Looking at the grocery store ads this week with their many offerings for Super bowl fare, it occurs to me all American holidays and special events are celebrated by eating junk and/or overeating. There are no days traditionally commemorated en masse by consuming salad. Or fresh fruits and vegetables.
You know who I want to cook for me? Canadian chef Michael Smith. I never heard of him until the last year when I’ve turned on the TV and flipped around (or rather pressed) the channels and occasionally came across his show “Chef at Home” where he is cooking in his (very nice) house. That kitchen!! Be still my covetous, hungry heart. He has this pantry stocked with glass jars filled with every kind of seasoning or extra you might want. There are always fresh ingredients in his refrigerator. He never opens something up, sniffs, and says, “What was THAT?” before tossing it in the garbage.
He talks about food and cooking while he works and makes it all sound so accessible. I can cook but I don’t want to go to a lot of trouble. He, on the other hand, always makes a proper meal with several sides AND a dessert. In the shows I’ve seen he is usually cooking for his wife and little son, Gabe. (Gabe eats the food happily and doesn’t throw tantrums or spit it out although editing might have a hand in that.) The food looks wonderful and did I say I love the way he talks about it? He’s practically giddy over the dishes (just like I’d be).
It isn’t that I want to be on a DATE with Michael Smith while he cooks for me (it’s not like that); I just want him to cook for me.
I only noticed last week that the shows I’ve been watching are from 2005! So when I googled him now to see who he is and look him up on Facebook, I was surprised to see this guy with a graying beard. But then, 11 years have passed. It threw me off though not unlike when I was a kid and watched Shirley Temple films – I was really surprised to learn she was this older lady named “Shirley Temple Black.”
I would not have guessed Smith was Canadian; he’s got a Seattle kind of vibe about him or maybe California (although the house and grounds looked vaguely like New England to me). He reminds me, in looks and demeanor of the character John Corbett played on Northern Exposure, the laid-back DJ guy, although Smith isn’t so laid back as that. Anyway, apparently he’s quite famous. So I don’t think he will cook for me.
I think sometimes when I’m around other people I eat like a squirrel or an inmate. If I’m at a gathering, a party or a wedding or a cook-out for instance, and there’s a buffet where guests can “fix themselves a plate” (isn’t that the best expression?), I have a inclination to take mine off to a corner alone, if at all possible. Especially when the food is really good. I see squirrels do this all the time; they grab food and run away a bit, behaving as if someone – perhaps even the kindly person who might have given them the food – is going to take it back. I don’t know that I think somebody is going to take back my plate if I don’t keep a close eye, so much that, in part, I want to be one with my meal. I really don’t like it if I have to balance food on my lap or worse, stand somewhere – that takes away from my enjoyment.
It’s not that I can’t dine with a group of others around a table – eating & talking with an interesting companion is one of my favorite things in life – it’s that I know oftentimes I’ll be distracted and not give the food its due. I’ll look down and my plate will be empty and I won’t know where the food went or have appreciated it the same way (as if I partook like the squirrel in the corner). Pretty much the opposite of mindful eating.
I also occasionally catch myself “guarding” my plate when dining, arms flanking either side protectively. What is that?? Am I going to stick my fork into the hand of someone who looks like they might try to take a morsel off my plate?! Maybe it goes back to inherited DNA from primitive ancestors, who really would stick somebody who tried to mess with their meal. Or maybe it’s just from growing up in a large family where it was necessary to make sure you got your fair share of the vittles. Still, I want to be a nice member of society, so when I notice I’m doing it, I try to make an effort to bring my arms away from my plate and act like a civilized person who wouldn’t knock silly any hapless person getting too close to her food.
I’ve posted about healthy drinks before. This one is loaded with all sorts of nutrients and it tastes really good! Generally I’ll use my Hamilton Beach© “personal blender” when I’m making drinks because the “jar” (it’s plastic) doubles as a drinking cup and it’s easy to clean up after. However, if I’m going to take the trouble to add so many ingredients, I want enough to make drinks for two days so I use the standard blender. Also– I can cram more stuff into the big blender.
The beauty of these drinks is you can use what you have on hand, so it’s not a specific recipe per se. The most recent information I have is that frozen fruits (and vegetables) have comparable nutrients to fresh and sometimes retain even more nutrients, as opposed to fruits & vegetables that have been driven around on trucks for days on end (before arriving shriveled at the grocery store). This drink provided, among others, protein, calcium, carbs, potassium, iron, fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin D. (Vitamin E, B6, Magnesium, Zinc, Folate from peanuts.)
no fat plain yogurt
frozen strawberries, raspberries & blackberries
frozen cranberries (I bought them fresh on sale in the Fall and froze them)
blackstrap molasses (known for iron & calcium)
brown sesame seeds (more nutritious than white, i.e., hulled ones)
peanut butter (with only peanuts, no additives)
flax seed (ground)
unsweetened shredded coconut
*A word on chia seeds. Chia seeds have been touted for the last several years as this amazing powerhouse of nutrients. They are shelf stable for a long time and don’t need to be ground before consuming as do flax seed. They have lots of fiber and calcium. That all sounded great to me till I checked out the price. They were expensive! So I pretty much blew off chia seeds – deciding I could just make do with other nutritious but less costly seeds – until recently, when I found a 15oz bag for $3. (I immediately wondered what was wrong with them.) My plan was to eat them every morning so I could get bright eyes and a shiny coat or whatever fantabulous results they offered. Basically, I wanted to go through them fast enough to see measurable results, if there are any.
