Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Chicken Pot Pie (revision)

My favorite food is my girlfriend’s chicken pot pie. The vegetables we get from the farm are so good. The pie comes from the oven steaming out of its golden brown crust and when we break through it with the knife chunks of carrot and potato mix with the broken crust and condensed soup and peas, celery and chicken. I always burn my mouth because it's too good to wait.
I like digging in the dirt. At farm volunteer days we plant or weed, sitting or kneeling on the ground and moving slowly up the row, careful not to disturb the plants behind us as we move. It’s the kind of Saturday that feels worthy for a long time. There's a summer solstice celebration too.

These pictures are from the Cresset Community farm website. After working on planting in the field all day we come together for a pot luck lunch. It’s really a great social occasion, with everyone having worked together and then contributing to a communal meal. I think that the appreciation of and understanding that this work is one of the finer things in life is a shared value. On page 259 of “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” Pollan discusses the slow foods movement in which “eating contributes to the landscapes and species and traditional foods that would otherwise succumb to the fast-food ideal of one world, one taste.” This type of relationship between eater and farmer is the first step in a truly great chicken pot pie.

The site distribution process is another social aspect of the community supported agriculture farm. These are not mere commodities, manufactured with economies of scale and distributed worldwide from the cheapest producer. Rather, a group has formed and agreed to rotate responsibility amongst each other to travel to the farm on Saturday morning, collect the shares of food and divide them accordingly at the pick up site, which is our patio in Golden. Everyone takes this seriously, as we depend on each other in a small group. In this way each share member gets to communicate with the farmers and visit the farm a few times a season. While visiting, the basics of ethical agriculture can be witnessed in practice. There is no pesticide application machinery. The chickens roam freely, as do the cows in the pasture. This farm produce is totally free of preservatives, other than the non-chemical based pickling in jars. The picture is of our distribution site where the shares are divided among the 16 share members in the Golden area.
The produce varies with the season and goes 36 weeks total, every weekend during the summer distribution and every other during winter. There are all kinds of fruits from the Western Slope in the fall. Hotchkiss, Colorado is where the apples and peaches come from. Apple cider, pumpkins, bread baked on the farm and unpasteurized milk are all available in season. There’s a barter share too. If you work three hours a week you get a share in trade, enough to feed two people through the harvest season.
This website called Local Harvest lists farms that direct market to customers in the Denver area.

Food as an Evil

A vice by definition is: “an immoral or evil act”. We all have our vices, and my vice is food. It’s a necessity, it’s a pleasure, it’s the center of a social gathering, it’s a hobby… it’s evil. Being an over-eater is not a popular confession. I suppose doing so would just state the obvious. The beauty of confession is the ability to be heard and understood. Grace is extended to the humble… sometimes.
But what happens when confession doesn’t cure the problem? “The truth shall set you free” but really there is no freedom in the truths of a binge eater. There is the shame and guilt that ensues after the pleasure of stuffing yourself so much you feel you literally might explode. There’s the social humility, especially being a woman. I may feel better after a McYuckies value meal, but my heart aches when I realize I’ve eaten it in secret. I want people to believe that I only eat when I’m around them, but my secret trips to the dumpsters to discard the evidence only makes me feel more pathetic and hopeless.

The government has labeled obesity as an “epidemic”. Even Michelle Obama is at work full force with changing the foods provided in schools and educating children on the importance of healthy food choices. In my opinion, we’re tackling the wrong issue. Society is corrupt. More children are being raised in broken homes, are exposed inappropriately to sex, deal with drugs at home AND in school more than ever before… and we’re tackling obesity? The common joke of “eating away emotions” is a joke because it’s a truth. I can’t help but be enraged when its passed off as a lack of control of physical defect. It’s a coping mechanism. We don’t ignore scars on wrists, or bad behavior, why do ignore the signs of obesity?

