self care and feeding

When I started this blog it was mostly to share my journey of healthy, affordable eating. When I started really sharing about that journey however, past the recipes and the cost per serving, I found that my journey was really one from dieting to feeding. I write about it in this blog post. So its apparent to me that at its essence, feeding myself (versus simply eating) is an act of self-care. That’s why it matters that the vegetables are fresh, that the smell of the herbs or citrus evoke a lasting memory, that the senses are involved.

In my internet surfing, I came across a new individual, Cheryl Rogers, who is writing about extreme self-care. I wanted to share this particular post from her site. She has written a book entitled Extreme Self Care and the title called my attention. Its her weekly newsletter and this is the first one of the new year (2009). Be sure to scroll all the way down to “Topic of the Week.” I especially wanted to share number 4. Number 2 also resonated with me. I like all of them! Thank you Cheryl!

Also be sure to check out my new links on self-care! which is very closely connected to spiritual connections in my experience.

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small farms, women and local production

well, anyone who has read the “about” section of this blog must know that part of the impetus for starting it was a growing concern on my part about my food supply–that is, the source of the food i purchase, cook and feed my family with.

So I am definitely juiced by this article from Gourmet magazine. Thank you to friend Lorrie King for fowarding to me. The news nuggets are:

  •  a sharp increase in small farms since 2007.  These farms seem really small…as in less than $1000 in sales (is that annual?)
  • further concentration in large farm production (so now only 125,000 farms produce 75% of our agricultural production). As Michael Pollan noted, our food diversity has shrunk to only four major sources including soy, wheat, and corn. We subsidize these crops and as a result they end up as the basis of cheap, processed food. These large farms are largely involved in the production of these staple goods.
  • and an increase in the number of woman farmers (or farm operators). The article seems to indicate that the women farmers may be related to the rise in small farms.

Who knows, speculates the author? Maybe more women are takin gup the cause of a nutrional food source for their families and local communities. Women of the US, unite! Really though, maybe these women and men who have taken up growing fresh, diverse, local food can serve as more and more of our local food supply.

an act of creation

I know there are legions of people, men and women alike who cook out of necessity and may not have developed any other connection to it. but for me, i’ve come to be drawn to it as an act of creation. one of the few that i am able to fit into my lifestyle. i guess that is my honest truth.

today on the creation block–after a dreary work day–i did two dishes. Both of them involved the ease of tossing several ingredients in a bowl and then baking. The first was a brussel sprouts dish from (yet again) American Masala. Now don’t get me wrong, I have my own fave brussel sprouts recipe, sent to me by my dear friend Anne-Marie. But I’ve made it many times before and it really wouldn’t feel as much like creating as making something new, now would it? This one was pretty simple—mixing sprouts, apples, red onions and currants (i used a mix of cranberries and raisins) with flavors such as red pepper, black pepper, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt–and baking it with some butter for about an hour. You can add slivered almonds in it too. You know it was similar to some Thanksgiving sides or stuffings I have made. It was delicious, like he said it would be, though i would cut down on the number of shakes on the red pepper flakes. I am excited to have it in the fridge to accompany lunches and dinners this week. I have to do the math on this but for rough approximation I think this will turn out to be between 50 cents and a dollar a serving.

The second act of creation is pumpkin custard. I have been craving this for a long time. and i am physically miserable today and wanting to give in to my sweet tooth. it was beautiful, and simple (recipe here). It simply took about 15 minutes to mix the ingredients, mostly spices with a can of organic pumpkin mix, milk, cream and sugar. I then poured them into various baking dishes and voila, a beautiful custard i could cut with a knife. it was a surprisingly pleasing, subtle custard, mildly sweet and not over powering. would definitely do well in a crust, like a profiterole or something.

hey, Hay, and all things inaugural

we had a lovely day in DC today. personal errands in the morning; a fun meeting with a professional acquaintance; total great reunion visit with friends who recently came back from africa and had a brand new baby boy. i haven’t seen or been with my friend for nearly 2 years (i think?) and it was such a pleasure to have a real old fashioned living room visit and hold the baby.

The last few days, a swirl of thoughts have been following me. The fact that the Obama family has landed in town and something that is happening seemingly in my back yard feels so distant from the lens of the TV and web. The fact that my birthday is coming up around the corner and a few of my friends, particularly those in Philadelphia, are wondering what we’re doing since we’ll be there next weekend. and what we’re doing for inauguration day and with who!

