Thursday, January 10, 2013

food and life in the states

There have been many adjustments to moving back to the states.  Some expected, some not.  For some reason, I didn't expect how out of place I would feel so much of the time and how that would make it difficult to make new friends (that go deeper than surface conversations).  I didn't expect to battle loneliness, feeling so overwhelmed with the transitions thrust upon us constantly, or the stress.

One thing (of the many) that I found completely overwhelming when we moved back to the states was cooking for my family.  I remember frantically writing friends and family asking them to send me recipes as I really had no idea how to do it anymore.  Remember, I had a cook for 4 1/2 years and the kitchen in my house, well, it was pretty much his kitchen.  Our cook was sort of like father in our house.  And it was definitely his kitchen.  I think I cooked before we left for Congo (well, I'm positive of it actually) but when we moved back with all our little ones, any memory of those days left and left quickly.

Part of the problem probably was that I HATED grocery shopping when we moved back to the states and would have to physically refrain myself from having panic attacks in the store.  It was so totally overwhelming after life in DRC. (I mean, our cook even did the shopping each week).   So many choices for every single food item.  I remember becoming completely baffled by the by the orange juice selections (and still do).   I simply couldn't handle it and remember one time walking out with just a bottle of cold coke because it felt like home, instead of the food I was supposed to buy from our long list.

So, for a long time we ate pasta, quesadillas, pizza, and omelets.  Every single night, week after week.  It was all I could handle.  (Mike is a great cook, but he was really overwhelmed with his first year of school and often came home a little later than the food needed to be cooked).  We didn't eat a lot meat because we are mostly vegetarians but also because the organic/grass-fed meat is really expensive (and after watching Food inc, it's hard to buy anything else despite the savings).

All that changed when we moved to the country and down the street from a farm that had CSA boxes.  And our lives changed.  All of a sudden I was trying to figure out what to do with kholrabi (well, first I had to figure out what it was!) and how to cook bok choy.  It was awesome.  And from a farm 1/2 mile down our road.  And it was affordable.  Now, the kids favorite food is potato/leek/spinach (or kale) soup that also just might have parsnips, turnips and celeriac in it.

Part of the appeal probably is that I don't have to choose and buy the food.  The only goal that is before me is to use up all the food in the box over a week.  I don't even go on-line for recipes (because once again, too many choices would overwhelm me), but dig through old cookbooks I have had stored away for years.   Our choices are now limited to what will grow from the earth on the ground we live in, in the current season.

Our cook made awesome soups that I miss as much as I miss him.  I love that our kids love soup too.  I suppose given that they ate soup and bread every day for lunch for 4 1/2 years it makes sense.  But maybe it also makes sense because then the soup was made from food bought by farmers growing in their small farms and now our soup is also coming from food from our local small farm.

Somehow, over that pot of soup, my loneliness eases and everything feels okay again.

Our cook with Natalie when she was a baby.  

Some things just seemed a lot simpler in those days.  


Sara said...

This post warmed my heart. Food is so intense in the United States. Soup and CSA's will save us all - I'm sure of it.

We just ate the last of our winter squashes and the burrowing rodents ate the last of the parsnips. Our broccoli isn't really interested in becoming broccoli and my dry beans are almost gone. We have a delicious co-op selection, some purple brussles-sprouts for 1 dinner and the milk in my life comes from goats that I've cared for and milked. I'm spoiled, and not at the same time. If only we all could find a way back to the beauty of food. I love you and everyone in your family. I want to cook for you and eat soup at your house. This is my favorite post on your blog.

Heather said...

Holly, I still think about that soup, too! I've tried to recreate it many times, but I just can't get it right. :)

KrisDy Lynn said...

Beautiful picture of you and baby Natalie. Oh, Holly I love you so much and I'm glad things are easier for you, that you have beautiful memories, your kids are so smart and cute like their papa and mommy lol, you have a great place to live, and good fresh food. Praise God! Honestly I've never lived outside the United States and I've had similar problems in grocery stores. Thank God it's gone away! Kristy

Danielle said...

Here's a virtual {hug} from someone that knows the loneliness of adjusting back to life in the US. And I can totally relate to the grocery store being the absolute last place on earth I wanted to go. Came home in tears a time or two those first months. Grateful that time eases all that. Love hearing your food journey, and I'm jealous of your boxes. Wish we could share a pot of soup and a good long chat.