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Do you live to eat, or eat to live? At our house we pretty much fall into the latter camp. We don’t enjoy being hungry and we do have positive reactions to flavors and textures. That said, we aren’t all that involved in food for the sake of food. We enjoy doing some cooking, get it all done, and have reasonable nutrition while we eat what we like.
Now, you might take a look at our kitchen and decide we must be foodies from the size of it. The kitchen takes up an area about 16 x 12 feet, and has 17 cabinets, a huge refrigerator, a gas stove and a dishwasher. We put it in ourselves 22 years ago.
There is no island. The size and shape of the room would not take an island, and it didn’t make sense to me to have one anyway. A peninsula made more sense.
It does have a coffee center. We put one in before they were cool because I have a coffee addict in the house. We have three ways of making coffee, and we can grind beans too. We can make ground coffee without electricity, thanks to the gas stove and wood stove backup.
Why the big kitchen if we eat to live?
Technology was a big part of it. My husband gives the dreaded plug-in gifts that are supposedly not welcome. But he’s a technology guy, and he gets the good stuff so I have accepted numerous offerings of kitchen gear over the years. It has to be stored; ergo, lots of cabinets for them.
Bonus: When I do get out the food processor for my annual coleslaw binge, he retrains me on the machine. I can’t seem to retain the know-how over a year’s time.
Think about what else can happen in a kitchen and we probably use it for that. I mix dyes and dye wool in the kitchen. He uses the good lighting and work surfaces for small repairs. We process wild berries into syrup. I do the hand washing in the kitchen sink because it’s big enough and we don’t have a laundry sink.
I do dinner because I have the secret to getting everything done at the same time. Over time I’ve learned how to cook a reasonable number of dishes so we don’t get bored. I also religiously provide “obligatory green stuff” at each dinner meal. What can I say? My mother taught me the food pyramid when I was little.
My husband usually does breakfast when we’re eating together, which is the usual thing. He can make the fake eggs in a milk carton taste good. He has the patience to cook hot cereal too. When one of us is up early for some appointment or whatever, we’re able to feed ourselves and usually resort to easy stuff like toast or cereal.
My husband also bakes. In winter he is the bread baker. He taught me how to make pie crust. He has developed recipes for cookies using heart-safe oil instead of butter and they get rave reviews whenever I share the surplus. After all, for two people, three dozen cookies is a bit much.
Pizza is another of my husband’s specialties. We have hardly any grease on ours and his crust is nice and thick. It has plenty of vegetables on it too. It has gotten difficult to eat anyone else’s pizza. With his, we get to enjoy the “eat to live” lifestyle.
But the finest thing my husband ever came up with was his whole-grain waffles. Regular waffles are like the proverbial Chinese food: they fill you up for a little while but soon you’re hungry again. His waffles fill you up and you can get to lunch without an emergency.
Our grocery stores in this area are independent and part of the clientele are transients, vacationers and travelers mostly. There’s little incentive for low prices with these guys. So our purchases are modest: a lot of lowfat hamburger and chicken, occasionally some fish, salad fixings for summer and frozen vegetables the rest of the year. Fruit in season. Ice milk or frozen yogurt in summer, yogurt year round. Flour and yeast for bread, some margarine to spread on it. A few condiments, some sugar, some juice, creamer, and a little milk, and we’re done.
Our yard has blessed us with more apples than I can cut up in a day. I need to get on them soon, and freeze them up for pies and such. The apples came from a tree grown from a discarded core. We got a surprising crop this year. They were not sprayed for bugs or disease, so they will have more waste than commercial apples.
That said, there are plenty more in the upper branches and on the ground for the deer so they can eat to live.
We also forage for berries and choke cherries on our land. I make syrups of them to share at Christmas. It also keeps us from relying solely on maple syrup with those waffles.
We are a non-hunting family, but my husband likes to fish and has caught and cleaned dinner on occasion. from the stream in the back yard.
Eating to live
We’ve been through some tough times in our years before meeting, and we both know what it’s like to go hungry. I do not recommend it. But the doctors have had some influence on what we eat, if not all the influence they seem to want!
It all began in the 1980s when my husband’s health insurance introduced an HMO and did wellness checks. Due to a high cholesterol reading at one of these screenings, my husband quit having cheese in his sandwich at lunch, and we switched to low-fat ice cream alternatives in summer. And that was all we could do then.
Since then we’ve tried to do better but his cholesterol is naturally quite high and diet doesn’t seem to affect it.
More recently, I had cancer and was advised to basically eat the way I eat anyway. Then came some bursitis and my primary care doctor suggested upending my diet to avoid foods that trigger inflammation. I confess to being a slow adopter of that one. I do plan to try taking away one food at a time to see what difference it makes. But I won’t jump on any bandwagons by banning whole food groups.
There are real foodies around us who don’t modify their diets to help themselves with scary disorders like diabetes and cancer. If they truly enjoy their food even if it kills them, I guess they get to die happy. Being basically one who eats to live, but also likes some things, I try to achieve some balance in food, getting good nutrition and making it enjoyable as well as affordable.
What’s most important for you as regards food? Comments welcome!