He got it honest. A two parent household. Knowing parents.
So I have begun my gig, volunteering at a local farmers market. Opening day was a chilly, 64*F, fun-filled event. There was a dancing carrot, face painting, flowers, a melange of produce and a motley crew of vendors and customers.
Four hours on my feet under threatening sky with nothing but a cup of coffee and a sample of pie in my tummy. Thursday (12 hours later) was not kind to me. I stayed in bed until noon–with the exception of a trip to the bathroom around 7am. I didn’t sleep well. The kid climbed into my bed before the sun was up and commenced with some conversation before he went to sleep for a few more hours. The DH, of course, slept through the whole thing. To top it off, I smelled gas. I went to the bathroom, opened the window and went back to bed. (It is an old stove. Gas leaks are common. I know, we should get it checked, repaired, replaced…something.)
About this market: it is small, but sufficient. It has just enough to meet my needs mid week. I really think I am going to enjoy my time there for the next 17 weeks. Remind me how cold it was on day one when I am sweating away my existence come August.
My task is to help market customers become better acquainted with the offerings of the market, how to store them and how to prepare them. On the first day we (I have a co-hort) mainly welcomed folks and gave out recipes and information.
I also left with some of spring’s bounty: asparagus, bok choi, strawberries, peppermint and radishes. I am going to enjoy this in so many ways. I can’t wait to share my market adventures with all of you. Ok…three of you.
Eat well, be well.
Mom looks at my hair (and my son’s hair) and asks me why I don’t “put something on it”. When I ask her why, she says becaue it “looks dry”.
Giving it some thought over the past few weeks I realize a few things:
1. My natural hair, with its VERY tight curls, appears “dry”, but in fact, if one were to examine a strand, it has an immense shine. Healthier than it has probably been since birth, maybe.
2. My mom is used to seeing my hair relaxed. She is fine with natural, but is still looking for “good hair”. Admittedly, I have the coarsest hair of all my family members. Meh…whatever…
3. We are so conditioned (hahaha…pun!) to believe that “silky” and “shiny” in hair apperance = “pretty”.
4. Depite what India.Irie sang…I AM my hair. I embrace it (and me) in all its forms, but (for now) it is organic, coarse, introverted, tangled, and stronger than one can imagine…just like me, if you look closely, you’ll see the shine.
5. My scalp no longer peels and itches the way it used to when it was relaxed. I don’t miss that at all.
6. I do “put something on it”. Usually coconut oil or almond oil. Sometimes olive oil. If I can eat it, I’ll put it in there…lol. Otherwise, I’m not so inclined to use product. (I’ve got a conspiracy theory about Black hair products, but that is another post.)
7. I’m (finally) learning to accept what nature has endowed me with, for better or worse.
8. I’m lazy. I’m middle aged. I’m married. I’d rather focus on less superficial things and people…genuine joys of life. Sure, I like to “look nice” but…I’m lazy. You’ll notice more when I put a little effort in. I’m not investing that kind of time every day.
9. The facade is expensive. I’ve saved so much (time, money, strands of hair, stress) since I’ve gone natural.
10. My mom means well. I love her, she loves me. That’s all that matters.
Every so often…ok, quite often, I want some fish. Sometimes I’m picky. Ok, most of the time I am picky about what type of fish I want. I want it to be fresh (of course), local (preferred), delicious (of course again) and realatively easy to prepare (one of the great things about fish in my opinion).
Sometimes I go overboard. I don’t know why. Sometimes it is a craving. Sometimes I am motivated by a cooking show or tv commercial. Sometimes it is hormonal. Sometimes I think my body just gets sick of meat or the usual suspects showing up on my plate.
I follow a lot of food establishments on Facebook. It serves me well to do so. I like reading about food and writing about food. I need to stay up to date on all of the latest food intel. This is a blessing and a curse. It provides me with A LOT of “food for thought”, both literally and figuratively. These posts often have me wanting things that are out of reach at the moment. I’ve made impulse purchases of some pretty interesting (albeit tasty) items, just because I saw them on tv and had to have them. And I have to say, unlike a QVC appliance purchase some years ago, I’ve never been disappointed by my food impulses. I’ve eaten them with a smile on my face and not a bit has ever gone to waste. If it is a particulary good item and there is plenty of it, I may even share…maybe.
