Sunday, December 30, 2012

Snow on the Ground and a Pear in the Hand

We've had an unusual snowfall here recently. When it snows, I don't like to drive anywhere, even in the evenings and even if we've run out of a staple food. Instead, I like to revel in the beauty of it all and feel safe and snug.

Here is a view of our pasture in the snow.

We ran out of grapes this morning, which is what Bow likes to have for the first course of breakfast. But we still had goodies in the fruit basket that Bow's uncle sent him for Christmas. So Bow had a juicy pear instead of grapes.

It's nice to have a ripe pear for breakfast before dawn. And a slight variation in our routine is good for all of us.

Here's to an interesting and happy and hopeful new year!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A Basket Full of Goodies

Bow loves food. But he also likes to play. Yesterday, for Christmas, Bow got three gifts. Now, compared to what most children get on Christmas day, that may not seem like much. But for Bow, opening a gift and enjoying its contents is a very leisurely activity. In the past, when he got a whole pile of gifts, he took days, weeks and months to get around to opening them all.

Over time we have learned that more is sometimes less, and we have minimized gifts for Bow at special occasions. Bow had a hardy breakfast before he was presented with his 2012 Christmas gifts. Perhaps that is why he chose to open the non-edible gifts first.

But eventually, when he selected a few items from his third gift, a fruit basket sent by his uncle, his enjoyment of the goodies was quite evident.

Toys and trinkets can be fun, but food is essential!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Pickle Salad

The highlight of Bow's lunch this afternoon was pickle salad, consisting of orange cherry tomatoes, sugar snap peas in the pod and miniature dill pickles.

Usually, Bow leaves his vegetables for the last course, preferring the sweet juicy apples over every other portion of the meal. But today, he asked for the vegetables first. I'm thinking it has something to do with the pickles!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Making Cereal from a Granola Bar

Sometimes you run out of cereal. That's okay, because you don't actually have to eat cereal. There are so many other, better things to eat. But when you are a chimpanzee, and you have finished your grapes, and you are accustomed to getting cereal for the next course, it can be a little disappointing.

 For just such an occasion, you can break out the granola bars. They are just as bad for you as cereal, consisting mostly of oats and honey. They come in a bar, so that you can go on a hike and eat them without making too much of a mess.  But if you are hankering for a messy eat, like cereal and milk, all you have to do is break the bar down into smaller pieces.

Then you pour on the milk. It looks just like cereal with milk, and it tastes a lot like it, too.

However, when you do all this in front of your chimpanzee, he will not be fooled. He won't call it cereal. He will call it "granola and milk." But if he enjoys eating it, anyway, your work is done!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Extended Feasting: Thanksgiving 2012

The problem with Thanksgiving is that there is so very much of it. Once the meal is prepared there is what the French call an embarras de richesses:  too many options.

With Bow, there is also the problem that he expects lunch to be served to him at exactly twelve noon. But it very seldom happens -- no matter how early we start -- that the turkey is ready at exactly twelve noon. Two o'clock is more like it. But Bow can be very belligerent if his expectations are not met, and some of the rest of us also grow a little cranky unless we eat something, so part of our Thanksgiving tradition is to have a light snack before the big meal.

In past years, when I was responsible for the snack, I offered decorated boiled eggs. But this year, my mother brought cranberry nut bars that she'd baked at home, before her trip to Missouri.

We all had some, and they were delicious!

But in Bow's case, I served the cranberry nut bars as part of a substantial snack, because he really does expect to have lunch at noon.

I served the plate of cranberry nut bars with a fork, because I wasn't sure whether one would be needed. But when Bow got his serving, he held the fork in one hand and the cranberry bars in the other. My mother explained to Sword that the way Bow was doing it was right, because if it's a bar, you are supposed to treat it like finger food. In this video, while Bow eats, you can hear my mother saying this.

When the turkey and stuffing were ready, I first took pictures of them in the kitchen.

My mother was the chief cook, and she prepared the turkey, the two kinds of stuffing and the cranberry sauce and sweet potatoes, and Sword baked the pumpkin pie. Everything looked nice in the dining area when it was first taken out of the oven.

But then we needed to transport everything to the pens.

