Monday, September 21, 2009

Tomato Soup Recipe & How-To Video

Tomato Soup by Arden Durham



12 medium/large ripe tomatoes (my favorite are beefsteak)

1 tablespoon course Celtic sea salt

Season with basil, oregano, thyme, hot peppers, you choose!


Large glass pot

Medium glass pot


Heat resistant spatula

Spoon rest

Electric hand held immersion blender

Mesh strainer



Serrated knife

Cutting board



* Wash tomatoes and core out where the stem was connected.
* Cut tomatoes in the large glass pot so as not to lose any juices and give them a good squeeze.
* Add course Celtic sea salt.
* Heat on high until they come to a boil, stirring frequently to avoid scorching.
* Reduce heat to a simmer, mash then stir making sure nothing is stuck to the bottom.
* Repeat mashing and stirring every few minutes until you feel there is no longer any resistance left in the tomatoes, about 8-10 minutes.

* Use the electric immersion hand blender to liquefy the remaining pulp.
* Ladle into the mesh strainer in the medium pot.
* Push everything you can through, at first by stirring then by using the back of the spoon- you should only have a spoonful of waste (seeds and skin) left to discard.
* Scrape the outside of the strainer between rounds of ladling to make it easier and keep the soup thick.
* Season to taste.
* You can use this as a base for vegetable soup, the beginnings of ketchup, or reduce it for paste, etc.

Tip: Let the heat do most of the work for you, and if you cover as often as possible this will help.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Insensitive Ignorant

Whenever it comes up that I cannot eat wheat products, someone will inevitably exclaim something like, "Oh, I just couldn't live without bread!" 

I have two well rehearsed responses to this kind of declaration. 

One is more polite and diplomatic and it goes like this, 
"It's amazing what you can live without if it means you will live." 

Another is not so polite and confronts the premise directly and goes like this, 
"Then if you were me, you would be dead." 

Over a decade of this same scenario has played out. I'm using the second phrase more frequently. Meeting me may be the first time someone has ever been confronted with such a notion, but I have had to deal with hundreds of such ignorant interactions. Forgive me if my patience is wearing thin when I did not ask to be this kind of educator. I try to be kind, but I would like some of that compassion directed back my way!

This is not just because the person is insensitive due to ignorance. I mean, not many people feel free to walk up to a person in a wheel chair and say, "Oh, I just couldn't live without walking." Most people have become sensitive to certain kinds of differently abled people being in their midst and appreciate what they can do. But, people do not see my disease and disabilities in the same way- mostly because they are not visible in the same ways and I became a master of covering what has been visible. Most folks simply don't understand that food can be deadly, especially if they eat it and are "fine." 

I also say these things to remind myself. It is challenging to deal with constant peer pressure, put downs, disbelief, dismissal, and all sorts of other negative emotional influences people throw out there. "You can't possibly be right!" "That doesn't make any sense!" "One taste can't be that big of a deal." "I would be so depressed if I had to live the way you do." Those are exactly the thoughts and premises that will get me into trouble, and they illuminate how American culture embraces justifications, rationalizations, and excuses. It's really not too hard to be in control over what goes in my mouth. Just a taste will hurt. I really don't need people encouraging me to hurt myself for a 30 second experience in my mouth. That's not very nice. I wish folks would stop doing that- and then my life would be less depressing! 

I am breaking the food addiction of American culture. 

Where there is a will, there is a way. 

Monday, September 7, 2009

Part 2: Childhood Food Clues

Fortunately for me, my mother did cook daily when I was a child, and she did it well. She used real, whole foods and it was rare that anything came out of a can. Mostly, we ate beef roasts and two vegetables for dinner. Rarely did a dinner include wheat as an intricate ingredient, but sometimes slices of white bread were available on a plate. This is one of the blessings of my childhood that probably kept my symptoms from being even worse. I was having one meal a day that was relatively gluten, starch, and sugar free.

My mother cooked as long as my father was home for dinner. When he was not, we ate microwaveable meals, pizza or fast food as a treat. Unfortunately for me, my father lived separately from me and my mother for the first time when I was 13 and my mother ceased to cook. My sister was already long gone out of the household as she has almost a decade on me. I was content to eat Lean Cuisine and Stouffer’s microwavable meals. If my mother wanted to be liberated from the kitchen, then I wanted her to be free. After all, food is food, no matter what it is or where it comes from- or so I thought.

My lunches were the same as they had always been in school, a sandwich (white bread, processed deli meat, pre-sliced processed cheese) with corn chips and juice. They started to include Little Debbie snacks, too. I had discontinued breakfast as any kind of routine in junior high because it caused me to feel ill. I settled for a glass of orange juice. In elementary school breakfast was usually milk and cereal and it never really sat well. I would often feel nauseous if I smelled cooking fat smoke in the morning. I would snack on corn chips or cake snacks after school. I had a real sweet tooth, otherwise known as an addiction to sugar, as well. I consumed candy whenever I could. So, once my mother quit cooking, I was eating almost all processed, industrial food. My symptoms gradually got worse the more of these foods I ate, but I did not make the association. Food as the source of illness wasn’t even close to a thought in my mind.

My mother and I lived with my father again for my freshman year of high school, and most of the time she cooked again. He left again at the beginning of my sophomore year and I expanded my range of microwavable foods. Every year I was missing more school because I was ill with one thing or another, acutely and chronically, labeled and treated or not. I occasionally tried my own hand at cooking, a lot of times vegetarian, but I wasn’t very good at it and the lack of reward meant I could count on both hands how often this happened. I also began to eat out with friends once I had my driver’s license. I would get a home cooked meal every now and again at my friend’s house. Late in high school, I was tested for allergies, received shots for a year or so, but never followed the direction not to eat citric acid. This was the first food clue. I ignored it completely. I mean, citric acid seemed to be in everything, and it couldn’t be making that much of a difference- so I persisted in denial of even trying to eliminate a source of conflict for my body. I chose to stay ignorant to feeling good.