Bears and werewolves

Flash-forward 10 years. The current economy has me once again relying on eggs as a major source of protein, but this time I have a few advantages: improved cooking skills, superior cooking equipment, the inclination to supplement my diet with foraged ingredients, the beginnings of a garden and a better source of eggs, which means eggs that are lower in cholesterol and higher in nutrients.

[. . .]

The problem began when we ran low on other food. A lag between grocery runs and paychecks led to mostly bare cupboards. Except for eggs, of course. Soufflé gave way to hard-boiled eggs and fried eggs sans bread or potatoes or tortillas. We ate our nascent garden down to the nubs. Rich was doing heavy physical labor every day, and breakfast and lunch of hard-boiled eggs wasn't cutting it. We both admitted to feeling a little ill and instated a two-day hiatus from eggs.

Even a short period of deprivation can have an amazing effect on the senses. My check came in the mail, and we went grocery shopping. A vista of possibilities opened up before me: Suddenly I had cheese, and zucchini, and kale, and cream, and butter. We set into eating eggs again with enthusiasm (though this time I kept it to one meal a day). I whipped up a cat's-ear, arugula and Cheddar frittata. Friends came to visit for the weekend, and I made miniature oyster mushroom quiches in a chicken-fat-infused crust, and a traditional Nicaraguan breakfast with fried eggs and gallo pinto. Finally, nearly two weeks after the start of our egg challenge, I used the last dozen to make deviled eggs for a neighbor's barbecue. Lifting the last egg from its carton was almost surreal.

[. . .]

Heavy cream is certainly a luxury, but because the eggs were a gift and the vegetables, spices and mushrooms were homegrown or scavenged, this meal cost me about 70 cents per person. If I'd paid for the eggs, it would have been about 95 cents per person. The good news is that this protein-rich meal is still a decent value even if you shop for all of the ingredients -- radishes are not expensive and the oyster mushrooms are not essential to the dish. That said, I don't think I need to mention that I didn't lose 30 pounds on this diet. (Felisa Rogers, “Eggs, two meals a day,” Salon, 2 July 2011)

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@Felisa: the whole eggs/cholesterol myth

That was pretty well debunked many years ago; EATING foods with cholesterol in them does not GIVE YOU high cholesterol. The only exception would be a small number of people who are very sensitive to cholesterol in any food, and already have severe coronary artery disease.

People vary in how likely they are to get high cholesterol. It is influenced by heredity more than anything else; it is absolutely possible to be thin and fit and still have high cholesterol (or be fat and out of shape, and have perfect cholesterol numbers). But very generally, it is saturated and transfats that can push normal cholesterol numbers up, and a diet too heavy in animal proteins.

To single out eggs never made any sense. Eggs are a very healthy part of a normal diet EATEN IN MODERATION.

At your young age, without heart disease and at a normal weight (and I assume living in the country, you get plenty of exercise walking and chopping wood, etc.), eating eggs is probably not any problem at all.

That being said: 7 dozen eggs! yikes! I'm glad you gave away a few dozen, but it reminded me of the line (I think from Dorothy Parker) that "eternity is two people and a ham". Actually, it's any number of people facing down dietary monotony for a long period of time -- even the most luscious chocolate will be nauseating if you MUST eat it 3-4 times a day. NOTHING is so delicious you can eat it (and nothing BUT it) at every meal.

Eggs are still relatively cheap (though they have doubled in price since just a few years ago) and yes, you can make may delicious, cheap meals from them -- omelets and stratas, frittatta's and quiche. Deviled eggs (yum!) and egg salad sandwiches. But again, what is absolutely delicious if you have it once in a while, is sickening if you must face it down at every single meal.

Your husband is also incorrect that eggs are an insufficient protein for a working man doing hard physical labor. They are every bit the perfect protein package, as good or better than any meat. BUT I am also sure he was sick of eating hard boiled eggs (and probably constipated).

Living so meagerly that you must wait for a check from Salon to go grocery shopping -- Felisa, that is madness. And I JUST DO NOT get this. Seriously, I do not. You are smart, you are educated, you are literate. YOU KNOW BETTER THAN THIS.

Is this a stunt? or a way to create material for a book, a sort of survivalist-forager-in-the-mountains variation on "No Impact Man"? Frankly, I am sick of these "I did _____ for one year!" books. They are contrived and after you read a couple, you've read them all.

I ask you again, in the name of reason and sanity and common sense: go on your county food stamp website (you don't even have to DRIVE anywhere, you can apply online in Oregon -- I checked it out for you!) and start your food stamp application. If you can't even keep very basic foods stocked in your cupboard -- simple things like rice and beans and pasta and flour and canned or frozen veggies -- and you literally don't have food to eat at times, then you CLEARLY qualify for and deserve food stamps.

It would give you and your husband a "baseline"; enough money to buy healthy basics like meat, milk, cheese, fresh vegetables, bread, cereal -- and then if you WANT to experiment foraging or creating low-cost budget meals: more power to you! Many people are struggling today, and would truly benefit from articles on clever ways to economize, budget and save money.

