Friday, August 07, 2009

food for thought . . .

I'm having such a blast harvesting from my gardens these days! I still can't believe I didn't discover gardening sooner.

But it dawned on me recently that my lack of interest in growing my own edibles probably stems from my ambivalence about food in general.

I've had a love/hate relationship with food since childhood. Early on, I equated being fed well with being well-loved. I remember spending summers with my great-grandma Thurow in western Kansas. She'd greet me at the door with her big, bosomy hugs and then lead me to the magical drawer where homemade cookies, candy and other treats were amply supplied just for me! There'd be hand-rolled egg noodles drying on a table in the sun, German kolaches baking in the oven and Grandma's fried chicken sizzling in the skillet.

And did I mention the cherry tree in the front yard? I knew that if I climbed those branches and picked long enough, grandma Thurow would make me my very own cherry pie, that I could eat for breakfast if I wanted!

But eating for love backfired on me when I entered my teens as an awkward, chubby, bespectacled basket-case. Food went from being my best friend to my worst enemy. Eating disorders soon developed and plagued me into the early years of marriage. I was able to break free from the death grip of bulimia when I found I was pregnant with our first child, but an unhealthy attitude toward food persisted.

Food was my obsession--I clipped recipes and stashed them all over the house like a squirrel hording nuts. I went on eating binges and then atoned with exercise and diet. I was always thinking about the next meal--and then the next diet. And I felt terrible about myself if I didn't get my hour-long workout in each day.

I lived to eat . . . but it wasn't much of a life.

But all that changed the summer of 1991, when we lived in Anchorage, AK. I wish I could tell you what book I read or program I tried that changed me--but that's not how it happened. All I know is that I got so hungry for God that summer that I lost interest in filling my stomach. My appetite for the things of the Spirit replaced my unhealthy craving for food.

I began to eat to live . . . and what an amazing difference that made!

That's not to say that I don't get hungry or enjoy eating, because I do. Put a piece of carrot cake in front of me and I melt. But now I'll only eat it if I'm hungry--and will stop when I'm full. Well, most the time, anyway :)

Food just doesn't interest me much these days--and as a result, neither does cooking. Not even the most delectable concoctions whipped up on the Food Channel can coax me into the kitchen. In my opinion, cooking is time-consuming, messy, and offers a very fleeting pay-off. I'd much rather be hiking or blogging or puttering in my garden . . .

Which brings me to the dilemma of what to do with the bountiful harvest my garden is producing? I'm not sure if gardening will restore my interest in cooking, but I am enjoying the process of preserving what I've grown and gathered in:

I've made two batches of raspberry and blackberry freezer jam, blanched, vacuum-packed and frozen green beans, frozen blueberries for smoothies and muffins and put most everything else into salads, soups or stir-frys. I'm excited to try a recipe I just found for making herbed sun-dried tomatoes. And one of these days I'll get brave enough to can salsa with my bumper crop of tomatoes and ring-of-fire peppers. Ole'! And when Danielle loans me her food processor (I have a pathetically stocked kitchen, except for the expresso machine), I will make a most excellent pesto which will be frozen in ice cube trays until I figure out what to do with the stuff.

Baby steps, I know, but a good start for an anti-foodie like me. Right now, I'm enjoying the way food looks as much as it tastes. Beets are beautiful, beans elegant and slender, tomatoes have an amazing array of shape, size and color. Peppers are mysterious, slyly changing colors to reveal what hotties they are--or not! Strawberries seem to blush a deeper ripe before my eyes . . .

But maybe with the help of my friends, family and Rachel Ray I can expand my culinary horizons. Or at least I can grow the yummy ingredients they need for their recipes . . .


Evan and Crystal said...

We too are loving our new veggie garden Shawn! Mum said that you had a fabulous patch and it sure looks that way in the picture. Thanks also for the honest writings in the blog are a tremendous friend to many and a great example for me and my family. Love you guys - Evan

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