Edible Inspiration: Week 30

As some of you may have noticed, my website was down for a bit, but now I’m up and running with a new, temporary look, and a brand new look to come in the new year!  Here are a few pics, take a peek.

1)  The crape myrtle (Lagerstroemia) blooms are everywhere with their inflorescence.

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2)  This hook.  It helps keep this lovely wooden cleaning brush in its place.

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3)  Happy sign in our kitchen corner.

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4)  The texture of this quinoa.

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5)  When you have a lot of hair and your cooking, tuck it out of the way, nobody likes long hairs in their food. :(  Try a messy chignon! :)  (Mine is especially messy, but you get the point.)

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I hope you all have had a wonderful week and a fun weekend!  Let me know if you have any suggestions for blog topics and what you’ve been up to in relation to food.  And remember…bite responsibly!

Healthy Regards,

RAM

 

Kitchen Letters #14: Reclaiming the Liquid Diet

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Dear friends,

Some of you may know that I recently had a pretty extensive oral surgery, the extent to which I won’t go into here, but let’s just say it wasn’t pretty.  I have an incurable disease called periodontal disease. For me the risk factor is genetic, meaning despite my most tenacious and stringent efforts to keep a squeaky clean mouth, harmful and diligent bacteria strike back.  Luckily for me, I have a wonderful support system and a fantastic periodontal and dental team.

The reason I mention this here is not to discuss oral hygiene–I’ve covered this before here and here–but because I feel it imperative to chat with you all about how much we take for granted simple actions like chewing, salivating, and digestion (it starts in your mouth).  Anticipating this surgery for months, I knew what kind of diet was on the horizon for me, and by pure accident I planned this surgery at an ideal time of the year; summer or a warm weather month.  Warm weather months are ideal for beginning extensive oral care because your body isn’t anticipating caloric storage and warmth due to declining temperatures in the environment and your body.

Too often, the ‘liquid diet’ is associated with cleansing, fad dieting, and a quick, temporary fix to what could be a larger underlying problem you may have.  I thought I’d turn the direction of this liquid meal conversation in a different direction; maybe it’s just nice to mix it up a bit, give your digestion a rest, and in my case, eat the only thing I could.  I’ve talked before about having comfort foods, eating habits while menstruating, and approaching your food choices with mindfulness, but today I want to talk about how a scary dietary change can actually shake your apple tree up just enough that you may find a few ripe, tasty bites you wouldn’t have found or looked for otherwise.

Here are a few recipes to help guide you through your own possible liquid diet:

Liquid Diet Tips:

  • Be prepared.  Stocking up on what you may need is key.
  • Pick out some recipes ahead of time.  Here are some tips on general meal planning.  This is a great chance to expand your palette, widen your recipe horizons and get some fresh, new ideas.
  • Pay attention to time.  Don’t underestimate the time you may need to prepare a smoothie. Sometimes getting out ingredients and using a new recipe is more time consuming than you’d think.
  • Have a few large jars on hand.  I use Ball mason jars; the lining of the lid is BPA free.
  • Have a nice deep bowl and your favorite spoon around for tasty soups.
  • Try to sneak greens in somewhere.  I like to toss handfuls of greens into smoothies, drink chlorophyll, drink green juices.  Love them, can’t live without them.
  • If you’re in a situation where your immune system is compromised, eat your way to a stronger immune system.

I’ve healed since the surgery and I’m happy to say that despite the necessity to drink only liquid, I’m continuing to partake in lovely liquid noms.  What are some of your favorite recipes for juices, smoothies, teas, and soups?  Have any tips or thoughts? I’d love to hear them in the comments (below) or under the hashtag #kitchenletters and take a look at previous Kitchen Letters.  And remember…bite responsibly!

