20 September 2008

New Habits

The 100-mile diet has forced us to break old habits and make new ones. Without making any judgment (yet) on whether my new habits are better, I do believe that it's a good thing to shake up habits every once in awhile. It allows you to step back, take a broader view, and make deliberate and informed choices in the future.

I'm in the swing of new cooking habits, such as baking bread, taking the time (and it's not that much time) to wash, trim, and chop fresh produce, making soup stocks from vegetable trimmings and chicken carcasses. I also have new snacking habits, such as grabbing an apple when I crave something sweet, or slicing some cheese when I need something more filling.

For breakfast, I've taken to eating home-baked bread made with Champlain Valley milled flour and local honey made by Catskills bees. Not only is it delicious, but I think about the Champlain Valley and the Catskill mountains every morning as I spread my honey.

I mean, when I drink my Columbian coffee, I have an image in my mind of tropical jungles and hillside fields -- but I've never been to Columbia. On the other hand, I have a very appealing picture of the town of Westport, NY where the houses back up against the Adirondack mountains and overlook the blue waters of Lake Champlain. Indeed I remember which Harry Potter book on CD we were listening to in the car that day, driving up to Ausable Chasm for a day of touristing. I also have been to the store between Tannersville and Hunter in the Catskills where Traphagen honey is sold. I've driven back roads and hiked mountains and swum ponds in the area, so dozens of memories crop up when I picture that tiny store full of honey and maple products.

Romantic as these notions sound, I think there's something to the idea that when the things in our life have stories behind them, they carry more meaning for us. Food stories and the memories they tap into can create a very visceral sense of place.

Now that's food for thought. Mmmm.

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