Two months ago today I was hospitalized for a gall bladder attack and complications of Crohn’s disease. I have battled Crohn’s for almost 10 years; yet, for the most part I have been able to eat most things that I enjoy. Since my hospitalization, I have had to restrict my intake of dairy, dried fruits, nuts, beans, seeds and fatty, processed meats and reduce my portion sizes to eat smaller meals more often. I am not sure at this point how long the restrictions will last. At first, I was very discouraged; cooking and reading about food are my passions. It really is the only thing I am good at. Why did this happen? My friends are healthy and unrestricted. There have also been other questions on my mind as I laid awake unable to sleep from the effects of steroids. Should I still blog If I can’t eat some of the things I love? Does the blog really matter? Does anybody really read it or and try the recipes? Will my readership grow, or is it for just a tiny audience?
So, where am I now after two months of convelescing? I have yet to get back all my energy, but when I feel good I am in the kitchen and enjoying time with my family. I am adjusting to the restrictions. I was craving chocolate pudding a few weeks back (custards and puddings are my favorite dessert) and managed to develop a rich and satisfying dairy free replacement with almond milk. I also made a good vanilla custard. If I want a creamy soup I purée it and eliminate the cream. It has a creamy texture without the fat. I can make brownies with oil or margarine that may not be as over the top as the ones with butter, but they are still satisfying with a generous spoonful of dairy free custard on top.
I have also come to realize that for my own emotional well-being I need to keep cooking and feel part of a creative process; even things I can’t eat, I can still make for my family because they shouldn’t have to go without. I want to feel a smooth dough between my fingers. I love the smell of olive oil and yeast while I fold the dough over in repetitive motion for what will become our Friday night pizza. I make a very satisfying topping of potatoes and onions for me and cheese topping for everyone else. My favorite smell is simmering tomato sauce redolent of garlic and onions on a Sunday morning, stirring the pot aware that a very similar recipe and smell must have permeated the homes of my parents, my grandparents, great grandparents and beyond. It connects me to them in ways little else might. I have developed a deliciously chewy moist chocolate chip cookie that my husband loves. The house smells terrific while they bake and I enjoy scooping the dough and putting them on the rack to cool even if I can’t eat as many as I would like. I am rewarded by making other people happy.
So, my foodie life goes on, even with restrictions, and I will continue to write my little blog, not because I am going to become well-known from it, but because it is important to me to write about the food that satisfies me and the people I love. I like experimenting with new ingredients and new cuisines. I enjoy reading cookbooks and the stories that go with the recipes. I am a list maker and keep track of the food we eat; I have a collection of menus from the holidays going back to 1986 detailing what we ate, where we lived, and with whom we ate. I enjoy going back to read it and thinking about those past experiences. This blog is an extension of the menus, the celebrations, and the events of our lives. As long as we are able, I want to grow a garden and cook from it. There is something deeply satisfying about feeding family and friends from your own land and labor. Writing and cooking also keeps me connected to those who came before me, lets me share my life with those around me now, and hopefully will extend to those who come after.