Tuesday, June 12, 2012

This is not a food blog

No. Seriously. I love to cook. My mother taught me how to scramble an egg when I was four, and how to make a mix cake at six. She was a basic meat and potatoes cook, so she never taught me anything too fancy.

When she died, I had just turned ten. My stepfather was not a cook. I found her copy of "Joy of Cooking" and a couple of other cookbooks and started working my way through. I mastered hollandaise, steak and kidney pie, liver pate, and beef Wellington. No one told me I couldn't.

Fast forward three years to a foster home. There were never less than 20 mouths to feed. We ate fried chicken, Hamburger Helper, swiss steak...simple meals, easy to multiply. I took four years of home ec, and loved cooking in the little kitchens. I also loved the attention I got from the home ec teacher, Mrs. Zumwalt. She always encouraged me...and we got to make doughnuts during first period.

What did I never learn? How to cook without a recipe.

I have cooked my way through decades of dinner parties and family meals, and until the last couple of years, I never even tried to make anything without explicit directions. And pictures, if possible.

Something happened after my divorce. I had two young kids to feed, one of whom is incredibly picky (blame it on a sensory processing disorder) and my repertoire took a turn for the limited.

Then it happened. One day, I made a meatloaf by memory. Not specific memory, just a general one. And it turned out great. The next time, I decided it might be good with the addition of some grated zucchini. And it was. And a new, adventurous Annie was born.

Alas, nothing I made was ever spectacular. If I wanted to impress, I still turned to my recipes. Until last weekend.

I had a pork roast, and I couldn't find a recipe that fit exactly what I was craving. So I jumped in and winged it...totally winged it. My daughter gave it the highest praise ever. It was spectacular, if I say so myself. I think it was the cumin/cocoa combo.

Tonight, we needed something for dessert, but I am working very hard to stay away from sugar.

I stuck a can of coconut milk in the freezer when we got home tonight, and after dinner, I opened it and scooped out the thick part from the top of the can. I threw that into the food processor with three previously frozen bananas (I always keep them in the freezer for smoothies). A splash of orange juice to get things moving in the food processor, and within a few minutes, we were feasting on a tropical treat. So yum.

I have always said I am not creative, and I don't think that is changing anytime soon, but I think I will have some fun in the kitchen.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

A change of color

This is my daughter. She simply knocks me out. Her beauty radiates, from the blue of her eyes to the kindness of her heart. She is a bundle of explosive energy, a dynamic dancer, a good friend.

I never thought I was a good photographer. I'm not. But she is a terrific subject. Did I mention she is kind to animals?

She adores her older brother. He tolerates her, most of the time.

She has been wanting to dye her hair. I have always said my kids can do whatever they want with their hair, as long as they could turn it presentable enough for a funeral (don't ask why that's my aim). No mohawks, because there is no way you can make that look good, IMHO...but color? Go for it. Cut? Whatever.

Never been a problem until now. My baby wanted to go red. She wanted to jump in and go full blast cherry red. Her hair is so beautiful - grownups pay hundreds of dollars to get half the blonde streaks she has naturally. I told her fine, but nothing permanent. I am such an ogre.

We found a 28-day auburn. I am sure it will last longer than that, and I am confident it won't be pretty while it's fading.

But she loves it. And she is beautiful.

Election Day

I did. Seriously, it was easy - I walked directly across the street from my house. I was disappointed that hardly anyone was there. I had my choice of kiosks, and only one person walked in before I finished.

As we left, my daughter asked, "Mom, why aren't there more people here?" I didn't have a good answer for her.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

My mother, Yvonne

Today would be my mother's birthday. She died when I was 10, just like her mother died when her youngest child was 10. A family legacy I do not plan on keeping.

Yvonne Marie Wilson Bakaleinikoff Oakley

June 3, 1919 - December 5, 1969

Vegan vs. Paleo

Jumping into June, jumping into summer, jumping into change.

I tried, I really did. Years ago I was a vegan for seven years, spurred on not by cuddly, furry animals, but by the great Dr. McDougall. My journey ended with my health not improved, but eroded. The OMD I was seeing told me to go home and make some bone broth. It worked. Of course, it did. What did my mother give me when I was feeling under the weather? Homemade chicken soup, made with homemade stock; bones simmered until they crumbled. Why didn't I learn? I love veggies, and meat and I have always had a love/hate relationship. Love as in...bacon, fried chicken, hamburgers (mostly), pot roast, ham.... Hate as in: the smell of raw meat. Handling raw chicken. Weird textures.

So, what did I do? Watched "Forks over Knives," which is a great film by a lot of well-meaning people. But I should have remembered that everyone's body is different, and I think my northern European body just needs the meat. My tummy rebelled, I was tired all the time, and HUNGRY ALL. THE. TIME.

I know I don't need, or even much like, the dairy.

I research the hell out of everything I do, and one WOE just kept coming up...call it paleo, primal, or ancestral eating, much of it makes sense to me.

Starting with bone broth, just like my OMD advised oh so many years ago.

One thing I didn't anticipate? My hunger has greatly decreased. I can skip a meal without wanting to tear off someone's head. I feel..mellower, for lack of a better word. The flattening of my tummy a bit, even before any weight loss. Bye-bye, grains. Bye-bye.

Friday, June 1, 2012


Sometimes June 1 seems more like the beginning of a new year to me than January 1. The kids are out of school today, and ready to move on to new activities. What changes after January 1? Not much.

We are so blessed to live within a few minutes of two lakes and a beautiful river. I think I will pack up the kiddos tomorrow and go jump in the lake. The warmer of the two. I know they are looking forward to the water park, but there is plenty of time for that on Sunday. I think we need a little more nature, and a little less concrete.