Pssst: Want to read about our special indulgences?
'Well, that was a good lunch,' was the comment I overheard as two women entered the sidewalk from the Lake Oswego Creamery. 'Ice cream is good for lunch!' they giggled.
It was midweek, 11:20 a.m. - pretty early for lunch. The women obviously enjoyed their indulgence and that made me think: What are the foods people eat when they are either treating themselves to something decadent or needing a little comfort food? And, what do people eat when they think nobody is watching?
Those musings bring us to today's column. A couple dozen friends, family members and coworkers replied to my e-mail plea to reveal the foods they go to for comfort and splurges. A tally of the responses shows a preference of sweet over savory by just the slimmest wedge of Marionberry pie.
Read on - I think you will enjoy reading about other people's indulgences, and you might discover that your's aren't as odd as you thought they were.
'Decadent treat, that's easy - Moonstruck chocolate. At $2 (and I don't know how many calories) per truffle it's a splurge, but well worth it.' DC, Lake Oswego
'Peanut butter toast with butter.' MR, Lake Oswego
'Sometimes there will be left-over sports-team-end-of-season-celebration cake left in the staff room at school. I am not shy about having a small piece, but if, after I taste it, the frosting is sort of good, I will take the inevitable gob of frosting that someone else has scraped off their piece of cake and left on the cardboard. How sick is that? I mean, it doesn't even have to be very good, 'cause I'll eat it hoping it will get better any second now. Now I'll have to go into the witness protection program …' CS, Kent, Wash.
'Ham and eggs are my favorite comfort food, but with my cholesterol issues I obviously can't eat it too much. My favorite ham and eggs memory was hitchhiking through Colorado and getting stranded at a freeway exit by a small mountain town. I went for what seemed like hours with no rides and finally starving I walked into town and found a small diner. I felt alone and homesick and it wasn't helped by the stares I got as I set my backpack by the door. I sat at the counter. I ordered ham and eggs and when they came they seemed absolutely perfect. Two brilliant yellow farm fresh eggs, and the glistening pink hunk of ham. I don't remember anything about the toast, hash browns and coffee that I am sure accompanied the meal, but I still remember the wonderful earthly saltiness of the first bite of ham dipped into the runny egg yolk. I left the diner rejuvenated, walked back to the exit and I think it was either the third or fourth car that went by stopped and took me all the way to Las Vegas.' LT, Aloha
'Many of my comfort or 'you know you shouldn't' foods involve white flour, sugar, etc. I try to eat the whole grains, but you just can't have a Fluffernutter sandwich on whole wheat; or whole wheat mac and cheese with hot dogs cut up in it and baked. (I guess that would be my 'eat when no one is looking.') Eating a grilled cheese on white bread, dipping it into Campbell's tomato soup … the list goes on.' SM, Lake Oswego
'I'd say anything with dark chocolate (the expensive kind). I especially like cheesecake or desserts with a chocolate/berry combo. That's truly decadent to me.' RM, Vancouver, Wash.
'I go for the two extremes … sweet and deep fried. My indulgence is onion rings and anything chocolate.' BC, Lake Oswego
'Hmmmm, when nobody is looking … I would say it's around that Halloween holiday and for about the next two months, while kids are at school, I will raid their pillow cases filled with candy. I'll pick out all of my favorite things and eat until I feel as though I will swear off sweets for the rest of the life! It's amazing how long that candy will taste just fine … ick!' TN, Lake Oswego
'Some of my favorite indulgences are Salt and Vinegar Kettle Chips, Slow Churned Dreyer's Chocolate Ice Cream with pecans in it, Kettle Corn but only in the summer from Mike and family at the L.O. Farmer's Market, Marionberry pie from the Farmers' Market (it's not too sweet), Pineapple dark chocolate truffles from See's, Bernard Callebrut's dark chocolate truffles that my sweeties buys for me, donut peaches from Kordell's on Rosemont and Stafford - only available for a couple of months in the summer. His are the very best! My goodness … There are so many good things to eat! Especially in the summer. I could go on and on .. It's kind of embarrassing!' LB, Lake Oswego
'Mike and Ikes or Jolly Joe's. I'll actually make a special stop to buy a box … when I think no one is watching.' LH, Lake Oswego
'Does alcohol count?' DI, Portland
'I was just commenting to (name withheld) on Sunday evening that we had dessert FIRST and dinner SECOND … two nights in a row!!!! We have never done that before. Not only did we have dessert first … but it happened that we were at Cold Stone Ice Creamery and then we walked right next door and ordered hamburgers AND French fries. I felt like I should be arrested or something!!!!
'I have been known to eat Chocolate Lucky Charms in the middle of the night … I've also picked out all the marshmallows and eaten them at one time. Oh my sins, my sins, my sins!!!!!' SC, Tigard
'Chocolate in any shape or form. Always a treat!' PH, Lake Oswego
'A chewy ginger cookie from the Pearl Bakery or Starbucks or anything from St. Honoré . A bit of candy from the patron baskets at Oswego Lake C.C., Contract Furnishings Mart or Parkway Veterinary Clinic or any other merchant I visit on my errands. Sometimes, it is just ordering my latte straight, not bothering to mention the nonfat/skinny adjectives.
