Food, A Rediscovery

I’m toying with the idea of making Fridays “Foodie Fridays” or something less twee, but the last thing I need is to get locked into another Every Damn Week Post (although I will admit that most of the ones we’ve got now just involve finding a picture and saying, “Hey, what did you read/work on this week?” so not labor intensive. Even Cherry Saturdays require minimal research. Happiness Sundays are a bitch, though). And yet I feel an intense need to talk about food, and I’ve seen leanings that way in the comments, too. The problem is, right now food is a problem for me. Or a solution that I haven’t quite arrived at yet. Which pretty much sums up my life.

Where was I?

Right, food. Here’s the thing: my health has involved me imbibing eight pills a day, one or more of which has killed my appetite completely and created a kind of very low level nausea that means the idea of food was something I avoided. This meant that I didn’t notice I hadn’t eaten until I started to get dizzy, and then I’d grab the nearest thing to hand, usually a piece of bread or some Braunschweiger (don’t ask, it’s an obsession from childhood). Once I realized what was going on–I lost so much weight I’m actually a normal weight for my height now–I realized that I was going to have to something radical: cook. Which I used to do really well.

Back in the dark ages, I got married, and my mother had never taught me to cook, so I was terrible in the kitchen. My ex-husband had some good qualities, among them eating without complaining all of my disasters. After about a month of that, I thought, “This is ridiculous. I’m not in school, I’m not working, I’m a smart. woman, learn how to do this, Jenny,” and I did. I studied, I started with the basics, I added sauces, and before long I was stuffing butter under the skin of chickens before I roasted them, making roux that was a thing of beauty, marinating food that practically made my husband weep with joy (or relief, I couldn’t tell). I became, in our small circle, a cooking goddess. And we ate. My god, we ate.

Then things happened and I stopped cooking (kid, job, marriage in hell, etc.). And after that I was a single mom working two jobs and going to grad school at night, so I never picked up the fancy stuff again. There was just no time.

Fast forward decades and now I realize that if I lose another ten pounds, my doctor is going to start sizing me up for an eating disorder (okay, another twenty pounds) and also this is bad for my heart. But this time, instead of studying to get back what I lost, I took a short cut. I started signing up for meal services.

Here’s the good thing about meal services: they send you everything in kit form and give you directions, so every meal is like a mini-cooking-class. Here’s the bad thing about meal services: you don’t get to pick the ingredients so you’re a slave to their tastes, and some of them are just bad. Obviously some of the recipes aren’t going to hit for you, people have different tastes, but then there are the recipes that you look at it and think, “Seriously?” In the past two months, I’ve done all of the following meal services: Home Chef, Gobble, Freshly, Sunbasket, Daily Harvest, Takeout Kit, and Plated. I deleted all but Plated, some in “I don’t think so” mode, and others in “My God NO” mode. With Plated, when they go wrong, I’m thinking it’s a matter of taste, not recipe or approach failure, so I’m sticking with them; it’s such a pleasure getting the Plated box, that I’m indulging myself. Other than that, I’m done with meal services.

But trying all those different meal services did remind me that I love food. Not just eating it, which has been vastly diminished by the no-appetite-low-grade-nausea stuff, but looking at it, choosing it, working with it, cooking it. I’d forgotten that one of the reasons I’d been such a good cook way back when was that it was so wonderful to do. One of the reasons I stuck with Sunbasket as long as I did was that their ingredients were so superb and packaged so well that I just wanted to pat everything as it came out of the box, the way I’d chortled over great ingredients way back when (also their jambalaya was really delicious and they were the service that introduced me to sambal oelek, which is phenomenal stuff). One of the reasons I dumped one of the other services was that they sent me a package of Marzetti Salad Dressing. (That was one of the Are You Kidding Me moments, surpassed only by the first delivery from Freshly which was packaged pre-cooked meals in little Lean Cuisine plastic trays.) I will admit that one of the best meals I got from Gobble was their Osso Buco for which they’d already prepared the meat–if you sign up for that, DEFINITELY get the Osso Buco–but otherwise I like the services that give you all the ingredients, raw and beautiful, and then say, “Cook this.”

And that sent me to food blogs. I was already flirting with Voraciously, the Washington Post food blog, and the AV Club has a great informal food blog called The Takeout, and I hit Epicurious often because it’s a great resource and because my cousin Russ writes for them sometime, (that’s Russ Parsons, former food editor for the LA Times, whom I brag about every chance I get because he is WONDERFUL, and man can he cook), but mostly I just follow my curiosity. I now have one hellacious list of bookmarked recipes and a passionate need to cook again. And think about food. And talk about food.

