Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights

I happily accept all stones being tossed my way at this moment. I know. I should be ashamed of myself for 1. watching this movie, 2. finishing this movie, 3. liking this movie. But you see, I was doomed from the beginning. Anything to do with the dirty streets and humid thickness of Havana, Cuba, I will love. Hands down. Not to mention that the lead dude in that movie is hot HOT. So when I decided to do a little freezer cleaning, one of the first things to go was the ham bone from Christmas. I don't like to throw away bones. I don't know, it's my thing. Its like my foraging instincts kick in and I must utilize all parts of the sacrificed animal or something. With bones, I am always looking to make a stock. Chicken stock, beef stock, fish stock... pork stock? Hmmm, it was so interesting to me that I'd never really heard of pork stock. Kitchen Basics didn't sell that one. Was I onto something?

I started with the same method I used for chicken stock. I roughly chopped a large onion, a few carrots and some celery stalks. I plunked the ham bone into a large pot because I was sure I could get quite a bit of fat off it to soften the veggies. I rendered the fat, then removed the ham bone. I added my vegetables to the pot and let them colour a bit deeper than I do for chicken stock, I thought it would add something. Anything. Midway through, I added the hame bone back to the stock. I lowered the heat to medium low and filled up my stock pot with ice cold water. Just like Anthony Bourdain told me to do. I let it simmer and never let it come to a boil. This was around 8pm. At 3am, I went down to the kitchen and turned everything off. I am not recommending you do this. It is not a culinary technique. It's worrywart laziness, pure and simple. If I weren't so neurotic, I might have let it go all night, but I'm the kind of girl who can't have something on the stove or in a crockpot while asleep or out of the house. It's never going to happen. Well, intentionally.

I let the stock cool, put a lid on it and stuck it in the 'fridge.

The next day, I had a stock with a thick layer of fat on the top. Because I wanted to keep the fat content to a minimum, this was the most fulfilling step of all. I could literally "peel" all the fat of the top! It was like being the best lipo surgeon in Hollywood and all that was left was dark, rich pork stock. I drained all the vegetables and leftover ham and put it aside. I strained whatever was leftover and into the freezer it went. Done and done!

OK, so while I used most of the first batch in my experimentation with Xiao Long Bao (post: "The Easy Way") and the glories of gelatin stock, homemade wontons and soup dumplings, I used the second for what I'd originally intended. To give flavour to my slow cooked beans.

For some reason, I really like practicing patience and cooking some foods slowly and deliberately over very low heat. Some talk about that "slow food" movement, but I think that's bullshit. It's just called cooking. Anyway, beans are one of these foods. I discovered the method by accident, actually... I hadn't "prepared" my beans by soaking them in water overnight, so I thought I'd just take my chances and simmer hard beans and see if they came out at all edible . I plopped a couple of handfuls into a pot of water and forgot about it. Literally. All night. I didn't remember until I smelled the beans cooking away on the stove early the next morning. Totally unintentional!

Dear Ed at State Farm Insurance,

You did not read this.



Due to my negligence coupled with the fact that I'd barely even turned on the burner, I was gifted with creamy, soft, red kidney beans. Creamy beans using only water! So when I decided to make this pork stock, I'd kind of already reserved some of it for making red beans. I could hardly wait to see the result I'd get.

Funny enough, I suppose I should have been keen enough to know exactly what I was going to get. It didn't hit me until my red beans with pork stock started to take on that soft, thick, creamy hand about them (the ultimate goal) that I realized I'd created nothing new. As the fragrant beans enveloped my home with a warm, familiar perfume, I became horrified.

Pork'n Beans

That was the familiar smell wafting from my kitchen. When I realized what it was, I burst out laughing. I'd slaved over what so many buy in a can. Buy in a can to feed cousin Cleetus and Junior. In my hoity toity attempt to breathe the humid streets of Havana into my culinary efforts, I'd managed to channel Appalachia instead and create probably the most laughable American side dish imaginable. No offense, Appalachia.

So I take away the humbling message that, no, this is not new, and no, Lesley, you are not the first to discover such things abut food and ingredients, namely pork stock. But I'll let the creativity keep coming and revel in the innocent wonder that comes from knowing a simple truth. That if you combine a, b and c, the result is divine. Not to mention, honestly, who doesn't like a side of beans at a barbecue? I'll have mine over brown rice with a bit of green onion, however.

Much more my style.


The Feast of the Jackass

"Just think, if the Indians gave the Pilgrims a donkey instead of a turkey, we'd all be getting a piece of ass for Thanksgiving. Happy Thanksgiving!"

I shit you not, I got this text twice this year on Turkey Day. I laughed once. Thanksgiving is meant to be a holiday of giving and appreciation. In my house, it's both of those things, plus a big up to Indian Country. For as long as I can remember, my Mom and I put up a protest fist of militance and wear our feathers in our hair. We are Choctaw. My great grandfather was a full blood Choctaw "Indian" and on Thanksgiving, it all comes out. Before my grandmother died, she would take me to the Poarch-Creek Powwow in Alabama where all Poarch-Creek Indians of that area would gather and dance, eat, and celebrate native customs. This just happened to be on or around Thanksgiving. I was obsessed with the traditional dress, while my mom always made sure to pick up the hand ground grits they sell only in Atmore. You won't believe me when I tell you they are the best grits you'll ever eat. If Quaker Oats knew about these, they'd be shaking in their silver buckled boots.

We'd prepare all the basics that would grace our table again one month later. All the usual suspects were there. An insanely enormous turkey, stuffing, candied sweet potato souffle, collard greens, green beans, honey baked ham, cranberry sauce, cornbread, pumpkin soup, seasonal salads, creamed corn and whatever desserts my aunt had prepared. We'd go the round of first, second and third (football) servings and listen to my mom bitch about how she wouldn't be preparing such a laborous meal the following year.

Though the selection comes very close to what Native Americans prepared for the Pilgrims, this year I decided to go deep and try a few hardcore traditional/local dishes. I am a self identified Locavore now and have been obsessed with eating local foods. You will find no bananas or pineapple in my kitchen, as I do not reside in the islands. No papaya for me, as it's not indigenous to the eastern shore. I am fascinated with preparing dishes that incorporate only locally available ingredients. I love my friend Aisha's lemon roll, but they don't sell it at the Farmer's Market because the lemons aren't grown here. That's a bit extreme, but you get my drift.

