Food Obstacles

4:21 PM

A chef I am not, but I used to be a pretty decent southern cook. While I was no Paula Deen, I regularly turned out pies, cakes, casseroles, breads, and meat/vegetables that would make any fine Southern café proud. I made gumbos, chicken bogs, hearty soups, and a Brunswick stew that was so good it would make you weep . I made loaves of crusty sourdough bread from my own starter. I made red velvet cakes, perfect pound cakes from my great aunt's secret recipe, and pies with meringues so high people would trade their first-borns for just a piece. I even knew that the secret to turning out perfect baked goods meant using a soft southern flour like White Lily. (Now you know it, too.)

So what happened, you ask?

Obstacle Number 1:

I married a man from Minnesota who doesn't like a single vegetable I was raised on. My darling MoonPie doesn't like black-eyed peas, crowder peas, purple hull peas, or white acre peas. He doesn't like butter beans, lima beans, or butter peas. He doesn't like collard greens, mustard greens, or turnip greens. He doesn't like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, green peppers, sweet onions, or cooked cabbage. He doesn't like summer squash, zucchini, or okra (even fried). He doesn't like sweet potatoes or yams. He doesn't like beans in his chili. He doesn't appreciate pepper vinegar or sweet relish. Of course he doesn't like boiled peanuts. The man doesn't even particularly like peaches. (Bless his heart!)

Let me give you a moment to reflect on that information....

In case you weren't keeping score, that leaves us with frozen sweet peas, green beans, asparagus, corn, potatoes, rice, spinach, tomatoes, and cucumbers. And meat. Lots of meat. At least we still have pie, cake, cookies, bread, and pasta, right? Wrong.

Then it got worse...

Obstacle Number 2:

Five years ago we found out I am gluten intolerant. I'm talking down-to-80-pounds-and-nearly-dead intolerant. (For you Twitter people: #almostdead.) In case you've been living in a cave somewhere, being gluten-free means nothing I eat can contain, touch, or be derived from wheat, barley, or rye. This also means nothing can be fried, toasted, or touch anything that has shared a gluten food. I get so sick from it that I hold my breath walking down the bread aisle just in case a stray crumb is floating in the air. (Not necessary, by the way.) MoonPie can't kiss me on the lips if he's sneaked a cinnamon roll. I can't whip out a funeral casserole for anyone because they all have condensed Campbell's Cream of Something soup in it. (All of them contain wheat and gluten-free brands taste horrible.) I even have a separate gluten-free communion wafer at church.

The Good News

I am lucky that MoonPie likes to cook. He is really good at it, too. The most endearing thing is the way he embraced being gluten-free and never complained. It's not just one of us who has had to throw out their old recipe files in our union. Both of us have had to learn to prepare everything in a different way. After we mourned a bit we realized that we are eating much healthier now. It is now normal for us to shop the outside aisles of the grocery store and steer away from most processed foods (although more and more gluten-free processed foods are making it to the shelves these days.) We depend on individual herbs and spices rather than packaged seasoning mixes. We actually read labels now and, folks, it's scary what is in our food!

My intent is to hopefully share some of the recipes that we discover on the way. This isn't a food blog, diet blog, lifestyle blog, or a health blog. I just like to talk about food, and we are always excited to share if we find a gluten-free product that successfully substitutes for a wheat one. We are also pretty excited that our palates actually prefer the simpler recipes now. Herbs and seasonings have become more important to us than sauces and casseroles with canned soups.

I am even beginning to appreciate sweet peas.

MoonPie will never like okra.

Photo of collard greens and recipe may be found here.

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