But I don’t think I can handle Food Fridays. Especially with that name. Although I could just put up posts that say, “So what did you cook/bake/eat/drink this week?” and let you all have at it, you guys are good at that. Even if you don’t cook, you must eat, so we’d all have something to talk about. I don’t know. I’m conflicted. I think I’ll go make something while I think it over. I have a meal kit for Steak Frites, but maybe I’ll save that for tonight and just do a goose liver sandwich. Or try to eat the sweet and sour chicken from last night which has WAY too much sugar in it, which completely drowned the Cippolini onions, but I forgive Plated for that one because the barbecued chicken (they didn’t send BBQ sauce, they sent vinegar and sugar and tomatoes and herbs and I made my own and it was heaven) was fantastic. Hmmm.

Food. It’s my latest obsession.

What do you think?

82 thoughts on “Food, A Rediscovery

  1. I love that you’ve done this sampling. We tried Hello Fresh, as it seemed the best of the bunch available to us at the time, and while the recipes and most ingredients were good, the meat always arrived with the seam of the vacuum seal torn or split. Hello Not Fresh. BTW, The Smitten Kitchen has some great twists on classic recipes. Might even be able to get The Prince to eat another vegetable soon.

  2. It’s lent, and my way of fasting means not eating sugar (except fruit because I want those vitamins). But I don’t eat anything with more than 5% sugar in it, and that’s difficult – it’s incredible how many things contain sugar even when you don’t expect it. (Even liverwurst.)

    The only way to handle it is to prepare meals from scratch. I’m lucky because my husband does most of the cooking since he retired. Shopping is my part of the deal, so I spend a lot of time in the supermarket aisles reading ingredient lists.

    So far, I’m doing well and stayed on the wagon. But I don’t think I could stand Food Fridays until it’s Easter.

    1. “The only way to handle it is to prepare meals from scratch.” AMEN!

      When I got out of the hospital in October 2017 – congestive heart failure – I was told “No Sodium For You,” or maybe they said, “do not exceed 1500 milligrams of sodium.” They didn’t release me from the diabetic diet requirements or the regular weight loss diet requirements, they just added sodium restrictions.

      Before that, I didn’t cook. I nuked frozen dinners from Weight Watchers, Lean Cuisine, Atkins, et cetera. Anyone who reads labels will quickly realize that frozen dinners, frozen vegetables, frozen anything is front-loaded with sodium. Sodium Chloride (good ol’ table salt), sodium benzoate, sodium nitrites and nitrates.

      Canned foods? The same or worse, although I have found “No Salt Added” labels for green beans, peas and corn. Better, a number of the Asian veggies contain little or no sodium (but mileage varies widely.)

      The result? “The only way to handle it is to prepare meals from scratch.”

      Tonight was chicken stir fry. In one skillet, chicken plus bean sprouts plus bamboo shoots plus diced water chestnuts plus sesame oil plus habanero powder. Normally I’d add onion and garlic and baby corn, but I have leftovers and I’ll add to them.

      In the fridge, I have stew beef and boneless pork chops. That should get me through to Friday at least. Something else (maybe tuna steaks & brown rice) for Saturday, then Sunday is Dinner with Dotter Somewhere, and refilling the fridge and pantry.

      “The only way to handle it is to prepare meals from scratch.”

  3. We have never tried one of the fresh ingredient box services but I’ve been curious about them so it was lovely to hear your take on them.

    I’d hate for you to take on anything more when you feel like you don’t have the energy or inclination for it. Possibly you could just let people post. If so, I’d love to get actual recipes sometimes, especially if they are fairly fast. When I want really good recipes that will take time, I usually wander over to Cooks Illustrated which often has especially yummy food but also time-consuming recipes IMO. Or hear about recipes that don’t work and the maybe of why they didn’t (sometimes it is obvious in retrospect).

    But while it would be fun to hear from the Argh people, I still hate to have you take on more than you want.

    1. I love Cooks Illustrated, but a lot of the times on those recipes seem awfully optimistic, (at least if I’m cooking). Those are not spur of the moment recipes. I love the show. The meat recipes are fantastic. I did miss the part about wrapping the roast in plastic wrap for 24 hours. And sometimes we end up eating at 9:30 or 10. I really need to plan ahead and I take the cookbook shopping with me. The butterflied turkey is awesome.

    2. I let my subscription expire to Cook’s Illustrated after (1) I followed its directions for making an angel food cake and had one of the worst angel food cakes I have ever had, and (2) They had an article on making a tuna fish sandwich that ran over two pages, which is ridiculous. You take a can of tuna fish and mush it up with salt, pepper, finely minced green onion, chopped pickles, mayonnaise and taste it to adjust the seasonings. Make a sandwich. If you are feeling fancy – or lazy – use capers instead of pickles. There: 3 sentences not 3 pages.

  4. Some of the grocery stores here sell kits for making meals. I’ve tried one but my house has gluten and dairy intolerances which eliminates most of the ones I’ve looked at.

    I’m a plain cook. And frozen foods are my saving grace right now. Tonight the kids have Kid Ninja class after school so they and I won’t be home until 6ish. I think we’re having frozen pizza and their dad (with the gluten and dairy issues) is going to be on his own. He’s also got a dental appointment this afternoon so who knows what he’s going to be up for.

    I gave up booze for Lent. So my sugar intake is high.

