They say the first step to dealing with addiction is admitting that you have a problem. I’ve been in denial for months, but I’m finally ready to fess up.
My name is Betty, and I’m an addict.
No, it isn’t the wine I love to drink on an almost daily basis. Don’t be silly. As a citizen of Napa, that’s merely fulfilling my civic duty.
It’s also not drugs or gambling. Or even chocolate.
But you’re getting closer. It is a candy, kind of.
Gumdrops. Or rather “Gummy Drops.”
I’m addicted to an incredibly stupid game of that name that I made the terrible mistake of downloading to my phone a few months ago.
I should have known better. I nearly got hooked on Candy Crush last year. Fortunately, I hit an impasse where they wanted me to pay actual real-world money to play any further, and my inherent cheapness helped me to quit cold turkey.
Gummy Drops is pretty much a clone of Candy Crush. Since I had successfully quit the original game, I figured it wasn’t a big deal to download this copycat version to help me pass the time on a long plane ride last fall. It did keep me occupied during the trip, but I found the individual challenges repetitive and boring, so I planned to erase it from my phone when I got home.
Except somehow I didn’t.
As dull as the game is (and it is mind-bogglingly dull), I couldn’t seem to quit. I found myself opening the app whenever my day hit a lull. In the past several months I’ve spent countless hours playing, all the while being bored silly and wondering why I was doing it at all.
Clearly, this is an irrational addiction. And after experiencing a cruel wake-up call, I’m finally ready to acknowledge it.
I was in Florida last week for my dad’s 99th birthday celebration, and stayed in a hotel that was diabolical enough to place a full-length mirror in a location that forced you to observe yourself in all your glorious nakedness as you stepped out of the shower.
They say addicts tend not to quit until they hit rock bottom, and I finally hit it with that mirror.
Or at least, I hit “fat bottom.”
Because the evidence of the 5 pounds I put on my butt this winter was inescapable in my reflection. And I suddenly realized that this stupid game is to blame.
Before I downloaded it, my favorite app was the one for my Fitbit, which tracks my steps, miles and calories. Instead of sitting in a chair playing dumb games to gain fake gems to build monuments that already exist in far better form in the real world, I walked. I paced all the time, even when I watched TV. My reward was the stimulating little buzz the rubber bracelet gave off every day when I reached my 10,000-step goal (and the joy of occasionally out-stepping my sisters).
As I looked at the flabby evidence in the mirror, I realized that I couldn’t remember the last time I had experienced that buzz. When I started playing the game, I’d stopped moving — and my body showed it.
Just like that, my long nightmare was over. I realized I had the power to save myself and my figure, and the means was right at my fingertips. I didn’t even need a support group. All I had to do was deep-six the game — and then get off my fat butt and start walking again. (Because the only other alternative was to go on a diet, and as you know, I am much too ladylike to allow that nasty four-letter word to cross my lips.)
I confess it took me a few days longer to work up the nerve, but today I finally did it. I deleted the game and sent those stupid gummy drops to oblivion.
I let go of my addiction and gave myself over to a higher power.
Yogurt, Leek and Barley Soup
From “Yogurt: Sweet and Savory Recipes for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner” by Janet Fletcher
No, I’m not giving you a recipe for gumdrops, or for anything that remotely reminds me of that stupid, boring game. I may not be dieting, but I’m also not indulging in sweets until I get my bathing suit body back. Instead, I’m offering you a delicious and satisfying soup.
I tested this recipe last year for my friend Janet Fletcher, while she was working on her fabulous new yogurt cookbook. I loved it so much I’ve made it many times since then, but couldn’t share it with you until her book was published.
One taste will likely send you scurrying to buy the book, and I urge you to do so, as her other recipes are equally wonderful.
1 quart chicken broth, preferably homemade
1/2 pound skinless, boneless chicken thighs
1/3 cup pearled barley
1 cup thinly sliced leeks, white and pale green part only
1½ cups plain whole milk yogurt
1½ Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 large egg yolk
2 packed Tbsp. chopped fresh dill, plus more for garnish
Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp. unsalted butter
1/2 tsp. Aleppo pepper or hot paprika
In a medium pot, combine the chicken broth and chicken thighs. Bring the broth to a simmer over medium heat, skimming any foam. Cover and adjust the heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Cook 5 minutes, then remove from the heat and allow the thighs to steep until just cooked through (5 to 10 minutes longer, depending on size). Remove them with tongs and, when cool enough to handle, shred the meat into bite-size pieces and set aside.
Add the barley to the broth. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook, covered, for 30 minutes. Add the leeks and continue simmering gently, covered, until the barley is tender, 10 to 15 minutes longer.
In a large bowl, whisk together the yogurt, flour, egg yolk and dill. Whisk in about half of the soup to warm the yogurt, then pour the mixture into the pot with the remaining stock, whisking constantly. Add the shredded chicken. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the soup just begins to simmer. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Divide among warm bowls.
In a small pan or butter warmer, melt the butter over medium heat. When it sizzles and foams, add the pepper and swirl for a few seconds to bring out its fragrance. Drizzle some of the sizzling butter over the surface of each soup, dividing it evenly. Garnish with a little more chopped dill and serve immediately.