Tag Archives: food

Sleepy Son Sunday!

Yay! He’s back. After a day in a diner and Burlington Public Library, and finally getting on the bus at 4  or 4:30, and then the train, and home after midnight. Yes, he is at a state school, and they are quite serious about kicking everyone out of the dorms, and closing down for the break. But when you are 18, it’s not a big deal.

Having packed no food at all for the journey, he was very happy to have grilled cheese and green smoothie and SleepyTime tea at 1:30 am last night (or this morning.) SleepyTime tea? What was I thinking?! Once I was properly hugged, and the food was downed, he was off with friends. He is not the one we call “Thumper,” and manages to tiptoe upstairs, and into bed without bothering me, so I have no idea what time the reunion celebration ended.

Dad made pancakes for breakfast. He was the one who discovered the best pancakes ever: we add pears (when we have them at home, but I bought some nice ones a few days ago, with return of son in mind) as well as bananas. Banana pear pancakes are a recipe I recommend. Not a sweet eater, even though maple syrup is a flavor I love, and we have Vermont maple syrup from a summer’s farmer’s market, I eat my pancakes out of hand. And I’m not sure I didn’t eat more than my share.

When I lived in California, and would come back East to visit, my dad would (so helpfully, he thought?) wake me up in the morning so I could “get on a good schedule.” I never did, and never really have been, so that always annoyed me. Never able to fall asleep before 4am after sitting in a plane all day, and then coping with a three-hour time difference, I didn’t appreciate the effort. Now I can consider that maybe he just wanted to see me. But I think he was just acting on misguided principle. I kind of think so. It bothered him that I should be sleeping at the “wrong” time. So no matter how much I may want to see the young man upstairs, I am going to “let it ride.” Nor am I going to tell him “You can’t go out at 2am!” To the contrary: he did, and probably had a very good time.

We had an amusing exchange before he left: Somehow the name of an old friend, who turned out to have briefly been a girlfriend during middle school years, came up. One of the people he went out with last night was “Ian,” his best friend since seventh grade. K then mentioned that ‘Jane” had dated “Ian” longer than he had. (What he meant to say was that Ian had dated Jane longer than  he had.) I retorted that this was not true. You, I said, have been going out with Ian longer than anyone! He laughed and agreed.

Lest anyone misread the tiniest hint of gay bashing into our conversation, there was none. We have a family rich with family members all over the sexuality spectrum. It reflects the human species pretty well that way. K’s college room mate is gay. When moving out of a miserable dorm room situation a straight, but preppie and annoying room mate, K, who happens to be straight, chose his room mate because they are friends, old camp friends. So LGBTQA friends: You are very welcome to my blog. LGBT objectors: This will probably not be a comfortable space for you. In this family, we celebrate the recent decision out of Illinois to allow gay marriage. If all the guys in the Bible had multiple wives–or were (supposedly) celibate, and we believe that, of course?–what is all the fuss about? The Bible most emphatically does not present marriage as between one man and one woman. People should neither be exclusively defined by, nor in any way punished for their sexual orientation. There is so much more to all of us.

I confess, I did not read the presumably pathetic email from some organization that pumps out pablum for parents of college students returning home for the first time. (Very pathetically middle class mush.) I’m sure I will make mistakes, but my plan is simple: provide food, be flexible, hope he has fun, and hope we are included in some of the fun.

There is creaking in the staircase 🙂

So I thought. Instead there is young man adjusting and enjoying himself in his own way, in his own time: first drumming and now keys serenade. I am content. But isn’t he hungry? If he hadn’t gone fourteen hours straight without food yesterday, I would think so, but I am going to trust that hunger will bring him down eventually. And that if he was in the mood for talking, he would. It must be glorious to be alone after so much forced togetherness!

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This Artichoke will Save the World

This Artichoke will Save the World by Circespeaks

This Artichoke will Save the World by Circespeaks

We, who are fortunate to have enough food to eat, spend time thinking about how that food arrives on our tables. We are also concerned about what it does, or at least should, in our personal views, consist. Two of my favorite bloggers have also written about the ethics of eating today.

