Food, glorious fooooood!

Food, I love it. All of it. (ok, not liver…..there’s something seriously disturbing about liver,,,and eggplant, ghastly stuff!) But those aside, I love food, cooking it, eating it, offering it. Food really is one of life’s greatest pleasures.

There’s nothing quite like a juicy steak served with potato smothered in sour cream, and green beans, or poached salmon with rice and asparagus, or how about a fresh salad, crunchy and flavourful….and never have we had access to a better array of food; fresh, frozen, organic, homemade, fat free, sugar free (ok, scratch those last two if you want any flavor) but you get my drift. Enjoying the earth’s bounty is a gift…..and I plan to enjoy every mouthful before I die.

Now I am very health conscious. I honestly eat 5-10 servings of fresh fruits and vegetables every day but that doesn’t come cheap. Eating healthy costs more than living on fast food and prepared meals, and it takes discipline. That said, I’m only human and not beyond falling into temptation. I like my potato chips every so often – we all crave junk food some times. And I’m fairly certain that chocolate covered cherries are a necessary part of my healthy eating regimen. (If they weren’t how are they constantly appearing in my mouth?)

Some foods are easier to prepare than others, especially those you like. Personally, I’m a noodle lover. Boil me up some egg noodles topped with sour cream and I’ll follow you anywhere (and homemade noodles are by far the best!) And while I love fresh salads, I have to set some boundaries about what does and doesn’t qualify as ‘salad greens’. Kale and cabbage are NOT among those that qualify. Both are tasty and make wonderful additives to salads (in small doses) but any salad that contains only kale or only cabbage is guaranteed to be a workout. I once ordered a kale Cesar salad at a restaurant and couldn’t get through it (And I never leave a plate empty) Every mouthful took so long to chew my jaw eventually started to ache so I had to abandon it….I just got tired of chewing (That’s one good way to diet I guess) It also doesn’t have a lot of flavor, whereas a variety of lettuces seem to pack their own unique taste (or maybe they just absorb the dressing better)

I love a hearty lumberjack’s breakfast complete with bacon, eggs and toast, and I never underestimate the value of a nice thick slice of salami…any time….it’s just good for the soul.

Now I’m not knocking fast food or dissing the restaurant industry, both have their place is society’s eating routines. Sometimes that slice of pizza hits the spot when you’re on the run, and never discount the role of the almighty french fry, humanity is hooked on them, and the more crap you pile onto them (cheese, gravy, mayo….) the better. I think we need to limit these foods because they offer no nutritional value and, thanks to a host of preservatives and artificial flavours, they also pack on the pounds. But limiting them isn’t easy. If you’re single it’s not motivating to cook for one. If you’re tired from working all day, you just want fast and easy. And if you just don’t like to cook, you probably aren’t very good at it, so why bother? (Fortunately for me, I love to cook…ok, probably because I love to eat)

I guess I believe that anything is good, in moderation and this is where we fall apart in society. We tend to binge, then we seek out extreme diets that eliminate sugars, flours, starches,,,,anything that adds pounds, when really if we just ate everything we wanted in moderation, we’d probably be ok. The occasional indulgence of our junky treats, or the overindulgence that comes with holidays and gatherings, would balance out when we return to our moderate eating…… assuming we DO return to it. Seems like there’s more and more fast food restaurants opening up and more prepared foods accompanying our kids to school, and this is where we need the change, or rather the discipline.

I guess at the end of the day it all comes down to personal preference and what each one of us is willing to do for our eating habits. Good food costs, a lot. And good cooking takes practice and time and desire, and that’s a big commitment, cause if you don’t like it or don’t do it well, you’ll have wasted the effort and the money. I maintain that a healthy balance of both worlds will keep both the conscience and the body happy so I’m ok with occasionally washing my healthy salad down with a glass of red wine and a side order of fries. I like the good stuff, and I allow the bad stuff some times, and for the moment, the food Gods appear to be happy with me…so who am I to mess with a good thing?

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The ‘Man cold’….it could be terminal, but for who?

Why is it when men get sick it’s a monumental event? They never seem to get the common cold, no no, it’s always borderline pneumonia. They lay themselves across the bed like they’re preparing for burial, yet they’ve no detectable fever and they have a surprisingly robust appetite for one so gravely ill….seems they just can’t get up to eat it. It has to be served, in their sick bed, next to the remote control.

My darling husband had such a bout recently, the poor baby. He woke up Saturday morning with a scratchy throat….and the voice (suitably enhanced) to go with it. There were no other symptoms, he just felt poorly for three days (the same three days that preempted him from golfing due to inclement weather…how’s that for lucky timing?) We had some prearranged family functions that he had to attend over the course of his illness and he managed them stoically, steadily making his way through the lovely meals and snacks, and partaking happily of the offered libations (for medicinal purposes, of course) Unfortunately he was much too weak to finish mowing the back yard, or take out the garbage, or fold the laundry.

And when the cable on our bedroom tv went on the fritz he barely made it to the lazy-boy chair in the family room in time for the hockey game. (thank goodness he was able to muster up the strength)  Of course once there, he collapsed into the chair unable to make his own drink. I even had to get his peanuts for him, poor baby. (Oh I do hope he survives this!!!!)

Ok Buster, here’s a reality check.

