Fluffy, Not Fat . . .

I’m excited because Joe and I are off to New York City at the end of this month — it’s been a long time since we’ve been there, and I love New York!   All those tall buildings and sparkly lights, Madison Avenue, Soho, going back in time with the history of the city, clip-clopping horses and carriages, cozy restaurants, long coats, taxi cabs and valet parking and room service!  Beautiful Central Park!  So, of course, my first question was “what shall I wear?”  And then came the sad and unfortunate answer, I will have to go naked because I am too cookie-fat to fit into any of my cute New York clothes.  I have become my Grandmother’s bread stuffing.  And I know who to blame:

My fat and I have become BFF.

We’re celebrating our 25th Anniversary in New York!  (Not me and my fat, Joe and I!)  We’re going to the New York Gift Show too, and it would be nice if I could fit into my clothes!  I’m trying to inspire myself to get off the cake, cut the butter, stop the daily ration of toast and peanut butter, and not think, Oh it’s tea time, I deserve a cookie! (Even though I do!) I want to lose a few pounds and I want to do it a healthy, delicious way.  So, in case you’re also in this after-holiday boat (alone, since there’s actually no room for anyone else to get in), and want to take off a few pounds; or if you’re starting to think, in your secret heart, despite the cold, that summer is coming, maybe you’ll join me and we can inspire each other!  And even if you’re one of those amazing people who manages to keep a handle on your weight year ’round, I think you’ll like this too! 

 My number one secret weapon when it comes to weight loss is a recipe I’ve put into almost every cookbook I’ve ever written; it’s my “signature” recipe for Chicken Stock (I call it that because I’ve made it so often that I can do it by heart); deep, dark, and delicious, full of vitamins and rich in flavor, the basis for my favorite healthy, fat free, heavenly winter soup.  The stock takes two days to make, which is why you may not have tried it — but it’s SO worth it; most of the time it’s just bubbling cozily on top of the stove making the house smell wonderful.  The good thing is, you end up with lots of stock; enough to make a soup that will last for days, enough to do that and to freeze some if you want —  I use it to make our favorite chicken soup that’s as good for breakfast as it is for dinner.  (Soup for breakfast is delicious on cold winter days!  Corn Chowder or Butternut Squash, yummmy!)  So here’s how to make the stock:

(Guess what?  Dawn is just breaking; it’s just light enough for me to see outside . . . we’ve been dusted with snow!!!)

OK, so first you get a large whole chicken, and you need one that includes the giblets — lately I’m finding that sometimes they are being left out of the whole chickens, so be sure the one you choose has the giblets. They’re the secret to making a really wonderful, dark, rich chicken stock, they give it color and depth of flavor.  Discard the liver (or do with it what you will); wash the chicken inside and out and set aside.

Wash the giblets (the heart, neck, and gizzard), dry them, and chop them into 1 inch pieces.

Drop the chopped giblets into a pot sizzling with about a tablespoon of olive oil.

Brown them well over high heat. When they’re dark brown, deglaze the pan by pouring about a cup of water into the pot; immediately begin to scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to get up all the little bits and pieces clinging there.

Add chopped carrots, chopped onion, and chopped celery; put in whole black peppercorns, a handful of parsley, and a couple of bay leaves. (You should never salt stock — how much salt to add will depend on what you do with it later.)

Put your washed chicken on top of the vegetables.  (I had a couple of extra thighs in the fridge so I added them too.)

Pour in a container or two of organic chicken stock; then add cold water until the chicken is submerged.

Bring the pot to a boil, reduce heat to simmer; set the lid off to the side, and cook for about an hour until the chicken is done.

When it’s just done and beginning to fall apart, use a couple of big wooden spoons to remove the chicken from the stock onto a plate; the stock can continue simmering while the chicken cools to the touch.

When the chicken is cool, remove the meat to a bowl; put the bones, the carcass, and the skin back into the stock; refrigerate the cooked chicken.  Partially cover the stock pot again, and let it simmer for at least six hours, but as long as ten is fine.

All this time your house is being inundated with home cooking smells . . . when your friends drop in for tea, coming in from the cold to your warm and cozy kitchen, there you are, adorable in your wonderful house, being a perfect homemaker with no trouble at all.

The stock requires almost no attention while it bubbles away the day, stir it once in a while and add more water if you need to.  You can even take a nap while this is happening, and still feel like you’re accomplishing something!

Once the stock is done, it will need to be strained — depending on your kitchen set-up, you can figure out how to do this, but here’s what I worked out.

I put another very large pot in the bottom of my sink, hang my basket strainer over it, and pour the stock through it — I let it drip through until all the goodness is in the pan.

I shake the strainer a bit, leave it for about twenty minutes until the dripping stops.  Then I toss all those bones and things into the trash.

And put the stock in the fridge for at least twelve hours (do not cover, stock will sometimes sour if it’s covered before it’s cool) . . . until it looks like this:

The fat has all risen to the top.  It’s very easy to scoop it off and throw it away!  And underneath you have essence of organic vitality.  The cure for the common cold.

Use it in any recipe that calls for chicken stock (and notice the difference!), you can boil it down to thicken it a bit and freeze it in ice cube trays so you always have a little instant gravy; you can make a huge pot of soup and freeze it in serving-size containers; you can make my delicious ginger chicken and vegetables.  Next time I’ll give you our favorite Chicken Soup recipe.

My other healthy-diet-secret-weapon is those Tofu Noodles I wrote about a while back. I still can’t get over how good they are and only twenty calories per serving (although their idea of “a serving” and mine are totally different; but you can have five servings and it’s only a hundred calories!!!) I could eat them everyday —  love the wide noodles in my soup; they’re delicious with lycopene-rich tomato sauce as the perfect winter-diet-comfort-food.  When I’m not trying to fit into clothes, I throw a couple of pieces of garlic bread in with everything.  Yum!

Now it’s your turn; feel free not to talk about it if you don’t want to . . .  but these days you’re a huge source of inspiration for me . . . do you have a healthy, weight-loss diet tip or food item?  I’ve been on my bike every day now for three whole days, with my book perched in front of me; this has to be two-pronged, diet plus exercise; a full-frontal attack!  But if anyone asks, I remind you, we are fluffy not fat.

C H I C K E N   S T O C K  

(from my Autumn Book page 56)

  • 1 large whole chicken w/giblets (it doesn’t matter what the weight is)
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 large unpeeled brown onions, quartered
  • 3 or 4 carrots, cut in two-inch chunks
  • 3 or 4 celery ribs, roughly chopped
  • a handful of fresh parsley
  • About 20 whole peppercorns
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 or 2 containers of store-bought organic chicken broth or stock

Wash chicken and set aside. Discard the liver; wash, dry and roughly chop the rest of the giblets and neck.  Add to hot oil in deep soup pot.  Over high heat, cook, stirring occasionally.  When giblets are very brown, add 1c. water; stir and scrape up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan.  Roughly chop the vegetables and add them along with the rest of the ingredients, including the whole chicken.  Pour in one or two containers of store-bought chicken broth; add water just until chicken is submerged.  Bring to boil, set lid askew, and reduce heat to simmer.  Chicken will be done in about an hour.  Remove it from pot; cool to touch.  Remove meat to fridge, put bones and skin back into stock pot.  Continue simmering for 5 or 6 hours more; add more water if needed.  Turn off heat and let cool a bit before straining it into a large pot or bowl; put the stock into the fridge, uncovered, overnight.  The fat will rise to the top; you’ll find it easy to lift off and discard.  You can stretch the stock by adding more broth or water, or reduce it to make it stronger.  Keep covered (after cooling) in fridge, or freeze.

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477 Responses to Fluffy, Not Fat . . .

  1. Barbara F. says:

    Hi Susan! It has been way too long…..I discovered your cookbooks in the 80’s and and lucky to own three. I have been looking for “Summer” and just learned from this post that you have “Autumn” – my favorite season! I remember writing to you when you lived on Cape Cod. I remember your four seasons mold for corn muffins and your lemon roll cake that reminded you of a baby’s behind :). I made it for an old boyfriend one time and while inhaling it between mouthfuls he said to me, “You’re unbelievable!” All good memories. I will be visiting here a lot. I can’t wait to make a pot of this soup. xo

    • sbranch says:

      You just made one of my dreams come true, that someone would get, from cooking a recipe of mine, what I got when I was learning to cook — someone would tell them they were “unbelievable” — thank you Barbara!

