June 3, 2011

Food Is Love

I'm not a foodie. For the longest time, I did not get people's fascination with food or food blogs or cooking shows or anything else. I grew up not thinking much about what I was eating or what was in it or where it came from. I had a penchant for fast food, soda, candy, cookies, chips, and all that other processed junk. (I still do.) Several years ago a co-worker buddy told me he was reading The Omnivore's Dilemma and that it was about knowing where your food comes from (among other things). I honestly had no clue what he was talking about - I had no frame of reference for any of it. My food came from the store! What else could I possibly need to know?

(I am cringing a little at how terribly ignorant I was about food just a few short years ago.)

Additionally, I never really cared for cooking. I didn't even learn how to cook until Roy and I moved in together. Before then, I ate out or made spaghetti noodles with butter using my one pot my mom bought me when I moved into my first apartment. Once I learned to cook, I recognized the importance of it and went through the motions of putting food on the table. I did not get how people could see cooking as a creative outlet because to me it was a means to an end. You're hungry, so you make something to eat so you won't be hungry anymore. The end.

Since then I have been learning little bits here and there and making small changes in my diet. Having kids has pushed me to make healthier choices, but in order to make those choices I've had to learn a lot. As a result, I've become much more interested in growing our own garden, going to the farmer's market, buying local and/or organic, and (wait for it) cooking.

(Let me interject here to let you know that I still enjoy the hell out of Dr. Pepper and a bunch of other junk that may end up killing me. However, I am miles away from where I used to be and in a few years I'm sure I'll be miles away from where I am now. I believe in baby steps when it comes to making changes.)

A few months back I was reading through Aura joon's archives (great blog with gorgeous pictures, btw) and came across this post on food. I love how passionate she is about food. When I was done reading that blog entry, I came away thinking, "Food is love." (She may have even said that in her post; I can't really remember.)

Nothing says "hey, I dig you" more than food. Recently I developed a crush on the cute family down the street so I brought them a small basket of strawberries from the farmer's market. A blog friend came to visit and I brought her and her husband some strawberries, too. Today I drove out to Orange County to see a friend and brought some strawberry muffins I made last night. There's something extra special about giving someone some good clean food to eat.

We have a grapefruit tree on our property and I love it when our friends come over and pick some to take home and enjoy. It's just such a simple and uncomplicated happiness. That's the way we should eat. Simple. Uncomplicated. Without all the unnecessary crap that turns real food into food-like substances.

Last night Roy's allergies were acting up, so I made chicken soup. Every week we buy a whole organic chicken at the farmer's market and cook it in the slow cooker, and then we use it for meals throughout the week. I used the rest of the chicken and the broth from when we cooked it for the soup, threw in some carrots and green onions, and steamed up some rice. I also roasted some carrots and that was our (healthy) dinner. I was actually beaming last night - this is what I mean by food being a simple and uncomplicated happiness. I cooked and fed my family with love, and I felt it all the way in my soul. That's amazing when you really think about it.

(homemade organic chicken soup)


(roasted organic carrots)

(healthy toddler meal: cheese, avocado, carrots, chicken soup with rice, and milk)

(healthy toddler who refused his high chair and instead ate dinner with Elmo, Zoe, and his magnadoodle)

Charlie is not having a big birthday party this year. Instead, we're going to have a small gathering of just family, and I think I will cook everything myself. I have never, ever, ever attempted anything like this. I'm still not sure what we'll be serving, but I think it'll be a lot of fun, and a lot of love will go into it, of course.


Sara said...

That carrot recipe sounds FAB! Also, me and Zara love,love,love grapefruit...just sayin' :)

Kimberly said...

I have to agree with you that preparing food and making a home made meal is an amazing feeling. I am not the best cook, however I do enjoy it when I make time. We are terrible with eating crap (ie: frozen food), however I'm trying to make one new meal a week to help expand our tastebuds :)

Melinda said...

I love when our families are over and I cook everyone a big dinner. It's can be hectic, but in the end I love it. You'll do fine cooking for everyone. Hint. Cook what you can the night before, and prep what you can the night before, helps not feel as rushed the day of cooking.

Jessica said...

Awesome! I'm very much the same way. Food was just a means to an end to me too - I chewed it and swallowed it and didn't give it much thought - before I met my major foodie husband. Then I learned how to taste, and enjoy. And, as you've been noticing, the immense pleasure in taking local and organic ingredients and making them into something to nourish your family. Gardening isn't really all the rage in California (which is a shame because the soil is great!) but you might try container gardening someday. Buy some heirloom seeds and grow some purple tomatoes! Kids of a certain age supposedly love it. I'm lucky that my husband is gung-ho about that too, because I'd never garden on my own. There is nothing like the pleasure of making a meal out of stuff from your own backyard. Just sayin. ;-)

I just bought and am reading "In Defense of Food." It's much more concise than "The Omnivore's Dilemma," which I also own, but have never read. Just like using cloth diapers (which I wasn't able to do this time) we vote with our food choices what kind of world we want to live in in the future. Food is important on many levels.