Archives for category: food

I’m so insanely busy right now.  I’ve got a full time job for the first time in a few years.  I’ll be updating this blog with new stuff once a week, but until then, here is a vintage post.

So, before this afternoon’s bag of chips and chocolate “trail mix”, it has been nearly two weeks that I haven’t eaten for any other reason than that I was hungry.  A funny thing happened when I stopped eating emotionally….I started FEELING all my emotions.  All of them.  The pesky ones, the silly ones, the crushing ones, the tortuous ones, the giddy ones, the mushy ones, the giggly ones, the soul-squashing ones have all come up through this silent place between my belly-button and my pubic bone like a geyser.  I always thought the “with every fiber of my being” phrase was a hackneyed one used by writers that need to rely on melodrama.  Until now….I feel all my emotions with every fiber of my being.

I can feel hollow sadness all through me.  It turns my torso, the columns of legs, the cylinders of my arms…even the tubes of my fingers, into an empty, echoing space under the drum-taut stretch of my skin.

Happiness gurgles through me like a cool stream flowing along the beds of my muscles, even the little ones that hold my ears in place.

Panic grips me at the waist and I can’t feel my legs, my bowels get cold and watery, my chest becomes a frantic metronome swinging my heart from one side of my ribcage to the other.

There is hatred, also, where my eyes lose their peripheral vision and get very, very focused.  Every vein strains against the pink inside of my skin, searing it all black.

Then, the rage.  Oh, the rage.  The rage that has been a quiet, steady, smoldering fire for nearly all the years that my memory can stretch back.  Except that without cupcakes, fried chicken, mashed potatoes with extra gravy, german chocolate cake ice cream, and salt and vinegar chips to smother that rage into my dearest friend, depression, I am finally looking rage right in the face.

And rage is looking right back at me.  And, for once, I am really seeing.

Depression was all that rage on a shock collar.  Each time that rage bared its teeth, bzzzzzzzzt, a shock was administered to keep it well-behaved.  A good girl does not get angry at others.  She punishes herself for thinking that she was even worth the trouble to be upset about what happened.

Depression tells me that it was my fault.  Depression tells me that there must have been something wrong with me.  Depression tells me that I had set my expectations way too high.  Depression tells me that I should be quiet, stuff my face so that rage doesn’t have a chance to escape.  Depression tells me that of course, no one can love me, I mean really, you’re always so depressed.

But, rage, dear, clear, searing rage.  Rage wants to destroy.  Rage wants to pull things out of their sick sockets.  Rage wants to burn hot enough to cauterize the wounds.

Rage yells: I was perfectly lovable and you didn’t love me.

Rage roars: I kept lowering and lowering my expectations until I had none and you couldn’t meet them.

Rage screams: You had no right to touch me like that.

Rage cries out: My body!  My body!  My body is SACRED.

Rage roars: Something was very wrong and it was not my responsibility to make it right.

But that gets pretty exhausting, so I had a bag of chips with a jar of salsa and several handfuls of chocolate.

i have no problems with mondays.  they’ve never stressed me out like they seem to other people.  sunday afternoons however?  stomach aches and migraines and near panic attacks.  weird, i know.  it was greatly eased by being on the receiving end of a thai massage.  kids, run, do not walk, to your nearest practitioner and GET one.

mondays are just like mini new year’s days to me.  a chance to start again, a little weekly rebirth.

everything is feeling like that lately.  we finally got a snow that stuck and the world is beautiful, blank, and fresh.

part of the wild woman project is living in a place that can truly support my re-wilding.  i could have moved to d.c. or savannah but that would have just made it so much more difficult.  instead, i’m renovating a barn on five acres of land nestled in the mountains with nothing but wild embracing me on every side.  i’ll be living here while i save up and look for my own land.  this man has inspired me enormously!  i’ve been trying to figure out how to be both a wild farmer AND a world traveler.  they seem to be opposing dreams, but, boom, just like that, he reminds me that it is a both/and universe.

right now, i’m still clearing out the barn.  i should be done with that by tomorrow or the next day.  it’s cold and probably not the best time of the year to be working outside but life that is convenient is kind of what i’m trying to get away from.

convenience comes with a very high price, sometimes obvious in the price tag, sometimes hidden only to make an abrupt appearance in the emergency room.

in related news, i hit my barefoot in the snow record today.  it was -2 when i made a mad dash for the car for something i forgot to bring in.