Now that I work for the National Museum of the American Indian, I have no excuse NOT to know what my Natives were eating come the first frosts of the season. I live in D.C. It's the District of Columbia now, but before the Euros got a hold of it, it belonged to the Piscataway, Powhatan and Algonquin tribes. For the most part, it was all about corn, beans, and squash. Even in the award winning eatery at my museum, all the traditional Native foods are served. Baked oysters with a maple juniper cream, grilled venison with caramelized wild onions, wild garlic and dried berry sauce. That's just from the Northern Woodlands, not even mentioning Northwest Coast, Meso America, or the Great Plains.

My mother introduced me to a new grain that I'd heard of, but had not tried, called quinoa. I'm sure most of you are probably already on the bandwagon, but it's new to me, so try not to judge. Did you know that quinoa is a pretty good source of protein, despite the fact that it's a grain? I wouldn't go so far as to call it positively protein packed, but it can hold it's own against its couscous counterpart.

I didn't make up a recipe for quinoa, as I'm still experimenting with it, so I will recommend a recipe that went quite well with our Thanksgiving feast. I will say, this as a side dish and be sure to have a good source of protein with it. Maybe this recipe has convinced my Mom not to order pizza next year. We shall see.

The Deal (per serving):
Calories: 165; Fat: 7g; Carbs: 23g; Protein: 4g

Where is a slice just a slice?

So, I think that one of the things I miss most about New York City is the water. Seriously. Firstof all, it's one of the cleanest in the country. It was never too harsh for my face and I had no qualms about drinking it straight from the tap if I woke up parched in the middle of the night. Also, as I think all are aware, it is THE reason why NYC has the best bagels and pizza dough. Not sure what the reason is, but NYC tap water produces some of the best food around. That being said, the single thing I really miss about NYC is the pizza. It's the best. Hands down. Now, I've never been to Naples, so I can't say for sure that a Manhattan slice doesn't outrank the original Neapolitan slice, but I would probably bet that it could hold it's own in comparison.

Since I've moved to DC, I have missed that single slice I'd pick up on the way home from work, on my lunch break, on a weekend walk, or anytime I was craving perfect crust, delicate sauce and yummy, gooey, mozzarella cheese. I've missed the anticipation of a freshly baked pie, just for me, right out of the oven, then right at my door. When I first got here and my friends would order pizza, I'd opt for wings. I don't like wings. There are a few places in DC that serve up a decent New York or New Jersey slice, but they are far and in between. My test? I order a slice. If they know that what I want is plain slice of cheese, they probably know what they're doing. Or at least they are from New York. Mama Lucia serves a good slice, but eat it hot, it doesn't bear well an hour later. They won't move into DC, they say the rents are too high, so I'm stuck driving out to Silver Spring if I'm jonesing. There is also the phenomenon of Two Amy's which I find overdone and overrated. Not to mention there are always children running rampant in there. No matter what time you go. It's like Children of the Corn, those kids rule without a parent in sight. You'll get a better pie and a cooler atmosphere for what it is at Pizza Paradiso, but that's just my opinion. Less pretense, less daycare. Since I refuse to drive out to Virginia for an authentic New York slice (this is a rumor, I've never actually visited Tony's Pizza in Fairfax, but it's supposedly the best in the area), I've made it a quest to bake the perfect pie right in my very own oven. I may not have a woodburning one, but I've got a Thermador and a pizza stone, so shake whatcha mama gave ya.

Herb and Dori got me hooked on this little Italian deli that hides in Capital City here in DC. It's like a little bit of Little Italy. I was always so bummed that Washington didn't have a Little Italy like NY and Philly. So finding this market was such a blessing, it's truly a gem. A. Litteri is on Morse Street in the middle of meatpackers and wholesale food suppliers in a very ugly part of the city. A very ugly part that happens to be a 5 minute drive from my house. It's a tiny little shop that packs a good punch. The walls are stacked to the ceiling with imported goods from Italy that can't be found anywhere else in the city and more pasta and Cento products than you can name. At the back of the maze of aisles, is the meat and cheese counter. You can get true Italian subs (rated the best in the city and judging from the lines at lunch, I'd believe it) and the best cheeses and sausages. I've never actually ordered baccala, but it's so fabulously Italian, I'll tout that too. Be prepared to be patient, these guys know how good you're going to get it, so they have no problem making you wait.

After trying the pizza dough at Vace (not my favourite Italian market in the city), I decided it didn't have enough salt. I tried Litteri's and was much more satisfied. For some reason, making dough scares me immensely. If yeast is involved, I'm immediately terrified. I should really try to get over that.

I found that the house marinara sauce at Litteri's was light and refreshing, something I dig in my pizza sauces, and saved me the hassle of fast forwarding my Godfather DVD until I got to the part where Clemenza gives up the secret to his sauce. I love a good margarita pizza, so I started out simple with mozzarella and fresh basil for garnish.

It's a total work in progress, and I think I'm on my way to finding the perfect recipe for me. My biggest obstacle so far is the thinness of the crust. Sometimes, I can get it to an acceptable width, but it's hardly ever consistent and it's hardly ever round. I heard a true Neapolitan pie isn't round anyway, so there.

The Deal:
(per slice)
Calories: 165; Fat: 6g; Carbs: 19g; Protein: 8g


The Linen Lunch

I enjoy a nice lunch. It's my thing. I am so very over shoving a fast salad into my mouth, at my desk, while simultaneously answering e-mails. At my former job, I would be mid-bite when Melissa would scream from down the hall in thick Brooklynese, "LSD!! Get in here!" I'd grab a napkin, make sure there was no romaine in my teeth and scramble to the fit room to see what she was screaming about.

"Where did this pant originate?"

"It's from the Alyssa pant, which used to be the Norell pant with cuffs and a 1" waistband, which I believe came from the Eileen Black Label pant. Pattern CH31. "

"Awesome, you rock, thanks"

You see, that was the problem with having an insane memory in a work environment where research just takes too long. Why look through the history notes of a Product Development Manager tech sheet when LSD knows exactly what you need? Who cares if she's in the middle of lunch?

That was when I'd decided to actually take my lunch hour out of the office. When I decided no more would I sit praying for uninterrupted silence in hopes of proper digestion. I would take my behind to a proper restaurant with proper linen napkins and Jack's became my spot of choice. It's a great little place right in the heart of the fashion district with a pretty diverse menu. There are regulars who frequent the restaurant for lunch and bartenders John and Liam know exactly what you like and remember everytime. My favourite there was the tuna burger that I would order without the bun, but with extra ginger-mustard glaze. I'm pretty sure this menu option was a blatant bite from the famous tuna burger served at Union Square Cafe. I've recreated this burger with a good degree of success and I suggest you try it too, but today, we're talking about something else. My new favourite. 701 Club on Pennsylvania Avenue.

