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Posts Tagged ‘food’

Potato salad for breakfast? Why not? We order eggs and hash browns all the time when we eat out.

I made potato salad last night, and it was my supper, along with a bowl of blueberries, au naturel. A good portion of both, lest you think I’m wasting away here.

Actually, I’m not eating potato salad again for breakfast, but I thought about it before I remembered the leftover canned pumpkin in my refrigerator that need to get used up. So I made some pumpkin oatmeal various-flours bread, which is in the oven as I write. I can anticipate the potato salad for lunch.

In a pinch, in a hurry, I might buy potato salad from the supermarket deli. But I don’t like it as well. It’s usually too goopy for my taste, more like mayonnaise with some lumps of things in it.

I make potato salad like my grandma and mom made potato salad. No written recipe, which bothered me as a newlywed but doesn’t any more. Eventually you get it.potatoes eggs

Here’s what went into yesterday’s batch:

4 good-sized potatoes that I had found in the produce clearance bin at the supermarket about a week ago. Peeled, chopped into the size pieces I wanted for the salad, boiled in water until tender. More than once I’ve cooked the potatoes too long and they’ve more or less disintegrated when I stirred together the salad. No worries. At a pot luck one time someone asked me for my recipe because they liked that I used “mashed” potatoes. It’s called not setting a timer. Oh, and don’t forget to salt them. I often forget. You can salt  afterward, but it’s a bit less even than salting the potatoes in the water.

4 eggs. These were farmers market eggs, laid by happy hens that get to toddle around a pasture instead of stay squeezed into a cage or pen. The cost of the eggs probably ate up the savings on the potatoes, but well-treated hens matter to me, and the eggs taste better and are better for you, I believe. My grandmother had chickens, and I grew up with farm eggs.

Some sweet onion, chopped up.

 

Some sweet pickle relish, maybe 1/4 – 1/2 cup, with juice. Grandma would have chopped up sweet pickles she had put up herself from cucumbers she grew in her garden. In my gardening days I would have done the same, but now I just try to find sweet relish that is not made with high fructose corn syrup.

Enough mayonnaise to moisten it all, but not so much that it drowns it. I use olive oil mayo these days.

A healthy squirt of mustard. Yellow, brown, whatever you have. This time I had brown.

Stir this all together in a big bowl. Add more mayo if it’s too dry. Taste it. Add more mustard or salt if you think it needs it. Or more pickle relish juice. It’s your salad.

I like real food. No purist, but I try to eat as close to real food as I can, given the rest of my lifestyle. I like my potato salad. It’s one of those common sense things that got passed down to me, just hanging out with women whom I loved who knew how to do stuff.

I think Mom and Grandma would be okay with eating potato salad for breakfast, too.

 

 

 

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I didn’t go to the grocery store to educate a checker. I just wanted to pick up a few things, including some produce. I was pleased to find rhubarb, because I want to make a rhubarb custard pie. A pass past the clearance shelves to see if there were anything I couldn’t live without, which there was not, and I headed for the checkout. I usually don’t use the self-checkout even when I can, preferring instead to cast a vote for a job for a living person. The checker whose line I chose seemed at ease and efficient, but when she took the rhubarb out of the basket, she said, “Now you’ve stumped me. Is this red celery?”trimmed rhubarb

“It’s rhubarb.”

“Oh, okay.” Then she picked up the cauliflower. “This isn’t cabbage, is it?”

“Nope. Cauliflower.”

As she finished ringing me up, she said, “I’m not really up on my vegetables. Mainly because I don’t eat all that many vegetables.”head of cauliflower

My intention in telling this story is not to be critical or make fun of this young woman, and the bagger who wasn’t much more knowledgeable. I tell it because I believe this is all too common. School children don’t know what a potato is, even though they eat tons of French Fries and chips. They can’t tell a pear from an avocado.

This is a handicap. A learned — or lack-of-learning — disability. The cure? Garden. Neighborhood gardens. Garden with friends or parents or kiddos. It doesn’t have to be big. If you don’t have any other space, plant something in a container on your patio or balcony. Your friendly neighborhood garden center will be happy to coach you.

Patio container with soil and new lettuce plants

Newly sprouted lettuce on my balcony

Also cook. From scratch. We live in a time, as Michael Pollan, author of Cooked, has said, when we Americans spend more time watching other people cook on television than we do actually cooking.If you’ve never cooked anything, don’t start by trying to do what those celebrity chefs are doing. Look up basic instructions and recipes online, and just try something.