    1. I found your comment on booze very interesting in that I have noticed that when I have a dessert after dinner, I am not interested in having a brandy or a scotch. Otherwise, I like to have a glass to sip as I read my evening novel. I thought this was just me.

      1. Sounds like you’re both intent on your sugar hit, one way or the other! (I too like to end my main meal with something sweet; I feel it helps my digestion, though that’s probably an illusion.)

        1. Alcohol. More than one doctor has recommended a (three ounce) glass of RED wine every day. The only red wine I can stomach is Port. I have a bottle, but honestly? When I remember it’s there, I measure those three ounces into whatever I’m cooking. I average a glass every fortnight or so.

          1. I think the evidence for health benefits from drinking (red) wine is pretty inconclusive. You’re probably better off without it.

      2. I read an interesting diet/lifestyle? book called Potatoes, Not Prozac years ago, and she said in her work with alcoholics, she could definitely see a correlation between sugar fiends and alcoholics. Some of them were doing both vices at the same time. She had them eat a potato with skin at night, which I found a very comforting thing to do, but I had trouble making it a routine. I don’t usually eat at night; my sugar cravings hit at 3:30 p.m.

  5. I feel the same way–you have a lot going on. Also, when you do feel like blogging about your book, or other things, you need a free day or so.
    On the other hand, this is your blog, and if what you want is to write about food… you can always drop it when you don’t feel obsessed any more.
    I have about 5 shelves of cookbooks, and when I’m bored I try something from one of them, rather than try a food plan.
    Also, we have a lot of staple recipes I love and use a lot. I’m sure part of whether a plan makes sense for you is whether you need/want a lot of variety. I always think of Pierre Franey (who wrote The 60 Minute Gourmet), who wrote something like “This is a favorite in my family, which means we eat it about once a year.” Really? Favorites in our household are more like once a month or every couple weeks. But we do try new recipes every week or two. Tonight we are trying Bottargha, a sicilian pasta with dried fish roe. Our daughter brought us the dried roe from Sicily—I have no idea whether, if we love it, we will ever be able to eat it again.

  6. I have a suggestion for Sunday posts … How about just “Happies? GO!” A quote etc as primer is fun, but with this group, unnecessary. Which would also solve Friday if you want to add it: “Food – go”

    DH and I are boring and cook the same things all the time, but I love hearing about food. Or as one conversation went “Do you want the recipe so you can make it?” “No, but I want the recipe so my sister can make it and have me over for dinner”

    1. Yes, out of for sisters, two want to read a book and two love to cook. Sadly one of the cooks passed on and the othe loves a day away. Just down to the non-cooks, we can cook , really we can. Our mother was a fabulous cook.

      1. Allow me to say “Bless your heart” not in the southern way. You were lucky. My Mother Was The Worst Cook in New England. She did breakfast fairly well. We ate crepes rather than pancakes. I learned to cook marvelous crepes. Her pork was always over cooked (something about trichinosis), her chicken was always under cooked unless it was boiled. We had spaghetti every Wednesday that I grew up thinking was pretty good, until I had someone elses’s. Roast beef? We joked about “rubber bands” which were veins. But we never went hungry.

  7. This would be good for me. I am astounded at what innovating cooking I find here because if you ask me what I had for dinner on a monday night I would say something like “Oh, Monday. It was either pesto and a green salad or tomato-duxelles pasta (no green salad because I use two pounds of fresh tomatoes), I generally have three or four dishes we eat every two weeks because they are easy and don’t mess up the kitchen and are tasty and relatively healthy. In the winter it is stuff in the Instant Pot or the sous-vide and once the weather is better it is something on the grill. And it is not that I don’t like to cook or that I don’t have cookbooks: I have 6 shelves of cookbooks plus another box that I packed two years ago for the kitchen remodel that I have yet to unpack. And they are ESSENTIAL cookbooks. I just rarely look at them. My friends consider me a good cook but really I just do a few things all the time. So seeing what other people cooked and enjoyed – or are warning me away from – would be great.

    1. Wednesday is rustic clam chowder and Thursday is grass-fed hamburger on a ciabatta roll (husband goes to the market on Wednesday and this is what he buys). See I need to be more innovative.

  8. I agree with Debbie: why not just do a food post whenever you fancy, rather than trying to make it weekly? You might want to post frequently now, but let it go later on.

    I need to reinvent what I’m cooking and eating pretty soon. I’ve been comfort eating for two or three years, and want to lose the weight I’ve put on. Plus I’d like to eat vegetarian more frequently. What I’ve done before – and will this time, I daresay – is go through my recipe books and make a shortlist of things I’d like to try, and new habits I want to get into. Nothing punitive; just focusing on things I fancy that are good for me.

    I tend to make the same thing three nights in a row. It means buying ingredients works better, plus I don’t have to come up with something different every day. I mostly cook from scratch, but I can’t be bothered to spend ages on it. Although I’ve just bought my first microwave, in the hope I’ll do more batch cooking and have more variety/make myself more complex recipes.

