Archives for: April 2008
I was really hoping that my baby's illness was simply gluten, because the alternative, that it was gastroenteritis and we would could all get it next, was not a pleasant thought. With gluten, I have some control, with a virus, I'm a victim. I've learned to prefer control.
But when he got really sick I was also hoping his reaction to gluten couldn't be that severe. He's pretty much over it today, as am I, and my 5 year old hopefully will be able to keep down food as well. Phew. Now my husband has it, he was the last to get it. I couldn't have weathered it without his help when the boys and I were all sick. Without giving too much information, I'll just say that that night when the 3 of us had it was, um, interesting. As a parent, I just went into roll-with-the-punches survival mode...and we survived it.
Last Saturday I was going to build my square foot garden boxes. Instead I've been cooped up inside with lots of time to plan them. I now know my small triangular back yard will have two boxes, each 8 ft long and 2 feet wide. One side will be against a retaining wall, with protection from the wind and elements, for the more tender plants. The other side will be along a 4 ft tall chain link fence. There's also a sloped back fence that is 6 ft tall. The ground there is too sloped for any sizable square foot garden, so I'll dig in some pots for tomatoes and train them to climb up that fence. That solves my space problems, and introduces some vertical spaces. I may let a watermelon and sweet potato vine around outside of the boxes toward the back tomato fence. I could vertical garden the watermelon, but that ground space isn't used and doesn't look great at present anyway.
The numbers next to the names are how many plants to put in each square foot, some I am guessing/experimenting with.
A few plants of note, beside the basic garden/supermarket fare:
Sweet potato: I'm mainly growing it for the leaves, but may be surprised by a few roots. I thing they're good for my little hunter, and I may be into black dot territory by harvest. Black plastic covers to warm the soil since I'm pretty far north for these guys.
Jerusalem artichoke: I'll let these go crazy on the hill, rather than in the garden. Hopefully they'll like it there.
Okra: Another southern crop that I'll black plastic and experiment with. Some varieties mature in 50-60 days, so I think I can pull it off.
Asparagus Pea: it took a bit of searching to find sees (tmseeds.com) but I'm willing to experiment with these as well.
Some others: Turnip (for greens), fennel, spinach, red perilla (I have some seed though I don't remember why I bought it, it may be red basil), genovese basil, holy basil, cilantro, parsley, greek oregano, etc. Zucchini will be on the hill as well.
The strawberries are just because my husband and kids buy and eat them no matter what, so I prefer they have an organic source because we simply can't find them in stores. The corn is just for fun for the boys...it may be a bad idea with our raccoon history! I am planning some pest control measures. Hopefully netting will keep the cats and birds out; the raccoons are a challenge I may or may not have to deal with.
I may have already killed my elderberry starts on the hill, but I see some signs of life in them yet. Currants and raspberries are other options for some hill space I'm getting cleared off.
I've ordered the seeds and plants, I just need to buy supplies for the boxes and such...there's no backing out now! Planning has always been my favorite part, and usually the only part I complete, so I'm hoping that square foot gardening will keep the dream alive this time. We've had a cold spring, so I don't think I'm too late getting started on some of these plants.
I never really cared for rows or rototillers.
I should stop calling my youngest a baby, as he's very much into toddler mode at 2 1/2, but when he's sick, I can't help but think of him as a baby.
I usually watch him like a hawk at social functions, but tonight we were all enjoying the company so much that I forgot to keep a close eye on food dangers. There were babysitting-age kids around keeping him physically safe, so I relaxed a bit too much for a little while. I noticed a baggie of goldfish crackers after he'd probably already gotten into them. Goldfish crackers should be outlawed; my older son got sick from them too many times when he was small, they're just so hard for a child to resist, and there is no packaged gluten free version.
He became very irritable soon before we left for home, and it went downhill from there. Stomach pain, gas, more irritability, vomiting, and diarrhea. Now it's almost 6 AM, and I've been up with him all night. (He's slept some, but I haven't). He's never had much more gluten than a trace amount, but has always proven to be the most sensitive of all of us. (He's got many Hunter traits.) I'm afraid this time he had much more than a trace amount.
Two days ago, I took him to Costco with me and we stopped for a hot dog with no bun (checking for crumbs, as always). A bigger little boy came up to him with a cookie in his hand and decided he had too many cookie crumbs on himself then started shaking them off of himself, right next to us. When I told him the crumbs would make us sick, he and his parents acted like I was crazy. Sigh. Fortunately I was able to protect the food. (I guess I'm just the crazy lady on crumb patrol!)