When I first started working at the Smithsonian, I was at a loss for what to do at lunch. I'd accustomed myself to eating pretty well and I just couldn't go to Subway and sit in a rank plastic booth to enjoy my lunch hour. I'm a Libra, I need delicious cuisine, a good glass of wine, and ambiance to boot. When I asked my new colleagues where they went, I was shocked at how frequently I got, "there's a McDonalds right down the street!". Clearly, we wouldn't be enjoying our lunch hours together. It's a bit of a walk, but I started heading to the best place I knew in Penn Quarter. I know that area pretty well since my Dad's office is right there, so I walked into my favourite downtown lunch spot, 701. It's owned by a guy named Ashouk who owns a few choice spots in DC. They know me there (via my pops) so it felt comfortable and I felt welcome. Sometimes I become a creature of habit, so I found myself at the 701 bar several days out of the week. One day last week, I decided to deviate from my usual and try the black bass on the menu. It was heavenly. The portion was perfect and whatever sauce they used was divine. I started picking around to see where the flavors were coming from and found a delightful array of random ingredients that worked wonders together. It looked as if the black bass still had the skin and was sitting atop a bed of french lentils. Haricot verts, artichoke hearts, roasted peppers and grapes rounded out the mix and it was all topped with this mysterious, light and frothy cream sauce. I decided then and there that I had to try to recreate this dish at home. I knew I could recreate the fish and the vegetables, but I hadn't a clue as to how to attempt the sauce. After a few attempts at the sauce, it was obvious I'd need a bit more instruction, so I followed the advice of my dear friend Shannon. You don't ask and you don't get. So I marched right into 701 and was greeted by Will, the sommelier. He's a fan of LSD so didn't mind a bit giving up the details of the delicious dish.

So I tried tried again. This time to wonderous success. Only one catch. I ommitted the artichoke hearts because, well, they just aren't my favourite.

So here's what went down. I started making my meez by preparing all ingredients. I took a red pepper and charred it right on my stove burner on all sides. I peeled it, sliced it and set about a quarter of it aside for immediate use. I decided I'd prepare the green beans for steaming since I knew my fat content would be increased with the delicious emulsion with which I'd finish off the dish, so I definitely didn't want to sautee them. I sliced a quarter cup of green beans into julienne strips and set aside. I took about 6 or 8 red grapes, sliced those in half and set aside then measured about 1/4 cup of french lentils and set those aside as well. Lentils only take about 20 minutes to cook, so I started boiling 3/4 cup of vegetable stock and added the lentils when the stock came to an active simmer. I set up my "steamer" (all clad double boiler works just as well) and waited for the water to boil. The green beans and grapes would steam while the lentils simmered for their last 5 minutes.

Now for the fish. I took a 5oz filet of black bass and seasoned lightly with salt and pepper then sauteed on both sides with a tiny bit of olive oil. Easy, right?

Here's a tip: buy a travel size spray bottle and fill with olive oil. Use this to coat the pan instead of pouring straight from the bottle. It's like cooking spray without that weird chemical that propels the oil from the can.

OK, here's where you have to make a true, grown up decision. I am going to give you the recipe for the emulsion, but it is at your own risk. The basis of it is cream and butter, ensuring it's deliciousness, but increasing your fat intake. I used half of this emulsion on my bass, but if I can get myself down to a quarter, I will loudly proclaim that I, indeed, rock a party.

Gather together in a sauce pan 2 tablespoons of cream, a tablespoon of butter, 1 tablespoon of white port and 1/2 tablespoon of champagne vinegar. Combine over low heat, then emusify if you have the appliance or beat with a whisk until frothy.

I tried to plate this dish just the way they did at 701, so I took a shallow bowl and placed my cooked lentils at the bottom then added the haricot verts, the grapes and the roasted peppers. On top, I placed the black bass. Then poured my deliciously creamy, delectably sinful sauce right on top of the fish and let the veggies catch the goodness. I want to try this dish with an Arneis, but my insticts tell me a subtle Chardonnay is probably the way to go. I enjoyed with a lovely Chablis (chablis is actually a chardonnay, who knew?) because the typical buttery, oakey, Chardonnay is not my favourite, but by all means, experiment with what you like.

Bon Appetit!

The Deal (with sauce):
Calories: 398; Fat: 16g; Carbs: 22g; Protein: 38g
(without sauce)
Calories: 272; Fat: 5g; Carbs: 20g; Protein: 38g


The Salad Standby

OK, so let me tell you about my personal trainer. His name is AC and he rocks my fitness right now. I work out at a gym called Balance here in D.C. It's not your average Life Circuit rotation gym, it's hardcore. A bunch of rugby players own the place and there is nothing cute about it except for, well, the rugby players. At my first session, he had me push a sand bag across the basketball court, benchpress my own body weight, and run while he held me back with the rubber band wrapped around my waist. Not to mention the chinups, pushups, and skipping rope. All exercises at which I'm not particularly stellar. All with the exception of skipping rope. Every girl is a pro at that one. AC works just about every muscle in my body without me even knowing it. The day after, I am always a little stiff, but it's not so bad. It doesn't get brutal until the day after that.

I can't lie, the best part of the workout is the salad after. When I was working in New York City, the salad I ate everyday came from Metro Cafe on 7th Avenue. It was my own freaked out, pared down combination of a Caesar, Cobb, and Tuna Nicoise. "May I have a small mixed greens with tuna, hard boiled egg, parmesan, and extra croutons, please? Caesar dressing on the side, thank you."

I swear, it was like a mantra.

When I was courting the Godfather, I ate this salad almost everyday and it totally worked for me. The protein boost in the early afternoon was exactly what I needed in order to walk back into Ralph Lauren and keep up that insane, Fashion Avenue, Devil Wears Prada pace without morphing into a complete bitch.

A few years back, a friend of a friend opened Chopt. They basically expanded on the idea that is one of many stations in establishments like Metro all over NYC. Chopt offers the same "make your own" salad concept, but takes a mezzaluna to your salad so that scarfing seems charming.

So that's where I head after the gym for my freaked out Cobbsar Nicoise. It's like the Red after the J (a nod, Sarah). I'm already high from the incredible workout and that protein packed salad makes me feel as strong as some of those cute rugby boys.