    1. I think the “do it when you feel like it” is the way to go. You have food on your mind (tried something, crave something, saw something, read something…) and make a post like today’s on, well, whatever is on your mind.

      I had fun in the supermarket in South Africa over the past few weeks, saw mostly familiar stuff, but also some new stuff, some of which I tried. As usual, some winners (brought some seasonings home) and some losers (which got dumped.

      Found out I like Elephant brand ginger beer in Sri Lanka better than Stoneys from South Africa (which was good, and I drank liters of it, but it could use some more “fire”).

      I also adored pol sambola (fresh shredded coconut with chilies, onions and lime juice, kind of sambal oelek with fresh coconut) which our housekeeper/cook would make fresh for breakfast when we had the traditional SriLankan breakfast of fish curry and which I would eat with, oh, just everything. One thing I remember was her complaining that coconuts had gone up to fifty cents a pop at the market and she was shocked that 1) I couldn’t just buy fresh coconuts in Germany and 2) when I could find them, they’d cost many times her fifty cents. (She also wanted to know how many saris I own and was shocked to learn “none”.)

      Tonight I made myself a baked feta, with onions, olives, garlic, chilies and olive oil — bought a fresh baguette to eat with it. My hubby doesn’t like the baked feta, but he snarfed half the baguettes last big with the tomato soup he fixed himself. Not sure what it was about the feta but I got a hankering for it last week when we were still in Cape Town which persisted until tonight. Will probably finish it off tomorrow. Discovered the last time I made it that it softened wonderfully with a short stint in the microwave (who knew).

      Bought a gorgeous piece of fresh salmon which I planned for tomorrow night, but just forgot hubby is going to a movie with a friend so I’m on my own for tomorrow.

      BTW, I was over 50 when I discovered that I not only like to cook but I am good at it. My hubby has a bit of a belly for the very first time in his life, which he blames on me…

      Sorry, a bit of stream of consciousness there…

      1. Oh, yeah, I just realized that during the discussion of ginger beer I switched countries and talked about the trip to SriLanka last year…rather than South Africa this year.


  9. There’s a book called How to Read Literature Like a Professor in which the author says that novels about sex are actually about something other than sex. (And, novels that are about anything but sex may turn out to be about sex.)

    I think food is like that. Let folks talk about food and the conversations will leap from food to everything in everyone’s life that’s important right now.

    1. “Sam Vimes was an uncomplicated man when it came to what poets called ‘the lists of love’. He’d noticed that sex bore some resemblance to cookery: it fascinated people, they sometimes bought books full of complicated recipes and interesting pictures, and sometimes when they were really hungry they created vast banquets in their imagination – but at the end of the day they’d settle quite happily for egg and chips, if it was well done and maybe had a slice of tomato. ” -A footnote in The Fifth Elephant by Terry Pratchett

  10. I would try adding some sambal oelek to that sweet-and-sour chicken. I use (lots of) it in my Crock Pot pork shoulder with pineapple, it is THE BOMB.

    Liverwurst-and-cream-cheese became a thing for me after reading A Wrinkle In Time. 🙂

  11. What about a monthly food post instead of weekly? Sort of First Friday Foodies instead of just Friday Foodies. Or Food on the First (or Fifteenth), whenever that happens to fall.

    I just think weekly might become too much like the daily “what’s for dinner” pressure. Some weeks there’s interesting food, some weeks not so much. And if you’re particularly enthusiastic about something more than once in a week, you could simply queue it up for a week when nothing is all that new/different.

  12. Ooh, I’m definitely in for food conversations. I’m currently visiting a friend in CA. She lost her husband unexpectedly last fall and ostensibly I’m here to help her with the (enormous) job of cleaning out his office and storage shed. Mostly I’ve been cooking for her, though.

    Tonight is going to be a spicy chicken bowl, with shredded spicy chicken, mixed greens, rice, black beans, Greek yogurt, mango salsa, cilantro, avocado and some jalapeño for hers. Yesterday was sous vide steak, rosemary sweet potatoes, roasted brussels sprouts, and mixed greens with pea pods and a little shredded cheese. The brussels sprouts (delicious) were tossed with (ha) Marzetti’s Simply Dressed lemon vinaigrette before roasting. The day before was salmon salad on mixed greens, the salmon salad made by mixing leftover wild Pacific salmon with mayo and (ahem) Marzetti’s Simply Dressed lemon vinaigrette, with avocado toast. The day before that, quinoa bowls with salmon, pea pods, avocado, parsley and a spicy Greek yogurt-based dressing. (Greek yogurt + chili garlic sauce.) No Marzetti’s!

    I like to cook. On my list of skills, it’s probably behind editing and above writing, which puts it pretty far above anything else. But I’m a casual cook. I don’t follow recipes much. I just like to think, hmm, I wonder how these things would be together, and give it a try. And I really like turning leftovers into something totally different. The salmon was a huge fish, which turned into three meals for us: baked salmon with roasted vegetables the first time; a spicy quinoa bowl the second; cold lemony salmon salad the third time. If we hadn’t finished it off, I would have probably turned it into a creamy coconut milk soup next.

