Renaissance Me

Sometimes I think the me from 10 years ago wouldn’t recognize the current me. Especially it I saw myself eating. Because my diet looks so much different. I eat a lot of things I didn’t a few years ago, and even when I have the choice over what I eat, I select options I wouldn’t have in the past. Don’t get me wrong, though, this is all a good thing. I just found myself laughing the other day at what the old me would have thought of the food I’ve been eating this week.

Kate is off on another adventure this week, to California, for work. The fun part of this trip is that we actually have family and friends where she’ll be, so she’s getting to mix a bit of work and pleasure this time. The not so fun bit for me, though, is that I’m fending for myself again in the food department. And no, I’m not hoping you’ll pity me. I am actually starting to have some fun with the challenge of feeding myself. The nice thing is that it’s getting easier for me to think of things to make. Kate’s endless dabbling with new recipes, and my taking the time to think about what I’m eating- in large measure due to this blog, mean that I find myself with ideas almost every time I need to cook for myself. I definitely don’t make anything quite as complicated as what Kate makes, but I can usually adapt her recipes to suit my lazy cooking style, or just find simple things she makes that I can duplicate.

Last night I made a beet and goat cheese salad that Kate makes quite a bit. We’ve gotten a bunch of beets in the farm box the last couple of weeks, and I didn’t want them to go bad. That and Kate had already roasted some of them, so they were already halfway ready (remember, I said lazy cooking style…). The beet salad suits me perfectly now. Now that I like beets that is. A few years ago I would have just let the beets rot in the refrigerator and not felt the least bit bad about it. But now I love them so much, I can’t stand to see them be wasted. Do you hear that, past me? I love them now, and I’m not afraid to say it out loud. I pulled the skins off the roasted beets, chopped them up per the recipe, and made the beet and goat cheese salad. It’s pretty simple actually, which I like. It’s just beets, goat cheese, and chopped raw pistachios, and then a simple dressing made from shallots, lemon juice, and a bit of oil. Beets and goat cheese go together really well, as you could confirm even if you don’t like beets, by looking at any good restaurant’s menu these days. And the simple dressing just adds some interesting flavor, but doesn’t hide the beets, which are the stars of the dish.

The best thing about this particular beet salad really was the beets. We always look forward to CSA season for the quality of our produce. The rest of the year, our meals never seem to measure up. In fact, Kate made this particular salad once last fall, using beets we’d gotten at a grocery store. Both of us were really underwhelmed. It was as if they were just masquerading as beets, because they were lacking that strong earthly flavor that they should have had. I’m not even sure we ate the leftovers from that one. Luckily these beets were excellent, and I took the second half for lunch today.

The thing that makes me laugh, though, is that the most remarkable thing about my eating a beet salad while Kate isn’t home wasn’t actually the beet salad. Really, the most astounding thing is what I didn’t eat. Not so very long ago, I used Kate’s being away from home as an excuse to eat mountains of junk food. A typical week of Kate being gone could be filled with all take out and snack food. Pizza one night, Chinese food the next, maybe a bag of Doritos one night (by which I mean an entire family size bag), a quick stop by the hot dog stand on the way home, I could go on and on. And that would be all I’d eat. Not to mention lunch, which since I didn’t have leftovers, would be similarly unhealthy fast food. My clothes from this era would confirm the poor choice in nutrition this was. Even though I’ve generally hidden extra weight well, I currently weigh about 40 pounds less than I did when this all sounded like a good idea.

This week, though, I haven’t even been tempted to order out. Not that it would be the end of the world if I did. But I certainly wasn’t thinking about all the fast food I’d eat when Kate was gone. Over last weekend Kate helped me brain storm what I could eat this week. And it involved things like beet salad, strawberry and mozzarella salad, and chicken breasts cooked with an Asian sauce with daikon and kohlrabi on the side. And last night I even made myself bourbon banana bread for breakfast the rest of the week, even though it meant staying up late enough to not be able to make my usual 4:30am appointment with my running shoes.

It really is amazing to me how habit forming good food can be. Of course, I owe much to Kate, whose excitement about food and trying new things has clearly influenced me a lot. The me of ten years ago would have laughed at choosing a beet salad over pizza or Chinese. To be honest, though, the current me would just laugh right back. It’s almost as if we’re two completely different people. At least, judged by the contents of our stomachs. After all, I still look a lot like that old me, even if I’m not him anymore.

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7 Responses to Renaissance Me

  1. karenish says:

    OMG… that beet salad looks so scrumptious! I love fresh beets. Roasted. Grilled. Braised. Boiled. So yummy! They taste like delicious sweet dirt.

    • Chuck says:

      I even made it in a cookie cutter. You just mash it all down into it and it holds the shape. I can’t believe how long I missed out not liking them.

  2. inherchucks says:

    I am dying over that salad right now. Beautiful and delicious!

    I host a weekly CSA Link party and would love for you to be a part of it. Come and check it out and add your link.

    http://inherchucks.com/2012/07/11/whats-in-the-box-34/.

    Looking forward to seeing you there :)

  3. tinaboyer says:

    Chuck, we missed you this week in Berkeley! Next time, you must come with Kate, I don’t care what’s cooking at home. That said, I love this posting because I can completely relate. Back when my metabolism ran rampant, I could barely process a thought beyond, “where’s my next hamburger coming from?” These days something simple, tasty and mostly veggie sounds fantastic (and will totally fill me up).

    I can’t believe you used to be 40 lb heavier, btw. :)

    • Chuck says:

      I know, I missed you guys too. It’s just not the same running by your house in the morning now that it’s not your house. I wish I could have made it out there. Next time, hopefully.

      And yeah, like I said, I hide extra weight well. You can see it in pictures, though, if you compare them. At least, I can.

  4. Pingback: What’s in the Box? #35 « In Her Chucks

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