I was doing so well with my dieting (well, OK, not all that well, but at least I had somewhat halted the upward trend.) But then I was sabotaged by social media.
As I was perusing my email looking for something meaningful in the sea of messages Facebook insists on clogging my inbox with daily, one headline caught my eye and I clicked on it.
The article was about Katharine Hepburn’s favorite brownie recipe. I have no idea why the person who posted it to their feed did so, or why I opened it, but I did.
Of course, I immediately discovered that, as with 99 percent of Facebook postings, it was a waste of time. There was nothing special about the recipe other than its celebrity connection. It was pretty much identical to every other version of brownies out there.
But the accompanying picture was luscious looking, and such is the power of electronic suggestion that even though I have almost no sweet tooth and seldom if ever eat dessert, I suddenly developed a compulsion to bake brownies. Immediately.
Unfortunately, I had all the ingredients available. So I did.
And then ate half the batch as soon as they cooled.
So much for dieting.
I would have felt really bad about myself, except that, as I was chasing the last crumbs around the pan the next day, I had an epiphany.
With the powerful theorizing ability I inherited from my dad, I made a breakthrough discovery. I found the root cause of the American obesity epidemic.
Now, I’m sure you have seen a lot of speculation about Americans’ weight gain and the increase in diabetes rates from scientists and nutritionists, who posit that added sugars in the American diet are to blame. They believe that our vastly increased consumption of sugar and carbohydrates is the culprit, pointing to their substitution for fats in processed foods during the misguided “lite” years, when we mistakenly believed that fat is what makes you fat.
But I’m here to tell you that’s just fake news promulgated by the lamestream media. I will never understand why they insist on interviewing only actual scientists, doctors, professors and other people with expertise in the subject matter. I’m sure those fine folks believe what they are saying, but their deep knowledge needs to be measured against something far weightier.
My uninformed opinion.
And my opinion is that technology is to blame for my spreading bottom. The smoking gun is sitting on my kitchen counter. It’s my iPad, the single most evil invention of the 21st century.
Consider the facts: In the same time period that I have owned my iPad, I have gained 5 pounds. That can’t be mere coincidence.
It’s true that I have also gotten a year or two older, but I don’t see how that could possibly matter. That’s almost as nonsensical as blaming my weight gain on the wet Halloween that left me with eight open bags of Halloween candy, or the copious amounts of wine needed to get me through the monsoon season this winter or the deep-fried comfort foods helping me weather the Trump regime. All red herrings.
Obviously, the iPad is to blame. It’s the only credible explanation.
Mine is now my newspaper, my library, my address book, my telephone, my entertainment and my biggest addiction. It keeps luring me back to sit in front of its high-calorie emissions for hours at a time. It’s evil, I tell you, and it’s out to make me fat.
I believe in this theory so strongly that I am conducting a drastic experiment this week to prove it. I can’t go cold turkey, as the withdrawal symptoms would be too severe, but I am strictly limiting my exposure to an hour a day. After that, I’m shutting the thing down and walking away.
I feel better already. And I expect to see the pounds start dropping off immediately.
Which is great. Because then I’ll be looking my best when I get the call telling me my ground-breaking discovery and solution to the obesity problem has earned me the Nobel Prize and/or a McArthur “genius” grant.
Don’t worry, you’ll hear about it when it happens.
I’ll post it on Facebook.
Perfectly Ordinary (but really good) Brownies
Katherine Hepburn’s original version used cocoa powder, but mine looked suspiciously old, so I reverted to my classic recipe, which uses unsweetened baking chocolate.
These brownies always work for me, but I am sure there are hundreds of ways to improve on them that I haven’t tried, for example by adding espresso powder, cherries or chocolate chips. I don’t want to invalidate my iPad diet experiment by conducting any further recipe testing this week, so I’m just giving you the basic recipe.
If you think yours are better, please let me know your version and what tweaks you have made. Once I’m skinny again (any day now, I’m sure), I’ll be happy to check it out.
2 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more to grease the pan
1 scant cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 cup flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup chopped nuts (I use pecans)
Heat oven to 325 degrees.
Generously butter an 8-inch square pan. Set aside.
Break up the chocolate and cut the butter into chunks, and place them in a medium-sized metal bowl. Set it over a pan of simmering water and stir the butter chocolate mixture continuously until it is just melted and combined.
Remove the bowl from the heat and let cool a minute. Whisk in the sugar, then the vanilla extract. (Note, I use more like 3/4 cup sugar, as I don’t like them too sweet.) Add in the eggs one at a time, whisking or stirring vigorously until they are thoroughly incorporated. Whisk in the flour and salt, then the nuts.
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake. Depending on your oven, they will take 25-35 minutes. Keep an eye on them as you don’t want to overcook them or they will be dry. Test them after 25 minutes by inserting a toothpick into the center; when they are ready it should come up clean.