I’m not naturally good at being balanced or taking the middle ground with things. It’s not enough to feel incredibly grateful on a daily basis for all that my life has and is. I need to NEVER TAKE ANYTHING FOR GRANTED in order to pass the test of life. What’s really true, what I actually need, is a softer approach; a big-bosomed maternalistic voice, one that doesn’t use words like “never” and “anything” or “everything” in the same sentence; one that mellows out the Emperor who’s usually in charge up there in m’brain.
Easy enough to know what’s needed. But life is more complex than a grocery list. I can’t pick up a “Maternalistic Voice to Balance Out The Emperor” from Whole Foods on my way home from acupuncture or therapy. It’s more like something I set an internal radar gun to catch when it speeds through my mind. Except I’m not always sitting by the side of the freeway of my mind waiting. Sometimes the thoughts slip right on by, undetected.
Even though I know that the harsh voice in my head needs a little watering down, I also know that it’s a value of mine to live each day filled with gratitude; that taking things for granted feels like ignoring the overflow of blessings. As is so often the case, the best way to express what I’m getting at is with a song lyric (thanks Joni Mitchell): “Don’t it always seem to go/that you don’t know what you’ve got/till it’s gone.” Yes. Yes that’s it. I want to know what I’ve got before it’s gone. Because so many things are already gone.
Like my life before this illness they call CFS tornado’d the roof off, taking what it took! Pizza! Bagels! Burritos! Midnight-dark beer! Straightforward, cheap All Purpose Flour. All. Purpose.
All purpose is just that. And being able to eat it, let alone bake/cook with it, is something I took for granted. That was before the particular tangles of laboring over gluten free flour blends; before bulk orders of every imaginable flour you can dream up (brown rice, white rice, potato, ceci, arrowroot, tapioca, sorghum, millet, the list goes on), experimenting and failing gloriously at making just about everything that previously called for AP Flour.
Until… enough tinkering lead to my BINGO moment! This particular blend is perfect for quick breads (muffins), pancakes, fritters, popovers, biscuits, and as a thickening agent in custards. I very rarely eat processed foods, and I consider flour as one of them. There is only ONE video recipe that utilizes a jumbo sized amount of flour. Just because something is gluten free does mean that it’s healthy. It takes five different flours in a specific ratio to get the texture that most closely resembles the AP equivalent, but it’s worth it because I’m gung-ho about loving my gluten free life. Indulging my cravings when they occasionally arise is *key* to maintaining my lifestyle with real, whole foods.
Here’s the kicker: the fact of losing something DOES help you realize what you had (i.e., now we need five flours to make the texture of one). It also helps in heightening appreciation for what’s right here, in the now of this very. While I don’t yet know how to be gentler with myself about taking things for granted, I do know how to sub in this flour to fit my rare cravings to bake.
ERRRRBODY in the club wants a cracker? Not steril-ly. Only if they also happen to be standing next to a cheese plate with artisan olives and salumi. Then yes. And if they’re gluten free, no dice. An old fashioned real-deal cracker (made WITHOUT partially hydrogenated vegetable oils) is hard to come by in the gluten free world. Exit night…Enter LIIIIIGHT!
GF (Rosemary-Thyme Sea Salt Olive Oil) Water Crackers!
I use them as a vehicle for nutrient dense pâté ; the man-dude will indulge the cheese & salumi combo (I try not to be jealous). They are thin, crunchy, and exactly like real-deal water crackers. Excellent when paired with chicken soup (duh). The *KEY* is to roll the dough out as thin as you can get it. Which is NOT what happened in this video. Partially because I was filming, and partially because I made a big batch and should have cut the dough into two equal parts and rolled them separately.
In either case, I’m proud to present you with the easiest cracker recipe ever. You’ll feel like such a bad-ass eating your own handmade crackers. BUCKBUCK! (reggae ref. forgive me).
When you’re feeling sick and checking account energy balances are low, roasting vegetables is one of the first ways you can easily cook large quantities of food to have on hand throughout the week. Remember: that which grows together, goes together, so use what’s in season and freshest (in this case, carrot and fennel) and you won’t have to work much in the flavor department.
Add some protein and starch (if you eat the latter) and you’ve got a full-on meal. Roast chicken pairs well, and the bonus there is you’ll have the bones to make broth. Fish cooks quite quickly, and pairs well with this side dish. That said, I love it so much that I can eat it all by it lonesome and feel satisfied.