When Bow saw the feast shaping up in the pens, he gave way to his instincts with great cries of joy. These cries are involuntary, and their natural effect is to alert others in the social group to the fact that food has been spotted. Even if a chimpanzee very selfishly wishes to keep an entire feast to himself, his nature betrays him, he cannot keep his joy a secret and he ends up having to share.

The first course of the feast for Bow was a turkey wing.

The second course he requested was cranberry sauce. He calls it "red".

Bow's table manners seem to grow worse with satiety, for he is less sloppy and more careful when he is hungry. The next course he asked for was stuffing. But he was not really hungry, anymore. He sampled some, sniffing suspiciously, and then he handed me the spoon. At first, I thought he wanted me to feed him. But then it turned out that he wanted me to try it.

He never finished the stuffing. And when five o'clock rolled around -- our usual supper time -- he didn't want me to prepare a meal. Instead, he wanted to go to sleep early. I put him to bed at 6:00 o'clock and that was our Thanksgiving Day.

It is good to have a feast in the company of family members when the food is so abundant we have more than enough, but Bow and I are also grateful for all the other days of the year, when we never get too full. Food is best enjoyed in smaller doses.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Black Sesame Porridge

My mother is here for her annual Thanksgiving visit, and she came bearing gifts. One of them was a packet of black sesame powder.

I first became acquainted -- and virtually addicted -- to this treat when I lived in Taiwan. Half my attraction was because of the unique flavor of sesame seed powder. The other half was due to the fact that there was a lot of sugar in those powder packets with the Quaker label that I was buying in the local Taiwanese supermarket.

This time around, though, the blacx sesame powder that my mother bought at her local Chinese food store in Indiana came unsweetened, which means that we can choose to use less sugar, or even enjoy the sesame flavor unsweetened.

When I made it for Bow, I added a single lump of sugar to the boiled water and the sesame powder. He knew what it was at once when he saw it among his choices for lunch.

When he asked for it, he simply called it "porridge". (דיסה). He knows what it is, because he has had it many times before. At first, our friend June brought us a supply from Taiwan. Then later, I ordered it online. And this week, it was grandma who brought us some.

Bow enjoyed his porridge, eating slowly, savoring the feast before him. It did not bother him at all that there was quiet conversation while he ate. Sometimes it's nice to have company.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

A Bowl of Cereal

After he finishes his grapes in the morning, Bow usually asks for cereal. Why? Because he sees me eating cereal. And while I realize that there are many arguments against the nutritious value of cereal for breakfast, I always give in.

Why? Well, because it would be two-faced to tell him he can't have cereal when I'm having it. And for sentimental reasons. Bow had a language breakthrough years ago that involved cereal. It was the "brown mouth" incident, and you can read all about it here:

So when I have cereal, Bow has what I have. When we have bacon and eggs, Bow has bacon and eggs.

I don't do well with wheat products, so the cereal I have is oatmeal based. But you might be asking yourself: aren't all chimpanzees lactose intolerant? The answer is: no.

When Bow was an infant, he was fed on soy formula, just in case. But as he grew older, and he started eating whatever we ate, it turned out he didn't have any problem digesting milk. I have a hunch that lactose intolerance is an innovation, and that the whole argument that we were never "intended" to drink cow's milk is a new kind of sophistry. If snakes can drink cow's milk, and they are not even mammals, there is no reason to assume the rest of us should not. Of course, if you have an allergy to cow's milk, you should probably not be drinking it. But that's something that people need to decide for themselves on a case by case basis.

Which is not to say that Bow and I drink that much milk. It is a very small amount that we put in our cereal, and we usually leave some in the bowl. We don't go around drinking glasses full of milk. We just don't want to, so we don't.

Anyway, Bow takes his time eating his cereal, and it seems to make him happy.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

How to Peel a Banana

One thing that has come up in recent comments is that everybody has different dietary preferences and different ways of eating the same foods. Bow and I would never dream of imposing our choices on anybody else, and our general policy is to live and let live. We each have our own way of enjoying the feast before us.

