Tuesday, April 26, 2011

What Would You Say To Jean Nidetch?

Fifty years ago something monumental happened.

Jean Nidetch invited six of her friends over to her living room in Queens, NY. They met there once a week and talked about their weight loss struggles and successes. None of them were doctors or nutritionists or psychologists. They were just friends. It was the birth of the Weight Watchers meeting.

Back then, it was really brave and liberating for these women to confess their eating compulsions and struggles in a public forum. It was just unheard of.

Now there are thousands of Weight Watchers meetings all over the world with millions of men and women sharing their weight loss stories. There are weight loss blogs, message boards, and social networking sites. The whole bit.

All thanks to Jean, we now know that the sharing makes the journey so much easier, and Jean's spirit is in all of us as we chronicle our journey to become thinner & healthier.

So here's my question to you:

What would you say to Jean if you had a chance? What burning question would you ask her? What would you want to share with her more than anything else?

Tell me in 10 words or less.

Send it to me in an email. Tweet it to me using #jeannidetch. Or get really creative and send me a picture, poem or even a recipe to express your Jean Nidetch love. I will compile your messages and publish them all together in one special "To Jean With Love" post during the month of May.

Don't forget to include your blog URL so I can add a link!

So what are you waiting for? Join The Retro WW Movement and show your love for our founder, Jean. I'm sure she can't wait to hear from us!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Egg Rules

Happy Easter! Good news everyone--EGGS are legal on the Retro WW Program. But as always -- there are a few peculiar "rules" provided by the 1972 WW Program Cookbook that we must follow:

  • No more than 4 eggs per week, for breakfast or lunch ONLY, never for dinner.
  • Eggs may be cooked in the shell, poached, or scrambled without added fat. Do NOT eat raw eggs.
  • Egg whites and egg yolks may be prepared in separate recipes provided that both white and yolk are consumed as part of the same meal.

There is no rule against dying your eggs. So go ahead... get crazy with the food coloring!

Would you believe I even found a recipe in my 1972 WW Program Cookbook for deviled eggs?! Oh yes. Easter is a happy day for the Retro WW gal.

Now if I could just find something in my Retro WW rulebook about chocolate bunnies and jellybeans. I'm sure there's a loophole in there somewhere.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Catsup Revisited

There is one statement that you can guarantee has been muttered by every single Retro WW alum from the early 1970's:

"We made our own catsup!"

This is also the aspect of the Retro WW Program that is most intriguing to the modern day Weight Watcher. In fact--this aspect of the Retro WW experience is so crucial that it was actually the very first recipe I ever attempted on this blogging experiment. Yep. I made my own catsup. You can read about it here.

You would not believe how many requests I get for this recipe. I didn't include it in my original "catsup post", because I never thought anyone would want it. Plus--no one was really reading this blog back then, except my mom--and she already had the recipe.

Anyway. I have no idea why anyone would ever want this recipe. I doubt Jean Nidetch even still uses it. But for what it's worth--here it is. Ladies and gentlemen. I give you...


46 oz. tomato juice
2 cups sliced celery
1 tsp each: allspice, mace, celery seed
8 cloves
8 peppercorns
1-inch stick cinnamon
1/4 tsp dry mustard
1 clove garlic
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup cider vinegar
dash cayenne pepper
artificial sweetener equal to 2 tbsp sugar

Boil first 9 ingredients in wide saucepan until reduced by half. Stir frequently to prevent scorching. Put sauce through strainer and press out juice from celery then put sauce back in skillet. Add remaining ingredients except sweetener. Bring to boil and cook 10 minutes longer at fast-simmer temperature stirring constantly. Stir in sweetener. Store in fridge and use as needed. Will keep for weeks.

So there you have it Retro WW fans! The most Retro Weight Watcheriest recipe in all the land! Run and tell your friends where they can find it. But be sure to give Ms. Jean Nidetch credit. And if you decide to whip up a batch, make sure to share it with your favorite WW buddy!

Monday, April 18, 2011

A Latke Luncheon

In my family, we call them "potato pancakes", and we eat them by the pound - smothered in gobs of salty cottage cheese. I can still remember my grandmother making them for us on Fridays during lent. She grated those potatoes until her knuckles bled.

In other families--they are known as latkes. A traditional Jewish delicacy topped with applesauce or sour cream.

Whoever you are or however you prepare them--you will agree that they are a yummy treat. But not so easy on the waistline.

So when I saw the Retro WW version of "Potato" Latkes in the January 1971 issue of WW Magazine -- I had to give it a whirl.

Those pesky quotation marks alerted me right off the bat--I was not getting my grandmothers potato pancakes. No ma'am. Instead--I was getting something entirely different...

10 ounces of cooked cauliflower pureed with 1/3 cup cottage cheese, a slice of bread, 1 tbsp of dehydrated onion flakes and some salt and pepper. The mixture is then spooned into 6 patties on a cookie sheet and baked at 350 for 25 minutes or until crisp on top.

I have to admit--I was pleasantly surprised. Especially when I learned that I could eat all 6 latkes for one serving! Very satisfying and very delicious.

How did they compare to my grandmother's potato pancakes? Come on. Do you really have to ask?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

I'm Sorry, French Fry

If you know me, or have spent any length of time in my presence--then it is almost a certainty that you know one very important fact about me: I love French Fries.

