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FRUIT TREE

11 Dec

Alone 

in the field

on the hill

frost covered

must climb

to reach

the sweetest fruit

just out of reach

could wait until Spring

for the fallen

but hungry for the taste

the branches tremble

the leaves

fall

the fruit beckons

it’s there

in my fingertips

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WAYLAID

26 Jun

Just as I began my search in earnest for my love of all things food, my father is diagnosed with colon cancer.  It was a devastating blow to all of us.  There is the worry and concern for my father, and then the worry and resentment my mother is in no way able to take care of him.  There was one day of complete worry about the future for him or if there would be one.  Then he saw his surgeon and hope sprang eternal when he was informed he would have a less invasive surgery and basically resume a normal life.

My sister and I sat at the table with our parents, and we both pleaded the case for healthier eating.  My father is the type to eat a dinner, a second helping then a bologna sandwich an hour later.  Their cupboards are stocked with chips, sweet treats and enough carbs to fuel the Boston Marathon.  Their freezer is overflowing with frozen food and ice cream.  My sister and I insisted he needed to change his diet not only for this latest health set back, but also because of his twenty year battle with heart disease.

The first thing my mother did is angrily insist his diet does not need to change.  Our relationship now is cold and distant, there is resentment and anger simmering between us like a volatile moltov cocktail waiting to explode at any moment.  There have been several times I’ve pleaded with my mother to not bring boxes of Ho Ho’s and Twinkies into the house.  She insists my father should have more willpower and be able to not eat the things he shouldn’t.

When I first returned to Kentucky, I began cooking healthy foods for my father.  We attempted a strict heart healthy diet in hopes of helping him lose pounds quickly after yet another heart stint was necessary.  My mother doubled her efforts to bring home his favorite fatty foods and by the time I moved out, the diet was long forgotten and he had returned to enjoying fried foods with mom again.  My mother also refuses to smoke outside despite begin informed by a Cardiologist she should for my father’s health.  

So, I thought about food again but this time as a way to nourish and heal the body.  I’m making double steel cut oatmeal this morning and I wish I could convince my father how it’s not only healthy, but delicious.  I believe the biggest obstacle to my father changing his eating habits, is indeed my mother.  She likes the attention on her and her illnesses.  Yesterday, when we sat at the table, she began crying and everyone there completely ignored her.  Within seconds, her tears were dried and she stomped off to another room.  My father’s health has now become the focus of our attention and she does not like it.

I’m now not thinking about my love of food, but what it does for my body.  When I eat healthy, I feel healthy.  With the gene pool I’ve been cursed with, it’s more important than ever that I am mindful of what I do put in my body.  It’s not enough I’ve given up meat and maintain a vegetarian lifestyle.  I’ve given up coffee and have replaced my tea with decaf.  I’m insisting my daughter make healthier choices.  Who knows maybe by example I can convince my father to replace his ice cream with Greek yogurt.  

Wishful thinking.

How Laura Got Her Foodie Back – Day 5

16 Jun

So, the age old answer to what do I really want to eat is bread, brie and that’s pretty much it.  I ate French bread for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Oh, I did manage some vegetables and a broccoli soup in there.

But the most important thing here, and what I’m striving for, is learning to love food again.  I really, really love French bread apparently.  I’d probably even marry it, but first let’s get to those gays.

I’m too tired to wax poetic about anything but bread.  Tomorrow is pitch in!

 

How Laura Got Her Foodie Back – Day 4

15 Jun

This morning I woke up craving an egg mcmuffin without any meat.  I’m not known for getting these, but for some reason it sounded so good.  Keeping with my vow not to go through drive thrus, I decided to make my own.  So, one fried egg, a mini bagel smeared with butter and half a piece of american cheese, and it was, dare I say, better than anything I could have gotten in the car.  I still have two light cappuccinos in my fridge, so I drank one today.  A delicious hazelnut.  Sometimes I really miss Starbucks.

It was pouring rain today and I was treated to a lightning storm out the window across from my desk.  I stayed in for lunch, having brought mine and ate butternut squash tossed with greens and a salad.  Again though, I cheated and had a Diet Mountain Dew.  I’m blaming my soda consumption on my pure exhaustion.  I haven’t been sleeping that well, woken up by the dog for middle of the night bush waterings and my own tossing and turning.  I think I’ve been going to bed too early, so I’m trying to stay up until Midnight tonight.  There has to be that perfect sleep number somewhere.

The farmer’s market was closed on my way home, so I went to the local grocery and settled on a loaf of French bread, with inferior brie and one of those steam in the bags of baby vegetables.  Okay, so this isn’t very impressive and definitely not exactly what I had in mind.  I have to find triple cream brie somewhere.  The nearest gourmet food store is 40 minutes away, so I need to take a field trip this weekend.

Gearing up for Friday’s pitch-in.  It’s a potluck at work where everyone brings a dish or two.  I’m bringing a vegetable tray and salsa dip.  The last two times I’ve made this intensely rich and decadent banana pudding.  It just didn’t appeal to me this time.

