Meet the Foodie

By day, I’m a mild-mannered English professor, a published author of both fiction and non-fiction, and the shamelessly devoted mother of two phenomenal human beings. (You can read more about my family here.)  But in the evening and on the weekends, I become The Family Foodie!

I started this blog in 2010, mostly as a way to combine the great loves of my life:  food, family, and writing.  In many ways, though, this blog has been a long time in coming.  I grew up in a family that loved to eat.  Though we lived in Idaho, my mom was a Midwest-born cook–which means we ate a lot of starchy food made up of one can of this mixed with one can of that mixed with noodles or rice and/or cheese.  We also ate whatever my dad brought home from hunting trips.  Deer, elk, antelope, moose–if it wanders through the woods, chances are I’ve eaten it.  We weren’t wealthy, but we never went hungry.  And we rarely ever went without dessert.

So it will probably come as no surprise that, like a lot of people, I’ve struggled to maintain a healthy weight for a good portion of my life.  After every fad diet known to humankind and three rounds of Weight Watchers (which always worked for me–it was maintenance that didn’t work so well), I’ve finally figured out that I can eat whatever I want.   And I should, if I intend to keep the weight off.  The magic words are portion control.  Nothing is off limits.  I try to eat smaller portions of high-fat, high-cal desserts and larger portions of lean meat, fruits and veggies.  I’m not always successful.  When my pants start feeling tight, I start paying closer attention to what I’m putting in my mouth.   It’s always a balancing act.  But that’s why you’ll see recipes for both desserts and entrees on this blog, because I believe in eating a little bit of everything.

Except gluten, that is.  In 2011, my doctor took a look at my blood work during my annual check-up and suggested that I try out a gluten-free diet.  I was up for the challenge, but only because I didn’t completely understand what a challenge it would be.  As soon as I discovered how much better I felt when I wasn’t eating gluten, though, I resolved to stick with it, and I do so about 90% of the time.   I’ve been amazed by how many new gluten-free products have appeared on the market in just the past few years.   I’m also learning to incorporate more naturally gluten-free items into our diet–namely, meat, dairy, fruits and vegetables–so the rest of the Foodie family doesn’t feel like they’re making a sacrifice at every meal.

I’m a huge fan of produce.   You’ll see this reflect in my Adventures in Produce posts.  My dad always kept a large garden, so I grew up eating lots of just-picked peas and carrots (and corn and potatoes and green beans . . . the list goes on, but you get the idea.)  On Mother’s Day each year, my family’s gift to me is a trip to Whole Foods and the permission to buy whatever weird fruits and veggies I want to try. And no one complains.  No one says “I’m not going to eat that.”  My love for produce is reflected in a preference for simple side dishes–steamed green beans, not green bean casserole (unless, of course, it’s Thanksgiving)–and fruit-based desserts.  I might decline a piece of chocolate cake, but a piece of rhubarb pie?  No way.

I went through a long period of being a vegetarian (about 20 years, more or less–there was a period of quasi-vegetarianism, after my kids were born and Happy Meals made the scene.)  Then, when we moved to Texas in 2001, it was as if I’d suddenly stumbled upon the place where they keep all the meat.  And it looked good.  And it smelled amazing.  Now I walk through the meat section at the grocery store feeling positively carnivorous.  Still, I try to make a vegetarian meal for my family several times a month.  It’s cheaper, it’s healthier, and it can be just as tasty as a meal involving meat.

I’m constitutionally incapable of following a recipe–even when I read it for the first time, I’m thinking to myself “Oh no, I’d want more pecans than that.  And probably buttermilk instead of regular milk.  Ooh, and I’d add nutmeg, too.”  Sometimes this leads to disaster, but not too often.   I’m also averse to measurement when cooking, though not so much when baking, since that involves chemical interactions that really need to take place.  Many of the measurements you’ll find here on my blog are approximations, so keep that in mind when you’re trying them out and adjust as you see fit.

If you read a recipe and think “That sounds like way too much green pepper,” trust your gut.  Use less and see what you think.  I welcome feedback on your own modifications of these recipes–I’m always up for learning something new!