In my email inbox today I received two recipes. One was for a kale and goji berry salad topped with lemon juice and hemp seeds. It boasted kale as the new lettuce but instructed I cut the green into ribbons as kale is tough to chew. It was sent by acquaintences of mine who are twin sisters living in Mill Valley and publishing cookbooks while they tour the country as guest chefs. Places like Blackberry Farm and other locales I long to visit and nourish my soul.
I like the idea of being healthy and topping my greens with a citric dressing. Afterall, the time for stealing candy-out-of-the-mouths-of-babes comes in three days. But I would be in denial if I didn’t admit part of my desire to try this recipe wasn’t tied to wanting to try the life. On a basic level, I sometimes correlate specific details with broader themes. Eating kale = weekend at a fancy foodie resort.
The other recipe I received was from Paula Dean and it shockingly did not start with two sticks of butter. However it went downhill from there, requiring 4 containers of cream cheese and half a stick of said dairy lard.
My kids love this kind of stuff and at Halloween it seems appropriate to play with food by turing it into monsters and such. This recipe would have been perfect for the Techet-Merriman-Jones Halloween extravaganza we used to have. In the early years, my friends and I would have fabulous kid parties:costumes, snacks, adult beverages, prizes, and games. One year we uped it to a snow-cone machine and inflatable slide. I would spend hours making spider cupcakes, having to special order shiny black sugar and shoelace licorice a month in advance. Back then miraculously seems like a simpler time already and I wonder if my youngest knows her mother is different than the one of her older sisters. So far, Cheyney has not even put her costume on. She prefers to wear street clothes and channel her inner Snow White since the costume is too itchy. I am fine with that because, even though I don’t approve of giving treats to those who do not partake in festive attire, thus far I have not had a tule halloween. I used to stand at the preschool parade, beaming with pride, as my green-faced witch, wonder woman, and bat girl stood out in a midst of princesses bedazzled in silver and pink netting. The high heeled shoes were hard to walk in and the getups looked so uncomfortable. But my girl-powered superheroes could strut their stuff and confidence with ease based on the choices they had made. The right decisions for my family seemed so easy back then.
Now we seem to be at a cross roads. What is good for the goose is not necessarily good for the gander so to speak. The choices seem endless with each direction having both plusses and minuses. Do we continue to contribute to our 401k and our blissful retirement even though the stock market looks more like a yo-yo? Is dental insurance really cost effective or should we sock money away in case a freakish oral surgery is necessary? Do we want China to succeed for the global economy or will the Empire and it’s way of life take us over? Droid or Iphone? Cable or Dish? Trick or Treat? Low carb or low fat? Well the whole food category in general: which is better organic or local; grazing 94 small meals a day or fasting one day a week so our overburdened colons get a break; an aspirin or glass of red wine a day; kale or cream cheese (that one is a little obvious). It is so overcrowded, I often come home from the grocery store with the wrong supplies. Last year I bought sodium free pickles which basically substitute as limp, wet, flavorless cucumbers. While my Mom was visiting she bought Trix cereal thinking she was buying Fruity Kix (24 grams of sugar per serving between the two). And my friend Ashley lamented there are ELEVEN kinds of Cheerios now available, not to mention the store brand versions of the General Mills classic. We seem to spend so much brain power and time on the minutia we hardly have anything left for, well, anything.
For me it has been hard, often doubting my choices and then flipflopping and redirecting only to question myself again. Mother vs woman vs wife. Domestic servant vs spread-to-thin career person. Security vs freedom. Sleep vs exercise. Public vs private. Heads or tales. Part of the confusion comes with all the choices. And part of the problem comes with so many answers. How I live affects more than just me. It affects my husband and our girls, and our friends, and our church, and our families and even our dog. So we live in compromise. And flux. And doubt. And “do-overs”. I would like to live with a little more faith. How do we know what we are doing is right? Is it a moral compass or what feels good and are those two always in opposition? My mother once told me: “you can have it all, just not at one time”. How poignant those words feel right now. Maybe I will make the kale salad for my dinner and serve my kids the cheese ball goblin as a halloween treat. Perhaps we will have a taste of each others and be happy with our own choices.