I can’t believe I have yet to write a post about food. ??? I mean, stranger things have happened, but let’s not sprain our brains trying to think of one.
I guess the biggest reasons I’ve been resisting a blog entry about food are that 1), I feel I lack good pictures/presentation efforts and thusly am waiting until I get it together and… have some, and 2) there are far too many food topics (gmo = bad, right???, local vs mass produced, diet (I’m against), food intolerances/allergies, cooking, baking, omg cheese, what food means when you live on the east coast, etc) at my disposal, and I get overwhelmed and then write about pets. Or shoes. Apparently.
As a Type 1 Diabetic, food tends to carry almost religious weight for me. As in, I honestly have no idea how my relationship towards food would have progressed if I had grown up without this disease; the condition has impacted my food perceptions and choices so consistently and thoroughly that I no longer see food without the T1 lens.
Except for when I bake.
I’m not an expert anything; let’s just be clear. My mom is the expert chef, and even she emphatically asserts that she does not ‘do’ baking (and it’s true; she doesn’t. We’ll talk about her orange and maple challah bread at some point, and you will see what I mean). Hubs’ mom is the expert baker, and by that, I mean she fucking bakes everything and it looks perfect and is perfect and makes me feel less perfect and then I eat it and just don’t care about perfect anymore because all I can do is taste.
I like baking. I like cooking, too, but mostly, I just enjoy the stress release I get from choosing things that are both immediately and long-range good for me, in whatever way. I love the sensation of different textures and flavors, and I like that I can get kinda close without needing to spend hours and hours (years and years) practicing, the way I have to with music or teaching or writing or pretty much anything sports related (except for running and swimming – apparently I can do those). Food might be best described as a very dearly loved hobby of mine.
Anyway, baking is an area that doesn’t allow for substitutions, in my completely and aforementioned NON-expert opinion. I avoid gluten and processed sugar, prefer saturated fats when baking, and, as a general premise, tend towards raw things. I have only, ever, had one raw cake that was delicious – and the recipe for it was so involved that I never tried to do it. (Maybe now, though…) I have tried all kinds of gluten free whatnots (coconut flour ftw – then nut flours, then quinoa/amaranth/rice flours- there are tons of crazy cool flours out there), tried different fat substitutes (oils, margarine, banana???) and sugar substitutes (nutrasweet, splenda, erythritol, stevia, cactus honey powder, coconut sugar, beet sugar*), and while I do bake organically, I cannot support the gluten-free-flour/sugar-free-whatnots/fake-fat-bonanza stuff in my baking. I don’t have the knowledge/expertise required to adequately make my own mixes for the substitutions, and since it’s going to be an emotional eating experience more than a physical eating experience anyway, I have decided: no substitutions when baking. I do well with ground rules. 🙂
Because of this, baking has become a sort of free range, imagination gymnasium for me. I have had MANY flops; but I’ve never walked away from a baking experience with the bad stuff making me sad in my soul (bad music makes me sad in my soul; mean people make me sad in my soul; practicing badly makes me sad in my soul; you get the idea). I think it’s because I chose to make it a no-substitutions-arena. That means I get to not be a diabetic when I bake; I get to let go of EVERYTHING. Which never happens anywhere else in life, for me. I am always a diabetic. (ok so sometimes I have to check my sugar and bolus while I’m baking, but the food itself is completely unaffected by my ideas for what I should or shouldn’t be eating.) Particularly with the onslaught of new nutritional information and ideas (omg the Paleo rage is ginormous; even bigger than South Beach and Atkins, I think), steering clear of widely-accepted-but-still-ever-changing nutritional information is really tricky. Mostly because some of it is right, and some of it isn’t. And sometimes what’s right for one person, actually, factually, makes it wrong for another. UGH. So I made baking a no-substitutions-zone. Which means the goals are flavor and texture, and then maybe I might have some fun with fondant and icing ‘art.’ (in quotations because, uhm, I’m the one sculpting it….eeeeee!)
Another post with no pictures. 😦 I do so love doodling on pictures, and have no intentions of leaving the pictures behind. But I’m trying to get more posts out, and the pictures take a lot of time. As am slow… and touch screens are like really touch sensitive. Go figure.
*side note: cactus sugar, coconut sugar, and beet sugar are fantastic. And I love stevia. I just tend towards straight up organic cane sugar when I bake. I feel that the moisture content, baked texture, and flavor varies enough to make me prefer cane sugar for most cakes. That said, I do sometimes use these guys for baking. Not so much stevia (that’s mostly a coffee situation), but they do creep in there.
Another aside: when something says ‘substitution,’ I usually read it as ‘instead of.’ Cactus honey, coconut sugar, and beet sugar ARE sugars. They are not substitutions. Same with agave. Thank you.