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And Now, for Something Completely Different…..

Love what is.

-Tara Branch

I have long labored under the fantastical misconception that, notwithstanding the 500 articles to the contrary, I could Make it Big with this blog if I kept at it. One day, someone would stumble upon my rapier-sharp wit, my delicious turn of phrase, my uncommon modesty, etc., and (with a decorous smack to the forehead) say “Eureka! I have found the next_________ (author, editor, columnist, XM host).” In April I wrote every single day, based on some vague combination of Puritanism and motivational sales propaganda, thinking that maybe, just maybe, that would bring in the millions of readers and the big bucks. Not so much.

If you were here before May 9th (at which time Forest Street Kitchen disappeared into the Bermuda Triangle) you may recall that I wrote about food. Cooking food, eating food, reading about food, and generally immersing myself in everything from bad food TV to fantastic recipe discoveries. I cooked and ate with gay abandon, as did my family, throwing in lots of fruits and vegetables, but scoffing (in writing) at the suggestion that people might be healthier if they consumed less, and were more careful about what they consumed. I baked (beautiful, white) bread every day, I went on a cupcake jag, I planned my two annual carrot cake bonanzas…

…and then my husband Rob, who had been diagnosed with Type II Diabetes several years ago and been controlled fairly well with oral medications blew an astonishingly, terrifyingly high blood sugar reading in preparation for fairly routine eye surgery. This is not going to turn into the Our Sad Story Blog (although it would have ample and stiff competition) so the essential news is that the doctor said “insulin,” I said “give me a month,” and everything changed. No more carrot cake, beautiful, crusty loaves of white bread fresh from the oven, or outrageously flavored and decorated cupcakes. No more bowls of pasta, no more curries on a bed of Basmati.

I studied diabetic diets and recipes, and we now eat very few carbs, none of which involve refined anything. I eat what Rob eats, because it’s easier that way, but we do have some Reese’s Puffs, Pop-Tarts and fresh strawberries in the house for the Perfectly Healthy Kid. We walk 2.5-3 miles six days a week. At the end of the “one month” Rob’s blood sugar was perfectly normal, and our doctor was overjoyed and impressed. [And I could not be prouder that this man who used to be able to eat a bag of potato chips without blinking is now a willing and eager participant in improving his health, from monitoring his carb consumption on his own to getting enthused about his daily walk/run].

That’s the good news, and it is very good, indeed. The bad news is that this was not like passing a drug test by getting a friend to give us a bottle of clean urine. (Not that I have any first-hand knowledge of that; I just watch a lot of TV). This is a life change, and although we can make exceptions and have a bowl of carbonara or Pad Thai, mostly we can’t. That’s changed the way I cook, the way I buy groceries, and has necessitated a melancholy pruning of my recipe files – I don’t really need 500 recipes for pasta dishes anymore, and I’m probably never going to make the coconut cake with lemon curd between the layers. We feel better, and we look better, and it’s a damned good thing that I can cook, because otherwise we would be doomed to nightly plates of plain meat, steamed vegetables and salad.

I noticed, looking around the interworld, that many sites devoted to diabetes or diabetic recipes proposed the preparation of food that I would not eat if it was the only food on earth. If you know the rules, you can make all kinds of interesting things with low carb content, that are spicy, interesting, and prevent that feeling that one is dietetically “damned for all time.” I am breathing the life back into Forest Street Kitchen, but it will be different – I hope the recipes will still be good enough for those of you who are on unrestricted diets, and that if you are diabetic, pre-diabetic or just concerned about healthy eating, that you will find things here that you can use to make your life better in the kitchen and at the table.

Things change, and we can either fight them or work with them. I never thought that we would have to choose between a piece of ripe fruit and a slice of whole grain bread, but it beats the hell out of staring down the barrel of diabetic complications in order to assert our right to eat whatever we choose.


