Tag Archives: change

A new January

We can’t control the sea but we can learn to ride the waves.
~ Said a few wise people

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Happy new year, everyone (or no one?) :-) I have no idea who still reads or subscribes to this blog, but I was told recently that treehousekitchen showed up as a hit in a Google search for Tessa Kiros’s ceviche (first page!). Somehow, that piece of news winked at me ;-) Thanks, Kath, what a fun email to receive.

I spent a bit of time clicking around on the internet yesterday. Peeking at blogs I used to enjoy reading. Some still brought a sense of delight; others were dull with marketing; many seemed to have hit Pause or Stop sometime around 2013.

The internet, along with the rest of the world, is going through such revolutionary times. I mean, life has never ever stood still, but is it just me, or is change just happening faster and faster, more and more (in real life, and 1000x more ridiculously on the internet)? Looking through some older blogs and noticing the amount of change we have been through in a short length of time – just with the average style and quality of photographs on websites over the last seven years for instance – is amazing. There was a time in the not-so-distant past when you might have been the only one in a circle of friends who kept a ‘blog’ and ‘blogged’ on Saturday nights while everyone else was out getting pizza … now heaps of people have operated some kind of blog before and have, in fact, moved on to more significant endeavours.

Sitting down intentionally now to write (or even blog) feels slow and unnecessary; like attempting to knit myself a scarf when I could just buy one from a store. Or like doing something ‘unimportant’ when I could be reading emails or 200 social media updates instead.

I keep glancing up at the time, seeing the minutes tick by as I pause between thoughts and words. I hear a whisper of panic in my heart as I wonder if I always took so long to compose posts in the past, or whether this is taking longer because I am out of practice? And as the fear grows, other questions sprout. Can I do this? Should I do this? Is it going to at least change the world or something, for it to be worthwhile?

And as I write this, I smile with the sincere silliness of these questions.

Can’t we just cook*, blog, publish just for the simple desire of doing so? I ask myself.

And I shall leave it here today.

* Or, in this case, assemble – bagel halves, a full spread of cream cheese, slices of avocado and a fine vine-ripened tomato, smoked salmon, freshly squeezed lemon juice, salt and pepper – served alongside a generous pinch of micro-greens. 

Gluten and dairy-free for a week? Will try

Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.
~ Thomas Edison

It’s interesting, what and how you eat, when necessity (e.g. travel, budget, health) dictates that you change something.

Years ago, I had abdominal pain and bloating that left me writhing on the ground or pushing my stomach against a pole in an attempt to soothe the pain. A doctor thought I had IBS, but he wasn’t sure. The episodes ended after high school. So who knows… maybe it was just high school – which can really be quite bad for health in itself ;-)

Then at university, changes in diet, weather, lifestyle, etc saw my weight hit an all-time high: something I disliked mildly but more or less ignored until one day I tried running across the road and experienced a sensation like that of my knees giving way. That was a little unsettling.

Still, diets were not made for people like me – force on me restrictions like that and I’ll do double the damage. After I graduated, 10kg of that excess weight evaporated. Not sure how. Maybe Wellington’s wind blew it away.

Most of the time, with travel, moving country three times and discovering new and exciting foods, health tends to come last when good food is in front of me. Luckily, I don’t tend to like overly oily / processed / creamy things anyway, but I avoid them solely because I don’t like their taste. Anything else, if it’s to my taste, I eat. Even if I feel terrible afterwards. I don’t think I’ve blogged much about this (if ever? Hmm) – it’s always just been so good to concentrate on the joy and beauty of cooking, food and all that. As I am sure you know!

So for a while now, I have been allowing many moments of eating anything I want and bearing any subsequent discomfort like a reluctant soldier. I haven’t experienced abdominal pain as severe since high school, anyway.

But over the last months, I’ve noticed changes yet again in my body. It hasn’t been so well. When I look into the mirror, nothing seems amiss. But I guess I’ve gotten used to just not feeling that great. For much of it I attribute it to other things – you know, change, work, sleep, etc (all of which certainly play a role) but lately I begin to wonder whether changing my diet significantly might make a difference.

Because when I list the symptoms – puffy eyes, bloating, a terrible fatigue that strikes at random, headaches, etc… I think, hmm, that’s not so good. Somehow I manage to carry on working and doing other things, rushing sometimes to make up for lost time spent lying down, but this last Sunday I fell in pain into a steaming bath for over an hour, and thought… I should probably do something now.

One of my dear friends has recently had to make huge changes in her diet due to an autoimmune disease – changes which I know other people have made for their own reasons too. These are changes that I understand… mostly… and imagine must be difficult to implement. In a world of fresh pastries, butter, milk-and-cookies and friends who tend to eat mostly anything, who would choose to be gluten and dairy-free? I have never seriously considered doing this, since I have not been diagnosed with anything that requires it.

