I found a new cookbook at the library, The Food Matters Cookbook, by Mark Bittman. I've been cooking out of it here and there, trying new things. I like Mark Bittman's cookbooks, generally, anyway. He doesn't have staged photographs of pretty foods. His books have only instructional drawings, and the recipes nearly always have a long list of variations at the end. His cookbooks inspire, showing that cooking is an art, or an adventure and that there really are not rules, but techniques.
Last night's dinner was from the book, Baked Curried Rice with Apples and Coconut, and Gingered Tomato Salad with Shrimp. As I squeezed fresh lime juice over my salad it dawned on me how much I loved cooking at that moment.
Sometimes I do not love cooking; I always want to love it and I usually plan my menus with care. Also, I have high hopes for the cooking experience and results. But often, when it's time to prepare meals, my kitchen is not a happy place. Boo loves to hang on to my legs if she in a bad mood, or climbs up on a chair and puts her hands in everything if she's in a good mood. Bardo works quietly behind my back during meal preparation, quietly sneaking into the pantry and dipping his fingers in the brown sugar or sneaking out any snack food we might have stashed in there, usually completely spoiling his dinner. Pippi wants to, and often can, do anything that I'm doing.
Lately I've begun allowing only one child each day to be a kitchen helper. It's the coveted chore because food matters greatly to my children.
The past couple of years I've been studying, researching and occasionally practicing veganism. If you delve into the world of vegan literature you are going to find a lot of very passionate people, people that say animal products are evil. They'll tell you that when you eat a dead cow you are eating all the fear and anxiety that the cow felt. They'll tell you eating any meat causes cancer. You'll learn about farming and food production processes in the United States and won't ever want to walk through the meat isle of the store again. You'll learn that eating meat is not "green," and you'll feel that if you care about the earth, you ought not eat meat, especially red meat, ever. You'll learn that there is plenty of protein in plant foods. Some books have scientific evidence, some are just pure dogma, and ultimately you will have to choose what to believe.
The Food Matters Cookbook takes his hat off to plant-based eating and uses meat as a condiment, not the basis of a healthy meal. Bittman, a food lover and a food critic, admits that plant-based is the way to go for health. It's the cure for heart disease and its many related physical ailments. Clearly, food matters on so many levels, nutritionally, physically, sensually, spiritually, traditionally....
The balance presented in The Food Matters Cookbook closely aligns with my own food philosophy. Rarely are our meals planned around a meat dish anymore, and the meat dishes are smaller. Cheese and yogurt are not staple items any more, but treats. I can say now with confidence that my children eat more plant foods than animal foods. And for now, that's good enough. Yes, we're still eating meat. We, especially the children, like it sometimes.