Keeping current in wellness, in and out of the water
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The movable feast known as weekend coffee share is itself on the move. Our gracious hostess Diana has arranged to hand off the coffee party action to Nerd in the Brain next weekend. We will still be a band of writers bonding over digital beverages and stories on the weekend. I am sure the move will not disrupt anyone. Thank you Diana, for finding us a new address to continue the party. If we were having coffee today I would invite you to taste some of the bread I just brought home from Barrio Bread. It is still warm, made from local grains, and crusty like crazy fire . I just had a smoked mozzarella sandwich, grilled, with all the trimmings. I can whip one up for you while you relax and tell me how you have been and what you have planned. We are very proud of this bakery, and would love for you to try our local organic, totally groovy food products. Our city is a UNESCO culinary heritage city because of our deep agricultural traditions and knowledge. I love to show it off to tourists.
It is warm here, and the peach tree is budding out. The grapefruit is still very full of fruit, although I am juicing like crazy. I hope you will help yourself to a big glass of ruby red grapefruit juice, with or without whipped vodka, as you tell me about your writing this week. Mine is rolling along, with the weekly photo prompt working for me very well. This week I wrote a short poem, still on the depressing side, a thinly veiled reference to current politics. The prompt picture was a fire, which gave lots of leeway. I wrote about pants and vanities on fire, since I feel this is our current backdrop for news in the real world. I plan to continue the once a week fiction with Sue Vincent’s prompts because it is inspirational to read all the other takes on the same picture. I do want to write more fiction someday. This is a good warm up for that day. I like taking a break from just the facts.
I am enjoying my correspondence challenge #InCoWriMo more than I imagined I would. I have gotten mail from several people I do not know, and a couple I know in on-line relationships. It is a blast to both send and receive the snail mail. Most of my pen pals have great penmanship and sealing wax, etc. I admire it, but that is not what I have to offer. My correspondence has enclosures and a little bit of art. My biggest advantage is all the cards and specialty paper I have collected around the world. I have started to enclose extra postcards so my pen pals can send them forward, and I get rid of twice as much collected choice paper. I also send a temporary tattoo and my biz card. Today I mailed some hollyhock seeds to Kentucky to a perfect stranger…Perfect!!
I send or hand deliver more than one letter a day. I may get carried away with this and just keep mailing letters until all my paper is gone. It is so much fun, and I do have the supplies. I am meeting people and getting such a thrill out of checking my mailbox every day. I guess it is like riding a bike because I used to be a big letter writer, but not for many years. If anyone in coffee share wants to receive mail from me in February please send me your snail mail address on this secure form. I promise I have no reason to share it with anyone and will only use it to send you handwritten notes and surprise gifts from my exotic stash.
If we were having coffee today, I would recommend the grapefruit juice and invite you to stick around to go with us later to the local beer garden and metal arts village where there will be yoga with a DJ followed by live music, fire performers, stilts, acrobats on silk, and lots of hipsters. We will rock the full snow moon in our summer clothing. It is free and all in the hood. Stay and soak up Tucson before you go back home. For those of you who want to read, write, or post this week visit Diana here. See you next week at Nerd on the Brain. Cheers!
The food holidays come daily, but few are as popular as spaghetti day. Pasta is popular all over the world. Kids can usually be cajoled into eating dinner if there is pasta involved. When I was a child we rarely ate pasta at home, but I looked forward to outings to restaurants where I could order it. I also had some Italian friends at school and Brownie Scouts whose moms totally rocked the dinner table. I connived to find ways to be invited to their houses to eat. The first dishes I learned to prepare myself in the kitchen were lasagna (my mom never made it) and beef Stroganoff on a bed of egg noodles. I believe I was trying to knock off some of my friends’ mothers recipes. Since pasta is such an easy and versatile dish to prepare I have been making noodles since I was knee-high to a grasshopper.
