Some foodie chums over on Twitter issued a cooking challenge at the end of last year. Select a mad cookbook and make stuff from it throughout 2019. My choice is the Tessie O’Shea’s Slimming Cookbook.

There are several reasons behind my selection…

1 – I need to slim down a bit after the excesses of the festive season

2 – There are some mad sounding recipes in it

3 – Conveniently there are 12 chapters in the book so I can pledge to make one a month throughout 2019

4 – I love Tessie O’Shea’s ATTITUDE

For those who might not know Tessie, she was a comedy actress and entertainer who used Two Ton Tessie from Tennessee as a theme song.

She was not a supermodel, but she was fabulous.

Mostly she embraced her physique. But like many of us, occasionally it all got a bit much for her and she decided to diet.

The first chapter of Tessie’s book lays out the principles of her food regime. She essentially follows a low carbohydrate diet. For Tessie, carbs are the enemy and she counts them all. Luckily for her, she had a chum following the diet with her. Her manager Ernest Wampole (good old fashioned name eh?!).

Although there are no actual recipes in chapter one of the book, this reported exchange between the two of them inspired my first Tessie related cooking adventure.

This isn’t Tessie, it’s Jean Harlow, but this is how I imagine Tessie as she chats on the phone to her manager about CARBS.

Tess: “What did you have for breakfast?”

Ernest: “Two cups of tea with milk, that’s 2 carbs. Four slices of bacon, that’s .4 and two eggs sunnyside up, that’s .8. Total 3.2 carbs. What did you have?”

Tess: “Oh… I had a couple of cups of tea in bed this morning, that’s 2 carbs. Then I had two scrambled eggs, mixed with a little water, not milk, that’s .8, half a tomato, fried, that’s .3, and two more cups of tea, that’s another 2. Total 7.8.”

I decided to follow Tess’s breakfast lead and started with two cups of tea in bed. I am a dedicated coffee guzzler and can’t remember the last time I had a cup of tea but I can declare right now, I loved having my two cups of tea in bed!

One thing that struck me is how SMALL a teacup is compared to the ginormous mugs I usually have my breakfast coffee in. Weren’t folks dainty in ye olden days?

Coffee vs Tea

I pimped up the breakfast slightly with some alfalfa sprouts – who knows what the carb value of this little pile would be...

It was delicious of course. I thought I would miss the enormous slab of bread I would normally have with a brekkie like this but actually I was stupidly CHARMED by the whole affair. I liked the fried tomato a lot. That added a certain something.

Tessie is very sensible about dieting in her book. I really liked the section in the introductory chapter where she reassures her fans that she’s not planning to turn into a Skinny Minnie.

She writes, “I won’t go below an 18½ because it would ruin my image as a ‘Big Girl’… I’m a nice plump girl… not a fat one. You should reach the weight and the dress size that you feel suit your personality… I use myself as an example, because no one would like to see Tessie O’Shea looking like Audrey Hepburn would they now? Be honest!”

No Tessie, we wouldn’t.

Tune in during February for a recipe from chapter 2 of Tessie’s book which is all about low carb “hors d’oevre and snacks.”

I have my eye on the Butt-Chive Prawn recipe. Yep, that’s right Butt-Chive Prawn…

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