Day #196: Imperfect Produce

Have you tried Imperfect Produce? It’s a company that specializes in distributing and delivering the “ugly” fruits and vegetables that would otherwise go to waste. So far, our deliveries have been beautiful. The prices are less than we pay in the store, we get to choose what we want, and we select how often we want a delivery. We most often choose organic but we love the variety. Our most recent box (with no plastic packaging) brought pears, tomatoes, cucumbers, pecans (such a deal!), olives, limes, celery, artichokes, apples. Yum! I’m grateful for the mission and methods of this company … and the innovation of people who are doing their best to help the earth.

Imperfect Produce

Day #195: Vegetables

I spent a good deal of my life avoiding all vegetables except for carrots, corn, and green beans … what I would eat when I was five. Steve brought broccoli into our marriage. Now, we strive to eat vegetables at every meal. We do our best to increase our vegetable vocabulary. It’s intentional … and it’s delicious. Pan-roasted Brussels sprouts for breakfast this morning. I am grateful for vegetables in their wide diversity of color, taste, and nutrition. What’s your favorite vegetable?

Brussels sprouts
Homemade Grilled Brussel Sprouts with Fresh Bacon

Day #193: Olives and Birthdays

 It is so much fun to share your birthday with a good friend, one whose birthday is the day after yours. Getting together to celebrate that our lives are still ongoing leaves me feeling effervescent! And honoring all that we’ve added to life’s weaving through the years? That fills me with gratitude. (I especially love when said friend knows me well enough to bring a gift of olives, my favorite food!)

olives

Day #165: Canning Challenged

Last night, for Sunday supper, a dear friend brought me a thank you gift … which thrilled me. Will this Ball Blue Book finally give me the courage to do some canning, overcoming my fear of killing those I love with tainted food? I want to make sauce, the way my grandmother did. Stay tuned. And see those lovely “Happy Clips”? There are beautiful golden words painted on them: “Thankful,” “Grateful,” and “Blessed.” I am. Truly blessed.

Ball Blue Book Guide to Canning

Day #122: Taste and Smell

I have been unable to taste or smell anything for almost two weeks. Nothing. No glimmer. This is a result of a cold … and I hope I regain those senses. For anyone who is without them, you have my profound sympathy. I have been able to observe many aspects about eating for which I haven’t spent enough time being grateful. Instead, texture has become important. I don’t have much appetite. But food memory! My brain is doing its best to provide memories of taste and smell … it’s like standing on the other side of a window watching someone eat. Fascinating.

sense of taste and smell

Day #112: Recipes

I’ve written before that my grandmother was a wonderful cook. One of her specialties was peach pie. She left us without a recipe. When I asked her to write it down, she was reluctant. I don’t know why. I would watch her make it, using pinches and handfuls to measure. She used tapioca to thicken the sauce, nutmeg, and she cut fresh peaches. I’ve hunted for a recipe that is similar. I have been unable to replicate her pie. Do you have a beloved food that you’ve been hunting elusively? I’m grateful to people who write down their recipes for posterity.

peach pie

Day #102: Trisha Yearwood

I need all the inspiration I can get to pursue our commitment to cooking our food from scratch and eating at home. Now it’s becoming something of a mission for me to encourage other people to do the same … but I recognize the need to be very subtle about this. Someone who is not subtle at all, but provides me with tremendous encouragement, is Trisha Yearwood with her show Southern Kitchen. She is ebullient, loves cooking, shares her efforts with humor, friendship, family, and love. For me, those elements have become the reasons for preparing good food. Through her show, I have discovered that southern recipes involve LOTS of sugar, so we adjust. I suppose sweet tea should have been my first clue. I am grateful to Trisha Yearwood for sharing her camaraderie and her love for cooking. [below: Trisha Yearwood and her sister Beth Bernard]

Trisha Yearwood and her sister Beth

Day #70: Cheese Grater

I know, what a weird thing to be grateful for, but this cheese grater is important in our lives. Roughly 20 years ago, I started coughing about 15 minutes after eating in some restaurants. I talked with my doctor, asked other people, and no one knew what could be causing this. The reaction increased: I could barely breathe for five minutes, my voice was raspy, my head plugged up, and I coughed and coughed. Through trial and error, we figured out that it was a reaction to two things, PHO (partially hydrogenated oil—trans fats) and propylene glycol (which is used to keep food, such as grated cheese, from sticking together). I have to be very picky about what I eat in a restaurant … and we’ve stopped buying grated cheese. With this wonderful cheese grater, it is very easy to grate your own cheese … and it saves money! (At Ikea, it’s a Stralande Rotary Cheese and Food Grater; adjustable for left- or right-hand use)

Day #46: Condensed Soups

Our path for healthier eating has the signpost “one change at a time.” Here’s one change we’ve managed. A part of our cooking repertoire is the hot dish (casseroles for non-Minnesotans). Many of them use the red-and-white labeled “cream of” canned soup. High in sodium, containing many ingredients we don’t want to ingest, we’ve tried to figure out how to make recipes without them. It’s hard to imagine Thanksgiving without a green bean casserole. We’ve made the dish from scratch, cutting up mushrooms and breading and frying our own shallots, but it wasn’t quite the same. We are grateful that our research turned up this basic recipe (a roux) with natural ingredients that mix up in four minutes and equal, and improve on, the condensed soups. I think you’ll be surprised by how much better your hot dish recipes taste.

green bean casserole