Thursday, May 21, 2009

Slow Food and Slowing Down

As Michael Pollan points out in In Defense of Food, cooking real food takes time. It also takes planning and mental energy. Slow food takes slowing down. For the week or so before we went on vacation, with the help of Ms. Guiliano I had honestly been enjoying slowing down, thinking about meals, taking time to chop vegetables and prepare a nice meal with several parts, even if the children refuse to eat it. Even the clean-up wasn’t so bad.

My first real challenge to our new eating was the Sunday before our vacation when David’s cousins came for a visit. His cousins (actually his 2nd cousins) are his mom’s age, from The East, and are a blast. And, I’m pretty sure they’re used to SAD (Standard American Diet). But, I was determined to skip the tried-n-true chip-n-dip appetizers, and present something healthy, yet appealing. I think I did a pretty good job, because most of what I put out (mostly cheeses, fruits and fresh breads) was eaten. We BBQ’d chicken for dinner, and I managed to avoid the usual trappings of the typical American BBQ and serve fresh corn, grilled veggies, black beans, and a knock-out salad with dinner. Oh, and of course, wine. It turns out that one to two glasses of wine each day, with meals, is good for you. Last time I was at the doctor, she told me the recommendation was about three to four glasses per week. So, drink more. It’s good for you.

My next challenge was preparing for our vacation. I packed just about everything wholesome from our fridge into a cooler (I can’t stand to waste food), yanked a bunch of stuff out of the pantry and plopped them into re-usable shopping bags and boxes, and even loaded a bag up with nutritious snacks for the road. It’s kind of an on-going mental exercise to figure out what the next few meals will be, and whether or not I’ve got enough ingredients for it. I even brought along all the ingredients to make banana bread from the bunch of over-ripe bananas that no one will ever eat. Yep, even grabbed the loaf pans, just in case the “fully stocked” kitchen wasn’t. It wasn’t, but I was impressed that it did have a measuring cup and spoons, and a hand mixer.

The BIG CHALLENGE of course came with T-Bear’s diagnosis of diabetes. The first week has been just trying to learn everything I can about timing, dosing, and carb counting. And, what I’ve found is that a lot of “diabetic meals” are just SAD hijacked to reduce the carb count. So, what you end up with is, well, SAD; unhealthy, unappealing food with lower carbs. Now that I’ve just about got my feet back under me, I’m moving back to cooking more and heating up less. I’m determined to get back to cooking real food, slow food, and enjoying the process (gotta knead that lovin’ into every loaf of fresh bread!), and still keep T-Bear (and the rest of us) on a healthy and carb-appropriate diet. I don’t want to fall into the habit of serving Gold Fish for snacks just because I can instantly determine the carb count by reading the nutrition panel. I can do better than that, and so far I’ve been managing about half-n-half; instant snacks half the time, and healthy prepared snacks half the time. As I type, I’ve pulled two baguettes fresh from the oven cooling for lunch, in glorious anticipation of apple/cheddar sandwiches. I’ve never baked the bread fresh before, but the sandwiches served on store-bought “fresh” baguettes have been a hit, so I’m hopeful this will work out.

Fresh baguette cooling on our "baker's rack".
It's actually a paper stacker from Office Depot,
but works great when Papa Bear makes bunches of pies.


  1. How was the bread? Is it the same recipe that we've been using?

  2. That looks yum. Got a recipe to post please?

  3. Yep, this is the infamous CHE basic bread recipe...will post in a bit :)