Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Real Fake Food

Another Halloween is past, and despite attempts by candy companies to make every holiday a corn-syrup binge-a-thon, the worst is over for another calendar year. I mean, heck, at least on Valentine's Day the kids are limited to a classroom party. None of this door-to-door, fill-my-bag-with-cavities-and-diabetes business. And I was reassured by @unhealthytruth's tweet that the annual binge does less damage than a daily candy habit.

But, after secretly chowing some Snickers myself while the kids were at school, I thought, this is ridiculous. We should eat healthy bad food. Meaning homemade bad-for-you food. So I whipped up a batch of Seattle Times Contest-Winning Dave's Chocolate-Chip Treasure Cookies. Even with many homemade treats it's hard to escape processing. The recipe called for graham cracker crumbs (I used organic graham crackers without HFCS and soybean oil) and sweetened condensed milk, after all. Not to mention baking powder. (If you want to read a really scary book, try Steve Ettlinger's Twinkie, Deconstructed: My Journey to Discover How the Ingredients Found in Processed Foods are Grown, Mined (Yes, Mined), and Manipulated into What America Eats. Baking powder will never look the same to you again.) The result? Well, the kids ate the cookies, but they wanted the candy, too.

This wasn't my only foray this week into real fake food. Having been raised on a mishmash of homemade and wildly-processed food, some of those processed foods still equal comfort and yumminess. Take, for example, Pigs in a Blanket. Honey, there isn't one real ingredient in those things! Processed meat bits, fake cheesiness (optional), and that cross between the chemistry lab and a salt lick--a.k.a. Pillsbury Crescent Rolls. Talk about death and diabetes all rolled up into one tasty little package. Fortunately there are others who share my cravings as well as my desire to eat good food. With a little searching I found this recipe online for Pigs in a Blanket from Scratch (or almost scratch). I gave it some UrbanFarmJunkie tweaks, and here is my even better version:

Bellevue Farmers Market Pigs in a Blanket
Yield: 18

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, cut into small pieces (use Golden Glen or Organic Valley)
  • 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese (try Golden Glen Creamery varieties, like Red Pepper!)
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk (or sub 3/4 cup Golden Glen milk with 3/4 T vinegar)
  • One package link breakfast sausage from Skagit River Ranch or Samish Bay, cut into "Lil Smokies" lengths


Prep Time: 20 mins
Total Time: 33 mins
  1. Heat the over to 400ºF. Grease a large baking sheet. Sift the dry ingredients (flour through salt) into a mixing bowl (or dump them in one at a time, whatever).
  2. Rub the butter pieces into the dry ingredients until mixture is crumbly. Stir in cheese until evenly distributed.
  3. Make a well in the dry ingredients and add the buttermilk. Stir well with a wooden spoon. Let the dough sit for 3 minutes.
  4. Sprinkle the dough with flour and stir once or twice then turn out onto a well floured counter.
  5. With floured hands, pat the dough into a 15 by 7 inch rectangle, trimming the sides if necessary to get a true rectangle. (Handle the dough as little as possible for tenderness, yeah right).
  6. Using a pizza cutter, slice the rectangle into thirds horizontally then slice each third into thirds vertically, this will give you 9 small rectangles. Slice each rectangle diagonally into two thin triangles.
  7. One at a time, roll up the sausages in the triangles. Place pointy side down on greased cookie sheet.
  8. Bake for 12 to 13 minutes, until golden brown. Cool on the sheet for 3 minutes then tranfer to a wire rack.
 These also freeze well after being baked. And my kids ate them up.

Maybe next week I'll tackle real fake Twinkies.

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