So I have a couple of recipes coming up here on the old internet soapbox in the next few days.
But first, I'd like to begin with a sincere and heartfelt apology to your collective arteries and waistlines, dear readers of mine. It must seem like all the food I ever cook is laced with meat, cheese and general hatred for lactose intolerants.
(and heaven forbid you don't like wine, because if you've been around here long enough you already know that I always cook with wine, regardless of whether it's going in the food) (or beer, beer is good too... see also: whiskey)
In my defense though, when I cook, I'm usually cooking for a handful of lads from Indiana. And Robin and I know how to destroy a fully loaded burger and a pint or two with the best of 'em.
Ah, yes, our parents are very proud.
None of this to say however that we don't care about what we're putting in our bodies. We may enjoy some degree of decadence in a meal, but we won't be accused of eating crap.
It's something I rank high on my list of "Reasons I Love The Pacific Northwest". Before moving here the importance of solid, whole, natural, probably-still-covered-with-
drips-of-the-farmer's-sweat (gross, sorry) kinds of food had never really occurred to me.
Actually, the couple of years leading up to my move north had me living in Los Angeles trying desperately to live up to the area's standards of "health" and "beauty".
(I laugh in the face of those standards)
Here's a rundown of my eating habits in those days:
600-800 calories per day
gym 4-5 days per week/30 min-1 hr per day
1 cup Special K with light soy milk & coffee for breakfast
protein bar & diet coke for lunch
maybe a small skim, sugar-free vanilla latte for a snack
salad with grilled chicken breast (low cal dressing) & more diet coke or water for dinner
half an ak-mak cracker with fat free cream cheese & sugar free jam for dessert
(followed closely by what the hell was wrong with me?)
Don't misunderstand - I had begun eating this way in an effort to lose 20 lbs. of baby fat (that's what I'm calling it, casually disregarding the copious amounts of fast food I'd consumed in high school). And it worked, believe you me.
But how happy was I? On a regular basis I was not enjoying this vital aspect of a happy life - partaking in a fabulous meal, grateful for the nourishment it provided me, and enjoying the basic human experiencing that is eating.
Every meal was more a neccesity than a joy. I mean, I was glad to eat (I was hungry, dammit!) but there was virtually no substance to what I was eating. Low-cal, low-carb, sugar-free... Crap. Under the ruse of being "healthy" I was filling my body with chemicals and imposters of the foods I was actually craving (never letting myself remember that little trick called "moderation").
Moving to Portland however changed me. I began to allow myself the chance to savor, indulge, luxuriate in what I was eating. Every meal became an event! A spectacular festivity! New foods, new beverages, new cooking techniques, pairings, REAL FOOD!!!
(I told you I had been hungry for two years)
So now, though with about 10 more pounds to my name (mercifully better distributed through my body, thanks God, I appreciate you on that one) I take my time with each meal. Savoring a bite has never felt like a more sensual experience in that - if anyone knew the extent of the party on my palette - should probably encourage me to get a room.
And you know what? I'm comfortable with a couple extra inches on my waistline. I will happily, and eagerly, enjoy a dinner of cheese & cured meats (and hello, wine, have we met?). Lasagna? Risotto? Yes please! Because I know a) how to make them healthier without sacrificing decadence and, b) how to give myself a break when it comes to what I eat because I know where it came from and/or I know that it's not so full of chemicals and preservatives that my stomach will be pre-preserved when the Body Works people come a-harvestin'.
So with that diatribe out of the way, brace your tummies and taste buds for some seriously good eats (if I do say so myself).