2.22.12 Chip In

Chips 790 xxx
photos by gluttonforlife
I'm really struggling with my weight these days. A doctor friend told me it's my body's stubborn attempt to hold onto whatever little estrogen is left. My diet is ultra clean. Dessert is a rare treat and, despite my love of cocktails, I'm limiting myself to just one a week. I don't get as much exercise as I should—no snow has meant no snowshoeing, for one thing—but I'm hoping that warmer weather will make it easier to get outside and to use our makeshift gym in the (unheated) barn. My biggest challenge is to not loathe my body, which has outgrown much of my cherished wardrobe, but I am trying to practice compassion. I often consult Christiane Northrup's invaluable book, The Widsom of Menopause, so I know many women go through similar changes, and that they are not irreversible. On the plus side, I now have cleavage. Unfortunately, it's often in places it shouldn't be.
Slices 790 xxx
any way you slice it
Christiane stresses the importance of eating plenty of food—not starving yourself in an attempt to lose weight—as the body requires enough to keep the metabolism from getting sluggish. I've had to come up with some snacks that work (hello, pickles! hello, mushroom jerky!) and the dehydrator is suddenly my new BFF. My recent foray into fruit leather was a success and nudged me in a new direction: apple chips. A dear friend recently mailed me a package full of amazing chiles and spices from here, including habanero sugar with a monster kick that promised to make these an adult snack.
Basting 790 xxx
brush with greatness
Not being too familiar yet with the whole dehydrator thing, I wasn't sure if the sugar would stick to the apple slices once they got really dry. So I decided to brush them with the merest whisper of oil. Really any oil would do for this recipe, something neutral or something more assertive, depending on your taste. I used some pecan oil I've had hanging around my fridge, applied with a silicone basting brush. These are easier to clean than the bristle brushes of yore, and don't retain the smell of garlic butter like those did.
Drying 790 xxx
dry spell
As you slice the apples, I recommend dropping them in a bowl of acidulated water so they don't turn brown. Once you're all done, spread them out on a clean dish towel that will absorb the excess water.
Drying slice 790 xxx
it all stems from here
Not all your slices will look this beautiful. But some will.
Sugar 790 xxx
upper crust
Sprinkle just a hint of sugar (spicy or not) and even less of sea salt as flavors will intensify in the dehydrator.
Chips 3 790 xxx
chips off the old...apple
You can dry these to that sort of chamois-like texture, but I prefer them quite crisp with a perceptible crunch. I left mine to dry overnight and went to sleep with the soft drone of the machine wafting into the bedroom, where I lay dreaming of slipping, once again, into my size 6 trousers.

Spicy Apple Chips

  • habanero sugar
  • pecan oil
  • crisp apples, like Fuji or Pink Lady
  • sea salt

Prepare a bowl of cold water and add the juice of a small lemon. Slice apples as thinly as possible, picking out any seeds or tough bits of core. (A mandoline is ideal here, but a very sharp knife will do.) Then drop the slices into the acidulated water.

When the apples are sliced, remove from water and pat dry with a dish towel. Lay the slices on dehydrator trays, or on parchment-lined baking sheets.

Using a pastry brush, brush each apple slice with the thinnest sheen of oil. Then sprinkle with a tiny bit of habanero sugar and an even smaller bit of sea salt.

Dehydrate at about 125º for approximately 12 hours, or as long as it takes for the slices to become at least moderately crisp. Store in an airtight container or ziploc bag.

*If you don't have a dehydrator, set your oven on its lowest temp and prop the door open with the long handle of a wooden spoon.

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I can relate! Am laughing out loud over your cleavage crack. (ugh!, sorry) I love leaving the oven on low when the kitchen is otherwise cool. Our dear cat Mimi used to stretch out on it at night to warm his old bones. So perhaps I will pop some apples in and remember his sweet soft self. When our crew of fie or six friends picked apples in Yakima, we threaded them with string while sitting around a fire at night in the middle of the Golden Delicious orchard. Fragrant memories. Carolyn, part of our picking team, and still a dear friend who lives in Baker City, OR told me she has started creative walking with the Nordic poles. Am looking into that. To build the core. Meantime, Patagonia's Serenity pants allow me to get dressed in the morning! and afternoon, and night....in every color!
Anne on February 22, 2012 at 5:02 am —
Wonderfully evocative images, Anne!
laura on February 22, 2012 at 5:48 am —
You cracked me up with the cleavage comment :-) and wanted to share you are not alone. I hardly recognize my body anymore. I have never had a problem with my weight, but that's sadly in the past now. My diet is not as ultra clean as yours, I'm sure, but it's better than it's ever been. But it doesn't seem to matter - it's all so frustrating! No snow = no snowshoeing here either, but I've started back hiking and going to yoga. All I can say is thank God for elastic waistbands :-)
The Wimpy Vegetarian on March 1, 2012 at 8:01 pm —
I heard from so many people that this is a common problem, Susan! Next week I'm going to post about what my nutritionist told me...
laura on March 2, 2012 at 3:57 am —