I think about something very often, but I fear that I may not express it enough. This something (which actually is a very big thing) is that I am insanely grateful for the abundance in my life. And in particular I am grateful for the abundance of food in my life. I read a book recently, 40 Chances by Howard Buffet. The book is about farming and food shortage in the US as well as the rest of the world. I picked up the book at the library, by chance, and was surprised at how engaging, entertaining, and informative it was to read. Buffet’s experiences, and opinions, about food and farming opened my eyes to the difficulties faced in feeding our modern (and not so modern) societies. Someone (like me) that can afford to go shopping for food in a fully-stocked supermarket and bring it home to appliances to keep it fresh and/or cook it has absolutely no idea of the obstacles that were overcome to afford me the luxury.
Phil and I have also been watching re-runs of The Human Planet. (It’s a show by the BBC. It’s fabulous. The footage is incredible.) Not an episode of this show goes by where the narrator does not, at one point, say, “and the family hasn’t eaten protein in over two weeks” or “they have gone off in search of nutrition so they do not starve” or “they risk dying of dehydration.” It makes me rethink my own definition of starving and thirsty.
These things don’t make me an expert on the many lifestyles around the world. I can not attest to all perils in existance, but it does at the very least make me aware. The initial awareness is Wow…not all parts of the world are as fertile as the region I currently call home. It goes far beyond this however, because it’s also about access to resources. We’ve got farm markets and supermarkets, we’ve got neighbors with awesome gardens that provide so much food that they leave their extras in a basket on the curb for anyone to grab, and we may even have small gardens of our own. Even if you have no yard for a garden you still do not have a problem. You can hang a garden on the outside of your dwelling or you can plant a garden in pots in your house. Getting started is no problem. If you don’t know how, you look it up.
And in my awareness I can change one simple thing…My Gratitude, and become stronger and better about buying the right food for the right price and not wasting it even if it means making a pot-luck soup at the end of the week and eating it through the weekend.
The supermarket is gorgeous right now. The fields are ripe. You can pick your own bounty or you can go to the farmer’s market. It’s time to celebrate food and all that we are afforded. To celebrate I make sure I eat new vegetables. If I don’t know what they are, or how to cook them, I google it. It’s a bit of work, but it’s also a ritual of thanks.
I have found myself downtown, for the market, each Wednesday and Saturday, religiously, for the past couple of weeks. The fruit and vegetable stalls are just beautiful. Of course, I buy too many goodies. Then I have to go to the supermarket as well, for the essentials, and I unluckily find the produce section of the supermarket to be equally as beautiful and tantilizing. So I buy some more. I get back to my kitchen and realize it is way too much food and I’ll never eat it all in a timely fashion. Where is the self control?
Do you have this problem?
The weather is so nice I don’t want to cook. It’s sunny and I don’t want to turn the stove on. So I find myself eating all of my food in its natural state…which is far from a problem. Is there anything more delicious than a perfectly ripe peach, or melon, or cucumber? The answer to that is No.
Also ranking very high on my list of perfect foods is my neighbor’s honey. It’s amazing. I want to wear it. His honey is so remarkable he makes me want to be a bee keeper too, so that I may be responsible for such a glorious edible. Can you imagine…I paint, and sew, and blog, and read, and spend 3-6 hours a day in the kitchen, and I like to travel, and I’m a Bee Keeper!?! Ridiculous.
Seriously. If you’re in my area, you’ve got to come to his house and buy some. There is a sign hanging in front of his house. You can’t miss it. Or contact me and I’ll take you there.
OK…so before you leave this blog entry thinking that I think that I am angelic, and perfect in every way I deal with food. I’ve got to share this stupid dessert story with you…
I’’ve been trying to create meals for myself that are colorful, interesting, fulfilling, and refreshing. I’ve been doing a great job so far…quiche, mint syrup, spinach and arugula pesto, ginger syrup, peach cake, beet popcicles, mangold stir fry, and carrot soup. I was on a roll. I was truly feeling the higher calling, like everything I made from here on out was going to turn out to be the best tasting thing I’d ever put in my mouth. Then…I made almond souffle. It brought me right back to my knees. It was a simple-enough recipe. I had chosen it because it calls for plenty of fresh honey…and I love the chance to use my honey. Phil decided to help me make the souffle. He beat the egg whites while I mixed the rest of the ingredients; honey, lemon, almond meal. We filled the souffle dishes, put the project in the oven and waited. When the timer went off I opened the oven and found the souffles to be a touch underdone. So I left them in for a minute or two longer. Have you ever baked souffle? Let me tell you. It goes from done to gross in about two seconds. The next time I opened the oven a smell of fish came out. It wasn’t very appetizing. The tops of the souffles were a bit brown and the smell was lingering in the kitchen. Against better judgement, we decided we had to, at least, taste our culinary adventure. We each took one bite, looked at one another funny, and came to the conclusion that we had lost this round in the battle of becoming better home chefs. I hate to admit it, but we did not finsih eating our dessert. In fact, we had to get rid of the dessert, all of it. I felt bad throwing food away, but I didn not feel bad throwing away the recipe.