With Christmas present rapidly receding into Christmas past, it’s time to prepare for the next big event. Are you ready? Have you made your attitude adjustment yet?
Once the tree is out on the curb, we will be departing the “be nice to others” season of the year and entering “beat up on yourself month.” It will soon be time to stare at yourself with loathing in the mirror, then dig out your gym clothes from the back of the closet, dust off the exercise bike and stock up on celery and carrots.
Yes, it’s resolution time, when collectively we all look at ourselves covered in the crumbs of the 4 billion cookies we just consumed, and decide some self-improvement is needed. Will you once again be resolving to lose 10 pounds and get back into shape in the next month? If so, you are in good company. Those are the most common resolutions every year. They certainly should be on my list.
The exercise part doesn’t bother me. After a month or two of inactivity from my now-healed sprained ankle, I’m happy to be back moving again. But my workouts are not doing anything to reverse the numbers on the scale. I know I should also be watching what I eat and following the dictates of the latest fad diet along with millions of my fellow Americans.
But don’t look for me to do it.
I have never understood why we pick the most depressing month of the year to pile on more misery. Isn’t January bad enough on its own, with its short days, limited sunshine and uninspired vegetable selection? Do we really need to add the twin demons of diet and exercise to the dreariest days of the year?
There is never a good time to start a diet, but beginning one in January is sheer madness. Comfort foods are a necessity to stave off winter depression.
Besides, I’ll soon be ringing in the new year back East with a group of longtime friends. Our annual dinner party feast is no time to start practicing restraint. Menu discussions have started, and are currently focusing on a 25-pound cut of farm-to-table fresh ham. I’m a team player: I’ll do my part to consume that monster.
Right after that, I’m heading to an island in the Caribbean for a week. Sure, it would be wonderful to bring my hot bathing suit body with me but, realistically, there’s no time to lose the weight before I get there (plus I think that ship sailed in 1985).
While there, I’ll hope to melt off some of my excess poundage in the warm sun, and may even get some exercise walking on the beach. But dieting? Forget it. Did I mention it’s a French island? Enough said.
I know what you are thinking. This is procrastination. When I get home, 2016 will only be a week old, so I could easily delay the start of my New Year’s resolution.
Except that I’ve scored a plum food writer assignment as the official blogger for the Napa Truffle Festival in mid-January. For several days, I will be required (required!) to attend any number of meals cooked by distinguished chefs featuring dishes showered in truffles. My extremely limited supply of willpower is no match for that.
As you know, my manners are impeccable. I’m much too well-bred to draw attention to my rapidly expanding waistline by refusing a dish, and certainly too polite to decline to partake in anything served. I would never offend a chef by failing to clean my plate of every last bite.
With all my various activities, January dieting is off the agenda. But as much as I hate to admit it, I really do need to lose those pesky pounds that are making all my clothes tight. And I am not above beating up on myself along with the rest of you at this time of year.
So, my fellow Americans, I am joining you in resolving to go on a diet.
In February. Or maybe March.
Well, before summer at least.
One for the Money Cocktail
What, did you think I was going to give you a recipe for kale salad? Don’t be silly. For one thing, I can’t wait for that vegetable to return to the obscurity it justly deserves. And for another, it’s December and we’re still in the feel-good celebratory weeks of the year. So let’s have a drink.
I made this cocktail for the annual holiday party of the cookbook club, and it was a hit (at least with me). It is fairly low alcohol, and features Cocchi Americano, a delicious wine-based Italian aperitivo that you really should get to know.
I chanced upon this recipe in a blog called “The Bojon Gourmet,” which attributed it to the Third Rail, a San Francisco bar. I haven’t tried it at the bar yet, but the home version is great.
1 ounce Cocchi Americano
1/2 ounce St. Germain (elderflower liqueur)
1/2 ounce lemon juice
1/2 tsp. (about 10 drops) cardamom/saffron tincture
1/2 cup Everclear or vodka
1 large pinch saffron
1 Tbsp. cardamom pods, cracked open
Make the tincture at least 24 hours in advance: Add the cardamom and saffron to the alcohol and let sit for 1 to 3 days, then strain and discard the spices.
To make the drink, you can use a cocktail shaker or just mix it in the glass. Mix together the Cocchi Americano, St. Germain and lemon juice and stir in the tincture. Serve on the rocks in a highball glass, topped with Prosecco or sparkling wine. Garnish with lemon or grapefruit, peel if you like.
For a party, you can make a quantity of the liqueur/lemon juice mixture in advance. Use 2 ounces in each drink, along with 1/2 teaspoon of the tincture and the Prosecco.
You can also substitute seltzer for the Prosecco for a refreshing low-alcohol version.