Help for the Helpless?

Woke up this morning without a thing to do.  Aside from a good deal of eating, breathing and bathroom duties-my schedule is WIDE open.  Typically, I relish in these low-key days.  Unlike the rest of my family, I’m not what you’d call a “Busy Bee” by any strech.  However, today’s seemingly stress free agenda was just a tad stressful for some reason.  Do you ever have those days where the minutes pass as though youre moving through a flip book at a page an hour?  What bothers me is that I really could use this unrestricted schedule to really try to tackle my whole “rushed eating” issue.  Yes, I have the absolute WORST habbit of inhaling my food with zero intention and appreciation (or dislike) of taste.  I’m completely convinced that this habbit is one of the biggest stepping stones in my eating disorder recovery.  I love food.  I love reading about it and the poetic nature that so many of my fellow food bloggers or NYT Dining journalists describe their nibbles.  I want SO badly to put the amount of thought into my actual consumption of my eats that I do into preparing it.  I could analyze this up the you-know-what, but the most obvious and unfortunate reason seems to come down to fear.  Doesn’t it always?  Well with me it does at least.  What am I scared of?  If I’ve overcome the fear of actually putting the food into my body, why not enjoy the ride and god-forbid taste the lovliness or disgust that moves through my palate?  If you were to ask me how I enjoyed something, I bet you nine times out of ten I wouldn’t remember and recite the automatic response of  “it was fine.”

Take this morning’s glorious bowl of savory oats.  Not your average quaker express on the fly-oh no, this bowl of goodness took a lot of thought and patience beginning with lightly toasted irish groats simmering oh so gently on the stovetop overnight in its cozy bath of cream, milk, a pinch o’ sel, and a tiny sprinkle of both cinnamon and cayenne (I swear this smooth operator is so fine on its own, a poor man would think he was eating “Wagyu” with tuffle butter and gold leaf (look up “wagyu.”  and no, I haven’t been fortunate enough to put that baby to my lips).  So after the typical wake-up, use the loo, cleanse, brush, etc. routine; I enter the kitchen to a faint yet seductive smell of oats and spices.  The memory warms my heart.  But this pot wasn’t gussied up enough for my belly (or my caloric needs) quite yet.  It needed a lil extra lovin in the form of a baby pat of unsalted butta, a single perfectly poached farm fresh egg, a touch more sea salt and pepper, a few droplets of sriracha and a light sprinkle of crunchy maple pancetta bits (make more for snacking, trust me on this one) and a few grates of fresh parm.  I’m hoping my description will suffice as I haven’t the monetary funds to purchase a camera to have snapped a photo of this bad boy.  Food-gasm up the woo-hoo, right?  Wrong… I am so embarassed to say that for the several hours that went into preparing for this spoonful of goodness, it took me roughly three or four minutes to consume… and I didn’t taste a THING!!!  Travesty much? 

I can only conclude that it goes back to my fears.  The phobia at hand being my fear of enjoyment.  Sure, my T and I have established my intense fear of pleasure and comfort and downright happiness in the forms of relationships-but I conveniently carry this ridiculous fear into my relationship with food.  What if I like it?  What if I hate it?  What does it MATTER??!!  Lord almightythis is a problem.  It’s already 2:00pm and I’ve consumed two meals and snacks and I have little recolection of how any of it tasted.

I apologize immensely for this long-winded rant about my struggles.  I SOO wish that I could be one of those incredible food bloggers who whip up culinary masterpieces (or failures) and follow with the appropriate critiques.  But I can’t seem to reach the point of critiquing.  I might be a helpless case, but I would love to hear from y’all (or the one or two who might read this) about your own sturggles or even better, how you train yourself to eat with intention.  Let it be known that I have tried my fair share or reciting mantras and breathing prior to consumption, but as soon as the eating utensil crosses my lips-I go numb.  Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated. 

Namaste, lovelies!

Mary Ann


Winner-Winner: Many-a-Chicken-Dinner!

Okay, while this doesn’t apply to all readers (especially the vegan/vegetarian/chicken-phobes), I’d be willing to bet a whole lot of money that I don’t actually have on the statement that most carnivores share my love for roast chicken or turkey.  Gentlemen, if you want to win my heart and my stomach-slow roast me a chicken and I’m yours til’ death do us part.  Granted, I do have a blog dedicated to my love of swine (specifically in bacon form I still believe that were I to choose a final meal before I die it would be a moist and juicy roast chicken.  Throw in some mashed taters and roasted brussels on the side for color if you care-but I’d be perfectly satisfied with the bird unadorned-so long as it has the crispy epidermal outer layer and the juicy interior (possibly some reduced drippings or homemade gravy NOT GIBLET) you’ll be sure to win my heart.  God, I could bathe in this dreaming forever, but lets remember the task at hand, Mary Ann… you’re blogging.

My reason for writing this ode to chicken todlay is because I’m pretty sure I haven’t stopped making it or (gasp) buying it since the first nip of autumn commenced.  Long before November 26th rolled around.  While I’ve definitely been roasting several of these birds myself (alternating flavors of garlic, citrus, maple, honey, rosemary, apricot, course mustards, simple butter and EVOO) I’ve also lazily snatched a few free-range (some organic, others not certified but the farmers told me they led pretty decent lives-better than most certified organic) pre-cooked birds from the market… Don’t hate, there’s no shame in paying for something outstanding that cost you nothing more than your entire  part of your paycheck.  I avoid that guilt by reciting the mantra to myself “less dishes… less dishes.”  The other issues I have with the pre-cooked is that a) my home isn’t completely saturated in the slow-cooked aromas from my oven and b)not enough pan drippings for a decent home-made gravy (note to self and readers: if you make a great gravy (which is harder than you might think) and you have leftovers (also a difficult assumption) FREEZE for emergency purposes such as pre-cooked roast chickens!). 

What both home-cooked and store-bought provide, however, is an outstanding base for a rich stock and further… CHICKEN SOUP (more appropriately deamed “stoup” a la Rachel Ray’s term).  Even if you’re midnight munchies have resulted in an anatomy-class-clean skeleton… that carcus (sp?) has some seriously intense flavor and potential left (also remember NEVER GIVE CHICKEN BONES TO A DOG!!!).  Simmer the carcus in several cups of water along with some aromatics (I tend to stick with carrots, celery, onion, garlic, sometimes parsnips) a bay leaf and herbs and seasonings to taste (avoid salt overload) and you’ve got the most intense base for a terrific chicken and rice/potato/noodle/barley stewp ever.  Strain this bad boy and pull of any remaining meat possible (you’d be surprised at what’s hidden in a licked clean carcus) and return stock to the stove.  I try to salvage some of the strained veg… but feel free to just add more to the final product.  Sometimes I sweeten with a droplet or two of raw honey or agave or straight up sugah and my recent creation (last night) was a smidge of dried red pepper flake and cayenne from my neighbor’s garden.  Just a smidge, as tasters can always add a lil Frank to taste.   I also added some a few handfuls of jasmine rice (WARNING:  the rice will drink ALL of your stock-which I love, but be less generous of your aiming for a “brothier” stewp)extra shredded chicken and CHORIZO to this recent project.  Out.  freaking. standing.  Nuf said.

Adios loves

Go buy a chicken, roasted or not, and relish in this most delicious and versatile culinary (and gustatory) adventure

Peace and love,

Mary Ann