  2. Laurie W.--MA says:

    You MUST know how happy you have made so many people! So we don’t weigh what we used to! (Love whoever said if we only knew how “fat” we thought we were when we were 20 and how pretty we really were and we need to remember that we’ll look back on today and think how pretty we look now!) You shine and your writing and illustrations shine. It is a treat to visit your blog and use your cookbooks. Congratulations on your 25th anniversary–that is certainly something to celebrate and good for you to do something special! If you don’t lose a single pound, it really won’t matter! Gladys Taber would want you to enjoy a Butter Burger with some blue cheese “goop!”

  3. Janet says:

    Two things that really helped me lose 90 lbs about 15 years ago:

    LIMIT FAT AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE. This was really hard for me – because I completely agree with Julia Child – “you can never have TOO much butter!” But it got easier as I actually lost weight just by substituting frozen yogurt for “real” ice cream, plain yogurt for sour cream etc. I really learned to love the tastes and flavors of a lot of foods without all those gooey delicious FATTENING things we all love to drizzle over them. You know, a well-baked Russet baker is absolutely delicious with plain yogurt and fresh fresh chives – it’s even great JUST PLAIN! Try it sometime – you REALLY taste just the potato. I also remember my doctor telling me that I was losing the weight at exactly the right pace too – no more than a pound/pound and a half per week. Apparently if it comes off really quickly, it ALMOST ALWAYS comes back really quickly too.

    “BREAKFAST LIKE A KING, LUNCH LIKE A PRINCE, DINNER LIKE A PAUPER…” Follow the advice of the late nutritionist Adelle Davis & reverse your eating habits – make breakfast the biggest meal of the day. 100 years ago farmers would eat breads/pancakes/waffles/biscuits, eggs, steaks, chops, ham, even pie for breakfast – a really massive meal often heavy with “fat calories” – and still didn’t gain weight [or have heart disease by the way] because [a] they ate WHOLE GRAINS and [b] their busy daily activities burned up all those calories. I began making breakfast my biggest [or at least highest-calorie] meal – and the biggest change I noticed right away was that I could go-go-go all morning without looking around for a coffee break or rest period. Then the weight loss kicked in and things were even better!

    Hope this is helpful and best of luck!

  4. Patty says:

    First, ha ha! I told you there was a report that you were getting snow, only it was a day late..Glad you had a surprise this morning!
    I really loved looking at the pictures as I read through your recipe for the stock! Thanks for the pictures. Also, all the girlfriends that have shared the weight loss ideas have sparked ideas for me! I will be looking forward to hearing about and seeing the pictures of your trip to NYC at the end of the month! Exciting!! Another wonderful Susan Branch blog read, thanks!

  5. Wendy says:

    You are talking to a health and fitness enthusiast here, my friend. I have two pieces of advice and they are both just as simple as can be:

    1. Do a heart-pumping, sweat-inducing workout most days of the week.
    2. Eat healthy.

    Common sense is the golden rule. It really is THAT simple.
    A few extra tips:
    Gum and candy canes. Not even kidding. If you’re eating dinner and you finish what’s on your plate but you reeeeally want another plateful, stick a piece of sugar free gum or a candy cane your mouth. By the time you’re done with that, you won’t feel hungry anymore.
    Do workouts that are reasonable and enjoyable. Be creative and make it fun. I am in love with my treadmill (especially when the weather is rainy or cold). I keep a cranberry spice candle next to it and light it before I hop on. The wonderful scent keeps me goin. I also watch tv or listen to motivating music.
    Don’t feel like you have to be a marathon runner to get a kick-butt workout. I believe VERY strongly in intervals. Walk for two minutes, jog for two, walk for two, jog for two. Fantastic workout!

    I’ve been big into fitness for years now and the work that you put into keeping your body healthy and fit pays off in ENDLESS ways. To me, exercise is not optional. It is absolutely mandatory.

    You can do it!!!!!

  6. Chris Wells says:

    What a blog! and trying to read all the comments. Sorry to be so late. I can’t read your blog until evening when I get home from work and wind down the day. A green smoothie? I could try that. I am feeling somewhere beyond fluffy…maybe plump. I still have a ****load of candy, cookies and sweets. Do I begin to secretly toss them in the trash? a green smoothie? really? What do I do with all this peanut brittle my sweetie makes…it’s the best in the world. My underwear is beginning to feel tight, not alone my jeans! And who is that person I just passed in my bathroom mirror? Oh girls, we definately need to help each other. So how much time do we have to lose this weight? I’m in! But Laurie’s right…somewhere between too thin (which I was most of my life) and now too plump…I must have been perfect, if only for a day. But when was that? Will I look back at age 62 and say, “Wow you looked great.” Think I will make chciken stock in the morning!

  7. Judy Mapston says:

    I have been doing Zumba and love it. Just like dancing but great exercise and burns many calories.. And watch my food portions. After reading so many books about diet & exercise I find this works the best for me!!!

  8. Christine from Lafayette, CO says:

    All these years I’ve been calling myself a F-A-T-T-Y! Fluffy is so much thinner and sweeter sounding! I’m with you Susan and girlfriends – its time to unleash the skinny little girlfriends within and set them free! All the ideas and suggestions above are so do-able, especially on this winning team. I am determined to lose those extra 30 pounds I gained during my last pregnancy. (Did I mention my “baby” is 36 years old?! HAHAHAHA!) My little trick… I move the scale down 30 lbs so when I get on I’m already at goal! It’s silly but it helps me stay on track! (drives my husband batty!)

    Congrats on 25 years! You and Joe still sound like newlyweds. We’re looking at 30 years in April. hhmmmm… 30 years, 30 pounds… naw, just my imagination. Have a wonderful weekend xoxoxo!

    • sbranch says:

      I don’t know . . . if Joe starts to lose weight, I gain, and vice-versa. . . we like to keep it in the family!

  9. Joyce says:

    Happy Anniversary Sue and Joe. New York is a great place to celebrate.
    I am feeling your pain with that fluffy business. I will be going to a reunion this year and I need to lose some fluffy too. I have a yum recipe for when you need a sweet, but not the fat that is usually with it.

    1 15 oz. can crushed pineapple in natural juices
    1 box angel food cake mix
    vanilla extract or whatever one that you like – 1 or 2 tsps

    Put all of the above in a bowl, nothing else, and stir it up good with your favorite wooden spoon – it will get foamy – that’s okay.
    Pour into a greased (with nonfat spray) bundt or angel food pan. Bake at 350 degrees in a preheated oven for 30 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool.
    I serve it with fresh berries or canned peaches in natural juice and nofat whipped topping. It is sooooooooooooooo good and way less calories. No eggs, no oil, no nothing. I keep the pineapple and cake mix in the pantry in case of unexpected guests. Bing, bang, boom and it is done.

    • sbranch says:

      I love pineapple in just about everything, I’ll have to try this (after NY!) — thanks Joyce!

  10. Gail says:

    Omg, perfect. I am in manhattan. If I can help at all… Recommend “stuff” please email me. I know you will be too busy with the DH to meet up xoxox

    • sbranch says:

      Well, you can tell me your favorite restaurant! That’s always an interesting question!!! (actually, more interesting, is the answer!)

      • Gail says:

        Faves are: Osteria al Doge (142 W 44th) for pre theater
        Trattoria Dell’Arte (7th & 57th) for before Carnegie Hall
        Gabriel’s (60th & Broadway) for pre-Lincoln Center
        I see a trend!
        And
        Periyali (20th between 5th & 6th) for delicious Greek/Med. food
        We have been going to all of the above for years and they never disappointed us. Another fun spot for an event is the Sea Grill at Rockefeller Center by the skating rink. I took my Mom & sister for pre Christmas lunch with the tree in all of its glory and it was holiday perfection!