The salad is probably one of the easiest salads to put together. Grab about three generous handfuls of mixed greens, drained and flaked canned tuna (one can will suffice), two chopped hard boiled eggs, two tablespoons of grated or shaved parmesan and a handful of croutons. Have your dressing on the side. You can make your own dressing, if you are so inclined, or just choose your favourite. I find that when I have my salad dressing on he side, I end up consuming really no more than a teaspoon or so. It's a good deal.

The Deal:

Calories: 378; Fat: 21g; Carbs: 14g; Protein: 34g


The Fall of Modern Convenience

I'm embarrassed for America. There. I said it.

Let me give you some background...

I do believe my 34th was the best birthday I have ever had. I just got back from an amazing experience in Africa. I visited a very dear friend of 28 years who teaches in Moshi, Tanzania. We did all the things old friends do when they haven't seen one another in a while... We laughed over white wine, reminisced about past shenanigans over red, and stayed up way too late for chicas in their mid thirties... She took me all around Moshi where I met her students and her newest friends. When my birthday rolled around, we took a 2 day safari to Tarangire. It was sort of spur of the moment, but the minute I lifted myself through the Land Rover's sunroof, I realized I was probably embarking on the best leg of the trip. I was in the Garden of Eden. Literally.

Zebras, Elephants, Giraffes, Lions, Leopards all living together in accordance to the natural order of things. Was the Lion the king of the jungle (plain)? After the kill of an unsuspecting gazelle that day, it may have been. Although we did get into it with an Elephant protecting its child and a couple of Monkeys that performed a flawless bait and switch to steal some snack packs and juice boxes from a few amateur lunchers in the park (I wish I had gotten a polaroid of that, it was absolutely hilarious). The kill was the talk of the day. The lion plucked up the gazelle, most likely sickly or slow and separated (ejected?) from its pack, validating the notion that only the strongest survive. After the Lion had his fill and other carniverous animals had feasted from the remains, in came the vultures to pick the carcass clean. I know it sounds
brutal, but it's all a days work. As natural as it seems, not all animals strolling the plains would partake in the feast. The giraffes were totally content digging on their tree leaves.

After a glorious game ride, we went back to our lodge where we were greeted by people from the Maasai tribe. We stayed in a tented lodge armed with flashlights, while Elephants and Leopards leisurely made their way past our tent. Needless to say, there were plenty of instructions to follow while staying there and it was advised that civilians not leave their tents alone. If you wanted to go to the main lodge, a Maasai warrior would have to lead the way.

You see, the Maasai live amongst the Leopards, Elephants and Zebras and have done so for thousands of years. They are well versed in protecting themselves and live in complete harmony with their wildllife friends. They are reluctant to assimilate into a modern (read: Western) way of life. Their traditional diet is meat, milk and blood, but as of late, there is less meat and more grain. Basically, they live in accordance to the natural order and are healthy because of it. The average Maasai runner is Olympic ready. There is no excess here. There is no waste. There is no carbon footprint.

Driving back to Arusha, I start to notice the disheartening influence of Western culture. The plastic bottles and plastic bags strewn on the side of the street. The Coca Cola bottles and Fanta bottles casually discarded. I smell the garbage being burned in small fires and notice all the western signs for beer, potato chips and other processed "foods". I'm slowly beginning to miss Tarangire and suddenly want to be called Eve and bitch about my banishment from paradise. However, within all the cultural confusion, I also witness people walking two miles with buckets to get their water for the day. Men dragging carts of heavy crates in wooden wheelbarrows uphill for hours in the African sun. Women with grains, vegetables and fruits on their heads to feed their families. Little girls walking miles on the supple dirt roads amongst the greenest of banana trees to go to school for half day.

Now, I have never had to endure any of this. I've never had to wait for water or sweat for food. My guess is, neither have you. Sarah and I had a lively debate on the fine line between helping and imposing that began with Maasai children asking for candy from the Muzungu driving by in their Land Rovers. Why do we give them candy? Because we are bringing something from our culture to make up for the fact that we view theirs as limited? What's the candy going to do besides rot their teeth? Yes, in America there are certain conveniences that make our daily lives easier. Certain amenities that allow us to focus on non-immediate needs. However, at the end of the day, does this help or hinder? And, may I ask, whom?

Upon our return, Sarah and I had dinner with her African family in Moshi. Mama had prepared a traditional Tanzanian dish of meat and bananas over rice, coconut beans, spinach (that I should have investigated further, as it wasn't the spinach I was used to albeit utterly delicious). She had undoubtedly cooked for a good amount of time to welcome me to Tanzania. Baba had killed a rooster for the feast and had not let us see. There was no easy way out. No convenience that made the effort less than what it should be. I was humbled that they had gone to such lengths to welcome me to their home. Needless to say, the meal was incredible and made me feel at home, somewhere I would return shortly thereafter.

I got off the plane at Dulles and was appalled at the difference. One of my questions in Africa had been answered. Our conveniences have bred an apathetic and lazy people. There were obese people everywhere, huffing and puffing to get to their gates. Being driven by those beeping carts that seem to almost run you over at any given airport. The only food options being fast and fried. Burger King, Dunkin Donuts, Chick Fil A, Five Guys. A six year old, way too big for her age, was being pushed in a stroller, while her chubby legs and feet dragged on the ground. Note to readers: If you have an overweight child whose feet drag on the ground from her stroller, that is a HUGE sign that she doesn't need to be in that stroller. She needs to WALK. Run, actually.

I was born in 1975. I grew up in the 80s and 90s. I can remember when microwaves were new and my grandfather was insistent that I not stand in front of it because the rays would kill me. I can remember when takeout was rare and fast food was something little kids got after a morning of intense exercise. It was not dinner on a Tuesday.

As I watch my fellow Americans gorge themselves on krispy kreme cheeseburgers and microwave meals, I am disgusted. We've become so jaded and so apathetic that we can't even recognize decent, honest food anymore. There is a commercial out that touts real, true, chinese takeout in less than 10 minutes from your microwave. Seriously? If you think you are too busy to go down to the Fung Wah for some takout lo mein, then you need to re-evaluate your priorities. You just aren't that slammed, I refuse to believe that you are. You may be tired, yes, you may be so fucking exhausted that the very thought of opening your refrigerator to chop anything seems like moving a mountain, but you are not too busy. In the time it takes to heat up that non nutritional, glorified bowl of ramen, you can make yourself a healthy meal. So can we please stop complaining, explaining and making up ridiculous excuses? We all know the problem and it is totally up to us to solve it.

There is a horrible reality show (another product of our useless societal norm) that's basically The Bachelor but for "real people". Since when did "real people" translate to "fat people"? There is nothing normal about eating processed chemicals made to taste like food, gorging yourself until you can't walk and then calling yourself a real American. Then again, maybe there is.

