Wednesday, February 15, 2012

{once} more pertaining to food

As I sat typing along on Monday, I realized that I have so much more to say than I'd want to bore you with in one post.  So, two posts it is.  This works out quite well for me, actually, because it seems the only thing I've been taking pictures of recently is food - we'll need to work on that as I don't intend this to become a food blog.

A Brief History:

In November of 2009, I married my wonderful husband and returned to Illinois to make a home with him.  Throughout our courtship I believe the only thing I cooked for him was cinnamon pancakes from a box (gasp!).  He, on the other hand, made me many delicious and creative meals that were beautifully served to boot!  However, I was at home more often than he so it made sense for me to do the cooking.

 (Me at our first dinner in our new home: pan seared steak au poivre, risotto, and a spinach salad)
{Let me add: that might sound fancy but it was one of the only things I knew how to cook}

Now, I did know how to cook a little bit.  I helped my mom make dinner (mostly in the form of putting things in the oven and taking them out again at the right time) - I spent some time in the few months before my wedding preparing dinner for my parents ... with varied success.  This, however, did not go far in preparing me to make every meal we ate from my own grocery list from a budget.  About two weeks in, there were many tears shed over my feelings of inadequacy.

 (My reinvented childhood classic - Broccoli Chicken Casserole - this one sans Campbell)

Enter: the public library (I do so love libraries!).  It took until this time to realize that libraries have a cookbook section.  As I love reading, I would gather a stack as big as I could manage (think fingertips to chin here - did I mention I lived next door?), then read them cover to cover.  This could well have been just an education in how to make edible meals but the books that I was most drawn to also taught me something of how to cook, how to choose ingredients, how to think about food - and so I was drawn into a much larger discussion about food, where it comes from, how it's grown, how it works in the body, etc.  Be aware!  Books can change your world!  {For a list of some books that have changed my world, check out my Resources tab}.

So at this point, I still read many books about food and cooking and farming/gardening and I continue to learn and be inspired.  There is one book, though, that I would say takes things a bit farther than everyone else ... Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon.  You may have heard of her from a number of others in the blogging community, or you may have never heard of such a thing.  In any case, as the title suggests, Sally believes the most healthful food choices you can make are returning to the food traditions of our ancestors (an opinion echoed by almost every Slow Food-minded author I've read).

While I agree with much of Sally (and co-author Mary Enig)'s conclusions based on their research, that doesn't make them any easier to do.  She calls for things like soaking all whole grains/beans 8 - 24 hours before cooking, drinking raw milk, and lacto-fermenting almost all condiments.  For her reasoning, I would suggest you read the book.  These things take planning ahead, which I have learned to do much better, but still aren't easy.  So while I read the book originally last summer, we are still in the slow process of adjusting the way we eat to incorporate more of her methods (because, in general, I do think they are better for us).

(Irish soda bread with chicken liver pate, which wasn't actually very good, but we were trying to incorporate more organ meats into our diet.  Now, I just take Cod Liver Oil pills and recommend that method!)

(Tomorrow's breakfast of steel-cut oats and tonight's dinner of black beans soaking)

Right now I am working on making bread.  It seems like it should be so simple, but maintaining a sourdough starter is intimidating me and I would like to use only recipes that call for soaking whole wheat, of which there aren't many aside from Sally's.  I have a batch of yeast-ed bread soaking right now, so we'll see how that goes.  The other challenge I'm taking on is eliminating sugar from my/our diet.  It's way harder than I thought it would be!  I've replaced our sugar with honey and maple syrup so far but now have to figure out how to restrain myself when I'm offered sugared substances outside my home as I find my will-power lacking in those circumstances.  My new go-to for cravings is now eggs with melty, delicious cheese, pictured below!

Isn't food just beautiful?!  Sigh.  Not to mention that if you saute this palette, you get a delicious base to most soups and many sauces as well - like for this delicious, easy to throw together chicken soup!

You must either love food or love me to have made it to the end of this rather long post!  I'd love for you to share your thoughts below, or even questions, if you like. 

I'm thankful for food because it is tasty, nourishing and beautiful.
{My friend Katrina thinks so as well, over at Art & Table}


  1. Alan just ordered Nourishing Traditions the other day! (We've been cheat-using it in the "take a look" mode on Amazon for a couple of weeks, haha. It was time). I would love to hear some of the recipes/tactics from that you have tried, and what you have loved/hated.

    1. You can see from today's post that at least one recipe hasn't worked very well for me! I still like the book for it's nutrition info and for lacto-fermentation and stock-making recipes. Many of the other recipes I either haven't tried or have no had great success with. I've found myself using her cooking principles and adapting other recipes. The whole-wheat pancakes are good though. Once you get into it, we should swap notes on what works well!

  2. I love food and you! Bring on the long posts... though I confess the first food revolution that has to happen in our household is that dinner just has to be made! :) Then we'll move on to bigger and better things!

  3. Love this! Thanks for sharing your story :)