Food as Art
ColorJoy, for me, is an expression of all types of creativity and artfulness. I started this blog almost 8 years ago. Much has changed, but never my enthusiasm for acknowledging artforms which are under-celebrated.
In France, it is accepted that food can be art. In the USA, where we more often choose food for speed or price, we rarely celebrate excellent cooking as I think it could be.
My friend Altu, who owns an Ethiopian-food restaurant in East Lansing, Michigan, is an artist with flavor (and with relationship). I wish more folks could see this as the true art I know it to be.
The Reluctant Baker
I never enjoyed cooking much. Baking was a bit better, because it was optional. I only baked when I chose to do so.
Domestic obligation (cooking meals) rarely inspired me to create with flair or joy. Fortunately, there are some excellent family-run restaurants in Lansing, and I was able to get quality food on the days I did not feel inspired to cook for myself.
Then in 1991, I became clear that eating yeast/bread and aged foods (cheese, yogurt, vinegar) made me function poorly. For me, eating those foods guaranteed me a day of feeling foggy in the brain. Once I realized the cause and effect of that food connection, I gave up those foods.
The result of that choice (and the resulting improved life I experienced) meant that I started to make some foods for myself. I started with simple baking, such as drop biscuits.
At that time I could still eat corn, and I made a pumpkin cornbread (sweetened with applesauce) which was a hit at every gathering. I started learning how to substitute ingredients (the cornbread originally called for sugar to sweeten it and sour cream to stick it together-applesauce substituted for both).
Over time I have discovered more foods that hinder me. The list is remarkably long these days,* and I can barely find a restaurant where I can eat comfortably. I make most of my meals at home now, it is just easier than trying and then getting sick.
It seems I meet a new person fighting related issues at least once a month. Each person struggles with what they *can* eat. Health care professionals mostly tell you what *not* to eat, and leave you hanging.
This Artist in the Kitchen
I have learned a lot about alternative grains/flours, in particular. I learned how to bake without milk/dairy products, without eggs, corn or wheat, tree nuts or peanuts, potato, xanthan gum, most fruits, and many seasonings.
I feel fortunate that I still can have sugar. I’m lucky that I have enough time and resources to find good ingredients and spend evenings experimenting with baked goods.
Frustration before Triumph
Good pancakes took about a dozen unsatisfactory tries before I found a combination I liked. It took me 6 months to make an acceptable pumpkin pie filling without dairy or egg. It took several years to figure out chewy brownies.
Many other food-challenged folkÂ just do not have that amount of time or patience to stick it out. Baking is really a science as well as an art. It is truly a skill I have developed over years.
My Goal: a Holiday Dessert Booklet
I realize that we are coming upon holiday season and there are a lot of folks who also struggle with food restrictions. I have developed about a dozen recipes for comforting desserts which might help them get through in a healthy way. Some of them are on this blog in my Recipes Category,Â some are new versions of those goodies, and some are new.
It would make me very happy to help other food-challenged folks get through a rough season. My work over time can help them when they need it most. I’m working on it right now.
Keeping Home Bakers in Mind
My idea is to format the recipes for a standard home printer. This would make it easier for you to print out just one page, for one recipe. I know that printing any blog format means too much ink wasted and a frustrating layout on the printed page.
I believe that there are many who will celebrate finding this information. I want to make holidays better for other people suffering from food sensitivities, celiac /gluten intolerance, and those who choose a vegan lifestyle. It excites me to help those people with my hard-earned knowledge.
I have recipes ready to format. I’m still playing around to get an even more satisfying pie crust (Brian is enjoying the experiments) but everything else has been tested many times.
About a dozen recipes are ready to be typed into the desired format. I’m not sure how long this will take.
Mom’s books took years longer than expected, but I have learned skills during that process, and I am not dealing with an outside print house. The only way to know, is to dive in.
You will hear from me as soon as I have a better sense of where I stand. I know others are in need of this information!
|* For the intensely curious, my own restrictions (may be Too Much Information/TMI for many):
- Foods I can not eat right now: Corn (including all corn products such as modified food starch, corn syrup), Yeast/mold foods (bread, cheese, yogurt, vinegar), xanthan gum, tree nuts, raw or partially-cooked eggs, cinnamon, garlic, ginger, most fruits, most fish.
- Foods I avoid eating at home, occasionally eat in restaurants in small doses: wheat, potato, bell pepper/chili peppers.
- Foods I once could not eat and now don’t bother me: Fully-cooked eggs, un-cultured dairy (milk, whipping cream, butter).
- Food I can eat if fully cooked, but not raw: Apples, eggs.
- Fruits I *can* eat safely: strawberries, sweet cherries, cranberries/lingonberries, grapefruit, small amounts of other citrus.