Is this what we're trying to teach the rest of the globe? How much better life can be with the conveniences of the Western world? It makes me sick and honestly, it's making everyone sick. Literally. Yeah, I'm talking about the guy who eats at Carl's Jr because it's fast and cheap. The same guy who's rationale is that the fast food is cheaper than the fresh food, making it easier for him to pay for his Diabetes prescriptions. Seriously? That's the biggest circle jerk I've ever heard. Eat the fresh food, you won't have diabetes. I'm a Democrat and believe that everyone in this rich ass country deserves decent health care, however, I'm quickly changing my tune. Why should you deserve the best health care when you can't even be bothered to meet your health care provider halfway?

Get it together people. Take care of yourselves. I'm not telling everyone to live like the Maasai. I'm not telling you to walk two miles a day to retrieve water for the day. I'm just asking you to take a step back and evaluate the way you live your life. Asking you to take a look at they way others live their lives. Take back some control and be mindful of what is put into your body. Just because it's fast doesn't make it good. Just because it tastes good doesn't make it good for you.


Pretty Little Moose Killer?

Ok, so you've got to be thinking, "I dare this chica to link gastronomy and the 2008 election for President of the United States". But there is common ground, I assure you. I, like the majority of us, feel privileged to have seen Barack Obama elected President (regardless of political party) and I have just come out of the electoral haze that has enveloped me since late last August. I was obsessed with the election before Barack was named the Democratic nominee, but as soon as McCain drew back the curtains and introduced us all to Miss Sarah Palin, obsessed is not the word. I was mesmerized with so many aspects of this election, The Huffington Post became my daily crack. Arianna had morphed into Perez Hilton and I couldn't get enough. From "terrorist fist jab" and "baby mama" to "joe whomever" and "first dude", this was the ultimate in gossip, scandal and drama.

Sarah had barely gotten off the stage at the Republican National Convention when the skeletons started fighting to spill out of the closet. Among many, many other controversial outings, it was revealed that she supports the sport of aerial hunting. Totally living up to the horrible impressions I had of hunters in general. Bambi started off the uppity, democratic, liberal prejudice I'd developed against hunters and Cheney had confirmed it by nearly killing his friend, shooting off his face, then having the nerve to accept his apology.
But you see, I am a carnivore, as I have previously mentioned. I offer no apologies for enjoying a good flame broiled piece of meat every now and again. But how can I be so judgemental as I request gruyere instead of roquefort on my bistro burger? Intellectually I knew that meat didn't come neatly packaged in cellophane at the market, but I'd never been face to face, let alone exchanged greetings, with the meat I was eating. Could I be any more of a hypocrite?

So I became obsessed with ways to be a participant in one's own sustinance and my views on hunting soon took a complete 180. My views on Sarah Palin, however, pretty much remain the same.
I don't know if the woman eats what she hunts, but I've decided that I have no problem with hunting as long as you eat what you kill. Extra cool points if you personally prepare the kill with your own bare hands. My friend Beverly is that kind of girl. She's a sweet and sugary Southern Belle that has a penchant for shotguns. She regularly hunts and prepares her kill for a proper meal. Bev's ideology was totally validated when I picked up the book Jamie At Home by Jamie Oliver. The photographs in the book are brutally honest and exhibit a way of natural survival that is, sadly, often overlooked, if not discounted, in other cookbooks. The personal relationship and responsibility involved with actively and independently providing for yourself is something that most people of my age have no concept. Interestingly enough, the generation that is all too familiar is not too far behind. Those of you that are lucky enough to have grandparents still alive will know what I mean. My grandmother's childhood memories totally included going out back to grab the chicken that would be dinner that evening. Not "can you run to Trader Joe's and pick up some chicken breasts", but "go out back and grab that chicken, ring it, pluck it and bring it to me for dinner". Both my Dad and my Aunt Sanny have stories about trying to ring a chicken's neck with only their bravado and not much else. Anyway, point being, Sarah Palin got me thinking...

sorry, I think I just hallucinated a little...

Sarah got me thinking about my own participation. Though my views on hunting have shifted, I don't actively participate in the sport and there are no chickens to chase in my backyard.

I can't help but think that my grandparents, their siblings, and Beverly are all much more knowledgeable about food prep that I can ever hope to be. Who knows, maybe one day I'll be brave enough to tag along when Bev goes out for a hunt. Ultimate survival without dependence on Whole Foods or Safeway. Imagine that.


The "Easy" Way

I am an extravagant girl. I will admit that for sure. My dad used to tease me and tell me that I'd better find a really wealthy man to put up with my shenanigans. You could put three items in front of me (without pricetags), ask me which one I liked the best and undoubtedly, everytime, I would choose the most expensive. Though I have exorbitant taste, I also have a hard time letting go of money. Once you give it to me, I just want to keep it. In order to pay my bills, I have to mentally prepare for the task, pour myself a glass of wine, and take many a deep breath so that my eyes don't well up with tears everytime I hit the "submit payment" button.

I was having one of those "submit payment" days and decided that, no matter what, I would NOT go to Whole Foods and spend MORE money on things I may or may not eat. Nor would I go and purchase weird and off the wall ingredients for that lone dish I would probably only make once in my life. No. I was going to use whatever I had, no matter how obscure, to feed myself that night. No matter how long I had to labor to make it work. Unfortunately for me, I noticed that it was going to take a bit of brainstorming to make what I had in the refrigerator work for me. Whole Foods was starting to softly call my name.

So I was faced with a link of Bratwurst that would finish off the package, yogurt, some leftover pork stock from my pork and bean fiasco (another time, another post), chicken stock, leftover capellini, half a tomato, frozen spinach, tortilla chips, a cucumber, colby cheese and an orange. Thrilling choices, wouldn't you say? I also had the benefit of kitchen staples (eggs, butter, milk, flour, herbs) that could carry me through. So I took inventory, poured a glass of Rose (this meal would have to compliment that too, I suppose) and sat down to create my masterpiece. My FREE masterpiece.

I was a little chilly that day, so I thought maybe a soup would be nice. I'll use the pork stock? I went to check it out again and noticed that it was totally congealed. Wonderful. So I suppose the chicken stock would be a better choice. I was kind of over the capellini after eating it for two days, so that got eliminated. I wasn't all too keen on a spinach soup with cucumber. I was kind of hungry and didn't think a broth would cut it. The only meat in the fridge was that lone sausage. Do you know how much fat and sodium is in a link of bratwurst? I won't tell you, you don't want to know. Trust. Then the lightbulb went off. I even found a way to use that congealed pork stock.