  11. DonnaRay says:

    I feel thinner already just reading all these great suggestions! About the only thing that really works for me is writing down everything I eat…..everything! When I look at what a huge, unhealthy list it is I’m shocked and do better at using the other tips: half portions, more veggies, more water (for me that comes in the form of decaf iced tea). Another tip is to have a cup of hot broth ….of course, it’s your amazing chicken broth!…..with a few leaves of fresh parsley floating on top before eating a meal, like they used to do in the old days. Most sets of china from those days had lovely broth bowls with two little handles. I think I’ve seen some in your posts, Susan. A friend swears by drinking a pretty goblet full of low-sodium V-8 while cooking then she’s satisfied with smaller portions at dinner. We all know WHAT to do, it’s just DOING it that’s hard. So, thanks so much, Susan, for gathering us together to support one another. I will cheer for you from here in Upstate NY ……but you didn’t give yourself much time……dig around in that closet for something tentish so you can enjoy yourself. Even the most wonderful city and the most charming husband can be unappreciated if wearing tight shoes, a tight waistband or something you feel you must flounce to keep it from sticking inbetween the rolls.
    Those smoothies make such sense but to me it’s just the drink and then I’m looking for something to chew like the sandwich, chips, and pickle……I love all those textures and parts of a meal. I blame my sweet momma…..we never had just a ham sandwich, but always little bowls of pickled beets, stewed fruit or applesauce, some olives or radishes, etc. etc. etc. and always dessert! So, even if it’s just one Vanilla Wafer or a small Peppermint Pattie or a lingering kiss I need something sweet to feel satisfied.
    Congratulations on your 25th Anniversary! Ain’t love grand? Have fun! As always, DonnaRay

  12. Gail says:

    & p.s. at 53, I just got braces on my teeth (again!). That is very good for snack control!

  13. Kate says:

    Susan, over the last two years I have lost 80 pounds and kept it off. This while eating one large piece of chocolate chip applesauce cake almost every single day. The cake takes care of my need for chocolate or sweets the rest of the day. I also get a good solid eight hours sleep each night. I had been a terrible sleeper getting maybe two or three hours sleep a night, but now I sleep like a baby. The only reason I can see how this works is that one day I read online about walking 10,000 steps a day to be healthy. That is about five miles. When I first started trying to do it, I could only walk 5 or 6 thousands steps and thought I was doing good. As I continued walking it seemed like the pounds just melted off me. I couldn’t buy new clothes fast enough because they would become too big for me and I would be another size smaller. I was astounded it was happening because I have tried so many diets that worked for a while, but then I would go back to gaining even more weight. Diets don’t work. My lifestyle has completely changed. I don’t feel right if I don’t walk. Today I walked 15,000 steps which is about seven miles and feel I could walk more.I don’t know if this will work for everyone, but it has been a miracle for me. People don’t believe me when I tell them I have never been on a diet. A nurse in my doctor’s office asked me if I had had bariatric surgery. I don’t think she believed me when I said I just walk alot. It does take some time and I have to make an effort some days, but I am out walking in the sun, wind, rain and snow. Ice is the only thing that slows me down. Maybe this will help someone to try 10,000 steps and see how it works for them. Your chicken stock sounds delicious and I will try it. Also the tofu noodles. Hope I can find them here in Indiana.

    • sbranch says:

      Ice is the thing that stops us too, but we haven’t had too much of it this year! You lost 80 pounds in two years, that’s truly wonderful. Good job!!! You’re a great inspiration!

    • sbranch says:

      Ice is the thing that stops us too, but we haven’t had too much of it this year! You lost 80 pounds in two years, that’s truly wonderful. Good job!!! You’re a great inspiration!

    • Georgie says:

      Your chocolate chip applesauce cake sounds yummy!!! Can we have the recipe???
      Thanks!

    • Mary says:

      I did the same thing and lost 85 lbs.! However I slowed down and put some back on . . . guess what I’m doing again! Also, I’d love that recipe for your chocolate chip applesauce cake!

    • cindy says:

      Loved, loved, loved all the great ideas!! Thanks for sharing your stuggles,Susan. I thought you were perfect! I love the inspiring stories of great weight losses.
      I could never find enough time to exercise, maybe 1/2 hour for 3 days. Then on Wednesday I decided to walk 15 minutes when I get to work, 15 minutes at lunch, and 15 on my last break. Today I had lost 1/2 lb. I realize that isn’t much but just imagine what would happen if I included the walking to my workouts and watched what I ate??!!

      • sbranch says:

        Good girl!! Hard to squeeze everything in, love the way you did it. I’m so inspired reading what everyone’s doing. So glad I wrote about this, it’s really helping me! Hope everyone else is loving all these comments!

  14. Connie B says:

    I guess we are all in the fluff club. It sounds like we are all ready to get rid of that extra fluff. There are so many great ideas and just think how skinny you will be for your anniversary trip if you put some of those ideas together. As a nurse you would think I get plenty of exercise daily as I go about my work. I’m also so busy I forget about good nutrition.My New Year’s resolution is to get on track and take better care of myself. So the excercise bike is out and getting a work out. My diet has no soda but water instead and I’m trying to eat small portions of lots of fruits and veggies along with some protein. Hopefully that will work long before my 50th HS class reunion in 2013( Marshfield, Ma) You know we all want to walk into that reunion and have someone say, ” my goodness, you haven’t changed a bit ! ” How’s that for a plan ? Happy anniversary and give my regards to Broadway !!

  15. dee says:

    I , too, have gained a few over Christmas and have made a big batch of tomato veg. soup! I want to thank you for your posts on trains! My hubby and I are planning our dream trip for our 30th and we will be going cross-country on a train for the first time! :o) dee

  16. dee says:

    I forgot to say that I cool my stock down by putting on my back steps when the temp. is below 40 degrees! Works great! dee

    • sbranch says:

      That is one of the great uncelebrated things about living in snow country — our “extra refrigerator” — we put a table on the back porch over the holidays and voila! Refrigerator!

  17. Nancy B says:

    Oh, Susan, your saying about “Ewe’s not fat, ewe’s fluffy” reminded me of my dear late sister who had a little wood cut-out of a lamb with that saying on it. She kept it on her window sill above her kitchen sink. Thanks for the memory…. My dream is to ride in a sleigh in Central Park at Christmas time. Would love to see New York City! Happy Anniversary and have fun!! Oh, and thanks for the superb directions for making chicken stock. I must try that!

  18. Buzz'n Bea says:

    Your blog today has inspired me to work on my Fluff. I’m afraid my biggest down fall is bread. What did me in this season was Dutch Current Bread, and it is not complete unless you put a slice of cheddar cheese on it. I did “Weigh Down workshop,” a few years ago, it really worked well. Don’t eat until you are truly hungry and learn to stop when full and/or satisfied, it takes learning to listening to your body. It really comes down to portion control. I want to eat more because it taste good!

    Happy Anniversary on your up coming 25th. Praying you have many more.
    Blessings

  19. Lisa R says:

    I have watched my sweet girlfriend do extreme (500 calories a day) diets twice in the last two years. One time she lost 70 pounds, but then gained it all back and then some. This is not the answer, and I think so bad for your body! Another girlfriend recently shared with me, what is working for her, is to eat half of what she’d normally eat. Even desserts, just a few bites and she’s satisfied. I remember hearing years ago that’s how Dolly Pardon lost her weight. She said she would eat whatever she wanted; mashed potatoes and gravy, fried chicken, chocolate cake, anything she wanted, BUT only two bites. My plan is to add more water, fruits and vegetables, and eat half of everything at meals. Good snacks too. We’ve all been told that smaller meals several times a day keeps the metabolism going, and the sugars balanced. Also, friends have told me 1 cheat day a week really keeps them on track. My husband and I love to go to the movies, and usually go once a week, so I am going to allow myself popcorn, (we share a soda), and my mini peanut butter snickers on this day only. An article I read recently about what the one determining factor on improving any health problem or disease, was exercise. It said that they studied diet and medications, but the one common thing that helped all health problems was exercise. Some of the patients did not even lose wait, but their health numbers improved. A great motivation. Yes, I love exercise as much as the rest of you. Bleh. Truly, I’m going to dance. Just like Kirstie Alley. She said you have to make your exercise fun. Already started a line dancing class once a week! I say, make it fun, and treat yourself to something you love each week. We’re all in this together! We can do it!! Excited for your trip Susan! Have the best time ever!!

    • sbranch says:

      All good stuff Lisa! I think the smaller portions is a huge part of the answer!

      • Christine from Lafayette, CO says:

        Recently on TV there was a segment about portions: Protein the size and thickness of your palm; carbs the size of your fist; fats (cheese) the size of your thumb; fruits the size of your fist and veggies the size of both fists. And if you put all of that on a salad plate…WOWSERS! That’s a lot to eat!!

        • sbranch says:

          They say an apple the size of a tennis balls, but they barely make them that small anymore!

