Sunday, February 28, 2010
We have been busy around here! Nice to get back to thinking about food and preparing some slightly more inspirational foods. So, I've been writing about my own children, who are far from grown. Always be skeptical of people giving parenting advice until you can see the end product. I remember reading my first book about an approach to children's education called "unschooling" and when I realized that the woman who wrote the book had kids only a couple years older than my own I wanted to ask for my money back!! Ditto for someone claiming to be qualified to guide me through childbirth who had never had a kid. Nope. Give me an expert, a wise old soul, someone who has been there and done that, or at least been there and done so many other things it doesn't matter if they've never actually experienced the issue at hand. There are some members of my "elder council" whom I can look to for such experiences. They are all also qualified to tell me if I just used the word "whom" incorrectly. For example, I have an uncle who raised 4 kids. He told me that one of the best parenting decisions he ever made was to put a couch in his kitchen. The benefits of this arrangement should be obvious and I can report, from my admittedly limited knowledge, that his 4 kids are fit, athletic, sane, funny, intelligent and love to spend time with each other and their father. One of them is even a food writer. I have a friend who has read way more parenting advice books than I have and she once told me that communicating with boys is very different than with girls and what the experts say is that boys will talk to you more if you just be with them, instead of actually trying to have a bona fide "conversation". That expert suggested bicycle riding or drives in the car, but my guess is that my uncle's couch-in-the-kitchen did the trick. He did the work of cooking, sometimes maybe his boys just sat on the couch, sometimes maybe they helped, but that seems like a low key, day-to-day chance for "side-by-side" communication. As soon as I get a couch, I'm going to put it in the kitchen.
Another member of my elder council is my aunt Judith who also raised and homeschooled two boys. She is the person responsible for creating an absolute certainty in my mind that sausage and cabbage soup, the most peasantiest of foods, might be the most delicious food invented. I can't make it myself at all, but hers is divine. Her boys are grown men, but recently came home and WENT FOOD SHOPPING with their parents and cooked a Paleo feast. This was sort of an unusual undertaking for them which is just so cool that no matter how old your children are, you can still have an evolving relationship with them and food. The photos are of the Cajun blackened chicken, roasted fennel, beet salad (from this very blog!), and Mulligatawny stew. So I will try to keep all this in mind when my own kids leave my kitchen and experience the world of Mountain Dew and Ramen noodles. They will come back if I am welcoming.
Monday, February 15, 2010
This is an example of me feeding lunch to my sons: Oldest: "It looks like you are feeding me roots. Are these roots? How do you know they aren't poisonous roots? What if they poison me?" Youngest: "Did someone serve these as a dessert at your dance?" Me: "My guess is if Sleeping Frog Farm is selling poisonous roots at the Farmer's Market they will go out of business soon. I'm pretty sure those are multicolored organic carrots. What kind of terrible human being would serve carrots as a dessert?" Both sons: "You would." Crack up laughing. But now they are crunching away happily.
The one tactic I resort to on a regular basis to get my sons to eat the good stuff is prioritization. I set down the meat first and/or the vegetable or whatever I know will meet with the greatest resistance and I have decided is most valuable in their bellies. I save the sweet potato fries, the fruit etc... until they get some of the less popular food into them. When I was first transitioning Silas to a Paleo-type existence I did it with baby steps, but very little conversation. I will confess to beginning his meat intake with bacon, sausage covered in maple syrup and chicken nuggets. Pick your battle. I wanted protein and fat in him at the start of the day and no grains. Yup, chicken nuggets had breading-they were a baby step. He didn't have to eat it. Like I said he never HAS to eat. But the next time he was hungry the same thing was presented. He threw astronomical tantrums. He went about 24rs without eating. We stayed at home. I knew that I had made a mistake in the way that I had begun to nourish my son and it was a mistake that his future health and behavior depended on me repairing. Giving in to a little boy's nonsense was not an option. This process took about 3 months as I recall. I tried to be as respectful as I could by not expecting him to eat mixtures of things, or soups or cooked vegetables. I stuck with the proteins, fruits and vegetables he accepted most readily. When we went out or to a friend's house I did not worry about what he ate.
