Tag Archives: Cooking

Patience, Food Patience That Is

Last night, I enjoyed a very ripe, very delectable plum for dessert. The juicy plum required some effort. I needed to wash it off. I chose to cut it so that I could see and eat around the pit.

As I savored the flavor, my thoughts ran to the other foods I might have been eating as “dessert” chocolate or ice cream or popcorn. Foods that I tend to wolf down in a great hurry. The plum would not be rushed. The fibrous meat of the plum required attention and work. The outer covering actually required chewing. No, this plum did not disintegrate immediately upon encountering the mouth.

On some level, my brain wanted to be done eating. The thought occurred that this was taking too long. Are we conditioned to the devouring of food? Is that the problem? Do we avoid natural foods because they require us to spend more time eating, savoring and enjoying out meals? Or is it that we just don’t contemplate what we are eating?

Kiwis served as my breakfast this week. They appeared in our produce bin last week and I’ve only just eaten them not in any other preparation. But not without careful consideration and a conscious decision. This food requires peeling and then cutting. Not nearly as easy as opening a yogurt cup or dumping cereal and milk into a bowl.

After the first morning, I looked up the nutrient information for the kiwi. Natural fat, protein, dietary fiber, calories and vitamin C: why would I eat something out of a box when nature provides all the necessary elements for good start for the day?

Perhaps a change in perspective would improve our eating habits. Compare the nutrients in your average morning breakfast with say an apple or a banana or some other natural breakfast. How would that change your day?

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July 10, 2011, some news

A lobby for the unemployed? Incompetent Juveniles. A migrant’s journey. Mass market tomatoes. Big Pharma not willing to cooperate to aid the U.S. budget?

The forgotten. This article suggests, perhaps implies, that the unemployed should unite to form a lobby. They are the forgotten. Any thoughts on this?

Not totally forgotten, it seems. One state legislature is debating whether cutting off unemployment will extend the economic problems. Duh?

Juvenile Court Tactics, do they work? This article explores one the problems faced in juvenile courts everyday: whether a child is competent to stand trial and what if any services are available to restore (or obtain) competency. Managing the process is a challenge. “Mr. Mahoney said there was a “disconnect” between the court’s best intentions and achievable treatment goals.“The treatment plans can be really difficult to execute,” he added. “They’re often unrealistic in terms of the real world.”” In my experience the problem with reaching treatment goals is the lack of care, attention and investment of the parents in this process.

A migrant’s journey. If you’re interested, read about the journey to the U.S. by folks who don’t have visas or passports.

How’d that tomato get here? The story of the supermarket tomato: where it came from, how it’s different from home grown.

Corporations don’t want to help, including big pharma! As the debate over the budget and the debt ceiling continues, big pharmacy companies are lobbying to kill discounts to medications for folks on medicare. The reason those of us who don’t qualify for medicare should care? Corporations are happy to profit off of Americans but these companies refuse to contribute to recovery. I am all about capitalism but companies should make choices that benefit the country so the economy doesn’t completely tank and put EVERYONE out of business. Cost benefit analysis: take the cut to keep the economy limping along…otherwise there may be no money to buy your pills.

 

 

 

 

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The Illusion of Comfort Food

Yesterday, the fourth day in a row that I drove by my formerly favorite biscuit purveyor, I stopped and bought one.

Yes, I understood that the biscuit contained gluten. I recognized that the biscuit would cause me discomfort. My brain’s urge continued to override my body’s warning. I caved.

After I devoured half the biscuit without my customary Diet Dr. Pepper, I stopped. What was it about this biscuit that compelled me to break the promise not to hurt myself? This biscuit, the first gluten I’d eaten intentionally in weeks, had no particular taste. In fact, as the saliva moistened the biscuit, the bread transformed into a pasty consistency.

Why in the world would I cause myself discomfort and potentially pain or embarrassment for a piece of pasty bread? How could I crave such a bland comfort?

No answer came. This food that had served as a crutch for so long no longer provided the benefit my brain promised.