Most recently I saw a post from a local fish monger. It is my preferred establishment to purchase seafood. The post announced that there was freshly caught white perch, as well as crawfish (and a plethora of other goodies, but they were not in my sights). I’d neve had either of the former and decided that the price was right to take advantage of this opportunity.
Crawfish had always intimidated me and I don’t know why. I’ve been eating steamed blue crabs since I was a child. I also enjoy a good lobster (in the shell…I’m not squeamish). So now was the time to get over this food hurdle. The perch seemed a simple fish find. I quickly dispatched the internet to give me a primer on both items. The fish monger was going to steam my crawfish, so that was just a matter of figuring out the eating/picking technique. One fairly short YouTube view and I was good to go. Luckily for me I am a veteran crab picker and crawfish didn’t seem much different. Check. Next a recipe for white perch. The easiest method seemed to pan fry. Awesome. I haven’t had a nice piece of fried fish in quite some time.
I sent forth the DH. Armed with a list of five things and some cash, I was confident and eagerly awaited my gifts from Posiedon. A short while later my phone rings. It is the DH calling from the fish monger. “They’ve got questions”, he says. Turns out I often take for granted my lists are pretty specific. They are only specific if you have an elementary knowlege about food. Bless his heart, the DH’s knowlege is remedial at best. A quick clarification of weights and fish prep options and we were good to go. (Note: I almost always get whole fish. Cleaned, scaled with the head and tails on. I can sometimes find a use for the parts some find inedible. I figure if I am going to pay for the weight of a whole fish, I want to be the one to decide what gets thrown away.) A little while later her was walking through the front door with a bounty from the sea.
The crawfish/crayfish were delightful! They were perfectly steamed and came with wedges of lemon and butter for dipping. Yum. I also got a half pound of steamed shrimp. Reliably good. Two pounds of perch turned out to be three good sized fish. Just enough (since I don’t think the 5 year old will eat a whole fish). Also in the bag was a half pound of raw shrimp (because, why not…I can always find a use for good, wild caught shrimp!) and two pounds of mussels.
I quickly devoured half of the steamed items. The rest went into a sealed container for tomorrow’s lunch. Gotta let the goodness last for a while, no? I knew the mussels and the raw shrimp had a bit of staying power, so I gave them good places to “chill out” in the fridge. The last item to be delt with was the perch. I’d intended to quickly fry them up with a side of hush puppies and a vegetable, but on the night in question, schedules got wanky and by the time it was time for dinner I wasn’t in the mood to work that hard. Besides, we still had leftover lasagna and I’d rather get that moving and not waste it. But now I am racing the freshness of the fish!
Forwad to last night. The fish had been in my fridge for three days. It was “fresh off the boat” on day one, but I didn’t want to risk it spending one more overnight camping on the bottom shelf. I also didn’t feel like a fish fry. Hmmmm. To the bat cave !! Google actually. There was a simple roasted fish recipe. Bingo!
You ever have that moment when you see a recipe and read the long list of ingredients, realize you have about half of them and abandon all hope? That’s where I was until I realized the missing ingredients were all contained in a jar of Trader Joe’s bruschetta topping I had in the fridge. Bingo (again)!! So, l rinsed the fish, added a bit of salt and pepper, added the bruschetta topping and for a bonus some marinated artichokes (also from TJ’s). Threw the pan in a preheated oven (400*F) and 20 mins later, had a lovely fish dish. Another note about whole fish: I find it SO much easier to de-bone a whole fish AFTER it is cooked. I separate the body lengthwise and the spine is right there. I can usually just pull out the entire thing. Same with the fins and any smaller bones. If the head is big enough, I’ll pick the tasty pieces off of that as well. Otherwise I save it for pets or the garden compost.
I ate one fillet of the fish. It was a yummy late night treat. The rest of the fish went into the fridge to be enjoyed the following day. I like leftover fish. Cooked properly and stored well it makes for a great round two meal.
So there you have it…an insight to my piscean adventure this week. Put more fresh fish on the menu. It doesn’t have to be complicated to be delicious. Go fish!
The following is a response to an article I read in the paper today.