and, as far as habit #1 goes, i’m ROCKING that shit.  and loving it!  today was a green smoothie, yesterday was raw cheese, nuts, a persimmon(!), kimchi, and a kombucha.

i’m trying to get as much done as possible today so that i can hit the A.T. for a walk later.

so the first week of 2012 has gone by and so far so good.

there are several habits that i’m trying to instill this year.

i have a MAJOR crush on leo babauta‘s mind.  his advice to develop habits instead of create goals rubs me the very, very right way.  yep, right there.

one habit a month is what he recommends, and that is something i can handle.  i am a closet perfectionist and over achiever which i disguise quite well by appearing like a total slob and slack ass.  it will be good for me to only commit to one a month and actually doing it instead of doing them all at once and pulling my hair out.

here are the twelve habits i would like to create this year:

1. make the first meal of the day a raw one

i’ve started this one already and i love it.  i’ve been having a kombucha and some raw milk cheese most days.  i also really love green smoothies and raw egg and coconut milk smoothies.  yes, raw egg.  no, i’m not afraid of salmonella.  yes, i do fantasize about being as kick ass as rocky balboa…with cuter work out clothes.

2. wake before 7 without an alarm clock

for the past few years, getting up before 11 was a miracle.  the depression beast was largely to blame as well as a deep abiding apathy for the grinding monotony of daily life.  hmmm…maybe the apathy came from the depression, too.

anyhoo, since i’ve come back from africa, my body has reset itself so that i’m up before 8.  i want by the end of february to have trained myself to be up before 7ish without an alarm.  alarm clocks are the worst invention EVER.  EVER.  i hate them.  i hate the jarring, heart-racing terror that they cause on my fragile nervous system.  no, i’m not being melodramatic.

3. brush the dog

oh, my dog.  sweet, attached thing that he is.  he’s always at my feet in the best way.  he has the thickest coat and winter is just a smelly dog mess for it.  he deserves that i start brushing it for him once a day.  march will be the perfect time to start developing this habit.

4.save instead of spend

crap.  this is april’s habit.  april is my birthday month.  i just hope all the gift givers in my life don’t decide to start this habit that month.

5. eat something fermented every day

i LOVE fermented food so this one will really not be that hard.  but, it’ll be nice to take it from a once in a while treat to a daily indulgence.  kimchi, kombucha, cultured vegetables, yogurt,….yeah, baby!

6. read a real paper and ink book before bed

june will be the beginning of summer and later bedtimes.  this will be a good way to shift gears for bed.

i read a lot.  A LOT.  but, it’s mostly online and in my ipad.  how nice will it be to read from a BOOK again?  my childhood was formed by the books i read.  i’ve noticed my attention span has really shortened because of digital media.  i still read before bed,even, but it’s never with the gentle weight of a book on my chest and the almost sexual aroma of the paper filling my sleep space.  this habit excites me and i just may move it to a closer slot.

7. do yoga every day

it doesn’t have to an hour.  it can just be a sun-salutation.  and july will be the perfect time to bring some sun worship back into my life.

8. market myself

it’s time that all my skills and knowledge start getting more recognition….from me.

9. stretch professionally

i know this reads as if i want to become a professional stretcher, but i mean to move out of my comfort zones in the money making arenas of jobs and business.  this one will probably be the hardest one on this list.  i feel nauseous just thinking about it.

10. feed others

i love to cook and i love to ensure that people around me are well fed.  ideally, i’d love to have people over once a week to feed.  october is a good time to start this habit.  it’s getting colder and people are hungrier.  or that’s how i feel when this time of year rolls around.

11. fast once a week

today’s the first attempt at this, so i don’t know why i’ve even got this up here as a habit.  i’m starting this one today.  i’ll have to come up with another one for november.  any ideas?

edit jan 9: got it!

11. media, money, and manna fast once a week

how about taking a break from electronics, spending, AND eating once a week?  could there be a better way to really take a day off?  don’t think so.  since this is my november habit, i will not choose thursday as that day.  thanksgiving is the BEST and just look at who’s planning ahead!