          • Lisa R says:

            When I honestly evaluated our diet, we really eat good food. Lots of fish, grass fed beef, fruits, and veges…..but it really came down to my portion sizes, and sugar. It’s so good, hard to eat a little. And I don’t know about back east Susan, but out west here it seems like all the restaurants are in competition on who can give the bigger portions! Honestly, have you ever been to Claim Jumper? We are being served on large platters!! And we wonder why America has weight issues. When I’m with my husband or daughters, we always share a meal. Cheaper too.

          • sbranch says:

            I know — look at old 1940’s movies, great big men holding thimble-sized martini glasses — everything has gotten super-sized — even fruit!

  20. Pigeon's Mom says:

    I don’t usually really LAUGH when I read things but this entry really had me going, mostly because I could relate a little too well to all the jokes!!! A much needed laugh after spending a few stolen after-midnight hours to try some drawing and new watercolors out. The drawing came out quite precious actually, until I added the paint. Well, the paint and the water… what a mess! Anyway, thanks for the smiles!

  21. Katherine says:

    I haven’t read all of the comments, so my tips may be redundant, but I also did Weight Watchers last year, and from tracking what I ate realized that I lost the most weight during the weeks where I had an apple a day! So, I buy a *lot* of apples, lol. Also, the Fage yogurt with honey, for breakfast or a snack, is so very filling (13-14 proteins!). My last tip is that I stopped eating after 7:00 p.m. After a couple of weeks, I didn’t even think about it! I lost 25 lbs and have maintained from July until now…I’d like to lose 25 more, and your post has psyched me up to get started!! 🙂

  22. Pam says:

    Thanks for the recipe Susan, hubby is really in to cooking and likes making soup, stews etc. so will definitely give it a go. If we can’t fit into the same boat as you and Jo, we’re in the boat alongside! Lots of extra pounds to lose after we’ve finished eating all the Christmas goodies!!!!!! I just can’t work out why it is that all the really delicious food is the food that is bad for you. Seems very unfair.

  23. Peggy says:

    Thank you for all the ideas Have turkey broth straining in sink this minute
    Have a great time in New York Just love your blog

  24. Patti says:

    Love your insight. I am trying as well to take off the “cookie” weight. UGH! My clothes still fit…but they cling in all the wrong places! Anyway, my husband had a heart attack in 2009 and from that moment on we had to change EVERYTHING that we thought about food. He saw a wonderful nutrionist that re-taught us how to cook and eat (and it wasn’t awful). One of her suggested snacks that I really love is Trader Joes Rosemary Raisin Crisps topped with creamy Laughing Cow cheese (the bleu cheese flavor). One serving of the crackers is 90 calories and the cheese is 35! Add in a cup of tea and you are all set.

  25. Elisa Guthrie says:

    I have recently lost 2 pants sizes in less than 2months. For me that is really good. I have always had such a hard time losing.Someone that works for my husband starting selling this stuff called Boresha. It comes in coffee or tea form. I drink the tea, I drink it once in the morning an hour before I eat and again at lunch an hour before I eat. I believe in it so much I just started selling it. I have never done that. Of course you don’t know me and not knowing me it’s hard to believe, but it’s true. If you are interested look it up on the internet they have a website.If you want to buy some just contact me. Good luck in whatever you decide to do and have fun in New York!

    • sbranch says:

      What’s in Boresha? You’re right, always suspicious of pills and things that we eat or drink. Love it that it’s working for you! Hope it’s like thyme or something 🙂

  26. Carilyn Wolski says:

    Good Morning Susan! Congratulations on soon-to-be celebrating your Silver 25th Wedding Anniversary!!! Thank you for the chicken stock recipe. I’m going grocery shopping today and I’ve already added the ingredients to my list!
    I,too,need to lose some weight. Seven years ago I was diagnosed with a high cholestral level, so by watching my cholestral in the foods I ate, I lost 22 pounds, and two dress sizes. However, seven years later, and now that I’m “post menopausal” for two years, I’m up a dress size, and oh boy, the scale sure is honest in telling me I’ve gained pounds. Walking is my best friend, too. But, after reading your recent blog this morning I will try to increase my walking time and watch the cookies. (And the hidden chocolate candies.) I have several Leslie Sansone in-home walking DVDs that I pop in when the weather is bad outside. I love her Walk Away The Pounds routines, as I can do them in my cozy livingroom and not have to worry about the winter weather. She gets your heart rate up and they are so easy to follow. However, I just need to dust them off and start walking every day. (Early mornings before the rest of the household wakes up is the best time for me.) So,thank you for the much needed inspiration!!! And, I will think of you and all of the other SB Girlfriends to get me going with being healthier this New Year 2012 !!!!

  27. Lori from Maine says:

    OOOOHHHHH I’m ready to lose weight! I realized I had lots of “home” pants (sweats, yoga) but only two pair of “out” pants. My jeans HURT! Why, every holiday season, do I feel it’s up to me to finish all the fudge, cookies, etc. in the house? I could freeze it – but it all tastes good frozen too. 🙁 So…I’m very carefully and thoughtfully reading the posts from the girlfriends. I need to unfluffy. Thanks for starting this subject. It looks like a lot of us need some help right about now! My stockpot is sitting on the stove. I need to buy some celery, then the frozen turkey frame from Thanksgiving will be bubbling away. YUM..one of my favorites. I’ll try your recipe next time chickens are on sale! Have a fun weekend!

  28. Donna Wilder says:

    There’s just more of you to love Susan!! OK, I will stop being an enabler and wish you luck on your weight loss..BUT, when you are svelt and sashaying your way through the streets of NYC make tracks over to Eataly, the most amazing Italian marketplace on 23rd Street and 5th Ave. After eating all that chicken soup, you are going to need a little gelato! Follow that with a Chelsea Market chaser(75 9th Ave between 15th &16th) for a Fat Witch Bakery brownie and one of Eleni’s cupcakes!!! Those are our plans for today and in honor of your commitment to weight lose, I will only have one scoop of stracciatella instead of two!

  29. Mary says:

    Hi Susan, Happy 25th Wedding Anniversary! I hope you have a fabulous time in “The Big Apple” – it’s such a fun place.

    Thanks for the tips on your chicken stock. There’s nothing like homemade stock to cure what ailes a person! I’ve made two stock based soups this week . . . I’m also trying to loose the “Holiday Fluff” that I managed to find over vacation!

    Happy New Year!
    Mary

  30. Sarah Powell says:

    New York City for your 25 year anniversary! Ah, returning to the scene of the crime! Muy Romantico! Congratulations!
    But, can’t be true you are too young for it to be possible.
    AND, you are BEAUTIFUL! And so is Joe!
    xoxox, Sarah

  31. Kelly J. says:

    “Cookie fat!” I love it!! Trying to get inspired myself to “feel better in my clothes.” I’m mainly starting by not picking up all of those holiday goodies that are so tempting during Nov. & Dec, and substituting healthier choices at the store. The vegetable soup idea is great, and that stock looks amazing….here’s to making fruits & veggies the “goodies” (raising my coffee cup again 🙂 )

  32. Francine says:

    Hi Susan! I wasn’t feeling 100% yesterday, and was craving a bowl of chicken soup so badly!!!! But we live in a little village and it would have been hard to go out and hunt a bowl down! I didn’t even have a can of soup! Darn! Happy Anniversary to you and Joe! My hubby and I will also be celebrating our 25th anniversary in July!! But lucky you……New York! Wow! As for dieting…..I have lost over 20 lb. over the last year. I’m sure it was due to putting my mom into assisted living! That seemed to put me over the top, besides being a caregiver to my husband 24/7 and watching two tots two full days a week! I didn’t know it would be so much work, being a only child and taking care of her, taking her to dr. appts. taking care of her needs and paperwork, and dealing with her “hoarder” house! Ugh!!!! As for dieting……try for six weeks to give up white flour, sugar and bread! It really helps! I brush my teeth right after dinner so that tends to help me not snack in the evening. I am a walker…when the weather allows. I love to bake, and if there’s a recipe I want to try, I’ll make it, but I keep one piece for myself and give the rest away instead of stuffing myself with it! I usually send the item to work with my daughter for a staff treat! And don’t have tempting items in the house!! After the holidays when I had sweet leftovers….I ended up throwing them out instead of throwing them in my mouth! I know Joe loves you no matter what size you are!! But I know it makes “me” feel better to have lost a little weight! Best of luck!

    • sbranch says:

      Exactly, just to feel better! I test recipes all the time too, which makes it even more difficult — very very hard to take just one bite!!! I give the rest away too!