Some people think that crackers/bread/cookies can't possibly make anybody sick. It's annoying to me, but also sad for them if they happen to unknowingly be one of the people who are getting sick from gluten. If you're sick all the time, and eating poison all the time, it's hard to put the two together. I'm just glad we aren't in that boat anymore. I doubt I could have even had children if I hadn't given up wheat, then gluten. One person I spoke with about it questioned whether I should have had children, knowing I had a genetic condition I could pass on. Being that it is a treatable condition, and I'm also passing on the knowledge, I have no question in my mind that I did the right thing by having my two. Considering that 97% of full-fledged celiacs don't even know they have it, and countless clueless others with gluten sensitivity, I have no guilt or ambivilance about my decision whatsoever. Some people think the gluten free diet is a fate worse than death, but I completely disagree. Other than social inconveniences, and trying to help young children navigate the crunchy dangers, it's pretty trivial. My 5 year old is very expert at avoiding gluten, in any situation, so I must be doing something right... of course, he also had to learn the hard way a couple times.
I can't imagine waiting for positive test results to put this baby on a GF diet. The misery of one night of gluten is too much, the months it might take for the lab to show anything would be torture (for him primarily, but also the rest of the household). I've confirmed this morning that he probably did eat some goldfish crackers. I'm about to launch an anti-goldfish campaign, kind of funny really since they're so cute and likable, they just drive me nuts with their kid-appeal.
Some sources say the world will run out of wheat supplies in 10 weeks. If you're still eating wheat, don't start panicking, do something for your health and stop eating it today. In America, we have plenty of other food, so let those who need the wheat have it, and stop poisoning your body with it. (It will keep most humans alive, unless they have Celiac disease, but it has long term health consequences for many) Wheat is bad news for most blood types and most genotypes, and no better than neutral for the rest. Next time you go for a sandwich, find something else to wrap it with: a romaine leaf, a nori sheet, there are so many other options. Same goes for rice, it's mostly neutral for most of us, but we have other options, so it's a good time to explore them.
Also, in this time when many people in the world are panicking, remember those less fortunate. If you have some avoids or toxins in your pantry, donate them to the food kitchen, or somebody who needs them worse than you do. If you gave up wheat long ago, but still have some stored, right now is a great time to find a new home for it. Produce production this year should be good in the western US, at least I don't see any reason why it won't be, so replace some of those scarce grains in your diet with vegetables. Take the rising prices of the foods that are bad for you as an opportunity to branch out and try new things...and start that garden!
Once I get my son's new bed built, I will embark on a garden building project. One 4ft by 4ft square foot garden can provide fresh produce for one person for a year. Save seeds while you're at it. Even though their germination declines over time, there are so many seeds in a packet that it's worth using them up over time. You can reduce waste and feed your garden by composting as well.
To reply to D. Tsakiridis: True. Too many of us don't even know how to cook from scratch, much less produce the ingredients. No need to panic though, we can adapt to what is available, (BTD and GTDers are used to adapting) and we can continue to buy local. At least in Utah we've had a good snowfall year and won't be hurting for water.
Thinking of food shortages reminds me of the first time I walked through a grocery store after it sank into my head that gluten was wrecking my health. Here I was, realizing that the foods I had relied on were no longer an option and a good 80% of what was available to buy was not available to eat. It was weird. I lived off rice cakes for a week. Now, even if I had to rely on what food I have stored, and what is produced locally, I know I can adapt to anything. I may tire of the sardines Amazon had on sale recently, but I won't panic.
Perhaps people will branch out into more variety in their diets. Perhaps they will come here to find out how to cook quinoa or amaranth... Is a corn shortage next? Adapt, don't panic.
Apparently in some stores, the only rice that can be bought is Basmati. Not too bad for gatherers, as it is a superfood grain.
What is the best approach though, to the food shortages we're seeing? The shortages started with wheat, then rice, and will probably affect other foods as well before the year is over. Of course we need to make sure we have enough for our families to eat, and take care to not waste any, since the shortages are worldwide.
A home garden is a great thing, if you have enough land you have many options, if you don't have much flat land, there are other options, like square foot gardening, container gardening and vertical gardening. So if there are some foods you don't want to be without, grow them! Not only are there shortages to worry about, but also food quality issues, like e. coli contamination and some of the other issues we've had with the food supply.
