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Coming Full Circle

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A return to real food. When I was young, my mother always cooked from scratch. That was pretty much the only way to cook. The 50s were a time before supermarkets contained aisle after aisle of packaged and processed foods. It was a time you ate seasonally, and you followed the family traditions. Fish on Friday. Hot dogs and beans on Saturday. A chicken or roast on Sunday. Leftovers made into soup for Monday.

Those were our family traditions. Including one of my personal favorites when I was little. Scrambled eggs and scrapple. My husband won’t eat scrapple so I would get my occasional fix at the cafeteria at work, or when I went to see my parents when my husband was on travel. When I was little, scrapple came from the Lexington Market in Baltimore. Freshly made.

Somehow along the years we all became enamored of packaged meals, canned foods, TV dinners, and the frozen food aisle was a major source of what came home to be “cooked”. OK, but not as satisfying as those foods I remember from childhood.

What else made me think hard about how I ate, and what it contained and where it came from? You see, my dad and I share quite a bit genetically and otherwise. Stubborn Germans, both of us. Still, I thought he was the best.

We shared the same allergies, too. Yes, allergies. It turns out that my dad and I share an aversion to some of those additives put into foods to keep them fresh longer. He sneezed every time we went out to dinner. I started doing the same when I got to be in my 40s. After much messing around to find the triggers, it seems the additives in the ultra pasteurized half and half put on the tables in restaurants was one culprit.

We used to tease dad that he was allergic to the check. But, the cream in his coffee was most probably the source of his allergic reaction. For me, salad bars were always a problem. Can’t do them without a fit of sneezing. Bagged lettuce mixes brought home to make dinner quickly became named as contributors. Other foods were added to the list and avoided.

For the past seventeen days, while recovering from surgery, I ate almost exclusively simple organic soft foods made by myself or my husband. Never sneezed once until the night we had no other salad dressing in the house but one he picked up the other day. I usually make my own. This refrigerated jar of ranch dressing sent me into a sneezing fit. Thankfully, I am far enough along in recovery not to have had a problem, but still unwelcome.

I can go to restaurants where I know I won’t sneeze. Where they cook mostly from scratch. Real food, not reheated defrosted processed foods. Places like Iron Bridge never cause a problem. Bombay Peacock every time caused an outburst. I learned to navigate menus and avoid items all over town.

Today we went to Iron Bridge for lunch after a very good neurosurgeon visit. Celebration. The lunch specials.

Calamari to share. Flatbread for him.

Quiche for me.

Nary a sniffle.

I know I have to concentrate on avoiding as much processed food as I can. I do pretty well because of the CSA and the local farmers. More and more, I have to read labels, buy individual ingredients, make my own, and not rely on processed products.

And, Eat Real Food.

About AnnieRie

Retired, I am following my dream of living in quiet west Howard County, a rural oasis, not far from the urban chaos, but just far enough. I love to cook, bake, garden, and travel. I volunteer at Howard County Conservancy. I lead nature hikes, manage programs and show children all the wonders of nature, and the agricultural connection to their food.

One response »

  1. Yum 🙂 I was lucky to celebrate my 34th at The Bridge – lucky that my 4yo oblidged 🙂

    I agree – eat real food. Eventhough I grew up with a home garden & orchard, my parents gave into “convinience” and have suffered some health issues. However, since starting my garden, I’ve rekindled my Dad’s fond memories of my great-Nana and her garden. Like her, I grow a wide variety of veg and like her I can, pickle, dry & preserve for the winter months. Last year he shared memories of her pickled watermelon rind – this year I’m making him some!


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