15 July 2008

Food glorious food

I am currently enjoying a heaping bowlful of fresh roasted vegetables: egg-sized baby eggplants, zucchini, mushrooms, red pepper, and miniature gold potatoes broiled with olive oil, garlic, fresh-ground sea salt, fresh-ground pepper, and fresh rosemary. Fresh, fresh, fresh. (But forgot the red onion, whoops.)

I have always tried to limit my processed, packaged food intake, but it's noticeably easier in Germany for some reason -- perhaps because I'm not as big a fan of German processed, packaged food as I am of American processed, packaged food,

One weakness I still have is for Coke in a can ("dose" in German). The cans here in Germany are smaller than they are in America; that's a plus. They hold 0.33L of the precious elixir, and I usually don't even drink half a can. I just need my not-too-sweet, extra-carbonated daily "fix," but I drink as little of the foul stuff as I can. I can't go even 24 hours without a Coke without starting to feel BAD, so I've just decided to allow myself these little third-of-a-liter doses of Coke.

My other weakness -- maybe it doesn't even count as a weakness -- is frozen pizza. We keep a selection of them on hand, for those days when I'm too whupped from a long day of work to think about food. And again, frozen pizzas in Germany seem to be of a higher quality than the ones in the US, at least, the ones I'd been eating. They seem to cook up better, and have better ingredients. My favorite is a pesto tomato pizza; another one I like has fresh parmesan and rucola. Only downside: no whole wheat crust.

Oh wait. One more weakness. Refined sugar. I've been trying to replace my intake of good German chocolate with homemade desserts like banana nut chocolate chip bread. It's working, sort of. Of three freezer drawers, one is exclusively dedicated to ice cream. But a lot of the ice cream is historical; that one is from when so-and-so visited; that one is from when the store was out of the kind I really like; etc. The Belgian chocolate Haagen-Dazs we both love is the only one that gets replaced on a regular basis. (What we really want is a freezer full of is the blood-orange Eis we got in Berlin the last time we were there. But we don't want to drive all the way to Berlin just for ice cream. Well, we want to, but we recognize the insanity of the impulse.)

Back to the fresh roasted vegetables though. I had roasted vegetables for the first time (that I can remember -- I've probably had them before but never really noticed them, if you know what I mean) when we were in Sweden this past December. Our host was a full-time working mother of a toddler, with another one on the way, and she managed to pull off a delicious, healthy, homemade meal every single night we were there. It was awe-inspiring. In fact, until just now, I don't think I had made the connection, but I think that was when I decided that I would start making home-cooked meals for my 5-year-old son, even if he is too young to appreciate them.

I'm also doing it for myself, of course. Getting back in touch with the part of me that loves to cook has been good for me. (It's also responsible for putting back the 5kg I lost in my first six months in Germany.) And cooking with fresh herbs puts the gardening part of me in touch with the cooking part of me, and I've been enjoying it more than I can put into words.

Oh, and one other thing. It occurred to me earlier today that I'm cooking partly as a way of enhancing my "resume." I can't package myself -- I can no longer compete -- as a smart, young
blonde hottie any more; gotta jazz up the old c.v. with some practical life skills, like... cooking. Gardening. Interior decorating. All the timeless skills that don't sag, grey, or dry up.

Speaking of gardening, I'm almost done with the backyard. One hot-pink peony, one salmon oleander, and a couple of burnt-orange day lilies to go. Then I can just relax and dream of the red-painted Adirondack settee I would nestle in the center of my beautiful garden, if only I could afford it.

Check out the food blogs on my blogroll if you love food as much as I do. Holy Basil is a great site to start at if you love Vietnamese food even half as much as I do, and Coconut-Lime is a good one if you love trying new recipes.

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