Monthly Archives: July 2009

chopped and colored.

Thanks to everyone who commented on my post earlier.  If you haven’t yet, please do!  Your comment equals a food bank donation!


Today, I visited my hairdresser for a trim and a bit of color.  I have absurdly thick hair, and up until two years ago, it was also very very long.  My aunt actually used to call it my mane.  Here’s an embarrassing collegiate photo:

college

Yeah.  

A little over a year ago, I noticed that my hair wasn’t nearly as thick as it had been all my life.  It was never thin, but it was surprisingly normal – straightening it didn’t take the hour it used to.  Slowly but surely, though, as I graduated from a teaspoon of peanut butter to a tablespoon, from a tablespoon to multiple dips in the jar, from only peanut butter to avocados and olive oil as well, I saw my hair’s thickness return.

Today, my hairdresser commented that my hair has gotten even thicker.  I give credit to health, and to healthy fat.

My dinner tonight had healthy fats as the star:

pine nuts

I am still amazed by my food processor.

creamy cilantro pesto

  • 1/2 c pine nuts, soaked for 2 hours or more
  • juice of 1/4 lemon
  • 1 bunch cilantro (including stems)
  • 1-2 T nutritional yeast, to taste
  • water, as needed

Blend pine nuts in food processor until creamy.  Add lemon juice, pulse to combine.  Add cilantro, nutritional yeast, and water if needed; pulse again until well combined.

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I served some over shredded summer squash, steamed asparagus, sun dried tomatoes, and quinoa.  Yum.


Do you change your hairstyle often?

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blog it forward.

Food is an important part of my life.  I cook  and create meals multiple times daily.  I browse farmers’ markets and grocery stores for fun.  I enjoy long restaurant meals with my family.  I chat about recipes with my mom over the phone.  I write about it in this blog.

I don’t have the greatest history with food.  Though I was never deprived of a single want growing up, I turned down much of the food placed in front of me, due mostly to lack of interest.  Later on, I began to make the unfortunate association of food with guilt, learning to resent it instead of appreciate it.  

I have had a varied, consistently developing relationship with food, culminating in where I am today.  Now, I have (mostly) made peace with food.  I savor produce in nearly unlimited capacities; I steer away from processed foods whose ingredients I can’t understand.   I am content with the foods I opt to eat and to not eat; I am increasingly confident in defending my choices.  Basically, I enjoy the foods I crave in quantities I desire.

Talk about taking something ridiculously for granted.

Recently, Rose brought to my attention a program entitled, “Blog it Forward to Fight Hunger.”  The initiative is part of ShopRite supermarkets’ Partners in Caring, an organization devoted to fighting hunger in the United States.

The program tell us, “More than 36 million Americans suffer from food insecurity” – a state where “you are unsure when or what your next meal will be.”  That’s eleven percent of the population.  Quite a number of people.

A single dollar can purchase ten pounds of food from a food bank.  Since its conception a decade ago, ShopRite Partners in Caring has donated 20 million dollars to the fight against hunger.  On the flip side, the diet industry rakes in 40 billion dollars in one year alone.  Imagine what could be done with that money if we all threw away the bathroom scale and put those dollars to another use.

I’m a firm believer that change begins with small steps.  The Blog it Forward program has a similar philosophy:

For each of the first 30 comments on this post, ShopRite will donate a box of cereal to a local food bank.  Whether you are a regular commenter, a lurker, or just passing through, please leave a comment!  Tell me if you take food for granted, and perhaps what each of us can do to change that.

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pleasing to the mind and the eye.

Well, I’ve had – a day.  You know those days.  I’ll keep the complaints to myself and get right to nicer things.

watermelon and feta salad

Simple foods and good aesthetics always brighten my mood, so dinner was perfectly comforting.  A salad of baby spinach, watermelon, feta, and fresh basil.  Incredible combination, seriously.

toast and brazil nut butter

Along with toast and brazil nut butter, which I made by pureeing brazil nuts in my favorite new toy.  I feel like I’m cheating on avocado toast, but the food processor was tempting me.

I see some yogi tea and banana soft serve in my future.  Possibly some deep breaths, too.


What relaxes you when you’ve had “one of those” days?

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take a walk.

I have always loved walking.  Even before I learned to associate it with exercise, miles covered, or calories burned, I truly enjoyed the practice.

granada

In college, I lived about forty blocks from the set of buildings designated as my campus.  While I was typically running too far behind schedule to take a stroll to class, I nearly always walked home afterward, whether the temperature be below freezing or above eighty.  Climate didn’t matter; I simply loved the walk.

Those post-class hikes taught me an important lesson about cities: there is no better way to experience one than to walk it.  As I covered the Manhattan blocks between school and my dorm room, I passed through four distinct neighborhoods – quaint, trendy, grimy, pristine.  I watched one seamlessly flow into another, saw the numbers and types of people in each change, felt the neighborhood energy shift from one to the next.

fulton stall market

Consequently, when I travel, I walk everywhere, sometimes beyond the point of reason.  On my first trip to Paris, I was so busy flitting from place to place that I only scratched the surface of the city.  When I returned, however, I walked miles and miles, finally reaching an understanding of the city’s ebb, flow, and relentless classicism, no matter the district.

salzburg

When summer arrived in Prague, I began to tread over the cobblestone regardless of my destination.  I strolled over a valley of railroad tracks on my way to work, wound through tourist central to teach English lessons, crossed the river to meet friends for Sunday afternoon brunches.  The city began to feel small and unbelievably accessible, covered east to west by my two feet.

