Thursday, February 7, 2013


Away from home recently, with access to an alien cupboard, I had occasion to examine a vacuum-packed plastic container of Veetee Long Grain Rice. The label read,“We understand cooking rice can be a chore, that’s why we have done all the hard work for you. Rice so good, you will never need to cook it from scratch again.”

I actually consider that evil, and I’m not just talking about that comma where a semicolon is called for. Cooking rice is a chore? Throwing a cup of rice and two cups of water in a pot, bringing it to a boil, and letting it simmer for 15 minutes while you sauté some onions and garlic and vegetables is a chore? Rice that has been cooked in giant quantities in some vile factory, vacuum-packed in plastic, shipped, trucked, and has sat on a shelf for God knows how long, then had its plastic film peeled back and been nuked in a microwave is better than rice cooked from scratch? .

How long can we remain fully human without eating actual food? Without having actual sex as opposed to sitting in front of a screen and watching porn? Without being willing to get our hands dirty and smell real smells and spend a little time cleaning up around the kitchen, bathroom, yard: sweeping the floor, scrubbing the pots, raking the leaves outside the window. (Aside: I’m against capital punishment, but if I were to make an exception, it would  be for the person or people who invented leaf-blowers). There has got to come a point where we are so starved for “realness” that we rise up and throw all that non-food dreck onto a giant bonfire, and start a garden from the ashes. 

I don't need any twee "food rules" either. People got along fine for thousands of years without rules around food. Eat what you want and TAKE A WALK is my "rule." 

As always, I think of the Real Body and Blood. Real Food. Real Love.

Kim Luisi of Faith, Fiction, and Flannery, recently described making a berry, peach and apple sauce. When I told her it sounded good, she wrote back: "Oh and the berries, peaches and applesauce is easy: it's exactly what it says it is (no sugar, mind you) and a couple of cinnamon sticks. I usually have it with either ricotta cheese and roasted nuts or homemade Greek Yogurt with roasted nuts (pecans are the best!)

Now that's food!



  1. Thank you for writing this!! How quickly and willing we are to settle for and accept any phoniness offered to us in the name of ease.

    When eating REAL FOOD (healthy, raw, organic, food) I feel SO much better! Not only does my body feel better, but I find my relationship with food, myself, God, and even with others to be so much healthier too! I can't explain this (not the latter, at least); I just know it to be my experience.

    You have expressed disdain for the inventor of the leaf-blower in the past, yet it again made me laugh out loud (in the quiet coffee shop)! Haha! I find your passion about the settling of leaves humorous, yet understandable. :)

  2. Amen! I was just on a rant of my own yesterday when I read in the newspaper that some schools in my city were cited for violating the food/nutrition code. The kids in question had old fashioned bake sales to raise money for school trips or uniforms and they were "busted" because the baked goods were not in compliance with school codes! Give me a break! I applaud the initiative of the students for trying to make their own money. Instead everything we eat is being policed all of a sudden and it seems the decision makers have lost their perspective.

    By the way, I was delighted to see someone else loves to put yummy fruit and cinnamon on ricotta. That is one of my favorite breakfast meals!

    Again, thank you for your wonderful blog.

  3. Totally with you on the food front. I was amazed the first time I made alfredo sauce from scratch. Cream, butter, and parmagiano reggiano. Nothing could be simpler. But you can still buy jars of (fake) alfredo at the grocery store.
    I don't think I want capital punishment for the inventor of the leaf blower, though. I live in Minnesota and still use a shovel for the snow, but there are certainly times when I would like to have a snowblower....

  4. Okay I'll bite. Where is the semi-colon supposed to go?

  5. Dear Heather,
    Hee hee. A post after my own heart! As a from-scratch home cook, you are preaching to the choir. Also, talking about the delights of the table is one way to lighten your heavier bedside reading of late.

    Last night we had homemade udon noodles with peanut sauce. Flour, water, salt. Easy as anything!

    The aspect of Christian hospitality with its ancient roots keeps driving me to welcome people around our table. In the past few years I have taken to reviving some saints' feast days (St. Joseph, St. Lucy, and even St. Anthony of the Desert.) I now have some friends asking for more information about the saints and the liturgical year.

    And I LOVE that Tommy's Burger photo! Gorgeous color and light. As always, I love the surprises I find when I check in on "Shirt of Flame" each day. The one constant is that I am often surprised with the depth and variety of topics that you reflect on. God bless you!!

  6. Erin! The semi-colon belongs after chore.

    This is just horrible, that our mania for sanitation, hygiene, and the minimization of all human contact ends with the kids not getting to have their old-fashioned bake sale, for heaven's sake! That stuff makes me crazy. Have I mentioned the "food book" I have in the works? It's called FAMISHED...

    My old man had a snow blower and it was delightful, a muffled motor cutting the otherwise almost complete quiet of our little house in more or less rural New Hampshire--a sound that said "Dad's home, Dad's in charge, Dad will make us safe"...

    Maybe that's the key or one key to annoying sound: If WE'RE making the sound, it doesn't strike us as obnoxious...

    Also, though I feel everyone should go about in silence, meditatively wielding small wooden rakes, I myself have of course never had to actually clean a yard here in L.A. (or really anywhere) and would probably be the first to strap on a high-powered blower, turn the thing up full blast, and aim the hose wherever, whenever, and however I damn well pleased.

    No but seriously the things are as loud as small planes and if you have ever had one buzzing outside your window, then the place next door, then the place across the street, then the place next door on the other side all afternoon every in my case Tuesday, you'd know what I mean. We can send a man to the moon and we can't figure out how to make a quieter freakin leaf-blower?....I mean let's prioritize!

