Experiments in Food Rule #39

I’m a Maira Kalman fangirl. Some years ago I gave my sister-in-law a copy of Strunk and White illustrated by Kalman, and had to get one for myself. Last Christmas it was Robert’s turn: he received Food Rules by Michael Pollan, featuring Kalman’s quirky illustrations:

The food rules are listed here, though the book itself is worth checking out. One of my favorites is #39:

Eat all the junk food you want as long as you cook it yourself.

The idea is that anything you cook is going to be made with (generally) wholesome ingredients, so by making your own you will cut way down on preservatives, trans fats and Red 40 Lake.

But also, the effort involved in cooking your own junk food is an automatic limiter. Having a Costco-sized box of Oreos in your house can be more problematic than having 18 molasses cookies. Having to make them yourself means unless you have all the time in the world, you will have less on hand. And if your kids helped you make them, they are probably monitoring how quickly they’re disappearing.

We didn’t intentionally decide to follow this food rule—we’ve kinda backed our way into it. During the spring I got on a huge muffin kick and made a different muffin each week: strawberry lemonade, honey oat, pineapple bran. Muffins are a great hybrid food: are they a dessert? Are they a breakfast food? Plus they come in a single size: automatic portion control. Yeah, you can eat multiple muffins at a sitting—

not that I’ve ever done that… ~cough~

But at least you clearly see that’s what you’re doing, as opposed to furtively cutting yourself a bigger slice of quickbread or cake and calling it “one serving.”

Summer is too hot for the oven, so we’ve moved from muffins to ice cream. Robert picked up the Humphry Slocombe Ice Cream Book and has been having a field day. Their flavors are to die for: chocolate malt, fluffernutter, and Elvis: The Fat Years, which is banana ice cream studded with bacon peanut brittle.

(Robert wants me to tell you that the sugar content in some of these recipes keeps them from freezing very hard, so he’s made some tweaks.  He’s also adjusted the level of cream and milk to lighten them a little.)

The good thing about these flavors is a little goes a long way. Their chocolate is SO chocolatey that one serving is plenty. (Did you know that 1/2 cup of ice cream is considered a serving?)

One caveat: this week he made Harvey Milk and Honey (hey, they’re based in San Francisco) which involves raw honey and graham cracker pieces toasted in butter. That one, we could eat pints and pints of. You’ve been warned.

When I first heard about Food Rules I thought great, another scold. But there are so many rules that you can’t possibly follow them all, so there’s a gracious freedom to adopt those rules that make the most sense for you.

OK, you could follow them all, but I’m not sure I want to know you.

What do you think of food rules—Pollan’s or others? Do you have any food rules you follow?


9 thoughts on “Experiments in Food Rule #39

  1. Keith Snyder says:

    I’m letting the boys choose the first two ice cream flavors this year, so the most exotic we’ve gotten so far is Peanut Butter Fudge, which may be as far as we get, given life’s little lacks of free time. The Humphry Slocombe book looks interesting, though. Does Robert cut the salt in half, as some of the reviewers mentioned?

    I haven’t been following any rules in the last couple of months, but I’ll be back on the bike tomorrow (I hope), and re-losing five pounds. One rule I find useful is I can load up my dinner plate as much as I want, but it’s all I get. Also the thing about making sure half the plate is full of vegetables.

  2. my favorite Pollan rules are “eat food, not too much, mostly plants” and “don’t eat anything your great grandma wouldn’t recognize as food.” lol. I may have to buy the illustrated book. 🙂

    and what’s that? You want to share the recipe for strawberry lemonade muffins? okay.

  3. susan says:

    I’d like strawberry lemonaid muffins, too!
    I wish there were room for an ice cream maker in my home…I’d like to play with that! I just love all the stuff out there on the web that you find for me to read and play with. It’s like you’re my own personal shopper. for the internet. I’m making no sense. I put the book on my amazon wish list–maybe that’s the short answer!

  4. Elaine says:

    MaryAnn, where did you get your muffin recipes?

    • MaryAnn says:

      All kinds of places—various cookbooks we have, and I also like the Brown-Eyed Baker. Here is her muffin archive. She favors muffins with sour cream in them, which provides a rich moistness, but also more calories. Still, I end up making them because they’re so rich I’m not as tempted to eat 5 at a sitting. (Just 2 or 3.)

  5. I thought Robert IS the ice cream maker!
    Ok for me to eat anything that my mother served to a rural family of ten (eight children – a gold medal in WW II Europe) while I was growing up. Dried beans soaked and pressure cooked, green peas in milk (soupy), Nibblets canned corn in same, hand-made egg and potato salad, salmon cakes – my specialty), banana, tomato (sandwiches), cottage cheese.

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