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March 31st, 2014
Every week I pull a cookbook or two off the shelf, flip through and figure out what I’m going to eat that week. Sometimes I use the author’s recipes, a lot of the time I let their recipes influence how I use what’s already in the pantry. A couple weeks ago it was the new Canal House cookbook, last week Smitten Kitchen’s cookbook, and this week The Pioneer Woman’s cookbook. I’m all about simple comforting meals, which is exactly what the ladies behind all those books like too – or at least write about.
In general I’m not a fussy eater and certainly not a fancy one. My favorite food comes in styrofoam containers from places you may or may not want to dine at – yes, to those in the know I’m speaking about Southern barbecue. It’s not expensive, it’s “just” homemade and darn good. The only caveat in those meals – that the meat came from a farm the owners of said establishments know and the animals were not fed a diet of candy corn (isn’t that what some idiot was doing out west?). Oh, and don’t get me wrong I thoroughly enjoy eating right out of my garden – God’s salad bar, or what I paid/pay $$ to maintain – and certainly anything from the farmers’ market….but I guess it’s how the food is prepared, how those ingredients come together. I’ve yet to have anything but an extraordinary gastronomic experience when dining at a farmer’s house and my friend RC over at Ezra Pound Cake does a bang it out of the ballpark job with good ingredients in a short amount of time. She, like me, is all about the comfort food. You go girl.
Someone did an interview last summer and I only found out about it a few weeks ago where they essentially said they only like fancy expensive food. Here’s what I have to say – you are really missing out – not just on cheap food – but on life. Oh, and for heaven’s sake don’t try traveling outside this country or even bother with the Pacific Northwest, Los Angeles – heck California, and any number of towns – okay really ANYWHERE – because what’s the point you’ve already doomed yourself. Cheap food is one of the great pleasures of life. …Sorry folks I didn’t mean to launch into this midway through a post on kale salad…but having shoved an inch of icy mush off my steps the morning of the final day of March, well I’m having right at it.
Where were we…right I was ranting about someone who eats food for a living and essentially said cheap food isn’t good. I was taking up for all the boardwalk stands, food trucks, diners, and ethnic restaurants with cheap and delicious lunchtime specials…I may be high maintenance, I may want pure maple syrup not the fake stuff with my pancakes, I may want ethically raised and slaughtered pork, but I am not a food elitist.
The art of fancy expensive food isn’t lost on me. I know and have a huge amount of respect for the palettes of certain persons who love it. I think it’s delicious too – at least what I’ve sampled – but if I’ve got a choice it’s going to be the Po’ Boy at Eventide in Portland or just about anything from Blue Rooster Co. (also in Portland) before I ante up to the big boys table.
Cheap does not equal bad, not always. Not anymore than expensive or luxury. Anything can be bad, but anything can be good too.
Alright, then how about that salad..
The kale salad I made from the Smitten Kitchen’s Cookbook – see how I’m jerking us back into the topic of the post – is simple, homemade comfort food.
Kale Salad with Cherries and Pecans from the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman
1/2 cup pecans
8 ounces black kale, also known as Lacinato, Dinosaur, or Tuscan Kale
4-medium large radishes
1/2 cup dried cherries
2 ounces soft goat cheese, chilled
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
1 Tbsp smooth Dijon mustard
1 1/2 tsp honey
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350, and spread pecans on a tray. Toast for 5-10 minutes, tossing once or twice to make sure they toast evenly. Remove from oven, set aside to cool.
Wash kale and let dry on spread-out kitchen towels. Then, with a knife, remove the rib from each stalk, leaving long strips of kale leaves. Stack the leaves in small batches, roll them tightly the long way, and cut the roll crosswise into thin ribbons. Add the kale ribbons to a large salad bowl.
Thinly slice the radishes, and add to bowl. Coarsely chop the pecans and cherries (I don’t chop the cherries), and add them as well. Crumble the goat cheese over the top. Whisk dressing ingredients together in a small dish, and pour the dressing over the salad. Toss the salad until it is evenly coated with dressing. This salad is great to eat right away, but even better after 20 minutes of tenderizing in the dressing (I wouldn’t know – personally I let sit for 5-10 minutes).
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March 27th, 2014
A few images from Sunday’s pancake breakfast celebrating Maine Maple Sunday at Balsam Ridge Christmas Tree Farm in Raymond, Maine. For more go here.
