Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Relating to Food

This morning I am thinking about my relationship with food.  I was making pancakes and had some vivid childhood memories that made me realize: I wanted to cook long before I remember "discovering" this.  I recall the morning after a sleepover at my friend Karma's house, watching her mother make beautiful round pancakes.  I was enthralled by their perfection as they came off the non-stick griddle; you see, at my house, my mother always used a large, stainless steel frying pan for pancakes, and they were always misshapen.  I went home, determined to make perfect pancakes. This event was so powerful that I remembered it when, as a young mom, I found my first non-stick griddle at a yard sale. And, as you know, I'm still pretty obsessed with pancakes!

I remember Dad teasing me about my steak knife when I was a teenager.  We had eaten elk steak constantly without the aid of such an implement since I was born, but at some point, I decided it was the proper thing and introduced the knife.  I look back at that now and smile, because my Dad is where I get this "just so" trait.  There are things he likes to be "just so" too, mine happens to be food.

When I was nine, I met Marie who was my 4-H Foods leader.  Our little group did atrocious things to her kitchen and her good-natured husband would eat, with a smile, all the things we would make.  I studied food with Marie for years, until it was just the two of us that remained and we would laugh and talk and eat together. She taught me about browning hamburger and planning out meals so they would run smoothly from cooking to serving to clean up.

A few years ago, I was asked to speak about nutrition to a group of women at our church.  As I searched the scriptures and thought about food, and our bodies, and God, I came to realize that often our relationship with food is broken.  Our society diets and eats things fixed in factories and drive-thrus on a regular basis.  The root of the word nourish is the same as the root of nurture, and refers to suckling.  As mothers, we are very careful about nurturing our new babies.  We hold them, nurse them, and comfort them, all at the same time.  Through these early interactions, we learn that food is necessary for our bodies each day.  As adults, it still has the power (and should) to comfort us and give us pleasure.  This scripture is found in the Doctrine and Covenants: "Yea, all things which come of the earth, in the season thereof, are made for the benefit and use of man, both to please the eye and to gladden the heart; Yea, for food and for raiment, for taste and for smell, to strengthen the body and enliven the soul.  And it pleaseth God that he hath given all these things unto man;" (Doctrine and Covenants 59:18-20) This scripture has helped me to clarify my relationship with food, that it should please the eye and the heart, the tongue and the nose, and that God is happy when it does.  Heavenly Father does warn us in the same scripture, "for unto this end were they made to be used, with judgement, not to excess, neither by extortion." So he does help us understand that we are best to exercise portion control and be wise in our eating choices, but essentially, he wants us to enjoy nourishing our bodies.

I have learned to derive joy from preparing foods from many such experiences over the years.  It heightens my pleasure in eating to have things "just so" when I can, whether that is a nice table setting or just having food of different colors and textures on my plate. Sometimes, it means the instant comfort of a frozen burrito in my hand in 1 minute, thirty seconds.  I'm just grateful for food and all the fun it can be! I'm also grateful for the teachings of the Bread of Life to help me put all this in perspective.

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If you are visiting, welcome! I am in the process of a Vulcan Mind Meld with my computer to put all of my right hand recipes for feeding my family on here as fast as possible. Please come back often and stay awhile. There are so many exciting things to come!

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A clearing house for all my favorite recipes. All my food musings. All my favorite cookbooks and kitchen gadgets. If you enjoy it here, and find it useful, welcome!