They’re Coming! A guest post about family and food from The Buffer Zone

Each month, Small Potatoes will be inviting a guest blogger to share  stories, recipes, and relationships to their food systems. Enjoy this first one from Diane at The Buffer Zone. Would you like a side of dysfunction with that turkey? 

H_bushesThey’re Coming!

Diane, of  The Buffer Zone

Buffer  n. 1. Something that lessens or absorbs the shock of an impact.  2. A neutral area between two conflicting powers.

Buffer Zone  n. 1. Where you can hide when you realize the “conflicting powers” are your dysfunctional relatives.

Lately, I’ve been trying to follow a diet I like to call the “Don’t Eat Crap Diet.” You know, no processed foods, no Diet Coke, blah, blah, etc., which is why I check out this blog about eating locally grown, right-from-the-ground type food.  However, Thanksgiving is upon us, and that means relatives breaking our established Buffer Zone to join us for dinner. I’ve been in a baking frenzy, and must confess to eating about 1/3 of each batch of cookies that come out of the oven. If I could think of a way to snag a few pieces of cake or pie without the missing section being noticeable, I would be doing that also. It’s called comfort food for a reason.

A ratio of two somewhat healthy menu items to 17 menu items loaded with some kind of cheese, cream or otherwise, seems pretty reasonable. Because I’m trying to be optimistic that we can get through Thanksgiving dinner, and at least into the first football game, before an altercation occurs, I feel like sharing the two somewhat healthy recipes.

This appetizer that’s adapted from Southern Living is perfect, because you can make it ahead of time, freeze for up to 3 months, and reheat in 10-13 minutes at 350F degrees, AND the main ingredient is cheese.  Just stick your baking sheet in the freezer till the little puffs of goodness are rock hard, then plop them in a freezer bag.


1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup unsalted butter
3/4 teaspoons salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
6 large eggs
1 1/2 cups (about 6 oz.) shredded Gruyere cheese
2 tbs. grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/8 tsp ground red pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 425F. Bring first 3 ingredients and 1/2 cup water to a rolling boil in a 3-qt saucepan over medium heat; cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute. Add flour all at once, and beat vigorously with a wooden spoon 1 minute or until smooth and pulls away from sides of pan, forming a ball of dough. Remove from heat, and let stand 5 minutes.
  2. Transfer dough to bowl of an electric stand mixer. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating at medium speed until well blended after each addition. (If dough separates, don’t freak-it will come back together.) Add Gruyere cheese and next 3 ingredients; beat at high speed 3 minutes or until dough is smooth and glossy. Drop by rounded teaspoons 2 inches apart onto 2 parchment paper-lined baking sheets.
  3. Reduce oven temperature to 375F, and bake gougeres 10-12 minutes, placing one baking sheet on middle oven rack and other on lower rack. Switch baking sheets, and bake 4-6 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets 5 minutes. Repeat procedure with remaining dough after your guests gobble these down.

The other recipe I’m enjoying lately is Gingersnaps with Barley Flour which can be found on this site. Technically, this is a cookie, but because it’s made with barley flour, I’m considering it somewhat healthy.

Wishing all of you a wonderful Thanksgiving! I am so thankful for healthy friends and family, and the fact that I have a one thousand mile Buffer Zone most of the year.

Thanks, Diane! Good luck getting through your meal! 


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