For several years I lived without the input of television. I was even determined to raise my child without a TV. The American Academy of Pediatricians has a strong warning about no TV for children under age 2, and limited until age 4, because there are no documented positive effects on their growth or development. I succeeded in living this path until a week before my daughter’s 4th birthday.
That was when she was diagnosed with cancer, and we left everything we knew for the children’s hospital and Ronald McDonald House for nearly a year. The hospital uses TV as a distraction, understandably, for the pain of cancer treatment, but we quickly became adjusted to TVs in the patient rooms, TVs in the outpatient centers, TVs even in the outpatient exam rooms, TV in our room at the RMH, flat screen TV in the shared living space. Disney Channel, Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, and the occasional PBS show were the backdrop everywhere we turned.
Now she is 10, and even though we limit her TV intake to 1 hour a day, we are having a conversation about cutting our TV service completely. I witness a near immediate shift in her energy pattern and mannerisms after she watches an hour of Disney Channel, and it’s not positive. It’s aggressive, sarcastic, and confrontational. Not to mention the marketing messages she is getting at this critical time of life about what her body and clothes should look like.
Now that’s her, and here’s my TV confession. I’m addicted to Food Network. I enjoy the creativity and alchemy of making healthy vegetarian foods and breads, baking not so healthy desserts, and experimenting in the kitchen, so when I have access to Food Network, I become lulled into a comfort zone where every food is brilliant in color, chefs are rock stars, and abundance is far removed from my reality.
Here is what I am going to do. In order to afford piano lessons for myself for the first time in 25 years (twice monthly), I am going to cut our TV cord. I was surprised and pleased when my daughter says she thinks she can handle 6 months. We shall revisit in 6 months and see how this impacts our lives. Hopefully a positive effect after the initial withdrawal.
And now, for the onion soup: A vegetarian soup so flavorful, people won’t miss the beef broth. So inexpensive and nurturing on a cold day.
Step 1: Thinly slice 5 onions (if you can stand it). Finely chop 5 cloves of garlic. Put onions and garlic with 1/4 cup butter in a slow cooker on low for up to 12 hours. . . until brown and translucent. You can do this on a stove soup pot on low for much less time.
Step 2: Add 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 6 cups vegetable broth (I use a tablespoon from a jar of Better than Boullion in water), 1/2 tsp. dried thyme, 1/3 cup cooking sherry, pepper to taste. Simmer for 1 hour on low.
Step 3: Toast bread and sprinkle with Swiss cheese or Gruyere or your favorite under the broiler, and place atop a bowl of hot soup. If you have oven-safe bowls, you can put the crouton/bread on the soup with cheese directly under the broiler. Or you can skip step 3 altogether.