Monday, April 09, 2012

What we did: We ate healthy food ...

Let's talk about the food part today and later, we'll talk about the sitting around the table part.

When I started thinking about what we ate, I asked several of my children for some of their food memories.  Here are a few:
tabouli and homemade bread

Salmon patties and grits every Sunday night
Enchanted broccoli forest (a Mollie Katzen recipe from a cookbook with the same title)
Rice and beans
Rice and black-eyed peas
Chili and cornbread
Rhubarb dipped in sugar (we had a massive rhubarb plant in our back yard, they would sneak and dip stalks of it in the sugar bowl and eat it raw).
Sauteeing onions and the theme music from All Things Considered (I listened to the radio when I cooked!)
Butternut squash
Homemade bread
Waffles or pancakes on Saturday morning, cooked by Daddy

Pretty down home eating.  Not too fancy, on the low-end, budget wise.

sauteeing onions and beets for beet risotto

We did eat a lot of rice and beans.  Brown rice. All kinds of beans: pinto, black, small red, Great Northern, kidney, navy, garbanzo ... and there were also lentils and split peas.  Coty and I were mostly vegetarians (only a little fish back then) til our kids got older, so they were raised on a mostly meatless diet.  When I say meatless, I mean that we never ate chicken or beef, but occasionally, like on Sunday nights, we ate fish.

Dal (lentils), cauliflower curry, brown rice in the black pot, and raita

We had a garden and we belonged to a CSA farm.  That farm was wonderful.  We picked up our share every week and ate whatever the farm was producing - beets, turnips, carrots, greens of all kinds, different varieties of leaf lettuce,green beans, and in the summer, tomatoes, cucumbers, and all kinds of fresh herbs in abundance.  I loved the farm, loved going out to pick up my share each week, loved picking as many fresh herbs as I could use, loved feeding my family that fresh, organic, local produce.

One summer, the farm had a super crop of cucumbers - so many, they were starting to feed them to the cows.  Almost every week, I picked up a 5 gallon bucket of cucumbers and we made freezer pickles.

We lived near apple orchards and strawberry farms and would go pick, in season, and make applesauce, apple pie slices, and freezer jam.  I wasn't a canner, like my amazing daughter is now, but we made good use of the freezer.

We ate our share of spaghetti, but with home-doctored sauce (tofu and grated carrots added to Ragu!).  We ate macaroni and cheese, but never from a box.  We ate lots of soups and stews, but rarely from a can (with the exception of Campbells Tomato Soup with grilled cheese sandwiches.  That was a quick Sunday lunch meal when we weren't having company).

 Brussels sprouts, cooked the way my Daddy cooks 'em
We weren't sick too much and we didn't have food allergies - at least not that I was ever aware of or that ever kept us from eating certain things (like wheat or dairy).  We drank milk, but not too much, and we ate yogurt, sometimes made at home.  I think I was just blessed with children who had (have) healthy constitutions, so we didn't deal with many of the challenging food issues some families do.  

Way back before I had children, I bought a copy of Laurel's Kitchen.  I think my food ethos grew out of reading Laurel, Diet for a Small Planet, the old More with Less cookbook, and after kids started arriving, Mollie Katzen's cookbooks (Moosewood Cookbook and Enchanted Broccoli Forest), as well as the later Moosewood Collective cookbooks.  All of these books helped me toward a type of eating that was healthful and delicious, simple and satisfying.  We ate real food, as fresh as we could get it, cooked mostly from scratch and yes, that meant lots of hours in the kitchen.  And no, I don't regret all those hours cooking for my family.  As Erin says now, "Love is spelled F-O-O-D."  I think my kids knew that growing up.  I think they know it now.

raw kale salad

*All the photos are from more recent meals, but don't look too different from what we used to eat, except that raw kale salad is new to us in the last couple of years and I'm not sure I ever served Brussels sprouts to my kids when they were younger.


rebekah leland said...

thanks for writing this. =) i'm always struggling to meal plan! i have similar memories of food growing up with my family...(the mcclures)

tonia said...

I miss vegetarian food. SO bad. *sigh* Just going to drool here over your beautiful beans and grains...