Grandmama is on a new diet. Recent doctor visits have revealed her cholesterol is high and her sugar is, if not borderline-diabetic, borderline-borderline-diabetic. (Whatever that means.)
I have thrown myself into the low-fat, low-sugar diet in support. However, I'm no gourmand, food isn't interesting to me and I suck at cooking.
Before I had the Long Suffering Husband and children, I'm not really sure what I ate. Boiled chicken and microwave peas, mostly. I worked at a fast-food restaurant, and my hair and clothes would reek of grease at the end of the day.
Nothing like staring at rivers of grease and wilted lettuce all day to put you off your food.
Now that I have to cook for other people, my chances of wandering out of the kitchen, becoming distracted and over-cooking dinner are usually around 50-50.
Of course, my children love cooking and baking.
We've been looking at ways to help Grandmama cut fat and sugar out. Our results have been so-so. There was the disastrous pound cake incident, in which we swapped out sugar for applesauce, butter for no-fat yogurt, flour for whole-grain flour, and eggs for egg substitutes.
Like so many things, it seemed like a good idea at the time.
The result appeared bread-like, but tasted bland. There was zero taste. It was the definitive taste of nothing. My nephew, the Heathenish, kindly described it as tasting like bran cereal.
On the other hand, using a similar recipe - only with orange juice instead of sugar - for banana bread went well.
Grandmama recently took me and my Sassy Saint to brunch. We spent a long time mulling over the menu.
"I think I'll have pancakes," Grandmama said.
"You can't eat that," I said.
"I'll have some sausage."
"You can't eat that."
"You can't eat that. Did you even read the low-fat cookbook I bought you?"
"I switched to a butter alternative." She spent several minutes examining the menu. "A ham-and-cheese omelet?"
"You can't eat that. What about a fruit salad?"
She made a face. "I'll eat what I want. I'm your mother. You can't tell me what to do."
"Sass, give her the face," I commanded. "The face" being the most woebegone, sad look Sass can muster.
She complied. Sass' face is excellent; she uses it on me all the time.
"Sass wants you to live for a really, really long time. So you've got to take care of yourself."
Grandmama rolled her eyes.
"What about whole-grain pancakes? Look, they've got blueberries and bananas - blueberries have antioxidants, and fruit has natural sugars that break down more slowly."
"Oh, all right," she grumbled.
I was encouraged. Maybe Grandmama could successfully change a lifetime of eating habits overnight, after all.
She ordered extra syrup.
(Wallace-Minger, a Weirton resident, is community editor of The Weirton Daily Times,)