the simple minded suburbanite

Loose Your Noodle…Funny how the Universe Works.
April 21, 2011, 9:21 pm
Filed under: nutrition, parenting, time management | Tags:

I haven’t cooked in weeks…and now I can’t wait to get started again.

Everytime my family sits down for dinner together, which I am thankful is most every night, one or two of my three boys breaks into convulsions: face contortions, gutteral noises, stiff-armed propulsion away from the table. They don’t like what I’ve made.

I’m a good cook, I’ve been told.  I take great pride in providing balanced, healthy, yummy meals for my family; always keeping their “tastes” in mind, though I do push the culinary envelope at times.  But, I don’t enjoy cooking every single night.  It takes Heculean efforts to keep up with the dirty/clean/dirty/most always dirty dish kitchen rotation.  Every play the game Wack-a-Mole?  That’s me with a dishrag.  And fitting these meals into a day where I am actually trying to build my own writing business and nurture my own self is not always the highlight.  So when apoplectic shock sets in over spaghetti with meat sauce because the sauce is too “bumpy”, I’m liable to loose my f**ing noodle on y’all!

So, instead of dumping linguini on the heads of my three gorgeous boys, I quit cooking.

Huh?  What’s for dinner?  Dunno, yet.  What’s this on my plate?  Hmm.  The box says “curried peas and jasmine rice” but, I’m no so certain.  This stuff is gross!  Why, yes, I suppose it is.  And I merrily scoop up the paper plates, heavy with those little, black, rectangular boxes still filled with “food” and I dump them in the trash, given reasonable time for consumption, of course.  Clean up, finished…now where’s my book?

Guilty?  Not a bit.  I was feeling drained, unappreciated, taken advantage of and I had no one to blame but myself.  No one asked me to prepare Ortega Taco’s with grass-fed buffalo meat.  No one asked me to find a new, fresh way to use kale in a main dish.  And young boys, although in need constant lessons in manners, are not capable of always predicting the depths of their mother’s emotions.

I have learned that if I am feeling resentful or taken advantage of, it is because I have neglected to put down healthy boundaries on myself and/or others and it is usually because I am trying to be all things to all people.

So I took a break.  I didn’t feed my family Fast Food Nation style.  I didn’t throw in the dish towel, say “Pour yourself a bowl of cereal”, and head out the back door for a loooonnnngggg walk through the desert.  I simply nuked some “health/organic” freezer items and substituted paper plates for awhile (weeks, actually).  And nobody died.  And nobody gained 50#s in a month.  And my kids didn’t complain any more or any less. They still loved me and I still loved them.

Now I’m ready to cook again.  Not because the newest issue of Gourmet Magazine was just delivered to my doorstep (because it wasn’t) and not because the bees are buzzing and I can’t wait to get my hands on some wonderfully fresh, local produce. 

It’s because my oldest was just diagnosed with Celiac Disease, and all indications are that each member of our family has some form of it…intolerant of wheat, barely, rye, and all of their dirivitives.  If you don’t know anyone with Celiac Disease or gluten intolerence, think about it and start listing all of the foods this diet restricts….loads!  Funny how the universe works, when you listen to it.  It was like something was telling me, “Take a rest; you’re gonna need your energy.”  And I did and, I will. 

I’m so glad I took the break because, now, I’m ready to dive into this new lifestyle with vigor!  I’m glad that I can go at this with an intention of abundance and creativity, not one of depletion and gloom.  I’m not sure if I could’ve done that if I didn’t take my little break.

Oh, and I’m also sooo glad that this new lifestyle utterly and completely cuts out SPAGHETTI!


Jeez. Just Some Fresh Meat, Please…
November 20, 2010, 5:28 pm
Filed under: nutrition, suburbanite, voluntary simplicity

Uber.  That’s the burbs.  This is one example of about 20 different emails I have recieved as my neighborhood is trying to connect with local farmers in order to buy fresh veggies, grass-fed meat, eggs, milk.  Damn!  Can I just get a friggin’ tomato, please?!!!  The names have been changed to protect the compulsive!

I know you all probably think I have nothing better to do with my time than bug you all and think about my food.  But this has been weighing on my mind for a while and I feel so good about YYY that I want to feel this good about my produce, too.  I just had a long talk with XXX at YYY and wanted to share some of the conversation with you.
First of all, regarding the meat buying club.  She said that regarding delivery logistics that she never wants the person whose drop point is at to feel that they have to store others orders, pay for them, etc.  So what she does is say she is coming at 1:00 p.m. on Friday, she will be there for 1 hour with our orders in her freezer and we will have until 2 p.m. to come to her, pay her in person and go home with our meat.  If we can’t make it for some reason, she will take the order home and we will miss out.  I suppose she won’t have a problem with someone else picking up for someone else if we have arranged that between ourselves.  She did stress though that whoever’s home will be the pick up point that person will not be put out in anyway except offering up the spot.  Suzie, if you feel that you’d rather me do it because of the cul-de-sac, I am fine doing it.  Otherwise, I am happy to pick up at your place.
Also, she said on a monthly basis, she will have eggs for us and that they will last for 45 days.  There was an issue last week with BBB in that AAA and I assumed our eggs would have come from YYY and they weren’t (I hope we weren’t charged the YYY price, by the way).  She seemed to think that AAA and CCC probably got them through their wholesale grower, which I have a problem with.  That leads me to my next piece of information:
I am not feeling great about BBB in that I know that they have a commercial contract and therefore wholesale suppliers.  I asked XXX how well she knew them and what their practices are.  She said whatever they are growing on their farm is grown naturally (although not Certified Naturally Grown or Organic) but have not been grown from CNG seeds.  I told her that they are including in our basket things that are not grown from them but they are claiming is coming from other regional farms.  I asked if she would trust that they are buying those things from naturally grown growers-she said probably not.  She does have a good relationship with them in that they have known each other for years but I got the impression that they are in it to make a living and XXX, although is definitely trying to make a living doing this, simply loves to do it and wants the best for everyone.  I truly believe that the DDDD’s heart is in the right place but that they are caught in that trap of earning money and doing the right thing.  For that reason, I want to take the bull by the horns with the DDDD at this point and let them know that I would like for her to clarify in her weekly emails what, of their weekly offering, is naturally grown or organic.  I know to be certified either naturally grown or organic is expensive but it should be something to strive for.  XXX also let me know that there are several farmers that she knows of that do offer their own certified naturally grown products that she would love to refer us to.  I just don’t know that we are going to get that variety and convenience of delivery that we have with BBB.  I think the first step would be for us to let her know what our priorities are and that we would like to have them clarified on her offerings so we can decide from there.  What are your thoughts on that?
So, I guess the point of that is if we want to get YYY eggs, then we should just order them through YYY with our monthly order.”