Note: Save the stalks from your fennel and carrots for making broth! They’ll keep in the freezer until your next batch of broth is ready to go. This version of the dish is highly pared down to make it easy to prepare. But get creative with your herbs and spices and you can easily turn this dish into something more “exotic.”
The month of January was hard. February’s first days have thrummed in the same vein. It would seem that the benefit I experienced from the anti-viral drug treatment I did in 2012 is over. There are new things to try on the horizon though, so I’m forging forward.
I prefer to say nothing and disappear, than talk about my struggles. Positivity is where I live. But I’ve been absent in this space for too long and you deserve to know why. That said, I intend to post recipes once a week until I get my butt back into video making mode, which will hopefully be sooner rather than later.
This week’s recipe is as per request. I used Heidi Swanson’s Miso Tahini Soup as the blueprint, and changed very little. Cooking with what you have will almost always yield something delicious as long as you’re not going too far outside the boundaries of certain flavor profiles. I knew that Heidi would (as she always does) have some amazing ideas in the Miso department and I wasn’t disappointed. I don’t think you will be either.
I tweaked things every so slightly to utilize what was in the fridge—the Chickpea South River Miso I use is traditionally wood fired and unpasteurized, which maximizes the nutrition content. Instead of squash and avo (really wished I had had some avo) I used Shitake mushrooms and onions, both immune system boosters. Admittedly, this meant that the end result had a monotonistic vibe in appearance, but taste-wise it was increds. Total hands on time and energy output were minimal, so this is a great recipe for the chronically ill. Make a big batch like I did below, or reduce by half if you’re not wanting this around for days. To see a pic, check out my Instagram.
Shitake Mushroom Miso Soup w/Kale Chip Chopper Top-Immune System Booster
I know it’s been awhile. I’ve mentioned it in a few of my social media outlets, but I moved in December to a new home in Oakland, and it’s taken me out. I don’t know the source material for the assertion that moving is listed as one of the top five most stressful things a person can do—but it’s true for me. Especially since my illness is affected by stress. We took our time, and did it in stages to make it easier, but still. It’s moving. Thus, my break in posting here. Thus, the ghetto unedited images. KIR, right? (KIR: That’s my new garden!)
If you survived the “polar vortex” extreme cold, bravo. I wish I’d been there with you. Here in the Bay Area we’re strangely out of touch with all of that weather “reality.” It’s been sunny and warm mid-day, like all days (except when I took this photo). I resent the nice weather when my body forces needs to be horizontal for 80% of the day. I also appreciate it.
My strength has been low. The act of speaking feels like pulling words attached to heavyweight anchors up from inside and out of my mouth. It strains my throat, which is swollen and sore. This is KIR (Keepin’ It Real) here, nothing more. Do not feel sorry for me. I’m the luckiest and happiest person on the planet (according to me).
I am looking forward to bringing you more video recipes this year from my new kitchen, which has great natural light and a big open floor plan (i.e., easy to setup with tripods and lights!) I also am working on a video update to show you the new digs, including the backyard garden where I plan to shoot summer episodes. In the meantime, here are some updates to share.
1. In the wee bit beginnings of January, I helped the lovely Simone Shifnadel of Zen Belly Blog cater the book signing event for Chris Kresser‘s release of Your Personal Paleo Code. Chris’s website is a must check out for all people living with/managing chronic illness. His articles are well written, backed by research, and incredibly helpful to all of us folks living with zebra diseases. Just today, he published this article titled, “What To Do if You Need to Take Antibiotics,” the very question I’ve been grappling with since I recently tested positive (again) for Lyme. (Perhaps another explanation for my flare in symptoms).
The event was lovely, but a total doozy for my body. I had been bed bound three days prior, and summoned the (adrenaline-ether-energy) to make it. Follow me on Instagram to see pics like the one below, snapped in a moment before dessert went out. That’s Simone’s hand putting candied citrus peels on the the paleo chocolate delicacies.
2. Lucky for me, I got to meet the gluten free blogging goddes Shauna Ahern of TheGlutenFreeGirl! Her recipes, tips and advice (especially in the baking department) have been hugely helpful to me as I’ve fumbled my way to bring the interwebs things like Gluten Free Zucchini Bread. It’s been exciting to see her recipes shift in a more paleo direction lately! AND, the incredibly lovely, funny, fantastic Melissa Joulwan of The Clothes Make the Girl.
