"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" ~ Mary Oliver

Tag: vegetables

a winter supper . . .

flowers and candlesGjelina, a restaurant in Venice Beach, California, serves simple vegetable dishes and has recently come out with a cookbook. It arrived on Sunday and the dishes looked appetizing, promising flavors that might be more complex than usual.

Since we are wanting to pare down on all the things that we should be eating less of (red meat, potatoes, sugar and bread) I thought we’d try changing our mindset so that we would share a vegetable dish as our our dinner, rather than as a side dish to add to a heavier meal.

Michael Pollan, in his little paperback called “Food Rules” says basically that we should eat primarily what grows above the ground (greens) and eat less, stopping when we feel 70% full. Thus, I thought it might be a novel idea to shift our expectations and cut down by sharing a vegetable side dish that preserved flavor and that also retained foodie cooking flair that I would miss terribly if all we ate was steamed green vegetables! I took macrobiotic cooking lessons years ago and while it might be healthy, it wasn’t long on flavor or culinary interest, at least not to me.

So tonight, I roasted orange beets, marinated them in a sherry vinegar, orange juice, olive oil dressing to which I added avocado and fresh segments of mineola oranges, topped with toasted, crushed hazelnuts. It was satisfying and tasty too. Next time, we thought we’d put this dish on a bed of arugula and watercress greens.

vegetable dinner

Other dishes in the line-up for supper this week are cooked coarse corn grits (polenta) topped with a fresh mushroom melange and a poached egg on top; roasted acorn squash with brown butter and fresh rosemary and caramelized Japanese sweet potato wedges served with yogurt and fresh lime sprinkled with sliced scallions. A bountiful green salad of arugula, baby spinach, watercress with a sharp soy-ginger-lime vinaigrette might be tasty alongside. Or add some garlicky shrimp scampi to the aforementioned green salad.

To break the monotony, I did come home with a Bell & Evans organic chicken that I’ll brine on Wednesday and roast with potatoes for dinner with an old friend on Thursday night. AND, since fresh crabmeat from Maine is still available, I might make a crabmeat quiche as a treat for the weekend!

And so it goes.




a ‘jimmy carter meal’ part 2 . . .

jimmy carter dinner

Here’s our dinner in honor of Jimmy Carter:

3 vegetables: cucumber soup, creamed corn, summer squash;

corn muffins;

and a glass of cold buttermilk!

Made from vegetables from farm stands ready to go on a Sunday afternoon at home. I noticed that it was a delicious meal, made from simple recipes whose tastes complemented each other in a soft and tasty way. Moreover, there was not a hint of obligation to be “vegetarian” – no moral tone to undercut the meal at all. It was just vegetables, cornbread and buttermilk.

I’m thinking we could do this pretty often from now on!

The only thing I might have done differently would be to make the corn muffins from scratch than from a Jiffy box. But the muffins were very quick and easy.

We raised a glass to Jimmy Carter and to his wife, Rosalynn – and hope that their days may be filled with grace whatever comes their way.

a jimmy carter meal . . .

jimmy carter mealI read that Jimmy Carter, who has just learned that he has cancer, likes to visit a favorite diner where he lives in Plains, Georgia (Mimmie’s Restaurant) and always orders the same thing: “three vegetables, cornbread and a glass of buttermilk.”

We wish Jimmy Carter well! He’s led by example and pounded the nails at Habitat, worked in the fields and still teaches classes in Sunday School. He hasn’t just signed checks and made speeches as a philanthropist – he’s “been there and done that” for decades since he was President of the United States. At ninety years old, he and Rosalynn are fortunate they’ve had each other while sharing their life journey for so long.

And tonight, we’re going to have a Jimmy Carter meal for supper!

Our vegetables will be leek/cucumber soup, pale green squash, creamed fresh corn and cornbread. I’ll probably have a cold glass of buttermilk too! The soup has already simmered and is cooling on the stove ready to be processed in the blender. I’ll make the cornbread later in the afternoon while catching up on how the PGA tournament is going. And the squash and creamed corn will be prepared right before we sit down to eat.