Anyway. When I received the news from my friend, I was very sympathetic. It’s a way of eating that is easy to mostly ignore until you are a dinner host with a gluten-free friend to cater for. But what about being unable to take gluten and dairy (or any other things) without being ill? Having to learn a whole new way of relating to food and nourishing oneself? Having to cope with people thinking you are just being difficult or chasing after a health fad? Having to change the way you shop for groceries, spend more than you used to, stop eating at your favourite cafes and walk past bakeries without acting on your resentment?

Frankly, I almost think I’d rather keep on being sick.

But this week, I am going to try to stick to gluten and dairy-free eating in support of my friend, and so we can exchange notes too… so far so good, though the banana and chocolate muffins I made last night are getting increasingly hard to ignore. I’ve eaten, so far, Ceres’s brown rice cakes; gluten-free pasta spirals with zucchini, tomato, paprika, chilli and basil; coffee with almond milk… and, the VERY BEST THING… two fresh figs. Oh my goodness! Figs send me into a state bordering on wild frenzy.

While I don’t know if I want to totally change my diet right now, and actually I am a bit apprehensive if there ever comes a day when I NEED to do it to protect my health, if you don’t try – you don’t know, right?

Any health stories or tips for eating gluten and / or dairy-free? Do share.

Chocolate for change

They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.
~ Andy Warhol

I don’t like white chocolate. I have never ordered anything with it in a restaurant, and I have only ever bought it as gifts for others.

I have not previously understood how white chocolate could be described as “delicious” (quelle horreur!).

I didn’t buy this block, though reading this story and seeing that there were raspberries in it made me put my hand up for a sample (thank you, Whittaker’s!)

NZ readers may have heard about it, or seen the by-product on supermarket shelves: thanks to five passionate young students and the help of a favourite confectionery manufacturer, New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation will benefit from chocolate bar sales… :-)

Around 2,600 women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year in NZ, which doesn’t look like a big number but is astounding if you stop to think that each of these women is someone’s mom / sister / daughter / friend / cousin / neighbour / grandma / aunt. And while there are a million causes out there begging for support, and you can’t help all of them, you can make a few different choices – like what candy you buy – and help out a little bit at a time. Buy this chocolate instead of another white chocolate bar, for instance, and you will help NZBCF with needed advocacy, research and rehab (a part of what I understand NZBCF does).

So… on to my chocolatey moment of truth. I paused for a second after tearing open the foil. I silently broke off a bit of the chocolate, and popped it into my mouth.

And, you know, I wanted to eat a few more bits. I had to shove it back into the pantry whilst I cooked so I wouldn’t give in to temptation and have too little left to cook with later.

I’ll never like it the way I like dark chocolate, but I’ll concede that this white chocolate raspberry bar smells amazing (especially while you’re chopping it up) and tastes very nice indeed all on its own. (Perhaps I’ll even buy a few more…)

I decided to make something with this though, especially after my eye fell on David Lebovitz’s recipe for white chocolate and fresh ginger ice cream. Right now, I am waiting impatiently for the ice cream to set. Every 45 minutes it emerges for a whisk, and every 45 minutes I resist the urge to eat a bowl of half-set ice cream (I tried a teaspoon of the mixture… the flavour is sooo good!).

So, reading about these five students inspired me to think, once again, about the power of one – and the power of people getting together to make a difference.

It’s easy to focus on the painful things in life – I stopped reading / watching the news regularly a few years ago, because so much of it grieved / disgusted / paralysed me. The feeling of exasperation grew after I graduated, and in the first two years after that I got a small glimpse of the staggering scale of the world’s problems. Natural disasters, life-threatening diseases, would it end? Worse, it seemed that for every person working for good in the world, there were a hundred creating all sorts of stupid messes. I questioned my own choices and decisions – it was easy to think about people not pulling their weight, but what was I doing about it? I didn’t like my own answers…

And in more prosperous parts of the world, I saw a less physically challenging but still undeniable side of darkness: soul poverty that no amount of money can even begin to touch.

Yet, I have come to accept that yes, the world’s problems are not easily solved by man (the human race seems to be better at creating messes). But there are other people who are behind a lot of good. So often, positive things have started with one person, one decision, one voice… and as long as there is just one person who will not balk at the tangle that is life and just do one right thing at a time, there is hope.

And, as you probably already know, hope makes so much difference.

On that note, happy Blog Action Day (this year’s theme: “The Power of We”).

P.S. Get your friends together and buy some chocolate, won’t you.

P.P.S. Brandy snaps pictured above were made with this recipe. Not perfected yet, but perhaps that will come with practice ;-)

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