'Anything frozen any time of the day is the best treat for me! Seasons are not a factor here. Mid morning, for lunch, mid afternoon and after dinner. Soft serve, hand packed, frozen fruit drinks, fraps, and at home sundaes or boxed frozen treats all are satisfying and worth every calorie and blood sugar spike.'
'Oh, my! I can't believe I forgot the Red Vine Twist Tray that always rides shotgun in my car. Now that is the perfect treat!' BT, Lake Oswego (who is very fit, trim and petite, believe it or not! BR)
'I do funny things for breakfast more than lunch like eating leftovers. It can be mac and cheese or rice or potatoes and gravy, any carb!' KR, Lake Oswego
'It's always fun to splurge on calories when I can have lunch with the kids! We have the best conversations and very relaxed. We just got home from lunch at Baja Fresh (not my personal best, but they love it).' CB, Lake Oswego
'Well, this is a fun one!! (And too easy for me!) A treat and comforting (could be decadent): anything from Gourmet Productions, in-season milkshake from Burgerville, dark chocolate. When no one is watching: Belgium Chocolate pudding from Trader Joe's eaten standing at the refrigerator, from the container with a big spoon.' SK, Lake Oswego
'OK, here's the New Yorker in me … a roll with butter is good anytime … as is anything chocolate (not milk or white - I am a purist). Last but not least, and definitely when no one (especially my kids) is looking - Lucky Charms cereal. with or without the prize in the box.' CD, Lake Oswego
'Huge smoothies from Booster Juice that have 50 grams of sugar and 500 calories … and then there's always pizza. Ohhh, another one, I was at (name withheld)'s house Sunday night and I had literally a whole bag of those sugar-coated orange slice gummy candies!!!' ND, Lake Oswego
'OK, you asked for it: If it's a night out, then sushi. If I'm really depressed, potato chips. If I want to feel bionic, Ethiopian. If I've played a ton of soccer, feel starved for calories and need to fill up, Italian and/or beer. Beer accounts for far too many calories in my diet. I wish I could eat more pizza but it isn't very good here.' LV, Portland
'Skinny mochas, smoked oysters, any kind of cheese, a good red wine, a nice grilled steak and anything with a salty-crunchy taste. Yum.' TF, Tigard
'I guess everything I like is decadent or comforting. If you want to narrow it down, make it a big breakfast - pancakes, waffles, eggs, bacon, sausage, hashed brown potatoes. I've got to quit. I'm making myself hungry again!' CN, Newberg
There is nothing wrong with indulging in comforting and great tasting food. Everything is fine in moderation, and that moderation is what keeps special foods feeling 'special.' Hopefully the women rendezvousing for their ice cream lunch meet just as often for a hike or pedicures.
The recipes I share today are slightly indulgent desserts. Come on, it's summer! Live a little!
Strawberry Lemon Trifle
This dessert uses both prepared lemon curd and purchased frozen pound cake, so it's a snap to prepare. Prepare it one day before you plan to serve it. You can substitute raspberries for the strawberries when they are in season.
Makes 16 servings
½ cup sugar
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
¼ cup water
2 cups lemon curd
2 pints strawberries, hulled and sliced
¼ cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar
1 16-ounce frozen pound cake, thawed
2 cups chilled whipping cream
For syrup: Combine sugar, lemon juice and water in small saucepan. Bring to boil over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 1 minute. Cover and chill.
For fruit and topping: Combine half the strawberries and ¼ cup sugar in a bowl. Mash berries coarsely with a fork. Let stand until juices form, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes.
Cut cake crosswise into 8 pieces.
Cut each piece into 3 strips. Line bottom of a 3-quart trifle bowl with 8 cake strips, trimming to fit. Drizzle with 3 tablespoons syrup; spread with 2/3 cup lemon curd, then half of the mashed berries. Repeat layering. Top with remaining cake, syrup, and curd. Cover; chill overnight.
Beat cream and 3 tablespoons sugar in bowl until peaks form; spread over trifle.
Mound remaining berries in center.
Adapted from Bon Appetit, June 2001
Today indulge in a recipe for a dessert made with five ingredients and ready in 30 minutes or less.
Campfire Banana Splits
Cook this dessert on your barbecue or over a campfire. If you must cook them indoors, you can bake them in the oven.
6 large bananas, unpeeled, stems removed
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 10.5 ounce package miniature marshmallows
Caramel sauce - optional
½ gallon vanilla ice cream - optional (and probably not for campfires)
Preheat the grill to high heat. Spray 6 sheets of aluminum foil, large enough to wrap a banana, with cooking spray.
Slice the peel of the banana from stem to bottom, peel back enough to slice banana cross wise into coins. Carefully open the banana just wide enough to place the chocolate chips and marshmallows inside the peel with the banana. Stuff with as much of the chocolate chips and marshmallows as desired.
Close peel and wrap the bananas with the aluminum foil and place on the grill or directly on the coals of the fire. Leave in long enough to melt the chips and marshmallows, about 5 minutes. Unwrap bananas, open the peels wide and eat with a spoon, or if you like, scoop onto bowls of vanilla ice cream and drizzle with caramel sauce.