About imagineannie

I feel like I'm fifteen - does that count? I'm lots of things, I get paid to be the Managing Editor for a local news publication, and I love my job. I am also inordinately fond of reading, animals (I have four), elephants, owls, hedgehogs writing, tramping in the woods, cooking India, Ireland, England, avocado toast, Sherlock Holmes, Harry Potter, Little Women, Fun Home, Lumber Janes, Fangirl, magic, Neil Gaiman, Jane Austen, YA books, not YA books, classical music, Salinger (OMG SALINGER), Brahms, key lime pie, indie music, podcasts, sleeping in, road trips, marmalade, museums, bookstores, the Oxford comma, BBC, The Miss Fisher Mysteries, birdwatching, seashells, kombucha, and stickers. Not a huge fan of chewing gum, jazz, trucker hats or dystopian and/or post-apolcalyptic fiction (but I'll try anything).

28 responses »

  1. Still here, and still reading. I look forward to Forest Street’s new incarnation!

    • I’m so glad you’re still here. 🙂 I wasn’t expecting anyone to remember that I existed at this point. Stay tuned!

  2. I am so happy to see you back at your blog! We are right here with you on the “life changing event” and needed diet change. I am sure there are a lot of things we can share! Blaine needs low sodium and low sat. fat and I need to keep refined carbs to a minimum.

    • Well I thought you might identify with this. I look forward to sharing this (pretty bumpy) road to health with you…thank goodness we can all still have wine….

  3. Yea for you and Rob. Not that his insulin was high, but that you both took it seriously and made the changes necessary. He is lucky to have you, that is for sure, and it’s wonderful that he has embraced these changes. I’m so glad you are back!

    • I’m glad to be back, and the competitive part of me really enjoyed going back to see the doc, knowing that a bazillion people say “we’re going to change” and then just don’t. I like the challenge, I like the way I feel..I like everything except I’d really like a cookie. 😦

  4. Hooray for Rob, and for you–I once switched to a low sugar, low carb diet when I was praying at the temple of Dr. Atkins, and it’s quite an adjustment. I’ll look forward to the “Revamped” blog and I know the new stuff will be just as good as the old.

    • Thanks! I think we are more moderate about carbs than Dr. Atkins – we eat them, it’s just that they are not refined, and we count them. Quinoa, whole wheat bread, Triscuits, oatmeal and small pieces of fruit are our friends.

  5. Ann,

    As the first paragraph in quite some time progresses a dread fear comes over the reader. It is the omen of an unwanted goodbye, a passing of something cherished. But one must read on to the conclusion, if only because of the fresh words have been so long arriving.

    The tough message you convey is actually a relief to us, your explaination seems much less an excuse, and more a confession. To actually care about another person enough to make sacrifices comes across as large, and brings pause to question if we ourselves would be so caring.

    Just as quickly as fear overtook the reader, a refreshing sort of joy returns as the words “I am breathing the life back into Forest Street Kitchen” appear. It is not goodbye afterall, simply a growth spurt underway.

    This is not the place to minimize where you are and have just come from. Soon, I hope you can look about and see that you are just in the next phase of your lives. Welcome on board with so many of us, it really is a great place to be, given the alternatives.

    Cant help but sense there was a reason I started sneaking over to read ‘the kitchen’ so long ago. I think I know now……..

    • You made me cry, you mean old cracker. I am reading between the lines and thinking that you are in our boat with us – (well, I’m not in the boat, just trying to avoid the drowning part before being pulled into the boat)?

      Hope all is well with you. You still have the way with words that won me over ages ago….

  6. Chick,
    I am so glad you’re back writing. I would read whatever you wrote, be it on food or books or life…
    doesn’t matter. You have a great voice, and I love to read it…if that makes sense!
    Cannot wait to see what you come up!
    MC and Groom

    • Aw shucks, Mary; thanks! Sometimes it will undoubtedly be about books or life…I kind of have to remove food from the VERY center of my universe these days, but there’s much else to be interested in.

  7. Ann,

    You’re back. I’m so glad. Congrats to you and Rob. I’m thrilled with your success. I know it must have been a big challenge, and the rewards are obviously priceless. Looking forward to your new angle. I’ve missed you.


