Archive for the ‘food’ Category

When Lindsay was very young, probably around four years old, she pulled up a chair to watch me cook dinner one evening.  She gazed intently as I stirred the ingredients of my frying pan into an unappetizing mass and then innocently asked:

“Mom, what the hell are you doing?”

And I think that has been her basic attitude toward my cooking skills ever since!

she had the ladies eating out of her hand . . .

Lindsay has blossomed into an amazing food artist–and I am not worthy to untie the sandals from her foodie feet!  Last night, she demonstrated how to make a low cost/high nutrient gourmet meal for a group of ladies–I was honored to be her sous chef (under-chef).  The sweet potato-bacon-lentil soup (recipe on her food blog) was a hit and all the ladies left armed with recipes and high hopes of being the next Master Chef.

I was telling some friends the other day about Lindsay’s culinary prowess and one of them asked if she used her cooking skills in any kind of ministry.

Hmmmm . . .  Because we are so quick to segregate the “sacred” from the “secular” in our culture, do we overlook the truth that simply discovering and using the abilities He gave us IS ministry?  Whether we are gifted as artists, musicians, accountants, athletes, healers or proclaimers of the gospel–wouldn’t ministry flow from using these abilities to glorify the Giver of all good things?

Lindsay certainly didn’t inherit her culinary skills from me–they are most definitely a gift from above!  And I know it delights the original Master Chef to see His daughter grow in understanding and ability as she works with the incredible, edible pallet He’s created for our enjoyment.

Bon appetit!

Master chef, Lindsay, and her humble sous chef, me



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death by Joe’s donuts?

I am starting my gluten fest today!  I will be tested for gluten intolerance/celiac on the 28th and must be fully glutenized by then.  This morning I ate my first intentional gluten in a month (in the form of a Joe’s applesauce donut) and am waiting to see what happens . . . I think Greg is secretly hoping my lips swell up again 🙂

Being gluten-free has been much easier than I’d anticipated.  The hard part has been the hidden gluten–or the gluten-free products that substitute nasty things like MSG to make their product taste better.  Really, the only food I’ve missed has been burgers–I don’t think it’s possible to make a fluffy, gluten-free hamburger bun.

Interestingly, Greg has lost about 10 pounds since I went gluten-free.  I haven’t lost an ounce!  (I’ve heard that people actually gain weight if they are gluten intolerant, as their bodies are able to absorb more nutrients once they are off gluten).

I feel like I am poisoning myself on purpose for the next few weeks, but it will be good to get a definitive diagnosis.  The ND I found says she does a test that measures the level of gluten intolerance–which could indicate whether or not I’ll be able to eat it again in the future.

And if gluten isn’t the culprit after all, I’ll have to explore other ways of making peace with my stomach who hates me.

BTW, Candyce has an MRI on Sunday to find out if she has a brain cloud or not.  We are praying that all is in order inside her pretty little head!

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I’ve become one of “them”–you know, those annoying, finicky folks who have those special dietary needs.

I have joined the ranks of the gluten-free.

I just finished 30 days without gluten and the decision was grudgingly made.  My doctor suggested months ago that I might be gluten intolerant, but I argued that gluteny foods–like Joe’s donuts–were  the only things my stomach tolerated.

She raised her eyebrows slightly at the mention of Joe’s donuts, then mentioned that many of my health issues–from acid reflux to fatigue–could be the result of a gluten allergy.

But I declined the allergy test, grabbed a prescription for extra-strength prevacid and went my glutinous way.

By mid-December, I was miserable.  Exhausted and achy, popping prevacid twice a day, I drug myself through the holidays.  I started researching my symptoms, and to my dismay, I found a common denominator to be gluten intolerance.  When I came across this article stating that women between the ages of 30 and 55, of Irish descent and with type O blood were most likely to develop gluten intolerance, I knew I was in trouble. 

So I decided to shun gluten for a  month.  I’m not a huge bread fan, so didn’t think it would be a big deal for me.   But I got bored after a few days of eating just meat and veggies, so I traipsed off to Trader Joe’s to load up on gluten free snacks.  I returned with rice chips,  gluten free pastas and sauces and funky-looking brown rice tortillas.

After a handful of rice chips, an all-too-familiar cramping sensation gripped my gut–an msg reaction.  I checked the ingredient list on the bag, and found autolyzed yeast extract was the culprit (a form of msg).  I ended up throwing out half the snacks I bought because of msg additives.  And I learned that often msg and other nasty chemicals will be added to food to compensate for their lack of glutinous goodness.

So I started reading labels and my stomach settled back down.  Within two weeks, I noticed that my acid reflux was gone, certain other digestive ailments had cleared up.   My energy levels had increased slightly.  Good stuff.  On the down side, it seemed like I’d developed allergies to a lot of other foods.  Almonds, milk, onions and even certain wines  had unpleasant effects.  I think my stomach had been in such constant turmoil before the GF diet that I never noticed the other allergens.

But now I am quite aware.

Overall,  I am feeling better.  Greg has noticed the difference and is encouraging me to keep going.  He joined me in the GF diet and actually lost 7 pounds!

I just hate having to be that annoying customer who asks for the gluten/dairy/msg-free menu (as if there were such a thing!)  But I guess that beats being the grumpy, exhausted, pill-popping person I had become.

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I read a number of thought-provoking (and life-changing) books this past year.  Here is a partial list:

The Hole in Our Gospel

When Helping Hurts the Poor

Left to Tell

The Omnivore’s Dilemma

Jesus for President

Born to Run

As you can probably tell by the titles, these books covered a wide range of topics; from poverty alleviation–to the politics of Jesus–to the benefits of running barefoot.

All the books provided rich fare for my brain and my soul.  Better yet, the words I read spurred me to action.  I’m running now, giving more thoughtfully to the poor, revisiting pacifism, caring where my food comes from and living more simply.

These are not earth-shaking changes.  But I have been shaken from complacency–and who knows what the Lord will do with that?

I came across an old poem today that resonated with how I want to live what’s left of my feeble life:

“Only one life, so live it well; and keep thy candle trimmed and bright.

Eternity,  not time, will tell, the radius of that candle’s light”

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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 . . .

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