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Archive for July 1st, 2008

Still Changing, Stepping up to Challenges

Tuesday, July 1st, 2008

Pondering

I will be 50 years old in November. My classmates in school are all taking turns, one at a time, turning 50 years old. It is something I never imagined, really… it is not old, but it is more of a milestone to me than 40 was. I had just started discovering myself at 40, had only been married to Brian about 2 years, was starting a new and happy life.

Fifty seems more about making peace with what is. This seems to be the life lesson repeated often for me and for many of my friends as we notice where we are in our lives. A new decade brings reflection.

Reality

We all are on this or that medication for high blood pressure or whatever, nothing major but with minor aches and pains we never imagined not long ago. For most of us it’s inconvenience, nothing life or death, but we do need to accept and adjust.

For example, I can not sleep on the floor anymore, or in a tent without an air mattress. This happened only in the last year or two and it surprised me. My hip takes several days to recover from one night of inconvenience. That’s life. I make sure to have an air mattress when I sleep in a tent now, but I do need to change.

My Food History, Readers’ Digest Version

Ten years ago I was allergic to only one group of foods (mold/yeast/cheese). Now I am allergic to more foods than not, or so it seems. I can not eat at most restaurants successfully. However, as I have said here before, the quality of the foods we eat is significantly superior to what we once ate and certainly to what most restaurants offer.

roastedchicken400.jpg

So I cook now, almost everything we eat. Although I will never love spending this much time in the kitchen, I am learning a lot.

It’s a good thing to keep learning as we grow, as we continue to live on this earth. Mom says it’s always a good day if you are not 6 feet under, if you are on this side of the grass. I tend to agree.

Therefore, I keep cooking and I do what the doc says. I cut out huge groups of foods that most Americans eat every day. I eat well but not the same things I once did and not as I maybe would prefer given all the choices in the world. I’m still just fine in the scheme of things.

My Biggest Food Challenge Yet

I do not like meat. I prefer not to eat it (I love beans… some including chickpeas agree with me, some like lentils do not).

I do not like thinking about meat, touching it, eating it, the texture of it. I would love to be a vegetarian. However, at this point in my life if I did not eat meat, at least some of it, I would wither and waste away.

As it is, I am having a very hard time keeping my weight. I once was on Weight Watchers in college… then a few years after that lost 50-60 pounds in about a year.. and kept it off for 25+years. Now, I am edging down to where I weighed in early high school. I weighed more when I graduated HS in 1976 than i do now, and I am 3/4″ taller.

No, you do not want this problem no matter how much you think you might. When I got the evil flu in February and could not keep anything but water down for 2 days, I stayed unwell for 29 days total because my system did not have the resources to bounce back. I am glad I was only 49 years old when that happened, at least time was on my side.

So the doc says protein is absolutely key in my health. I am allergic to nuts and fermented soybean products, as well as yogurt and cheese. I can eat only a few eggs a week successfully. The beans I *can* eat well do not have enough protein in them to be every-day foods.

My Plan for Health and Success

My compromise is that I still do not eat mammals; I eat poultry (birds) and fish. I have only 3 kinds of fish /shellfishI’m not allergic to, but luckily I like those three types. Sushi/sashimi is my one lucky food I can eat in restaurants reliably when I am traveling. I don’t adore it but it’s OK, and it’s good for me. And I don’t have to make it myself. Yippee!!

Um, so that brings me to today’s photo. I did something I swore I never, ever would do. I bought a whole chicken at the grocery store and I roasted it in the oven. I feel like I turned into Martha Stewart overnight. (Anyone in Lansing remember Martha Dixon? Her, too.)

Paz as Inspiration

I was inspired by my friend “Chef Paz” in New York who found on yet another food blogger’s site, a recipe for roasted chicken. Paz waxes poetic about this recipe. She cooks it and then digs in so fast she forgets to take photos of the chicken. She has done the recipe a few times.

I thought, “if I ever made whole chicken I’d make that.” And then we got a new oven. And I noticed the price of whole chickens was incredibly good (and they had no unwanted additives, when most chicken parts do at most groceries) and in an adventurous moment I bought it.

Abundance in the Refrigerator

Then I went home and had to admit to myself that I had to prepare it before it could go in the oven. And I did do it, and it worked really well, and it was good (for meat, anyway). We ate meat and potatoes, then we put it in spaghetti sauce over rice noodles. One chicken lasts a long time for two people!

Then I used the bones and skin and boiled them in the crockpot for most of a day, strained it and made soup with the broth. I did honor the bird this way; by being very respectful and frugal about using as many parts as I could. And broth made this way is so thick and flavorful that even broth soup is satisfying (not usually my cup of tea).

An Amusing Twist

The new oven made it easier to follow the cooking instructions. However, this woman who has never really cooked meat before this year (me), had to read on the internet to find out “How do I know if the chicken is done?” I did for some reason own a digital meat thermometer.

I cooked the bird as directed. At the appointed time, I checked and it was not done yet (was at 140F rather than 165F). So I put it in again. And again. And Again. And then… the thermometer started acting totally off, couldn’t climb up to anywhere near oven temperature. So I kept putting it back in.

Mind you, I got home from work at 9:04pm. I put the chicken in the oven at 9:50. The recipe said 45 minutes covered, 15 minutes open pan, and then let it rest a while. Four hours after I put it in, I was still baking that bird!

Finally at 2am the lightbulb went on over my head. My digital thermometer was not wrong. I had pushed a button accidentally which switched the display to Celsius. No wonder it did not climb fast enough. It was climbing to a 2-digit number rather than a 3-digit. At 2:15 I finally got to bed, still mostly hungry.

The Good Part: Success

But I did a good job. Every time I’d checked the temp., I had drizzled a little olive oil on the bird, and it was not too dry at all. It was pretty darned good, at least for meat.

By 2:15 I could chuckle about the digital display “hiccup.” Not perhaps the lack of dinner, but the little joke I’d just played on myself.

At least what I’d spent that long making, turned out as promised. Mission accomplished.