You don’t even have to cook to cut up the cauliflower and dip it in ranch dressing. (You might even try making your own ranch dressing. It’s cheaper and better than the bottled stuff.) Eventually you might even step out and bake a pie from real rhubarb. 

Cooking, too, can be fun with someone else. Kids love it, especially when it’s a shared activity.

Obviously this is about more than giving correct answers on a pop quiz on vegetables. No one debates the nutritional benefits of eating vegetables, which is what this checker told me she does not do. We gain power to care for ourselves and our families when we have a working knowledge of actual food (as opposed to food-like substances, again to quote from Michael Pollan), how it grows and how to prepare it.

So you’re welcome Ms. Checker. Glad I could introduce you to some of my friends today.

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Food Progress Report

Almost 3 weeks into my month without wheat or sugar. Have I had slip-ups? Sure.

First there was Easter. What are you going to do when there is strawberry mango pie? I figured it was a feast day and enjoyed it thoroughly. Then some little things like the tapioca pudding in the box lunch at a workshop I went to, and the breading on the chicken in my salad Saturday. On purpose I put wheat bran in the granola I made Sunday.

The chocolate covered dried cherries did me in, although I stretched them out just a few a day. Two Saturdays ago a couple of us were working on a very stressful project at work, and when someone offered to get a pizza, I was in. There were also fun-sized dark-chocolate Mounds bars. On the plus side, I’m allowing maple syrup to replace sugar, in the granola and in my homemade plain yogurt.

Fresh fruit dipped in yogurt is just as good and better for me than that caramel apple dip. I could eat sweet potato wedges coated in olive oil, mustard, and spices, and roasted, every day, but I won’t. The chicken soup thick with veggies I made tonight is pretty darn good and will carry me through several days. A breakfast of an egg, leftover brown rice, and an orange is pretty good. I don’t have to have toast.

Am I feeling better? I think so. I am noticing that when I indulge in candy or pie, I feel sluggish. Can’t afford that. Also my gut is happier without the wheat.

On the spiritual side, I had envisioned myself deep in study of scriptures about bread and the sweetness of God’s love. Must say that has not been the case as much as I thought. And yet it does feel like God is moving in me and for me. I’m just too tired tonight to tie it to my food fast in some deep and meaningful way. So I’ll take it by faith and go to bed.

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I’m trying an experiment. It’s inspired by Jen Hatmaker’s book, 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess, in which she chronicles her journey of a different kind of fast for each of seven months. Why would she do such a thing? Isn’t that kinda crazy and extreme? She writes that her decision came out of the question, ” Where have I substituted The American Dream for God’s kingdom?” Her plan for 7 was to be “an exercise in simplicity with one goal: to create space for God’s kingdom to break through.”

Now, in many respects I’m already Ms. Simple. Some of Jen’s fasts wouldn’t make sense for me. Clothes, for instance. She writes about how appalled she was when she actually inventoried her wardrobe and was faced with how obscenely abundant her clothing options and therefore her clothing spending were. I, on the other hand, for example own three pair of jeans: one paint-spattered and holey, one blue denim, and one black denim. I’m still wearing my husband’s black socks to work, and he died six years ago. Hey, they’re warm, have worn like iron, and mostly don’t show under my slacks. No, they don’t work with dress shoes, but I barely ever wear dress shoes. Bunions and hammer toes are not welcome in my life. Just sayin’.

But going on this kind of a journey, opening up space for growth and movement with God, really appeals to me. Maybe my frugal nature will mean that my discipline somewhere along the way will be to add something instead of taking it away. I don’t have it all figured out yet. But I’m starting with food.

Jen carefully chose seven whole foods to limit herself to for a month. I already eat very little processed food and meat, enjoy lots of fruits and vegetables, and major on whole grains instead of highly refined. My goal will be to go without wheat or sugar this month. April 1 was the first day, and my first challenge came within hours, when my colleague Sean delivered to my desk the bag of dark-chocolate covered dried cherries I’d ordered maybe a month ago from his daughter’s high school band fundraiser and then forgotten about. “After this,” I told myself, and opened the bag. So good. I’ve had some each day. Until today. Because I felt so sluggish yesterday after I indulged in some. So they’re going away. Then my dear friend/cousin/soul-sister Becky and I decided to share Easter dinner, and the first thing out of my mouth was “Let’s just order pizza.” As good as that sounds, we’ve made a different plan. My part is to bring broccoli salad from the deli. It probably has sugar in the dressing. I’m at peace with that. it’s Easter after all.

