07 December 2009

Waxing Philosophical

Recently, on one of my favorite internet groups, a member asked about food philosophies. Below, I share my reply.

My number one, iron clad, absolute belief about food is that there is NOT a number one, iron clad, absolute truth about food. :)

Seriously, we are all different sizes and shapes, do different things, and come from different backgrounds. Culture, philosophy, and faith have a role in what we consume. What works for one person can make another terribly ill. There is no one food (animal products, tofu, wheat, cow dairy, baby vegetables braised in morning dew ambrosia by forest fairies, etc) that is essential for humans to consume. Even breast milk, which *is* essential for most babies to consume, is something a very small fraction of babies with very rare conditions cannot have.

This is my truth:

Mostly fruits and veggies and some good quality animal protein are the basis of a healthy diet. Grains are something that need to be a small portion of a healthy diet. Wheat gluten is poison. The brown food group (coffee, tea, and chocolate) are part of what makes food worth eating and will not be banned without cause. All things in moderation, especially alcohol. Messing up is part of life, learn from your mistakes. Giving in to temptation once in a blue moon is part of life, forgive yourself. Dairy is not essential to life, is not great for any of us, and is poison to the small boy. No matter how much I like cheese. Potato chips should not cross the threshold, and this does NOT mean the whole bag should be consumed in the car. Breastfeeding should continue until the child and/or the Mama is totally done with it. Avoid, as much as possible, eating anything with manufactured chemicals on or in it.

Find your own truth. Enjoy the journey. Don't allow Perfect to prevent and destroy Good. Celebrate the victories. Cook with your friends and your kids. Make a mess in the kitchen.

And now, if you will excuse me, there are some brownies and a Riesling-pear sorbet calling my name...

20 November 2009

Grandma's Ginger Snaps, Gluten Free

In honor of the upcoming holiday season, my favorite cookie recipe. This was the first baking recipe I converted when I said goodbye, forever, to gluten. In part because I love ginger snaps. In larger part because, when you come to terms with drastically changing your life and your diet, you need some connection. I needed to know that the foods that connected me to my past where still, in some manner, accessible to me. And so, my Grandma's ginger snaps were transformed.

I hope you enjoy them, too.

Grandma's Ginger Snaps

3/4 cup shortening
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1 egg or the flax goo equivalent
2/3 cup white rice flour
2/3 cup tapioca flour
2/3 cup corn starch
1 tsp xanthan gum
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cloves
2-3 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp salt

Blend flour, spices, and xanthan gum. (A whisk works well for this) Cream together sugar and shortening. Add the molasses and the egg or flax goo. Add flour mix. Dough should be fairly stiff, like play dough. If it is soft, add a couple tablespoons more of each type of flour. Chill in fridge.

Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Form dough into 1 inch balls, and roll each in sugar (this is the part where having the kids help is truly hilarious. E just eats them raw the second we turn our back on him) Place on a greased or parchment lined cookie sheet, and bake for 8-10 minutes. Cool on wire rack or a clean towel.

Flax Goo: Mix 1 tbsp flax meal into 1/4 cup hot water. Allow to cool. You'll see why it's called flax goo when it gets to room temp...

Tip: Remove only about a cookie sheet worth of dough from the fridge at a time. This is easiest if the dough is cold, though it is still going to be quite sticky.

Postscript: I am adding this post to the 12 Days of Sharing over at In Jennie's Kitchen. Click on the badge below to help end childhood hunger, and check out the great recipes in the process!


04 August 2009

And Something Else Again

I've been absent for a while.

Those that know me know, and those that read may have guessed: it has been an ugly year.

I won't go into it all, there really is no point. Bad things happened. They were made worse by ugly people, petty jealousies, arrogance, and ignorance. This is the way of things.

But so many others have supported us, this year. Kindness, love, and generosity of spirit have never been absent from our lives, and we had more than enough to get us through the last nine months. We knew we had good families and good friends. All of this has left no doubt exactly who they are.

And we, really, are okay. We had our bad days, and I will be the first to admit that I was not so very much fun. But ultimately, you have to move on. Pull your energy back out of the negative that you used to cope and forge a path into your new normal. Vitriolic screed is a great place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there.

We have a new home, DH has a new job, our kids are happy. Things are different than what we expected, but we will manage.

So much of this was completely avoidable. The rest could have been made easier if more people could just remember the concept of 'There But for the Grace of God Go I.' But that's okay too. Because these sorts of people also tend to forget one other thing.

Karma's a Bitch.