Both of these women are inspirations, and to meet them in person after so much internet stalking, eh-hem I mean fandom…was worth all the drain and tiredness and headaches that came later.
3. Living with my illness means living with limits, and that means that I wasn’t able to attend the book release party for Michelle Tam + Henry Fong’s newest cookbook Nom Nom Paleo: Food For Humans. I saw Michelle at Chris’s event, shrieked, “Eeeks,” and then had to disappear to help get more water for the tables. I never got to have my copy signed, but I’m hoping that it won’t be the only chance I’ll have. She’s local. And that means I’ll stalk her, eh-hem I mean be a fan, until we’re friends. Seriously though. I’m a huge fan already.
4. I applied to be an official blogger for the Gluten & Allergen Free Expo happening at the end of January in the Bay Area—and I made it! I’m not sure what the criteria for being accepted was, but I know it wasn’t due to the staggering numbers of followers. It’ll be a push for sure, but I’m excited to meet gluten free vendors, and discover new products that I might get to share with all of you.
Last but not least, there’s these blog changes I keep referring to and not implementing. But that’s because of my health, and the desire to get it right. 2014 is going to be all about you my friends. My videos will be focused on the things you told me in your survey. My blog posts will change too. Expect more poetry!
That said, I’m rooting for all of you to be feeling as well as possible. And if the winter makes you blue, get your hands on a copy of Chopin’s Prelude in E Minor, No. 4 Op. 28 (which in the age of Spotify means it’s a few clicks away).
Learning it on the piano has been been keeping me afloat, and accounts for 5 percent of how I spend a day upright.
It says all the things that I can’t say because they’re organic matter things that live inside, that surface in dreams and in lethargy.
Thanks for reading.
A la prossima,
Salt! Glorious salt. Today’s video is a DIY budget (and time) friendly gift idea that’s easy enough for Derek Zoolander to make.
I could wax poetic about salt for days. I once said (in this video) that salad represented the infiniteness of the universe itself. It is no wonder that I feel the same way about salt. I caught myself writing those words, and thought, “You said that already. About salad.” In a sweep of synchronicity, check out what a little wikipedia-ing unearthed:
Needless to say, I’m obsessed. I’m working on how to build my own salt altars.
A little over a year ago, I posted a bonus write-up on citrus salt after making this fantastic Halibut Ceviche. Instead of rewriting the wheel, I’ll just quote myself for all you folks who aren’t click-within-clickers:
“Citrus salt is: a great fancy food gift, easy and cheap to make, and a gourmet-game changer. Use it to add color, texture, flavor, and class to the rim of margarita glass; as a finishing touch on a roasted fennel fish dish or as garnish on sweet baked goods that play with fruit flavors (sweet blackberry scones come to mind). Use it in an herb sauce where you’d usually add lemon rind and salt. The possibilities are limitless.”
For this particular orange citrus salt, it’d be great atop some dark chocolate truffles as an accent note. Add a teensy bit of sugar and use it on cocktails that are excellent at holiday time: like whiskey with sparkling ginger and lemon juice. The flavors of foods that grow together, go together—so let them, and yourself, play.
I know I’ve been inconsistent with posting once a week, but it’s because I’m amidst huge life change(s) (I’m moving!)
Stay tuned though. I’ll be back in the New Year with more recipes, and creative ideas I hope you’ll enjoy. In the meantime, this one minute vid is destined to inspire you for the holidays. Have a happy one at that!
-any quantity salt (my favorites are Maldon & Celtic Sea Salt
-any quantity citrus rind (lemons, limes, Valencia oranges, blood oranges, grapefruit, pomelo etc)
Note: use equal parts of citrus and salt for the best flavor combo.
1. Preheat your oven to its lowest setting.
1. Grate your citrus rind. Avoid the white pithy part.
2. Mix thoroughly with your salt of choice.
4. Dehydrate. Check the salt every fifteen minutes to avoid burning. Mine only took ten minutes! But my oven is a beast.
5. Test dryness by pinching some salt between your fingers. It should be bone dry and crumble easily.
Be sure the fruit is organic since you’ll be using the rinds!
There two types of holiday people.
