Taking Control

Today I took back control of the kitchen–sort of. Mom loves to cook but her version of cooking is more like doctoring up pre-packaged and/or frozen entrees. I confess, she has a knack for combining foods into a casserole or soup that is tasty but, because much of what she makes has a foundation in “processed,” the empty calories leave me hungry again all too soon after I eat. I have a lot of problems with digestion: Irritable Bowel Syndrome, borderline Crohn’s Disease, Celiac’s Disease, and, while I seem to tolerate things like cheese or yogurt (i.e. fermented dairy products), just drinking a glass of milk does not agree with me. So, tired of being one with “john” and frequent stomachaches, I took back the keys to the fridge, so to speak. My body just cannot handle the processed cuisine that constitutes much of Mom’s culinary success.
Spaghetti squash, baked in the oven, freshly-baked bread (without the gluten, whole grain), salmon, and a medley of vegetables steamed in a non-dairy alfredo sauce are on the menu.
I have to be careful though on how I take back this control. Mom’s fragile; she gets her feelings hurt easily and I don’t want to hurt her by taking it all back…but I also don’t want to be sick. I took the coward’s way out and, instead of telling her I was taking the keys back, I simply started baking squash and bread early.
Poor Mom! She tries. She really does. But cooking whole foods, cooking from scratch, etc. are alien battlefield for her (and, while I hate to be another baby blaming my parents for all the woes in my life, the processed cuisine is probably the reason I have so many issues with digestion…). Adding vegetables to a meal is opening up a can of corn or peas. She does make broccoli on occasion…over-cooked to the consistency of mush. Yet she made stuffed peppers the other day using the recipe I use for veggie burgers and, while the results should have been superb, she neglected to par boil the peppers before she stuffed them and they came out tough and under-cooked. She’d never even heard of spaghetti squash until about a month ago. Kale chips were a hit, especially liberally sprinkled with nutritional yeast. The homemade bread and butter pickles were also a hit. Swiss chard was okay; collard greens were, too. Roasted chestnuts didn’t go over all that well. She drew the line at hummus. And my failed attempt to make homemade gelatin using “Green Goodness” juice from Bolthouse (and I can’t say I blame her there…(smile)).
It’s cute the way she reacts whenever I introduce her to something new. There’s a look of panic on her face, like I am trying to poison her or something. She has to ask me at least a couple of times if it is safe to eat. Even after she’s watched me consume some of it–whatever it is–she’s still hesitant. And, it’s as if she’s doing the same thing in the other direction–purchasing the latest junk food craze and endeavoring to get me to try it. She bought a “carrot roll” that had everything unpronounceable in it, enough sugar to jump start a day care center for a week, but no carrots. I took a couple of small bites just to appease her. It was dreadful. I could feel my backside contracting in protest.
I’m not sure where this is all going, except that the latest health issues that have been plaguing me since Mom took over kitchen detail in the fall, are proof to me how important it is to eat healthy, whole foods instead of all that packaged, over-processed stuff that lines the bulk of the supermarket shelves. It re-affirms for me my commitment to homesteading, to be responsible for growing much of my pesco-vegetarian diet and getting away from commercial food products. My intestinal tract will be happy about this commitment even if Mom isn’t.
God bless you & keep you!

The Cycles of Life and Death

The cycles of life and death seem never more apparent to me than in the fall. Falling leaves, dried and withered, like the sudden chapping of lips and knuckles, scuttle across yards and pathways like so many industrious mice and chipmunks as they store away for the season. October 26, 2014 saw me in The Herb Garden at Old Sturbridge Village where I am a costumed volunteer. On this blustery, fall day, incongruous to the autumn splendor, was a single, lonely rose blossom–a deep and lustrous shade of pink amidst the browns, golds, and yellows of the falling leaves–and a cluster of cottage pinks, only a shade paler of a pink. Both were a bit gaudy against some of the deeper shades of orange that represent a New England autumn yet a symbol of tenacity of some to persevere in the face of seemingly impossible odds. In the case of the single rose and cottage pinks, the seemingly impossible odd was winter being just around the corner. This was the second such example that I received that week.
The first example of perseverance and tenacity that I received has been christened Gale (or perhaps, Gail) the Snail. Gale/Gail rolled out of a bag of dandelion leaves one morning. The bag had been in the refrigerator for at least 3 days and who knows how long the bunch had been in the grocery store. And who knows how far Gale/Gail traveled before arriving at Big Y Supermarket! Tucked deep inside his/her shell, I assumed the shell was empty and tossed it into the chicken bucket. An hour later found Gale meandering up the side of the container, antennae up as he/she inquisitively explored this warmer (albeit probably smellier…if snails care about such things…) new world. Gale now lives inside a quart-sized mason jar on the counter. A plug of moistened “frog” moss provides necessary hydration; a piece of cheese cloth over the opening of the jar provides oxygen, and a sprig of whatever greens I happen to have on hand gets thrown in for Gale to eat.
How is it that such a minute creature, scarcely larger in circumference than a shiny, new penny, can survive for days on end in an airless plastic bag inside the refrigerator when my Orion bunny succumbed just days’ prior to an intestinal worm? In a blog entry such as this I am not going to solve the mysteries of life and death but it is a wonder nonetheless.
Did Roxy display this same tenacity as Gale in that last lovely head-tilt that greeted me her last night on earth when I came home from work? Will Bear, bone tumor diagnosed recently, display the same tenacity and stoicism as his dam? Or, heart not quite healed from losing his Roxy, will Bear leave this blessed earth like Orion, quickly and without complaint, the fight gone out of him from his loss? I am hoping that he will elect to stay and fight for awhile, selfish creature that I am.
In the meantime, I will continue to marvel cottage pinks, a single rose in bloom in late-October, and a tenacious, wee garden snail–symbols of hope in this ever-changing world; symbols of faith in our great Creator, and a can-do attitude placed on some very special spirits. All is not lost. New beginnings in new seasons of life, shining brightly for as long as their time is allowed.
God bless you & keep you!