The thing is, I really like my food ruts.

Because a lot of the things I most love to eat, I cook all the time. There’s hardly two weeks that go by in which I haven’t made nearly half of my favorite things having to do with potatoes, tortillas, acorns, eggs, mushrooms, and wild greens. But I don’t want to make these wonderful things, slowly, become less fun to eat.

So, number one in my Getting out of a Food Rut series is to:

Cook for just ourselves, once in a while.

Maybe you live alone, and this doesn’t seem very helpful. But even if you do, are you really cooking for yourself? What I mean by that, is, are you really paying attention to your very own, particular, strangest food preferences and paying some homage to them, as you’re cooking for yourself?

It’s very interesting to me that there is an odd stigma attached to even having food preferences. It seems that a lot of us try not to have them, because we’ll be judged as “picky”, or even worse, having “bad taste” in food, if the things we most love are things we’re not supposed to love. Like bacon, or chocolate cake made with white sugar, or fluffy white french bread. I’ve heard a lot of people say, when asked what their favorite foods are, that “food is food, I like it all”.

I don’t believe them.

The food that I make just for myself tends to be more spicy, sour, and rich than the food I make for most of my other family members. I tend to use greens that are more acrid or bitter, and pour in more cream, more chile powder, more preserved lemon or Fir vinegar. I use more rosemary, and olive paste if I have it. Sometimes it’s a little sweeter, too. (This is only part of why people in my family call me The More Girl).

I think I’m mostly a social eater, as it would make me sad to eat alone all the time, and not to be able to share what I cook. But I also really love to cook all by myself, and eat all by myself, too. It gives me a special kind of freedom anytime I allow myself to make something I wouldn’t expect others in my family to eat, or even to remotely like. Sometimes they end up liking it regardless of my efforts to make it suit just me, and this is always a nice surprise!

So tell me, dear readers, what are your own food ruts? 

And/Or, how is the food that you most love to eat, different from that which you usually cook?

Does this post make you want to cook anything in particular, just for yourself?

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11 thoughts on “How to Get Out of A Food Rut, #1

  1. I know exactly what you mean — it’s only me and my husband to cook for, and he is a good eater, will eat anything I prepare. I have more ‘picky’ or unique food cravings (I think most women do!) so I always cook 2 meals for dinner, I make what I want and then something he usually likes or can digest better (I love the more cruciferous veggies, which are too gassy for him) In other words, since you love to cook, go ahead and make your own meal on the side ~ you’ll still be eating w/ the rest of the family and I doubt if they really care what you actually eat, as long as you share company 🙂 This is also a good solution for those gluten intolerant people (a current fad, in my opinion, unless you have severe colitis) so I enjoy REAL bread and pasta with no bad effects.

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  2. I love the phrase “a good eater”– so much that you’ll be seeing a blog post on it at some point! That’s wonderful that your husband is one of those! It sounds like you are, too!

    Yes, it does work to make something different on the side, and I do this a lot, but I also meant to encourage folks to cook for just themselves and no one else, and to take any opportunity to enjoy eating by themselves, as a gift. For me, whenever I’m not quite hungry at “mealtime”, it creates this opportunity to cook for just myself, later. I’ll have a beer or some tea while others are eating and wait to cook and eat when I’m actually really hungry. For me it’s an entirely different thing to focus on cooking for just myself, and no one else. And it can be so special to sit down alone and focus on eating a meal with no conversation. As much as I love to talk and share, for me it does sometimes distract from the intense sensory experience that eating can be, when I’m all by myself. I even have to send the cats away, sometimes!

    I agree with you that being gluten free has become a fad. From what I have heard, it seems that not everyone who claims to be gluten intolerant knows this for sure. Again, from what I have heard from people more in the know than I am, it seems possible that many people who think they can handle gluten just fine might be better off without any in their diet, but how much better off probably varies a lot from person to person. I have seen firsthand a huge range of different sensitivities to gluten, with very noticeable effects, even if they are not severe colitis. More on that in another post sometime!

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  3. Hi Elka, warm greetings from the Netherlands! Lovely to hear from you again, congrats on your new blog.

    I hear you. Most of the time I do the cooking for my family of 6 and I try to keep track of each and everyones needs as much as possible (mine too! ;), and often I cook something just for me (or my love or one of the children who needs just that bit of extra). I love sourdough breads, and no one else does, so I bake some loafs just for me every week. I love greens and lentils and porridge and herbal-kind-of-things and I prepare it alongside the other dishes. I do not like potatoes much and I don’t eat meat often, but others of my family do, so with just a bit of magic, everbody is happy! (ehrm… not all the time, but most of the time =)).

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    1. Hello Greetje! Thank you so much for your comment, and for the congratulations– all the way from the Netherlands!
      I loved hearing about your personal sourdough loaves, and some of the things you like to make for yourself. It’s so heartening to hear from others that make the extra effort to please themselves as we tend our loved ones! It is like magic, weaving together different dishes and foods in a way that can create such harmony and satisfaction, and giving that little bit of extra attention when it is needed, or just because we’re moved to do so … and yes, so good to accept that even the best magic has its limits sometimes!

