You’ll find quite a few posts on this blog with updates on Jana’s Music Together endeavors and I suppose most everyone knows she keeps busy with the kids and taking on a lot of the family responsibilities we might usually share more of in normal circumstances. And of course she also serves the Trinity community or church in various ways. But you may not be aware of a certain passion Jana has developed that also absorbs a lot of her time and efforts–that is her passion for a healthy and natural lifestyle.
You can enjoy a sampling with this recipe for Baked Pasta with Lentils (courtesy of our sister-in-law, Ivana).
And hear ye now, this ode to Jana…
Over the course of our more than 15 years of marriage I have watched this passion develop. It started out as just plain learning to cook for a husband that works at home. Of course I’m capable of cooking for myself (or at least I used to be) but as a simple matter of fact–I don’t. It’s just too hard for me to stop what I’m doing and actually prepare something. So Jana took on that task and she certainly did learn to cook. When I cook, even when I’m following a recipe, sometimes things don’t turn out quite how I imagined them. When Jana cooks, even when she makes up her own recipes, everything seems to just work (except that time she tried to make jello with fresh pineapple).
When we moved to the States Jana faced new cooking challenges. A surprising number of ingredients used in Slovakia are not easy to get–things like a certain kind of sheep cheese for the Slovak national dish, extra finely or coarsely ground flour, tvaroh, and of course, BREAD.
After a while, Jana’s longing for good bread got her investigating and we ended up buying a bunch of recipe books from a book club. One of them was Nancy Silverton’s Breads from La Brea Bakery. This book is the science and chemistry of bread and Jana is the master. We don’t buy bread from the grocery store. When we move into a new apartment we take bread to the neighbors to win their favor. We have friends that call it “Jana bread” and they noticeably salivate when they speak of it.
Now you may wonder, if Jana is such a good cook, how is it that I maintain my svelt figure (or then again, maybe you don’t).
All the time that Jana has been studying and learning the art and science of cooking and baking, she has always taken an (unnatural) interest in the most pure, the most natural, the most healthy culinary techniques. She nurses a (un)healthy skepticism for the FDA and corporately funded research into the benefits of corn syrup. She thinks doctors have been trained to treat symptoms with medications that exacerbate the root problems of our society and she disdains the United States for being the most obese nation on the planet (Slovakia is sixth).
Slowly our diet has changed over the years. Now, every morning we drink kefir smoothies (barely palatable); we eat organic oatmeal that has been soaked over night in water and whey (I grew up on the ol’ maple and brown sugar, thank you); vegetables that were once mercifully rare seem to be showing up in my soup, next to my steak, or even in my breakfast eggs (blasphemous), and we buy a pound of sugar once every six months (but it’s for the kambucha, not for me). Our counter is littered with things purposefully set out to sour and the part of the refrigerator reserved for cans of soda has been overrun by home canned kim chee.
Those who know me well probably think I am supportive of Jana and that even if at some points I may find it hard, at least I am patient. Or perhaps if my patience sometimes fails at least I have the composure to set a good example for the children.
I quite freely display my discontent and have been known to organize the ranks in open revolt against her oppressive regime. I accuse her of subscribing to whacko conspiracy theories and base my indignation on our inflating grocers bill. I have gone on hunger strikes, refusing to eat whole courses of a single meal. Once I was even driven to infidelity (but it was only once and it meant nothing to me). Yes, I confess. I snuck a snickers from the vending machine.
Oh my wife she loves me so–and I give her so much grief. I admit though, it’s not all bad and there is for me relief. We are much healthier than we used to be. Last fall I went to the doctor for the first time in eight years and rather than scolding me for being aloof he said I’m so healthy it will be OK if I don’t come back for a couple years. Ah, my wife! Indeed she makes me a better person.
And of course, not all good foods have been blacklisted. I can still eat all the butter I want.