Cathy Briles is a culinary chronicler, sharing more than 100 recipes since 2011 on her cooking blog. A financial institution information technology manager by day, Briles relishes sharing epicurean escapades from her Olathe kitchen, especially after losing 55 pounds.
While Briles tests new recipes, she also shares family favorites — ranging from cubed steak to cookies — for the cyber-world to see. You can follow Briles’ blog at: WhatsCookingAtCathys.blogspot.com.
Q: What inspired you to lose so much weight?
A: Cooking and photography are two of my creative passions. I booked a photographic safari in 2015 to South Africa and Botswana for the fall of 2016, and had to declare my weight, because of the small plane that was transporting us into the Bush.
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By January 2016, my weight had ballooned up 30 pounds above my declared weight and I knew I needed to lose it. For my body, eating a low-carb diet was what I found works best. People should always check with their own doctor, but for me, the goal was to feel better and be able to fully take part in the photographic safari. Once I started to lose weight, eating this way has become a long-term lifestyle change, which includes making better food choices for my body.
Q: The pictures on your blog look yummy. How did you get started writing your own cooking blog?
A: I am from a small farming town called Plainville, Indiana, and have many childhood friends with whom I keep in touch. Food and sharing recipes is one way we stay connected. I used to post recipes on Facebook for my friends, but I didn’t like the cumbersome way I had to write them and that I was confined to only one picture.
Since I am in IT (Information Technology), I thought that writing my own blog couldn’t be that complicated. My photography hobby clicks in when I cook, because I believe food has to appeal to the eye first and needs to look appetizing in order to entice people to try it. Now, it’s fun to share recipes with not only my friends in Indiana, but with people all over the world who have subscribed to my blog.
I have no visions of becoming the next The Pioneer Woman’s Ree Drummond, but it’s wonderful to be able to share food with others, via the Internet, when they’re too far away to come and eat a real meal with you.
Q: Is your palate inspired by Plainville?
A: I grew up watching my mother Verda Briles cooking. But, as the oldest of two children, I was the baker of the family. It was up to me to make pies, bake red velvet cake, and even laminate pastry for homemade baklava. As part of my blog, I have the dream of cooking through my grandmother Mary Burkhart’s cookbooks that have been left to me. I’ve already started with her persimmon pudding recipe.
I have to say that my cooking has also been influenced by my many trips to Italy. I love it there and Italians are really wonderful about expressing a warm sense of hospitality through their food and wine. I’d be lying if I said I don’t miss pasta in my low-carb diet now, but being aware of how my body metabolizes carbs helps me stay on track.
Q: This recipe isn’t exactly a low-carb offering.
A: That’s true, but I have made a lower-carb version and the recipe is on my blog. Instead of refined all-purpose flour, I use almond flour in its place. Instead of sugar, I use Erythritol, which is a sugar alcohol, which tastes like sugar but contains almost zero calories. Sugar alcohols have several other advantages such as neither causing a spike in blood sugar, nor causing tooth decay. While not everyone’s body handles sugar alcohols well, this is what works for me.
This snickerdoodle cookie recipe comes from my mom, so that means a lot. Also, I’ve recently modified the ice cream recipe so you don’t have to temper the eggs by gradually ladling some of the warm mixture into eggs while whisking constantly. If you do it wrong, you end up with scrambled eggs. This change in technique resulted from a process I followed while making lemon curd. I think this modification will make it easier for cooks who might be overwhelmed by the tempering process.
That’s the thing about cooking — I am constantly learning — and always trying to perfect a dish. To me, getting into the kitchen is a creative exercise. I nearly always modify a new recipe I’m trying to fit my tastes. Most of my recipes aren’t complicated, and I prefer a simple preparation with common ingredients. My blog serves another purpose; it is my personal recipe collection that is just a click away as long as I have an Internet connection.
Mary G. Pepitone is a freelance writer who lives in Leawood. She also writes a nationally syndicated home column. E-mail her at email@example.com to nominate a cook.
Snickerdoodle Ice Cream
Makes 12 servings
For snickerdoodle cookies:
1/2 cup butter
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
For cookie topping:
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
For ice cream:
2 cups whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 cups heavy whipping cream
12 snickerdoodle cookies, broken into bite-sized pieces
12 snickerdoodle cookies, used for garnish
To prepare cookies: Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugars together, using an electric mixer on medium speed. Add egg and vanilla extract, mixing until well combined.
In a separate mixing bowl, whisk flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, salt and cinnamon together and slowly beat into creamed mixture to form a dough.
Prepare the topping by mixing sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl until well combined. Set aside.
Roll dough into 24, 1-inch balls. Roll dough balls through the topping before placing 1 dozen each on prepared baking sheets. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until edges just start to turn golden. Allow cookies to cool completely on wire rack and set aside.
To prepare ice cream: Pour milk, sugar, eggs, vanilla extract and cinnamon into the bowl of a blender and beat until smooth.
Pour mixture into a heavy-bottomed saucepan, add heavy whipping cream, and whisk mixture over medium heat on stovetop about 10 minutes, until thickened. Remove pan from heat and run mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a plastic bowl with a tight-fitting lid.
Fit lid onto top of bowl and place into refrigerator about 3 hours or overnight, until completely cooled.
Pour chilled mixture into ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions. When ice cream is nearly done and looks like soft-serve, add snickerdoodle cookie bits.
When mixture is finished in ice cream maker, pour into a clean, resealable plastic container. Fit lid tightly onto top and place in freezer for about 2 hours, or until very firm.
To serve, evenly scoop ice cream between 12 dishes and garnish each with a snickerdoodle cookie.
Note: Snickerdoodle cookie recipe can be easily doubled to yield more cookies than are used for the ice cream recipe. Briles will also use Archway Brand Snickerdoodle cookies as a substitute for homemade cookies.
Per serving: 387 calories (59 percent from fat), 25 grams total fat (15 grams saturated), 151 milligrams cholesterol, 35 grams carbohydrates, 6 grams protein, 235 milligrams sodium, 1 gram dietary.