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    2. Greetje I too am amazed how you found our beloved Elka and her canyon wonderland all the way from the Netherlands! I’ve never tried to bake my own bread but do crave an authentic sourdough, I’ve heard that it’s very easy to digest as well as delicious. I’m curious about what you cook as a starch if you don’t care for potatoes, it’s such a staple in northern Europe ~ do you make rice or pasta? Other root vegetables? I live vicariously through these types of food blogs and am eagerly awaiting Elka’s cookbook. I’m also allowing myself choices of ‘odd’ food cravings and combinations, it makes mealtime so much more enjoyable!

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      1. Hi vasara2, I’m following the Anima blog and Kiva’s blog for years now… can’t really remember how I found them. Think it must have been through Susun Weed’s blog (or was it the other way around?) Anyway, I’m a weedwife and medicine woman myself and I really love their approach towards wholeness and health (Kiva’s and Susun’s towards medicine, Elka for her lovely, lovely food magic … Elka, you’re such an inspiration. Thanks for being you!).

        Sourdough is delicious and it really satisfies me. My Love is an artisan bread baker, so I learned from him (and he often makes it for me ♥). I make it from organic spelt (50% whole wheat, 50 % flower), a tiny bit of salt (<2%), 58% luke warm water, and of cause the sourdough starter ( 20%), which we make ourselves too (based on raisins). I leave the dough to rise on a warm place for an entire day (covered by a towel or plastic) and bake the bread for 35 minutes, early in the evening.

        Aah, the potato-question! Yeah, you're right, it's (still) basic food nr 1 here in Europe (talking about food ruts!). We often eat legume (beans, lentils, chickpeas, peas), sometimes pasta and rice… and a lot of homemade whole-meal vegetable quiches and hearty soups (with some potato or legume mixed in, (f.e the famous Dutch 'Snert' (thick pea soup). Actually, I listen carefully to what I (we) need at that particular moment and season. And yes, sometimes it's potato what I need ( I do eat it once a week, just like (organic) meat, especially in winter, because it's so earthy and I sometimes get lost in my air-energy). I must confess, I sometimes crave for carbs, but too much makes me tired… and sulky =). But oats and outmeal porridge make me happy and healthy!

        And then again… nothing 'works' all the time… The moment I think "aha, so this is how it works", I am again thrown into new territory. Because everything changes all of the time… and so do our bodies and energies. The best advice is probably: eat wild, eat organic, go with your personal flow and do not stress (too much) about it… ♥

        (well, isn't that a loooong reply… probably with some nice pidgin english too =)

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  4. I’m Indian, and because there are so many different types of local cuisines here, I generally don’t get bored. My food ruts are more a matter of convenience, which is why packaged, often highly processed foods have featured more prominently on my diet lately. All the bad stuff – chips, aerated beverages, chocolate, ice-cream, pastries. I eat other cuisines too, mostly when I’m out than at home, like Chinese, Italian, American etc.

    If I had to make food only for myself it would be: some good quality white rice (like a variation of basmati), some bhindi dish (also known as okra or lady’s finger) probably with mustard, a local form of deep fried fish, fried cauliflowers, any dal (lentil), coriander chutney and a divine sweet called rasgulla (just made with milk, sugar and water).

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    1. I’m assuming when you say “here”, you’re meaning you live in India, is that correct?
      It sounds like you would make really incredible food if you “had to make food only for (yourself)”!
      Do you actually enjoy cooking, or not so much?
      Would you mind telling me a bit more about what’s in the coriander chutney? I’m intrigued…

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      1. Sorry, I guess I forgot to mention that. I don’t cook as much as I should, more out of necessity than fun. I don’t usually have to cook for more than two people, but I know I should practise more often. I do like buying fruit and veggies, but don’t have the lifestyle to do much with them.

        People have coriander chutney in various ways all over the country. Usually, I like it quite simple. Just a dense paste (some people almost make a pulpy juice of it, but I like it thicker, even creamier) and then add lemon juice and maybe some black salt. Most people add mint, some add green chillies, even a bit of oil. But, I like it simple like that, to go as a dip, or with dal (lentil).

        Hope that helps! Great blog!

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      2. Interesting about the coriander chutney. I looked it up and found out more- as I suspected, a cilantro paste! Here in the US we call coriander leaves “cilantro” as you may know already. I like to buy coriander seeds in bulk and toast them in a pan often, grind them up & use them for all kinds of things. When our monsoon season happens, I throw a lot of the (untoasted!) seeds in the ground and have tons of cilantro very soon, as it grows as fast as a weed!

        I’m so glad you like the blog, thank you!

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      3. I didn’t know that! I buy coriander powder from the shop all the time, we use it in most dishes. Then there’s freshly chopped coriander served as a garnish. I love going to vegetable markets because you can smell the coriander leaves from a mile! Coriander is actually a very popular note in fragrances. It’s scent is definitely unique. I’ll have to look for any coriander seed recipes here!

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