Ok. I am wondering how many of these politicians who are concerned that the bag ban would adversely affect the poor actually KNOW what it is like to be poor. Let’s not even get into the struggles of living in a food dessert, affordability of quality food, transportation lapses that hinder even getting to a grocery store (an affordable one) or that most folks who may be “adversely affected” don’t make a living wage…
I grew up with few economic advantages (this is for my mom who argues whether or not we were “poor”). Most of the people I knew used reusable bags at the grocery store. They were bigger, sturdier, and could be used for other purposes (like at the laundromat). They were relatively inexpensive and if one was really on their game, these bags could be obtained for free at various events and giveaways. You were really “winning” at life if you could score a few free bags. To this day, I have a thing for bags (not purses, bags). And I’m not alone. I’ll often show up at my mom’s house and she’ll say “where’d you get that bag?”…which means I likely won’t be leaving with it. I have an aunt who, for most of my life, has had jobs that gave away all types of “swag” in the form of bags sometimes. You knew it was a nice bag if you asked “where’d you get that bag” or “nice bag” and Auntie’s quick reply was “NO. You can’t have my bag!” and she’d chuckle. (But depending on how things went, you may get that bag at the end of the day anyway.)
So, poor folks always had reusable bags. Well before recycling became de rigor, poor folks reused the grocery bags. Anyone over a certain age remembers covering books with brown paper bags. I have clear memories of the closet where my grandmother stored the neatly folded paper bags. Later, when the plastic bags came into use, she’d have the grocery clerk “double bag” her groceries. Either paper in paper if the items were heavy, or paper in plastic if the items were cold or wet. If a bag could be used again it was. My husband’s grandmother showed me how to fold plastic grocery bags into tiny rosettes for more effecient storage. These examples of reuse are probably Depression Era habits, but they serve us well. I remember the first time I learned of “recycling” and thinking “Who just throws stuff away!?” I come from a family full of reusers. “Waste not, want not” would go on a family crest if we had one. It is such an ingrained practice that in my own nuclear family we find ourselves saving things “in case” they can be used later. It is an art, not a science…and a slippery slope to clutter and hoarding. But I digress…
It is not my place to judge what people spend their money on. But seriously, if you smoke or drink sodas regularly, you can afford the one time expense of buying a few reuseable bags. It is a bit of a hassle, sure. I often don’t remember to bring my bags into the store (even though I keep them in the trunk of my car!) Then when I am in line, I am either too lazy or it is too inconvenient for me to go out to the car and get them. But I am going to reuse the plastic bags anyway, so why not take them? Also, I don’t litter. My bags are always in my possesion or contained.
I doubt the bag debate has as much to do with concerns for the poor as it does for the concerns of politics and not making voters angry enough to remember this small slight and not pay attention to the really big ones that truly hurt the economically disadvantaged.
And let’s not forget the other aspects. There is little industry support for this ban on plastic grocery bags. Stores advertise on those bags. Union workers make those bags. Another group of workers make the machines that make those bags. Even people who clean up litter are helped (in an ironic way) by those bags.
I don’t doubt that in the long run, our planet is cleaner without all of these plastic grocery bags. Especially my city which seems to be a mess of bags along curbs and in trees. (Note: this seems to be more prevalent in some neighborhoods than others and that is a whole ‘nuther conversation.) But can being a good steward of the Earth really be legislated? Some would say yes. I’m not sure. If the bill passes, it will mean I’ll be forced to remember to bring my bags into the store. That is a good thing, certainly. Don’t be threatened if I see you and ask “where’d you get that bag”. 🙂
- Heat a skillet. Once hot, add half of sesame oil and meat.
- Saute until half done. Add entire bag of cabbage mix. Stir, cooking 2-3 mins.
- Add ginger, garlic, salt, pepper, soy sauce, cinnamon, sugar, rest of sesame oil. Stir.
- Cook until the veg is softened and the meat is done (about 5 mins).
- Add scallions, stir, turn off heat. Let cool to room temperature.
- Wrap 2 T of filling into each wrapper, following the directions on the package.
- Place the filled and rolled items on a lined baking sheet.
- Bake or fry according to directions on wrapper package.
Like a lot of people, especially people who live in places with four seasons, I crave different foods depending on the weather. Typically, when it gets cooler in September, I want comforting foods: mac and cheese, baked chicken, fall vegetables, etc. As the weather turns even cooler, Thanksgiving approaches and all the traditional favorites come to mind…and to belly. By New Year, I have had about enough turkey, ham, stuffing and rich dishes. I am not the type to make promises about diet on the first of January either. Fortunately for me, this isn’t a health concern and I try to eat well year-round. Besides, it is still plenty cold where I live and I want good, warm food.
