Health

Kitchari 790 xxx
photos by steven randazzo & bette blau (@whatbettefound)

2.17.17 Healing Vibes

Porridge is having a moment. It's grain-based and fits into the one-bowl meal trend. And it’s also supremely comforting—something we all seem to be in need of, now more than ever. (To say that porridge is "hygge," would not be a stretch.) At the Great Northern Food Hall in New York City's Grand Central, there is a Scandinavian porridge bar with all sorts of sweet and savory options. The latest addition to Jean-Georges Vongerichten's empire of restaurants at ABC Home, ABCV—self-described as "plant-based, non-GMO, sustainable, artisanal and organic whenever possible"—is serving congee, an Asian porridge, made with forbidden rice and millet. Further downtown, Good Sort, a vegan café in Chinatown, offers several kinds of congee, including a turmeric-and-coconut version topped with Champagne-poached cranberries. Porridge, a simple, easily digestible nursery favorite, is essentially a blank canvas for flavors and textures. Virtually any grain, from rice to oats to buckwheat, can be gently simmered in water, stock or milk—flavored at will with aromatics like ginger, chiles and herbs—until it breaks down into a pleasingly soft mush. What goes on top is another free-for-all: chopped toasted nuts, sprouts, infused oils, raw or cooked vegetables...

 

I developed a series of porridge recipes, the first of which is this kitchari, an Ayurvedic classic made with split yellow mung beans and basmati rice. I had such fun shooting with the supremely talented husband-&-wife team of Steven Randazzo and Bette Blau, who work together to create the most lush, richly textured images. They are masters of light and color, with a love of detail that really sets their work apart. We enjoy collaborating as our tastes—culinary and aesthetic—are aligned. (Remember this?) You can follow them here and on Instagram @whatbettefound.


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photos by gluttonforlife

1.17.17 The Death of Me

Aging brings with it many unexpected aspects. Some not so good, of course; the many indignities of the body spring to mind. But now that I am able to look back over more than thirty years of adulthood, I am fascinated by this new perspective on my own life. Only with the passage of time, and growing self-awareness, do patterns emerge. Last week, the untimely and violent death of our resident grouse, Larry David, brought a flood of memories and associations that suddenly crystallized into something freighted with greater meaning. I'm not sure how you will receive this rather unusual story but I would love to hear your reactions. Please feel free to respond candidly.


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Tagged — rebirth, memory, death
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photos by gluttonforlife

12.14.16 Holidaze (& a Giveaway)

Have you been sucked into the December vortex? Standing in long lines, eating too much sugar and feeling like a loser because you can't afford to buy all the presents are some indications that the holidays are getting the better of you. Resist! I say. Go simple. Stay true. Be calm. It's a challenge, I know. Just the other day, as I sat wrapping gifts, I was overcome with sadness. Both my parents are gone, what little family I have lives on the West Coast and most of my friends are far away. I never had children. I live in a tiny cottage and my home doesn't overflow with several generations. My life suddenly seemed very thin to me and, I confess, I felt a little sorry for myself. And I start every day with a gratitude practice in which I carefully review all my many blessings! What is it about this time of year that preys on our vulnerabilities? I didn't really snap out of it until my husband came home and took me in his arms and talked me through the realities: I am healthy. I am safe. I am lucky. I am loved. There is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way.


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photos by george billard

8.13.15 In Person

In one month, I will celebrate six years of living full-time in Sullivan County. We bought our tiny cottage as a weekend place in December 2005 and I never could have envisioned the life we would make for ourselves in this area. My visits to the city are now mostly out of necessity and the only thing I really miss are my friends. (Talking on the telephone seems to be a thing of the past and for those of us who grew up during a time when marathon phone chats were a regular bonding activity, texting just doesn't cut it.) Five minutes from our little hamlet of Eldred is Barryville, a town on the Delaware River that is host to our farmers market every Saturday. This year, for the first time, the market is offering hands-on demos from local chefs and purveyors, and I was lucky enough to be invited to participate. 


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Redbud 790 xxx
photos by gluttonforlife and friends

5.28.15 Spring Things

Do you want the good news or the bad news? Let's get the bad news over with. The beautiful little eastern redbud tree (Cercis canadensis) outside our kitchen window gave up the ghost. Its vivid pink blossoms, one of the earliest harbingers of spring, failed to appear last year. We chalked it up to the same late frost that destroyed many apple blossoms, since the tree eventually leafed out, its broad, heart-shaped greenery a welcome source of summer shade, But this year, there were again no blossoms and no leaves either. Further investigation revealed deep vertical cracks running up both sides of the trunk. Apparently, it's not entirely unusual for strong winds to cause this, though it certainly feels deeply unjust. The skeletal branches are a sad reminder of how much I will miss our dear tree, a friend to birds and butterflies, and a bosom companion to this solitary writer. Now, on to the good...