A while back, I'd seen an episode of No Reservations with Anthony Bourdain (one of my favourite shows) and I think he was in Shanghai. His guide took him to a breakfast spot where soup dumplings were being served. I watched as the cooks made the dumplings and watched as the guide instructed Anthony on how to eat his without getting burned. I remembered that they explained how they got the soup in that little bitty dumpling and realized I could do the exact same in my kitchen at home. The secret was gelatin. The pork stock becomes like a gelatin when simmered for a long time and when it cools, it's almost solid. It looks like the same congealed mess that graced my refrigerator shelf. You can combine the gelatin with the pork and since it's solid, you can fill your dumplings quite easily. When they are warmed, the pork gelatin becomes liquid again and the soup is encased in the dumpling. It wasn't too difficult and I impressed myself so that I had to brag to everyone I knew that I had made homemade Xiao Long Bao, like it was an everyday thing.

I made pasta from an egg and flour in the proper Italian way. I know it sounds brutal, but it's really not that hard. It takes about 5-7 minutes to make the pasta dough and 10 minutes to press it out (I totally "borrowed" my mom's pasta machine). Once you press it out all you have to do is cut it into squares. I took the casing off of the bratwurst sausage and placed a small bit of pork in the center of each pasta square. I topped it off with a bit of the gelatinous pork stock then wrapped it up (albeit crudely) in the shape of a dumpling. I boiled the dumplings until they floated to the top and steamed the frozen spinach. Done and done! Place the spinach at the bottom of a bowl, place the dumplings on top. Add a bit of soy sauce (this step can be eliminated if you are really following the rules) and pour warmed chicken stock into the bowl Garnish with scallions and serve. Viola! The broth is soothing, the spinach refreshing and the soup dumplings burst in your mouth. Delicious.

p.s. I used the rest of the sausage for taco salad later that night :)

What you'll need:

Bratwurst sausage: 1 link
Spinach (frozen or fresh)
Pork stock gelatin (I made my own, but you can substitute a consomme with gelatin)
Chicken stock

The Deal:
(per serving)
Calories: 223; Fat: 9.5g; Protein: 13.6g; Carbs: 20g


I'm a Rainbow Too!

Every year, I end up on a beach on various parts of the island of St. Martin/Sint Maarten. Every year, I end up on my back with the hot sun burning my skin, grooving on a slight buzz, fantasizing a simple, barefoot, sundrenched existence with a bit of sand at the nape of my neck, a guitar and a Heineken. Every year, I question why I live in a big city (at least when I lived in Manhattan) when I could live right there, on the beach, teaching myself French.

Robert wonders the same thing. Robert is a familiar face that hangs at Brice Paradise
in SXM. You'll catch him at the bar with an El Presidente or fishing out in the waters just off Baie Orientale. I don't know him very well, but he always remembers me. He too, wonders why I choose the life of a big, dirty city. I imagine that he lives his life the way they say Bob Marley used to. I read somewhere that Bob used to wake up at some ridiculous hour, like 5am. You know, one of those random hours that's not inappropriately early, but entirely abnormal. He'd take a run on the beach, probably for miles and pick a banana on the way. He'd fish for lunch, lighting a spliff while wood burned atop the flames of a crudely built fire (wait, I think I made that part up). Robert fishes for lunch. He fishes for a lovely snapper and fires up the crude grill that's on the sand just beyond Brice's main shack. The grill looks like it may fall apart at any moment and you can't believe such a delightful meal will come from such a clear and obvious hazard. He doesn't need much, just the fish, a bit of olive oil, a bit of butter, and frankly, whatever else is around.

I don't think I've ever had a grilled whole fish the way I have it in St. Martin. It's always grilled to perfection and tastes just like the sea. Brice opens a Heineken for me while we all pick apart our fish; our toes in the sand.

There is something so simple and honest about that lonely fish on a raw grill. It always made me long for that kind of instictive self reliance. Fearless participation in my own self sustinance. The ability to get down in there, use what you've got to create a wonderfully simple and delicious meal.

Every year (at least until the new airport was built) I stand in line in a little yellow and green shack waiting for my flight back to the mainland. Every year I feel nostalgic and already eager for the next year's visit. Thinking about all the things I didn't get to do or people I didn't get to see.

But mostly I'm content. The trip was worthwhile. I ran on the beach, picked a banana and fished for lunch. Then I think, I wonder if I can grab a Heineken before I board the plane?

Here in D.C., I don't have waters to fish from, so I head to The Wharf down on Maine street in Southwest. One of the last open air fish markets in the country, the seafood is fresh and the atmosphere is honest and real. Cesar tells me to come on Wednesdays and Fridays when the fish is right off the boat and there are a ton of choices. Shark? For real?

Whole Red Snapper (serves 2)

What you'll need:

fresh whole red snapper
olive oil
onion (i like a sweet red)
lemon thyme
black pepper
cayenne pepper
lemon slices

Open your cleaned whole fish and season with salt, freshly ground black pepper and cayenne. Tuck a few thinly sliced red onion and sprigs of lemon thyme inside the cavity and place a few small pats of butter atop, then close the fish gently. Slash the fish along its body for even cooking. Prepare your grill and ignite your coals. Brush the grill lightly with olive oil and place the snapper on the grill. Cover and let cook for about 5 minutes then uncover and cook for another 5 minutes. Flip the fish and follow the same instructions for the second side. Plate and serve with a few grilled plaintains, rice and beans, or cole slaw.

The Deal:
Calories: 363; Fat: 10.7g; Carbs: 3.4g; Protein: 59.8g


Soul Food

After an emotionally and physically heavy holiday, my body and soul needed a good cleansing. My dear and highly enlightened friend Alexis mentioned that she was detoxing with a cleanse that wasn’t your typical lemonade and cayenne fast. It was a simple combination of liquids that gave you lifeforce energies in the well touted green drink and simple vegetable broth. Special teas and hot water with lemon that naturally rinse the body clean of toxins and act as natural diuretics were also in the mix.

I was eager to try just about anything as my mind was starting to feel cluttered, not to mention the inbox on my desk was starting to overflow as well. Cluttered space, cluttered mind? I needed a total overhaul. Total and complete organization. Organized space, organized mind.

So after a divinely chocolate brunch at Coco Sala celebrating Alexis’ 28th year, I drove straight to the market and stocked up on the fruits and vegetables I would need to embark on this week’s cleanse. Alexis usually does a cleanse every Monday, but I was in need of some major scrubbing, so mine would last five days.