Healthy and Sunny Regards,

RAM

 

 

Noshed in a Book: Live or Die & The First Biography of Joan of Arc

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I added a surprise second selection for this particular Noshed in a Book post.  Most of the time, before I begin reading a book, I take some time to ponder the title and what it may or may not mean in relationship to the text.  Collections of poetry are no exception to this rule, and, I would have to say, heighten a stronger sense of my analytical self than prose.  Then of course there’s biographical books, which often–not always–follow a restrictive naming; the reader needs to grasp the purpose of the book immediately.  Oddly enough, reading Live or Die by Anne Sexton unfolded a series of poems that revealed the true meaning behind the title, but The First Biography of Joan of Arc–my surprise additional reading for this post–did not deliver on the title.  Titles are important, but maybe this was a lesson for me and us all that you can’t judge a book by its title, and if you do, expect to be surprised and don’t be disappointed if you’re not.  Let’s dive in!

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Live or Die by Anne Sexton

A series of poems that are organized chronologically, which for better or worse focus on our delicate relationship with not just death, but life as well.  My approach to poetry is one that is unpracticed because I tend to not read collection after collection, instead spreading out poetry collections over time.  Also, there’s a level of apprehension I have when reading poetry.  Each word is precisely chosen and I often fret about not giving due time to each poem and respecting its pacing and structure.  Anne Sexton’s writing is remarkable and flows and I didn’t once feel overwhelmed by the direction or pacing of her poems.  Just some of the topics Sexton touches on in this series are dreams, womanhood, death of love, death of literal life, mother and daughter confessions, and bones.  Here are a few excerpts that moved me.

 “Awake, I memorized dreams.

Dreams came into the ring

like third string fighters,

each one a bad bet

who might win

because there was no other.”


 

“I was tired of being a woman,

tired of the spoons and the pots,

tired of my mouth and my breasts,

tired of the cosmetics and the silks.

There were still men who sat at my table,

circled around the bowl I offered up.

The bowl was filled with purple grapes

and the flies hovered in for the scent

and even my father came with his white bone.

But I was tired of the gender of things.”


 

“Death’s a sad bone; bruised, you’d say,

and yet she waits for me, year after year,

to so delicately undo an old wound,

to empty my breath from its bad prison.”


 

“If I’m on fire they dance around it

and cook marshmallows.

And if I’m ice

they simply skate on me

in little ballet costumes.”

Additionally, I recommend checking out these particular poems in their entirety:  Mother and Jack and the Rain; Christmas Eve

The First Biography of Joan of Arc by Daniel Rankin and Claire Quintal

A book that is by no means a page turner, but by all accounts clear and concise in its diction, this text outlines the life of Joan of Arc–know as the “Maid”–a heroine of the fifteenth century who led and structured a siege in order to take back France from England during the Hundred Years War.  Only a teenager at the time of her leadership of the French Army–behind King Charles the VII–and at the time of her horrendous death–she was burned alive–Joan of Arc stands as a figure of bravery and as a trailblazing representative of the “YOLO” concept before it was ever a concept.  She lived her life for a purpose and broke through many class and gender barriers to be the figure she was for the people of her time and generations after.  This book, as I stated earlier, did not deliver on its title.  Maybe my expectation was too simplistic, but I wanted a straightforward description of her life up front with factual information pieced in categorically after this.  I feel like I have come to know more details about Joan from other sources over the years, but this book did a great job of outlining sources of materials and chronology.  Here are a few quotes from the texts that may intrigue you.

“You believe, gentlemen that because I am a woman, I do not know how to conceal a secret.  For your information I know every detail you have discussed.  Here I give you my pledge–I WILL NEVER REVEAL PLANS WHICH ARE TO BE KEPT SECRET.”


 

“The Maid has made use of magic and diabolic cunning.  She is a heretic.”


 

“For some time past it has been known to all and it is notorious that a woman who insisted on being called Joan the Maid, discarding the garb and vesture of the female sex, an act repugnant and forbidden by all law, a deed contrary to Divine Law and abhorrent to God, put on and wore men’s garments and likewise armed herself as a man.”


 

“As soon as her armor was made she put it on, went out into the fields of Poitiers with other armed combatants where she handled her lance as well or better than any man there.  She rode spirited chargers, the capricious ones that no one else dared mount without fear.”