I have all the education I need to eat healthy. I’ve been exposed to incredible delicacies and have experienced the greatest of tastes. I’ve had incredible conversations, and have been a part of wonderful life long memories. In proper context, it’s a beautiful thing and a great gift. But for now, food to me, is an evil.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Mmmmmm Sopaipillas

Mmmmmm those yummy sopaipillas, what memories they bring to me about being at mom's house. The smell of the deep-fried, crispy, puffy bread makes my mind wonder off and remember the day we would all join together for our Christmas dinner. When I say all of us, I mean all 17 of us; mom and dad, my 10 sisters and 4 brothers and of course all their spouses and children of the older kids. Our house was so full of not just people, but the wonderful smell of home cooked food, a grand feast.

My favorite, of course, were mom's famous sopiapillas. I can still see mom with her rolling pin in her hands and her dish towel thrown over her shoulder as she dipped each piece of dough she rolled into the hot oil. She amazed me how each and every roll of dough would be such a perfect round circle, unlike mine which resemble each state in the U.S. As she pulled out each sopaipilla my mouth would just water waiting to sink my teeth into the hot bread with the sweet taste of honey.

The tradition, however, was no food was eaten until dad said grace and believe me he would take his time knowing we were all salivating over the tasty food. The story of The Waltons where they all sat at the table to eat their meal well that's how it was at our house, especially when I was a child. Once the word "Amen" was said there were hands flying everywhere, but I knew where mine were going straight to the sopaipillas and honey. Wow, what a treat!

Thinking back and remembering the joy and satisfaction on everyone's face after the grand feast, I have to wonder what was mom thinking. Was she wore out because of all the hard work? Or was seeing her many blessings of all her family being there her joy and satisfaction? Well now that I have a family, and I have my rolling pin in my hands with a dish towel thrown over my shoulder I have experienced the same thing. I watch my children sink their teeth into their sopaipillas after their dad says grace and I sense their joy and satisfaction of a grand feast, I know it was my mom's joy and satisfaction to see all her many blessing sitting before her, just as it is mine.

I hope to pass on this tradition to my lovely children so they can pass it on to their children and so forth. I want them to say "Wow, what a treat!" as they serve this magnificent delicious Spanish pastry, sopaipillas. Here is a link to a receipe and may be this will become your tradition also.


Sunday, May 2, 2010

Mmmmm... Anna's Ecuadorian Dish

Food is definitely a generation of memories in my family. Being that my family is from Ecuador, I grew up eating home cooked soups, rice with fish and a variety of fruits. Ecuadorian meals provide a healthy lifestyle and longevity. The meals are pretty traditional. What I enjoyed and loved eating the most was rice and fish. Ceviche was also a great dish for snacking. http://south-american-food.suite101.com/article.cfm/ecuadorian_shrimp_ceviche_recipe Try this link for the Ecuadorian Ceviche recipe. What is a meal prepared without traditional Ecuadorian music and drinks.
I didn't grow up with much fast food or frozen boxed food. My mother refused to make these and considered it a waste of money. My mother and father love cooking. They wanted to teach all the kids that cooking can be more fun than having to eat out all the time. Rice was included in every meal. You would think that I would be sick of eating it but I still love it. Fish, I've had all kinds of fish. I would say that trout and salmon are my favorite. Ceviche is a wonderful and delightful dish. There are different recipes for Ceviche but I attached the common Ecuadorian dish. For breakfast, we always had some sort of fruit. For snacks, that too was some sort of fruit. Not so bad, I guess. It definitely filled up our little tummies. Although, every once in awhile a nice greasy burger sounded tasteful. The soups were so hearty and wonderful. My mom would include so many different vegetables.
These were happy and pleasant moments in the Leon kitchen, with my family. I loved it. My parents would turn on some Ecuadorian cumbias and pour each other a glass of wine. Then that's when the cooking began. My father always had to pull my mother aside for at least one dance and then continue cooking. It's beautiful, they still do this.
Now grown up and raising a little boy, I hold the traditions and pass them to him. He loves all the Ecuadorian meals we cook. Of course, my mother still prepares the best homemade soups compared to mine. It's still delightful and fabulous.