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March 27th, 2014
I have been thinking a lot about seeds recently. A couple weeks ago the first of a few padded manilla envelopes arrived in the mail with seeds I’d ordered one day in early February. Walking back down the gravel driveway from the mail box to my house I felt I was holding spring in my hands. Well, spring is here and now I’m realizing that is more late May or June contained in the envelopes. This weekend I’ll head to the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association Seed Swap organized by Fedco. It will be exciting to see people who are energized by planting their own food – who take the initiative and enjoy getting dirt under their nails. Little brings me more joy than a warm sunny day spent in the garden, chickens running about, Kirkie (the cat) hanging out… I work the dirt while humming along to the song playing from the radio hooked up in the barn. It’s a glorious thing having what I would almost call a luxury these days – land to plant.
Different friends have moved and are moving to homes where they will have yards and can also raise their own food. It was something people did here 50-100 years ago and may have taken for granted. One asks when did we become lazy, dependent upon plastic wrapped items grown thousands of miles away?
Recently, I had the privilege of interviewing CR Lawn of Fedco. Lawn, better known as CR (which stands for Crabgrass as in Crabgrass Lawn and comes from his college days), bought land and moved to Maine in 1973. Five years later he started the seed business Fedco, a consumer and worker member-owned cooperative in Maine. Here is a link to the article.
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March 13th, 2014
From healthy living posts that is. Just for a few days. I’ll be honest – as much as I love working out and cute gym clothes they just don’t thrill me the way a great book does or digging into research for one of my stories. I might complain sometimes about not getting enough sleep or being stressed about a deadline, but I love love love research and learning. The best thing about writing for professional media outlets – the access you more or less have to some of the leading scientists on say climate change, seed geneticists, farmers, authors, and so on.
What I’ve been digging into recently…
A series on coffee – I am working on it with my friend A.F. the Editor of the Portland Food Map, who inspired this series with his passion for the substance. Parts one and two are based on time spent with Matt Bolinder of Matt’s Wood Roasted Organic Coffee and Speckled Ax (Portland, ME) and can be found here and here. Parts three and four are courtesy of the time Bob Garver, the owner of Bard Coffee (Portland, ME), gave me.
There are two more posts yet to come in the coffee series so consider me fully caffeinated full-time.
It’s maple season here in Maine so I’m also spending a significant amount of time and space on the subject. The first piece (not a series) is on the new maple grading system. A post from earlier this week focused on this year’s Maple Sunday and real vs. fake – among other things.
In the next few weeks I’ll do two more posts related to maple.
My last road trip for a while was to Bar Harbor a couple weeks ago for the second in a series on Passamaquoddy Indians with assistance from the Abbe Museum. The final part of the series will run this summer. I’ll try to write about that trip soon, much to share.
Coffee photo by Nicole Bohl.
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March 8th, 2014
First, so such a bummer…but last minute I had to back out of the Engine 2 Challenge at Whole Foods Market in Portland, Maine. I was so looking forward to participating and sharing all the class info w/ you, but life intervened and the time just wasn’t there.
On a positive note, that means today’s post is open for anything…so I figured it’s sunny out and in the 40′s (a winter heat wave) and something fun/festive is called for.
Here are a few songs that keep me going on the elliptical and treadmill. What’s on yours? Oh, and are some/most of the songs on your playlist ones you’d never listen to any other time? That’s the case for most of my workout material.
Waiting for Superman – Daughtry (when did he drop the “Chris”?)
The Man – Aloe Blacc (such a sexy song)
Dark Horse – Katy Perry (she shows up a lot in my workout playlists)
All Too Well – Taylor Swift
Dancing On My Own – Robyn
Not Afraid – Eminem (he is so talented!)
Let’s Go – Calvin Harris feat. Ne-Yo
Without You – David Guetta and Usher (I know, total be-bop, but when you need something early in the AM to pop this song works)
I’m looking forward to hearing “Ghost Stories” – Coldplay’s new album. Their songs often end up up on the rotation.
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March 6th, 2014
Yesterday, NPR reported that thanks to Rohit Karnik, a mechanical engineer at MIT, all you need to drink clean water is a stick! Okay, so maybe there’ s a little more to it than that…but his concept is till pretty low-tech.
Why is this important? Well, I’m not a scientist but I’m pretty sure every living thing needs water. Even ants drink water.
And, some of us should be drinking more water than we do – and this really should go without saying, but less soda.