  13. I think making Saturdays also a “What’s Cooking Cherry?” day might work.

    Another scheduled post might be too much. I find that most of my Working Wednesday posts are food related, anyway.

    Today was veggie soup, tomorrow some sort of veggie curry. Mmmm. Building my health up using food.

  14. I’m an odd duck when it comes to food. Now mind you, I love to eat, and I carry the pounds to prove it. But I like plain food. Good Mashed potatoes can make me happy, simple soups are wonderful and an egg over-easy with a little salt is immensely satisfying.

    Casseroles with lots of mixed ingredients make me suspicious. Of course, I’ve had dishes cooked by great chefs that can still fill my mouth with saliva just thinking of them. But I’ve also had supposed great meals that leave me nauseous.

    So I’m like a 4 year old. (Mommy, do I like this?)

    But, if you quote me, I’ll deny everything. I like to pretend I’m an adult.

    As I said, an odd duck!

  15. I vote yes to Food Porn Friday or whatever it’s called. I love food and cookbooks. I tend to make the same thing repeatedly because of convenience and calories, but I research new recipes all the time. I’ve loved hearing, recently, about what everyone in Argh is cooking and eating. So much of it is linked to people and places you love. Want to hear more of that.

  16. I need to cook. I am not great at it, which I realize is more practice than anything. But I need to eat more good things, both taste and nutrition, and I need to make the time. So I would love some recommendations for good, fairly easy recipes. One pot stuff is nice.Maybe this will motivate me into actually doing it…

      1. Get the Instant Pot, go onto the Instant Pot Facebook group. Get dozens of really good recipes. Dump in ingredients. Push button. Wait till done and eat.

        1. I have an Instant Pot. It’s still in the box. Planning on getting to that soon. Ish.

  17. Our local (and excellent) dumpling /potsticker place serves sambal oelek, soy and vinegar as the all-star trifecta on their dumplings. So good.

    And I like smitten kitchen too.

    Last night I cooked minestrone, which is family dinner for two nights and my go-to feel good, especially if I’m I bit ick feeling. Leeks, carrot, celery, potato, tomato paste, tinned tomatoes, tinned beans, macaroni, peas or courgettes, and kale/silverbeet (that has another name in the US I think, but I can’t remember what it is), served with a dollop of pesto. Mmmmmmmm.

  18. I’m kind of in food purgatory right now because I took up weightlifting for my health and I have to eat all this protein and it’s a struggle. On the bright side my health is transformed but some days I just want to say screw the protein and live on plants. I do find that Fit Men Cook’s recipes are almost all winners though. If you need to follow a bodybuilding type diet definitely check out Fit Men Cook.

  19. I just spent hours and hours listening to “experts” give their version of how to get off diabetes medication with food. Three different doctors gave three different scenarios. 1. eat no grains, potatoes or sugar but all you want of fat. 2. Eat only carbs. 3. eat no carbs and no fats. Do these things and you will reverse your diabetes said each and every one of them.

    Sigh. I’m tired so I’m going to eat leftover Chinese food from my daughter’s birthday on Saturday. I’m pretty sure none of them would agree with eating that. Youtube has sucked my soul dry and now I just want to sleep. Is 5 pm to early for bed?

    1. My A1C is like 5.7 or so. I got my diabetes under control, I think. I did Atkins for a year, and lost weight and reduced my blood sugar, then it stopped working. I gained the weight back, but the sugar stayed low.

      Of course, the doctor says, “once a diabetic, always a diabetic.” So my diet has almost no sugar and only some carbs. It’s my sodium that drives my diet, now.

  20. I tried two of those food delivery companies. One had good clean food (I tend to buy organic when I can) and hit-or-miss recipes. The other was bigger portions and slightly better choice of options. They were both prone to quality issues, although not consistently. And while it was nice to have everything I needed show up in one box, none of them are designed for a single person (which I could work around, because I’d make two days food at one time) and none of them was anything I couldn’t have just gotten at the store and put together myself for considerably less money. So I finally gave up.

    I love food and cooking although these days I’m often too tired to do anything too elaborate. My witchy gang gets together for Pagan holidays (spring equinox is next) and we always have a great feast afterward, because most of us are foodies and one is a professional chef.

    As for the blog, if Happiness Sundays are a bear, just change it to food or the form of happiness of your choice?

  21. I think there are enough food blogs out there but if you feel like posting re food, why not. This is your playground.

    I’ll admit to being food obsessed sometimes because–in that looong list of stuff no one told you about getting older–food sensitivities have either cropped up or become worse.

    Lately, I’ve been borrowing vegan cookbooks from the library for ideas but not because I’m vegan. I’m becoming increasingly lactose intolerant. From my POV it seems that the majority of cookbook authors, when faced with something lackluster, add cheese or sour cream or whatever. Yes, it does make everything taste delicious but oh, the side effects. Figuring workarounds and just coming to grips with saying goodbye to some ingredients is a real effort. Apart from lactose free milk, the commercial efforts at dairy-free/lactose-free are unspeakably vile.