We eat pasta about once a week, but I try to vary the ways I prepare it. I have not made a lasagna in years because I am so lazy now, but I do bake pasta dishes for the same effect. Today I have an assortment of fresh vegetables that need to be used. I have roasted a butternut squash for sauce, and am now roasting a red onion for color and excitement. My approach to cooking is to use what I have on hand in the most creative way possible. I hate to waste food. I have parsley, basil, rosemary, marjoram and sage growing in my garden to use to build the flavor profile. Brown butter sage is a great compliment to the butternut squash. If you have not used this versatile winter vegetable to make sauce, here is a vegan recipe:
You can choose to use milk or heavy cream if you want those extra grams of fat and calories. It also works with vegetable bullion. Of course there are plenty of pre-made sauces in jars that taste fabulous. #NationalSpaghettiDay is a very easy holiday to use to express your inner chef. Wander off into trying ingredients you like on other dishes..olives, artichokes, garlic, herbs..Have fun, gentle readers. Buon apetito!
The first rule of cooking with kraut is like Fight Club, never cook the kraut. The living probiotic culture that gives your homemade sauerkraut all the extra health benefits would be killed if heated above 100 degrees Fahrenheit. The zesty flavors as well as the cool temperature are used to create contrast in dishes. Most people think of the Reuben sandwich when they think of this very useful condiment. Indeed, the use of cool crunchy fermented vegetables as part of a well stacked sandwich takes the creation to a new level. I encountered red cabbage kraut in use at my favorite food truck in East Austin a couple of years ago. The Juice Well hooked me on their vegetarian Kraftwork sandwich at first bite because the condiments were spectacular and made in house (or in Airstream to be precise). I never forgot how much bang for the buck one gets out of specialty first rate condiments.
Another obvious use we all know is the hot dog on a bun served with kraut. This time honored combination works well by itself, or with a fermented beverage like beer. I will soon be entertaining real live Europeans in my home. Real live krauts will be eating krauts at my house, so I am gearing up to treat them to some special culinary delights. My friend Steffi will visit with her friend from Zurich for a way-out-west vacation. I have some local places in mind to dine with the visitors, but it will be gem show time in Tucson, not the best season to go to restaurants here. We like eating at home the best anyhow. This is a vegetarian home, with no meat, but I am not adverse to fake wurst. In fact, fake meat is one of the only processed foods I still consume…my biggest guilty pleasure.
Today’s experimental dish, which I just devoured for my breakfast, is a baked potato with Tofurkey Italian Sausage chopped into pieces on top of the spud. I topped it with spicy and cool Cowboy Kraut from Garden Goddess. I am very full and happy with the way this tasted. I added some cheese between the potato and the slaw, which is cool for all of us lacto-ovo vegetarians. Vegans might add something else. The flavors worked well, and the contrast of warm and cool made it all the more satisfying. I know not everyone wants sauerkraut for breakfast, but my craving for the stuff has reached an advanced stage. I have become officially crazy for kraut. Do you have any ideas or recipes to share with me on my new favorite food?
This was our first time to attend the Iron Chef Tucson competition that is held at Loews Ventana Canyon Resort. We took our dog and spent the night to make a little staycation out of the event. It was fun, surprisingly popular, and full of variety. The competition was won for the third year in a row by Ryan Clark. The trade show and competition brought out all kinds of people interested in cooking and dining. A good time was had by all, especially the dog, who enjoys hanging out in hotels.
The trade show part of the even included samples, sips, and demos of many kinds of equipment, from knives to fancy stoves. There were vendors selling Nambe, candy, coffee, and even personal training. The most interesting thing I learned at the event is that our local food bank operates a culinary school that not only recycles food that would be wasted, but trains low income students to work in the food industry. This program has allowed the food bank to expand the prepared meals program in the community while training new students. I am so excited to hear about this. It has been in existence for 2 years, and this is the first time I have heard of it. I will follow up with a visit to the school, which is enrolling a new class next week.
One of my favorite vendors who installed a wood burning stove in my home is Val Romero. He owns Arizona Grill and Hearth. His company is an excellent source for all things grill, stove, and outdoor kitchen. My stove is the best upgrade I ever made to my living conditions, and the project was done with the utmost professionalism, and at a good price. He is a positive person with aloha in his attitude and fair dealing in his spirit. You will have a good time if you do business with Val.