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A few months ago, I was blindsided when I was told not only to stop running, but to also restrict my walking.  I could never give it up altogether – walking is a means of transportation in New York.  But suddenly, twenty blocks was no longer a distance meant for foot travel; it was a distance covered by two subway stops.

dubrovnik

I picked up my custom orthotics two days ago.  As instructed, I wore them yesterday on a thirty minute walk, and for the first time in six months, I exited my apartment building with the knowledge that the walk I was planning was okay.  Turns out my orthotics need some serious adjustments – but that’s not the point.  What matters is that I have learned to appreciate the basics.  

Whether alone, in someone’s company, in the city, or on a boardwalk, I have relished in the simple joy of each walk I have taken this year.  The running question remains, but walking?  Right now, that is my goal, and perhaps it is the only goal I need.


Are you a walker?  Where’s your favorite place to take a stroll?

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anticipated and new.

One of the reasons for my passion for food also accounts for my adoration of travel.  There is an excitement and a curiosity inherent to globetrotting: you may have preconceived ideas about the culture you plan to visit, but you can never know the accuracy of those notions until you’ve seen the place with your own eyes.

I remember, for instance, a February weekend in Copenhagen, where I was prepared for the cold, for the high prices, for the sleek and modern designs.  I was overwhelmed instead, though, by the warmth of the people.  Never could I have predicted that a bus driver would pull her bus to the curb and open the door, only to ask my friend and I if we were in need of directions, as we stared upwards in search of a street sign.  I don’t foresee a Manhattan driver doing that any time soon.

Tonight, as I got together the elements of dinner, I chose to actually follow a recipe.  [I know, who am I?]  The ingredients were simple, and I was well-acquainted with all of them.  Yet, I had never experienced them combined in this manner.  I felt that same anticipation – confident that it would taste delicious, unsure of the exact flavor I’d be presented with, ready to be surprised by something new.

I took Gena’s pizza “cheese” [I know, I am apparently running to be her number one fan], and I layered some inside red chard leaves, along with sautéed onion, peppers, and tomatoes [clearly not raw].  Here’s a view pre-wrapping:

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Kind of like pizza – minus the bread, which I had on the side, of course.  

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I would never have proposed that cashews could mimic ricotta with near precision in taste.  I’ve experienced it in a couple vegan restaurants, but never in my own kitchen.  Cooking (or “uncooking,” in this case) can certainly take us to many, many places.


Do you consider food an adventure?

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gadgets and gizmos.

Prior to moving into my current apartment, I was surviving with a relatively sub par set of kitchen utensils.

garlic press

Back in college, I lived in very modern “dorms,” equipped with galley kitchens of white countertops, full-sized refrigerators, and stainless steel appliances.  I always tell people that going to NYU wasn’t comparable to attending a real college – I never saw or spoke to my neighbors, but I had a real kitchen at the age of 18.

kitchen gadgets

The kitchen in my last apartment was a definite step down from the college days. Running the length of our hallway, it inexplicably contained two mini refrigerators, no microwave, a doll-sized sink, and one small square countertop. We unplugged one fridge and used it as a cabinet.  

wine key

Even though I lived there for a year, I didn’t see the use in purchasing too many gadgets; I knew space in my suitcases would be too precious on the trip back to the US.  So, I toughed it out with one sharp knife, a wooden spoon, a pie plate and a 6 inch cutting board. Mincing garlic became a 5 minute chopping process.   Peeling a carrot was an adventure in precise knifework.   Ever tried zesting a lemon with a fork?  What about using a pie plate as a casserole dish, baking sheet, or serving platter?

microplane

Needless to say, I was more than a bit excited to raid Home Goods and my grandmother’s stash for fundamental kitchen supplies. I still don’t know how I lived without a garlic press, grater, or peeler and still managed to cook most of my meals.  

food processor

And now, I have finally acquired the last piece.  The appliance that completes a kitchen, that opens up every blended recipe I’ve had to previously leave to the side.  Sure, there are other gadgets I daydream about.  (Vitamix!)  But a food processor?  I’ve dreamt long enough.

 

What’s your favorite food processor recipe?  I don’t know what to make first!

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piling on the layers.

When I look back at how I developed my sense of style, it all comes back to layering.  I spent high school in a basic “uniform” consisting of jeans and various graphic t-shirts, and though I had ideas on how to expand my dull wardrobe, I didn’t yet possess the confidence to put those concepts into practice.

As my infatuation with fashion grew and my wallet somehow shrank, I became expert at assembling outfits based on layers, transforming three tops into a single one, then rearranging the same three the following day.  It’s one of the ways I express myself creatively; I know my boundaries (the contents of my closet), and I work within them.

Layering works with food too.  Take tonight’s dinner:

IMG_2772

A bed of red chard, topped by steamed sweet potato (only because I didn’t want to turn on my oven), smushed avocado, and capped with a poached egg.  The layer to complete the dish: a sprinkle of salt, pepper, and hot sauce.  There was also some asparagus on the side because, well, why not?


Are you a fan of layering?  Or do you keep your style less complex?

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