Friday, November 09, 2007

I heart Barbara Kingsolver

I am just past the middle of her wonderful latest book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, which I have in audio format from Audible. I love this book. I am going to keep it on my iPod so I can listen to it over and over. It is funny, inspiring and heartbreaking. I'm also hoping that if I can listen to it enough, it will ultimately be motivating.

As an adult, I find I have an increasingly poor relationship with my food. In fact, I would be perfectly happy to not eat for days. Unfortunately, my stomach has different ideas. In general, I don't like to cook and have little patience for cleaning the kitchen. We order a lot of takeout in this house, but I REALLY don't like all the waste that takeout involves and it's not very easy on my waistline.

When I was a kid, we ate very well. We had a gigantic garden in our backyard and my mom baked bread, canned tomato sauce, whipped up crabapple jelly and generally fed us pretty naturally. I gorged myself on meat and sugared cereal whenever I visited either set of grandparents, who were of course convinced that I was going to be terminally unhealthy on my mostly-vegetarian diet.

As an adult, I've increasingly relied on convenience foods and drive-thru dinners. We go through phases where we eat very well, and of course we grow a bit of food in our front-yard garden every summer. This year we added our chickens and a CSA share to the mix but ultimately, we avoid the grocery store like the plague and eat an awful lot of meals delivered from Pizza Hut. Even as I type this, my stomach is rumbling because I don't feel like making myself breakfast (even though there are a dozen-and-a-half yummy backyard eggs in the fridge, just waiting to be scrambled up). My weight has gone up with each of my pregnancies and just won't go back down again. I can't help but thing that my refined sugar-heavy diet is to blame. I like being able to pop the top (or hand my credit card over at the drive-thru window) and satisfy the cravings for a few hours.

Listening to Barbara Kingsolver (she reads the audio version herself in a lovely, soothing, slightly-drawling voice) talk about the wonderful, important place good food takes in their lives and, even more impactfully, to her daughter talking about how her upbringing has affected HER relationship with food makes me want to try, yet again, to revamp my own stunted attitude about food. Why is it so difficult? I know what I want to do, but I just can't seem to bring myself to do it. Even with our CSA share, countless veggies rotted on our counter and in our vegetable bins before heading out to the compost pile. There were only a few weeks when I really got into cooking up all those great local veggies. The meals were wonderful, and I had a noticeable boost in mood and energy levels. I just can't seem to keep it up, though.

I once heard someone say that the main challenge of exercise was putting your legs in shorts. I think it's the same way with me and cooking (and cleaning, and any other number of things I really want to do but keep putting off). If anyone has any secrets about how to get yourself to "just do it", I'm all ears!


Blogger Connie said...

I've heard many recommendations for this book. I'll definitely have to read it. Thanks for writing about it, Chrissy.

I think a lot of people in the US have a really messed up relationship with food. When I go to my husband's hometown in Italy, it's just so different.

10:52 AM  
Anonymous chrispy said...

I know that for me I really struggled with getting things "right" in my life. I put off the housework till 5 min before churchable came home everyday. (this is a little hard if there are little kids in the house) Most of the time I was just making the house look better and not really getting things clean. I dreaded the laundry, dishes and the bathroom. In addition, I was eating with my cravings rather than actually what was good for us. I cooked but not necessarily great food. On top of all this I did not work out. I was piling on the lbs that I lost from stress during my art thesis year plus more. I did not do much with my time either.

In January of 2006, I stumbled across a website called I followed things in the small easy steps that were set forth and now almost 2 years later, I cook a healthy meal (low-carb &/or vegetarian) even under extreme deadlines, I do the laundry, the house stays mostly clean and I get in a workout 3 times a week. None of these were simple for me but I had a routine and a step at a time with the help of the website and I get things done now.

2:54 PM  
Blogger Yarnhog said...

Meal planning and preparation is an enormously laborious and time-consuming task, and it has to be done three times a day. If you don't enjoy it, it is really the most onerous job in the house. If you're also pressed for time (and who isn't?), it becomes almost impossible to face making real meals every day. When I was a kid, we never (and I mean, not one time) had takeout or went out to eat. My mom cooked every single meal every day. And HATED it. I cook dinner two or three times a week, my husband cooks maybe twice a week, and the other nights we go out or get takeout. And I'm okay with that. We follow a mostly healthy, lowfat diet and always have salad and vegetables with dinner. But beyond that, I see no reason to do something I hate (and I do hate cooking) day after day and passing that attitude on to my kids. Small changes (like having a repertoire of easy-to-prepare, healthy meals that you can make three times a week) can make a big difference. Another thing you can do is keep lettuce (Romaine or Greenleaf or mixed greens, not Iceberg), croutons, and lowfat, bottled dressing on hand so that, when you do order pizza or takeout, you can make a quick salad to go with it. My kids love a Caesar salad with crunchy croutons.

5:14 PM  
Anonymous Chris de Longpre said...

Hi, Chrissy. I am reading this book also and loving it. I've been a Kingsolver fan for years, but I wasn't prepared for how much I would enjoy this work of non-fiction.

I do practically no cooking at all, but am blessed with a DH who does a great job. We've been eating whole foods, simply prepared for years and we try to eat locally. This works only in the summer, though.

The book is really making me re-evaluate things like bananas, which I consider a staple. Hmmm....

When my children were little and I did most of the cooking, I had about 6 basics that were easy to prepare and I just rotated them through the weeks. The only time I prepare one of those now is when one of the kids is home for a visit and begs to have one of the old stand-bys. DH swears that I only knew how to cook 6 things when he met me!

4:29 AM  
Blogger ChefSara said...

So I must say, I'm totally opposite of you, as cooking is my passion! I actually look forward to coming home and cooking dinner. It's how I unwind after work. So, here are a few suggestions: Plan you your menus in advance. I actually use google calendars, so I can access it anywhere there's an internet connection. I use the google documents to keep a list of recipes I want to try (most of them are from cooking light, and therefore available online). Once your meals for the week are planned out, take care of all the grocery shopping for the week at one time. Cuts down on the hassle of having to stop at the store so frequently. And as the kids get older, maybe try to find ways to involve them in making dinner...make it a family activity, rather than a chore that keeps you from them. Also, think about things that freeze well, or will make good leftovers: soups, stews, casseroles...that way, on busy days, you have a freezer full of stuff you can pull from to heat and still have a healthy home-made meal, and not have to resort to the drive through or delivery. You might also look into seeing if there are any places like My Girlfriend's Kitchen ( in your area: These are places where you can go and they have everything chopped and prepped for you , and you can make your meals (enough for a couple weeks) in one afternoon that you can bring home and freeze, and have minimal time or mess in making them later in the week. I could go on and on, but those are a few ideas off the top of my head...

11:10 AM  

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