So, when you read a title like "how to peel a banana", I'm not really suggesting that anybody else should do it the way Bow does. What I mean is more like "how we peel a banana" -- or in this case, how Bow does it. I don't do it this way at all.

The temptation to be prescriptive, though, is always there and I have to watch myself to keep from sounding bossy. The first time I saw Bow try to peel a banana, I said: "Bow, no! We don't do it that way! Don't put the peel in your mouth!" At the time I was the mother of two very small children. Bow was the youngest of the two, and he was still in diapers and baby clothes and sitting in a high chair. Up till then, I had always peeled his bananas for him.

But then somebody said to me: "That's how chimpanzees peel bananas."

"Oh." I felt very foolish. After that, I stopped trying to tell Bow how to peel a banana.

We tend to try to socialize our kids to want to do things just the way we do. But there are times when we have to let go. There are times when we must concede that though this is not how we do it, our children have their own way, which is just as good, if not better!

So, in the spirit of live and let live, here is how Bow eats a banana:

He opens it in the middle, starts eating close to the stem and finishes at the other end. It's different from the way I do it, but I'm told it's not at all unusual. Is there a reason for this method? If there is, I don't know it.

But it just goes to show that there is more than one right way to do something.

Does Bow always eat his bananas this way? Usually, but not always. Sometimes I make fried bananas for both my kids. Bow loves them. He calls them "hot bananas" and eats them with a spoon. Bow is very flexible. He doesn't insist that it has to be his way all the time!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Savoring the Moment

As I mentioned today in response to a comment, the one thing Bow is not so good at is saving some for later. He does, however, excel at savoring the moment.

Take this morning's grapes, for instance.

Bow was presented with a lovely bunch of grapes, and he was happy.

He took great delight in his grapes.

Sometimes, he briefly paused to contemplate the treasure that he held in his hands.

But it was too good to just look at. It had to be sampled and savored.

Sadly, with every bite he took, the number of remaining grapes diminished.

Why, oh, why can't we eat our grapes and have them, too?

In the end, there was nothing left. But Bow continued to savor the memories.

In life, there are those who truly know how to enjoy the moment, like Bow. And there are others, like me, who make sure that there are also grapes left over for tomorrow.

We each play our part.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Plain Avocado

At my local, local store, everybody knows that a big portion of the fruit I buy will be consumed by Bow. They even sometimes ask how Bow liked his bananas or his apples last week. But I shop for fruit in other stores where people do not know me as well, and there are people in these stores who have some other conjectures about why I buy so much fruit.

One cashier asked me recently whether I have gone vegetarian and whether I have taken to drinking juice exclusively. I was surprised by this question, because in addition to the bags of apples and pears I was getting, I was also buying pork chops. How could she think I was vegetarian? And if you saw that someone was buying large quantities of fruit, why would you assume they would make it all into juice?

It turns out that there are people who are on some kind of health kick where they drink fruit juices exclusively, and that is probably why she thought that.

At my house, we are not on a health kick. We just eat healthy. And most of the time, we eat things as close to their natural form as possible. Take avocado. I don't turn it into guacamole. I wait till it is soft and ripe. Then I slice it in two and eat with a spoon. In Bow's case, he dispenses with the spoon. He just doesn't need it!

Is Bow a vegetarian? Hardly. He eats meat, too. But he does enjoy his fruits and vegetables in their natural form. You don't have to be a vegetarian  or on a health kick, to eat healthy. You can just enjoy the feast before you!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

How to Eat a Promegranate

I love pomegranates. Eating them, however, can be a little tricky. The edible part is the pips, which are like ruby red little jewels. But they are embedded in a white pulp, like Christmas ornaments in bubble wrap.

The question is: how to harvest those pips and free them from the bubble wrap? Some people do not separate the eating from the harvesting process, but that can be really messy. If you are eating the pomegranate out-of-doors, perhaps sitting under a pomegranate tree, then it does not matter that the bright red pomegranate juice is spurting out everywhere.

My policy is to halve and then quarter the pomegranate, to separate the seeds out on a surface that can easily be cleaned afterwards, and to divide the pips into bowls.

Yesterday, for lunch, the pomegranate pips were divided into  two bowls, one for me and one for Bow.