    1. If you were local to me (British Columbia) I have found brands of both soy cheese and soy milk that are actually good, but I did try just about everything available when I was first lactose intolerant. (The good news is that the food intolerances have reduced with time and having money in the bank so less stress.)

    2. I know what exactly you mean! It’s especially bad when you’re a lactose-intolerant vegetarian because the default response to the idea of no meat seems to be ALL the dairy. If you need recipes, I have more than I will ever be able to cook my way through.

      1. Can you tolerate sheep or goat milk? There are so many delicious cheeses available now and my dairy intolerant daughter really likes sheep yogurt.

  22. Let’s definitely have a food post. Love food. Wrestle with food. Love cooking. Love eating. But am complete stress-eater. I lost a lot of weight a couple of years ago, and with new stress-filled job, I saw the weight creeping back up. Am back to calorie counting and more intense exercise. Also, DH came back to live with us full-time after 2.5 years of commuting and he cooks. He’d had 2.5 years of not being able to cook, so he’s been making up for lost time. Gelato. flapjacks, meringues (by-product of the gelato), lovely caramelised onion tart, apple pie, apple crumble, cakes….He’s coming out of it now, a little, I think, and I’m getting back to a more careful approach to anything with sugar.

    But, the supermarket we shop at most has recently started stocking this bread called Black sheep tiger bloomer, and it is the best bread ever. It toasts beautifully, it is absolutely perfect for the meal I could eat every day, which is fried egg on toast with a rasher of bacon (English back bacon, not streaky), followed by toast with marmalade or lemon curd, washed down by good strong tea. Great bread and egg. Heaven.

  23. I tried many home meal services and disliked them all. My hairdresser recommended one called MarleySpoon, but I feel like it’s not likely to be much better than the others.

    I discovered a fun light lunch. Roasted slices of sweet potato topped with red pepper hummus and chopped kalamata olives. With a small green salad.

  24. If Happiness Sunday is making you unhappy, maybe it’s time to let it go. 🙂

    What if Sunday you invited everyone to post a recipe – and then on Friday ask for a follow up on how the recipe went? We could either choose to cook our own recipe (especially if it’s a new one) or choose someone else’s. It would kind of be a pledge to try new recipes and report back to the group. Maybe it will help some of us break out of our food rut…

  25. I’m very fond of food, but only have time to cook on weekends. Daily, though, we have the challenge of our cat Mr. Snowball. We were without cats for fifteen years, and became bird people, squirrel people, occasionally raccoon people, and almost forgot about cats, but Mr. Snowball appeared one winter morning and adopted us. So now we are back to cat feeding people. Not easy.

    They migrate from one favorite thing to another, which is very frustrating. Last weekend, though, we ran into a new product at our local grocery called “Lickables Cat Treat” which sounded kind of horrid. Still, they had tuna flavor, and through all the vicissitudes of ‘no, I don’t LIKE that any more’ we would always have tuna in some form or another. So we caved, and bought a little envelope called Tuna Bisque.

    Took it home, put it aside, and yesterday, in a moment of despair over the many unpalatable former favorites (now going into an ongoing Uncle Chuck tupperware for the weekend raccoon family) we broke out the bisque and Mr. S went MAD over it. We were giving it to him a teaspoon at a time, swirled across the black cat shaped plastic dish, and he would vaccuum it clean in no time.

    Had to go out to get more Bisque, and it has become the saving grace today when no other food would do.

    I wish I knew how to find new treats like that every darn week. I have no idea what we’re going to do when the magic Bisque loses its magic and we’re back to sawdust options.

    1. I’ve discovered with my incredibly picky older dog that what she really wants is variety. As long as I keep mixing it up and never give her the same food enough days in a row for it to become familiar, she will keep eating it. As soon as she’s had it four or five times in a row, she starts rejecting it. I’ve been changing it up almost daily using four different kinds of food and she even ate some kibble this week, which is practically unheard of.

    2. My cats want one flavor for breakfast and a different flavor (preferably seafood) for dinner, plus crunchy treats during the day. The next day we cannot feed them the food they had the day before – except for crunches because I really don’t want them eating crunches so if they hate those and eat wet food, it is all to the good. And Aubrey has been very ill for two years now so we cater to him (Today was vet re-check day. He has GAINED 1/2 pound in the last 3 weeks after losing weight for months. The new meds rock.) Anyway, he has become a food eating machine but only if we have a huge variety.

      As an aside, if your cat needs pills, try using pill pockets. And if you have been very cleverly giving your cat chèvre/ Montrechet for treats, when your cat decides he hates pill pockets, try wrapping the pill in chèvre and he will be scarfing those pills down with no effort at all.

        1. Thank you. Pets are so dear, even the contrary ones. And you have been through so much with yours that I know you relate.