So to make a stab at these swirl of thoughts, I decided I wanted to at least start checking out the “scene”…get a feel of the buzz and energy for myself. I started by taking my husband for drinks at the Hay Adams hotel. There is a lovely downstairs bar there, right next to Lafayette Park. Its really fun to walk down these stairs, on a side entrance, to it. It feels like a little bit of New York, open a door and a little gem appears. I mean, i don’t know if it really is a wine bar. I had just remembered it had a good selection of wine. And it still did. (I had a great glass of Sancerre). We had a Great evening. nibbled our way through some light edibles (quality eats including a selection of artisan cheeses), had fun conversation with some lively people at the table next to us and saw the Baltimore Ravens win the playoff. Did we see the Obamas. No. but we saw a big sign on the building opposite that said, “Welcome Mahlia and Sasha” (which i loved).

So for my inaugral post, I wanted to showcase the menu planned for the Congressional lunch after the swearing-in ceremony. To honor the new President from Illinois, they are remembering The President from Illinois, Abe Lincoln. So there is a seafood stew, then duck and pheasant and finally apple cinnamon sponge cake which exudes to me the earthiness of the persona of the Lincoln I perceive knowing. Check out the great wine pairings!!

More about inauguration coming up since I choose to be a part of the history on the mall last week.

Precious exercise

well a new year, and no new year resolutions on my mind. I mean, at least, not like I used to. Now, I try to just really admit to myself what it is i am willing to do versus things that I might like to toy with but not really be motivated on. This, at 40, is a relief and makes things less game-y. So, enter exercise. I need to. Its just that simple. My body only gained two pounds through the holidays. Before, I would tend to judge things from my weight alone. But my body and I talk more now. Its feeling more pudgy and sluggish and I notice i am out of breath a lot more easily now. We don’t have access to a free swimming pool anymore since its winter. So, i have been trying out using the stairs, both at work and at home. We have 3 flights at home and i have my range of upwards to 7 flights at work. I have been doing a few flights this week, but its not a routine yet.

Then, today I read this article on fitness, also from the lovely New York Times. I really love it. I found it precious. I guess it was the extraordinary acts with which these human beings responded to their circumstances. It is not exactly the big gesture that moves me. Its the fragility of their situation. The fragility comes in the attempts to engage more directly with their bodies, the fragileness of the tool they’ve chosen, which is exercise, within the situation of fighting a much bigger disease, to which exercise doesn’t necessarily have a direct relationship. and the rugged beauty of their dogged persistence in choosing the tool again and again. I sure wish i can become a person that can develop this relationship to exercise (and the juicy endorphins!).

I am going to close out on a personal note since I don’t have too many of these on here. I really celebrated 2008 as an abundant year for me. A year where I became more conscious and grateful about my life, the life-energy that comes with that, and my true ability to stand on my own two feet. Grounded. and yet just human. its a healthy mix and one I look foward to more. I also celebrate the growth in my marriage, of the time i had with my husband and the relationship we continue to grow. This year going foward is also full of mysteries. In terms of “goals and planning”, we seem to have the same ones as last year–start a family, find a home, align our sources of income with more joy and happiness. yup, still have those going into this year. yet, a tide has turned. this year, i know i am fighting a different battle than the one I thought i had to fight to attain my goals. This time I am more part of the equation, a co-creator in this quest. It is always a challenge remaining in balance, choosing the ‘right’ focus, and listening to my highest self. I hope to develop a more common ongoing dialogue with ‘her’. 🙂 i really can’t wait to attract certain professional opportunities in my life and continue making a loving space for family in our home. Happy New Year!

Winter flower

All, I noticed Martha Shulman’s new recipes in the New York Times are themed on cauliflower, our winter flower here in the north east. We just made our regular spaghetti sauce last night so the first recipe, with olives, cauliflower and tomato sauce caught my eye. I note the other ones just for diversity–one of them is also indian style. (Same sets of spices folks, buy them once and don’t look back):

We all know cauliflower has gotten expensive. Would love to hear how much you can get cauliflower for where you are! Also, are they the normal small size or the really big size (i don’t see too many of these anymore). Please share, and enjoy!

well i’ll be cabbaged update

Looks like the issues I care about are getting some attention! Margaret Shulman’s article on the cabbage was written in response to another NYT column looking at eating healthy and comparing it as more expensive than junk food. well, welcome to my world. My blog world that is.

Here is the column. They have posted my comment to it also. Thanks NYT! They also reference another wordpress blog in that article of a couple who tried to eat for a dollar a day (not sure if that is each or across the both of them!). As people who have read my about profile know, it is not easy and definitely takes commitment and time. I also have to caveat that I never fed the both of us on $30 a month; it was more like $25 – $30 a week. I was writing about the techniques I used to use…ah, the memories…. it was hard work but such a teaching experience! I will write more once I research any other interesting links or comments I find as a result of this article. Thanks!