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just out from viking

4.21.15 Live Long & Prosper

Dis-moi ce que tu manges, je te dirai ce que tu es. [Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are.] That famous quote is from legendary epicure Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin's 1826 tome, Physiologie du Gout, ou Méditations de Gastronomie Transcendante. In the nearly two centuries since its publication, what we have learned only confirms this seemingly reductive statement. The rise of industrialized and fast foods—and the attendant increase in cardiovascular illness, obesity and diabetes—has brought renewed focus to the pervasive impact of nutrition on health. This is not news to anyone who reads this blog. Three of the basic tenets that are the backbone of my work here are directly related: Eat adventurously, for health and pleasure. Stay close to nature and explore its ability to nourish and heal. Expand your mind and your palate, not your waistline. So it was with great interest that I read Dr. Mitchell Gaynor's just-released book, The Gene Therapy Plan: Taking Control of Your Genetic Destiny with Diet and Lifestyle. Christiane Northrup describes it as "a godsend that could save your life." 


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3.30.15 Ice Ice Baby

Our tiny cottage has been caught in the frigid grasp of Old Man Winter for months now. His icy breath penetrates every nook and cranny, seeping into our very bones. The spring equinox arrived without much fanfare, just an incipient thaw that seems to have frozen mid-trickle. But change is coming. The light is different, quicker and clearer, and the cold air is scented with a damp optimism. Anticipication mounts, becoming almost unbearable. Before we surrender entirely to the frenzied bacchanal of spring, let's take a moment to give the Old Man his due.


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photos by gluttonforlife

3.6.15 March Hot Links

The guy who plows our driveway is not the sharpest knife in the drawer. Every time it snows, he comes by and makes a huge mountain at the end of our front walk. I guess it hasn't occurred to him that we actually leave the house. At any rate, after the recent snowfall, there was a wall nearly four feet high and almost as wide. It was so wet and heavy that heaving every shovelful was a considered effort. Such a sisyphean task is what passes for a good workout here in the boondocks. And someone in my yoga class told me to spray the shovel with Pam to prevent the snow from sticking. Who am I and how did I get here?


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photos by gluttonforlife

1.27.15 Squash Your Cravings

I turned 52 last week. It seems like only yesterday I was confronting the milestone that is turning 50. As much as I believe that age is just a number—as opposed to something that defines us, inside or out—it can feel a bit alarming when the clichés become increasingly relevant. When I texted a friend recently to ask him how his photo shoot was going and he wrote back complaining about "the concrete floors," I had to chuckle. Until being out snowshoeing for hours in the freezing cold resulted in my knee suffering from what I think might be a little bursitis. Tell me that word doesn't conjure up your grandmother. How do I weather the changes? With a sense of humor, a healthy dose of denial and a stockpile of resilience. Which is not to say I don't occasionally stare aghast at the loosening skin on my neck. But I think Nora Ephron covered all that more than adequately and so I'd rather talk to you about another thing I stockpile: winter squash.


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photos by gluttonforlife

1.6.15 Fresh Start

Happy New Year! On this day of Epiphany, the holidays are finally concluded with a resounding oomph. The weeks of chocolates, cookies, cakes, cheese, candies and Champagne (why do they all start with "C"?!) being relentlessly thrust upon us from all sides are finally over. I did my best to resist, but it's difficult not to buckle in the face of tradition. Who doesn't like a cup of eggnog on Christmas morning? Or a handful of sea salt caramels? Or a celebratory cocktail? Or a rich and complicated dessert to end a festive meal? I am not impervious to any of these charms, but the older I get, the more my body rejects them. I consulted a few different sources online and have determined that, in Ayurvedic terms, I have an excess of Kapha at the moment (you can read about the doshas here). So I have cut out all sugar and dairy, and am also avoiding fermented foods and soy. Even after just a week of this, I am feeling much better—more energetic, more optimistic, more rested. I have been making bone broths with fresh ginger juice and freshly grated turmeric stirred in; steaming bowls of kichari with a squeeze of fresh lemon; and lots of vegetables, roasted and steamed. For a treat, and to make the most of all the gorgeous winter citrus in my fridge, I devised an update of the Orange Julius that I think improves upon the original.


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