July 24, 2012

Remember when my daughter went away to camp in early July? And how I was home alone trying to find new things to look forward to? Well, with the kid outta the house, my daily treats were most often about food.

This is the beginning of a process raised in my earlier post: “Can I be more than Mommy?” In other words, can I manage to have a life not centered around Gabi, because she’ll be going away to college next year?

Having her at camp gave me a chance to imagine what that scenario would be like. I decided to give myself a staycation, and did my best to get out and about. Here are the highlights: took a few days off from work to attend a drawing class five nights in a row, shopped for art supplies twice, went to bed at 9 p.m. twice, caught up with five different friends over five different delicious restaurant meals, planted flowers on my deck, took myself to the movies, took myself to a street fair.

But I am one of those moms who spent a lot of time cooking and feeding people — and thoroughly enjoying it. If you saw the full list of my treats during those 15 days Gabi was away at camp, almost all the items involved food. Every get-together with a friend was over a meal. At the movies, I had to have popcorn. There was a lot of food shopping food; this has always been a huge mommy activity for me.

So during my staycation, it felt perfectly natural to be wandering around Manhattan’s Union Square Greenmarket, where I found the best fresh fava beans. I shelled them from their pods, then cooked them in a little olive oil and sea salt. The bean casing aren’t meant to be eaten but these were so tender that I scarfed down everything.

My mom taught me about fava beans, one of our happy foods. We were always eating — and I was always five to 10 pounds overweight. With food as an extension of all our emotions, we found reasons to eat whenever we were in a good mood, depressed, bored, angry…

Is it any wonder that I’m always gravitating to food? It happened the other day when I went to that street fair, in the adorable village of Nyack, N.Y. There were tons of vendors with jewelry, crafts and clothes. To fortify myself during the stroll, I stopped at the Runcible Spoon Bakery, where I abandoned my gluten-free regimen for the muffin of my dreams, covered in cinnamon sugar, filled with dense layers of buttery, croissant-like swirls.

Chomping and strolling, I was next mesmerized by a vendor doing a demo of her Zena stainless steel veggie peelers. They were amazing and quite affordable at three for $20. Now I use them nearly every day in my kitchen.


I did manage to find one captivating non-food item. Vintage-looking aprons for bottles, at $4 each. How did I manage to live without them?


Hmm, where does this leave me? Gabi is back home now, dividing her time between eating out with friends and having some meals at home. The trick for me is getting used to cooking for one on a more regular basis. Hopefully, this will turn into another delicious  journey. So far, so good.   :)