But playing with food insufficiency is just plain stupid. At a certain point, it won't work anymore. What if Salon ceases publication? What if the road crew has to cut back, and your husband loses his job cutting brush? What about if your garden fails? What if winter sets in early? What if you became pregnant?

I don't think you prove anything by being a martyr here. Get the food stamps; use your writing and foraging skills to share great recipes and pragmatic ways to save money in tough times. (_bigguns) (laurel1962)

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RE: It would give you and your husband a "baseline"; enough money to buy healthy basics like meat, milk, cheese, fresh vegetables, bread, cereal -- and then if you WANT to experiment foraging or creating low-cost budget meals: more power to you! Many people are struggling today, and would truly benefit from articles on clever ways to economize, budget and save money.

But playing with food insufficiency is just plain stupid. At a certain point, it won't work anymore. What if Salon ceases publication? What if the road crew has to cut back, and your husband loses his job cutting brush? What about if your garden fails? What if winter sets in early? What if you became pregnant?

I think we get closer to what she is (and good numbers of her generation are increasingly) about if we imagine that, after Salon ceases publication, the road crew cuts back, her husband loses his job cutting brush, her garden fails, the winter sets early, she becomes pregant, her first thought thought is on how much nourishment she might take from carving out chunks from fretfully imaginative people like you, who have no clue that this all, the real reality of it -- that clearly, would so scare you -- might just even better suit her mood.

She is making posts on a smug, beans-and-greens, baby-boomer-pleasing/placating kind of site, and, admittedly, looks to be all about youthful experimentation and foodie play -- of the kind that might invite the understanding and appreciative baby-boomer elder to still want to wizen by cluing or even startling her (as needs be) to her true straits, and thereby better the resources very much available to her -- but what she is, I think, is getting closer to this type: someone who can't but forage out for sup because her primal instincts are finally being unloosed, and, with the overall environment increasingly responding to /echoing them than to the admittedly still-in-place, effeminate "food stamp" safety nets, this time -- given the leverage -- there's no tightening back in the beast:

I'll try and respond later this weekend on this subject. It's an important one, that delineates how the baby boomers are without their knowledge, with them actually sort of dumbly playing into it, being zooed while the rest of us are getting busy engaging the wild -- such a neat but true "turn" from trite simplicities like gentrification and liberal class retreat.

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Bread, water -- and sickly Salonistas, if need be

Felisa has made it seem as if what she most is, is very much like most of you, Salonistas. She moved to depressed, backwoods Oregon -- but for reasons anyone at all human can understand: to re-engage with home, after knowing so much constant moving about. She shirks food stamps, but out of pride and independence -- something anyone at all American can understand. She is younger than most of you, but in spirit much the same as you; and so you mostly delight in her adventures, with only a cautionary word to ensure she doesn't, owing to inexperience, make that one youthful, arrogant misstep that you know would stop her adventures cold. And so you viraciously defend her, while gently cautioning her (here, even Laurel has stepped back her attack a considerable some -- gauging Felisa mostly now a martyr ["I respect your staunchness, but you hurt yourself more than you have to"] rather than a fraud), and she modestly but appreciately thanks you for your support.

I would suggest, however, that you all consider seeing her as -- and I'm sorry for this, Felisa -- a worse sort than the actual foodie you once had in mind to destroy: Gerry Mak, the struggling, unemployed 20-something who actually went on food stamps, but to buy pretty much anything! he wanted so to find himself eating better than he ever had before! Mak, certainly as he was first presented to us, with pretty much his food stamp-purchased cases of Perrier, was an affront to everything decent: in his tough times he found means to go about life pretty much pheasant hunting-pleasantly along, leaving you with no one to sympathize with, no one to tend to, no one to remind that even in depressed America it's still not the Medieval Ages, dear: “don't martyr yourself, Gerry Mak; I can tell you means to make that foie gras/grass-fed .../blueberry fanna cotta stretch over two meals rather than the one you had planned, before whistling in tomorrow's lobster cognac -- why not? -- one day ahead, if you only follow how in the same straits I cunningly made my batch of eggs-and-leeks whatever garbage goo last two whole weeks rather than the single one I had planned!” Mak is a genuine foodie (though he looked at last sight to be repenting his truly-glorious achieved heights) -- fundamentally a lover of ease, a specialist in refined taste, a friend of conversation and (therefore) of the salon, if not quite, maybe in its present form, as clearly of Salon -- while Felisa is a fraud: not because she might actually have money behind her she isn't owning up to -- there is a sense that, even if the case, this is of no import -- but because she foremost isn't actually one of the foodie you; closer, is she at least becoming, to one of McCarthy's "Blood Meridian" true-hunter types that would make bullet-play of you for your dumb vulnerability, your ridiculous clinging to sensible civility, if ever casually caught glance of in a saloon.

