food has been one of the biggest changes (aka challenges) in my life since will. (and that says a lot as there have been a lot of changes!)
those of you who knew me circa boulder knew my cooking and baking skills to be a bit sketchy to say the least. no real sense for what substitutes with what, no great attention to detail when measuring, pouring, or for that matter reading recipes. i could make a mean pot of spaghetti (with jar sauce), but that was my limit.
i advanced a bit from my days in undergrad through chapel hill, but it wasn't really until i moved to boulder that i started pushing myself to learn about food. i developed a few staples after a self-implied program of making a new meal a week (really it was more like every three weeks, but it worked). i thought i was doing pretty darn well. friends commented that i was a "good cook" (chad still laughs remembering my pre-boulder days well), and i had a few staple meals down pat. then will came along...
on top of all of the food sensitivities (dairy and gluten to mention the big ones-- & soy is in there too), i started to really focus on food nutrition---thinking about his little system and how much more sensitive he would be to the nutrition value (e.g. one study showed organic food has tested with 50-60% more antioxidants than conventionally grown food, not to mention it doesn't have any pesticides and antibiotics in it). i read 'super baby food' and took to heart the importance of using higher quality ingredients given how little our little people eat, and how much that little bit can effect their little systems. then my book club (and I) read barbara kingsolver's book 'animal, veg table, miracle' and it hit home that much more my desire to eat things that are local (when possible), in season, and organic. to try to be more intimately connected with the food i eat. (sounds great in theory, but has addeded to my food craziness)
so, in addition to getting our veggies from the csa, we put in the time to put in and tend the garden this year. i learned about pruning tomato plants, continually seeding lettuce, and keeping basil and cilantro cut back. i learned that lambsquarters has 4x the calcium as spinach and thus into our garden it went. i've been totally overwhelmed at times with all of the produce, and what to do with it. not to mention cutting out gluten (and most dairy) myself, as well as for will. trying to make sure will is getting enough calcium and protein (given no dairy, and his finiky toddler state of not wanting to eat most meat). sink or swim, or do both on a routine basis is more like what i've been doing. food has become an obsession. i spend hours thinking about, reading about, planning, prepping food...and stressed that i really have no time for all of this; let alone the learning curve has been huge for me. i despise throwing out food, but at times i've dispised seeing it all in my fridgerator without an idea of what to do with it all. chad's had nites where he gets shaky after dinner because he's gone on a long run, and we've had no protein (oops, i forgot to get the meat). not to mention if feels like our grocery bills are paramount to our mortgage some months. i've all but made myself crazy about food. food, this thing that i have such a love hate relationship with. chad says to simplify...i honestly dont know how.
how to use up the local, fresh, in-season food we have, without adding dairy or gluten, and then to make sure we have enough protein, despite will's toddler pickiness....and try to do this for 3 meals and 2 snacks a day...argh!
we'll it's not all that bad. i also love food, and i love what i've been learning about food. knowing what is in season, knowing about foods like quinoa, and fennel (which is in my favorite dish of the moment). i feel sometimes like i've just gotten another degree in family nutrition. i now know the difference between protein content in goats, sheep, coconut, and soy yogurt, and know that hemp milk is the best protein source of non-animal/ soy based milk. things id never have cared about before. i never would have thought much about using white rice vs. quinoa and the difference in nutritional value. never would i have known that soy sauce has wheat flour, but there is soy sauce without wheat flour, you just have to read all of the labels.
never before would i have made bread-pancakes (they are a mix between indian naan bread and a pancake) out of lentils and brown rice, but here they are:
(killer protein and fiber content, and a kid-friendly treat--great with a little butter, honey or nut butter, and would be good with a fruit spread too)
1 cup lentils
1 cup sweet brown rice
(soak these in water over nite, 4x the water for each, and put them in separate bowls). in the morning, blend the rice and lentils (with some of the water) in a food processor until they are pancake batter like. i added agave (but you could use honey too). put them in a skillet on med-med/hi that is coated with oil (i used walnut oil). flip half way through. eat as is, or add fruit, nut butter or hummus.
i'm at a point where the craziness has subside. the learning curve that has taken place over the past year has slowed. ive got several staples down. i'm taking a new lease on things and again trying to embrace and enjoy food. im also trying to 'simplify' as chad says and let go. aka...i just broke down and bought will hot dogs (they were the chicken kind that were 'all natural' as natural as hot dogs can be---but killer protein, and easy as easy can be!- and he loved them)
here's one more recipe that i thought i'd share, as it was one that i had fun making. it's my mid-year resolution...begin to enjoy food again.
Zucchini Boats (is it sac-religious to convert a moosewood veggie recipe into a meat lovers delight?!)
Scallions or onion
Shredded Cheese (i used hard goat cheese)
Scoop out the insides of the Zucchini. Blend these in the food processor with the other ingredients (except cheese). Stuff the zucchini boats (if you have enough left over you can add it to a separate baking dish). Sprinkle the tops with cheese. Bake zucchini on a baking sheet coated with a little olive oil. (i covered them with tin foil for the first 20 min, and then took it off when they got soft). i cooked it around 350 for about 40 min total (though i set my watch alarm every 10 min and check on things---this has been part of my new anti-burning campaign and seems to be improving my cooking in a big way!).