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.
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.
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.
"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.
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.
Calories: 378; Fat: 21g; Carbs: 14g; Protein: 34g
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.
p.s. I used the rest of the sausage for taco salad later that night :)
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?
What you'll need:
fresh whole red snapper
onion (i like a sweet red)
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.
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.
for your Green Drink:
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.
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.