Friday, May 6, 2011

The Trickle-Down Effect....

This past Tuesday I went to a local library to listen to the creators of CTbites; a great food website for anyone looking for a restaurant or event pertaining to food in Connecticut.

I was interested in learning why they started CT bites and meeting the Editor. We had exchanged emails back in December because I was going to write a story for them on my vegan adventure as a carnivore. I'm always interested, if given the opportunity, to meet a person I've created a phone or email relationship with.

After their presentation, as I was waiting to introduce myself, I had a very interesting conversation with the Executive Director for Community Plates. Community Plates is a non-profit organization that will rescue healthy surplus food from restaurants, farmer markets, caterers from being thrown in trash cans, dumpsters and landfills it normally ends up in and getting it places where it can make a difference.

As some know, I have a monthly food pantry dinner party to collect food for my local food shelter and LOVE what Community Plates is doing to help families in need.

At the moment I need to focus on some issues in my life that need my attention, but do plan to volunteer for them because I really believe in what they are doing.

I've been reading the book The Luck Factor, and according to the author, every person knows 300 people and if I tell another person about Community Plates, maybe they'll tell one of their 300 friends/family/business acquaintances and someone will contact Community Plates to volunteer.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Elusive....Meyer Lemon and Sunchoke....

Before you begin to mock me (I know I would), hear me out. For the past few years, I've been hearing about how wonderful it is to cook with the sunchoke and the Meyer lemon. Loving to cook, I set out on a mission:

1. Figure out exactly what a sunchoke is.

2. Search the supermarket for Meyer lemons.

3. Find recipes with both ingredients.

Sounds simple, but you're wrong. Dead wrong. Well, items #1 and #3 were easy, but item #2 is impossible. I use the word "is" because I'm still on the hunt for it, and true to form, my search has left me laughing. Literally.

Before I tell you about my search for the elusive Meyer Lemon, let me define the sunchoke. A sunchoke, according to my Cook's Dictionary and Culinary Reference by Bartlett is a Jerusalem artichoke. Hmmmm... that's it. Why the fuss? I guess it helps to know that a Jerusalem artichoke is probably not what you envision, or at least what I envisioned. I envisioned a run-of-mill artichoke from Israel, but I'm wrong. Thank you Cook's Dictionary, I do cherish you, but sometimes I don't even understand the definitions and turned to Google. According to Wikipedia, it is a Jerusalem artichoke, which is a species of sunflowers native to eastern North America, and found from Eastern Canada and Maine west to North Dakota, and south to northern Florida and Texas.[1] It is also cultivated widely across the temperate zone for its tuber, which is used as a root vegetable.

Once learning the sunchoke was more than what I imagined it to be, I understood the fascination...or maybe not. I just remember growing sunflowers when I was a kid and can't imagine my parents being okay with me pulling up the plant and chomping on the tuber. But I know one day, I'll try it.

However, back to the real purpose of today's entry: Searching for the elusive Meyer Lemon (sure, sunchoke is in the title because I have a feeling I'll run into a wall when looking for them too). I've been to 3 markets; 2 major supermarket chains and Whole Foods.

In the first supermarket chain, I didn't ask for help, but in the 2nd one I asked for help. Their produce section, in my opinion, is better than the first one, but the response I received had me cracking up. The produce guy kept repeating "You want a bottle of lemon juice?". No,no, that's not what I wanted, but realized when I kept trying to explain to him it is an actual lemon, and the puzzled look on his face was not disappearing, I figured the store didn't carry them.

YogaGirl told me to try Whole Foods. They are good about carrying some unusual veggies ( they have sunchokes) and when I asked the produce guy, he looked at me as if I had 2 heads. As soon as he began to speak, I understood the reason for the look; he really didn't speak English. However, I was able to discern they didn't have them in stock, but they will be in the store later. Later? Is that later today, tomorrow, August, December? Just got the answer of later.

I emailed the store to ask if and when they carry Meyer lemons. I figured whoever is reading the email will respond with an answer I'll be able to understand.

Note: If you have a recipe calling for 3 Meyer lemons and can't find them, use 2 regular lemons and one clementine.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

My Arch Nemesis is Back and has Joined Forces....

Wednesday, May 4, 2011.....

Last week it happened. I was looking out the window in the back of my living room and having hit the glass I startled Mr. Woodchuck. He, along with Mr. Bunny, scampered out of my garden.

Last year I wrote about my issues with the newest addition to the neighborhood and how Mr. Woodchuck ate so many of my plants before they had a chance to really grow. Later in the season, I wrote about Mr. Bunny and the pack of deer that would come graze on the other veggies in my garden. I quickly sprayed the garden with soap and cayenne pepper, but it was too late and I have to admit I felt defeated and gave up my battle.