  33. Sandy Richmond says:

    Hi Susan, Thanks for the chicken stock recipe. I am battling some sort of a stuffy head thing right now, so it is perfect timing. My brothers and our families vacation together every year (since our parents are gone). Well, I am the only “fluffy” person in the family.. : )
    Every year when we go home, I think “next year I’m going to surprise them all and be thinner” , and all of a sudden a year has passed and we are back together and I am still the only “fluffy” one.. !! After reading all of these ideas, maybe this will really be the year I do it!
    Last summer we vacationed in the Rockies. Alot of hiking.. On the trails I was able to hike, I was the huffy puffy fluffy! Have a wonderful time in NYC, and wishing you many more anniversaries to come!

    • sbranch says:

      Hope you feel better Sandy!

      • Sandy Richmond says:

        Thanks! The only upside is I’ve lost some weight already – just eating soup, oranges, toast and tea. A friend of mine said, ” oh don’t worry, you’ll put that back on as soon as you feel better”… ; (. LOL!

        • sbranch says:

          Fun while it lasts!

          • Pat Mofjeld says:

            That wasn’t ME that said that to Sandy, either! MY comment to her was that that is a hard way to lose weight, feeling sick! But the huffy puffy fluffy comment–in defense of Sandy I’ll tell you that she is the only one of her siblings that has an office desk job. Two of them work for Fed Ex–on their feet all day–and the others are retired and very active during the day. Sitting at a desk all day working long hours is the easiest way to gain fluff and the older we get, the harder it is to blow off the fluff! 🙂

          • sbranch says:

            I see the best friend in that lovely comment!

    • Debbie '51 says:

      huffy puffy fluffy! I love that!
      I, too, have found that as the age goes up, so does the weight. I finally decided to do something about it last summer. Although the cutting of calories and portions and increasing walking/exercise is what did the trick, I needed something to motivate me to get there. What helped me tremendously was setting a time frame. After all, I thought, I can do ANYthing for just 28 short days of my life. It’s only 28 days! (28 days was a random number that I chose – no reason. Wanted to keep it do-able.) When I saw the results after 28 days, I wanted to do it for another 28 days. I lost 16 pounds, and have kept 14 of those pounds off for 6 months now. I am ready for another 8-10 pounds to vanish *poof* into the atmosphere somewhere – anywhere, as long as they are not on me. With the help of Susan and all of you girlfriends, and all of us remembering that we can do anything, we are going to be a group of gorgeous babes by next January! Good luck to all of us! We can do it!

      • Debbie '51 says:

        I almost forgot!!
        Happy Anniversary to you, Susan and Joe! Enjoy your trip!
        Dance to the music, step out with the stars…
        La lala lalala….

        🙂 Deb

      • sbranch says:

        Good for you on those 14lbs!!! Yes we can do it!

      • Sandy Richmond says:

        Yes, Debbie, I like your idea of the short term goals. I bought a planner this year, and am using it for logging goals. I think the short term goals are important. My daughter (27 years old) has dropped 80 lbs. over the last few years.(she’s very tall). She started eating healthier, and walking. she is now a runner, and has run a marathon! What I like about this blog is so many of us baby boomers are ready,to lose weight. Congrats on your weight loss! I am going to use your idea of short term goals!

  34. Priscilla says:

    Exercise, portion control and keeping track of what I’m eating everyday helps me stay on track. I have to say, 353 replies to this post, you should receive another pen pal badge from the girl scouts. I think you are the master of all pen pals.

  35. Tiina says:

    All right all right, I’m getting on the treadmill as I write. I don’t have muffin tops anymore, they are more like tamale tops now. I ate a lot of them this holiday season. I know we can lose weight togther. All we have to do is eat less and move more. Sounds easy enough. You can do it! NYC is waiting for you to look even more fab than you already do.
    Off to run.
    xo Tiina

  36. auntie m says:

    I joined Weight Watchers after resisting for years. It’s now designed for real people who like good food. Hooray! I’m 18 pounds lighter than I was in September and I’m now capable of cruising through the holidays on a minimum dose of cookies and stuffing. Hooray again! I make chicken stock too…the homemade stuff is so satisfying. I like to make this instant lunch: heat chicken stock, throw in a small handful of shredded carrots and cabbage and a few frozen mini potstickers. Simmer a few minutes and lunch is ready. 🙂 Frozen banana smoothies are good too.
    Have fun in NYC!

  37. Tara says:

    Hi! This suggestion probably seems a little odd following a chicken stock recipe, but when I decided to change over to a vegetarian diet I lost 12 pound without even realizing it was happening. People kept asking me what I was doing and I didn’t make the connection. I ended up fearfully telling my doctor that I was losing weight “for no reason”. And when she finally found out about the vegetarian thing, she laughed.
    Hope you have a great time in NY!!

  38. Julie Cavrich says:

    Happy Anniversary to you and Joe. I LOVE New York. I have not been there since my Mom passed, 4 years in February. We loved to take bus trips. I too am trying to cut out carbs and have a new Air Climber to try out. Have a great time in NYC! Kisses to the Kitties!

  39. DeAnna Passmore says:

    Susan! Happy Anniversary to you and Joe! So wonderful! I always drink a glass of water about 10 minutes before each meal. That seems to fill me up a little so I eat less (and it helps me get in my daily intake of H2O! Also, I allow myself 1 piece of chocolate (or a cookies, etc.) a day. That way I don’t feel deprived!

  40. I decided this morning to go over to my neighbor and ask her if I could take her dog “Daphne” for a walk…she was so excited and hurried and got the leash…off we went and at first I was being walked and then she slowed down…we had a wonderful walk and I wasn’t out of breath; but the dog was!! ha I then took the other older dog Daisy out for a shorter walk so she wouldn’t feel left out. The temps. are in the 40’s today with sunshine and it just seemed like a good thing to do. I love how when I got on my computer later than usual here is your blog about losing weight…we all know it isn’t rocket science; put in less, stay away from anything “white”….sugar, flour, pastas….eat whole grains, and EXERCISE…..I tend to watch all of this daily and when I did eat anything sweet over the holidays’ I adjusted my meals (less)….I have always just tasted the danger foods “desserts” and never finish a whole piece of anything…I never eat the crust of pie (carbs) and just remember this; we are middle aged so why wouldn’t our “middles” show signs of years??? When I was in my twenties my waist was a 22…now that I am 56 let’s just say it’s in the next decade so to speak (30)….as long as you are healthy and feel good and eat everything in “MODERATION” that’s the buzz word for watching what you eat…you will be fine. If all of this sounds daunting there is always DUCT TAPE….it’s suppose to fix everything…would probably be hard on the lips?? HAHA We will all take this journey together and eating 100 calories less a day will also make a difference and that is doable!!!

    • sbranch says:

      Duct tape, the final frontier.

      • Sandy Richmond says:

        Isn’t it funny – we are all kind of from the same era. My parents ate white bread, always butter on any sandwich, Velveeta cheese, home baked cookies and desserts pretty much every day. And they were never fluffy! Most adults in my neighborhood weren’t. I know the sugars, white flours, etc. aren’t that nutritious, but I don’t think we can blame them for all of the fluffy people…. : ). I think it is portions, and the variety of foods we have today.. Too many good things to eat!
        My friend Pat Mofjeld and I love antique stores, consignment shops, etc., and we have commented how “small” the dishes from the 50’s and 60’s look now…

  41. Trish says:

    This Manhattan-ite welcomes you back. 🙂

  42. Vickie says:

    A painless way to make chicken stock is to use the leftovers from a roasted chicken like Costco sells. I put the same ingredients you used plus the leftover bones (we don’t eat the back side of the chicken) and skin into the crockpot right after dinner with 8 cups of water, some fresh rosemary, thyme and oregano, set the temp. on low and let it cook all night and most of the next day. Smells so yummy. While fixing the next night’s dinner I strain and cool the stock. Last night I used it to make a beef vegetable soup with leftovers from a roast. It was awesome. Using fresh evergreen herbs makes everything taste better. Good luck with diet from a fluffy friend.

    • sbranch says:

      We do that sometimes too, but the browning of the giblets and the deglazing of the pan is the thing that adds the dark color and deeper flavor. We save bones from roasted chicken and add them to the pot too sometimes. Thanks Vickie!

  43. Margaret Wright says:

    I’m there. We have a few trips coming up and I would like to have more stamina and just be healthier. If I work for this I know I’ll lose weight, look better and feel better.