Grocery List

for your Green Drink:

Swiss Chard



Sprouts (I chose alfalfa)

for your Broth:





Herbs: Parsely, Rosemary, Thyme, herbs de provence

I prepared the broth the way I would any broth. I grabbed my stock pot and roughly chopped the onion (I used a large red one), celery and carrot and sauteed it all in a bit of olive oil. I crushed the garlic cloves and threw them in as well. In went the rosemary, thyme and a sprinkle of herbs de provence. I added a little salt and ground black pepper and let the vegetables soften. None of this was measured, so if you're embarking, just eyeball it all. Once the onions were translucent, I filled my pot to the top with ice cold water, turned the burner down to medium low and let it simmer until about 2am. Considering I started when Gossip Girl came on, I’d say the broth was simmering for a good 6 hours.

Before bed, I prepared for the day ahead with a mug of hot lemon water (diuretic, ding ding ding!)

The next morning I was ready to begin. As I got out my juicer and rinsed off the dust, I became aware of how long it had been out of commission. I decided to juice all the ingredients separately, so I could see what colours I would get out of the fresh ingredients. The apple juice was a delicate apricot in colour, the cucumber a bright and lively leaf green, while the disappointment in the group was the chard. By no surpirise, it came out brown because, well that’s what you get when you mix complimentary colours. The gorgeous red streaks in combination with the dark green of the leaves created a colour more suitable for a suede skirt, (I say that because I have one in that exact shade).

I had been a bit skeptical that I would enjoy juiced swiss chard, but in combination with the apples and cucumbers, as it turned out, the green drink was delicious! I had just fallen back in love with my juicer.

The Deal: serving size: this recipe will yield about 6-8oz. of juice Calories: 77; Fat: .1g; Protein: 1.4g; Carbs: 12.4g

I strained my broth and stored them in pitchers in the fridge. So convenient for me to grab a cup, sprinkle on some green onion and go.

The Deal: serving size: 8oz; Calories: 15; Fat: 0; Carbs: 3g

While washing my juicer and silently patting myself on the back for being so good to my body, I noticed that I was rinsing out quite a bit of pulp. Since I’m trying to adopt some, albeit not all, elements of macrobiotics, I decided that I couldn’t let it go to waste. That’s still a lot of nutrients, is it not? Nutrients that should have gone into my body based on this idea of whole foods. I didn’t want to make anything boring, like a cream of whatever soup, although after the cleanse that could be an option. I wanted to make something that would keep until my “Life as a Better Me” kickoff week allowed solid foods. Part of me, I can’t lie, wanted to be a little bad too. Everything is okay in moderation, right? Isn’t that what this is all about?

It’s no fun being bad unless you’ve got a girlfriend who’ll join you. So as a thank you to Alexis for suggesting the path to follow, I’ve made her a little care package. Charlotte cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. A little bit of good and a little bit of bad, all wrapped up with a bow.


The Rules

First and foremost, let me preface that I am not medically trained and am in no way qualified to tell you what is best for your health and your body. I can only tell you what I've learned and what works, through experience consulting a nutritionist, in order to lose weight. As with any weight loss regimen, you should consult your doctor before you begin.

disclaimer translation: if you fall out in the street because you were following my rules;
so not my fault.

With that said, let me give you a little insight as to what you're getting yourself into... nutritional boot camp. There is no other way to put it. Some of the rules are non negotiable and those were the ones I found most challenging. For example, no snacking. Umm, what?? Isn't that supposed to be the new way of eating? Grazing? 5-6 small meals a day? I've heard that religion over and over, but this particular regimen isn't having it.

Prior to my meeting with Don Roberto, I'd gotten my hands on his rule booklet. I obviously can't reprint it here (no time for lawsuits), but after a once over, my heart started to sink. This looked completely boring and totally limited. Immediately, I saw myself eating the same boring breakfast, discontent over my tasteless lunch, and envious at what my dinner date was ordering at the new hot bistro one can't hide from in NYC. I suppose that was why it was so hard to follow in the first place.

At my first consultation, the Don put me at ease. I asked him about rules #2 and #6. "Can I use one of the eggs raw, one of the bread slices as breadcrumbs, mix with scallions, parsley, and salmon, brown it up and have a salmon croquette?"

"Of course."

I also took a few tips from that ancient book published in the 90s called The Zone. Remember that one? The one Jennifer Aniston swore by, the one that prompted her to eat a Cobb Salad every single day on the set of Friends for however many years? It has some pretty good points and, to be honest, Jennifer doesn't look half bad. The ratio thing is what taught me the most because it made the most sense. The ratio was roughly 30/30/40. 30% protein, 30% fat and 40% carbs. To me it meant that if you balance your daily intake of fat, carbohydrates, and protein, no matter the amount of calories you consume, the overall effect is beneficial. That your body would have enough of each component to function at a productive rate. The trick is getting the most bang for your calorie while decreasing total daily caloric intake in order for your body to burn off more than it consumes. All the while taking into account personal tastes and preferences. That is the only challenge.

The Zone is fabulous overall ratio and balance, but there are other components to what we consume that aid or inhibit us from reaching our desired goal. Number one is sodium intake. It's absolutely amazing how bloated we all are. Salt might be the single most effective way to flavour a dish, however, one sprinkle from your salt shaker is enough sodium for the entire day. How do we get around this? Getting our sodium straight from the food instead of our shaker, counteracting natural sodium intake with natural diuretics, and using more herbs and spices. Salt is an easy way out. Talk to me about cayenne, cumin, chilies and cilantro.

We all know candy is the worst and the calories are totally useless, but sugar is in so many things not typically expected. There are, like, 12 grams of sugar in skim milk. Seriously? It's just everywhere and all it does is turn into fat. Ice cream for dessert every night? Say goodbye to your bikini. Fruit clearly has a lot of natural sugar, but aren't we all supposed to get a little fresh fruit into our diet? Absolumont, rock out on strawberries when they're in season. It's awesome for your hair. Keep the fruit intake to a minimum and when integrating into your diet, have it in the morning. That way, you have all day to work it off.

Eat everything in its entirety. Basically, throw out your peeler. Every flower is innately perfect. So is every leaf, root, and fruit. All nutrients that a zucchini has to give is in the meat and in the skin. Every green carrot top has something to offer. The skin of the apple is the core of its gift. You get it.

Fiber is one that has always eluded me... I am quite honestly still trying to work out how to incorporate it into my daily routine without drinking some freaky shake. I do favour black beans and limas, so perhaps you'll see a few recipes now and again.