I could eat them every day and at every meal. They are, in my opinion, the perfect food.

So today, when I was perusing my brand new stack of 1970 Vintage WW Magazines (thank you eBay) - and I came across The Second Annual Gourmet Contest: 51 Prize-Winning Recipes, I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw this:

Second Prize Winner: "French Fries"
Submitted by: Mrs. Gerald Abramowitz of Brooklyn, NY

Holy fried potato! Could this really be true?

Then I read the recipe:

8 oz. Italian Green Beans
1/2 tsp salt

Place beans on cookie sheet . Sprinkle with salt. Bake at 400 for 10 minutes until brown and crisp.

You've got to be freaking kidding me, Mrs. Gerald Abramowitz. Seriously?? Do you really expect me to fall for these shenanigans?

Despite my displeasure and irritation, I decided I needed to try these so-called "French Fries" for myself. Second prize winner my arse, Mrs. Gerald Abramowitz.

So I laid out my green beans, salted them generously and waited patiently for them to get nice and crispy in the oven.

When I brought them out of the oven, I took one look at the pitiful little dried up beans and almost threw them in the trash out of sheer disgust. How could you do this to my beloved French Fry, Mrs. Gerald Abramowitz? HOW?

But...I took a little taste...

Oh. My. GAWD.

I'm not going to say it tasted like a French Fry. I'm not going to say it was even close. But, Damn. Mrs. Gerald Abramowitz--wherever you are: You deserved that Second Prize.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Tuna Redemption

Upon reading the comments on my last post, I felt obliged to respond to the big question on everyone's mind:

How did the double-decker Lemon & Tuna Mold taste?

Well. How do I put this? To be quite honest. It was dreadful. One bite was all my gag reflex could handle, and then I threw it in the trash. Of course, I kept it around for a few hours before pitching it - just to stand in awe of its beauty. Then it had to go. It was garbage night, and I didn't want that thing lingering around the house for an entire week.

To make up for the Tuna Mold atrocity, I decided to try a more palatable dish this week. I also decided it had to be a tuna recipe, because I wanted to get right with my Retro WW karma.

I found this little lovely in my November 1972 Weight Watchers magazine, and it actually wasn't half bad!

Tangy Tuna Fish

1 Tbsp dehydrated onion flakes
1 garlic clove, minced
1/3 cup cottage cheese
2 Tbsp water
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 medium cucumber, diced
6 ounces flaked tuna fish

Combine first 5 ingredients in blender and whiz smooth. (Warning: DO NOT make the mistake of smelling this mixture. It will scare the bejesus out of your senses). Combine cucumber and tuna in a bowl then add cottage cheese mixture.

I served it up with some sliced veggies, and had myself a lovely Retro WW legal lunch.

It was quick, tasty and easy. And best of all: No need for a fancy copper mold. Lesson Learned.

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Vlog: Getting Jiggly With It

It all started with a dream and a $2.99 copper gelatin mold.

Never before had I attempted such a daring Retro WW Experiment, and if I was gonna go for it--I was gonna get it on video.

A double decker mold is not just a recipe. It is an art project. And it takes multiple stages, impeccable timing and several long hours in order to get it just right. Please allow me to break it down for you...

Stage One: The Lemon Layer

This layer required one envelope of Knox dissolved in water and some lemon juice, salt, sugar and yellow food coloring. Pour into mold. Chill until set. This was the easy part.

Stage Two: The Tuna & Veggie Layer

This layer required three envelopes of Knox dissolved in water and some vinegar, salt and lemon juice. Then we chill in a bowl until partially set. But WAIT! There's more! It is crucial that you catch the gelatin at just the right consistency so you can drop in some peas, sliced cucumbers, diced celery, and tuna. If you place them in at exactly the right time--they will float in a kind of gelatinized suspended animation. If you do it too early, though--they'll sink. Timing is everything.

Stage Three: The Final Chill

Pour the tuna & salad mixture over the lemon layer and chill until completely firm. The entire process from start to finish should take about 7-8 hours. I am not even freaking kidding you.

Stage Four: The Unmolding

This is my favorite part. Seriously. I get so excited I have to catch my breath every time. The best way to unmold a huge sucker like this is to soak the mold in luke-warm water for about a minute to loosen it up. Then you can turn it over onto a plate and dig in. As you can see from the video...mine slid right out without a problem. If you listen very closely, you can even hear the sucking sound it makes when the gelatin breaks the vaccuum and pops free from the mold. What a glorious moment. Success!

So there you have it... Two layers, 12 servings, and a LOT of leftovers. Another Retro WW Challenge conquered!

What is it about the gelatin mold that fascinates me so? I don't know. But, the art of molding is truly a hobby of mine. What's your food passion?

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Alert the Media

Looky what I picked up at the local thrift store today for $2.99 - it's a mind-blowing double-decker copper gelatin mold. What a beauty!

What I have planned for this bad boy is going to Knox your socks off! Here's a tease: It involves a box of unflavored gelatin (yes--the entire box), a cucumber, some food coloring and a video camera. Don't worry - the whole kit and kaboodle is Retro WW "legal"!

Curious? Well then, you simply must stay tuned for something that has never before been attempted here at the Retro WW Experiment. But, I need a few days to build up my courage.

Jean Nidetch...wherever you are...give me strength!