According to Web MD (okay, not always the best authority) the #1 benefit to consuming water – it helps maintain the balance of body fluids. #2 water can help control calories. #3 water helps energize muscles #4 water helps keep skin looking good #5 water helps your kidneys #6 water helps maintain normal bowel function.
Some pretty common sense stuff.
It’s so easy when you live in a first world country to get clean/drinkable water. Free, right out of the tap! Markets are stocked with bottles of it – you’ve even got the choice of brand and whether you want lime or lemon flavored. There’s no excuse I can manage for not drinking water every day.
Did you know nearly 1 billion people cannot access safe, clean water. Every day in rural communities and poor urban centers throughout sub-Saharan Africa, hundreds of millions of people suffer from a lack of access to clean, safe water. Women and girls especially bear the burden of walking miles at a time to gather water from streams and ponds – full of water-borne disease that is making them and their families sick. Want to help – check out The Water Project.
Want the bittersweet side effects to drinking soda, go here.
My personal soda/water story is this. While living in Los Angeles I drank soda and ran and gained weight (okay and I was eating processed foods). In Maine I drink a lot more water and hardly ever soda and granted hardly any processed foods and run/workout (same amount as in LA) and I weigh less and feel healthier.
When I was giving up soda in favor of water I’d add slices of lemon or lime or cucumber to the water and I found I much prefer seltzer water to soda anyway. Do you have any natural water flavoring tips/combos?
Gotta run, but drink your water.
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March 5th, 2014
What do you think of when you hear the word diet or when someone tells you they are on one?
My knee jerk reaction is I’m hungry and why not just eat healthy. Next is okay so basically this person just told me he/she is hungry and what’s coming next and where’s the nearest exit.
Folks, when I am hungry I’m HANGRY or well picture T-Rex coming alive in the Museum of Natural History and taking out a few walls, cars, whatever is in the way to get to some sustenance. That’s probably a pretty realistic portrayal of me when I have not paid heed to the warnings my body has been giving me and now I’ve hit the no return zone until I’ve feasted. It’s not pretty, not one bit.
That all said, eating healthy (not necessarily what I’d call being on a diet) does not mean you are hungry all the time. Being on a diet does not mean you are either. Here’s the thing – the world today is all about marketing – how can someone make a buck. It’s overkill 360 degrees 24 hours a day.
The cons to dieting (sort of the bad news first so we can end with the good news here post)
Diets can foster an unrealistic expectation that will end with negative self-esteem. Just be practical when you take on a diet – think about your lifestyle very realistically and also put a realistic timeline on realistic results.
A rule breaker, a rules-driven extremely restrictive diet plan is probably not for you. That’s fine, there are plenty of options.
Don’t like dehydrated bananas and buckwheat seed pizza crust? Not sure I do either, well at least not as my primary sources of nutrition. Fine, make sure to go for something with a wider variety of far more practical options.
Deciphering a food’s energy density not up your alley? Don’t you need a PhD in some math field to figure that crap out? Ok, so go for a simpler diet that may or may not include any numbers.
The pros to dieting – or I should say/write diets. (See, here’s some good/positive news.)
There are a lot of options out there (check out the list at the bottom of this post) so chances are there is something for everyone.
With all the options no need to get pigeonholed. This is your life. Figure out what you like about different diets and combine those tactics – granted use some common sense – that really should go without saying. Some diets have been proven to work because of how they are set up and if you change even one thing might not work for you. Now, if you are less concerned with losing 20 lbs and just want to maintain your weight or lose a little or really are just looking for healthy eating tips – then borrow ideas from different ones. Keep in mind your body type, age…if you know eating a lot of bread equals weight gain then simply decrease the amount you eat.
Nutritionists are out there and accessible – and even more importantly so is a lot of the information they’ve found – so make the Internet your friend and if you find a diet you think will work for you read about it online. Probably best to stick to university-associated research first. Make sure you are not reading something a marketing agency paid to have blogged about.
Diet plans can be very helpful to people overcoming an eating disorder. They can also be harmful (of course!). Here’s how they can help – one of the problems (speaking from personal experience) with having a long-term eating disorder is you forget (or maybe you never knew) how to eat healthy. I happened to use the Zone (this worked for me, please if you have an eating disorder or think you do consult a professional – I am not a professional – I have zero education/training in the field of nutrition…only my own experience). The Zone gave me a place to start figuring out portion sizes and let me know carbs are OK. I started there and then with more research expanded my options from there. It’s a learning experience. We’ll get more into this in a future post – or posts!
