Monthly Archives: November 2014

How Do You Chow?

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I love to eat, and maybe I pay too much attention to food, in general. Everyone has their favorite foods, and foods they won’t touch. But I’ve recently paid more attention to the way we eat what we eat. I’m sure some of it comes from family upbringing, but some of our eating behavior develops out of preferences, fears, and even a touch of OCD behavior in all of us. Maybe it’s because we’re just coming off of a holiday famous for food, but I felt a blog post on this topic would be interesting.

First, let’s talk about food placement on the plate. Some like to keep everything separated, with nothing touching. No running rivers of juices or gravies slopping into anything else on the plate. Some will let things touch, but never mix. And some will pile everything on top of everything else, and eat it all as if it were meant to be a dish all in itself. I’ve witnessed someone making everything into a salad…lettuce and salad ingredients on the bottom, piled high with mashed potatoes, hot vegetable dishes, meat…whatever was being served!

Now consider the order in which we take bites of things on our plates (unless you are the piling eater I just described…then this part is a no-brainer for you.) Some rotate through in order, taking a bite of each thing. Some mix certain bites together. Some eat all of one thing before moving on to other things on the plate. I’m usually either a combo bite person, or need to have certain things followed closely by others. When we had liver and onions as kids (something I would hardly ever eat now), I used to have to have a bite of liver and a bite of mashed potatoes in my mouth at the same time, or I wasn’t going to eat that liver. Bread would be a close substitute for the mashed potatoes for me. When I’m at a potluck, I tend more towards eating all of one thing up before moving on to the next thing on my plate. But when eating at home, I’m a follow-up biter…meat then potato or vegetable right afterwards.

Can we talk condiments for a minute? I season my food well when I cook, but I almost always add salt, and maybe pepper when I eat most savory foods. If something is based in red sauce, such as spaghetti, pizza, or tacos, I will use hot sauce or chili pepper. I’ve met folks who use NO condiments, and those who camouflage their food with seasonings and condiments until the food is almost unrecognizable. My dad was a big salter, and I have a friend who salts until there is a layer of white on the food. I recently witnessed a friend putting hot sauce on everything on his plate. I like to still be able to taste the food. There’s also the matching of condiments to be considered. Sandwiches seem to lend themselves nicely to some sort of spread…some like mustard, mayo, ketchup, or butter. My choice depends on the contents of the sandwich. For example, pastrami would obviously require mustard, ham or turkey needs mayo, and NOTHING needs ketchup! Others would slather ketchup on anything, including even eggs!

When we eat at home we have quite different eating behaviors than we do at a restaurant or at a friend’s house. When you eat with your family, or when you are alone, you know what you like, and you are used to your family’s quirks. But start to eat with outsiders for the first time, and watch out! Some are sharers, almost putting a forkful of food from their plate into your mouth. Others are downright thieves, stabbing their forks into your food without warning (although I’ve only run across one of these in my life.) I’m all for offering a bite to someone if I feel like it, or agreeing to split something when ordering at a restaurant. But do NOT come stabbing at my plate without asking, and do NOT thrust your fork at me to just take a little taste of this. My plate, my fork, my rules!

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Time Is On My Side

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I’ve been thinking a lot lately about time. It’s a very relative thing. Sometimes it seems to fly by in an instant, and others it just drags on and on. We are always conscious of it, it seems. We have routines based on the clock and the calendar. We live by the clock and calendar. Time has become way too important in our lives, I think.

We have to get up at a certain time in order to get ready to go to work or school, or start the day’s activities. We watch the clock as we get ready, making sure we area on time. Once we’re into our day’s work, we watch the clock constantly. Waiting for the class to be over. Waiting for lunch break. Waiting for the next appointment. Waiting for the day to be over.

Then we start thinking about bedtime. How much more time is left before the day ends? How late can we stay up without paying for it tomorrow? How can we best use our “free” time? How many hours of sleep do we need? Is sleep a waste of our time, or necessary to carry on? Then, all too soon, it’s time for the alarm to wake us once again.

And we work our way through each week, counting off the days. Is it still only Monday? Is it hump day yet? How long until Friday? We can’t wait for the weekend to arrive, but then the weekend flies by and we are back to work again, feeling like we never had a weekend.

Shall we talk about months, and even years? How long until Christmas? Only two months until Spring Break! Next summer I’m going to Europe! Only 3 years until retirement!

We want to live in the moment, but we are always planning and looking forward to (or dreading) the next chunk of time. As a cancer survivor, I find myself wanting to quickly add on the weeks, months and years that I’ve ticked off since diagnosis. But at the same time, I want to enjoy every day, and don’t want my life to fly by. We all seem to be able to wish time away, and desperately hang onto it at the same time. So, if time is relative, and seems to pass at different paces, have we mastered time travel, of sorts?

Trick or Treating Exhausts Me

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Well, another Halloween has come and gone, and I am exhausted! And I didn’t even GO trick or treating…I just stayed home and passed out candy! I’ve always loved Halloween. Over the years, I’ve gone from child participant, to young adult party-goer, to adult candy passer-outer, and have enjoyed all of the phases. I live on a street in a small town referred to as “Halloween Alley”, where it ranges between 150 and 500 trick or treaters, so it’s a sure thing that I get to satisfy my Halloween fix each year.

I get into carving unique pumpkins, and have recently moved to the second tier of carving skill, using a dremel tool for some cool effects. I roast the seeds and try out different types of seasoning each year…this year was garlic and Old Bay, which was quite tasty. And I agonize over the candy. How much? What types? Do I go with the theory that if I buy what I don’t like I won’t eat as much, or the one where I might as well buy what I like because if I have a lot left I will enjoy eating it and not have it go to waste? Either way, I always seem to consume way too much of it. And I love keeping track of how many little princesses, zombies, and pirates come knocking.

But there ARE some drawbacks to Halloween. You have to be ready, often after a long day at work, for the early travelers. These are usually the very young, or the only children of over-protective parents. Then you have the get up, sit down thing going for the next 3 or 4 hours. Now, that doesn’t sound so hard, but I realized last night how very hard it is on this old body.

There’s also the challenge of having enough candy in your hands to cover the larger numbers of kids who come in packs. I have a huge bowl of candy, much too heavy to carry to the door each time, and I have cats to keep indoors, so can’t stand with the door open. So, I grab handfuls of candy and step out the door. Last night I packed the pockets of my vest with backup candy, just to be sure I’d not have to go back in the house to cover the groups that come on trailers and in vans. Guess I could consider a smaller bowl to use for the actual delivery, eh?

And, living alone, there’s the challenge of trying to eat supper, let the dog out, or go to the bathroom without missing some visitors banging on the door. It wouldn’t be so bad if they’d wait patiently until you made it to the door, but, no…some of these little people in disguises will just open the door and walk right in, whether you’re there or not! Bold little munchkins!

Then there are the shady characters…the young adults in a bit of a costume, with their hands out (no bag for candy.) Or the parent that is carrying a plastic pumpkin bucket and says, “It’s for little Marissa…she’s in the van.” Or the kid you’re sure you saw just a half an hour ago, back for more. Yes, lots of little (or big) scam artists out and about. I figure if they are THAT desperate for a piece or two of candy, they must need it more than I need to hang onto it.

So, I’m sure some of you might be saying, “Why do you do it? Just turn off the lights and close the door, and pretend not to be home!” But I couldn’t do that! It’s Halloween, for goodness’ sake!