Sailing has taken a back seat on this blog, but that may be justified as Adagio sits under her cover waiting for the first signs of spring to once again emerge and demand the attention that she deserves. So what is the topic of conversation in our household, in our car, nearly everywhere we go? Food. Perhaps that is not uncommon at this point in the year, with the holidays still fresh in our minds, the cookies, the deserts, the special dinners.. but that is not the only reason that food has been on our minds. Three years ago, my wife and I were moved to become “selective” vegetarians – not vegetarians in the strictest sense, but eating meat only if we know its origin. The net result of this decision is that we have eaten meat a dozen or so times since then, most of which has come from my ex-wife”s farm in NH.
In my younger years, I would have considered this a radical move, but we are quite content with the decision, and we have, what I would consider to be, a healthy mindset regarding the food that we bring into our home ( with the exception of the black licorice that I sneak in from time to time ). There was relative harmony ( as much as one can expect with two teenaged females in the house) around the dinner table as my two step daughters began to adopt a similar diet. We took delight in sharing mint iced tea and a sandwich of asparagus covered with smoky cheese, and thousand island dressing on the porch on a warm summer evening – watching for hummingbirds to join us at the feeders hung from the rafters.
And then, over Thanksgiving Break, it happened. The younger step daughter decided being vegetarian was not radical enough – she jumped off the cliff and adopted a vegan diet. I have written before about the trials and tribulations of living with teens, but this certainly added a new wrinkle in the family dynamic. By choice, we live in a small house, and that requires an added amount of consideration and compromise from all parties. But having a vegan in the household has put an additional strain on life! ( I am not convinced that it has to, but it seems to be the case in our situation). With some misgivings, we opted to take a 3 day trip during the latter part of Christmas Break and found that traveling with a vegan can be even more challenging!
Of course, we still love her and miss her when she is not around – well, maybe not right away.. but things are not quite the same when she is gone 🙂 While this is not entirely new to us ( my daughter’s former boyfriend adopted a vegan diet for a period of time) we have a lot to learn about the ins and outs of a vegan diet. True to form for a teenager, she already knows it all!
What I find even more concerning, however, is the movement afoot to frame gluten as the true bad guy on the block. I realize that there are some folks who simply can’t tolerate gluten, but I certainly am not ready to consider it an evil for all of us. However, that is exactly what some folks would have us believe. At the top of this post is the split pea soup that I made this afternoon. It is still simmering, and my wife and I are sitting here enjoying the homey feeling generated by the aroma of warm soup on a winter’s day. No gluten in that.. as far as i know.
But, there is a competing aroma coming from the kitchen. I also made cut out cookies.. they have gluten in them, and I love them! I can’t imagine anyone giving up cut out cookies ( unless truly gluten intolerant, of course) – they are the best cookies to dunk in a cup of hot tea.. but there is so much more to it than just taste. Baking is all about memories – memories of my grandmother’s cut out cookies – she was so proud of how thin she could make them.. memories of baking with my mother – waiting, sometimes not so patiently, as she rolled the dough and then allowed me to pick the cookie cutter – her hand on mine, showing me how to place the cutter close to the cookies already cut out in order to maximize the number of cookies from each rolling. memories of sharing cookies and tea with my parents in the kitchen late at night. memories of baking with my own kids, passing on the tradition – sharing the joy of creating cookies that would bring delight to so many of our friends. I imagine that one could make gluten free cut out cookies, but they simply would not be the same.
I am sure that I have used more than my allotment of words for this post, so it is time to bring it to an end. The pea soup is a favorite of ours, and it may help bridge the gap with my step daughter.. it is vegan 🙂 The cookies are wonderful.. this is the third batch I have made this week.. many were distributed to our neighbors, and this batch will make a nice gift for my aunt and uncle. ( with more than a few left over to dunk in our tea the next few evenings) How fortunate we are to be able to enjoy a bounty of food along with the simple pleasure of spending a winter day in the kitchen preparing epicurean delights!