What should we eat? How much control do we have over the means of production and the effect that food production has on both the people who grow and package our food and the animals we eat? These questions are examined today by both Rachel Marie Stone, (http://rachelmariestone.com/2013/05/13/eat-with-joy-justice/ ) and K Blake Cash, (http://kblakecash.wordpress.com/2013/05/13/vegetarians/ .)

Not only do veteran bloggers concern themselves with food and sustainability, but so do those whose livelihoods depend upon it. Without water, we can grow no food. The privatization of water is a disturbing subject. Water wars and concomitant environmental destruction in the U.S. West and in China, as well as ongoing drought in Africa and the Middle East are ongoing problems. That’s just a random sampling from the buffet, all selected from the too-little-water side, reflecting my San Diego roots.

So, what are concerned people to do? Cook and eat at home is generally rule #1. We typically follow this rule, but I wonder about economy-of-scale. If only we had communal cooking facilities. It could be my turn to cook the brown rice for many families this week, and the turn of another to roast vegetables, or…even make beef stew.

Composting, wasting little–depression-era style consumption of leftovers is practiced here–buying and eating less of the foods that put the greatest strain on the environment, and participating in a local CSA farm are among the things easier things we do.

Those who are not vegetarians (I am a former vegetarian, not so now) can buy and eat less meat. If available and affordable, it is better to buy pasture-raised meats and dairy products from grass, not grain-fed, animals. The best scenario is when these purchases can be made locally, so that the miles to market by the delivery vehicles and shoppers are minimized. Small, local, organic, community-supported agriculture is best. I usually shop at the local grocery store when not at the health food store.

When I enter the grocery store, a taxing flowchart weighs heavily on my mind. “No,” I remind myself, “it would be worse to drive fifteen minutes each way to shop in order to buy food from a corporate-owned grocer packaged in compostable containers.” When organic produce is wrapped in plastic on Styrofoam trays, I forgo organic in favor of less packaged produce. The Styrofoam is surely more toxic to the earth than whatever amount of pesticide and herbicide was applied to these two lemons/these two bell peppers is the answer I arrive at through applied calculus.

No. I don’t really do calculus, and though flow charts are pretty, and I am sure an engineer, or even I, could draw one of the thought process I go through in selecting every item I purchase, I don’t really have a physical grocery-item-selection flowchart. But I do obsess. It weighs on me and takes a toll. Shopping is no breezy task. The health of the environment rests heavily on my shoulders. I am of the “we are all complicit” school of thought. Furthermore, good intentions are just not working. New atmospheric carbon levels were just recorded this week. How depressing. And due to the storms and saturated ground, it was either two trees or our humble abode. The trees were coming down with or without help, so though it is always painful, I reluctantly gave the thumbs up to have them removed. The last time I resisted tree-removal too long it almost cost our neighbors their humble abode.

None of this is fun! Amazingly enough, I enjoy eating and drinking and don’t worry much about calories. Once the food is on my plate, I live for the moment. But I’m convinced that I take food far too seriously. How can that be? Without food, living things die.

The return of fun: I enjoy drinking local beer (and Belgian beer as well, so I am not a purist.) Maybe it is only a symbolic gesture, but I am once again starting a garden this spring. Thus far, the most exciting and bizarre thing I have going is one artichoke plant. The peas are doing beautifully, as is the Romaine lettuce. I promise not to deprive my local health food store of business, as the rabbits may eat it all, and I have no livestock on the premises, nor the ability to grow spices from the far east or tropical fruit–yet.

Maybe, just maybe, I hope, my little raised bed gardens will reduce the number of trips I make to the store and the packaging and transporting of our food. Why must every head of lettuce, cilantro, parsley, arugula, spinach, collards or kale have a paper and metal band wrapped around it?

Yes, I feel completely helpless regarding the building of dams in China and even more so about the draining of the Colorado River.

I’m certain that the rain that falls unbidden from the skies and my lone artichoke hold the key to saving the world. Then I recognize the risk that my artichoke, lettuce, peas, and rich soil of home-cooked compost are just lulling me into complacency, as my neighbor is lulled by driving her Prius or Tesla. Circe does lulling well, and the results are generally not gratifying. Are we all lulling one another?