I’ve had easier breakups.
But it was time. Refined white sugar and I have been together for thirty years, more or less. And I reached a point these last few weeks where I finally needed to have “the talk.”
I’ve grown weary of what amounts to a horribly unhealthy and dysfunctional relationship: The constant roller-coaster ride between fits of frenetic passion and deep brooding spells of anxiety and want.
I told sugar I was tired of being jerked around like that. And Smothered! Talk about possessive. Sugar keeps from enjoying the full range of my palate. I was sick of the way it seemed to feel threatened by other sweet things like fresh fruit, and always demanded to tag along. No, sugar, I will not dip my bananas in you.
It was planning my meals, controlling my sleep, trying to pick my clothes and even getting me to do dangerous things like doze off for a minute at work when my energy waned.
Sidenote: Problem with falling asleep at work? It’s not the snoring. It’s the drooling.
Of course I took the high road and told sugar I still wanted to be friends. I can’t imagine drinking a glass of iced tea without it, and it’s not like I’m going to completely give up baking Eventually there will be a more healthy equilibrium.
But, for now, I’m drinking my coffee black, using honey in my bread, and eating a LOT of fruit.
Now, no one likes being on the business end of the “Lets just be friends” speech, but sugar took it especially badly, and proceeded to make my life utter hell for several days. Headaches. Shaking. Anxiety. A tired which hung over me like a damp grainy fog. Insaaane cravings. At one point I was seconds away from popping a sugar packet in my mouth.
Is there a culinary equivalent of breakup sex? Because I think after the mother of all bad days, I think it happened. An instant unhealthy craving I was powerless to resist, a trip to the ATM, and the next thing I knew I was staring at a sullied pizza cutter (which also means soda) and an empty pint container of Graeters.
Well, that was two weeks ago now, I and I finally think i can safely declare that I’ve made a clean break. I’ve consumed more fruit these past few weeks than I think I did all last year. Fresh black grapes, dried cherries (BTW, dried cherries = raisins that taste good) and a new dessert at lunch consisting of half a banana and four strawberries, chopped up. By lunchtime they soften up and take on a rich texture which feels like pudding.
I mean, I’ve made some other changes too, like switching to brown rice and getting to a consistent groove with my running.
But the fact that I’ve cut WAY back on my sugar intake has made a huge difference in how i feel overall.
I even reached a point where I was willing to test myself.
I totally had a Julie Andrews Moment.
To say tapioca pudding is my favorite pudding implies that it’s a close call. Really, there is only tapioca pudding and then everything I eat and complain to myself that I didn’t get the tapioca. But I have never made it on my own. How does the starch behave? How much sugar do you need? Does it burn? Does it taste better than something Coz might offer you?
As it turns out, the pudding is a snap to prepare if you’ve ever made a gravy or a custard base, and still fairly easy if you’ve never done so. It thickens quickly but not so quick as to scorch a pan. And it tastes wonderful, with little hints of grass and vanilla.
And there is NOTHING like the mouthfeel.
I basically adapted the recipe from the back of the bag. I omitted the egg white because that just seemed dumb, and tried in vain to garnish with orange zest. Oh well.
Given that this recipe was subdivided into eight servings that were refrigerated, spread out over several days (two of which were given to non-catlady neighbors), rather than basically inhaled, I call this a victory.
Tap Tap Tap Tapioca Pudding (recipe adapted from the back of the tapioca bag)
1/2 C Large Pearl Tapioca
2 1/2 C Whole Milk
1/2 C Sugar
2 egg yolks
1 t vanilla or other flavorful oil.
Soak tapioca in 2 C of warm water for about 8 hours.
In a double boiler, heat milk until barely warm. Add salt and tapioca Keep the heat on medium until mixture just barely starts to bubble at the edges. Turn heat to very low, cover, and let cook for an hour. Check it occasionally to make sure the mixture doesn’t simmer or boil.
Slooooowwwwly whisk the sugar into the beaten egg yolks until the mixture is light yellow and falls from the whisk in vaugely ribbon-like fashion. Temper the mixture (add little bits of the hot mixture to the egg/sugar – a couple of tablespoons at a time) until egg mix is warm, then add the the yolk mix to the hot milk miture, stirring constantly. Add vanilla or oil.
Stir over mediunm heat until mixture is very thick (10-15 minutes)
Dish up, garnish to the best of your ability. Serve warm or chilled.