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If you have to eat it should be good food. Good food is relative of course. But I define it as food that I feel good eating AND feel good having eaten it. I feel fantastic eating half a box of pasta. I feel the opposite of fantastic after having eaten it. This can be the food itself or the portion of the food. I can categorize eating one slice of Nutella toast as "good food." Especially if the bread and the Nutella are home made. That same "good food" can lose it's good food label when I eat four pieces of the same thing. Why four, you ask? Because there's a chance I have experience with that. (It was not so good food).
1. I must eat.
2. I should eat good food.
3. I feel good when I eat good food.
4. I feel good when I eat less.
5. I eat less if I eat good food.
I generally do an excellent job at eating a good food breakfast. We have ample access to fresh eggs (so long as an opossum is not systematically stealing them from the coop) and I eat them everyday for breakfast with whatever veggies we have on hand. A frittata made on Monday morning can last a few days in the fridge. Voila. A good food breakfast.
The system breaks down as the day goes along. I get busy or lazy or feel rushed to eat quickly and forget to take a break and eat properly. Proper eating is on a plate while seated in a chair and doing nothing else (except maybe reading a book or newspaper). Any meal becomes instantly more civilized if you use metal utensils and eat off a solid plate and not out of a container with a spork. I would venture to say that no "good food" has ever been eaten with a spork.
But busy, lazy, or rushed are the norm for most people, most days. So we grab the not so good snack or over-eat the most convenient food item at hand. But if we just take a minute, a deep breath, and an actual piece of silverware we can transform a potentially blasé meal into a good food moment. And when I'm busy or rushed I can definitely use that good food.
I would categorize myself as a foodie. I like interesting flavors, fresh ingredients, and can err towards the snobby side about what other people eat. When my girlfriends and I get together we always bring amazing dishes to share and have stories to tell about what we made, where we got the ingredients, and how much we spent. In case you didn't know, she who spends the least wins. If it's girls night out we are looking for a new restaurant, a place with great happy hour specials, or something farm to tableish.
Guys do not do this. When they get together they are looking for dude food. Read: burgers and beer. No matter how much they have achieved in life they still want to spend $5 for a drink and burger/fry combo, preferably served in a red basket. Bonus points if the place has gotten recently dinged by the health department. These same guys will go out with their wives/girlfriends/significant others/other couples and eat fantastic food at great places but, left to their own devices, they are swinging through the fast food drive thru. It's as if they are preprogrammed to eat like college freshmen.
There is a mother of the local food movement; Alice Waters. There is no father. She's a single mom when it comes to educating Americans on fresh, local produce and how to eat seasonally. Where do you find the guys in all of this? On the farm. Maybe. Women are growing more and more of the direct-to-consumer foods in this country.
It's not entirely surprising seeing as our culture spent hundreds of years only training girls to cook. (Sorry guys, traditional gender roles worked against you on that.) The moral of the story is that women farmers and chefs are amazing. Guys, you've got a lot to learn.
"There's something chewing in the wall."
"It's probably a mouse. Or a squirrel."
The hubs and I weren't terribly concerned. It wasn't the first time we'd found critters in the walls. Our house had been sitting vacant for two years before we moved in. We had taken it back from the wild. Squirrels, mice, spiders (so many spiders), flies, those creepy centipede things. We'd fought them all so far and won. Except for the flies. We seem to always have flies. But a mouse in the house was no biggie. The sound was coming from behind the head board so we shifted the bed out of the way and found a depression in the drywall. Yikes. That thing was hungry and probably coming through the wall soon. The chewing sound had been keeping us up for two nights before we finally got to the store to pick up some mouse traps. What? We were busy.
We pulled the bed out and blocked off the doors to the room. Then we let the cat in. The plan was for the hubs to jam a drywall knife into the wall. "I'm going for the kill shot first," he said. If I don't hit it and it runs into the room our cat will get it. She's a fantastic mouser. One! Two! Three!
I caught a glimpse of the beginning of the apocalypse. Out of the hole in the wall a swarm of yellow jackets erupted. Straight out of a Steven King novel or a child's nightmare. I was staring at the wall and didn't move until my husband started pushing me out the door. I couldn't look away. We rushed into the bathroom (the closest door) and slammed it behind us. The door is glass so we both stood there, noses to the glass, watching our bedroom fill up with bees. Angry, buzzing, swooping bees. I cracked the door open and called the cat. She looked terrified, and also a little upset that there wasn't a mouse, but hustled out of the room. We watched the bees for awhile, feeling lucky that neither of us got stung and that they were confined to the bedroom and not filling our whole house.
My husband is the bravest, calmest man I know. He put on all of his winter clothes, including his face mask, grabbed a roll of duct tape and a fly swatter and headed into the room. Like a real live MacGyver. He covered up the hole in the wall then opened the back door so the swarm could fly out. Which they did. God bless the architect who designed our home to have a door from the bedroom to the backyard. Then we killedabout 100 wasps. The hubs with the fly swatter and me rocking the hose attachment on my vacuum. We made quite a team.
Because they were wasps and not honey bees we called an exterminator to kill them. Yellow jackets are meat eaters and I didn't want to be their breakfast. Plus I was too scared to spend any length of time in that room. I spent three nights sleeping on our living room couch and every time I open the bedroom door I check for bees before I go in. I'm pretty sure I'm scarred for life.
One of the perks of living on a farm are all of the yummy veggies that are just laying around. Where most people open the fridge and say, "Hmm. What do we have to eat?" I walk out to the field, look around and say the same thing. It's like a giant, living pantry filled with all kinds of scrumptious ingredients. However, the sad truth of farming is that the farmers are usually too busy or too tired after a long day of farming to actually prepare any of the food they've grown. We are just like every other family in America that orders pizza when we can't get up the energy to cook. So yes, although I have endless options of ingredients to mix together the reality is that not only do I have to make the food, I have to go out and pick it, too. On the (somewhat) rare occasion that I get it together enough to make something I prefer it to be simple. This is especially important if it involves making something for a potluck or other obligatory get-together. One of my favs is the Lazy Tomato Salad. This fits the bill in that it looks really impressive, involves minimal ingredients, and takes almost no time at all.
Lazy Tomato Salad...in five steps:
Step 1: Go out to the field and pick a bunch of tomatoes. Oh, you don't have a tomato field? That's ok. Hit up the farmers market or, if you must, go to the grocery store. The trick is to select tomatoes in a variety of colors and sizes. My favorite combo is San Marzano (red, elongated), Green Zebra (green striped, round), Indigo Rose (purple, round), and Sungold (orange, cherry).
Step 2: Cut up the tomatoes. Get a knife (preferably serrated) and start hacking. Slice the round ones end to end like you see on a sandwich. Cut the cherries in half.
Step 3: Arrange on a plate. I am almost hopeless when it comes to "plating" food but fortunately this one is easy. I do the maters one layer at a time. Start with flat ones, not cherries, so it makes a flatter base. Then keep adding layers of the different tomatoes.
Step 4: Drizzle some olive oil around on top. There's no right or wrong amount. Just start pouring and move the jug around as you go. This makes it all shiny!
Step 5: Sprinkle with herbs. I usually spread a little salt and pepper on top and then some basil. If you have it fresh, tear it up and toss it around. If not, dried is perfectly fine. For some reason food looks fancier if there's little green flecks all over it. This is why I'm constantly running out of parsley.
Step 6: There isn't one. You're done. Go set the platter out and impress someone with your kitchen prowess.