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Unimagined Benefits

This week I hosted dinner for some college friends. One friend stayed with J and I while in town for a conference. We agreed to dinner on Wednesday for the group.

After watching Game 6 of the Stanley Cup, our guest expressed some concern that we would be out to dinner during Game 7. “No, I’m going to cook,” I said. Since discovering my gluten intolerance, I cook for groups and eat out much less. This practice saves me from unexpected surprises.

Wednesday rolled around without much notice, or so it seemed. Buying, and forgetting, groceries at the last minute, I asked our guest to run to the store for ginger. She agreed, while I made pear salsa from the pears included in this week’s produce bin, the jalapeno from farmer’s market, throw in a Vidalia onion, red onion, red pepper and lemon juice. Then let it sit in the fridge for an hour.

As the first guests arrived with their 19 month old, everyone chatted and socialized not having seen our houseguest in awhile. The weather outside changed progressively to match the thunderstorm watches and warnings. Inside, the house felt bright and happy. I heard the sounds of the “toys” we keep hitting the floor. The 19 month old sought out the refrigerator alphabet kept specially for my friends’ children.

Another friend arrived on foot with her dog to join Sugar and Max in the backyard. Her husband would follow, she said, when their two year awoke from a late afternoon nap. The dogs joined us inside as the skies darkened and rain fell.

One friend joined me for cooking, as I acknowledged that my time management and planning had not been very effective. We chopped vegetables and cooked listening to the BBC on NPR and chatting. The pork roasts cooked in stages, taking longer than I planned.

As the meal came together at last, we gathered at the table. Minus the 2 year old and his father, and J who had an appointment. The storm added lovely punctuation to our meal. We ate, we talked, we watched the 19 month old. Most importantly we laughed and smiled. My friend’s dog rested at her feet.

The table was cleared unexpectedly. I discovered much to my joy the dishwasher filled and started while I ate. After the worst of the storm passed, we still had power. Our group passed easily back to the living room from the dining room. When the storm refugees arrived, the party regrouped to the table. While I sat on the couch with my dogs to calm them as the weakened storm continued, the wonderful sounds of friendship caught my attention. We would have missed this communion at a restaurant. What a blessing!

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Money’s Worth

Today's Bounty from the Athens Farmer's Market

I found great joy in my trip to the Athens Farmer’s Market today. Unaccountably, the variety of offerings and my purchases have inspired great satisfaction.

Before last week, I never knew “lemon cucumbers” existed but the cucumbers add a different taste to salad. This week I was disappointed to learn that the red fire lettuce has gone to seed and there will be no more this season. What great lettuce, though, glad I had an opportunity to enjoy it. I also purchased the light green peppers, called flavor burst. I can’t wait to add that to a recipe.

The happiest part of the trip? I spent $14 and left with a large bag of food. Real food. Food that can be eaten over the week. Not just one meal. Oftentimes a trip to the grocery store  leaves me wondering where the rest of my purchase went. How much? And all I get is a little plastic bag?

Supporting local farmers, eating fresh food imported from, oh, Jackson County or Madison County, finding new food varieties that I can’t find at the store, how exciting is that!

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Random News: June 8, 2011

Just when I thought I’d skip this morning…

A thought provoking argument against “green” energy. In his editorial, Robert Bryce argues that the damage to the environment caused by “green” energy mandates may not be worth the impact. 5 square miles of desert for 530 megawatts of power?

Treat an ulcer with cranberry juice. This mythbusting blog at the the NYTimes reports cranberry juice might help with the pain of ulcers. Strange but true.

Cooking news. If you’re not already, you can defrost meat with hot water and it works faster. Great news for me, I gave away the microwave a couple of years ago and I hate the taste of microwave defrosted meat. 10 minute defrost sounds great.

