Food seems to be more popular than anything else on the web. My few food posts certainly get more hits than anything else. My mother was a plain cook, except for desserts (which were only for Sundays and holidays), although she occasionally did very odd things inspired by women’s magazines. We were “comfortable”, not poor, but there wasn’t a lot of money for extravagance in food (or anything else). The grocery store didn’t have a lot of exotic food, anyway.
I had just finished college when the first oil crisis hit. Hamburger went from 29 cents a pound to $1.29, as gas went from 29 cents to $1.29 a gallon. I quit eating meat. The next year, I moved back to my home town, where lots of “hippie farmers” had moved in while I was away. Most of my high school friends had gone to college and not come back. My friends became hippie farmers, and many of them were vegetarian. I met a Seventh Day Adventist couple then in their 50s who shared their vegetarians ways with me. I read Adele Davis, who was seen as a radical at the time, although she had graduate degrees in nutrition and biochemistry from distinguished universities, and Francis Moore Lappé‘s Diet for a Small Planet. These women established the ideas that a mainly vegetarian grain and bean-based diet was best for us and for the planet. Now, more than 30 years later, a third of the population is obese and our health costs are skyrocketing, and industrial farming, especially of beef, is a major contributor to pollution and user of non-renewable energy. A new generation, and a lot of mine, is “discovering” slow food, local food, organic food, healthy food. What on earth happened? And will we ever learn?
For all those years, I have been eating that way and raised two children, one of whom is now a much stricter vegetarian than I ever was. My husband and I worked full time (and more), volunteered at church, led the kid’s Camp Fire clubs, and finished graduate school. Cooking this way was cheap, easy, quick, satisfying, and nutritious. We were not fanatic about meat, although we rarely had meat more than once or twice a week, and I didn’t sprinkle everything with wheat germ, bean sprouts, or sunflower seeds, or use tofu, veggie burgers, or “fake meat.” Somewhere along the way I found Nikki & David Goldbeck’s American Wholefoods Cuisine, which has everything from soup to nuts, including a great short-order section for quick healthy meals. My cooking is basically my mother’s plain cooking, with whole wheat flour, little meat, and none of the amazing cakes, cookies, and candy my mother produced. I’ll continue to post menus and recipes here, in hopes that people will see how easy and “normal” healthy cooking can be.
Saturday night, we had friends for supper, and I was thanked for catering to a vegetarian on the Ornish diet, which, other than expecting you to cut down even more on oils, butter, cheese, eggs, nuts, and other high-fat foods, is just what Adelle Davis, Francis Moore Lappé, and the Goldbecks were teaching all those years ago. I picked dishes without cheese and eggs, left out the oil in the stew and the salad dressing, but otherwise cooked as I usually do. Here’s what we had:
Sweet potato oven fries with drinks beforehand
A “warm salad” of plain frozen vegetables (I used a broccoli, green bean, and mushroom mix) with a dressing of just balsamic vinegar, salt, and fresh-ground pepper.
Wholewheat cottage loaf
Beans from Brittany (a stew from the Goldbecks)
Poached pears with buckwheat crepes and yogurt sauce
Washed down with cider (hard cider for some of us)