12. sweat daily

hmmm….all the way in december is when i am going to instill this one?  i’ll probably be doing this by then, but daily?  probably not.  i don’t even want to workout daily as a habit.  i’d love to hit up an infrared sauna, a steam room and a hot sauna every week.  and sex works up a sweat, right?  anybody having it these days, please report.

this list will probably be amended as i go along, but it feels good right now.

because i’m completely narcissistic, my new year doesn’t begin until my birthday.  that’s when i do all that self-reflective inner work that leads somewhere:  that somewhere being a list of ways to ‘improve’ myself.

i think that that list is going to be pretty slim this year because i’m sick of the whole concept.  if i was an arsonist and a good enough one to not be caught, the self-improvement aisles of bookstores and libraries would be my signature target.  i might even become a house visiting arsonist and leave little blackened ash piles in people’s homes.  who doesn’t have a couple self-improvement books?  i just have to figure out a way to make money out of this victimless crime and i would be set for life.  a nickel per burnt self-improvement book seems about right.

resolutions tend to fall in the same bucket as self-improvement books.  generally, because people make lists of ways to go back to being something that they never were.  they are also setting themselves up for failure because they want to conquer things over which they have no control.

for example: i will lose 35 pounds this year.

will you?  you might.  you probably could.  but, that’s completely out of your control.  your body may completely disagree with you.

instead, try this: i will build the habit to eat like i’m meant to and move like i’m meant to.

this is something over which you have control.  you’re not trying to do something unnatural like “loving those who hurt you” or going down a fruitless path by “becoming a money making machine”.  it’s even better than “controlling’ anything.  it’s what your body wants to do.

so instead of overcoming your nature and trying to improve yourself, just allow that nature to develop.  it’s easier and loads more fun and i don’t have to come to your house to set fire to anything.

this soup is to be had at midnight on new years or if you can’t swing that with all the drunken partying that you were doing, it can also be the first meal of the new year.  i just like to have it whenever i have the time to make it.

it was created by empress dessaline when haiti was fighting the french for their independence to feed the soldiers.  without the meat, it is really inexpensive.  it’s not the much pricier with it, either.  over time the colors gained significance as our five gourde bill (remember those, fellow haitians?) was the same bright orange color.  the turnips are traditionally cut into rounds to symbolize coins.  it is the soup of prosperity and happiness.  we won our independence on january 1st, 1804.

there are as many variations on the soup as there are home cooks.  here’s the one i made this year:

(pretend there’s a picture here.  i have one but for some reason my mac is holding out on me.  blog blocker.)

edit: jan 9 here’s the pic!

you’ll need a skillet and a soup pot.

also:

a pound or two of meat-stew beef is great as well as chicken on the bone

16 oz canned pumpkin (do NOT get the stuff is all spiced up for pumpkin pie, just straight pumpkin)

16 oz chicken broth

4-6 celery wands diced small

1 onion diced small

4-6 carrots diced small

3-5 turnips sliced into rounds

1 small cabbage shredded

thyme 1-2 tablespoons

a bunch of fresh parsley chopped fine

butter for browning the meat

salt and pepper to taste

1. take your meat and dry it well with paper towels or  a dish towel you don’t mind staining, salt it and pepper it

2. heat the skillet (you want it nice and hot!)

3. add some butter to the skillet

4. brown your meat in batches-don’t flip it until it is deep brown with a little crust (you can achieve this a lot easier if you don’t crowd the meat)

5. when all the meat is browned set it aside, turn off the heat under the skillet but keep it on the stove

6. add butter to your pot

7. when it melts, toss in your celery, onion, carrots, thyme and half your parsley

8. when it is all translucent, take a tablespoon or two of your broth and use it to scrape all the browned butter and meat bits from your skillet-add that to the veggies in your soup pot

9. when well incorporated add in the rest of the broth and the meat and bring to a boil

10. gently incorporate your pumpkin in spoonfuls stirring it in, add the cabbage and boil for 5-10 minutes

11.  add the turnips and turn the soup down to a simmer for 15-20 minutes

12. turn the soup off and add the parsley-salt and pepper to taste

13. serve it up!

here’s to your health and prosperity!

on the other side of the globe, people are warming up their ovens, stuffing a large bird’s privates with bread mixtures, pulling on their elasticized pants, and getting together for family drama.

i love a day dedicated to eating and being thankful.  i am among the very, very, very lucky few that get to eat daily and have mountains of things for which to be grateful, also on a daily basis.

the past couple of days have been very tourist-y.  we took a bus tour of the city.  it hit the major highlights and although it has an on/off option, we only got off at a couple places.  it still took all day.  this city is fascinating.  my hosting friend has been talking a lot about how the past and present coexist so peacefully here.  after the bus tour, we went to smoke (take a guess?) at the hookah bar.  at the next table over was a woman sitting cross-legged on the cushions in full abaya puffing on the hookah sipping a coke and texting on her phone.