I need to practice what I preach though. I love to garden, but have trouble finding the time and space. I have a spot where I can put a 3X6 foot square foot garden, but I need to fix a sprinkler head and build the box, etc. etc. I did plant a few peas, which are starting to sprout, and a couple elderberry bushes (I hope they survive, they aren't looking great). I can also annex some of the side lawn to put garden boxes on...it's just a matter of actually doing it.
Same would be true for Vegas.
I spent a couple days in San Francisco last week and had a great time, as well as some great food. I couldn't find much written about gluten free food in San Francisco, though most of the nice restaurants have a chef on hand ans I think would do a good job of it. The only place I heard much about was Cafe Gratitude, a great little vegan raw place. I'm not a vegan or raw girl, but it is mostly gluten free (some question on the soy sauce, but I avoided that). It was a really great place, and other than not liking or eating sunflower seeds, the food was awesome. I've never had better guacamole (black dot for gatherers). I don't know what status Irish Moss would have (it's a seaweed that they use to thicken desserts) but the results were amazing...I tried a hazelnut chocolate pie that my husband had them bring me. Wow. It was really nice to be able to order drinks with almond milk and agave...that's a first for any restaurant experience for me.
As I researched other places to eat I was hoping to find an Ethiopian place that uses just teff in their injera bread. I couldn't find one that didn't have at least a little wheat in it. So I googled "dosa" and lo and behold there is a Southern Indian restaurant called Dosa in the Mission district. It's not just the namesake, it's their specialty, and their dosas are too awesome for words. San Francisco has a great climate for sourdough, and although I missed the Dosa filled with lamb that I can get in Sandy at Royal India, the food here was just amazing. I ate way too much, because every bite tasted so good. I tasted my friend's Uttapam, which was also good, a bit like a savory pancake. Now, dosas have lentils in them, a black dot for gatherers, but I couldn't resist as I don't get into a big city very often. I ordered one that had farmer's cheese and peas inside it (two diamond superfoods).
That wasn't the worst of my dietary sins, however...the gelato and ice cream in SF are equally amazing and they had some fun flavors I just couldn't pass up. I only had the kid's size, but whoah, no more for me!
Last night I paid penance by spending two hours making two lasagnas...rice noodle, soy cheese for the boys, and zucchini 'noodle' lasagna for me. They were good, and the leftovers will last a while for all of us. I dig the zucchini pretty well, this time I salted the slices and let them drain for a bit so that the lasagna wasn't so runny as the first attempt. I've also been eating more cranberry flax muffins for breakfast or snacks. They hit the spot and are diamond superfoods all the way. I love using vegetable glycerine to sweeten them, as it seems to make them turn out better.
I've always spent a lot of time analyzing things, trying to figure out why I cheat and eat foods that are in no way good for me. This week I've been reading "Stop Whining, Start Living" by Dr. Laura. I've come to the conclusion, after listening to a caller with a similar problem on her show today, that I am in control of my life and what I eat. Some people just inherently know that, others of us, like myself, forget all too often.
I am in control of what I choose to eat, and my choices will affect the choices my children learn to make... that's a big responsibility. Not to mention the fact that I want to be around and healthy enough to enjoy seeing my boys grow up, and eventually enjoy being a grandma.
I did pretty well today. Honestly, my avoids were 2 grams of avocado, 2 tiny sips of root beer, and 3 grams of dark chocolate. Not too bad, and it'll get better. May the scale be my honest friend again.
I love the new blog software, though I'm not sure I can handle all the power it gives me... I'll get used to it.
I had a great breakfast this morning. Last night I steamed some jerusalem artichokes to go with baked tilapia and green beans + rice for the boys...a common dinner at the last minute in my house. The artichokes aren't really a last minute thing though, they take a while to peel! They're worth it though. When I was a kid we'd buy canned potatoes and roast them over the campfire, I'm sure that sounds weird if you've never tried it, but they were very good...and that's what jerusalem artichokes taste like. My husband began to complain about the potato famine in our house, but once he tasted them he admitted that they are tasty.
Anyway, this morning I sauteed some mushrooms and the leftover jerusalem artichokes (about 1/3 inch pieces) in some olive oil. Then I added 2 eggs and scrambled them with it, later adding some fresh spinach and ume plum vinegar. It was really really tasty. Green onions would have been a nice addition.
Hopefully I can stay on track for the whole day, without any snack attacks.