January 16, 2011 § Leave a comment
Yesterday we had our (drumroll, please…) our first official dessert of the month– chocolate cupcakes with “strawberry” (well, okay, it was pink) cream cheese icing. And it was good. Just good. Not amazing, not oh-my-God good, but good. Fine. The unfortunate thing about waiting two weeks to have dessert is that once you finally have it, you’ve got a fairly high probability of being disappointed. The icing was very good, the cake was a little on the dry side, and my favorite part was the strawberry pieces on top- but hey- I can have those anytime!
Well… not anytime anytime. Ahem. In my effort to supplant real sweets for fake ones I have filled our house with fruit: apples, bananas, cherries, watermelon, clementines. It looks a little like Carmen Miranda exploded in our kitchen. However, we all know what too much fruit can do… right? Well, let’s just say we’ve had to be a little bit careful in the fruit department lately.
And there are other reasons to beware of fruit, too. Barbara Kingsolver, in her book Animal Vegetable Miracle, makes an excellent case for eating locally on the basis of environmental responsibility. Perhaps just as compelling is the knowledge that other countries aren’t going to have the same pesticide regulations we do, and likely won’t define terms like “organic” the same way we do either. Sure, I can buy local apples at the farmer’s market and often at our supermarket… but the list of other available local fruit at this time of year? Stops abruptly there.
So many people I know struggle with this impossible balancing act on a daily basis: should we care more about buying organic or local? What about price: does getting a great deal at BJ’s Warehouse trump buying local and/or organic? What about if the organic produce looks like yesterday’s dish-water? Were animals tortured in the making of this product? Were they made even mildly uncomfortable? We scan the labels for increasingly long lists of alarm-bell ingredients: does it have High Fructose Corn Syrup in it? Preservatives? Dyes? MSG? What about endocrine disruptors? Hydrogenated oils? Poison? Is there any poison in it?
Since beginning this project only two weeks ago, I’ve been confronted with these contradicting forces seemingly constantly. I grudgingly put the Morningstar veggie sausage patties in my cart, feeling annoyed that a “health food” product has stuff like “disodium inosinate” in it, even while being delighted that the hundred and 12 ingredients listed do not include sugar. I purchase the shredded wheat cereal, delighted to have found it, yet irked at the use of BHT “added to the packaging material” as a preservative, (“Some embalming fluid with your breakfast cereal, madame?”) I attend the weekly Farmer’s Market and try valiantly not to blanch at the prices, only to find that when I cook my hard-won organic produce that the spinach tastes funny and the brussels sprouts have mysterious “black spot” disease. Ew.
It’s really enough to make any sane person throw in the towel altogether.
But we’re not throwing in the towel, we’re managing and that is something to celebrate, even at this early stage of the game. Maybe especially at this early stage of the game.
So, to sum up, the best thing about our daughter’s sixth birthday party was that she loved it. She was happy, her friends were happy- and to seal the deal they all had cake. If that isn’t a special occasion, I don’t know what is.
January 3, 2011 § 3 Comments
I am quickly coming to the realization that prepared foods are going to be pretty much off the table. I deduced this last night when I got out some of our favorite canned chicken chili to have over brown rice for dinner and gueeeeessss whaaaat. Yup- ingredient number seven, right between onion and tomato paste. Who knows how much that ingredient-number-seven sugar that really amounts to? A teaspoon? A tablespoon? Does it matter?
So, once again, we were having sugar with our dinner without really intending to. Greta, our ten year old, who got teary only the night before when we talked about starting the “family project,” was incensed.
“I can not be-LIEVE we’re having sugar for dinner,” she proclaimed loudly, with the conviction of a truly gifted proto-teenager. I found myself in the very odd position of pleading with her: “It’s just for tonight…” I rationalized, “It isn’t very much.” I promised we would do better as we got more acclimated to the new way of eating… which is to say I ‘ll be cooking more meals from scratch than ever before.
Part of me loves this idea- after all, I love to cook and bake. Then again, one of my favorite things to cook and bake is dessert. Huh. Also- the planning involved with so many home-made meals, not to mention the dirty pots and pans that result, is my not so favorite part. So a re-tooling is definitely in the cards for my meal methods.
Meanwhile, I had my first cup of tea with no honey in it this morning- cue the shrieks and screams. Oh, the horror. For me, altering one of my beloved little morning rituals, this was a HUGE step. My mind keeps waiting for that sweet kick at the end of every sip, and- alas- it never comes. Still, the caffeine was reliable, and a little milk helped too. Hey, I thought, I can do this. M-m-m-m-maybe.