one of the places we got off the bus was the iranian souk.  it is located down at the port. on one side are the old wooden dhows and the other are the freight ships.  the souk is just 30 or so stalls jammed together with stuff flowing out of their doors-a cornucopia of goods.  since it is right on the port, the pottery, buckets, pots, pans, tapestries, plants, incense burners, etc., go straight from the ships onto the shelves.  my favorite little corner was stretched to its seams with canvas bags full of spices.

we also switched buses at the abu dhabi mall to grab a shuttle to yas island.  on the island is an amusement park with the world’s fastest roller coaster, a formula one race track with it’s own little harbor of yacht berths, and an ikea.  the amusement park is aptly titled ferrari world and it is dedicated to speed.  one of the attractions that i need to come back for is a racing car simulation.

yesterday, we headed out to the western region to pick out my hosting friend (okay, i’m just as annoyed typing that out as i’m sure you are reading it.  she will be known henceforth as K.) ‘s apartment.  ladies and gentlemen, when they say desert, they aren’t kidding.  immediately outside the city is an ocean of sand and a very straight road running through it.  the dunes are enormous.  along the crests, the sand twirls up in a wind choreographed ballet.  off in the distance we saw three camels walking.  then, we saw a superiority of them in green blankets being herded by a bedouin man.  then, there was another line of them, barebacked and free walking along the road.  in that group was a juvenile who broke into a run to keep up.  there aren’t many things that are equal parts amusing and heart-melting as watching a baby camel run.  then there were hundreds of them.  some were nearly white and others were almost black, but most were the same color as the sand, creamy with a tinge of orange.  then, there was nothing but sand.  as we drove, we saw an island of green way off in the distance.  it was an oasis.  then, an hour later, great swathes of date palms cut through.  then, nothing but sand.

the town that K will be in is another island of green in the vast stretches of cream tinged with orange.  there is a mall with all the personality of a cardboard box and a co-op that looked far more interesting.  as we drove around the town, we counted three women.  all the activity was men.  i’m sure that the women were home cooking and caring for the children…or working inside running the place?

on the way back, there was nothing to see but sand, until suddenly there was a small grove of trees.  nibbling at the rare greenery was a herd of Arabian oryx.  it was so special to me as they have just been currently been re-introduced to the wild after near extinction.  i didn’t see a male with its fierce, splendid horns, but it was really good to see them anyway.

now it is thursday morning, thanksgiving day.  i feel so fortunate that my life is being crafted into something of such bounty that every single day is beautiful and full with things for which to be thankful.  enjoy your meals and your lives.  make it awesome.

sitting at the table, puffing on the hookah, i looked around at my friends and i told them that i felt we were just on the surface of a giant rubik’s cube that someone had shifted.  everything around us looked different, but it was still just us, sharing a meal, laughing like hyenas, and feeling the breeze.

yesterday was that kind of day.  easy.  breezy.  beautiful.  (cover girl.)  i had on my black eyeliner and green scarf.  (here’s the thing about the desert: that scarf is essential.  once noon hits, it goes around my head so my head doesn’t spontaneously combust.  we went to the bank as one more link in the long chain of things that need to get done to settle my hosting friend in the country.  it was like any bank anywhere except clearly R I C H.  over in one corner was the company player flirting with two women in slinky abaya and one in western garb with an elaborate headscarf.

after that, we went to the mall to change some money.  i loathe the mall in the united states.  overweight teenagers squeeze themselves into band-aid sized shorts and waddle around, rednecks slither through, thugs duck-walk to keep their pants on, young parents glare at each other over their screaming toddlers, and there is always some horrible muzack being piped into the air so that there is no escape.  here, i LOVE the mall.  it is quiet.  everybody glides.  couples lean in to each other in discreet whispers.  and things in the shops are beautiful.

we walked across the street (no small feat, by the way!  pedestrians, who when tallied up were the four of us, do not have the right of way.) and went to a cafe overlooking the bay.  stuffed grape leaves, fried kibbeh, minty/lemon drinks were all washed down with turkish coffee and flan.  of course, there was the hookah.  it just forces one to slow down.  we sat for hours waiting out the heat of the day.  as we smoked, sharing the same pipe, our thoughts melded and we were able to finish each other’s sentences.  the light changed on the buildings.

