Citizen Eater

Posted on May 6, 2020


A few years ago, I had a number of Lunch Buddies–high school students who ate lunch in my classroom–who deemed my vegetarian diet “twigs and branches.” After a few months of lunching together, graduation open house season was (so suddenly, it seemed!) upon us. I have the loveliest memory of one, in particular…

The student rushed to greet me, and he showed me around, introducing me to his host parents (he was a study-abroad student), and the friends and family in the kitchen and living room. Then he ushered me to the food table and announced, proudly, “We have twigs and branches for you!”

I laughed and thanked my hosts, and I ate a plateful of twigs and branches, branches and twigs. I cherish this memory…And all the conversations I had with students about the relationship between food, wellness, and land health. It’s all related, All My Relations.

Thank you, M, my friend.

I contradict myself. Just the other day, I coaxed myself into posting to keep my commitment; yesterday, I skipped it to spend the day cooking and freezing food.

It was a classic case of clashing commitments: post every day v. don’t let food go to waste.  As a single person and an extremely PICKY eater, this is a challenge. Having my mother’s chest freezer in the basement makes all the difference in the world for me.

Let me explain a bit about what I mean by “picky.” What I mean is: I prefer that my food be grown without pesticides and chemical fertilizers, at home OR at a small farm, by a farmer I know. I prefer homemade food: I still buy pasta in boxes, but almost everything I eat that isn’t in its original state–like an apple–is made from scratch: breads (loaf, tortillas, naan, biscuits, muffins, quick breads, dinner rolls); soups–about a dozen varieties; sauces–for pasta, pancakes, desserts; I make my own, sugar-free, Ice Cream.

When I woke up yesterday, there was a pot of Lemon-Lentil soup that needed to be frozen; there were some stewed apples in the freezer that needed to be moved from single containers to a shared zipper bag; and there was some leftover rice in the fridge that needed to be put to use. On the table, there was a red pepper wrinkling in a bowl, next to two bananas that had become brown enough to be made into muffins, and a lemon whose time had come to be used or frozen (zest and juice freeze well). On the shelf, there were some red potatoes I bought when the yellow ones seemed of questionable quality–that would make a great potato salad, which would be great with that lemon-lentil soup and a bit of felafel…

I diced and froze the pepper for a future recipe, emptied the stewed apples into a large bag, and made my first attempt at Rice Pudding. Banana Chocolate-Chip muffins were next, and when cool, they were frozen for future desserts. Whenever I bake, most of the batch goes in the freezer; I keep out only as much as I plan to eat today and tomorrow, to prevent “drive-by” snacking.

20200506_110411The lemon became a batch of utterly perfect cookies: a tart glaze atop a crunchy-outside-chewy-inside cookies for fam. This was my second attempt with the recipe, and by cutting baking time by a few minutes and standing watch to pull them at the perfect moment, I achieved structural perfection. On the other hand, the non-perfect, slightly-overdone, first attempt Lemon Cookies also tasted excellent, and I ate too many. I specifically made this batch for others, and they should retain their softness better than the first batch.

…Five hours later, I sit down to a meal of Lemon-Lentil soup, Felafel w/ honey mustard, and potato salad. For dessert, I warm a bowl of delicious Rice Pudding, that, once it has cooled, is WAY TOO thick, and must be thinned w/ milk during the warming process to restore its identity as a pudding–in the microwave. The recipe claims that the pudding can be frozen for up to three months, but the texture of the milk might be affected. Since the rice has soaked up all the liquid, I’m going to experiment with freezing, thawing, and adding milk while re-warming it on the stove. I’ll freeze anything once! Just to see…

I’m too tired to write a blog post, but I utterly revel in the smells, tastes, and textures of the foods I’m eating, and I feel a sense of accomplishment. I love that having a freezer allows me to eat high-quality, home-made food every day, whether I choose to cook–or not. When I’m hungry, I have a large menu to choose from, and every dish is in portion size for ONE.

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Today, I’m back at the keyboard, and the foods that might have been compost have been SAVED!

I’m thrilled at all the social media posts of “Corona Cooking.” Folks who ate most meals at restaurants are learning to cook; families are creating not only meals together, but memories–and culture. It makes me so happy to see families being able to learn together in this way, and I hope these practices become habits, not simply necessity during the COVID19 quarantine. No photo description available.

Likewise, I am thrilled each time a friend posts about starting a garden, planting seeds, growing sprouts on a windowsill–and I hope they not only continue to grow food in the future, but grow MORE food, as they learn how. For my entire adult life, I’ve advocated for #FoodNotLawns. I bought my current home in 2006, and each year since, I’ve turned sod to increase food and flower beds: food for me; flowers for bees.

Caring for land, growing, cooking, and preserving my own food, and eating a vegetarian diet of “twigs and branches” are all essential elements my land ethic and wellness practice.

Food is sacred; food sustains life;

sometimes that means I spend a day cooking

and don’t sit down to write.

And that’s alright.


Thanks for reading!

No photo description available.lisa eddy is a writer, researcher, educator, advocate,  musician, and gardener.

On Twitter: @lisa_eddy

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