An Open Table: How’s It Going So Far?

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One of our home cooked meals: Coffee and spice-rubbed Salmon with Potatoes and Brussel Sprouts with Pecans and Cranberries

Monday night I was talking to my sister in New York on video chat (which is a wonderful thing for our far-flung family) and she was very curious about how it was going with the new approach to food we talked about previously.

Lindsey and I smiled at the question– and then she laughed. We’ve done well, but not perfectly so I wanted to post an update on how we’ve done so far, and what we have learned. So, without further ado, how are the resolutions going?

1. We said we would “cook our dinners at home from real food, not processed kits, boxes, meals or other unreal creations of the food industry.”
This is a success story. All of our dinners at home have met this criteria. Whether it is from the farmer’s market, Central Market or HEB we have bought food that was as minimally processed as possible and had two fresh veggie sides at every home cooked meal.

Notice I said dinners. Lunches have been hard. Lindsey takes leftovers every day that she can (that’s good!), and when there are none she takes the healthiest frozen dinners she can find (that’s not so good…). I am worse at lunches though, but this leads to the next item.

2. “We will go out to eat occasionally, but we want that to be the infrequent exception and not the rule.”
This one has been harder. I eat lunch out once a week with a good friend, and that was planned for, but other things have been a challenge. I have two addictions that are really tough to break, Chik-fil-a and a really good hamburger. I have failed on this one more than my bride, but still not often. Maybe once or twice a week.

Other than lunch, we have been out to eat a few times. Chipotle is very responsible about their sourcing so our consciences are pretty good there. We’ve been to Uchi once to celebrate, and Chuy’s once or twice. All in all, not bad.

3. “We will have people over and cook for them at least once a week.”
This has been good. Since we posted this four weeks ago we have a 50% score with an asterisk. One week we were in Oklahoma for my Dad’s surgery so I give us a pass. The other, well it’s just a failure during a busy week. So we are happy with our progress here so far.

So there is a scorecard on our progress. We’ve been happy with the changes and are very encouraged by the impact it has had. To sit down every night and have time to eat and talk with each other has been a huge blessing. We will not give this up easily.

An open table

Lindsey and I are closing out our first week back in the real world with something that is very important to us and something we plan to make a building block for our home. We are cooking and having friends over for dinner.

Since reading Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma several years ago and re-reading his In Defense of Food again lately my perception of food and eating has changed. Now, I’ll admit up front that I still fall into the modern food industry’s system on a daily basis, I have not been able to effect my escape yet. But, one of the key premises of those books is that our culture and and food are so intimately tied together that the degradation of one leads to the destruction of the other. With this, we both whole-heartedly agree.

So, we have undertaken two propositions to start out our marriage. First, we are going to cook our dinners at home from real food, not processed kits, boxes, meals or other unreal creations of the food industry (check out Michael Pollan’s rules for eating to get an idea of what I am talking about). We will go out to eat occasionally, but we want that to be the infrequent exception and not the rule.

Second, we will have people over and cook for them at least once a week. Now, friends and family in Austin don’t worry, your invitation is coming but we have to start somewhere. :) This is really an extension of our desire to have a home that is open to all of our friends, all the time. This is certainly not the norm these days, and it may sound unrealistic to some folks. We get that, but we want to buck that trend.

So tonight we are having two great friends over. We’re grilling up fajitas and making mexican rice and guacamole from scratch. They will bring some good beer and we will have a great time of fellowship with people we love. In our home, there are few things more valuable than that.