I was so happy to wave goodbye to 2016 that I made a terrible mistake. I looked in the rear-view mirror to wave goodbye to it.
Which is when I discovered that I couldn’t quite see it to wave goodbye (with whatever finger I happened to raise). Because the image in said mirror was obscured by other residue from the year.
My own expanding rear view.
Yes, among its many other horrors, 2016 was the year in which the temporary pounds that crept on in 2015 while I was nursing a sprained ankle decided to set up a permanent settlement on my butt.
Seriously? Like the year wasn’t bad enough without that?
I had largely convinced myself that the steady creep of the numbers on my accurate-to-three-digits scale was a glitch in the mechanism that would likely correct itself the next time I changed the batteries. After all, I exercise vigorously and regularly, love veggies, avoid junk food and don’t even like sweets. I’m such a goody-goody, I wouldn’t blame you if you despised me.
And yet, as that glance in the mirror confirmed, even with my obnoxiously healthy habits, extra avoirdupois has slowly and stealthily attached itself to my body at the rate of about a pound a year.
Now a single pound is nothing much to be concerned about. Anyone’s weight can fluctuate by much more than that during a day. So bouncing numbers don’t worry me much, as I figure that my weight will be back down the next time I step onto the scale.
But the trend line has been up. And as anyone saving for retirement knows, there’s real magic in the power of compounding. A little bit added every year turns into a much larger amount over time.
With a 401(k) that’s a very good thing. But with weight, not so much.
I was traveling over New Year’s, so needed to pull out my driver’s license at the airport. I usually don’t look at it very carefully, but I wanted to check the renewal date, so this time I actually read what it says.
And what it says is that I’m a liar. They should lock me up.
According to my license, which carries data from 1998, when I moved to California, I weigh a full 20 pounds less than my scale insists I do. (Well actually, make that 22 pounds. But I’m sure the scale is broken.)
I would happily go with that number (after all, a license is an official government document — who am I to question it?), except my too-tight clothes and that mirror reflection are refusing to play ball.
Now, despite what I say when I am joking around, my New Year’s resolutions this year had nothing to do with losing weight. (Number one was to write to members of Congress so often that they say, “Oh God, her again?” every time they see my return address. Please join me in that.)
However, my skirts and dresses are demanding that I also focus on the gap between their size and reality. They look so depressed, hanging unworn in the closet, that I really must do something to cheer them up. And they have made their preferences known. Exercise won’t cut it. They want me to (gasp) go on a diet.
Oh, ugh. I hate dieting. It always makes me hungry.
But they insist that what goes up (and up, and up) must come down. So a January diet it is. I am tossing out my carbs, shelving the wine and heading to the store to stock up on salad fixings and veggies.
While I’m there, though, I’m also going to pick up some fresh batteries.
I really think there is something wrong with the scale.
Baked Cherry Tomatoes with Garlic and Saffron
From “The New Spanish Table” by Anya von Bremzen
I’m glad I didn’t realize that the New Year’s dinner I participated in with my dear friends in the DC area was going to be one of my last high-calorie adventures for awhile, as it might have dimmed my enjoyment of a fabulous meal.
We picked a Basque theme this year, so I dug into a favorite Spanish cookbook for a side dish to accompany the slow-roasted lamb, and found these tomatoes, which were a real hit. Their cheery color was appropriately festive on the plate, and the flavors just popped.
This recipe is a keeper. It would be good at any time of year, but is particularly great for winter, when other tomatoes are not worth eating.
1/3 cup high quality olive oil
1 medium-size pinch of saffron, ground to powder with a mortar and pestle
2 pints red cherry tomatoes
4 large garlic cloves, cut in slivers
1/2 tsp. sweet (not hot) pimentón (smoked paprika)
1 pinch red pepper flakes
2 sprigs fresh thyme
Mince fresh parsley for garnish
Heat the oven to 400 degrees.
In a shallow baking dish large enough to hold the tomatoes in a single layer, heat the oil and saffron together over low heat. (If you have a ceramic cazuela, you can do this on the stovetop, but I used Pyrex, so just put the pan in the oven while it was heating up.)
Add the garlic and tomatoes, tossing to coat, and cook for 1 minute. Then stir in the paprika and red pepper and place the thyme on top. Sprinkle with salt.
Bake until the tomatoes are plump and just starting to split, about 20 minutes.
Let cool a few minutes before serving. Garnish with chopped parsley.