 

“Without the presence of Joan of Arc it seems certain that the courage and stamina of the soldiers marching toward Reims would have dissolved into a speedy disaster.”

 

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Recipe Inspiration

As for edibles, I decided to make a piña collada smoothie.  This all started a few weeks ago, on a Friday evening, in the midst of pizza making.  All of a sudden I started thinking about piña colladas, and how I HAD to have one.  The Mr. and I started to scour the kitchen for all of the basic ingredients and had to improvise.  Let’s just say, after extra handfuls of ice and almond milk it was eventually edible. This culinary experimentation got me thinking about how I wanted to do this the right way, with or without the buzz.  Although it has been noted that Anne Sexton liked Dry Martinis and taking on the town with Sylvia Plath, I can’t help but feel she too would have loved the indulgence of a tropical treat every once in awhile, especially in the summer.  As for The First Biography of Joan of Arc, well, some of you may need something to liven up your day after this dry read and perhaps even have a lively discussion on women’s cultural icons with your gals.  Either way, enjoy the treat!

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Piña Collada Smoothie with  Mango (animal-product-free, gluten-free, soy-free)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup coconut milk (from a can)
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1 heaping cup fresh or frozen pineapple
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen mango chunks
  • 1/4 tsp Madagascar vanilla extract
  • 1/2 -3/4 cup ice cubes
  • 1 full dropper of liquid stevia (or to taste)
  • Cherries(frozen or fresh) and dried coconut for garnish

Instructions

  1.  Pour liquid ingredients into blender first, then add frozen fruit, vanilla extract, ice cubes and the sweetener
  2. Blend well until creamy
  3. Garnish with cherries and dried coconut
  4. Enjoy in your favorite glass

Notes:

  • Spike at will with your choice of rum, or if you’re my husband and there’s not rum around, use whiskey (don’t get me started, haha)

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Poetry and history have a differing tone that’s unmistakable, but reading the voice of a strong woman followed up by reading about the voice of another strong woman, was both inspiring and empowering.   When you read these books, what tasty treats come to mind and what are some of your favorite Anne Sexton poems or excerpts?  Know any special factoids about Joan of Arc?  I can’t wait to hear from you all.  Share your #noshedinabook pics and thoughts and check out more Noshed in a Book posts.  Join me in my next reading selection, The First Bad Man by Miranda July.  And remember…bite responsibly!

Healthy Regards,

 

RAM

 

 

 

Kitchen Letters #13 : Meal Planning

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Dear thoughtful readers,

I told you I would write to you about  meal planning–I know it’s been a while–and I’m here today to do this very thing!  Approaching meal planning has been a task I’ve had to wrangle myself in, to do.  I have weeks where the weekend escapes me and a meal plan is never made. Then there are the weeks when I’m able to sit down and sift my mind through simple ideas for meals that would be easy to approach, are not time-consuming and won’t require excessive meal prep.

Meal Planning Tips:

  • Take inventory, either physically or mentally, of what you have in stock.  I like to take a quick peek into our refrigerator, produce baskets and our cupboards.  When I began meal planning, I would write all the unique produce items in our refrigerator, as those were the items I felt most likely to forget about.
  • Organize your week’s meals by longevity of foodstuffs, schedule for the week, and who’s preparing what–if you’re in a multi-person home.  On that note…
  • Plan meals based around who will be preparing the meal and what their skill level or interest in cooking is.
  • Decide on the number of days you would like to plan.  I decided on just week days, as time is most restrictive on week days for us now.
  • Decide on the meals  you want to plan; breakfast, lunch & dinner.  I decided to just plan dinners, as the evenings can be the most hectic in our home.
  • Consider the time of year.  Most of our meals are seasonally based because of the produce contained in our C.S.A. box.  Consider the produce that is in season and how hot your kitchen might become after the preparation of a certain meal.  In Texas, the Spring arrests the idea of preparing meals that require too much heat.  Creativity comes into play in the Summer when baking veggies and dishes in the oven produces a sense of dread from the heat wave that accompanies the prep and cooking process.
  • If you know you have a busy month coming up, plan.
  • Have realistic and non-judgemental expectations about the types of meals you can prepare.
  • Search for recipes and organize them using an online tool such as pinterest.
  • Know your audience.  Make food that’s appropriate for who you’re cooking for, and your life will be much easier.  Keep in mind food allergies, sensitivities and preferences.
  • Start with what you have.  Most of us have to semi-regularly restock our pantry with our staple items, but try to plan your meals around what you have on a regular basis.
  • Create a base grocery list and adjust as needed.
  • Buy what you need and eat what you buy.  (When I was a little girl, I have a vivid memory of being in Epcot Center at one of the Italian restaurants and I wanted a big plate of spaghetti, far more than I could have possibly handled–I may have channeled The Lady and the Tramp.  My Papa (pawpaw) told me my eyes were bigger than my stomach and he was right.  They had a big box of left-overs that night.)
  • Find a method of keeping track of your planned meals and stick to it. I’m a paper and pen gal, so I just cut up some scrap paper, draw some lines, label the days of the week, and go for it.
  • Find a way to make it fun.  Planning meals should help make your life easier and less stressful, not more.  Don’t put too much pressure on yourself when you first start.

I hope meal planning this summer makes for a happier you, and remember..bite responsibly!

 

Healthy & Happy Summer Regards,

RAM

 

Edible Inspiration: Week 29

Some of the things that made my week in saturated color. Check it out!

1)On my last liquid-only day, I enjoyed this green pineapple smoothie.

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2)These spices helped make a delicious Baingan Bharta dish that turned out quite toothsome.

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3)  Cutting up carrots to steam and mash.  Tasty taste.

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4)Grateful for this ginger knob this week.  I’m in love with ginger (nothing new there. :p)

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5)A beautiful walking path to catch some D.

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The wind has picked up and the sun is shinning more regularly with less breaks in the clouds for rain.  Take a walk in the sunshine!  Share some of your #edibleinspiration pics with me and check out more Edible Inspiration.  Sending you all happy, healthy vibes for the weekend, and remember…bite responsibly!

Healthy Regards,

RAM

Edible Inspiration: Week 28

Not my tip-top today, but here’s a look back at my week.

1)  These scrumptious Belgian waffles (gluten free and animal product free) made by the Mr.  It was a crunchy swan song–as some of you know I won’t be eating solids for a while.  These tasties were covered in crunchy peanut butter.

eiwk28_12)  Organic cherries…thank you summer, thank you farmers.

eiwk28_23) A cozy resting spot for the next few days.

eiwk28_34)  Homemade libations from a friend.

eiwk28_45)  My trusty blender; things couldn’t get any smoother or liquified.

eiwk28_56)  Watermelon smoothies are delightful.

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Okay, time to get some more rest, it is healing time.  Share some of your #edibleinspiration pics with me and check out more Edible Inspiration.  Have a lovely weekend everyone and remember…bite responsibly!

Healthy Regards,

RAM

Noshed in a Book: Ghost World

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When I discovered the film adaption of this graphic novel, I was a teenager, and the story felt, “like, exactly how I feel about life.”  I remember obsessing over the music from the film, spending hours searching for tracks on limewire, kazaa, napster–the appropriate, or maybe inappropriate, sources for music ‘downloading’ of the time. I remember Enid’s–our protagonist–unique style and non-conformist attitude, would later move me to cut off my long locks before I started college–my friend and I had been growing out our hair anyway for Locks of Love–hoping to ‘become a new person’, only to realize, I was still in the same skin.  Moving from adolescence to, what I like to call, ‘semi-adulthood’, is one scabby knee that takes awhile to heal, and the fact that there were films like Ghost World out there helped get me through the worst parts of the scabbiness.  Cutting your hair, dying your hair, piercing and tattooing your body, changing your look dramatically from day-to-day, and so forth; these changes won’t make you a different person inside.  More on this in a bit.  Reading Ghost World the graphic novel in my twenties, years after my first of many watches of the Ghost World film, was an entirely different experience.  Thanks Daniel Clowes and Terry Zwigoff for these creations. They changed me for the better.