    3. I had a cat who was dying of chronic renal failure a few years ago, and toward the end that likeable treat was one of the few things she would eat.

  26. When my mother died, I decided that if I was going to keep her “good” china–the china upon which all the celebratory meals of my childhood were eaten–I’d have to use it. None of this stored-in-the-hard-to-reach-cupboard or still-packed-in-boxes stuff. So I have a monthly dinner party with it. It’s been going for more than two years, and miraculously, everybody still wants to come. Cooking for it has been a blast. All these people are forgiving eaters, so as long as I account for everyone’s allergies, they don’t mind if the meal isn’t perfect. I just made something this week that called for sambal oelek, which my local market didn’t have. But they sold me a Chinese alternative that they said would be close, and it is delicious. And now I really want to try something with sambal oelek. My horizons are expanding!

  27. We had Blue Apron for a long time, and I loved it, when I had the time and energy for it. Even the quick meals took me at least an hour and a half. The food was fantastic, the process enjoyable, but there were weeks when stuff got trashed because I just didn’t get around to cooking it.
    Those Sun Basket photos, though – mouthwatering.

    1. I wanted to try Blue Apron, but they kept rejecting my phone number. Don’t know why; it works. So now I’m sticking with Plated for awhile.

  28. I’m still having trouble eating–no appetite, slight queasiness–so I decided to go back to my childhood and have Velveeta Mac and Cheese. My god, that stuff is terrible. I knew my mother wasn’t a great cook, but she fed us that stuff? And we loved it. On the other hand, it does stick to your ribs. And the spoon. And the bowl. And your stomach lining . . .

    1. Does ginger help your queasiness? Ginger and going sailing were the only things that helped me with morning sickness the first time I was pregnant, and going sailing is difficult when the water is hard like this.

      1. It’s a weird kind of queasiness, very low level, that just makes me not interested in food instead of actively sick. Until I start eating. Then I get about halfway through a serving and realize that one more spoonful and I’m going to be sick.

  29. I fed my kids Kraft Macaroni and Cheese for at least five (teen-aged) years, using butter instead of milk, and boiling hot dogs in the water with the noodles. That stuff is inedible to me, now. If I’m desperate for comfort food, I’ll get a Bob Evans mac&cheese and mix it with a can of Campbell’s Firehouse Chili. Two meals, for one fat old adult. Gotta be desperate, though.

  30. I’ve been getting Plated for several years now and we are eating far healthier than we used to as a result. I always liked to cook, and I’m pretty good at the actual mechanics of it, but quite honestly, I’m absolutely horrible at figuring out what a meal is going to taste like when I read a recipe (no imagination I guess). With Plated, 90% of the recipes I’ve tried were at least decent, 75% or so were downright delicious. The variety is far better than anything I would ever have made, I’ve learned all kinds of new techniques, and I’ve used all sorts of ingredients I never would have touched otherwise.

    1. I was surprised at how fast it rose to the top (my money would have been on Sunbasket). And it really has fixed my eating problem to the extent that I now cook and eat. I still can’t eat much, but just the time spent preparing and cooking seems to jump start my non-existent appetite. And opening those Plated boxes is fun. I’m also thinking it saves on food waste because I’m not throwing anything out from Plated, nor am I buying a lot of something because it’s the only way to get one of something. On the other hand, I’m now buying heavy cream for sauces.

      1. Jenny, I meant to mention this earlier, have you thought about medical marijuana for your appetite? I found a few dispensaries in northern NJ, maybe one would be fairly close to you. Marijuana might help with the nausea, too.

        1. I have a problem with pot (discovered in the seventies) in that I am extremely sensitive to it and basically lose the day if I mess with it. I did use it a couple of times to deal with chemotherapy and realized that if I was dying, I didn’t want my last days spent in a giggling fog.

          1. Well, they do make the (I think it’s called) the CBH or CBD products, which supposedly have the THC stripped out, made for the folks who don’t want to get high. But I bet the process isn’t foolproof, so if you’re very sensitive to pot, it probably won’t work for you.

            Giggling fogs sound sort of good these days, though. 🙂

  31. I had a fabulous cheese and mac hamburger at the airport, of all places, and it makes me despair. I’ll never make anything that wonderful at home. Never. Not and be able to call it Mac and Cheese.

    Velveeta has gone down hill; “blue box cheese” (ie: Kraft American Cheese) has also gone downhill, and now it’s like Velveeta, so it might be worth a shot. At any rate, I can’t get either, but someone had a recipe for making your own Velveeta that included gelatin. If I get a free weekend, maybe I’ll try it, and try doing the Mac and Cheese, too. I loved it with lots of season salt and some ground burger plus fried onions.

    I think you don’t have to worry about a food day, really. You’ve let it be known you are interested in food, and a lot of conversations will experience thread drift into the food regions.

