These days I spend time helping to organize a new community garden in our small city. I love meeting new people who are interested in delicious, sustainable food. I am happiest with my nose in a book, or in the kitchen, cooking. Or at a farmers’ market, planning what to cook. Or in the garden, or hanging out with my husband.
Trista, I have read that for many people sugar is addictive and withdrawal can often be very real and difficult. Many holistic health practitioners would say that it takes three weeks to completely rid your body of any substance. I think that if you can maintain your sense of mindfulness about what do you eat, that is maybe as important as what foods you choose to eat or avoid. But it is hard not to feel sorry for oneself at such times...
For me it’s grains that are hard to restrict. Several years ago I was placed on an elimination diet for a couple of months--it seemed all my favorite foods were off limits all at once: dairy, wheat, soy, nightshade vegetables, shellfish, citrus, peanuts, sugar,etc. After the first couple of days all I wanted to do was cry about what I couldn’t have. So I cried, whined, raged--and cheated! And finally came to the “most things in moderation” way that I eat now, with a heavy emphasis on veggies and whole grains. And of course, small doses of very dark, barely sweetened chocolate, regularly!
Our smallish (50 members) community garden sets aside plots that are worked as teams, for donation to the local food pantry and a non-profit organization that provides after-school and summer childcare for school age kids.Last summer we donated the produce from nine 12x20-foot plots and many of us also provided vegetables from our personal garden plots. We are happy to provide local families in need with the same fresh vegetables our families enjoy and it is a great way to involve our children in helping those less fortunate.
@Susan, even though my daughter (and son) both always helped in the kitchen, she too went to college with a minimal interest in cooking (making music was much more appealing!). I think by the end of her first week of cafeteria food she was ready and willing to cook and has become quite proficient in the kitchen in the past three years!
And, the teen that learned to scrub a potato last week? She stopped over after school today to see if I could teach her how to bake bread over winter break! The fun is just beginning!
Trista, I find I am much more likely to eat well, whether I’m tired, on my own, or just lazy when I’ve got ingredients prepped and ready to go. I like to prep enough salad ingredients to last a few days; using a salad spinner helps the greens to stay fresh and crisp. When I have veggies from the farmers market, garden or CSA I often just wash them and then quickly blanch, blot dry and refrigerate--instantly ready to add to other dishes or heat quickly with some seasonings and serve over rice. On weekends I love to make a big pot of soup; after a long day at work it’s great to have comfort food waiting in the fridge. Another favorite is to roast slabs of tofu, a chicken or a side of salmon and use it in sandwiches, salads, casseroles--or just to nibble! Good luck!
I love the way certain aromas can evoke memories and emotional responses. The smell of bread baking always takes me back to my grandmother’s kitchen; apples and cinnamon remind me of my mother; vanilla makes me think of my husband. Some things recall less pleasant places and times too, but I tend to avoid introducing those smells into my home.’
Today is cold and blustery, but the house seems extra-cozy. A big pot of pinto beans is simmering with garlic, cumin and guajillo chilies and the house smells warm.
March is a transitional time in southern Wisconsin. In the past week daytime high temperatures have ranged from 20 to 60, winds have twitched from calm to wild and precipitation has fallen in every form I can think of except hail. The ground is mucky mud one day, mushy slush the next. For the past two days we watched as rain fell steadily and the rain gauge, trapped between old snowbanks in the garden, captured an even two inches. Then it was freezing rain and ice slicks everywhere and finally five inches of wet heavy snow buried the hopeful daffodil shoots the rain had awakened. Through it all the songbirds kept singing their spring mating tunes and woodpeckers continued to drum on trees and telephone poles. On days like these it is hard to imagine the world ever being green, blooming and fruitful.
I head to the basement for surely this old house must be seeping by now. It smells earthy, even though the floors and walls are concrete. As I pull out the dehumidifier I stop to take a quick inventory. The shelves still hold summer jewels: strawberry and raspberry jam, tomatoes, dried peppers and dried apples. A few braids of garlic dangle from the ceiling, sprouting despite my efforts to keep them hidden away in the coolest and darkest corner and lurking in one corner is a huge butternut squash, still sound and firm.
The freezer is filled with summer’s treasure too: squash, corn, beans, rhubarb, peaches, apples, and berries. There are a few chickens from our CSA farm and some beautiful salmon sent by a friend in Alaska.
A year ago I was bemoaning the same sort of wild March weather, no doubt, but the bounty still stored away here is proof that warm, sunny planting days did return--and will again. In the meantime, I will roast the butternut squash alongside a chicken and enliven the leftovers with green beans stewed with tomatoes and garlic. A strawberry-rhubarb pie will serve to beckon the spring muse onward.
The exuberant Israeli chef
Try quinoa, amaranth, millet, and sorghum
Velvety, earthy, and confident
How to live like Julia Child