21 January 2009

Auld Lang Syne

So, there are not a whole lot of things I regret in my life. There is almost nothing I regret doing, and only slightly more I regret saying. I mostly live life figuring that risk and the possibility of failure and hurt are WAY better than a safe, but very boring existence.

As such, the regrets I do have are the things I didn't do. And one of my biggest regrets is the fact that I really, really suck and keeping in touch with people. It is not that I don't have good intentions (hello, road paving anyone?). I just either get distracted, or busy, or think, 'oh I will wait until I have a chunk of time to reply to this.' And it slips to the second page of my message book or my email box, and then it was so long ago, and on and on. Events nudged me every so often, trying gently to remind me that really, a 5 minute call or quick note now is better than waiting for that 'when you have time' thing. I would get better for a while, then slip back into my old ways.

And then this past fall, the nudges stop. I get a big karmic kick in the teeth. It is not my story, and I don't want to go on, but suffice to say I lost someone this year. The spouse of a close friend, and because, well, neither of us took the time, I did not even know she was sick until I got the message from my friend that his wife was gone. She had been battling cancer for three years. This time, I got the message.

And here is where the risk, and the failure and the hurt come in. Because I decided it may have been a while, or a LONG while, but I am going to write that note, or send an email, or pick up the phone. And sometimes that hurts, because the note gets tossed, the email unanswered, the call, always, seems to hit the voice mail. I know, folks move on, they forget, they do other things. But, despite being a smart alec, and irreverent, I break pretty easy. Okay, really easy. I think the one that hurt the most was the conversation that ended mid stream, with no explanation. That still stings, a month later.

But there are rewards too. The 3 hour phone call with the friend you really did think you had lost, but that had never actually been lost at all. The note you got from a dear friend, telling you how much you have meant to her, that brings tears to your eyes. The other connections you make, friends of friends of friends, and the happy memories they bring back.

So I will keep putting myself out there, I still have a list of folks, people I have not contacted in a long time, that I am thinking about what to say. I won't wait too long this time. I hope that we reconnect.

And I appreciate even more those that reach back, or never lost touch in the first place because they can put up with or overlook my erratic ways. Thank you.

And those voice mails? The notes and emails? That one conversation, stopped mid-stream? All I can say is, for me, friendship does not have an expiration date. A week, a year, 5 years? If you reach back, and I am where you can reach me, I will answer. And I will do it sooner this time. And know too, old friends, no matter what, you are never, ever forgotten.

13 January 2009

Reading is FUNdamental

I have always been a reader. Family lore has it that I learned somewhere around the ripe old age of three, and have had my nose in a book ever since. While my parents were occasionally (okay, frequently) annoyed at the chores I left undone while engrossed in the latest tome, it was a habit they otherwise encouraged.

So, in order to share my favorite hobby, and let you people know how truly strange I am, I started a list in the sidebar, My Last 10 Books. Now, I often read several things at one time. I stash a book downstairs for evening reading, one in the van for carpool waiting or when I sit in the driveway in the interest of two kids getting a nap, and one in my walk in closet for when I can't sleep, but also can't stray too far from the La Leche Leech, lest he wake the household in indignation that his na-nas have wandered off. So I will add books to the list as I finish them.

Oh, by the way, each book listed is a link to Amazon, as it was the easiest thing I could think of. If anyone has a better idea, I am all ears...

Life is What Happens...

...when you are making other plans.

In an instant, a day, your life is turned upside down. Everything that was true about the future, isn't. Everything you have been moving toward disappears. A person you don't know makes a decision, and people that don't care shore it up, because to do otherwise would negate all the premises that built the whole thing, and the whole must be preserved, even at the expense of the truth, and your future.

And yet.

You have your health. Your children. Your family. You find out, truly, who your friends are. Life moves forward, and you with it. And you realize this has happened before, more than once. And that, given that we have free will, this will likely happen again, and again, this side of Heaven.

And also, there is Grace. That flip side to free will. I have never, really, believed in the 'God has a plan for you' line, at least not in the way people mean it. I will not justify the poorly thought, the mistake, the selfish, or the pure evil with 'God has a plan.' I believe that God has a PLAN, that PLAN is his Children in Heaven. That is where the Grace comes in. Not only are we saved from our sin, and our free will, by Grace alone. That Grace includes the strength to move forward, the forgiveness when we fail, the Love of a Father.

A week ago the future was ours, the choices all good. Now there may not be any choices. There is a path, which from here looks more like a long, dark tunnel with little hope of light at the end for a very, very long time. But we will walk it, together, hand in hand. We will carry our children, take strength from our friends and family, and believe with all our heart that God is with us.