Along with the dietary change, I want to see what exploring the concepts of bread, wheat, and sweetness, metaphorically speaking, reveals to me.

Today I read Psalm 81 because my concordance told me it has a reference to wheat in it. Just starting simple, you see. And by golly, it speaks to sweetness too. Sweet music, specifically, expressing joy and praise. So hmm, what if when I get the urge for chocolate or pie, I at least turn on music or better yet make some? Take a joy break? Consider the sweetness of God’s love for me?

Further in the psalm God says he desires to feed his people with the finest of wheat. That set me to wondering what the finest of wheat was in Biblical times. Thank you, Google, for filling me in. Given how different modern wheat is from ancient grains and how it’s prepared now, it makes sense that the vast majority of the types of carbs we eat have such an adverse affect on our health. We are settling for dust — too often contaminated dust at that.

I’m also on a quest to find raw, unfiltered, local honey.

I hope you’ll read Jen’s book, but be warned, it could shake you up. And that’s a good thing.

I’ll let you know how this goes.

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I replaced my computer last month. I won’t go in debt for such things, so that plus all the accompanying software and a car repair put a dent in my emergency fund. Over the next few months my goal is to replenish it. Therefore I’ll be even more careful to live simply, frugally.

For instance, when do I really need to buy groceries? How about shopping in my cupboard and fridge/freezer first?

My last trip to the supermarket yielded an 8-lb. bag of locally grown potatoes for $1.50. Usually I don’t use that many potatoes before they grow  sprouts and go soft (baby sprouts I just break off and use the potato anyway), but I’m determined not to waste them this time. So breakfast this morning — a day off so more time to cook — was one potato, shredded and fried in olive oil, with one egg fried in the same skillet. Yummers, and it’s real food. I know for a fact all the ingredients in my breakfast. To drink: OJ and coffee. By the way, regular coffee in a regular drip coffeemaker, black. Pennies, not dollars at a coffee shop.

Being frugal empowers me to move forward rather than being tethered to paying for the past. In fact, if you think about it, simple living is a future-oriented mindset.

Onward.

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Ideas that nourish

I don’t blog more often because I can’t decide what this blog is about. It’s like a fish in the boat, flopping around. It has ADD. If I could just accept that it doesn’t have to have one theme — but all the best blogs do. Carol, you don’t have to be a high achiever in this. Just express yourself.

I am driven to share what I read, what I hear. I learn something that makes me think or feel, and I immediately think of someone I know whom I truly believe would love to also read/hear it. Sometimes I think that if just the right people could read what I just read, some piece of how the world works would change in a good way. My friends and the people I work with have learned this about me. One of them says she knows that I don’t send something unless it’s important and so she always reads it. Another says, “Sometimes you read too much.” Impossible. I have learned to mostly not share stuff with my children. Giving reading recommendations to husband, when I had one, or children has never worked for me.

For instance, I just watched a TED talk about hunger and some ways other than relief in which food supplies are being transformed all over the world. My mind starts to buzz. I work for a nonprofit that among other things has one of the largest food pantries in northern Indiana, and could we adapt just one nugget of what Josette Sheeran said in this talk and make a more longterm, more community strengthening, more empowering difference?

I’d love to hear what you think.

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I was in a waiting room earlier this week, so I picked up a copy of Elle to pass the time. There were photos, with prices,  of  what’s going to be in style, from fashion week in New York. A pair of pants for $600. A purse for a thousand bucks. A dress for $2 grand. I’m rounding–at those prices, what do a few dollars matter?

Then I went back to work, where I encountered a woman with an electric bill, out of work and desperately looking for some help to pay it. It was not yet a shut-off notice, so unfortunately no help was available anywhere in town. I know there’s no direct relationship between her situation and expensive clothes in a magazine, but the juxtaposition was stark.

We live in a world where on television an Iron Chef makes lobster ice cream. For supper last night I baked a mixture of leftover brown rice, some eggs, milk, cheese, a can of green chiles, olive oil and seasonings, and had a luscious souffle-like something or other.

I wonder how many families are going without even some of those basic ingredients, or can’t cook because they can’t pay their electric bill?

Years ago in my church youth group we sang a song that became ingrained in me, and it’s coming back to me as I write this. It’s called “No Man Is an Island” and based on writings of John Donne. 

“No man is an island. No man stands alone. Each man’s joy is joy to me, each man’s grief is my own. We need one another–so I will defend each man as my brother, each man as my friend.”

We’re all connected. Both the rich and poor have joys and griefs. God, help us remember that. Help us remember each other.

“He has shown you, o man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” — Micah 6:8

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