I took a long break and am now back, inspired by Molly Wizenberg's book A Homemade Life and the Gluten Free Girl's blog. I am so happy that summer is feeling so close and am excited to spend much time in my favorite room of the house with my children, exploring and getting creative in the kitchen.
I love the way A Homemade Life is written in chapters, each sharing a story of the author's life and the foods attached with those moments and memories. The bonus is that each chapter ends with a recipe or two for said foods. I have already tried many of the recipes with one of my favorites, so far, being the braised cabbage. I have never really consumed much cabbage other than in coleslaw, mixed into a salad or pickeled as sour kraut. But braising it has hooked me on the beauty of this under-appreciated vegetable. It was melt in my mouth, never to be forgotten and absolutely incredible. I was home alone for the night and took it as the perfect opportunity to try out something I wasn't sure the entire family would appreciate. I will remember that night always, me and some smooth jazz on the radio, enjoying every bite of the entire head of braised cabbage along with some muenster cheese on a baguette and a nice glass of wine.
I also did a special "cleansing" diet for three weeks this spring, which forced some fun and creative meals. My hands down favorite has been Salmon with fire roasted tomatoes and artichoke hearts. I am also very excited about trying some gluten free baking. After 3 weeks of no wheat, dairy, soy, caffeine, alcohol, nuts and sugar I am amazed how affected I have been by food. Now that I have been off of the "cleanse" I can feel the before and after difference of eating a really clean diet. I did miss being able to have a bit of cheese or baking something yummy and sitting down with it and a nice cuppa Moka Joe's coffee. I have been doing some reading about gluten intolerances and celiac and am really thinking I would like to get tested. I can relate to the fatigue and stiff/achy body. At one point I was terrified by the prospect of no bread, baked goods, pastas etc... Now I see all the possibilities out there and look at this as an opportunity for a whole new world of baking creativity.
I have also realized how social food and eating is for me and my family, I was aching to have friends over for a long slow meal around our old dining table. I also missed my weekly lunch dates with MM (not many options for eating out). I definitely felt a bit isolated and alone with this new way of eating, a bit on the fringe when out with family and not able to fully participate in the meal with them. It has also opened my eyes to the creative opportunity presented when cooking for someone with food sensitivities or preferences. I was a strict vegetarian for many years and felt the discomfort of being "different" than other dinner guests or having my portion "set aside" before the meat was added. I hope that I would shake that mind frame and look at a friend or family member's needs as a chance to get creative and offer a meal that is inclusive for all.