    No desserts or sweets so far this year and I feel soooo much better already. On to the next level. Exercise, I just need to get going.

    Thanks for the inspiration.

    Good luck and I hope to hear of success.

    ~M~

  44. Cathy in Golden, CO says:

    I’ve lost 25 lbs since Oct. but getting through the holidays was not easy although I managed a 3 lb weight loss! I usually “gain” 10 lbs! This post is soooo timely because I still have at least another 20 lbs. to lose and I need some new, fresh ideas! I have been aquasizing but the chlorine is really hard on my skin. After reading the positive comments about Zumba – I think I will try that. Also, I make a smoothie of vanilla or banana soy protein powder with strawberries, 1/2 banana and 1 C. spinach in it. It’s really good! Although I have to drink it in the dark of very early morning because it looks awful – green! I have found that if I eat small meals every 2 1/2 – 3 hours and eat only a salad for dinner the weight just melts off. And cut back on carbs. Eat the good carbs in reasonable amounts.

    Congrats on your 25 years together. We will be celebrating our 29th on 2/5. My husband is from NY – we spent our honeymoon there! I would love to spend our anniversary there again! We always have a wonderful time when we visit NY!

    • sbranch says:

      Look at you — 25 lbs! Congratulations! You’re over half way there . . . so good! I have to say, I’ve been so inspired reading all of these comments. Not a grain of sugar got past my lips today, so thank you!

      • Cathy in Golden, CO says:

        The sugar thing gets easier. When you go without it for awhile, you really don’t want or crave it anymore. I actually got a headache on Christmas Eve after eating some of my fudge. I couldn’t help myself!!!!! I have to say, it was just so-so delicious!!!!!!! Now I’m back to NO sugar!!! YOU CAN DO IT!

        • sbranch says:

          Love it when those cravings finally stop — usually takes me three days and then they’re gone!

    • Cathy in Golden, CO says:

      Forgot to say that your chicken stock looks wonderful! I love the pictures too! Your recipes make so much sense when we can see what you’re doing and they make me hungry!!!!! I am definitely making it this week. Also, I love all the comments. So many good ideas on food, water, exercise, etc. I’ve been inspired!!! Well, I guess we all know what to do – it is so hard to do it and maintain it! I find the hardest part is just “getting started” 🙂

  45. Christina says:

    I saw the blog and just had to go out that night and get the stuff to make the stock. I made it last night and into today. Amazing! I made the ice cubes for future use and used the rest to make a chicken pot pie. It was the best thing I have ever made…absolutely amazing.

    Thanks, keep all the good stuff coming!
    Christina

  46. Linda H says:

    Congratulations to you and Joe! 25 years–you must have married at age 15! You guys look great. Its been fun reading through all of the inspirational comments. It seems like smart eating always boils down to the same old basics, more fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins, and fewer processed foods. And, for some of us, thinking about if we’re really hungry before eating, or if we’re eating to relieve stress (in which case try and do something else to relieve the stress, like walking, stretching or deep breathing). Good luck to all of us girlfriends on achieving our goals!

  47. Barbara Belcher says:

    Thanks for the detailed recipe for the chicken stock, I mean with the pictures, how cool is that? I am going to try it next week … YUM! Oh, and Happy Anniversary! Have a great time in New York and see a Broadway show for me. 🙂 I want to hear all about your trip when you return. After reading your blog everyday it makes my heart smile and puts me in a good mood …. missed the music this time but I LOVE you and all your books. Keep up the wonderful work. I asked for all your books for Christmas, I received one so far. Wish I had them all.
    Barbara 🙂

  48. Trish K. says:

    I hope I’m not repeating anyone else. The only thing that ever worked for me was a food diary. There is a great free one called, “My Fitness Pal”. You can use it online, or you can use the app on your smartphone, or both. You can scan barcodes into the app with your phone which is super speedy! You can track weight, calories, sugar, fat and exercise. Im sure there are many other sites, Ive even heard keeping it all in a little notebook helps, but mainly I think it helps a person stay accountable. And I think Ive tried and failed on every gimicky diet out there! Well, sorry about the long post……Happy Anniversary Joe & Susan!

  49. Susan Bryza says:

    Loved this posting and also the one about the moon. My current husband and I were married at the Rabbit Hill Inn in Waterford, Vermont under the moon. My favorite song is – you guessed it – “Moonlight in Vermont.” Thanks for sharing your favorite movies – we’ve updated our Netflix account.

    I have loved your cookbooks for a long time. My ex-husband gave me your first one for Valentine’s Day back in the 1980’s. I watched and purchased Vineyard Seasons as soon as it came out. I have most of your books, recipe files, and usually manage to find your desk calendar. Love, love, love them! I just found Girlfriends on Ebay. I’ve enjoyed making many of your recipes, but also just love to read (and reread) them! Because of your first book, we visited Martha’s Vineyard – what a wonderful place to live! (We stayed at a little B& B in Edgartown.)

    My name is Susan, too, but I often go by Sue. I mostly use Susan professionally and Sue for friends and family. Just curious – how do you decide when someone calls you Sue or Susan?

    Thanks again for taking the time to write this blog and share yourself with us!!:)

    ~Sue

    • sbranch says:

      People call me what they want. Susan is prettier, and definitely my professional name, but Sue is more normal, and then I have a group of friends that call me Susie. Thank you for all your kind words, Sue! Glad you got to the island, it’s pretty wonderful isn’t it! xoxo

  50. Cindy says:

    I only gained three pounds during the holidays so I feel fortunate! But, I did try the tofu noodles from my health food store and I loved them! I ate a hundred calories worth and I was so full….and guilt-free and happy! Thank you for the info on them! Just wish I could fill my freezer with them, but I read they would get mushy. So, I go and buy them once a week and feast on spaghetti with my homemade, almost zero fat, sauce! Heaven on a plate by the fire! *Squeal*

    • sbranch says:

      Check out the freshness date, they last for a couple of months in the fridge! *Squeal* is right!!! 🙂

      • Cindy says:

        I just found out how long they last! Yay! Just bought a dozen packages that are resting happily in my fridge, awaiting for me to indulge in spaghetti heaven any time I choose! It’s such a crazy little thrill to sit down to a huge bowl of these and not feel like I’m overindulging! Nom Nom Nom….

        • sbranch says:

          I made linguini and clam sauce today … the sauce is all olive oil, just a dab of butter, and clams — garlic, parsley, Parmesan . . . very low carb, on top of very low carb, and delicious.

  51. JoE says:

    That soup recipe looks really good, and I love its purpose…and then I found your fabulous Brownie recipe on the Home Cooking page. Oh.my.goodness. Is this where we start talking about “balance”?…LOL! Happy 25th! Hubby & I are sharing our 30th in early Feb. It can’t possibly be that long cuz I am not that old!!! Am I? He says we got married when we were 3…so of course we aren’t that old. Have a great trip, and thanx for the recipes. Think I will make it for later this week when the cold finally sets in.

  52. Marjolein says:

    Love reading all your stories!
    And tips? I don’t know, but for the obvious: no sugar, no sweets, no cookies. Only fruit in the morning. Excersise more. And when eating out: order the small portion and then eat 75% of it. I am from the Netherlands and found that the US small portion equals our XL!

    And to get things started: try to catch a flu ;-)) yes, the weight lost will be gained, but it helps if you don’t feel like eating!!

    Good luck and I’ll join you from this side of te ocean!

    • sbranch says:

      Reminds me of the movie The Devil Wears Prada when Emily Blunt’s character said she was just one flu away from her goal weight! 🙂 I know what you mean about our portions. . . and the scary part is that we’ve gotten used to it!

  53. I just want to share this with all of you about “fat free” and “sugar free” foods. After using sugar free items for almost 12 years in 2011 I took myself off of them. I kept reading how Aspartame was poison to the body because it was an artificial sweetner as are all of the other brands. So, once I stopped all sugar free foods and I know people that are diabetic rely on these products, I started having to “pee” non stop and even through the night which was so aggravating. I talked to my Dr. who supported my decision to stop using artificial sweetners and he said it was my body “detoxing” all the poison out of my system. So, use all the regular foods, syrups, etc. just very small amounts. I think it is disgusting that soft drink manufacturers use these poisons in the diet drinks and it is proven that it actually puts weight on people because it causes them to crave sugar which makes people eat more…now isn’t that ridiculous and a saboteur?? Also, fat free products add more sugar to make the products taste better. Eating natural foods is healthier; just cut back your portions and everything will fall into place. It is a very good idea to treat yourselves to whatever you love once a week to keep you strong and focused. If you fall off the wagon don’t fret or feel like a failure; begin again and feel good about yourself.

