Mommy Cafe

Vegetarian home cooking, kid tested and approved

Gratitude

No, this isn’t the name of a new recipe. It’s not something to be consumed or purchased or used to clean the kitchen. But it’s definitely a useful thing to have in abundance.

In thinking about food (as I often do), one of the first things that comes to mind is “home-cooked.” Second is “home-grown.” I was fortunate to grow up with gardens. I was raised on fresh vegetables, eating carrots straight out of the dirt and slicing juicy corn off the cob on my grandparent’s front lawn. I didn’t even know that pale, canned vegetables existed until after college when I was first on my own in the grocery store. What a surprise the first time I opened a can of green beans to find the green missing, not to mention the taste!

Being spoiled with knowing how a green bean and a carrot are meant to taste, I started to feel like a food snob. I shunned the canned and frozen foods aisles and opted to instead “shop the perimeter,” only visiting the fresh produce, meat, and dairy aisles whenever possible. Of course, this was before I realized that I was doing more than pleasing my picky taste buds. Those buds ensured that I was getting the nutrients that were severely lacking in my vegetables’ canned counterparts.

Of course, good home-cooking is more than fresh vegetables. This was a lesson harder learned, as I worked my way through recipe cards and cookbooks, trying to find that happy medium between cream of chicken soup and low-fat everything. I found my small rotation of dishes soon consisted of the favorite meals I grew up on: spaghetti, beef stroganof, tator tot hotdish, chili. It was too hard to find the flavor in my low-fat, low-calorie recipes. My favorite meals were comfort dishes for me, reminding me of home. Sadly, though good for the soul, they were not so good for my general health.

These days the term “home cooking” means more than what’s on the dinner menu. It means sharing time with my family over a healthy, flavorful meal. I still shop the perimeter. I still refuse to buy canned vegetables. And Will and I are healthier for it. But I’ve stopped looking to the recipes to bring that home-cooked feel. It’s the time that I put into the preparation, the care I put into selecting the ingredients, and the gratitude I receive after the first delicious bite.

In my world, home cooking is both a result of and an anticipation of gratitude. I am grateful to my parents and my grandparents for raising me to appreciate food as nature intended. And I am fortunate to have a son who offers the same gratitude I have for a good meal. Dinner is my favorite time of the day, a time to celebrate my past and enjoy my present while looking forward to my future.

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March 1, 2010 - Posted by | Food for thought |

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