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Saturday, February 6, 2010
Friday, February 5, 2010
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
I know so many Mamas like my sisters. Kick a** mothering, hard working and broke a**. It sucks that decent food costs a fair amount of money. There is no doubt about it. I can go into the cheap a**, funky smelling, depressing supermarkets, dollar stores, Big Lots and discount warehouses and buy low cost food for myself and my family. I can fill up two grocery bags in a way that would keep my kids’ bellies full for the week for about $30. Check out my carefully chosen wording, “keep my kids’ bellies full”. That is all I’d be doing. I wouldn’t be nourishing them. I wouldn’t even really be feeding them. I’d simply be filling them up. But the enraging fact is, that in this very rich nation of ours there are a hell of a lot of families buying food at those places just to keep their kids filled up. I’ve written before about prioritizing good food over fast food meals and nice sneakers. I lecture and teach all the time about how you can make good, inexpensive food choices. Most people who know me have heard me describe how the true cost of a gallon of proper, raw milk produced to provide the farmer with a living wage for himself, is about $12 a gallon. I’ve spouted off about what a bargain a dozen local, pastured eggs is if you think about cost per egg and number of meals provided. Anyone who has spent more than a few hours around me knows that I can pontificate relentlessly about how the cost of bad food is much worse than the cost of good food, it just takes longer to hit. Blah, blah, blather. The ugly reality is that sometimes the bank account is empty. The gas has been shut off. The car barely runs. Coffee comes from the gas station instead of Starbucks and it isn’t even possible to rent a movie to watch because the late fees from the previous rental are too much. I have been there, done that and occasionally do it still. It is stressful, sad and f***ing unfair. Most of the people buying their kids’ food at the dollar store work their fingers to the bone every day, but they don’t speak English or they got divorced or their mental health isn’t so great or their education ended too early. Every one of those people has a kid that deserves good eggs. Not one of those kids eating Ramen noodles for dinner deserves that poison. So let’s not get all elitist. Let’s do the down and dirty work of figuring out how to nourish yourself and your kids with the cheapest sh** you can buy or get at the food pantry. Priorities:
1. Good fat
2. Protein from animals
3. Fruits or vegetables
Here are my top food choices for those folks out there who are living the ghetto/white trash financial reality. All my love to you. Hold your head up. You can nourish yourselves and your kids too. If you can swing a Costco membership somehow, get yourself 2lbs of organic butter for $6. This is like medicine. Dispense 2T each day to your loved ones. While you are there get whatever are the cheapest vegetables and fruits. If you can’t get to Costco then get to your Food City and get produce on sale. Get cabbage. Eat a lot of it. Sweet potatoes or yams. If you are lucky enough to live in Tucson I hear that many of the Carnecerias (meat shops) sell lard that has not been bleached and wrecked. Thanks to local rancher Josh, friend of Chris L, for passing on that tip. Get some. Cook in it.
Frozen vegetables are better than canned. Sometimes you can find canned fruit in its own juice (not in syrup) or unsweetened applesauce-these make great treats or desserts. Whole coconut milk can often be had for pretty damn cheap at your corner Asian market. Use it to make soups, sauces or smoothies. Get as much into your kiddos as possible. Throw a can into your blender with some ice and some of that canned fruit in its own juice. Delicious treat. Get a bag of straws from the dollar store and you will be a rock star mama. Get some olive oil if they have it for cheap. Don’t cook with it, but pour it over whatever vegetable you have. Look for sunflower seeds, as unadulterated as possible. You can often get a big bag for $2 or $3 and, if they are raw you can sprout them, or roast and toast them. Finally, get your canned meats. Look for tuna in water (but beware-don’t eat it if you are pregnant or nursing a babe, and feed it once or twice a week to kids). Look for sardines in water or olive oil. Bone-in sardines in water or olive oil are like a magic, cheap elixir. Stock up. Get some Spam. Hell yeah. You heard right. Spam. It will nourish you. It has sustained many an Arctic research team. Goya, Hormel and Libby’s all make a cheap corned beef that is MSG-free and contains protein and fats that you need. Thanks to the 2010 Weston A. Price Foundation Shopping Guide for the canned meat low down. Get yourself big packages of chicken thighs and drumsticks. Cook them up. Save the bones and make a stock for your soup. Go to a market with a fish counter and ask for heads and bones. Make a delicious, live-forever fish stock out of them.
Avoid always: refined carbohydrates (crackers, cereal, cookies, pasta, bread), anything with corn syrup or high fructose corn syrup, any beverages besides water, canned/boxed/prepared meals, vegetable oils like corn, safflower, soy and margarine and “snack food”. Know that things will look up for you. Life will get better. Hang in there. Revolt. Don’t sabotage yourself or your family with crap.