Friday, July 29, 2011

Revenge of the Chronic Dieter, by Phyllis Salmons

Good Morning Friends! Man I can't believe it's the end of July already... Seems like just yesterday I was begging and pleading with my wonderful foodie friends to do 8 weeks of guest posts for me, and here we are, at the very last one! Don't worry, I'm not going to get all emotional and blubbery, but I have to say a HUGE thank you to all my wonderful friends (and Hubby!) for their fantastic posts. Especially to this weeks poster, Phyllis from Vintage Vera!

When I first sent out my plea for guest posters, Vera and Phyllis were among the first to respond, and that blew me away! I mean here we have 2 wonderful women who have a cookbook of their own full of the wonderful recipes their Mama made, and they want to post on MY blog?!? Well I thought that was pretty darn awesome! Some of you may remember Vera's post the beginning of the month, but now I give you her sister Phyllis with 2 wonderful desserts sure to please, and not kill your diet! (The best kind in my book!) So without further ado I give you... Phyllis!


I am a longtime college professor teaching at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, FL. Most of my students are studying to be professional pilots. I teach them physics and will see begin my 34th year here (Note: I started teaching physics in college just out of kindergarten, LOL).

I grew up in Winston-Salem, NC. I have three older brothers and one younger sister (the famous Vera Guthrie of Vintage Vera). I help Vera with the admin duties of her Facebook Group Vintage Vera.

As far as cooking is concerned, I have always felt comfortable with desserts -- I figured no matter what they looked like, unless you really blew it, you could still eat the results. This is rarely true with main dishes. I can make a killer (and high cal) lasagna though (I need to work on a version of that which would accommodate my metabolism deficiency).

I never married and have no children except for my cats, past and present. What can I say -- I am the classic old maid schoolteacher cat lady.

I know my Guest Blog is nothing like you have ever seen before, but I hope you enjoy it.

Revenge of the Chronic Dieter

By Phyllis Salmons

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the past. Perhaps it’s just because I am getting older – they tell me that it is typical to look back at the good old days. Adding to it, a little over a year ago, my sister Vera started a Facebook group called Vintage Vera. On that page, we sit on our virtual “front porch” and talk about things of the past. When we were kid, the adults sat on the real front porch and visited while the kids played in the yard nearby. Naturally, one of the favorite memories of Mama and Granny is the delicious food they cooked.

In late 2010, Vera and I published the Vintage Vera Cookbook to document those early recipes we have always loved. When I think of the hard work that Mama did as she reared five kids and provided for us with a great deal of hard work outside the home to bring in money and by keeping the house clean and warm. How in the world she found the time and the energy to cook is beyond me.

As Vera and I were recording many of the recipes, I frequently commented on the calorie and fat content. As children we burned it off. The adults worked so hard on the farms, on their jobs, and in the home, that they would never think of joining a gym. Though I know they got tired, they always had the time to do what they knew they must do.

What a wimp I am today. My job is not nearly as physically demanding as my mothers. I feel it necessary to pay big bucks for the accessibility to the gym. I am always tired. If I go to the bank and to the post office in the same day, I definitely need a nap (and often take one if those errands are not on today’s agenda).

With my lifestyle abundant with time saving and energy saving devices, a less demanding job, and an aging metabolism, my thoughts are frequently on calories, fat content, and portion control.

Alas, if I get it my body whipped into shape, I will always have to be very careful about what I eat. This realization has created a great depression when considering that I will never again truly enjoy delights such as Mama’s Apple Pie or her Sliced Sweet Potato Pie. How sad.

Here is her recipe from the Vintage Vera Cookbook (not pictured):

Phyllis's Version, before baking!
Mama’s Sliced Sweet Potato Pie

3 medium sweet potatoes

1 large can evaporated milk

2 cups sugar

1 stick butter or margarine

1 Tbsp. Cinnamon

1 tsp. flour 
Crust for two-crust pie (homemade or store bought)

Boil sweet potatoes until fork tender, cool and peel. In a deep dish baking dish, line the bottom crust and sprinkle with flour. Slice the sweet potatoes into slabs and layer into dish until about three layers deep. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Mix evaporated milk with water to make about two cups of liquid. Pour the liquid over the potatoes, sugar and cinnamon. Cube butter and dot over the top. Use the second pie crust to cover the filling, making slits in the crust (or construct a lattice top). Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes to an hour until the crust is brown and the pie filling is bubbling. It may be wise to place a baking sheet under the dish prior to baking to avoid boil over. Good served hot or cold.

