now that you mention it . . . maybe I’ll have to work my way through the ‘pie pantheon’!! πŸ˜‰

  3. Drooling again from another Foodie Tuesday post. I swear this series of posts has got to be my favourite. As a fond lover of sweets…I’m really tempted to get a bite of pumpkin pie…and that custard…or anything with sugar in it. Oh Kathryn, how your post tempts me.

    • Since it’s microwaveable, it’s also *incredibly* easy to make, which as you know I consider a major plus! I’m considering what other thick pureed fruits or vegetables might lend themselves well to this particular custard treatment . . .
      xo

  4. Pingback: How to make the traditional β€œRosh-Bora” « SAAS Tastebuds

  5. That salad really caught my eye. It looks so delicious! A few weeks ago, I ended a life-long addiction to cream & sugar in my coffee. I half-expected some sort of sugary cravings to hit but, thus far, nothing of the kind has happened. I should probably make some of that wonderful custard of yours, just in case they do appear. I’d hate to be caught unprepared. πŸ™‚

    • Mmmmm, now you’ve got me thinking of a particular Bartolini holiday custard tradition . . . πŸ˜€ !!!!

      As I’ve said, the slaw/salad is a perennial favorite in our household because it’s got the beloved ginger in it, is tasty *and* super easy *and* it can be doctored every which way to fit the rest of the meal. I did have a fabulous ‘cousin’ to it the other day at a little Japanese lunch spot: thinly shredded cabbage (red and green) topped with a dressing that, from what I could tell, was made by putting a little bit of rice vinegar and some sugar and some fresh ginger in a food processor with carrots, grinding it all together coarsely and putting a spoonful on top of the cabbage immediately before serving. So the cabbage stayed super crisp and you just mixed it all together quickly with the chopsticks while eating it like the house was on fire (oh, that last part was just my way of eating it like a wild beast when I discovered how good it was). πŸ™‚

  6. I am definitely drawn to your salads. Though I don’t have a passion for sweets, I like them once in a while. I usually eat a dessert after a meal. This is a beautiful post, in every way. But you reminded me of my experiences with pumpkin pie. Can you imagine? Pumpkin pie is completely unknown here in Israel, even though we do have pumpkins, that are usually cooked and eaten hot as a side dish. After a trip to America, and falling in love with pumpkin pie, I started making them here. And a very few friends liked it. But most of those who ate it, thought it wasn’t worth the trouble. I love it, and serve it with whip cream.

    • Almost *anything* good is even better with whipped cream! In fact, you reminded me just now of one of the best meals of lox I’ve ever had, in a wonderful restaurant in Munich, where they served the house-smoked salmon simply plated with rΓΆsti (like beautiful golden latkes) and a heap of cream whipped with grated horseradish in it. *Heavenly* meal.

      There are lots of Americans who don’t like pumpkin pie either, so I think it’s just an acquired taste. Have you ever had its Southern (US) cousin, Sweet Potato Pie? Very similar, and again, has avid aficionados and lots of others who think it’s a waste of time. Or, as my (Norwegian-descended) grandmother once famously said of Norwegian potato dumplings, “What a lot of work to spoil potatoes!”

    • Oh, you! xoxoxo!

      I’m even more happy to use Sushi Gari (pickled ginger) since I found that in the big Asian supermarket not far from our town, I can buy a huge bag of it for a very reasonable price. Since it stays preserved so well, I can keep it for months at a time in a half-gallon resealable container in the refrigerator while throwing bits into salads, on my salmon, into chutneys, and so forth whenever the mood strikes. And when it comes to ginger, the mood strikes pretty often here! πŸ™‚

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