Salt

At the farmer’s market this weekend there was this lady selling a bunch of exotic salts infused with various spices, fruit, etc. So, of course I spent $30 on a sampler pack. 

The other night the hubs and I did a tasting with some veggies and the savory group. 

WOW!

This is a fun new thing!!! I was pretty excited to try all the different flavors. And it got me thinking of easy summer grilling will be with these salts, as they act almost like a marinade. And the sweet ones would be cool with some fruit and dark chocolate.

In other words, I have my entire summer meals menu planned out already. And it will be super easy too!

 

Has anyone else out there heard of this new fan dangled thing???

If not, and you’re curious, here’s a link to the place I got my salts. 

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Comfort Food

FYI: This took a month to write…sorry for infrequent posting.

Often times we think of comfort food as a food we fondly remember eating as a child or a special dish we religiously make for a holiday. Grandpa’s ‘German’ potato salad at amBBQ…drool.

Sometimes it’s a dish a loved one makes you when you’re sick with a cold.

Or maybe a hot meal you share with your love on a snowy night.

But what role should food play when you’re going through something sad? I’m not going to lie, it’s been a really rough time for me lately. And one of the few things that has given me a ‘little’ bit of happiness in a very dark place has been food.

I have managed to continue to eat healthy much through the holidays and into the winter. But in a sad time, sometimes you just need ‘a glass of coca cola.’ Or some mac and cheese. Or some chocolate.

So yes, I’ve taken ‘comfort’ in some foods that aren’t the best for me. And yes, the scale has reflected that. But it was needed. And appreciated. And calming. And distracting. But this week I’m ‘back in the saddle again.’ And surprisingly it has been pretty easy, and ‘comforting,’ to eat the healthy way again.

Regardless, we all deal with pain differently. However, it isn’t safe to continue that pattern. I’m glad my brain has been rewired to acknowledge the difference.

Bigger and better places… 🙂

“On an Island”

I was catching up on Top Chef last night, and all the contestants were killing the time by asking each other if they were on an island, “what three foods would you bring?’ It then led to a Bravo poll and the top choices were bread and cheese.  Bread and cheese???? I guess I could see that, but I was surprised no one chose anything sugary. Surprised in a good way.

What would you bring with you?

I always say it would be shrimp, eggs and avocado. Although if I’m on an island, I guess I could fish my own shrimp…

Coca Cola et al.

Have you seen this commercial yet?

What do think about this?

Many people will find this as a company being responsible- without saying it outright, Coca Cola is basically saying Coke is major cause in obesity. And in some regards I could respect that- except that’s only half the problem. What they’re promoting instead are their “180” beverages that are low or no calorie. Because God-forbid Coca Cola looses money off this.

Do you think this is being responsible? On one side of the coin, they are finally admitting that their product does have high amounts of sugar in them and is a major contributor to obesity.

But Coca Cola has been around for 100 years….. why NOW is it part of the obesity problem? Why not 50 years ago? Even 20 years ago….

I got really mad when Mayor Bloomberg in NYC tried to ban super sized soda in the city. His intentions were good, but the approach was all wrong. Instead of just banning large sodas, why not use that money for education instead of lobbying?

Is the problem really the food?

I’m sure everyone saw the documentary “Supersize Me.” Or at least heard of it. If not here’s a link. After watching that, I vowed that fast food was the reason everyone was getting fat-including me-even though fast food was never really part of my diet to begin with. Growing up, fast food was a treat. It was something we had only when my mom was sick with a cold and couldn’t cook, on a road trip or at a birthday party (having your birthday party at McDonald’s in the 80s meant you were the coolest kid in the world BTW). Even when I got old enough to make and purchase food on my own, I never let fast food become the forefront of my diet.

And then I saw Fat Head. This documentary has the same idea as Supersize Me, but the goal was to debunk the notion that fast food companies are to blame for our obesity epidemic. And it did.

And there lies the problem:

WE ARE MAKING BAD CHOICES. NO ONE IS TO BLAME BUT US.

Not that I’m letting fast food companies off the hook. They aren’t truthful with their nutrition facts, they lobby the FDA to design the food pyramid to boost consumption of corn and wheat to profit agribusiness, they pump up their serving sizes to make you eat more so you buy more…it’s bad. However, none of these companies tie you down and force the food in your mouth! And I’ll save the whole GMO debate for another time.

So even though I want to be mad a Coca Cola for putting out these healthy commercials- because NOTHING they produce is healthy- including their zero calorie drinks (another blog), I can’t be. They’re doing something responsible- they are educating people. And they really don’t have to.

Detox- Day 5

What a whirlwind of a day. First day back at school- no kids yet though. They come Monday.

I was able to follow the diet, but I was disappointed in the day. I planned very carefully to eat midmorning, then lunch before going to a workshop 30 minutes from school. But I never got to eat a full lunch. In true nature form, that time I had was filled with visiting students and parents with questions, so my time to eat was cut to grabbing bites while driving. And I couldn’t eat it all because I was driving with someone, and my lunchbox started to leak and I didn’t want to leak things all over his car, so I stopped eating half way through. I also never got to take my supplements, and they also got all wet and melted. GROSS! It also didn’t help that the facility where the workshop was help provided us with these cute little lunch boxes with drinks and chips and cookies, and I had to sit there and WATCH everyone eat their awesome looking sandwiches… 😦 BOO HOO!

