I can’t say I have had the best relationship with food. It has been emotional, rocky in my teens, a means of control and self loathing, a release, and therapy in my 20’s, and as I mature, we (food and I) are settling into a more whole and realistic relationship. A love has blossomed. We have had an on again and off again relationship, restriction, misuse, even a hatred at times, which makes our recent love that much more rewarding.
I was one of those lucky kids that had a stay at home mom. She cooked, baked, gardened, and basically took care of the household while my Dad was at work. My younger brother didn’t come along until I was well into my 4th year. I had much of my mothers undivided attention. I was, oh who am I kidding?? I AM bossy. Stubborn, and determined to do it myself. What is “it”? Everything. There was no helping mom in the kitchen, she was helping me. As soon as I could chase her out of the kitchen I did, never great at being told what to do. Of course as soon as I ran into a trouble, or something failed, Mom saved the day. It’s likely she didn’t get much thanks for that. Hey Mom, Thank you. Better late than never?
Growing up my parents encouraged our independence. If I wanted to make a new recipe, cook or bake I was equipped with the ingredients needed, a trip to the library to learn the how-to (as the internet was only used by NASA and the Military at that point, man, I am old…) For those of you that don’t know, a library is a large community building, usually close to a museum that houses hundreds, sometimes even thousand of paper books. Crazy, I know. You can borrow said books or read them there, but be careful it does smell like old books in there.
There was also a sense of adventure, grocery shopping would result in my mother picking up exotic fruits and vegetables for us to inspect and taste. The Food we ate was whole, fruits and vegetables, real ingredients. Mom baked the bread and cookies we had in our house. Stuffing was made from scratch, gravy too. I didn’t know until my teens that pancakes could be made with a bought mix. It went something like this; “what do you mean? you just add water? no eggs? or flour? water? we are eating this powder and water and it makes pancakes?’
Our cupboards always had: flour, sugar, butter, meat and cheese. My grandparents were around quite a bit (my mother took care of their increased physical needs, errands, housekeeping etc. My grandmother had health issues). Trips with my grandfather to his orchardist friends to spend the day picking cherries, or apples, or peaches, were a seasonal occurrence. There was also days spent picking wild berries, or hunting in the fall. Real Paleo style hunting and gathering from dawn till dusk, whether we liked it or not. There was jam making, canning and drying the harvests. My grandfather had this enormous centrifuge, a noisy contraption that he would start up barrage the entire neighborhood with noise and vibration while he made gallons of apple juice. My uncle kept bees and weekend trips would include a “swing by” to check on the hives, and eat some honey comb if we were lucky. My other grandparents had a few laying hens and my fave job would be going to collect the eggs. Big metal pail swinging against my leg, that smell of the coop, straw and chicken poop. When that’s just the way things are as a kid you don’t realize there is any other way. We didn’t live on a farm, we lived in a small town. Then you go to school and the kids have fancy packaged cookies and wonder bread. I remember whining to my mom she NEVER bought us Oreos! (A gross overstatement, but I have always had a flair for the dramatic). I was envious of my friends processed food. The smooth ivory of assembly line chicken eggs in styrofoam shells, sugar laden fruit roll ups, juice in little boxes or plastic containers. Processed cheese, individually wrapped in plastic envelopes, peeled out of their plastic houses and melted (microwaved) on store bought white bread. Crazy when I think of it now.
These days I am a whole food lover, I look for exotic meats, duck eggs are a current fave, free range and hormone free meats and cheeses. I shop locally, (after reading “The 100 Mile Diet” and considering the impact shipping has on our environment). We are fortunate we live in an agriculture rich environment, farms near by, and a spectacular farmers market wherever you are in the valley. It does require a freezer and some planning to pit and freeze 4 flats of cherries for the year, (insert duck cherry sauce recipe). But if you haven’t, that’s okay, we will have an alternative for you!
I have enlisted the help of my parents inspecting garage sales and second hand bookstores for classic cook books. The ones that have an ingredient list without packaged mixes, using real food. I am adapting these classics into grain free versions, simple and delicious!
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