News: Cookbooks for two ages

Cookbooks for two ages

Look at the banner for this Books world and you'll see books of all kinds, including cookbooks. Can you spot the two of them in the banner? One of them is pretty obvious, Betty Crocker's Cookbook. The other is actually right beside it, The Anti-Aging Plan. What's interesting about these two is that they're actually from two different periods of my life.

Cookbooks for two agesI bought Betty Crocker's Cookbook during my university days in the earlier 1980s. It's what taught me to cook meals and treats for myself and for my many roommates. The meals from it were few, pancakes and meat loaf, but the treats were many: Christmas Snow Cake, Cat Cake (for a roommate who owned cats), Boston Cream Pie (a failed attempt to replicate what Mom used to make), Brownies, Peanut Butter Cookies, Peanut Butter Fudge (lots and lots of), Lemon Meringue Pie, and then the one that must have been my own creation because I can't find it now, chocolate cake with chocolate fudge between the layers and chocolate icing on top. Can you believe I never weighed over 130lbs? Can you believe I graduated computer science, not cooking!

This cookbook is made up of chapters like Meats/Main Dishes, Salads/Vegetables, Breads/Pasta/Rice, Desserts, Appetizers/Snacks/Beverages and Special Helps/Index. Perfect for someone starting from scratch. Each chapter starts out with subsections of helpful tips such as What the Meat Label Tells You, Storing Salad Greens, Pointers on Pans, ... and then the Special Helps section offers basics such as Keeping Food Clean, Keeping Food Hot or Cold, and Food Safety Tips. As a young male bachelor, I recalled none of this from my upbringing.

Over my four years at university many pages of recipes were added to the book such as my sister's special lasagna, Pouding Chomeur (poor man's pudding in English), and even one called Sophie's 'boy these are good' Chocolate Chip Cookies printed out on ancient dot matrix printer paper still with my university user account banner page attached. However, perhaps my fondest page is the front page filled with loving goodbye notes from the very roommates who enjoyed so much that was produced from the book: "Cook casual, your first cooking partner" and "Loved your pizza, your pancakes and more... but can't say much for that flat chocolate cake!", a reference to my one and only attempt at baking a cake in a microwave oven.

Betty Crocker's Cookbook has sat neglected in my cupboard for well over twenty years now, forever stained with samples of the pleasures derived from it.

Cookbooks for two agesAnd the second book I mentioned in the opening paragraph? The Anti-Aging Plan is one I picked up when my university days were well behind me and I approached middle age, logically enough. Its authors are Roy L. Walford, M.D. and his daughter Lisa Walford. Dr. Walford is famous for two things. The first was his research on how mice who were fed a nutritious diet but with 50% reduced calories lived for twice their expected life span. This was the first ever proven method for extending a life span and has been replicated in other species over the years. It has yet to be proven in humans, though, due to the lengthy time such an experiment would take.

The second thing he is famous for is being the doctor and dietician in Biosphere 2, a large scale experiment that had eight people living in a completely sealed environment for two years. During those two years, all eight inhabitants were on the anti-aging diet and showed both weight loss and improved health on emerging from the habitat.

The Anti-Aging Plan book describes in more detail what I've written above and then goes on to talk about various foods and their pluses and minuses as a part of a nutritious but calorie restricted diet. The latter half of the book is then a collection of recipes invented by Lisa Walford for anyone who wants to follow the diet.

The recipes are highly nutritious and calorie restricted, and also often have more ingredients than is usual, in order to fill all daily requirements. Many are a lot of work for anyone who is used to starting dinner, vanishing to do something else while it's cooking and then returning to the kitchen when done. A good plan though is to cook eight servings of a meal and freeze seven. Do this again one week later, and again one week after that, and pretty soon you'll be eating these meals on a daily basis without having to cook every day.

This is what I do, but I do it once every four weeks, which means I eat two of these meals at dinner time every three days. To maintain variety, I rotate around which ones I do, those being the Lasagne, the Stuffed Peppers, and the Chickpea Pilaf. To make up for my lack of daily dinners I have the Meganutrient Shake for breakfast every morning, even though it takes ten minutes to make and another five to clean up later. But still, it's so delicious it's like having candy for breakfast. As such, I'll end this blog post with the recipe. Bon appetit.

Meganutrient Shake - Recipe by Lisa Walford

Mix all of the following ingredients in a blender.

1 cup nonfat (skim) milk
1/2 cup plain nonfat yogurt
1 orange, peeled and seeded
1/2 banana
4 dried apricots, plumped in water overnight and drained
1 tablespoon wheat germ
1 scant teaspoon brewer's yeast

1 tablespoon of bran flakes
1/2 a mango

Over the years I've also added:
1 tablespoon rice bran
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1 tablespoon sunflower seeds
1 tablespoon flax (blended first, the whole seeds are not digestible)

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