I've created recipes (in accordance to Don Roberto's rules) that are "Zone compliant", easy on the sodium/sugar intake, and as whole as possible. As far as what you might want to accomplish on your own, see my recommendations below:

1. Take a multivitamin daily
2. Add a co-enzyme Q10 to that as well.. start with 50mg, one capsule per day.
3. Restrict fruit consumption to breakfast and lunch.
4. Animal protein should be as far from the mammal makeup as possible. First choice: fish; second: chicken and turkey; third: red meat.
5. Ease up on the bread... pita is underrated and has a lot more to offer. Keep this intake equal to one sandwich per day. Breakfast, lunch or dinner, I don't care, but just one serving (2 slices per day). This includes croutons, tortillas, and everything that could remotely be associated to bread products. Use your judgement as per portion, but do not exceed the equivalent of 2 slices.
6. An omelet a day if you want, but I would use those eggs in other dishes as well. Omelets are for brunch anyway. 2 eggs a day is your limit. Use at your discretion.
7. Pasta or Rice three times weekly. That's liberal.
8. No chinese food
9. No soy sauce (I cheat sometimes, admittedly, then berate myself after, so try to stay away)
10. No soda, diet soda, fruit "drinks" or anything of the sort
11. Limited alcohol consumption (limited to me, is a glass of vino with lunch and dinner, thank you)

Know your limits and react accordingly. I am not telling you to restrict completely, I'm just advising you to be mindful of what you ultimately choose. If you have a dense lunch, ease up on dinner. You have a breakfast sandwich, have a salad for lunch. Balance out your cravings and make them work for you.


That Skinny Little Bitch

What do I want? Honestly? I want to lose 10 pounds. I want to maintain a healthy, whole, sustainable diet without succumbing to total gastronomic boredom and I kind of want to do it while not totally destroying the earth or my body in the process. I want to be That Skinny Little Bitch. It's almost a compliment. You know the girl and you SO want to be her. That fabulous girl you see wherever, in an elevator, getting out of a cab, wherever... looking totally radiant, glowing and completely sexy without even trying. I worked with one at Calvin Klein. I can't remember her name, but I can see her face clearly. Her jeans looked perfect on her because she was no pilates slacker, her hair was shiny because she ate that "good fat', you know, the same stuff that keeps your skin looking healthy and clear? Anyway, yeah, I want to be her. I want someone to look at me and whisper to her friend, "Look at that girl! She's flawless and it's not botox, gastro OR lipo.... that skinny little bitch!"

This is what I mean:

"I want to lose 10 pounds"

I am kind of over turning on the Today Show and seeing the lastest "expert" talk about the newest thing in weight loss or optimum health. Even more so the look of complete shock and disbelief when you tell someone that in reality, there is no magic pill or surgical procedure. We all know the answer, we just don't want to do it because it's boring and we're lazy. There is nothing divinely delicious about tofu and brown rice, I'm sorry. I really wish there were... I really wish it tasted like my grandmothers mac and cheese, but it doesn't. I really wish I were the kind of girl that could go totally macrobiotic and start meditating and all that, but I'm just not. I know because I tried. I fell off with a bacon, egg and cheese after a night when Suede (now defunct NYC nightclub) was still cool. I am the girl who likes the butter. I am all about a properly indulgent gastronomic experience complete with barrels and barrels of wine. You may have noticed that I have used that word twice. Gastronomic. Now three times. I want you to know that I am serious. That food, wine, and culture are all very important to the culinary experience. It's no joshing matter. There is no reason we have to commit to boring diets and odd consumption methods in order to keep trim, so I am determined to bridge Julia Child with the infamous Diet Doctor of Manhattan, whom I'll call The Godfather, because, well.... he's that scary.

"I want to maintain a healthy, whole, and sustainable diet without succumbing to total gastronomic boredom"

The Godfather. If you are privileged enough to be able to book an appointment, I can be pretty confident that when I see you six weeks later, you'll have dropped a cool 15 to 20. A combination of consistency, ratio (perhaps a few pills) and sheer fear (disappointed Dons are never fun) and voila! Manhattan chic! The first time I came across "The Rules" (a little diet booklet of do's and don't's), I thought, well shoot, I don't need to go to a doctor to follow these strict rules. If I follow these do's and don't's for a week, I'll drop the weight anyway, it's so matter of fact! Strict it was, and it soon became crystal clear that I would need additional assistance in following "The Rules" as I was quickly becoming BFF with Chico, the pizza delivery guy from La Pizzeria. We were having a nightly affair.

I made my appointment with The Godfather on the heels of my new hobby, gourmet cooking. French Creole cooking to be specific, thus I was quite liberal with the cream and butter. I was convinced that it was going off the pill that had forced me to buy a size 28 Citizens, but deep down, I knew better. It was the Creoles. So when I reviewed "The Rules" with Don Roberto, I realized that half the groceries I had bought the night before would go to waste.

So I started to play. Play with the ingredients I was permitted. It became a game and I was convinced that I could maneuver these rules to my liking and forever omit the lunch of cottage cheese, whole wheat toast and tomatoes.

I came up with some good recipes and managed to drop a cool 17 pounds in the six weeks following. Not bad. Until that one night when I found myself back at Suede with a bacon, egg and cheese and Gatorade in hand the next morning....

"I want to do it all while not totally destroying the earth or my body in the process"

OK, I know I said earlier that I wasn't the macrobiotic type, but to be quite honest, some of the theories and practices totally make sense. I read the books, most of them by Kushi, and threw myself in, headfirst, into this glorious world of optimum health and glowing skin. The respect for what is put into the body and the reasons why is undeniably understandable. However, I can only take so much seaweed in my diet. Plus, I'm a bit of a meat eater and I like it. Look, we have 7 carnivorous teeth in our skulls, so clearly we are equipped to ravage the meat.

I'd like to support local farmers instead of corporate conglomerates and try to eat what's in season. I'd like to eat whole vegetables and fruits, never taking from them what I want and discarding the rest. I'd like to only ingest ingredients that my body can process (it knows what butter is... it has no idea about Country Crock, so I'll pass, thank you). I want to start eating well and eating green whilst treating my body like the shrine it is and all that good shizz...

With perhaps a little Gratin Dauphinois and Chatenauf du Pape every once in a while...

So. I invite you to get back on the wagon with me. Play along if you like. Trot alongside as I try to balance Aveline Kushi and Paula Deen. While I live by my "modified rules", the ones that keep you slim and your tastebuds in good spirits.