    • sbranch says:

      I’m with you and the artificial sweeteners. Corn syrup too, very bad.

      • YES…..High Fructose Corn Syrup is in everything and one of the reasons our children and adults too are becoming so over weight…it’s time the FDA steps up and eliminates it from our products. I have another gripe about so much sodium in our canned products especially soups…even the 1/3 less (lite soups) still has too much in them. I don’t think people read the labels to see that 1000 mg. on the label is only a portion of the can (1 serving) and they list 2.5 servings per contents….so if you eat the entire can which most people do you have just consumed 2500 mg. of sodium….someone mentioned earlier about our ancestors eating what they wanted and they did, the pitfall for our generation is preservatives added to our foods…it’s slowly killing us. Did you ever hear of things like Salmonela, EColi, Listeria in foods when you were a child?? now it is common and all of the time…makes a person wonder what is going on with the agencies suppose to be monitoring the safety of our foods!!! I saw a segment on buying Organic foods and an expert said it is wasteful to purchase foods with peelings (bananas, oranges) only buy organic when you eat the fruit like strawberries, blueberries things you don’t actually peel. I thought that was a very good tip!

        • sbranch says:

          Congress has cut back the power of those agencies — the lobbyists for the food industry are being heard above us. It’s chicken that drives me crazy. I’m not sure young people realize that it was just a few years ago we didn’t have to hose down the kitchen and have ourselves sterilized just because we touched a raw chicken. That there were people made a sport out of swallowing raw eggs. It’s like they say, “here’s some poison food, it’s up to you to cook it into jerky; if you get sick, it’s because you didn’t cook it right!!” I don’t know how they get away with it. Food health has always been a thing with me, don’t get me started! I even put a phone number people could call in my Autumn book. It is what it is I’m afraid.

          • Charlene Hisayasu says:

            Susan and Deborah…Thank you for this most informative and true account of our grocery industry! Yes, indeed, I love the heartwarming comments that we all share here…but there is also the reality of the sources of the grocery industry. Be alert and aware. I am in the midst of reading Michael Pollan’s writings. I want to make good food choices for myself and loved ones. His mantra? “Eat real food. Not too much. Mostly fruits and vegetables.” Thanks, again, Susan & Deborah, for your honesty and information! 🙂 charlene

          • sbranch says:

            Buy local, buy fresh! All over the country local farms are doing a really good job of giving us alternatives — just have to find them. We even have locally grown lamb and chickens here. Michael Pollan is great! We really have to educate ourselves because things have changed so much!

        • Charlene, I’m not an expert just a concerned consumer I appreciate your comments. My Grandparents didn’t have the appliances to store foods in like we do today and they smoked meats to preserve; and their purchased foods didn’t contain MSG’s, artificial sweetners, and they lived to be 92 & 88. My Grandfather would put a heaping spoon of real sugar on his orange half and it didn’t kill him? I don’t think sodium needs to be in such large amounts so the can of soup can stay on a shelf for years? The agencies not doing their jobs and Congress not allowing them to is where we need to all start by writing to them and demanding they start protecting our food in this Country!! Afterall, they have families too and not everyone can purchase organic or go to a local farmer for natural foods. I’m like Susan this is a passion of mine and I really do not mean to sound like an activist; I’m just worried over the health of each and every one of us.

          • sbranch says:

            Here’s the phone number if you want to find the representatives for your state; you can google their contact info and email them your thoughts . . . 202-224-3121 — Moms of the world unite! 🙂 A clean food supply is really a basic right isn’t it?

          • Thank you Susan and I will be calling that number and I hope all the Girlfriends will unite and maybe we can put a stop to this. It is worth trying; if people can stop Verizon from charging a fee for services with signing a petition in 1 day, surely something affecting all of us and our health is worth a change? Afterall, it is an election year maybe a good time to ASK FOR CHANGE!! Again.

    • Lynn McMahon says:

      My grandma grew up on a farm and ate LARD on her bread for breakfast! They had to sell the butter because they needed the money. She lived to be 92 and never had any health issues until she was almost 90. I have Michael Pollan’s books and they are full of common sense & healthy ideas. MODERATION again! I still cannot bear to watch Food Inc. I don’t need to….my family has. They said it would kill me!
      I am this close to being a vegetarian again….I guess you have to eat what you know (where it came from) and it ALL should be grown and raised healthy! Not only for those who can afford it!

      • Charlene Hisayasu says:

        Deborah, Lynn, and Susan…Not only are the Girlfriends in this comment section SWEET homemakers, they are SMART, aware, and conscientious! Yes, Deborah, I agree. I don’t want to sound like an activist either! But we must share this knowledge. As Susan said, “…a clean food supply is a basic right.” and Lynn, “Not only for those who can afford it!”
        My daughter-in-law buys her produce from a CSA farm in So. Calif. That’s Community-Supported-Agriculture. They are small farmers who grow (mostly organic) produce and deliver fresh/seasonal items weekly to your home or local dropoff for a regular fee. You might google for your area. She has learned to cook new recipes because of new produce she’s not grown up eating. Its actually fun for her! 🙂 Thank you, Ladies, for such educated input! 🙂

      • Patricia says:

        Love this thread….it’s like listening to myself speak! 😉 I’m glad I’m not the only one on my soap box about eating whole and local foods…..in my house we call it “eating clean.” xx

  54. Janice says:

    Take lots of pictures on your trip in New york. We love that you share them with us.
    Chicken stock is the base for my Greens. My family made a request for them today. Sew they are simmering away. The kicthen smells wonderful, my daughter is are they done yet? Greens are also good for dieting as they are cleasning. If you like cabbage there is a soup in the seventeen day diet book that is real good. I’ll make it up and freeze it up and there’s lunch for the week.
    Take care and thank you for all your tips and tricks we love your Blog…..

  55. Patty says:

    Susan, PLEASE,PLEASE, READ THIS! First let me say I love reading your blog. But today I got as far as reading that if Jack were a girl you’d let him have babies. My heart broke and I cried. I have a friend who is the veterinarian at our local city ANIMAL SHELTER. I wish it was just a shelter. Unfortunately there are too many unwanted animals to shelter. It is especially overflowing with CATS AND KITTENS that have been dumped there. And they are the Lucky ones. MOST of them are EUTHANIZED because they just don’t have the room or funds to care for them all. How can I say say the euthanized ones are the lucky ones? Because they aren’t starving to death, freezing to death, being abused or worse. (You don’t want to know.) Every week my friend has to euthanize more than you want to know. It’s horrible. You (I use the word “you” to mean “anyone”) can say, “But they weren’t the kittens my cat had. I found homes for all of them.” That may be true, but for every kitten “you” found a home for another kitten went homeless. The MOST HUMANE thing anyone can do is have their pet “fixed”. Please do a search of the internet. There are many websites that will tell you this same thing. It’s also healthier for the cat for it to be fixed. Thank you for listening. Please never let any of your cats have kittens or father kittens. Also, indoor cats have a longer life span than cats that go outdoors (outs lived to be 18 to 21 yrs old) and they miss nothing by not going out as long as they’re played with.

    • sbranch says:

      Don’t worry, I’ve never let any of my animals go unfixed — they’ve all been neutered. I just said that because Jack is so wonderful it would be great if he could be cloned — but he isn’t a girl, and I probably wouldn’t do that anyway. It’s just that he’s so wonderful.

    • Cindy in South Carolina says:

      Patty, I volunteer at my local shelter in the cat room and want to second everything you said. I have 4 cats and they never go outside. Our shelter does not adopt out any animal without them being fixed first. There are just too many homeless animals to take a chance. I just discovered Susan’s blog after being a fan for years and, Susan, if Jack were a girl and had babies, I’m sure not a one would be like him because he is one of a kind. Thank you for sharing Jack and GK’s stories with us.

  56. Patty says:

    Correction: I meant to type “ours”, not “outs”, lived to be 18 to 21.

  57. Karen P says:

    I don’t know if anyone commented on that adorable painting in this blog of the Oreo cookie wearing a bikini! Made me laugh! Gives new meaning to the phrase “You are what you eat!”

