Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Food and musings thereon

A couple of friends have commented recently on the food posts I do in here, among all the other kinds of  thoughts, which they follow with interest but not always to the extent of doing likewise, though they think about it.

It made me realize a couple of things. One is that cooking nowadays is such a pleasure, because so little pressure is involved in it now.  Compare this to the years of cooking from scratch because of health issues of both family members, one of them very serious, urgent need to avoid additives or any unknown ingredient.  And of the many years of cooking for a partner whose sense of taste and smell had been destroyed by a medical decision, and whose paralyzed hands were less and less able to manage table implements.

I was then challenged, to put it mildly, to make interesting meals which could be handled without a knife, which didn't look like baby food, and which had texture to make up for the absence of most ability to taste.  That's when I started doing the crouton sizzle -- hot soup ready on the table, croutons of homemade bread red-hot in the pan, toss them into the soup, and the sizzle made Handsome Partner interested in the food.  Hard to maintain appetite without taste, but sound effects help.  

And I would use as much color on the plate as possible, for the same reason.  And vary textures where I could.  This in fact makes for interesting food anyway, when you think about it, but most of us have the additional pleasure of taste, and the smell of the food cooking.  And then as HP moved into total paralysis, cooking was fitted into a final three years of hectic days, of invalid care running from 7 a.m. to 10.30 p.m., bracketed by medications, aide visits, doctor calls and emails, and endless phone arrangements, and various procedures to keep HP as happy as we could manage. And making art, always making art.

This is not a complaint or a petition for a halo, just a recital of facts to show why today's cooking is so much more play and less of a work event.

Anyway, all this makes today's sort of prep so easy by comparison. And I made a good soup today -- no pix, not appetizing-looking, though it tasted great -- corn, pumpkin, dried seaweed, cannellini beans.  Flavored with oregano pesto, salt, pepper, cumin, curry leaves.  I blended it after the other vegetables were tender, and before I added in the beans, to make an interesting texture, and added in a couple of ounces of lemon juice to brighten it all up.  And that with caraway seed crackers was pretty good on a bitter day with a wind that keeps the house from getting very cosy.

Dessert was fresh (not dried, I mean) dates, split and spread with yogurt cheese.  Lovely tangy combo of the yogurt cheese with the sweetness of the date.  

This went over well with my guest yesterday, as she buttered her Mother of Invention tart with the yc.

If you are not familiar with yc, it's very simple:  regular, not Greek, yogurt, plain, which you strain through a cheesecloth or linen napkin-lined strainer, balanced on a bowl to catch the whey.  After a few hours, the curds  can be rolled off the cloth, and the whey goes into soup.  The cheese works like cream cheese only better, because tangy, and very easy to make and have around for a spread.

And the addition of lemon juice to the soup was a trick I learned from my Indian vegetarian cook friend, as well as using curry leaves in soup for better flavor.

About writing -- the response I get from the food posts is great, too, always a big incentive to the lone blogger!  particularly when people give me more tips and ideas, or try out what I've been writing about. Food unites!  So please keep reading and commenting and generally taking part.



  1. Just have to send you a great big hug, Liz.

  2. Sure would like to taste some of the things you cook. Don't know if I would like it but would give it a try. The only thing that I haven't able to eat is squip and chitlins. I'm so tired of the same old thing. But DH is not one to try too different style of eating.

  3. Yours is the second blog I've read tonight that mentioned the trials of cooking for people who had special needs and I know it must be (and have been) a tremendous trial. My mother was in a serious car accident when I was a little girl and she lost her sense of taste and smell so many of the meals I grew up eating were pretty bland because she was afraid to add any spices (or salt) for fear of putting in too much. As a result she rarely used any. Now it's a pleasure to eat foods that have great flavour. I agree though that texture also plays a large part in it.


Thanks so much for commenting. I read all comments with care and much pleasure!