Welcome to the Misadventures of Widowhood blog!

In January of 2012 my soul mate of 42 years passed away after nearly 12 of living with severe disabilities due to a stroke. I survived the first year after Don’s death doing what most widows do---trying to make sense of my world turned upside down. The pain and heartache of loss, my dark humor, my sweetest memories and, yes, even my pity parties are well documented in this blog.

Now that I’m a "seasoned widow" the focus of my writing has changed. I’m still a widow looking through that lens but I’m also a woman searching for contentment, friends and a voice in my restless world. Some people say I have a quirky sense of humor that shows up from time to time in this blog. Others say I make some keen observations about life and growing older. I say I just write about whatever passes through my days---the good, bad and the double-ass ugly. Comments welcome! Jean

Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Widow's Ktichen: Cooking-For-One Part Two


We used to know a carrot farmer and he told us to never to buy carrots without smelling them. Back in those days---15-16 years ago---3rd world countries used Kerosene for herbicides and if you have a good nose you could detect the toxic stuff with the sniff test. I was reminded of this in my cooking-for-one class this past week and of another story he told about how orange carrots became the color of choice. Carrots used to grow naturally in a rainbow of colors, but in the 17th century a Dutch grower started cultivated the orange carrots as a tribute to William of Orange who, as the story goes, led the struggle for Dutch independence. Over a generation the purple, white and yellow carrots fell out of favor and the rest is food growers’ history. It’s funny how things in life come full circle. Recently our local supermarket started selling the heritage colored carrots and the skinny dietitian teaching my class is singing their praises. She says they are more nutritious than the orange, especially the ones that get machine shaped and polished---those cute little “baby carrots” I’ve been buying for years.

The dietitian should have called the course, How-Not-to-Cook-So-Much-for-One. By the time we get through all six sessions she’ll have us grazing in the fields and orchards in her campaign to get us away from processed foods, time-consuming cooking and ingredients that come with long labels filled with unpronounceable words. She’s a vegan but claims she’s not trying to turn us into one. Ya, sure. Is that why this week’s class was about all about using nutrient rich whole grains without a bite of meat in sight? She’s got me wondering, though, if I haven’t been feeding the birds and rabbits better/healthier than I feed myself. Karma is laughing at me through this class, I just know it. I never took an interest in cooking in my younger years and the very first cooking course I sign up in for in my entire life seems to be all about cooking less and eating closer to the earth.

The grains and pseudo-grains we sampled in class were all new to me---bulgur, farro, wheatberries, quinoa, spelt, triticate and amaranth---but they were surprisingly good mixed with varying combinations of things like fresh spinach, tomatoes, feta cheese, olive oil, garlic, mustard, balsamic or raspberry vinegar, cranberries, apples, oranges, agave, and pecans. She says these grains are easy to slip into any salads and soups, have a long shelf life for single living and freeze well in small batches after cooking. So turn your ice cube trays into grain trays if you want to be healthy in your widowhood---that’s my big take-away from the class. You never know when you’ll get the burning urge to plop a cube of grain on your dinner salad or in a mini-crockpot of soup.

My second cooking-for-one tip I offer with apologies to the swine population and while wearing ear muffs so I don’t have to listen to the vegetarians and vegans yelling at me. It’s something I learned from a Food Network magazine and have been doing for a year now: roll your bacon before freezing it (see the photo above). And the next time I’m waiting the 6-7 minutes for a slice or two of bacon to defrost I will take a moment to thank the organic food industry for making ancient and Old World grains new again. According to the class dietitian they are easy grains for small farmers to grow without using pesticides---and presumably without Kerosene---than the better known grains we’re used to see coming from the big, chemical dependent factory farms. Who knew I’d have to get old and widowed before appreciating the value of making grain porridge. ©

10 comments:

  1. There was a teenaged boy at my house last night who mused that he would be vegetarian if not for bacon. You meateaters do love your bacon, and you should savor it! Looks like you have to clear out your freezer, what with all the rolled bacon and ice cube trays.

    I hope she does take you on a field trip. I look forward to reports of your group, reaching to pluck an apple from a branch, stooping down to pull a mineral-rich weed.

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  2. Between the dietitian and a book I just started reading (Eat to Live by Joel Fuhrman, M.D.) I'm getting brainwashed into an eating plan I never thought I'd try. My grocery list lately has included so many new things I've never tried before. But your teenaged visitor is right about bacon. Bacon and Black Angus steaks are the two meats I could never give up. :)

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  3. And you should enjoy them.

    It is funny the things we take up. We never could have predicted them. That shows, I guess, how important it is to remain open.

    If we ever do share that bottle of wine, I'll buy the wine, and you do the cooking!

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  4. Heck, I could bring wine, too, and we'll just drink our dinner. No one has to cook that way. People who know me will find this funny but I'm actually going to seek out a health food store sometime soon.

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  5. The idea of freezing cooked grains in ice cube trays is new to me -- and very clever. (I did use the ice cube trays to freeze pesto last summer, and it has been very convenient this winter when I get home late and can whip up some past and pesto in 10 minutes.
    I'll have to take a look at the Fuhrman book. Another food book that I have found very inspirational is Michael Pollan's *In Defense of Food*. -Jean

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  6. I just added "In Defense of Food" to my wish list at Amazon. Thanks. I wouldn't call Fuhrman's book inspirational. It more like a scare-you-into-eating-healthier kind of book.

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  7. Michael Pollan is much more sensible. I think you'll like him, Jean. Heck, I don't think he'd mind if we drink a dinner someday!

    I used to freeze food in ice cube trays--pureed veggies for the kids when they were babies. It all comes back around, doesn't it?

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  8. Two recommendations for the same book? Now I know I have to get it. I'm very proud of the changes I made in my diet lately...and this is coming from someone who thinks chocolate sound be a food group all by itself.

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    1. Are you suggesting that chocolate *isn't* a major food group?!? No way!! -Jean

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  9. Gosh, I guess I shouldn't have said that out loud! LOL

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