Archive for August, 2010

The Accomodating Pantry–what are your staples?

August 27, 2010

One of the things that I’m finding interesting about eating “whatever I want” is how many trips to the grocery store it necessitates. This isn’t because I have a demanding palate. I just have different pantry staples than many people.

That’s what’s so interesting about kitchen necessities–they’re completely different for everyone. Me, I can’t sleep at night without flaxseeds and a well-mannered variety of dried beans in my cupboards. My friend, on the other hand, thinks that flaxseeds are some kind of extraterrestrial but won’t be caught dead without turkey breasts at beck and call.

Once upon a time, I had an idea for a thesis. Compare the pantry of a woman, her mother, and her grandmother. Consider. I’m still intrigued.

My mother was a baker. When I was growing up, we had huge bins of (white) flour and sugar on the shelf beside the deep freeze. We had chocolate chips (handy for sneaking), raisins, cocoa, cherries. Up until recently, I thought such things had no place in my house. After all, they’re unhealthy. They’re dangerous. You have to keep your eye on them or they might muster force and jump down your throat a dozen at a time.

Sad as it is, I might somewhat sort of possibly still feel that way.

But I’m getting really tired of writing off recipes because I don’t have butter and I don’t have flour and I don’t have chocolate chips. It’s one thing to health up a recipe once you know what you’re doing, once you know what it’s supposed to be in the first place. It’s another thing to force yourself through that third loaf of gluten free rice bread because you didn’t realize you couldn’t just substitute. Ahem.

Anyway, I’d like to be the kind of person who eats oatmeal and guzzles kale wheatgrass spirulina smoothies for breakfast, but has no issue with a chocolate chip cookie after dinner. That’s what normal people are like. They don’t have to eat the whole batch.

That said, I’m still very intrigued by vegan cooking. I like making delicious things that also happen to be good for my body and for the planet. I’m not going to try vegan gluten free croissants until I get down the technique for the regular ones, but I’m also not going to pass up a vegan gluten free cookie recipe. O no, I most certainly am not.

I made these tonight after my Spinach a la Ottolenghi (I’m a little bit obsessed with him recently) and Baked Cod dinner. They’re a bit sweet for me, which may be because I got carried away with the chocolate chips. Next time, I think I’ll up the coconut and reduce the sugar. Either that, or find a way to sneak some kale into the mixture. Other than that, they’re pretty much perfect.

August 26, 2010

This week, I tried an unusual experiment. I made a menu, a pretty thing with lots of swirls. On it, I put a list of foods that I really wanted to eat. And I ate them. The End.

Only not so much.

You see, I have a problem with food. Always have. Ever since I was seven years old and worried about getting a bit fat, food has been my addiction of choice. Not enough food, far too much food, only this food, never that food–I’ve covered the entire palette of options.

And I’ve tried all the cures. I’ve been to acupuncture, chiropractic, psychotherapy, naturopathy, yoga, meditation, journaling, and nutrition school. I’ve been low carb, high carb, no carb, no sugar, gluten free, meat free, fat free, and fruit free. The only measurable outcome of those cures, besides having nothing that fits in the closet, is to make me a rather complicated dinner guest.

As of dinner, I think I’m done with that.

Of course, I also have a problem with declarative sentences, so I’m not ready to pinkie swear and blood oath just yet. But this week has made me realize something. My problem is not what I eat or don’t eat, but rather with what I give myself permission to eat or not eat. It’s with what is okay.

Food is food. Everything is okay. The dose is the poison.

It’s not like forbidding something means I don’t eat it. It means I eat a LOT of it, in secret, out of the freezer in a dark room with nobody watching. It means I out-health a wheatgrass juicer half the time and out-eat a garbage disposal the other half. It means that the crap I eat tastes like crap, because I buy it out of convenience stores and don’t bother to prepare it. Food you don’t put effort into isn’t really food, didn’t you know?

From now on, I want my crap to be delicious. So fine. A pastry (gasp!) with butter (oooh!) and flour (defiantly not whole wheat) for dinner. But a homemade pastry, topped with farmers’ market zucchini and fresh feta cheese and homemade yogurt and mint grown two feet outside my front door. A pastry shared with friends, in a park, in the sunshine. A guiltless pastry. A pastry of victory.

An edible experiment.