Yada, yada, yada…Grade B raw milk vs Grade A, Local vs Regional, Organic vs Certified, and so on, and so on….

October 14, 2010, 12:53 pm
Filed under: budget, nutrition, parenting, suburban, voluntary simplicity | Tags:

Grilled cheese and a can of tomato soup.  Perfect on a drizzling day sitting at the ball field.  I even lit a candle in the middle of the table to further warm our tired little souls.  So simple.  So good.

Join the Club
August 19, 2010, 11:37 am
Filed under: culture, nutrition, suburban, voluntary simplicity

I can’t have any friends unless they are in one of my clubs.  My book club.  My writing club.  Now I’m in a Health and Nutrition Club and we met last night.  Our objective: eat better.

We read Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan and I devoured it (pardon the pun).  I mean it, like in two days.  Being from the Midwest I was floored about all of the evils of corn!  And someone brought up the angry energy a human ingests when eating those angry chickens that never see sunlight!  (This I laughed a bit about.  Angry chickens?  Though I do believe in energy and how that affects the world.  If nothing else, what does cramming thousands of animals in a pen in their own poopy say about our culture?)

Anyway, one question posed to the group was, “What small step will you take between this meeting and the next?”  Me?  Definitely more grass-fed meat as well as eating less of it.  Don’t know if it is true but someone (was it Michael?) said that if each American family would take on meal based around meat and replace it with a vegetarian option a week, it would be the environmental equivalent of taking 5 million cars off the road.

If you read Omnivore’s Dilemma, you’ll understand why.  If you do and you start making small changes, or even big ones, about how your family eats, let me know what they are.

The good thing about clubs is, they inspire and educate you.  Oh, and you might even fenagle some organic wine!

In Process of Unprocessed
June 14, 2010, 1:03 pm
Filed under: budget, culture, nutrition, parenting, suburban, suburbanite

When asked that Proust/Vanity Fair question/conversation starter, “What is the greatest invention of the last century?” I answer, “The Double Stuffed Oreo cookie.”

I realize that this does not accurately reflect my committment to providing healthy meals and snacks to my family, and yes even to myself, nor does it give credit to the computer, the microwave, the stealth bomber.  But I do think it adds a little whimsy, reflects both the good and the bad of nearly any man-made invention, and illustrates the tract I am on regarding the whole organic, local, unprocessed food thing.  Who knew a sugary round of dark chocolate delight could be so profound? Yes, I do adore the Oreo.  And yes, I do work it into my healthy, responsible, back-to-nature nutrition tract that I am wandering.

After watching Food 101, a documentary about where our food really comes from and what is actually in it, as well as embarking upon all of Michael Pollen’s books including Omnivore’s Dilema, I am making real changes in my family’s diet, and therefore, our environmental footprint.

Two recent changes I have made are: subscribing to a local/organic fruit and veggie coop and committing to buying grass fed/free range meat whenever available.  For $30/ week, I get produce delivered to my neighbor’s door (she organized the group).  As someone who loves to cook, this is a thrill for me.  Sometimes I have to come up with a recipe, often using what I already have in my pantry and fridge, for what to do with kale or how to use up the last few pairs left in the fruit bowl. I love the challenge and also love that my weekly meals are now planned around my produce, not around the meat section of my local grocer, which happens to be one of the first stops when you enter to the right. 

I now rethink my meat purchases, given that I am paying a fair amount more for grassfed, often using smaller portions and stretching a once single portion of meat into another recipe say a soup or a sauce.

And, somehow, I seem to be saving money.  I hate the thought of any veggies rotting in my fridge so I make a concerted effort to use them up.  I try to stay away from the grocery store, chosing to use spices and left over pastas from my pantry.  Strawberries with left over whipping cream, is a great snack for the kids and so is the celery with a dose of pb or cream cheese.  Hey!  At the pool, they’re so uungry, they don’t complain.

I’m feeling good about these changes but realize that I am still in process.  I still love a Double Stuffed Oreo.  I’m a Chicagoan by birth so, the thought of nixing hotdogs makes me itch and I don’t care what goes into those things.  The thing is, that with the small healthy changes we make along the way, I can actually enjoy my little indulgences more.  I appreciate them as a treat.  Sit down and savor them and drop the guilt afterwards because I am more often and equally as happily enjoying my kale and my pears throughout the week.

What changes have you made?  Or would like to make?

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