So I need to widen my shopping range, really ask myself what I want and definitely go to Qdoba sometime this week.  The mango salad looks delicious and now I want one.  I also have to make it to the Mayan cafe and for freak’s sake, I’ve got to take more pictures.

Until tomorrow…have fun eating.

 

 

How Laura Got Her Foodie Back- Day Two

13 Jun

So I woke up feeling fruity so I made a smoothie with almond mild (so yummy) and frozen strawberries and mango.  This time I didn’t include my usual two packets of Splenda.  I had my usual coffee sans cream.  For lunch, I had a salad with sunflower seeds and feta cheese.  Dinner was leftover butternut squash and greens.

Let’s be honest.  Nothing exciting about today’s food.  But the smoothie was delicious and the salad was filling.  Dinner was more of a throw together because I was exhausted by the time I got home.  I really wanted a piece of caramel, but of course I want a piece of salted  caramel, so decadent and delicious a Werther’s will not do.

I’m feuding with my parents again.  It’s a culmination of all these years with a dash of how they treat my daughter sprinkled on top.  But exploring food, brings me home again.  It was always food that brought us together as a family, that was a catalyst for a visit or celebration.  It was food my mother taught me was a balm for the blues.   Having traveled and explored, I learned to differentiate between good food and mediocre.  There really is no going back.  Not with food, not with my family.

So I’ll look for that salted caramel this week and try to be a little more adventurous.

 

How Laura got her foodie back – Day 1

12 Jun

This morning I asked myself what I really wanted for breakfast.  Instead of a cereal, I made hash browns with red pepper flakes, lots  of pepper and one perfect over easy egg.  Then I chopped it all up and ate slowly while I enjoyed an orange flavored  coffee.  It’s easy to cook on the weekends, but much harder during the week when I’m rushing out the door.

For lunch, I made a proper English cucumber sandwich with the crusts cut off fluffy white bread. I smeared the bread with horseradish sauce then layered on fresh cucumber.  A side of salad with balsamic vinegar and olive oil to dress it.  I sprinkled on feta cheese and sunflower seeds and it was delicious.  I then ate a bowl of fresh cut cantaloupe.  It was delicious and I was reminded I have not had it in a long time.  I remember reading somewhere you should only eat fruit before lunch and I’m wondering how true that statement is.

Dinner was our now traditional Sunday dinner.  I made a butternut squash and collard green stir fry and fresh ears of corn.  For dessert we sat outside in the heat and ate dripping organic blueberry popsicles.    

It’s easier to eat like this on the weekend.  I wonder how I’m going to fare during the week.

A Pie In the Eye

12 Jun

I went to the farmer’s market despite the sweltering heat.  I bought one vine ripened tomato that actually smelled like a tomato and the earth it came out of.  I couldn’t resist the fresh corn, even though I’m concerned about my consumption of corn, high fructose syrup and otherwise.  There were fresh cucumbers, plums and cantaloupe.  Melting in the heat, I didn’t stay as long as I hoped, but I returned with my reuseable bags full of fresh veggies.

After a cool shower, I decided to watch a documentary.  I figure I’ll spend the summer indoors, too delicate to handle this southern heat.  I stumbled upon A Pie in the Sky:  The Brigid Berlin Story.  I found it timely and eye opening.  It wasn’t so much about this woman who was an artist, an Andy Warhol muse, but the eating disorder she had suffered with since childhood.  It was anguishing watching her as a sixty year old who measured every bite, called in her daily food to a sponsor and then spiraled out of control with a key lime pie binge that left her dejected and depressed.

Here I am wanting to reclaim my love of food, and Brigid is tortured by it.  Her weight is her enemy and food has become both a crutch and a punishment.  It made me wonder what percentage of Americans aren’t on a diet.  Probably a very small number of those who don’t care about their weight.  There are blogs devoted to dieting and it is indeed a billion dollar industry.  The funny thing is that it is widely  believed diets do not work. 

Brigid Berlin was a case study in this fact.  She had been dieting since childhood and a patient at the most expensive diet clinics around the world.  She had endured hypnotists, fasting and an amphetamine addiction.  All in an effort to be thinner.  To not want the food she tried to deprive herself of.  Then there she was at sixty, still struggling, still bingeing.  She was thinner, but a prisoner to her scale.  Standing in her kitchen she was chopping up beautiful heads of romaine lettuce.  She ate her salad without tasting it, just shoved it into her mouth after carefully measuring every addition to it.  I thought about the girl she had been who had once loved food before it became the very thing that added to her misery.

I ate a plum after watching the movie.  Slowly and with my eyes closed.  It was juicy and the flesh was red and it tasted like the plums of my youth.  It was sweeter and more satisfying than any candy bar could ever be. 

Food is there to be loved.  It’s like people I suppose.  You can love the ones that are good for you, that nourish you and that make your life more fulfilling.  Or you can love the ones that leave you starved, that aren’t good for you and make your life a misery.  A relationship with food has to be as healthy as a relationship with someone should be.

 I’ll still want my fruity pie with flaky crusts and vanilla bean ice cream.  Except I’ll eat it with relish and never once think about the calories I’m ingesting.  What a novel idea.  Let’s see if it’s achievable. 

