Wednesday, January 23, 2013
There is a very special place reserved in each of my days for sweets and desserts. I love them and I refuse to cut them out of my diet. They are treasured indulgences that I earn. I take a savage pride to be able to both fit sweets into my diet and to maintain my weight. They give me comfort and wellbeing when other areas of my life are difficult. I feel clever over the tricks and corners I can shave so I can indulge in the treats but for fewer calories per serving. I feel justified to include sweets when I abstain, willingly or not, from so many other food choices that others take for granted.
To be safe I allow desserts only as they fit into a very controlled set of parameters. In order to have them in each day I cut out nearly all liquid calories from the day except in the instances where my liquid calories are my sweets. I make my desserts from scratch and avoid all store-bought sweets in order to be able to account for the serving amounts and calories. I eat these treats only during my allowed meal times.
I take pride in the areas where I am able to be clever about it, such as when I cut recipes down to only a few servings. In doing so, each temptation is only present for a limited amount of meals. For many desserts this is very easy to accomplish. Crisps, cobblers, pancakes, waffles, bread puddings, muffins, parfaits, baked doughnuts, and more all lend themselves well to cutting down the recipes down to a few or even a single serving. Then there are the sweets like ice cream, bars, brownies, cookies, etc, which are in large quantities but freeze great in limited space. Even pies and tarts are good to reduce and/or freeze.
But for all of these delicious desserts there's one that is a struggle. Cakes. Fancy and delicious iced, frosted, and/or decorated cakes. They could be reduced down in size, yes, but when there are many components it can be tedious and bothersome. And frankly, cakes just don't have the same impact when they are reduced.
Lately I've been craving cake. Not just any cake; plain cakes actually bore me. I want extraordinary cakes. Cakes from books like Baked: New Frontiers in Baking and the others by the owners of BakedNYC. Or Martha's beautiful Baking Handbook, and even the lovely selections from the publications through Oxmoor House like Cooking Light, Sunset, and Southern Living. I want to make the best, most beautiful cakes out there in all varieties and flavors.
Cupcakes don't count; I'm not a fan.
I desperately want to make cakes and cakes can fit into any diet in a reasonable fashion, but for any cake worth it's taste it is by nature a high-calorie many-serving dessert. If I were feeding a family, no problem. With just me that's not so good or easy.
To reduce one cake serving down to a reasonable 200-300 calories is to increase the number of servings (about 16 or so). But in doing so, the cake itself remains on the counter for days longer than many other treats would be around (even when I fit four slices into each day, breakfast, mid-morning, mid-afternoon, and evening). The two biggest issues for this are 1) the temptation grows bigger the longer it is around from both a want for the item and a desire just to be rid of it, and 2) cake just doesn't taste as good when it's been sitting around.
The easiest option is to throw it away, sure, yet this is almost always pathologically impossible for me as both a food addict and a frugal spender of money, time, and energy.
Another potential solution is to freeze the cake but I never have enough room in my tiny freezer and fully decorated cakes don't freeze well.
I alway feel like because I make sacrifices to avoid the other liquid calories and pre-made treats people take for granted, because I work out for them and plan for them in my day, because I resist overindulging, and because I put in the effort to make them, I deserve to have these treats. I pay for each dessert I eat with the money, time, effort I put into it and all other areas of my life.
There is another solution: to share the cake. That way I can both make and enjoy the cake and not suffer a large quantity of servings remaining in my presence through an extended amount of time.
To this end I had the perfect solution all figured out. Among my friends there is a series of birthdays taking place throughout the next few months. For each birthday and special event I could make a cake.
This is also a selfish plan, as revealed last night.
Last night at a movie party with friends I prepared and brought a cake. With 16 servings, each slice of iced Clementine-Date Cake with a Candied Tangerine Slice topping was a reasonable 200 calories. I reserved some of the pieces for my evening and for today's snacks with the rest to distribute.
Yet during the affair the other attendees both brought their own dessert contributions either made or store-bought, and everyone also partook of delivery pizza for dinner (I had eaten dinner beforehand). Through the evening I watched them mostly consume pizza, liquor, and the other desserts by their own choice. With each passing hour, I got a little more disappointed and mad and frustrated. At the end of the evening, I was offering my cake for a breakfast option. Actually I wasn't offering, I was desperately pushing it.
Somewhere along the line I became the cake pusher.
It started out as a reasonable plan. I could be able to both partake of cake and in the act of sharing it would not linger in excess at my home. Considering the company I expected all eleven slices of the cake I brought to be gone. Yet I did not account for the reality that I could not control what people would bring to share as well as what they would choose.
After I begged my friends did take cake but I brought home more slices than I thought I would be. I also carried with the hard realization that I had become something we all dread.
It is also painfully clear how much more complicated my relationship with food is than everyone else. They don't see all of this going on. They make it look so easy, eating whatever they choose however much they want whenever they want. With me it is something I must obsess, plan, agonize, fight, and cry over. I can't go to the store and buy candy much less sweets without tempting a binge. I can't go to a restaurant and expect to order a dessert because the sizes are just too large for me to eat alone. They are just doing what comes naturally for them, eating within their means, when I am always working for control and balance. This is no fault of their own by any means, yet I can't help but feel isolated and excluded by their lack of awareness.
There should be an optimal solution. It seems so simple; I just want to have cake. I might try sending photos of any cake I end up making with the invitation that it is available for a limited time as they choose. But I see now that bringing a cake without direct confirmation, no matter how good my intentions both to my health and as a contribution to a soiree, is not acceptable.
I don't want to be the cake pusher. I just want cake.