Now you can see my point about lamenting that I could never again delight in this delicious treat. To tell you the truth, I always loved to dollop a hearty serving a Breyer’s Vanilla Ice Cream on a hearty serving of the pie. Guess you know now why I have a weight problem.

Now don’t get me wrong – I am trying. In 2009 I lost almost 90 pounds which has indeed improved my health greatly. I put a little of that back on (not too much, but enough to get my attention). I still think I need to lose about 10 more pounds beyond my lowest, so I am really trying to be good.

Oh, the sadness when I remembered the taste of Mama’s pie and the thought that I can never afford to have it again.

A few months ago, it occurred to me that a good number of the calories in pie are in the homemade crust. Now Mama’s was great, but I do not make my own crust because of having cats in the house – there is a fear of finding a cat hair in the crust. So, back when I did cook these delights, I used store-bought crusts – not as good, but I felt an appropriate substitute under the circumstances.

I love the crust as much as anyone, but it occurred to me that I should invent a “low-cal, low-fat” pie filling and omit the crust. Being that portion control is also my downfall, it is important to attempt small amounts so as not to overeat. LOL did you ever know of anyone who bought a bag of low calorie cookies and ate all instead of the stated serving size of two cookies?

At first, I tried to make my lifestyle friendly version of Mama’s sliced sweet potato pie.

I made the filling just like Mama (hers is probably eight servings – or four for me). I made mine in a smaller pan (probably three servings) substituting
About ¼ cup of Splenda Brown Sugar for the Granulated Sugar = 193 calories. The two cups of granulated sugar adds up to 770 calories.
1 Tbsp. Smart Balance Light Buttery Spread for the butter (~45 calories). Mama would have used about 4 Tbsp of butter at 400 calories.
I used two sweet potatoes boiled or baked (~230 calories).
I used ½ c. fat-free evaporated milk (176 cal)
Having no crust, I did not use the spoon of flour

Mama’s version My no-crust version

312 per serving + calories in the crust 215 per serving

Now take into account that I was eating a double serving of Mama’s pie WITH Breyer’s Vanilla and yikes!

Upon tasting of my tasting my Crustless Sweet Potato Pie, truly I was doing a happy dance!

The Apple Pie Experiment

A few weeks later, I wondered if I might do the same with Mama’s apple pie. On my first attempt, I made the same substitutions (Splenda and Smart Balance) in a single serving ramekin so as not to overeat. I used a Granny Smith Apple, peeled, cored and sliced into thin wedges.

I sprinkled with cinnamon and a little pumpkin pie spice, used the Splenda Brown Sugar and the Smart Balance. I didn’t know what to do about liquid, so I must have added about a quarter to a third cup of water. I baked at 400 degrees for one hour.

The smell permeating the house was heavenly! How long had it been since I had smelled that wonderful delight – if it tasted anywhere near as good as it smelled, then wow wee!

The taste was right on the money, but the apples were literally swimming in hot apple pie juice. I ate the apples and drank the juice, making a mental note that next time the juice needs to turn into what would better be called syrup.

Today I tried it again. With the apples sliced into the ramekin, I sprinkled on cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice (I didn’t have any apple pie spice), with the Splenda Brown Sugar and Smart Balance on it. To make the syrup, just guessing, I added one heaping teaspoon of flour and 2 Tbsp of cold water.

Bake for one hour in a 400 degree oven.

About half way through, I stirred it so that the top apples would get down into the juice that had developed. Ah, this was much better, not just a runny liquid!

After baking, I spooned the whole thing out onto a serving dish. If I weren’t going to photograph it, I would have just eaten it straight from the ramekin.

OMG! Perfection!

For the apple pie, I looked online and found a source stating that one-eighth of a 9-in. pie has 410 calories. Now I figure that my ramekin of Crustless Apple Pie has enough filling to equal three or four slices of that apple pie (ok, without the crust), but I figure the whole concoction is about 200 calories!!!

So that’s my tale of the Revenge of the Chronic Dieter! Bwahaaaahaaaa….


Thank you SO much Phyllis for both of those recipes, I admit I would miss the crust (hehe!) but they look outstanding! I am so thankful to you and all my friends for this wonderful journey through you're kitchens!

If you would like to learn more about Phyllis and Vera head on over to their Facebook Page, Vintage Vera. There is also information on the facebook page about how you can purchase your very own copy of their cookbook!

Happy Cooking!
The Farmers Wife & Phyllis Salmons
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