The ‘If Game’ resolution


By Jody Stump

It’s that awful, guilt-ridden time of year when I check in with my scale and regret I ever bought the darned thing in the first place. And it’s the time when I glance back at the year just past and hear its ghost whisper, “You know, ya never did that stuff you said you’d do …” The ghost is right, but I never made an “If” promise last year.

For those of you wondering about the “If Game,” it’s an old chestnut of an icebreaker where you get to know a stranger by asking an off-the-wall question like, “If you were an astronaut, where would you like to fly and why?” Or, “If you had a million dollars to give away, who would you give it to-and why?” In its more resolute form, the If Game goes like this: “If you could lose 10 pounds by March 1, would you buy a slinky dress or a thong bikini?” The male variant might be, “If you clean the garage this weekend, would you rather have tickets to a Lakers game or a flight to Cabo to watch me flaunt that thong bikini?” No, there’s no right answer to that last one.

Over Christmas, my sister reminded me of the power of If. She has lost 18 pounds since her birthday in May and she gives full credit to her If team. Every Thursday night she meets with half a dozen friends for spritzer cocktails and a few rounds of If. At first, they stick to the tried-and-true pattern of getting-to-know you questions, but once the hilarity has subsided, the girls get down to business. They play Resolution If.

In this game, you get to set the goal and its reward, but beware, this game has rules. No more than two If’s a week, or each one won’t lodge itself in the forefront of your mind. Rewards must be things you won’t buy or do anyway; if you do, you have to pick up dinner for the team, their choice. Each If has to be a building block to a real life goal. And, if a player fails to meet her challenge three weeks in a row, she’s tossed from the team and can’t even stop by for a drink.


So, if you made resolutions this year, make sure you keep them by setting If rewards. I already have mine-lose as many pounds as my sister did so I can strut a modest bikini on the summer sands of a Tahiti beach. If I don’t, there’s no way I’m sticking a pearly pink polished toe in the water. Happy New Year-may all your Ifs be your life’s rewards!

Chicken In The Pot

Serves 8

Anything difficult to do needs to be made as pleasurable as possible. This recipe is easy, cheap and delicious, but it has another plus to mention. Since dieting jangles my nerves, I look for ways to soothe them while I cook something virtuous. Music “soothes the savage…” and I found the perfect anodyne in “Menus and Music,” a series of CD-enhanced cookbooks produced by Sharon O’Connors, a San Francisco musician. Her “Bistro” is a favorite-soft, swingy jazz matched to recipes from the world’s best French cafes. This one is the signature dish of a Parisian restaurant, “La Poule au Pot.”

4 lb. free-range chicken

4 oz. lean ground pork

4 oz. ground veal

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 cup minced onion plus 1 onion studded with 6 cloves

2 Tbs. minced parsley

1 egg yolk

Bouquet garnish: thyme, parsley, bay leaf wrapped in cheesecloth and tied

Small package sliced celery

4 parsnips, peeled and diced

4 leeks, white parts only, washed

Small package baby carrots

12 fingerling potatoes, peeled

1. Clean and rinse the chicken, tossing extra fat.

2. Combine ground meat, salt, parsley, onion and yolk in a bowl. Add freshly ground pepper to taste and stuff the mixture into the chicken’s cavity.

3. Add all additional ingredients except carrots and potatoes into a pot with the chicken. Cover with cold water and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook 1 1/2 hours.

4. Add carrots. Fifteen minutes later, add the potatoes. Cook 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender.

5. Adjust seasonings. Remove chicken and vegetables to a serving tureen. De-fat the broth and serve as a first course with sherry on the side.

6. Slice the chicken and serve warm with the carrots and potatoes, moistened slightly with broth. Serve with mustard, coarse sea salt and gherkins.

The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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