This year it is different. I'm a woman on a mission. After seeing that Mr. Woodchuck and Mr. Bunny have joined forces, I immediately went outside and sprinkled cayenne pepper on my spring sprouts of sugar snap peas, lettuce, beets and parsley. They both hate cayenne pepper and frankly I hope I burned their little tongues. I haven't seen them in my garden since, but I did see Mr. Bunny near the garden out of my living room window. I tapped on the window to startle him and nothing. He just stood still, so I did what would only be my next logical move: I had a staring contest with him. Ya know what, I think he snarled at me. In fact, I know he did (well, not at first). However, after the 3rd time of seeing his upper lip area move and seeing a white line, I realized he was showing me his teeth. My husband thinks I'm crazy, but I now firmly believe I have the 'killer' rabbit from the Monty Python movie: Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

Over the past 3 years, I've felt a lot of my control has been taken away from me and I told my husband I want to defeat the critters this year from taking my garden. Does this require me to spend money on soap and cayenne pepper? Yes. Does it have me chasing small woodland creatures off my property like a crazy woman? Probably. But I need to do this. I need to take control where I can and I need to defeat my arch nemesis and pals this year. Because of this reason, my husband said he would do anything to help me defeat them.

Bye, bye Mr. Woodchuck. Bye, bye Mr. Bunny. So long pack-o-deer. My all you-can-eat veggie buffet is closed.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Meatless May

Tuesday, May 3, 2011.......

In December, I did the Quantum Wellness Cleanse and for 21 days gave up sugar, alcohol, caffeine, gluten, meat and dairy. I lost weight, felt great (both physically and mentally) and really noticed a connection between the foods I put in my body and how I mentally felt.

While I on the cleanse, I was happier, snapped less, had more patience and was utterly surprised by this. In January I went back to most of my eating habits (although, I did kick the caffeine habit) and started noticing how crappy I began to feel. However, making a permanent switch to a vegan lifestyle is not for me. I live with a carnivore and I do like meat. But, I can't deny or forget how much better I felt while on the cleanse.

My goal is to progress towards a plant based, gluten and sugar free diet. I'm not giving up dairy, but am limiting the intake of such products. I didn't really enjoy the vegan cheese, and if anyone read my tweets during the cleanse would know I could never give up the egg. It was very odd, but I craved eggs like I'd imagine a crack whore craves crack.

I planned out my month's menu for both hubby and I. He has a lot of things in the freezer and I have a bunch of new recipes to try. Some of the recipes I've chosen scare me a bit (e.g. tofu scramble) but I think it'll make the month fun by being able to experiment and introduce new flavors to my palate and is part of my personal pledge to try 100 new recipes in my 45th year of life. I'll let you know what works and what doesn't, and if anyone is interested in a recipe just email me and I'll send it to you.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Unspoken Truths

Monday, May 2, 2011.......

Here are some unspoken truths of how I was raised:

1. Never wallow. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and keep going. You are allowed to have a private pity party, but don't let the party last forever. If anyone has ever read Eat, Pray, Love by E. Gilbert, you may become annoyed with the book like I, and some of my friends did, when first reading it. It took me awhile to discover that she wallowed. She didn't try to forget her pain, but embraced it. As soon as I recognized that she wasn't telling herself to get over it right away, I could follow the author's journey and her healing process.

2. Always give to others and I am not talking about being monetary. I'm talking about being sympathetic or empathetic. But what happens when you do this to avoid your own issues? I can tell you; nothing gets addressed. It's easier to get wrapped up with the issues of others so you don't have to focus on what needs fixing or addressing.

Right now, there are several issues I've avoided or have come to a head and I need to address them. I recognize I need to be selfish right at this point in my life, and quite frankly, I don't have anything to give to every person I know.

For this part of my life, I'm going against all unspoken truths. I'm going to be selfish so I can focus on me. It doesn't mean I don't care, it just means I know I can't help another the way I'd want to or the way they'd need. I want to give to me.

Don't confuse this post with taking from others because that's not where I'm writing from. In fact, I called a dear friend to discuss (okay, more like vent) about a situation that was put in my lap. Long story short -- someone was trying to make me feel guilty about my inaction (I have been known, at times, not to listen to voice mails unless I'm expecting your call or I know it will not drain me emotionally. This does not necessarily mean they have a lot, or any issues, it usually means I don't want to talk about my life at this particularly time). When I finally listened to the person's voice mail, it was exactly what I expected, nothing of significance. A basic message stating hi, I was driving by your road and thought of you. Nothing more and there never is. Not because they don't have more to share, but we really don't have that type of relationship. However, someone made it a point that I should have listened to this voice mail. Granted, there is something going on in their life, but guess what, I can't give to that person without taking a lot away from me.

I know I've struggled for the longest time on this unspoken truth. Often it has been easier to help others to avoid what's in front of me, but realize if I don't start only giving to me and ones closest to me, I won't focus on solving my problems.