Type 1: The Gung-Ho: (The Wu-Tang Clan could have put out an album with that name). The gung-ho’ers start getting high on holiday cheer in October. Halloween kicks it off. They go crazy with weekend trips to the pumpkin patch; carve elaborate jack-o-lanterns, use a collection of gnarled gourds to line the porch, window sills, and mantles. They frame their doorways with dried wheat stalks. Build fake graves in their yard. String skeletons from the tree branches. Create haunted house entryways. No expense is spared. Type 1 folks spring for the dry ice.
When Halloween passes, it’s on to TG. (Image below courtesy of Martha Stewart, who might get some cred for giving the Type 1′ers their fix).
The first Thanksgiving meal I cooked was epic. I was 24, newly arrived to California. We (the man-dude and I) decided to celebrate the holiday by renting a cabin in Tahoe with some (new-ish) friends, almost all co-workers of the man-dude, all men-dudes themselves♥. We’d all be strays together; East Coasters discovering the wonder of the West, far from our families.
While I would NEVER, EVER call myself a laid back person, there are some things that do not stress me out. Holiday decorations are one example. Ditto that for ceramic plates shaped like turkeys, or serverware in orange or brown color schemes. I am not Type 1.
Type 2: The “Who Gives A Shit?” (The Wu-Tang could also use this one!) –defined by the exact opposite of Type 1, these folks kinda can’t wait for the holidays to be over.
Buuuuut…Even though I wasn’t the ambitious homecook I am today (ie: not YET obsessed with culinary acuteness, wet moist meat, etc etc) I still cared about cooking a bomb-ass meal that everyone would swoon over. The natural born hostess in me, homebody, nester, and Queen of Pentacles caregiver, wanted to make the experience memorable for everyone. Combine that with my buy-in of NorCal’s hippie promise of communal love and spiritually enlightening gratitude? Basically, I wanted everyone to get drunk on giving thanks.
Queue the clock. It’s almost midnight. The turkey has just come out of the oven. The sky is black outside. The house smells incredible, but I’m immune because I’ve been cooking for the past 8 hours. (Most of*) my comrades have all passed out from having drunk too many beers (read: an entire 36 pack of bud light) while sitting in a hot tub located inside a garage. They are not sleeping so much as they are spilled on their beds like strewn clothing shed in the heat of a passionate moment. I am slapping them awake, forcing them to the table. At one point, I dragged one of these human beings by his feet across the floor to get him to the table.
(NOTE: I’ve blurred this image to protect the identities of my comrades. Besides, the two Vikings who had passed out by now are not pictured.)
They arrive feigning sobriety, supporting their drooping heads with cupped hands and bent elbows, working hard to stay upright, slurring words, making inaudible and unintelligible jokes. I ignore this. I have bitten a hole into my cheek from chewing the inside of my lip during The Great Turkey Wait. It’s a bad habit. Something I do when anxiety gets the better of me. Which happened when I realized that one of my (well meaning) comrades turned the oven off during the cooking process, thinking he was turning it down. Hours passed before the gaffe was caught.
Queue 15 minutes into the meal. Still holding out hope for my vision, I ask everyone to join hands for a moment of thanks. I suggest we go around the table and each tell one thing we’re grateful for. Mid-sentence, a loud thud issues from the end of the table. One of my comrades has dropped his head, missing his mashed potato-piled plate by a mere inch. I burst into tears. My sober comrades issue, “There, there’s and here’s here’s” and we move on. Everyone was drunk all right. BUD LITE FOR THE WIN.
Queue the next morning. The boys are up and slamming the leftovers for breakfast. They are ooohing and aaaahing and oh-my-god-ing, until one of them asks, “Did we eat this last night?” Yes. Yes you did.
I wasn’t actually offended. I believe these kinds of life experiences make the best stories. And it was one of the the most memorable Thanksgivings’ I’ve ever had; especially since it was the first one I cooked up myself (with some crucial assists by sober comrades).
I’ve got many, many more TG stories to tell–and pics to share, but for now, let me give you this vid. It was made in part because of and thanks to a member of this original gaggle of guys whom I consider a very close and incredible comrade.
What Type are you for the holidays? What was your most memorable TG? Tell me! Tell me! I’d love to know. Happy happy to you and yours.
Thanks for reading. A la prossima! Ciao xo.
♥We nicknamed this gaggle of guys “The Vikings.”♥
*I say “most” because there were two gentlemen of the bunch who managed to remain sober and available throughout the ordeal.Read More