Kate’s Kitchen: A Summer of Writing About Food and Developing a Food Culture


All I have written about on this blog for the past two years is the law and dating. Both have been pretty important in my life, but I’m feeling like this semester is the first in which I have been sane about both school and dating. I haven’t even felt the need to check my blood pressure this semester, because I’ve been so calm. I’ve been wanting to get back to blogging again. I often miss it…

Thus, this summer, I intend to write about food.

This post is about food culture and food philosophy.

I grew up mostly eating foods that were either purchased from a restaurant, microwaved by me, or came with little or no assembly required.

I’m not complaining. My mom is (was? because she has sort of retired) a nurse. She would work long days and be tired and none of the rest of us helped out with much of anything at home. She would walk in the door to find piles of dishes in the sink, piles of laundry, and the rest of us lounging in front of the tv eating Chex Mix.

My dad could cook, but he wasn’t the type to cook dinner every night. He was the type who might wake us all up at 4 a.m. to eat homemade cinnamon rolls. Junk food was really his thing. Peanut butter candy, cheese dip, party mix, layered candy bars, etc… Those were his things. If he was responsible for getting dinner on the table, he’d order a pizza.

Also, I was a jock. While I did take a home-ec. class once, I really, truly wasn’t interested in being a homemaker. I occasionally tried to cook things, but it was like once every two or three years that I even felt the need to cook anything.

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Fast forward.

When I got my own place, I distinctly remember my first few trips to the grocery store, because I didn’t have any clue what the hell I was doing. I definitely only shopped at Walmart for probably four years, because I felt like Trader Joe’s was pretentious.

My mom made sure I had the basic kitchen things when I moved out: dishes, pans, spatulas, etc… and when I came home from the grocery store, I came home with the edible basics: Marshmallow Mateys, Lean Pockets (trying to be healthy, you know), and cheddar cheese.

For a few years, I stuck to microwavable foods, with the occasional real meal added in. I was fond of a chicken and rice bake I found in my Betty Crocker cook book (another basic Mom supplied me with). I sometimes did salads. Sandwiches. Pastas with store-bought sauces. It honestly wasn’t until I bought my own house that I started to cook real food for myself on a regular basis.

And I started reading books about food.

Lots and lots of books about food.

And dvds about food.

One of the books (I can no longer remember for sure which one) started out with a chapter stating that the problem with the American diet is that we don’t have a food culture.

On the one hand, that’s not entirely true. We have southern cooking, which is its own culture within the larger American culture. We have Thanksgiving, which seems to me the most valid piece of food culture we’ve got, although I also hate it and was called the Thanksgiving Grinch last year. We have burgers and french fries for the Fourth of July. And I’m sure there are other quintessentially American meals that I’m forgetting. Go ahead and remind me of them in the comments, if you like.

To me, pumpkin pie seems like all we can really claim in the way of food culture.

So I set out to develop my own personal food culture. That was probably something like five years ago.

This summer, I’m going to post the things I came up with.

As a general overview, I should say that I’m either a vegetarian who rarely, but occasionally eats fish or a Pescatarian who rarely, but occasionally eats fish. Neither label seems fully satisfying, but it’s how I’ve been for about 4 years now, and it’s a big piece of my food philosophy.

Steve, Lori, and I had a conversation quite awhile back about the theology of food, and I generally have a problem with factory farming in large part because of that conversation and food documentaries like Food, Inc.

I firmly believe that we are poorly stewarding the earth, in no small part, due to factory farming. I am opposed to the idea of feeding corn to cows. I’m opposed to chickens so fat they can’t walk. I’m opposed to eating a burger that is made up of meat from bunches and bunches of cows instead of just one at a time.

Also, though, I have reached a point where my practice actually exceeds my beliefs. I don’t think it’s wrong to eat meat. I just think it’s wrong to treat animals poorly (as well as treating the earth poorly) before we eat them. Yet, I am kind of grossed out by most meat now. When I contemplate eating meat, I can’t stop thinking of the animal it came from and how sad it is that it has died to provide something for me that I don’t even actually need.

Even though I definitely don’t think there’s anything wrong with buying a slab of beef from Whole Foods where you can select an animal who has lived a better life than lots of children in this world… I almost never have it in me to eat animals anymore (except fish for some inexplicable reason).

Because of my philosophy about stewarding the earth, I also have a leaning towards eating local, organic, and whole foods cooked by me at home, although it’s way too much work for me to be committed to doing that all the time. I also try to avoid foods that seem to have been invented in a petri dish… for instance, if I need fuel on a run, I tend to eat pouches of organic baby food rather than Gu, and I try to buy food with labels that make sense to me.

So… there isn’t much else in my food philosophy, but there are some staples in my diet that I’m going to try to write about this summer.

 

Eggs

Popcorn

Rice (and just about any whole grain)

Red wine

Avocados

Nuts (all types, but especially walnuts and cashews)

Coffee

Spices (especially paprika)

Spinach, onions, tomatoes, and certain squashes

Almond butter

Apples, berries, and frozen fruits

 

Additionally, I am trying to branch out and do more with tea, vinegar, homemade sushi rolls, and homemade sauces. I only rarely bake (unless roasting veggies and making pizzas count) and I’m not as interested in desserts as I am in savory foods. I also rarely cook for others, because I oddly feel like I am imposing on them by making them eat my food. This summer, however, I may try to host more so as to get more comfortable cooking for others.

 

I will try to post pictures, as if I were a proper food blogger.

 

Happy cooking!

 

 

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