Luckily I didn’t really feel hungry until I got home. And I have a swell dinner of some salmon and sautéed spinach waiting for me!

But I will tell you, after today, I am REALLY looking forward to eating semi-normal again!

Back From the Black Hole

I know I haven’t blogged in quite some time. I’ve been busy- busy being an understatement. I am a set director for our school play- and before you laugh at that, we do our plays hardcore. Months of planning, building, carpentry…and it always comes out fabulous! Here’s some of my favorite pieces we did this year:

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I didn’t do super good with the gluten free. There are two factors- there are NO good take out places nearby. Pizza or sandwiches. One day I ordered a salad and it sucked. The second- there were times I didn’t plan staying as long as I did and the times I could eat were really off. Timing truly was everything. Next year, I will have to bring a meal as a ‘just in case.’ However, all in all, I can’t complain. I ate much better than last year, and I learned some lessons for next year. The important thing is busy times like those can cause me to stress eat, and I didn’t. And last Monday I was back in the GF saddle again- going strong!

I joined a boxing club. It’s pretty sweet. And it feels really good to punch things.

This week I had my first cooking disaster in a long time. It was so bad we had to order out. My husband bought an entire Salmon filet Monday because he was afraid to ask the fish monger to cut him two portions. So we had two pounds of salmon, and didn’t know what to do with the leftovers. I’ve always wanted to make salmon cakes, but we were about 4oz. off the recipe so we got a can of salmon to add to the fresh. First I misread the recipe for 1 tsp. of cayenne pepper sauce for 1 tsp. of straight up cayenne pepper. WOWZA! That sucks! Already mixed everything together before I realized the mistake. THEN, I open the can of salmon and it’s basically the back end of the fish cooked and canned- bones and everything. And for those of you who don’t know, salmon has these little tiny bones called pin bones that need to be pulled out of the meat before cooking. I tried to get them out, but they were brittle and breaking and ‘Ain’t nobody got time for that!’ After a long day, would you want to tackle this?

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I thought so. So mexican it was. We have an awesome Mexican takeout place by us. Maddy’s Mexican Grill for those of you in the Morris County area. Authentic and fresh!

Moral of the story- I’m back. Looking forward to continuing to share my triumphs and woes of food. Look forward to more restaurant reviews too in the upcoming months!

A Hot Meal to Cure the Sandy Blues

I never understood why the free lunch program HAS to include a hot meal every day. I always thought it was a waste since kids seem to like sandwiches over those hot meals anyway.

Until Hurricane Sandy hit.

I am lucky. I lost power only for a few hours.

Today I saw cars in line for gas 3 miles long and 200 people back for their generators. I never thought this could happen here, but it is.

My sister and her family with two young boys lost power Monday night, and were told it could be 1-2 weeks until it comes back on. They are staying in my 1-BR apartment. It crowed here, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. This is what family is all about. Last night, their first night here, I made spaghetti and chicken parm meatballs. I knew the boys would like it.

My sister said that after two days with no power, nothing felt better than a hot meal.

A hot meal.

How blessed are we to have a hot meal during a time like this.

If you have the electricity to read this, and need a hot meal, hit me up and I’ll make sure you get one. I am BLESSED to be able to help you.

Tonight for dinner is Taco Soup.

Washington Cookies

My nana past away this past weekend. And I really didn’t see this one coming. I knew her health was declining, but after not seeing her for a year, to walk in the last hours of her life was shocking to see. She died peacefully late Saturday night, and the air among my family was she chose her time. Ironically, she past on the same weekend of her family’s reunion. Her family has a lot of history. Her father owned an apple orchard in Sterling, MA. Even I can remember visiting the orchard and sitting on her father’s lap (my great grandfather) while he took out his bottom dentures to scare me. She loved that farm, and would have done anything to be there at the reunion. Almost all of us were planning to attend, but when things went down hill, we opted to stay back. We had our own immediate family reunion, said our goodbyes, and we truly feel she stopped at the family orchard on the way ‘home’ to say goodbye to everyone there too. When I think about it that way, it makes death seem divine. And I guess it is- we, the living, just don’t ever see it that way.

Nan Betty was a simple woman. She didn’t need anything fancy, and kept everything calm and practical. Including food. She cooked a mean Thanksgiving Dinner, but aside from that her cooking was centered around “pinch the pennies, make the most of the food you have.” It was frugal eating, and taste was not always the priority. However, she made some amazing desserts, and with every visit we made, there was always a cookie jar with fresh baubles waiting for us. She always had  Washington Cookies in that jar. Those cookies were served at my wedding this past summer. Those cookies will keep Nana Betty’s Spirit alive. And as I sit here baking these cookies, feeling guilty for not living close, not visiting more- her spirit comes alive and hugs me as the smell of Washington Cookies wafts through my home. And her spirit tells me it’s okay…

Washington Cookies

1 1/2 cups flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

1 cup margerine (that’s what she used but I use butter)

3/4 cup dark brown sugar

3/4 cup white sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

1 cup chopped walnuts

2 cups rolled oats

1 package of chocolate bits

Directions

1. Mix dry ingredients together and set aside.

2. Cream butter and sugar together. Add eggs and vanilla

3. Add dry ingredients

4. Slowly add nuts, oats and chocolate.

5. Spoon onto a greased cookie sheet and bake 10-12 minutes at 350.