    • We’re pretty thrilled, too. I always say I’m not competitive, but…it’s a big lie. I guess I am not competitive against people, but against odds. As soon as someone says “very few people can do X,” I’m ON. Thanks for waiting. 🙂

  8. Hi Ann,
    Congratulations on your move to reduced carb living. I’ve recently come to love your blog — but more for its entertainment value rather than anything nutritional, as my husband & I made the decision to reduce the carbs in our lives a couple of years ago. We have since come to grow sick and tired of every incarnation of the South Beach diet and look forward with great anticipation to what you will be serving up. I’m excited about actually trying your recipes now, rather than just reading them. xx Kirsten

    • I hope I post some recipes you can actually use…I’m never sure where a diabetic diet is on the low-carb spectrum, although I know we eat more carbs than Atkins people. Our Food Gurus have been adamant that people need to eat some carbs every day, just healthy ones spaced out reasonably. I hope also that I can still entertain. I’m a little rusty. 🙂

  9. have been through it! I look forward to reading your recipes. While not diabetic I am what I consider “the luxury model” and am always trying to reign it in a little. I was on a very low carb regimen for a long tome and knocked off a bunch of weight but got soooo bored I quit and guess what?? It started creeping back…so I look forward to good low carb recipes!
    I lived with a full blown diabetic once..he was my first husband..he did not take care of himself and as a result had lots of totally avoidable health of which was diabeticaly induced heart and circulatory disease..he died because of you are on the right track for a long and healthy life!

    • I have been “the luxury model” my whole life. I am finding that I’m losing weight on this plan, although I am certainly still eating plenty. As for diabetic health issues, I have been worried for years that Rob would get really sick and check out on us, but he is going into his 49th year with good blood sugar, blood pressure, and better cholesterol…this is MUCH harder for him than it is for me, and I admire the hell out of him.

      • Hey Ann & Anne: I absolutely love this ‘luxury model’ concept. Although I’m not one myself, I’d love to be one, given the proper incentive. Any chance of Forest Street Kitchen publishing a few ‘luxury model’ only recipes?

      • No, you silly girl!! The idea is to be “built for speed, not for comfort…”

  10. I’m so glad you’re back on the blog. We’ve missed you out here. Glad that Rob is doing better and looking forward to hearing about non-tofu recipes. Like so many of us with health problems, I’m trying to eat better (and less) by reducing fat, salt and sugar and increasing leafy greens and lean protein. It isn’t easy when my idea of perfect happiness is a very large Coke.

    Hugs all around…

    • No tofu. I am back to the solitary, clandestine consumption thereof. You and Rob share the same idea of happiness…what’s up with you people?!

  11. I’m super glad you’re back and I’m looking forward to your new incarnation!

    • Thanks, Cheryl! I hope my karma was good enough last time around that this is a good incarnation. 🙂

  12. I am SO glad you’re back! I’ve really missed you.

    My husband was diagnosed with diabetes a few months ago (during your hiatus), so I am very much looking forward to learning with you how to cook creative, delicious meals he can eat.

    • Aw, thanks. 🙂 I’m sorry you’re in this boat with me, but we can share. I’m cruising along happily most of the time right now because we have all these great, fresh veggies and we can grill most night…I am getting mentally prepared for the challenge of the Long Dark Winter when we will REALLY want potatoes, noodles, and…Christmas cookies. we can do this. Right?

  13. Ann,
    You don’t know me but one day I hope to meet the wife of a very dear long lost friend who I have thankfully reunited with. Rob and I go far back, we shared our younger years in many ways, lived life, lived in the same home and went through some tough times for our age. I just want to say thank you for helping him so he can be around many more years and we can once again share our lives..this time not to be lost for 20+ years. Hope to see you both very soon..he is a special guy and obviously he has a wonderful woman.

    • Mike, I’m honored that you dropped by the blog, and THRILLED that you and Rob have found each other again. You can bet that I’ll be taking good care of him, and that we’ll be getting together as soon as humanly possible!


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