I’ve discovered a way to cook supermarket corn on the cob which is not usually as sweet nor as fresh as that found at farm stands. But if one doesn’t have time to run around, it’ll definitely do. We husk the corn and make sure that there are no silk strands adhering to the cob; then cut the kernels off the cob with a sharp, serrated paring knife. (the kernels like to hop all over the place but are easily picked up on the countertop if you line it with paper towels.) For 3 ears, I melt about a third of a stick of unsalted butter in a skillet and simmer the kernels gently to absorb the butter. Then, I’ll add about a spoonful of agave nectar (sugarless sweetener) which is the secret of this recipe – others might want to add some light brown sugar. As it cooks and combines, I’ll add about 3 tablespoons of cream towards the end and stir it in along with Maldon sea salt and coarse pepper. The corn thickens slightly with the cream in it and I serve the corn in small bowls alongside the rest of the meal.

It’s so satisfying to eat simple meals from fresh vegetable bounty during the summer and in the heat, it’s refreshing to start with a cool cucumber soup! An added treat after our meal is a key lime pie that I made yesterday (G. squeezed and zested the limes!) which is chilling in the refrigerator. I’ve started whipping cream for the topping right before we serve the pie, so we’ll have that to look forward to while we’re eating our “Jimmy Carter” meal for supper tonight.

Here’s hoping that Jimmy Carter’s remaining days will be filled with as much goodwill and heart as he and Rosalynn have extended to so many for so long.

one of the “biggest losers” . . .

DSC_0735Today at the end of our Seniors Strength exercise class at the YMCA, one of the members introduced his grandson (I’ll call him “Andrew”) who was visiting from Vancouver, B.C. A year ago, this trim looking fellow weighed 323 pounds, his grandfather said, relating that out of 1000 applicants, he was chosen as one of the 20 contestants for the reality show, “The Biggest Loser” which began in May of 2014.

He managed to stay on the show for six months (the winner’s pot was $1M) but was cut three months from the end of last year’s series. It turns out that there was a consolation prize for those who were eliminated who lost the most weight at home by the final viewing of the show. And guess what, Andrew did just that, weighing in at 181 pounds and winning $100,000 which was no small chunk of change either.

When asked what motivated him and kept him on track, he said it was the pending birth of his son (born in October, 2014) and living long enough to see him graduate from school and to have children of his own someday. Andrew described how he learned to cook his own food on the reality show, making up shopping lists, and providing his own meals in addition to exercise and training. Now, he cooks all his meals for the week on Sunday so that he doesn’t get tempted to stray during the week.

As has been reported recently in other news briefs, what you eat and how much less you eat is the biggest factor in weight loss, much more so than exercise. Perhaps even as high as an 80-20 percentage (eating better to exercise.) He also said that when you snack on an apple, to add some protein to it so that the glucose spike and drop doesn’t occur as sharply as it might with just fruit alone.DSC_0015

When he got home, he emptied out his pantry and lost enough weight to win the runner-up prize three months later. He gave one metaphor for what to eat: which was if you’re stranded on a desert island, you would eat four kinds of food: fish, vegetables, nuts and fruits. That about sums it up.

What I found most interesting about the visit by Andrew was the discussion about personalized motivation. My husband’s mother is 96 going on 97 in October. Despite falling, eye problems and taking about 16 different medications every day, she is determined to live long enough so that her son, J., doesn’t have to retire prematurely (forfeiting part of his pension) in order to take care of her. They live in the same house across the street from us and J., my husband’s younger brother who never married, enjoys taking care of his mother in her old age. Without his care, she might be living in a nursing home by now. He has sixteen weeks to go before he retires with a full pension. You can bet she’ll be around to see that happen too, four months from now when she turns 97!

So, if you want to be healthier for the sake of your children and your own health, that’s a strong motivator. If you want to stay alive long enough so that others aren’t penalized for taking care of you, that’s another. For myself, I think I would like to have a healthy life with few physical ailments and see my children get to the age I am now and see how their lives turn out.

And more than that, I’d like to stick around long enough to be able to keep taking care of my dear husband, G., and myself as long as I can. Now is the best time to start, whatever age we might be.

Rather than forcing ourselves with abstract goals (lose weight, get healthier) identifying personalized goals can give us a sense of meaning. Which makes all the difference, don’t you think?

small victories. . .

You know how sometimes in the middle of the winter, you get a little stir-crazy and wonder what you’re going to do to be creative or productive? This week, I watched a show on “Anderson”–(the best daytime TV show on earth, in my humble opinion–and I’m not a daytime TV person at all.) Cooper manages to get issues before us with real life people and helpers who give advice that can be useful for a lot of people.

Take the fridge, for example. The show was about how to motivate yourself to eat more healthily. Turns out that one of the things you can do is to rearrange your fridge so that you put the most healthy, appetizing Read the rest of this entry »