I’ll tell you though – for those persons who are obese the absolute best option – really the only one in my limited opinion – is to seek professional advice from a doctor. For those persons who want to lose 20 lbs or want to maintain – the best thing (again in my limited unprofessional opinion) to do is keep a notebook of what you eat day by day for a month or two. That really teaches you a lot. Try eating more vegetables, cutting out dessert, snacking less (and when you do make it a healthy snack), and eating bigger meals during the earlier part of the day.
Don’t start cutting out meals. Breakfast is your friend.
Oh, and don’t think you can just eat less or more of something and that voila you’ll get results. Get ready to pony up $10 or whatever it costs where you live a month for a gym membership. Maybe try Zuma classes or a couch to 5K.
Finally, have a goal (some summer pants I really want to be looser on me) and maybe an inspiration board (mine is on Pinterest).
A pretty comprehensive list of the diets out there today…
DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension)
Jenny Craig – commercial
Nutrisystem – commercial
Slim-Fast – commercial
TLC (Therapeautic Lifestyle Changes)
Weight Watchers – commercial
U.S. News and World Report did a lot of the research for you http://health.usnews.com/best-diet with categories broken down into best weight-loss diets, best heart-healthy diets, easiest diets to follow, best plant-based diets…you get the idea. Great resource.
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March 4th, 2014
Sharing my favorite smoothie recipe with you. Apologies for not posting new content during this week – promise to plan better for future wellness/nutrition coverage this week. Life just takes the reigns away from you sometimes!
Go here for Joy the Bakery’s Kale Spinach Banana Peanut Butter Smoothie. Enjoy!!!
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March 4th, 2014
A few months ago I posted this interview with a friend of mine – a guy who has taken me to the top of a mountain and convinced me to go over a rocky ledge more than a few times. Jon Tierney is the owner of Acadia Mountain Guides Climbing School. Sometimes you need to shake things up a little, sometimes a lot, to feel great – about life – about yourself – and to get some clarity. I’d call that healthy. Rock or ice climbing has accomplished these things for me. Check out the Q&A if you have some time.
Oh, and yes a few more adventuresome spirit Q&A are forthcoming – promise! ox
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March 2nd, 2014
How much sleep do you get a night? And, I don’t mean lying in bed thinking about sleep.
I try to get seven or eight hours a night, and every once in a blue moon I manage nine. That’s probably more during the winter though – not hard to do in Maine where days are gray and end around 5PM. During the summer I’m up by 5:3oAM and rarely asleep till around 11PM. There is just so much more to do and when you live where I do you want to take advantage of every second of sunshine/daylight.
Do you sleep through the night?
I mostly do, but I’ve found if I eat a meat heavy meal for dinner I’ll have nightmares – same thing (no surprise) if I watch a horror movie that day. If there’s a big storm coming in (say a blizzard forecast for the next day or really high winds) or if I’ve got a busy day lined up – or travel – the next day – I wake up a lot and usually finally give up around 3 or 4AM.
Do you have to take sleeping aids to sleep?
I don’t advise it and I don’t (I save my stash for flying, something I dread). There’s a certain amount of toxicity there and your body is going to acclimate to whatever you are taking so you’ll have to up the dosage and well then you can begin to see a spiral of unhealthy repercussions. If you have problems sleeping rather than pills or booze try the following before you go to bed (these work for me, I’m not a therapist or doctor – just to be clear):
Take a warm shower. Maybe light a couple candles in the bathroom. This helps me transition from the work/a maybe stressful day into a peaceful evening.
Breathe in and out – deep breaths – three times.
Remove electronics from your bedroom – yup, that includes the TV.
Read a book in bed – even if it’s for ten minutes. Something calming, not a self help book or fitness magazine. (An author who come to mind for this “activity” is Jhumpa Lahiri – everything I’ve read by her is wonderful! Oh, and I really want to read Rick Bragg’s The Most They Ever Had and Pigs Can’t Swim: A Memoir by Helen Peppe – it’s about life on a Maine farm.)
Check out what the Sleep Foundation recommends here.
The Huffington Post recently ran a piece “Here’s a Horrifying Picture of What Sleep Loss Will Do To You” – you can find it here. Below is an illustration from the article, which summarizes this Gallup poll’s findings and this research by U.K. researchers on what happens when you don’t get seven or more hours of shut-eye a night. It’s not a pretty picture.
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