Where has my foodie gone?

11 Jun

I’m bored with food.  Occasionally I will muster excitement for a certain dish or flavor, but mostly I’m desensitized to what constitutes a meal.  I’m a vegetarian, but I don’t think it’s to blame.  I have mountains of recipes I could be making, but I choose not to.  Instead, I rely on whatever is quick and easy to make.  I just had pasta with butter and tomato slices for lunch but the butter was not real and the tomato was flavorless.

Just recently, I’ve started making Sunday dinners for my daughter and myself.  It all looks delicious posed there on the table.  Baked potatoes, fresh corn, carrots and eggplant slices look good, but I was less than impressed.  All of these ingredients were bought in a grocery store, stored under fluorescent lighting and designed to withstand travels from afar.  It is the season of buying local and I think it’s time I join the bandwagon.

I remember meals that excited me.  The margarita pizza covered in fresh mozzarella and basil I had in Rome.  The blended vegetable soup I had in Lucerne that I can still taste to this day.  The wasabi mashed potatoes I ate in Lexington.  The sweet potato burger I devoured at a day spa in Louisville.  The peanut soup that was the highlight of my trip to Williamsburg.  The sweet stone crab claw at a dive bar in Florida.  The portabella napoleon in New York City.

I use to be a food snob when I cared more about what I ate.  Now when I want something sweet I eat an ice cream bar that tastes as bland as it sounds.  Instead of insisting on a great restaurant, I’ll settle on a drive thru baked potato and salad just to save myself the hassle.  Now, I’m left wondering what happened to me?

Maybe it’s because I share meals with my daughter, who could eat pasta and red sauce every day for the rest of her life.  She has no inclination toward trying anything new.  My family would eat buffet and call it a gourmet meal.  Food should be an event, something to share and maybe I’ve lost that.

So today when I made my pasta and it did not taste as I had hoped, I found my determination.  I love food, and I have definitely lost that loving feeling.  It’s time to get it back.  So here’s my plan, I will eat local and fresh.  I’m going to cook more.  I’m going to restock my spice rack and experiment.  I’m going to regain my desire to consume good food, only good food.

So for the next thirty days, I’m cooking.  I’ve made a vow I will not enter one drive thru no matter how tired I am.  I’m no longer grocery shopping once a week.  I’ll shop as I need.  I’m going to post what I eat because I want to be held responsible for not only my health, but my reclamation of one of the true wonders of life.  Good food.

Potted Meatless

5 Mar

Lentil burger with horseradish and fresh cucumbers

I’ve gone without red meat and pork for nearly half my life.  I saw an expose on meat factories and could not quell the queasiness of tainted meat.  It’s a personal choice, I’m not against anyone else enjoying a steak or burger.  For years I still ate ugly chickens with glee and nibbled on seafood, even if in my heart I was a closet vegan.  I’m not a Peta die hard, even though when gifted with a fur coat, I politely gave it back.  In my circle there has not been one instance where my choice has not been looked upon as being utterly weird with the exception of a handful of friends.

I am a descendant of cheap meat eaters who fry everything in bacon fat and believe fried chicken on Sundays is a religious experience.  When I stopped eating steak, my grandfather would sit at the table shaking his head and declaring I would die of starvation.  He ate a steak every single day and his breakfast consisted of sausage gravy and bacon.  He hunted squirrels, rabbits and deer and would fry up hunks of unidentifiable meat to serve with potatoes fried in lard and butter slathered bread.  He also rolled his own cigarettes and rarely ate any green vegetable.  So, he lived until he was 79 and seemed to be happy and healthy until a sudden heart attack took him.  Maybe he had the right idea and I’m wrong.

At work, my not eating meat has captured the attention of my co-workers.  Curiously, they’ve tried my stir fried tofu and quinoa salads and not all of them have wrinkled their nose in disgust.  When going out for a business lunch, they agonize over whether or not there will be a vegetarian option on the menu.  I have assured them time and time again, I’m not the only non-meat eater in the world and more often than not a restaurant will have something I can eat.  When I ate a portabella burger with fried green tomatoes, they commented it looked delicious.  Yet, there’s always a comment or two about our monthly pot lucks and what I will bring and eat.

As I sit here simmering lentils to form into delicious burgers, I physically feel better forgoing any meat.    I don’t mind the attention or the comments it draws.  Even as I struggle with pangs of cravings for deep fried chicken, I know for me it’s a healthier alternative not to eat it.  I’m looking forward to a Spring and Summer of fresh vegetables and fruits and new recipes I’ll try out.  I’ll share them as I go along.  Maybe one or two of my readers will want to tiptoe into the world of a meal or two without meat.  If not, it’s your choice.

The one thing that does keep me grounded in veganism is my luffily D who sends me pictures of the food he eats.  We share an affinity for all things food related, and he reminds me with pictures of avocado sandwiches and bright green salads, that a person can eat well without the necessity of meat.  I aspire to his dedication and his ability to seek out new things.

I welcome your feedback and your recipes!

Veggily Yours,

Cold Dead Hearted