TND – Emperor’s New Clothes

May 16, 2013

carrot curls

A couple of weeks ago I said I was feeling excessively negative and wanted to get happy, but that I’d do a grousing post some time soon.  This is that time.

Firstly, the term ‘flavor forward’ needs to be taken out to the woodshed and put out of its misery.  What does that even mean?

More seriously, can we talk about the most recent spate of idiotic diets that are being touted.

For starters there’s the Paleo Diet (aka the Dukan diet) which, as far as I can tell, takes a premise that our Paleolithic ancestors were somehow very healthy and that since our digestive systems were formed during this period we should return to their hunter-gatherer diet.  Essentially this boils down to a lot of lean proteins – meats specifically – and (presumably seasonal, although I haven’t actually seen that as a requirement) fruits and vegetables barely cooked – and eliminating processed sugars and grains from your diet.

There are so many things about this that are idiotic that I don’t even know where to begin.  A) our Paleolithic ancestors all tended to die before age 40, and since that’s a mile marker that’s creeping up on me alarmingly fast it’s not a lifestyle recommendation that’s doing much for me.  B) It’s not as if the people who are taking up the Paleo Diet are also trying to live the Paleolithic lifestyle in other ways (although this is probably for the best), but why would you try on a diet for a lifestyle you don’t live?  C) The development of cooking is one of those things that is generally considered a mile marker in human history, and a stepping stone towards higher evolution.

Then there’s a new diet from England called variously the 5-2 Diet or the Fasting Diet.  Basic idiotic premise?  You eat whatever you want for 5 days, and then for the other two days of the week you fast.  How is that even remotely healthy?  This reads like a sanctioned binge and purge approach to eating dressed up in the Emperor’s New Clothing.  Where’s the small village urchin to call out the Emperor’s nudity?

The Eat Right 4 Your Type diet is one I hadn’t heard of until a friend brought it to my attention.  Apparently the theory is that you need to tailor your diet based on your blood type?  This sounds excessively medieval to me.  Didn’t doctoring based on the concept of the four humors go out of style sometime in the 19th century?  Also, the #4 in the middle of the name irks me on a grammatical level.

Or, there’s the ever popular theory that weight gain is caused not by over eating, or eating nutritionally empty foods, but by allergies.  This has the benefit of externalizing the causal factor of your weight/weight gain from you, and passing it off to an ‘illness’ beyond your control.  Personally I would have thought that the hassle of removing gluten or soy, or dairy, or eggs, or whatever it is you think you’re allergic to from your diet, is much more difficult than just eating more balanced meals, but then I am deeply skeptical of self-diagnosed allergies.

This is not to discredit the difficulties that people who do have actual (diagnosed!) allergies have.  And, on the upside, the growing market for gluten/soy/dairy/egg-free products has improved the quality and availability of those products by leaps and bounds, and that in turn has improved the quality of life for people who do have to tailor their diets to avoid certain ingredients.

We, however, are not dieting.  Particularly not on a Birthday request Dinner night – although, as Birthday Dinners go this is pretty abstemious.

Turkey Meatball Banh-Mi
w/ pickled vegetables
Mango Slaw
Kale Salad with Spicy Peanut Dressing

Sticky Orange Cake with Marmalade Glaze

Turkey Meatball Banh-Mi with Pickled Vegetables

Recipe previously given:  The Perfect Food?

bahn mi

Mango Slaw
You know what I’m looking forward to next week?  Not having to julienne any vegetables.  Next week’s Dinner is, in fact, 85% made already because I will be away this weekend and planned ahead to an alarming degree.  Next week’s Dinner was made (well, portions of it) and frozen two weeks ago, and just awaits defrosting and assembling next week.

That said, recipe for Mango Slaw previously given:  The Perfect Food?


Kale Salad with Spicy Peanut Dressing
Even spicier when you glace at the recipe too quickly and transpose the amounts for red pepper flakes and salt.

Recipe previously given:  Oscars 2012

kale salad

Sticky Orange Cake with Marmalade Glaze
Normally my (internal) response to someone telling me their vegan is ‘oh dear god, why?’  However, that said, if you’re in search of a vegan dessert this is vegan and still tasty.  It can be done (although, oh dear god, why?).

There’s a group of cakes variously known as Wonder Cakes, Wacky Cakes, or Crazy Cakes.  They’re wonderful, wacky, or crazy because they call for no eggs or butter and use baking powder and vinegar to achieve leavening.

I’ve been making a chocolate version of this cake for . . . .well, actually, for decades at this point, but it had never occurred to me you could make other flavors.  It was a revelation.  This is a sticky orange version, but I would have thought you could make it in a lot of different variations.  You could use mango juice and ginger preserves for the glaze for a tropical twist.  Or, ooh, you could use coconut water, and make a lime glaze with rum and it would probably taste like the cake version of a pina colada . . . serve it with some toasted coconut and a wedge of pineapple (& maraschino cherry) speared with a paper umbrella.

This makes a double layer cake, but you could also easily halve it and serve it as a simple afternoon tea kind of cake.

stacked cake

3 cups flour
1 ½ cups white sugar
½ cup dark brown sugar
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
¾ tsp cinnamon
(very scant) ¼ tsp cloves
Zest of an orange
2 cups fresh orange juice
2/3 cup vegetable oil
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp vanilla

¼ cup marmalade
2 Tbsp whisky/bourbon/vodka/water (although really, why?)

Preheat your oven to 350.  Butter (or use vegetable oil if you’re going vegan) two 9” cake pans, line them with parchment rounds and butter the rounds.

Sift together all the dry ingredients (for this cake sugar counts as a dry ingredient).

Whisk together the wet ingredients, plus the orange zest.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and whisk to mix thoroughly.  Divide evenly between the two cake pans.

Bake for 30-35 minutes.

Allow the cakes to cool in the pans for 20 minutes.

Whisk together the marmalade and liquid of choice (I used bourbon because we always have bourbon in the house and we don’t have vodka, plus I think the bourbon add a nice caramel note to the glaze) and bring to a simmer in a small saucepan. Allow to simmer just until runny.

When the cakes have cooled for 20 minutes, turn out one of them, remove the parchment paper and pierce all over with a toothpick.  Drizzle half the glaze over the cake, spreading it out evenly.

Turn out the second layer – remove parchment/pierce with a toothpick – and then place on top of the first layer.  Drizzle the remaining glaze over the top and spread out evenly, allowing a little to drip over the sides.

Allow to cool completely.

Serve as is, or, if you’re feeling decadent with extra glaze and/or ice cream.  I made an extra ½ cup of glaze, and served the cake with extra glaze and a choice of pistachio ice cream and/or strawberry sorbet.

It would probably also be good with fresh fruit and a dab of whipped cream.  Some of these options, obviously, remove it from the category of vegan, but you can mix and match to suit your needs.
slice of cake


One comment

  1. […] then progressed through a Sticky Orange Cake drowned in a Bourbon Marmalade Glaze (which honestly was probably one of the least decadent requests in that it did not involve pints of […]

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