off to the corniche we walked.  the corniche lines the very edge of the entire Abu Dhabi coastline on the bay.  we walked (and walked) until we got to the bike rental place.  it’s not a shop, just lines of bikes on either side of the sidewalk.  the (very, very good looking!) man who was renting them out picked out a red tricycle with a big white basket in the back for me.  my friends hopped onto a two seater and the boy grabbed a four wheeler.  we raced each other, wove in and out through the foot traffic, caressed the fuzzy grasses with our feet as we rolled by, slapped five onto the low hanging branches, and giggled like four year olds.  we rode to the port.  dozens of wooden dhows were docked, some nearly covered by all the fish traps on board.  several wave runners sped through and a lone sheik stood at the rail of the boardwalk and watched, his khandora catching the wind.  he looked like the sail of a ship, solitary and proud.

we turned back as the fourth call to prayer floated out of the minarets and the sun was setting.  as it drew nearer to the horizon, it heated into a brilliant red ball.  the dunes across the bay glittered, the date palms’ outlines grew sharp.  i heard someone whistling a tuneless tune.  every once it a while the whistling would stop and a giggle would burst forth.  so deeply was i entangled in my own contentment, it took me a second to realize that the whistler was me.

after returning the bikes, we took the boy back to the hotel and we headed out for lebanese food.  if i would have known, i would have prepared myself by not eating earlier that day and two days before.  we ordered two drilled meat plates, grilled chicken, an appetizer of baba ghanoush (which was called matoubal there), and avocado shakes (trust me.).  but, even before our food arrived, the manager kept sending out other plates.  he sent out a plate of olives, crudités, arugula and mint, hummus, labneh (yoghurt cheese), and a basket of pita.  the meat plates were mountains of meat.  i got the mixed grill.  on my plate were: lamb chops, lamb kebabs, grilled chicken, chicken kebabs, beef kebabs, and grilled beef.  on top were whole grilled tomatoes and a chopped parsley salsa.  i ate and ate and ate but the pile did not seem to diminish.  and then, there was coffee.  it was, so far, the richest cup i’ve had here.  and since the manager felt that coffee could not be had alone, he sent out a dessert.  it was a delicate rice pudding smothered in honey with chopped pistachios and almonds.  it took us fifteen minutes before we could walk to the street to get a taxi.

after that meal, i didn’t think i’d ever be hungry again, but the leftovers are in the fridge right now.  so, i gotta go.

when you look at the day, i just hung out with my friends, went for a bike ride and had dinner.  but the perfection is all in the details, isn’t it?  make sure the friends are worthy, the ride beautiful and the dinner delicious.  that’s the difference between mundane and spectacular.

there has been a very steep learning curve in my life with depression.  for somebody like me, who really enjoys being teacher’s pet, it’s so nice to be able to look to experts for the answers and then regurgitate them without ever finding out if they are TRUE.

i’ve looked in so many places for help with my depression: talk therapy (helpful for a while), medication (helpful for a while), routine changes (helpful for a while), becoming a recluse (guess what i’m gonna say here?  that’s right…helpful for a while), becoming a party animal (yep, a while).  because depression is a multi-faceted disease, the best way to dance with it is also multi-dimensional.

but, the single most beneficial thing that has helped over  a long time is how i choose to nourish myself.

that’s right.  what i eat has become the greatest single factor in the severity of my depression.

and, the best way for me to eat is NOT what is usually recommended.

here’s how the logic usually went:  since sugar is a direct path to seratonin production, sugar makes us happy, so if you’re depressed eat sugar.  we don’t usually come right out and say sugar.  we say carbs.  generally whole grains.

i am so happy to see the tide turning.  there is a greater awareness that sugar is metabolized like a drug and we need more and more of it to get that initial hit.  even worse, after our sugar high, there is a pretty bad crash.  but, whole grains are still recommended as the foundation of a healthy diet.  (spoiler alert: they are incredibly detrimental.)

i rode this roller-coaster for a long time.  when i was on a “health kick” i would decrease my “sugar” intake but up by grain intake.  warm baguettes, bowlfuls of rice and beans, quinoa, quinoa, quinoa, mounds of pasta bolognese.  after each hit, i would feel a little euphoric, detached.  and then, BLAM.  i would want to increase my razor to wrist ratio.

when i don’t eat sugar, grains of any kind, and keep my protein/fat to carb ratio at least 2:1, i can feel the life in me instead of wishing for death.  and that’s pretty damn sweet.