Oh, yes, and we eat the pips with spoons. Although in Bow's case, that's only true for a majority of the pips. He has his own special method of dealing with pips that are playing hard-to-get and with the pips that got away!

Everybody's got their own way of eating pomegranate. Whatever way you choose is right, if it works for you. In the end, it's really the pomegranate juice that is the most important part.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Foggy Morning

This morning was very foggy. I got excited at the sight of it, and I wanted to go for a long walk with Teyman.

Teyman, however, was not nearly as impressed by the fog as I was. It was cold out, and she wanted to do her business and come back in immediately after.

Teyman was so insistent that I had to let her back in, and I went for a little walk by myself.

Then I went and gave Bow his breakfast. We were out of grapes, so he had two apples, but they were very nice: Jonathan apples grown right here in Missouri, so they come ready to eat, with no pesky sticker to take off and tear the skin. These apples were as round and red and juicy as the ones in a fairy tale.

I tried to get Bow to go outside into the outer pens to look at the fog, but he did not agree. He is not impressed by fog.

There's something about low visibility that creates a longing in me for the unknown. But the other members of my household are not impressed. To them, a foggy morning is just like any other morning. And the teenager among us did not wake until the fog had cleared!

Friday, November 2, 2012

More About the Salad

The truth is: I was planning to write more about the salad yesterday, but I got distracted by the butterflies! Sometimes the feast for the eyes is so overwhelming that we forget about food. But you might have been asking yourself: did Bow enjoy his salad? How did he eat it? Which morsels did he pick out to eat first?

The reason I like this kind of salad better than the traditional kind is that you get to see what you're eating, and even though the different vegetables are all sitting there together in the bowl, and they're all going to be together in your belly, you still get to experience each one individually, with its own texture, flavor and smell.

Bow seems to like that, too. Even though he ate the entire salad, he was very picky as he chose one morsel at a time to put in his mouth.

You can see the selection process in all its stunning detail in the following video:

You can actually imagine the different textures as you watch this video, because each vegetable makes a  different sound when Bow eats it. The radishes are crunchy, the scallions are secretive and whispery, and the tomatoes are full of juice. And the peas in the pod make two sounds, one for the pod and the other for the peas!

Life is in the details. Enjoying the diversity of experiences offered to us is what makes the meal before us a feast.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Feast Outside

For lunch today I prepared an alternative salad for me and Bow. It consisted of cherry tomatoes, sliced green onions (scallions to some), sliced radishes, and English peas in the pod. I prefer this kind of salad to the kind that is mostly lettuce and coleslaw.

After lunch, I went for a walk with Teyman.  We had Bow's blessing, with the understanding that I would take pictures and get video footage, so he could see what we saw when we were out.

We saw leaves falling from the trees, heard the birds singing, and even observed butterflies enjoying a feast of their own on the wild flowers that pass for weeds by our shot-up rural mailbox.

Teyman allowed me to watch the butterflies for a long time. When we got back, Bow seemed a little impatient. But he calmed down and watched all the footage with me.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

How to Eat an Orange without Peeling It

Oranges can be a bit of a challenge for those of us with poor fine motor skills. When I was a little girl my mother would always peel all my oranges for me. She was very good at it, and they were never bruised or damaged in the process of peeling.

When I was a teenager I started trying to peel my own oranges, but I found that I was not nearly as good at peeling an orange as my mother was. I would squeeze too hard, and some of the juice would run out. When it was finally peeled, the orange looked unappetizing and damaged. It turns out, you need excellent fine motor skills to peel an orange. While I have gotten better at peeling oranges over the years, it still requires time and concentration for me to do a good job of it.

Bow, like me, has real difficulty peeling an orange. He has excellent coordination overall, but certain fine motor skills that most humans take for granted are not available to him. If you give him an orange, he tries to put as much of the unpeeled fruit into his mouth and squeeze and this makes a mess on the floor with all the juice spurting out.

But did you know that there is a perfectly good way to eat an orange without ever peeling it? You can just cut it into quarters with a knife.
This is what I do when Bow and I want to have an orange for a snack. It doesn't make a mess, and we are able to eat all the pulp without peeling. I take two quarters for me and give two to Bow.