Remembering…

Unlike many people, I grew up with a vegetarian in my immediate family – my maternal Grandfather. We were very close, and I spent a great deal of time during childhood with my grandparents. Grandfather decided to become a vegetarian as an adult, part of a spiritual commitment to Theosophy (https://www.theosophical.org/), to which he devoted much time and attention. I don’t believe it was ever a “health” decision, other than for spiritual health.

At Kings Canyon, "Far Horizons" camp, California.
1961 with Grandpa, Kings Canyon National Park, camp “Far Horizons”

Lucky for him, my Grandmother was a skilled cook, and willing to spend the time experimenting with recipes that would accommodate his needs.  She would often bring “Carrot Nut Loaf” to family gatherings, while the rest of us enjoyed roast chicken, turkey or steak.  They also ate two very different meals at home, as she never embraced vegetarianism or Theosophy (being a staunch Methodist through and through), but she never complained about the added work – at least when I was in earshot!

His diet, as I look back on it now, was not particularly healthy. He ate a lot of full fat dairy (buttermilk and strong cheeses were favorites), and an excess of sugar (baked goods, ice cream and full sugar sodas). During his last decade he developed type II diabetes, and later suffered several ischemic strokes and a final fatal heart attack at age 83.

Although vegetarianism didn’t appeal to me, after reading about the whole foods plant based diet and its positive affects on health, the “cleaner” vegan approach called to me. I fully expected to be repeating the past, cooking two meals like my Grandmother before me, but within a few weeks of this new “regime” my husband joined the experiment. It is so much easier when people living under the same roof eat together and share the same diet! And I often think back on my Grandmother, struggling with cooking extra dishes – and wonder what amazing things she could have accomplished with my food processor, high speed blender and juicer!

I found this recipe thanks to Vegan Prairie Girl  (http://veggieprairiegirl.blogspot.com/2009/11/carrot-and-cashew-nut-roast.html) and it seems similar to the one my grandmother used. She also made some sort of a mushroom gravy to go on top.

Recipe
1 medium-sized onion, finely chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 cups carrots, cooked and mashed
2 cups cashew nuts, ground
1 cup breadcrumbs
1 tbsp. tahini
1-1/2 tsp. caraway seeds (optional)
*1 teaspoon yeast extract*
Juice of 1/2 lemon
*1/3 cup stock* from the carrots
salt and pepper

1. Fry the onion and garlic in the oil until soft.
2. Mix together with all the other ingredients and season to taste.
3. Place in the mixture in a greased loaf pan.
4. *Cover with foil* and bake at 350F for one hour.
5. Remove the foil and bake for a further 10 minutes.
6. Leave to stand in the baking pan for at least 10 minutes before turning out.

BarbGpa1961

Advertisements

Plant based, no bacon…

About 52 days ago (not that I’m counting), I started a “whole foods plant based diet”. Yes, Vegan. Not just cutting back on meat, or eating only eggs and a little fish, nope — cold turkey. No animal based proteins, dairy, eggs, cheese, and very little fat of any kind. It’s been surprisingly easy (except the cheese, I still have fantasies about quesadillas with cheese dripping out the sides in a pleasant oily pool…).

20160710_194522_resized(1)Why? Well primarily health, but also for the animals, the environment and decades of dealing with cooking dead animals. Not that I always thought this way, I actually enjoyed cooking — cooking all sorts of things — priding myself on my great roast chickens and steaks. I perfected a process for searing steaks and then finishing them in the oven (oh, yum… maybe I shouldn’t be revisiting these memories). But really, for my health, the health of the planet and the guilt. Maybe Esther the Wonder Pig was the last straw?

However it happened, it was rather a quick change, and surprisingly my husband joined me in this new “lifestyle” a few weeks later. Most incredible, considering his life long love affair with BACON. We are enjoying growing some of our fresh vegetables, and putting in raised gardens beds, constructing drip systems and shopping at the local farmers market. It was a really strange experience to tell a vendor hawking his grass fed beef that I “didn’t eat meat”. Really.

Some of the books and resources that brought me to this point were:

  • Dr. Neal Barnard’s books on reversing heart disease & diabetes
  • Forks over Knives (the movie is available on Netflix & they have a website)
  • Various YouTubers like “Fully Raw Kristina”, “Mango Island Mama”
  • “How Not to Die” by Michael Greger, MD

I’ll keep you posted on how it all works out, but so far we’re feeling good!

 

After Bastille Day

It has been a few years since I opened a wordpress blog in this “At Fifty Something” name, ostensibly to record our adventures in “early retirement” to a small town in Northern California. But somehow this whole project got lost along the way.

It takes time to settle into a new community, more time than you think. We plunged into groups, projects and people — only to scale back three years later to assess where we really wanted to put our energy. After all, now we are actually closer to sixty than fifty.

World events have taken a constant, fearful turn — one cannot escape the horrors on the news unless you refuse to look. We have to look. We come from long careers in “Silicon Valley”, still news junkies, recovering adrenaline junkies, slowing down here in this quiet place — only to see more and more the unrest in the world around us.

I will try to keep up this blog, filling it with this and that — which is how most blogs go. Bear with me. You can view my art work at http://www.oertlidesign.com and http://fineartamerica.com/profiles/barbara-oertli.html  — which has become the major focus of my life “in the slow lane”.

oertli_36x24_Leaves.jpg