After January’s new year optimism has waned, I realize that there is still a lot of winter to get through. Particularly February which tends to be the snowiest month around here. The days are grey and cold and windy and sometimes wet. If I can’t get to a warm, tropical locale, then I need those flavors in my mouth. So, come mid-February, I find myself wanting Asian foods, East Indian foods, Caribbean spice…something that taste like sunshine.
The last couple of weeks have been Thai inspired seafood dishes. There was a lovely Thai soup that was steeped with lemongrass http://www.blueapron.com/recipes/thai-shrimp-soup-with-coconut-lemongrass-red-curry/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social-organic&utm_campaign=thisweek&cvosrc=social-organic.facebook.thisweek . Oh my, was that delicious. There was a southern inspired shrimp and grits recipe…made with pureed cauliflower instead of grits! That meal blew my mind http://www.tessemaes.com/blogs/blog/16398009-chesapeake-shrimp-bacon-grits . I’m going to make that again with the abundance of cauliflower available in the markets. Patak makes some especially good simmer sauces. I like these with lamb, chicken or seafood http://www.pataksusa.com/products . Paired with some naan from Trader Joe’s http://www.traderjoes.com/fearless-flyer/article/1583 and some steamed vegetable and jasmine rice…yum. Yesterday I made some homemade pork dumplings that we ate as a late night snack while watching TV. Quality ground pork and intense flavors of ginger and garlic, made these nuggets of goodness worth the effort. http://www.cookingchanneltv.com/recipes/traditional-pork-and-ginger-dumplings.html
On tap will be a beef and broccli stir fry for tonight. Warm, beefy, comforting, with plenty of vegetables, so we don’t feel guilty about enjoying it so much. (Though food guilt is not a serious issue for me.) The bonus is that there are still dumpling fixings left, so we can have an accompaying starter before the main course. Now if only I had some sake.
Anyway, spring is just around the corner. I like the spring vegetables and the young meats that appear (like lamb and duck). But for now, I’m going to enjoy the literal spice of life and blanket my winter blues with savory goodness.
Over a decade ago I became the caretaker of a lovely little Pekapoo. She was black and white, all sass and class, with a bit of a diva complex. She knew she was pretty and deserved to be doted upon. It was appropriate that her name was Sheba. She was five years old when we got her and very well trained. Not without her share of drama and issues…she often took a notion to finding ways to escape the yard and go for journeys. She also did not like to be bathed or groomed. She was fiercely protective of her home and her family but otherwise a very loving pup.
On some occasions, when she was “on guard”, she would throw her back out. Initially, we weren’t sure what was happening to her. We’d find her curled up on the sofa or the bed, shivering. She would accept a gentle massage, but yelp if you touched her muscles in a way that caused her pain. Then she would be careful and a bit slower walking and with stairs for a couple of days. Once she was better, it was like nothing had ever happened. Until it happened again. After about the second or third episode, we decided to consult our veterinarian.
Sidebar: I’ve generally been lucky with animals and the veterinarians I’ve done business with. My pets were low maintenance and their doctors matter-of-fact. Pretty much a good match. I trust veterinarians more than I do dentists but less than my general physician. As with most types of medicine, veterinary medicine is a bit of a racket in many cases. I am always on the lookout for one trying to take my money unnecessarily.
So, we take Sheba to the vet. He examines her. He can feel the heat in the area of her back that is causing her pain. He askes what our usual remedy is when this happens. We tell him that besides massage, we try to keep her from aggravating her back further and convince her to rest. Usually that works (in our view). He prescribes Percocet. Thirty pills at a cost of $1 per pill. We are suspicious, but we want to ease her pain.
On the way home we discuss this pharmaceutical option. We aren’t fully comfortable with it for a number of reasons. One: we had a cat we had to medicate. That was not fun. Tricking the cat into taking her pill was often an exercise in futility. Sheba was smarter than that cat. She loved a good treat, but she could usually find the pill. Sometimes it was several moments later before we realized the pill had not been consumed. When we succeeded in getting her to eat it, she didn’t realize she was “hurt” and ran around like nothing was wrong. We could tell when the meds wore off because the hot back would return, she’d be shivering and still again. This got us thinking.
