Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Baggy pants and Cuccia

Some of you may be asking " So how is all of this going for weight loss ? " To be honest, I have not stepped on the scale in a while. We made a decision to go a month without weighing in, and then I fell and injured my knee. There has been a great deal of swelling with the knee, and I know that such can cause a false reading till the swelling goes down. Much of it has , but Bob convinced me to simply put the scale away till after Christmas. However, I think I got an indicator of how we are doing yesterday. Over the weekend we noticed that one store was having fleece separates for 5 dollars and Bob volunteered to buy some. I gave him my size , and he brought these home and a pack of Fruit of the Loom undies. ( you know, the just practical , every day kind). Yesterday afternoon I finally got around to putting them on , and they are pretty ridiculously big, Injury potential big. Same with the underwear. Same with my existing bras , but not as much. Add to that, my rings are getting loose. Judging by these non scale indicators, I would say I am indeed losing weight. Both of the guys have noticed their clothes are loose. Gee- how can this be if weight loss is all about eating high fiber, low fat foods and exercising at least 30 minutes a day ? Could it be true that everything we have been told about weight loss and obesity is a complete and total lie ? Could it be that weight has more to do with hormones, which are fed and fueled by fat, than the idea that if you eat less you will lose weight ? Radical thoughts, but from what I am seeing, truth.

It struck me as kind of amusing that this "enlightening" indicator of my own progress was given to me on the feast of St Lucy ( okay...artistic stretch, but it makes a good segue into the original planned post)  St Lucy  was a woman born in Sicily who lived an extraordinary life of faith and was martyred for her belifs. Her feast day is December 13, and before the calender change , it marked the day of the Winter Solstice, and the beginning of growing light. In Scandinavian countries , where winter means long nights, the promise of returning light is a huge thing understood by all. They celebrate St Lucy's day with saffron spiced buns, cocoa, coffee and young girls serve these wearing wreaths of candles on their heads. And then there is the Sicilian traditions of the day which sort of fall under the wire. The island of Sicily suffered starvation , and they attribute the end to the starving time to the intercession of St Lucy. As a kid, I grew up in a close to Chicago suburb with a lot of ethnic families ( Polish, German, French and Italian). No one mentioned much about feasts celebrated beyond the main ones, but I do recall seeing this interesting looking pudding thing at a few of the Italian homes in mid December. Bob is half Sicilian , and when I decided to celebrate the Advent Saints this year, my thoughts went to serving something Sicilian for St Lucy's day. Cuccia ala Ricotta was in order. It is not a quick dish, but pretty healthy, tasty and could be made even healthier with some adaptations,  First you soak the wheat for a day, then you cook it and let it rest for a day , and then make the pudding. What results is this :

And here is the recipe
 Cuccia alla Ricotta

Soaked Cuccia (Cooked Wheat)
 *1 lb. of skinless wheat                                        
    * 4 oz. unsalted butter   
    * Pinch of salt
    * 1 bay leaf
Pick the wheat over for stones and place in a bowl. Cover with water and 2 tsp apple cider vinegar or whey. Soak overnight and drain.
In a large pot place the wheat, butter, bay leaf, and salt, add enough water to cover it then add an additional 2 quarts of water. Bring it to a boil over a medium heat, lower flame and simmer until it is cooked, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Stir it occasionally; keep a small pot with hot water on the side to add in case the wheat absorbs all the water before it is cooked.
When wheat is cooked,( soft but still chewy) if the water has not been absorbed, drain the excess water, remove bay leaf, cool it, cover and refrigerate.
This is the Cuccia. The next day , proceed to make Cuccia alla Ricotta

Cuccia alla Ricotta
Serves 4 to 5
    * 1 cup of ricotta
    * 4 tablespoons of sugar
    * ½ cup of assorted candied fruits
    * ¼ cup chopped chocolate or chips
    * 2 drops vanilla
    * zest of ½ orange or 1 t dried orange peel
    * 3 cups of Cuccia
    * 1 teaspoon of cinnamon powder if desired

Combine the ricotta, sugar, half of the assorted fruits, chocolate, zest of orange and the vanilla, blend the ingredients thoroughly: add the cuccia and keep mixing until smooth and creamy. If it is too dry add some milk
Place in a serving dish, garnish with remaining candied fruits and a dusting of cinnamon.

It occurred to me that if I make this again, it would be a little healthier (and more authentic) to swap out the green and red cherries for simple dried fruits .  I do not think green candied cherries would have been served with this for some reason.Why this dish ? According to Sicilian legend, Saint Lucy brought wheat to the starving people of Sicily. A cargo shipment of wheat arrived on this day and people were so starving that they skipped grinding the wheat and simply boiled it till soft and ate it.Traditionally on this day, no bread or pasta is served in Sicilian households. Granted, they would not have taken three days to make a pudding, but instead simply boiled it and ate it. The dressing up came in later years obviously.


Marisa (Loser for Life) said...

Yay for loose pants! And undies :) Keep doing what you're doing, Diane! It certainly seems to be working!

Now that I read your post, I am going to be singing "Santa Lucia" all day! LOL! I don't think we've ever had this dish. My Gram is Sicilian and the closest thing I can liken it to is Sicilian Cassata. Your version is much healthier... trust me :)

spunkysuzi said...

Wow that looks good too!!
Loose undies is always a good thing :)

Baby Stepping said...

Good job. Be careful with those loose clothes. LOL!