While Mak was as effete as the delicacies he prepared, Felisa is getting as tough as the wild bushes she hacks her way through, and as alien and mercenary as the sword ferns she hangs from and the fir-tips and nettles she finds some way to grind down. So someone like Laurel cautions her away debilitation, and doesn't appreciate that Felisa is actually becoming so far away from the yuppie-seeming hipster/yuppie who might experiment frontier after becoming bored with "cheaper rent and hipper coffee," so much more truly, honestly, intrinsically someone who'd look through and past all the tourist fair while on sojourns to South America -- thanks to her entwining her soul to a habitat still ridged and rocky, bristly and fully buckling out the stupid eons of everywhere-else, soft-civilization silly-puddy spread -- that each stagger into a precipice she had not anticipated looks more likely to entrench her further into the bare but vital survival spirit enlivening every one of the tight and taut entwined sinews of bone and tested muscle wholy constituting her ancestors, to the heart of the home she's seeping herself into, than it looks to weaken or stop her.

Felisa is not a friend of the salon, of, preferrably, civilized conversation, because she is becoming someone who thrives when anything conceivably overwrought, precious, and delicate can be so readily, fist-in-the-face -- or, rather, tomahawk-in-the-soon-to-be-spilling-forebrain -- be brought up short. She isn't listening to you about food stamps, not because she's proud -- that is, aware of your actual true sensibleness, but staunchly faithful to her independence -- but, essentially, because you're weak. Because she knows that every bite downed by food-stamp purchase softens you into a mingle with a dainty, disconnected administrate already fretting the pokings-up of the undeniably real, strong, and brutal, and about to finally know "their" their-responsible full-on devourment; because she knows you're farmers' cattle and on and on about the benefits of farm life, when the care-taker farmers themselves are even now leaving as the wild spreads and overtakes, with the doom of wolves already even now more than one step beyond just a loud chorused, chilling howl and an increasingly-close check-in; because she knows you're not so much potentially saged kin as you are, if things get really neanderthal-stark desperate, to be categorized as last-ditch food supply, Felisa is taking advantage of your self-absorbed, past-relevant "signaling" to but fix the clarity of her understanding of who she now is -- thinking of, and further respecting, the old ancestral, pre or contra-civilization voices she knows she will increasingly be attending to and be influenced from.

I am principally a Salonista, but I would encourage you again to check out N + 1's thoughts on this new type. See the clear hunting wolf here in omnivorant, badger-foraging clothing.

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Watch out, Felisa:

One of your readers is turning you into a fictional, potentially cannibalistic werewolf.

If you're within commuting distance of Astoria, I may have a job for you. (bettenoir)

The Wait

Bettenoir: "Felissa darling, did you hear: One of your readers is turning you into a fictional, potentially cannibalistic werewolf."

Salonista-filled room: "Har! har! har!"

Felisa: "Well, if I'm going to likened to a lycanthrope, I guess I'll take some comfort in being sized up as only potentially cannibalistic: suggests some inspiriting wherewithal to improve my dire straits, don't you think?!"

Salonista-filled Room: "Har! Har! Har!"

[Room clears in good chear and friendly goodbyes, leaving Felisa to herself]

Felisa: "Good ... The cattle embrace an escape of warning as but good humor to accompany their wine, cheese and base stupidity. Still, may be best to ease up for awhile my talk of machetes and becoming one with the unforgiving alien wilderness -- and maybe even my now being drawn to Vince Lombardi football: a little too much old-world imposition in that embrace of all-American heroism, and fluff up even more my talk of intrinsic lazyness, my making best with all the little I have, my admittedly-youthful and therefore mostly-tolerable weakness for self-pride and my girlish, hipsterish insistence on fancies I should be ashamed, given my straits, to be even mentioning: won't due to have them thinking I'm maybe not so much possibly spoiled and youthfully rash as I am ... actually rather a little bit weirdly drawn to what is genuinely unsettling in raw folklore.

It is not yet time. The ancient and pure, the composed for eternity and most truly great, must still for a time play to the spoiled and silly, who, though fundamentally but a longish moment, remain hoisted for it nevertheless being their time. But God the ample fat on their bones attracts near as much as the spread of their imbecility draws!

Still, let me see ... next time, perhaps: "Salonistas, thank you for your patience with me; I have been a bit silly, and am thinking over your encouragements to lay aside some of the pride and perhaps sign up for the food stamps and visit those actually not-quite-so-far-away-as-I've-made-seem stores that I ..."

Link: Eggs, two meals a day (Salon)

Felisa’s articles (Salon):

How my hippie parents turned me into a consumer

How I learned to stop worrying and love football

How the recession turned me into a scavenger

Scraping by on stinging nettles

Scavenger: How my grandmother taught me to eat weeds

How I became a hillbilly

Hunting the fickle fiddlehead

How I (kind of) survive in the wilderness

Sourdough, the frontier way

What Costa Rica taught me about budget eating


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