I freely admit that I took seconds at Thanksgiving dinner. But like my firsts, my seconds were petite.This is the way glowingly energetic and focused people eat, I told myself. The people of Okinawa eat like this: mindfully, meditatively, sparsely. I wore an enigmatic smile as I marveled at my civilized restraint. I was aglow with the inner fire that can only be lit by the knowledge that you are better than other people.
Then Uncle John made me a margarita. I am not much on cocktails, but I made the exception because we were in Arizona where my husband’s aunt and uncle have their own lime tree; I do my bit for the farm-to-table movement. Things were humming along smugly, if a bit boozily, until the dessert hour arrived. Anyone, and certainly my husband, could have told you I was riding out like Napolean to my Waterloo.
That same charming lime tree had been employed by Aunt Judy in the creation of a lime cheesecake. I am wild for limes, especially when they are in something that manages the job of being refreshing and fattening. And when Aunt Judy sliced and served up her cheesecake, she didn’t mess around. The wedges thunked onto the plates, all creamy and zesty. I get tears in my eyes reliving my gluttony, mostly because I’m sad it’s over.
Flash forward to the next morning when I jogged and then swam, fueled only by a jaw-straining bowl of fibrous, penitential cereal. En route to the airport, I demanded a stop at Chipotle. There I scoffed, SCOFFED, when offered sour cream: “What do I look like?! Someone who can’t resist dairy?! What have you heard?!” I have since recovered and sent the nice young man at Chipotle an apology note with a gift certificate for The Cheesecake Factory.
December involves many feast days, from Hanukkah, (apple latkes!) to Christmas, (my mother’s Russian tea cakes!) to my birthday (the bourbon sugar fudge I plan to make/consume on my special day!) culminating with New Year’s Eve (chocolate cake! beer! salty snacks!). I once heard a tip that I have tried to adhere to: pick four indulgence days during the holidays, but use moderation on the rest. I am down to three after the Thanksgiving debacle. Since I am Christian, I should sacrifice Hanukkah treats, but I have a house full of Jewtherans. I said I have tried to adhere to the tip.
Erstwhile, I have found an excellent venue for limes: this limey Thai celery salad from Bon Appetit is splendid. But here’s the odd thing: Bon Appetit, with their gadgety test kitchen and stable of tasters lolling about in their skinny jeans, dipping their fingers into custards, did not get this recipe quite right. Thai cuisine is a balance of hot, sour, salty and sweet. Once I had mixed up the dressing it was missing the fourth pillar of sweetness. It cried out for a teaspoon or so of sugar, and some mint. Then it was almost perfect, if a bit monochromatic. One pink lady apple, adding the perfect tart crunch, and this salad was ready for the ball. This is so good I made it twice in one weekend.
This is almost as good a use for limes as the Lazy Limey Salad that my husband recalls with such fondness from his youth. “Salad,” in this context, involves marshmallows, cool whip and, not actual limes, (I lied) but lime Jell-O. So it’s a salad with nothing in it that actually grew. And worst of all: it tastes kind of good.
P.S. I made Lazy Limey Salad once, so if you ever want my rendition – with whipped cream, since I think cool whip is made of melted silicone breasts – let me know.