    I could use some inspiration. Since my daughter started living in a boarding house (I don’t know what else to call it; it’s not a dorm, but there are meals), I’ve gotten lazy. I’ll have roast chicken three days a week, and fried pork the other two, and call it good enough. And it is pretty darn good. But . . . after my first wedding anniversary, I bragged to a friend that I made one dish about three times the first year, and every other night was different. *I* had a good time, but I don’t know if my husband really cared one way or the other. He likes rice, and he likes ice cream and chocolate. Everything else is just there on the plate.

    1. Food services. Seriously. You choose two or three two serving meals a week, and they’re usually different. What I’ve found is that I’m trying different things, and then the ones I like I can make myself because they give you the recipe. Also, you have to cook them or they go bad, so you’re forced to make things. Plated gives you a discount for the first four weeks, too.

      1. This really does sound great. I’ll have to check into it as a temporary thing — it sounds like it would make a great gift for someone as well. Maybe do a trial run when I visit my mother, for example. I would do it in a heartbeat if I knew of any in my country. Right now, stuff like Lean Cuisine frozen foods, and meal-in-a-bag for the infirm are on the leading edge.

        (-: When I was studying Japanese formally in the late 80s, there was a phrase in the textbook about how Japanese women thought: “A woman who serves frozen food has a frozen heart.” SOME textbook author was apparently sick and tired of defending housewives to foreigners, so decided to write this whole intermediate-level paean to drudgery. “We use these crappy washing machines because this way, we can re-use the bathtub water from last night for the first wash.” (These crappy washing machines were twin-tub models, where you washed on one side — the water came from the faucet or you took a few buckets out of the standing bath water — and the other side was a spinner which removed excess water, and you’d dump these things back and forth two or three times until the wash water was fairly clear. Ugh.)

        The tangent is meant to illustrate that there are reasons why Japanese convenience food is so far behind American conveniences. I would think a food service like this would be very popular in Japan, actually, because 1) foodies, and 2) emphasis on fresh seasonal foods. More and more women are encouraged to enter the workplace, too, so maybe the government is even sticking a thumb in this pie.

        Good thing to Google today . . . .

  32. Jenny, maybe we should do a food blog (one day’s worth) on what people eat for comfort foods or when they are not feeling hungry….

  33. I had to go look it up, but Sun Basket was the one I used that had the cleanest food and the most different dietary options. (I did a month of a “gut healing” diet that is close to Paleo–no sugar, gluten, dairy, soy, and such. Thank goodness it didn’t help, so I don’t have to keep eating that way. I love my bread and cheese.) It was pretty good.

  34. My mother had a second stroke a little over 3 years ago and wasn’t up to cooking much after that. We tried some meal sesrvices, but they weren’t just right. Then she passsed, and my Dad eats half of his meals in the dining room at the senior community where they live, and gets by with smoked turkey breast or goes out with his new lady friend the rest of the time . I was going to give him a meal service for Christmas, but I seem to have not done so (I was aiming for SunBasket, but did not follow through enough, apparently).

    I love food, but don’t cook much any more. Tuesdays (yay!) my boyfriend cooks for the two of us, Saturday I do (he does better and makes us cocktails from I book I bought for him, in a shaker set my sister gave him for Christmas). The rest of the time, I do leftovers or the occasional frozen meal (I enjoyed Amy’s Vegetable Korma last night. I invested in a Pampered Chef Quick Cooker, which is their version of a pressure cooker, and it gives me incentive to try new things. All in one pot, so, except for the chopping, it’s quick to make and clean up. And I made a cheesecake in there for Valentine’s Day, so I got girlfriend points for that.

    Anyway, I love to talk and write about food. I just had occasion to remember ice cream that I got in Columbia, TN: Mulled wine ice cream. Yummy.

  35. I don’t know how to cook for one person. Having to learn coincided with so many life changes that I have altogether failed. And it’s turning out that if I eat in response to hunger, rather than distress or fretfulness or boredom, I am kind of fussy and extremely fond of random condiments, so food waste of perishables is very high and our squirrels and deer are basically spherical.

    For coping, I make a lot of basic soup bases and stocks (chicken, vegetable, fish, beans and greens, green chili, etc) freeze 1 cup servings, pull a couple of those out every day or two, and then add condiments and/or leftover meat so that they’re very different. Then I add in salads and vegetables and starchier things as I can deal with or delegate the prep.

    If I need ideas I wander around Smitten Kitchen or Serious Eats. Kenji Lopez-Alt is a really superb and generous explainer. I would love to try a meal service but so far, no-one comes here. It’s very frustrating.

  36. I was recently diagnosed with chronic kidney disease, to go along with diabetes and heart disease (wonderful genes I inherited!) The nutritionist explained the renal diet, and it was almost totally opposite what I’d been taught to eat for diabetes. At the end, I said, “Is there anything I *can* eat?” and she thought for a second, and said, “Butter. Works for both.”

    So that’s the answer: butter!

  37. How about delicious day? Then it can be any day you feel like talking about food. In any capacity and it’s not tied to a particular weekday. Or delectable day if you want to use fancywriterwords 😉

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