More Or Less Cooking

It showed up in our refrigerator one day—round and pink and wrapped in plastic stamped "Bologna." It stayed there for almost a week, and no one was quite sure how it got there. Unlike the lettuce and tomatoes around it, it never started to wilt or discolor; we decided it must have a half-life equal to that of plutonium.

Every time I opened the refrigerator that week, the sight of it brought back fond memories of Wonder Bread and "lunch meat." And I silently acknowledged the secret I had kept these three years: Before Sojourners I was a Cheez Whiz junkie.

Some old patterns die hard. For some of us the temptation to revert to a mainstream existence comes at the point of less privacy, secondhand clothes, or $15 a month spending money. For others the struggle has been food.

I arrived at Sojourners determined that my adjustment would be easy. My first kitchen task in my new household was to "make milk." Those of us who grew up in central Pennsylvania got ours from cows; I had never heard of "making milk." But I went to the large bins by the refrigerator as directed, took out a cup of white powder, and mixed it with water. The children later used the results for glue, and I have since been given directions in how to tell the difference between flour and milk powder.

The most important considerations in how we eat at Sojourners are nutrition and economics. Meat, usually chicken, is a part of our diet only once or twice a week. Paying attention to complementary protein and balance, we rely heavily on eggs, cheese, rice, pasta, salads, and beans of all shapes and colors—not to mention the omnipresent peanut butter.

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