When the wife and mother gets the flu she has two options; 1) get over it, pronto, or 2) deal with it….and don’t let it interfere with any household routine, i.e. you still cook the meals, do the laundry, get the kids to school or hockey or ballet or whatever, you put out the garbage, buy the groceries, pack the lunches, clean the house and, like most women today, go to work full time. Taking time off for illness is not an option. (could that be why women live longer? We stay more active, we engage more on a daily basis…mmmm, food for thought)

Yesterday we had an appointment to get the snow tires put on our car, and he was deathly ill, could barely lift his head from the pillow. So I rearranged some appointments I had and took the car in, but only after bringing him his breakfast and cold medicine in bed. A few hours later I returned to find he was gone. The weather after three days had finally cleared so he went to the driving range to practice for his upcoming golf trip with the boys, the one scheduled for tomorrow in fact. I was afraid he’d have to cancel but wow! I’m happy so to report that my darling made a miraculous recovery and just in time. How lucky is that???

Why just a couple of hours ago he scarfed down two slices of pizza, a small of salad, (at my insistence) two rye and gingers, a bowl of peanuts, and a pack of M & M’s, then practically leapt out the front door to meet his ride….it’s card night with the boys.

What is it that motivates men to play up their illnesses? Is it that they need occasional validation that we’ll continue to look after them or just a deep seated desire to take a break and play helpless? And all men do it. The ‘man cold’ is legendary and I’ve yet to meet a woman who hasn’t fallen victim to nursing the ‘man cold’.

Now, there’s a case to be heard for males having a weaker respiratory system; they ‘feel’ the symptoms of a flu more deeply, and it apparently lasts longer for males. (who made these findings…a male?) Personally, I think it’s all in the head. We ALL get viruses, and flu’s, and colds, and how we deal with that is individual. I suspect the mother instinct in women kicks in so we just take on the role of caregiver, and men love that attention. (how stupid are we?) On the other hand they do succumb to the simplest of ailments; it’s like they have no fight in them, especially as they age. Women, on the other hand, tough it out because life goes on and indulging illness is not an option, ever. As a result, we become stronger, more resilient, hence our longevity.

Thank God women live longer. It’s the only break we get!

Man Cold

Halloween, I really hate it…I think

Or maybe it’s not the actual holiday I hate, rather the ritual of going door to door amassing junk food. Every year I dread October 31st because I just don’t think we’re doing it right.

Now I’m no grouch. I love to see kids have fun. I carve a pumpkin. I buy the candy. I praise each child on how wonderful their costume is, and I wish them all a fun night. I guess what I struggle with is here is what kind of ‘fun’ are they really having? The excitement of dressing up and enjoying the company of friends doesn’t necessarily need the ritual of going door to door collecting candy. Kids of all ages can gather, in costume, and celebrate Halloween in the safety of someone’s home, and any food items acquired there likely don’t need the scrutiny checks parents employ for treats obtained from strangers’ houses.

When I was young we made our costumes and they were not expensive. We used what we had, added some imagination, and presto, we took on a new identity for a day! When I was 19 and working full time, our office decided we’d all dress up for Halloween one year. I was Minnie Mouse and I made the costume myself, black tights with a tail sticking out from under my short red polka dot skirt and the mouse ears complete with a big red bow. Unfortunately, early in the day my tail accidentally dipped into the toilet (I’m not used to peeing with a tail) and before I realized it I flushed and the water pressure was so strong it ripped the tail right out of my tights. OK, it was only attached with a safety pin, but still, that’s some water pressure! (Fortunately my skirt covered the gaping hole in my tights but it didn’t protect me from the draft that would plague me the rest of the day).

Now parents buy costumes for their kids, so no work and no imagination is required. How uninspiring. There was a time when homemade treats were the norm; rice crispy squares, homemade cookies, apples…and kids were thrilled with those. Then a few psycho’s thought it would be fun to ‘tamper’ with treats, sticking pins or razor blades in them (You know you could just turn off your lights and not participate. Why hurt an innocent kid just because you’re nuts?) so parents had to start culling their children’s treats, tossing anything that was ‘homemade’ or not ‘sealed’ for security. Are we still having fun?

I think in a society where child obesity is on the rise we could probably do without a shopping bag full of chemically laden sugary treats. Maybe parents could host a little gathering for their children’s friends. Let them dress up; encourage them to ‘make their own costume’, in fact, make it a prerequisite. It’s amazing how much fun a kid can have when their creative juices start to flow. And coordinate with each parent to contribute one treat so they each get a bag of goodies, and let them go nuts. If they want to eat the whole bag in a night, even better. It gets it over with, and limiting their loot ensures they don’t have a steady diet of junk for the next two weeks.

Even our changing weather patterns have had an impact on the trick or treating ritual. Days are shorter, so it’s already dark to start with and this poses a safety risk for children, i.e. drivers need to be on high alert. And Halloween often comes with cool, even damp weather, forcing kids to wear plastic bags over their costumes to stay dry. How fun is that?

I know of some people who don’t want the constant visitors at their door so they simply place a big bowl of treats on their front step with a sign that says ‘help yourself’. (Is there any kid out there who can be trusted with the honour system when it comes to candy?) Isn’t it time for change?

As I mentioned earlier, I am not a scrooge when it comes to Halloween, because I don’t want to disappoint any kids. They deserve to go a little wild one day a year but I think we could find better ways to indulge them. Let’s poll our kids to see what they’d prefer – I’m betting they’d opt for something a little simpler. In the interim, I will continue to host the holiday with enthusiasm (even when I don’t feel it) because I don’t want to spoil the fun. But no one, and I mean NO ONE is happier than I when 8:00pm strikes on October 31st cause that’s when I toss those pumpkins into the composter, turn off my lights, and settle in with a glass of wine to enjoy MY treats.

Halloween