If we didn’t give her the pills, she’d lay still and is better in about 36 hours or less. When we’d give her the pills, she’d be oblivious to her pain but would continue to re-injure her back. Which, in turn, would make the injury prolonged. This left us with a choice to make and a bit of a realization that we henceforth would apply to many of life’s “pains”.
It is better to feel the pain and get through it than to medicate yourself and ignore that pain while still doing whatever it is that caused it. Clearly the pills were not curing the dog. If they were, we certainly would have continued to give them to her. They only dulled the pain until the next time. Percocet in humans is a habit forming narcotic. It comes with lots of warnings and precautionary statements. Fortunately for Sheba, she did not cozy to pill popping and we did not encourage her to ignore her pain for the sake of feigned happiness.
We learned many valuable lessons from that dog and pets before and after. One of the greatest is the difference between coping skills and coping habits. Don’t ignore your body, take care of it as best you can. And, importantly, don’t salve the pain indefinitely. Pain is a way of nature to inform you that something is wrong. Something in most cases, that can be resoved with nutrition, rest and attention instead of an abundance of unneccesary medication.
And don’t misunderstand me. I keep a small bottle of ibuprofen for the rare occasion when we just can’t tolerate the interruption of physical pain. A bottle of 24 pills usually last beyond its expiration date. Maybe our tolerance is greater than most. A machine had to tell me I was in labor. For this, I am fortunate and grateful. May whatever pain life brings always be tolerable.
I like watching Bob’s Burgers, the animated show about a man, his humble RI restaurant and his quirky, loving family. It doesn’t matter if I’ve seen the episode before, I’ll still watch it if I’m cruising the channels and find that it is on. I don’t record it (though, now that I think about it, maybe I should) and I don’t even know when it regularly airs. Maybe I like the surprise of finding it. I don’t know.
I do know that I liked the surprise of finding out that another fan of the show has been blogging about and making real versions of the burgers that appear on the specials board of Bob’s Burgers. http://thebobsburgerexperiment.com And now the show’s creator Loren Bouchard is teaming up with fan-blogger Cole Bowden to make a cookbook of some of those (previously) gag-burgers.
I’ve seen the show. Funny. I’ve read the blog. Also funny, but it makes me hungry for a few of those burgers (maybe, that’s not funny). The cookbook is in the creation stage. Take a look at the blog and make a few of these burgers. You might be plesantly surprised at what you find. At worst, you can add some creativity to your burger game. It is late January, almost Superbowl. Who couldn’t use a good, comforting, soothing burger in their tummy?
And just imagine all of the creative fries to go along with some of these burgers: sweet potato fries, plantain fries, yucca fries, zucchini fries…. Mouth watering over here. Oh and the condiments, the bun varieties…Ok. I’ll stop now.
Take a peek at the blog. If you need a laugh, take a peek at the show. Make a burger, any kind of burger. Let me know how things turn out.
Sometimes we just need dinner to simply be delicious and uncomplicated. We need it to be comforting and something the whole family will eat. During these times, my go-to recipe is Chicken Enchilada Casserole. Five ingredients I can find in any grocery store. And the recipe is flexible enough for me to take liberties with it if the urge hits me.
1 jar or can of enchilada sauce
2-3 Cups of shredded cheese (I use a Mexican blend or cheddar
6 tortillas (I like flour, but corn works too)
2 chicken breast (cooked, shredded) or equivalent amount of meat, cooked and mixed with 1/4 Cup of enchilada sauce
1 can refried beans
Preheat oven to 375*F
Pour a puddle of sauce into a baking dish; cover the bottom of the dish with two tortillas
Layer the remaining ingredients: meat, beans, sauce, cheese…repeat once (tortillas, meat, beans, sauce, cheese)
Top with two remaining tortillas, sauce and cheese
Bake 20-30 mins until bubbly and the cheese is melty. Allow to rest for ten mins (or burn your mouth!).
**Now about those liberties: You can add corn, black beans, fajita veggies, zucchini or any other tasty bits. You can omit the meat. You could add different meat (turkey, pork, beef, even seafood…but you’ll have to adjust the baking time accordingly and I wouldn’t pre-cook the seafood). You could also use low-fat, low-sodium everything and high fibre tortillas…go for it.
I often serve this with a salad or side of veggies, sour cream and guacamole. And of course, almost everything is made better with a cool beverage: Limeade, Rum & Coke, Margarita or good ol’ cervesa.