Um, let me tell you this. Chia seeds are BORING! I’ve been eating a couple teaspoons each morning and it’s not that they taste bad; they’re just uninteresting. Also, they get stuck in your teeth since they sort of start to melt once they mesh with saliva. I’ve started adding them to baked goods because after two weeks I still have half a bag. After I finish the bag, I’ll revisit this topic to let you know if I can tell any difference (in me that is).
You could certainly add veggies like kale to the drink. Maybe raw spinach. One time I added canned spinach to one of my drinks and it was disgusting.
Some nutritionists would take issue with all the sugar from the fruit, saying sugar is sugar (be it processed or from whole fruits), but I don’t think so. Fruits may have high sugar but they also have so many other things to offer.
I always look at food packaging, especially if it’s peculiar or ha-ha funny in any way. I have just two examples I want to share with you now. I was so smitten with this vintage-looking showering potato on a bag I bought years ago that I kept it. I remember the potatoes in no particular way but he’s great!
On the other hand, there’s this fellow who was featured on a package of kiwis I treated myself to earlier this summer. He’s just…disturbing.
I’m a summer girl, which I’ve noted before. When I was younger, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) wasn’t in the common vernacular. Not like today. When I first heard of it and was quite sure it affected me, I checked several relevant books out of the library and incorporated ideas from them into my life, including avoiding the temptation to hibernate, getting outdoors for whatever daylight you could, exercising, and using bright, cheerful colors and plentiful lights in your home (on this front, I say “pah!” to sitting around in the dark conserving energy and electricity).
Doing these things helped a lot. In addition, I rely on other small things that help me pass the winter and make it more enjoyable.
Healthy, home-made baked goods.
I love breads, carbs, etcetera. If there were no bad repercussions I’d happily eat cake, pie, cupcakes, eclairs, cookies, croissants, donuts, and – you get the idea. However I’m committed to good nutrition and a pretty healthy diet. By making my own stuff, I can have it both ways.
Are these a for-girls-only thing? I don’t know if men get to wear these; I don’t think I’ve ever seen them in “masculine,” somber colors. These little socks for lounging at home are the best! They are SO soft.
A Great Scarf
I get a lot of compliments on this. I picked it up for $3 or $4 a couple years ago at a Ross store. It was between this and another color. But this was it. It makes me happy and goes with everything. I get lots of compliments on it and am often asked if I made it. I sense women would like me to answer “yes I made it” and I could probably make something like this, but I didn’t.
Bird Watching & Feeding
I keep a bunch of houseplants. It helps to have green, growing things around. I don’t have optimum plant conditions so I rely on hardier types. They clearly don’t much care for winter either, so I feel like we tough it out together.
Pretty Tealight Holders (and Tealights)
I like candles but have come to predominantly use tealights. They’re protected from drafts and less likely to burn your house down. I wouldn’t say you can forget about them but they don’t require the hyper-vigilance and fearful caution pillars and tapers do. I’ve acquired a couple great little holders from yard sales too. I like ’em with character, not boring.
The Modern Equivalent of Sitting By the Fire
Here’s another thing you can’t/shouldn’t leave unattended but I love using this little heater when I’m staying put. It’s the only heater I use in my bedroom and I keep it next to a comfy chair for reading, watching DVDs, etcetera. The principle behind a little space heater (this one is only 8″ tall) is to heat YOU, not so much the room at large, and that it does.
Herbal Tea That Actually Has Flavor
A Stack of Books and DVDs from the Library (If You’re Old-School)
A Brightly Colored, Snuggly Blankie
I don’t know where all the inexpensive fleece blankets came from when they started being everywhere but wherever it was, I’m glad they did! Seeing this color – which looks like orange sherbet to me – all winter is a definite pick-me-up. It’s lightweight and perfect for the aforementioned chair when I settle in with books or movies.
Nature on Cold, Sunny, Blue-Skyed Days
Getting Oregano to Marginally Limp Through the Cold Months
I have never much liked it when I was visiting somewhere and either the host or I put a plate into their microwave and I saw that inside the oven looked like a disgusting, encrusted mess. I’ve never said anything – I know this isn’t the sort of thing you’re supposed to mention when in the role of proper guest – but I always hate having my nice, clean food being in such close proximity to gnarly old muck.