  58. Angie(Tink!) says:

    Yummy! & Bravo! 25 Years Together for You & Joe! Twirling into Bliss! Hey Sweet Sue My Computer got some kind of Spyware thingy on it & I have Been Blocked from the Internet for Days…so I am in the Process of getting this Fixed…(Poor Me) always something…I am Running on SafeMode…I have Missed You & Everybody! ok On to Your Next Blog! Love & Hugzzzzzz wish me luck! xoxo Poof!

  59. Sarah Krauss says:

    hey Susan,
    Im sure you’ve been, but if not you simply HAVE to check out Tea and Sympathy when you get to NYC. It’s a tiny tea shop run completely by brits and has some of the best food for chilly days i’ve ever eaten. It also has a lovely gift shop next door! You can find it on Greenwitch Ave near 13th street.

  60. Hi Susan!

    Just wanted to let you know that I linked to this post on my own blog, http://www.dapperdreamy.blogspot.com... The tie in with talking about homemade bagels was too good!

    Have a great day,

    Jake

    • sbranch says:

      Toasted bagels could go really well with chicken soup! Although they are considered quite fluffy themselves!

  61. Leigh says:

    Happy New Year dear Susan! I’m delurking to say congratulations on your 25th, my husband and I are “only” married 22 yrs :).
    I lived in NYC for 20 years, we finally moved 60 miles NE to a small town of 2800, the onion capital of NY. But, I’ve got a few recommendations of yummy and healthy place to eat out-I’m not vegan or strictly organic, I just found these places interesting and different: ABC Kitchen, 18th and Bway (organic home cookin’) and Peacefood Cafe, 460 Amsterdam. If you want an authentic Chinatown experience, try Nom Wah Tea Parlor, 13 Doyers St.
    Enjoy your visit to NYC, if you ever get a need for peace and quiet, come on up to the black dirt region of the Hudson Valley (just watch out for the skunks)

    • sbranch says:

      One of my favorite places, the Hudson Valley! Thank you for delurking Leigh! Love the restaurant recommendations!

  62. Lorraine says:

    Congratulations on your upcoming anniversary! My husband and I have been exercising and eating better since October. Most of our weight gain/fluff came from eating sweet treats with tea after dinner. We have been snacking mostly on fresh fruit, yogurt and hummus with whole grain crackers. A couple of pieces of dried fruit with a cup of black tea or coffee can satisfy our sweet tooth and doesn’t have as many calories as a piece of cake or cookies. Exercising on the treadmill goes so much better when you have a stack of your favourite cds ready and waiting. Some days I get so lost in my favourite music that I do far more on the treadmill than I set out to do because I just want to hear the rest of the song. My husband and I both feel like we have more energy now and are happy with the way our bodies are looking. Also, sitting on a stability ball and exercising while watching tv or a movie works too.

    • sbranch says:

      I’ve lost 3 lbs, just begun, but everyone helped me so much with all their great comments, like yours! I needed to spend a couple of days talking about it, and it worked!

  63. Sharon J. says:

    I have a question for all of you experienced chicken broth makers. I’ve been making the chicken stock all day because I’m sooo anxious to make the chicken soup with the mushrooms. The only differences I’ve made are that I used a whole chicken cut up and it was still just a little frozen but I could use a fork to pull each piece away from eachother, I simmered it and it took about 6 hours for the chicken to begin to look like it was falling away like in the picture. Now the chicken(I’ve only tasted a little piece from one of the breasts) seems tough even though it all seemed so tender and fell of the bones. Did I over cook it or is it the chicken? Help?? Thanks in advance as I know all you amazing girlfriends will help me.

    • sbranch says:

      Ooops, sorry Sharon, the chicken was only supposed to cook 1 hour. Probably less if you use pieces. You want the chicken to be just done — then you take it off the bone and save it for later. You put all the bones and skin back into the stock to keep cooking. That’s OK, your broth will be wonderful. Just cook some more chicken to put in the soup.

  64. Sylvia Ricks says:

    Went to pull up your Sugar Cookie Recipe & instead the Lemon Cookie recipe comes up… which is listed later. Is there a Sugar Cookie Recipe?
    Thanks for all your cheerful kindness!

  65. Stephanie Wurzer says:

    I loved your shots of the moon. AND everything Susan Branch!

  66. Mama Bear says:

    Congratulations to you and Joe….enjoy your time in New York. Jim and I will celebrate 45 years in February with a trip to Nashville and a stay at the Opryland Hotel.

  67. Deana says:

    Some people complain about winter, but it’s one of my favorite seasons. Why? Because I use my extra “refrigerator” space – my back porch! – for things like cooling down my big pot of chicken stock that’s been simmering on the stove for 6 hours! Just another reason to love New England in winter. Thanks for the recipe and photos. Your TERRIFIC photos of the moon (and island buildings) make me want to take the ferry over and spend a winter day on the island (just 45 min to Woods Hole)!

    • sbranch says:

      Having been born and raised in California, I’ve always loved the refrigerator thing too, so handy! Lucky for us, we don’t have bears!

  68. Joan Lesmeister says:

    Hmmmmmm, I am definitely fluffy! But, I am going to work on being less fluffy this coming year, right along with the rest of you (I guess I should say some of you), strictly for my health! I LOVE food, very much, but I’ll learn to love spinach more than chocolate, maybe! Now that I’ve had dinner, I won’t need to eat for HOURS, already working on the fewer fluffs! 3 Pounds, good for you Sue, you’ll be so cute in your NY clothes! NY sounds like a terrific place for celebrating your 25th! Romance is in the air! Congratulations to you and Joe!

  69. Amy Lynn says:

    Hey there Susan!
    Hope you are enjoying your time away! And Happy Anniversary!! It is cold here today (28 degrees) and my sweetie is on his was home, after a week away at work, a great day to make chicken stock! SO! My chicken is in the pot… beginning to simmer. A little later in the day than I had hoped, but oh well! Its the perfect day to stay home, watch old movies, and simmer chicken stock! I think I will make chicken pot pie with the meat, and then who knows what with the stock in the coming days. How long will the stock stay good if kept in the fridge?
    Thanks for sharing your yummys with us!
    Amy

    • sbranch says:

      We aren’t away yet, not until the end of the month. Freezing here too, but still no snow. Stock is good as long as it smells and tastes good, which can be up to a couple of weeks, but it should be reboiled about every 3 days. If you reboil it, don’t put a lid on it inside the fridge until it’s cold. Best, if you want to keep it for a long time, you freeze it. Hope this helps!

      • Amy Lynn says:

        Thanks Susan,
        I was thinking that I read that you all were going away for your anniversary this weekend. Opps! 🙂
        Can I freeze it as is? or do I have to reduce it before freezing? I am so excited! the broth smells so yummy and looks so good!! And we are having hot-yummy-tummy filling chicken pot pie tomorrow for dinner, and just in time, as we are having snow this evening!! 🙂 It will be a pj day tomorrow with my sweetie and Chicken Pot Pie! 🙂
        Amy

  70. Hi Susan,
    Loved the story and old photos of your friends! I have had so many dear friends in the past and presently there are 5 gals who are dear to my heart. We meet bi-monthly to share, eat, craft & laugh. We decided to call ourselves FROTH, Friends of the Heart. Most of us retired from the same employer and never had the time to hang together and now we look forward to every meeting. We all enjoyed your sweet shop in Arroyo Grande and sad when you left. But things sound good for you. Keep writing and sharing with all of us.

  71. Penny says:

    I have made chicken stock from your cookbook and it is wonderful. I absolutely love the little quotes and pictures in your books. I get the books just to look at the pictures!

  72. veronica says:

    Susan and Joe many blessings to you both,and much love and congratulations to you.
    Thank you for the soup and thank you for the love. I absolutely loved the music video.I’m with her! A house and a fence? Love it! A millionaire? A girl can certainly dream can’t she?Ahhhhh…..
    Congrates to Jocelyn! Spread the love!
    Thank you Joyce.Does the recipe have a name? I’m calling it”Angel Food Delight”,
    if that’s ok? If not I would love to give it its rightful name. Bellblue50@aol.com
    I want to do right by you. I’m going to try this this weekend. God bless to all! Veronica

  73. Oh, I am so in love with your site! Love, love, LOVE!

    I just wanted to add that if you put 2 Tbsp of Apple Cider Vinegar in your soup it will draw all sorts of good nutrients out of the chicken bones. You’ll never taste the vinegar. The bones become like rubber, but your broth becomes even more healthy. I simmer mine for a good 12 hours. It’s magical. ♥

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