    Plus they are TEARING UP MY ENTIRE STREET AND PUTTING IN A NEW SEWER! I may escape next week to Palm Springs...have a fab weekend, everyone...

  7. Umm, as we speak, our 80-year old sewer line from our house to the street is being replaced. UGGGHHH. The noise has not been extraordinary but to have the basement free of noxiousness and be able to use our water again....

    But then, if we were farther east, we could be going through a blizzard with no water while they tried to fix, God is good!

  8. great comments...I like real, natural, and fresh foods. Thankfully I am in CA at the moment and can enjoy more of that than in my hometown (Boston) which will have 2-3 ft of snow on it by this time tomorrow!

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  10. I love your reference to the real body and blood. I realized that I often love God in theory. Ah, the wonder of incarnation. Our bodies matter. I wonder about our constant escape from work and that mysterious relationship between love and work. I confess, I have a rice cooker. Those of us who don't buy packaged rice have grilled cheese griddles and mini-pie makers.

  11. I love the idea of the real body and the blood which reminds me of the wonder of incarnation... our bodies matter. Years ago I realized I tend toward loving God in theory. I also wonder about our view of work as something to be escaped since work and passion are so closely related. I confess I have a rice cooker. Those of us who don't use packaged cooked rice have grilled cheese griddles and mini-pie cookers.

  12. Yes, Heather, you are so right on, girl. I often see the packages on the shelves and wonder who REALLY relishes using this stuff!! Especially things like rice and noodles and such. My hubby and I just recently had a conversation about how we made it through youth eating bacon and eggs and all that stuff we were brought up on. Today, if you drink a cup of coffee or tea or if you eat too much that's green or yellow, you might, well, fill in the blank!! Aha!! A secret: pull it from the garden or buy it fresh and cook it and all is well!! I cook each day and relish doing it. My husband adores my meals and we make our mealtimes a sharing. Thanks as always for your honesty and good thoughts, Heather. And yes, our real Food, the Body and Blood of our Savior fills us with nourishment we cannot even imagine!! Can't wait for FAMISHED!!

  13. "Food is God's love made edible." Without God's love, how can we survive? As a health coach, if I can get my clients to understand this, everything falls in line! Alicia Rae pointed me to your blog & I'm excited to read more!

  14. I've already left a comment, but in the time since my last a question has developed...

    We can hope there comes "...a point where we are so staved for realness that we rise up and throw all that non-food dreck onto a giant bonfire, and start a garden from the ashes" but I wonder if you actually predict this happening?! While I hope to be a part of the rising up, fire starting, and planting of the garden, I wonder if we can actually expect this from society? will putting my hopes in the dream of a fire break my heart in the end? can ashes give birth to a garden?

  15. Totally agree, especially on the leaf blowers! Abominable machines from the pit of hell. To Chip: No worries; snowblowers are actually useful, and people with a lot of driveway/sidewalk/whatever to clear, or people who physically can't or shouldn't wield shovels, may use them without penalty. :-) (I'm from Minnesota, too.) But leaf blowers - I can't even . . . I mean, there's no excuse for a leaf blower. They're not only wasteful and annoying and polluting, they're so over the top and in-your-face about being all those things. Bah!

  16. This is great. I concur, wholeheartedly. For me everything mentioned above, including the leaf blowers, is about pride: I would be mortified to use one of those things or be "one of those people" who eat that nasty stuff. Every time I see an able-bodied person wielding a leaf blower, I yell out the window, "GET A RAKE!!" Only I don't think they hear me over the din. How can a grown man use one of those things and not be embarrassed? So unmanly.
    And now I've just blown yesterday's confession with my pridefulness. Rats.

  17. ha ha, I'm glad I'm not alone in being unhinged by leaf blowers. I love the idea of yelling out the window TURN THAT THING OFF!, though as you say, of course the person wouldn't hear you.

    I'm not anti rice-cookers or toaster ovens and I neglected to say I actually ate the Veetee Rice! I'm against lying, against holding out the artificial as being BETTER than the real. What's almost as obnoxious to me, on the opposite end of the fake food spectrum, are the food fetishists who forage for some arcane lichen, make foam out of it, spray everything with nitroglycerin, and charge 300 a meal; food that's about the chef, rather than about the actual food, the communion, the gratitude, the love. I'd way rather eat MacDonald's with a friend than go to a restaurant like that...

    Anyway, with Lent coming up, we'll soon all be eating nothing, just creeping about with ashes on our foreheads and little husks of bread...

  18. Say, just got something in an email from Catholic Peace Fellowship that reminded me of your post. It was one of Dorothy Day's diary entries, with a wonderful meditation on food, feasting, and fasting. It's here:

    Scroll down to the Feb. 11 entry, which begins, "I began to write this on the Feast of our Lady of Lourdes..."

  19. Beautiful, thanks, Dianne. Loved the litany of food available in the Holy Land...Wheat, honey, dates..."Obedience, fasting and prayer are laughed at, yet only through them lies the way to real, true freedom"...God bless Dorothy!

  20. Remember not everyone has the luxury of time- sometimes even five minutes is too much when you have young children. I am a devotee of the whole, the organic, the real but I know that is not the easy path. Nutrition is important but so is education, formation, family time, playtime. I would never judge a harried mother of a large family who feeds her otherwise healthy children convenience food. Maybe the microwaved rice allowed her to discuss with her elementary schoolers what they were planning on giving up for Lent!

  21. I just heard a story on BBC Radio 4 about all the new hybrid roses shipped around the world. Fragrance, along with delicate appearance has been lost for the sake of longer bloom life. I thought of all the people who probably don't even know what beautiful scents can come from real roses. That made me a little sad this morning as I passed the tents, full of floral arrangements and last-minute gifts, in parking lots.


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