Definition of Cheating in a Relationship. Congressman Weiner’s dalliance brings up the issue: if he didn’t touch these women he texted, does that count as cheating? If he had some sort of romantic emotional connection with any woman, the answer would be yes. The story however sounds like he was getting cheap thrills not from the women but from the “taboo” act of sending the photos. But what do I know, I’m not in his head…Thankfully.

The Great School Lunch Debate: Pizza and Fries? Apparently Congress is still debating whether and/or how to change school lunches. I never ate the school lunch, peanut butter and jelly was just fine by me. The problem centers on WHO’s decision it really is? Pizza and french fry distributors and their lobbyists tout their nutritional benefits, the established supply chain, and the fact that kids are already accustomed to this food. Well, that never worked in the house in which I grew up. No, you can’t have french fries everyday. Pizza, really, no, maybe once per week. Providing children with a variety of foods will provide significantly more benefits than pizza and french fries everyday, unless you listen to the lobbyists. Perhaps children should band together and hire a lobbyist…wait these kids receive free lunches, by and large, if they can’t afford lunch how can afford a voice in Congress. Oh, well…who cares really, it’s just about the money, not the children!

And for my next trick…The Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke continues to promise economic growth, in the future, somewhere down the road…when bad things stop happening…Then he’ll recommend an increase in interest rates. For those of us who are saving, we’re waiting. But that carrot looks really far off on the horizon this time, buddy.

Martha Stewart selling out? Martha’s looking to regain profitability. Watch and see what happens.

Building Codes on Trial, Homeowner loses. Food for thought, a man builds his home and now may be ordered to tear it down and could go to jail. Jail, you ask? He failed to obtain building permits from the government bureaucracy. Any thoughts?

Cutting Edge in California. As deadline looms, California struggles to reduce prison population. Why is the California prison population important to you? Trends usually start in the most populous states and filter down to less densely populated States. If the U.S. continues to imprison everyone that meets a law enforcement officer we will all be dealing with this issue sooner or later. If you care, get familiar with the issue now, the prison population debate will be coming to a state near you in the near future.

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Meals, Home Cooked

Our world revolves around food. We just do not realize it until the need arises. As I massaged the curing seasonings into my recently acquired ¼ of a pork belly, I wonder how long before I can enjoy this as bacon. The fridge holds precooked bacon ready for heating on the stove because sometimes I’m just too impatient to wait for the regular kind. The pork belly seasoning will continue at least another 5 days.

How would any of us survive without fast food on the corner, groceries imported from South America? My mother grew up on a farm, where food was harvested from around the farm or exchanges made for what else was needed. Today, we can all shop for any the groceries we need, and much we don’t, at the local supermarket. I remember picking beans, shelling peas as a child. This produce packaged in plastic containers stored safely in the freezer until we needed it in fall and winter.

Life used to require planning, long term planning. What crops would be planted? How much to be kept, how much to be sold? To meet the families’ needs, a strategy had to followed, thoroughly and completely. These days if one knows what to order before arriving at the speaker of the drive thru window, that is considered planning.

Since my change in eating habits, cooking is necessary. Produce delivery service, shopping at the local farmer’s market, seeking recipes for vegetables and fruits I’ve never cooked. Without the possibility of eating at a different restaurant every night, my choices and decisions have changed.

My expectations for foods and purveyors of food changed as well. On this, day 12 of excluding refined sugar from my diet, my palate has changed dramatically. Oils used to cover mediocre food burst to the forefront of my tastes and I recognize the deficiency of restaurant produced foods.

Cooking, the planning, the shopping, the executing, has become a form of meditation for me. A time to focus my attention on the doing, the journey, instead of impatiently expecting the resultant food. The smells, the seasoning, enhance the entire house. How could have missed out on this experience for so long?

The refrigerator smells of rosemary, garlic, and thyme as the pork belly cures into bacon. I can see the left over sweet potato curry and green salad waiting to be eaten. My future meals sit in the crisper, my opportunity to nourish my mind and my body through cooking and eating.

Meals taste so different. Fresh produce properly seasoned not overcooked. How wonderful!

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