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Ghost World by Daniel Clowes

Detached from expectations, I tried to approach this book with an unbiased mind–unsuccessfully–especially considering that I saw the film adaptation first.  Clowes immediately dunks you into the world of Enid and Rebecca, two young women whose friendship is beginning to waiver and lose its stability outside of the confines of High School normalities and their boring ghost of a town.  One young woman more straight-laced and seeking stability, while the other is hanging on to the last vestige of her superiority–both of intellect and uniqueness–the audience is never unsure of the protagonists’ determination to bash anything and everything that is remotely mainstream within their sight.

 

What’s important to keep in mind about Ghost World, is that the characters are all real people facing real situations, which felt like a perfect follow-up to Madame Bovary–also falling in the vein of realism.  I don’t know about you, but I still feel like I experience random, and intermittent bouts of identity crises and because of this, I have a love and appreciation for most coming of age tales.  That is, in many ways, what Ghost World is.  It’s the story of two young women who aren’t quite sure who they are, who they want to be or where they are going, whether that means backwards or forwards.

On the topic of time and ghosts, it could be said that Enid, our not entirely likeable protagonist, is haunted by the ghosts of other people’s pasts and her decaying town.  She’s fascinated by old ephemera, media, fashion, and most relics of the past and because of, or in spite of, this obsession, Enid is somewhat afflicted by these spirits and doesn’t know how to handle the transition of time she’s experiencing.   This transition is made especially difficult by the city in which she lives, which is drowning in homogenized businesses and a corrupt political system; ya know, the stuff of most American towns.

Ghost World also touches on the imposed ideas of femininity and the entire artificial world of feminine culture that’s created for young girls through magazines–like the fictional one Sassy in which Rebecca is reading–and music–like the childhood record Enid is searching for titled, A Smile and a Ribbon.

However, amidst the grime and struggle, Clowes manages to bring us back to the core of Ghost World‘s message with blue-hued illustrations, setting the tone of this piece from the very first panel.  This books legitimacy is strengthened not just in its writing and flow of the narrative, but in its raw and honest images.

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As for edibles, I decided to make something that Enid orders in one of her excursions to the “original 50’s diner” Hubba Hubba.  Really, I can only imagine her diet consisting of processed, prepackaged food, so I tried my best to combine a little bit of my world with her world.  I hope you enjoy these onion rings!

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Crispy Baked Onion Rings (animal-product-free, gluten-free, soy-free)

Ingredients

Dry Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup garbanzo flour (or quinoa flour)
  • 1/2 cup arrowroot powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • 2 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 1 1/2 tsp onion granules
  • 1 1/2 tsp garlic granules

Wet Ingredients

  • 2 medium yellow onions (peeled and sliced into 3/4″ rings, separated)
  • 1 3/4 cup unsweetened plain almond milk (or milk of your choice)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp ground flax
  • 6 tbsp warm filtered water
  • undetermined amount of extra virgin olive oil

Instructions

  1. Combine ground flax and water in a small bowl and whisk together; place in refrigerator for 25 to 30 minutes to sit
  2. Mix together all wet ingredients excluding onion rings
  3. Mix together all dry ingredients and use fork to break up any clumps OR sift all dry ingredients together
  4. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silpat
  5. Preheat oven to 400°F
  6. Pour wet ingredients into shallow dish
  7. Place dry ingredients into shallow dish
  8. With clean hands, dip individual onion rings into wet mixture, then into dry mixture and then onto lined baking sheet(s)
  9. Once all onion rings have been coated, spray or lightly sprinkle olive oil over dressed onion rings
  10. Bake for 9 to 10 minutes, remove from oven and flip, baking for 4 to 5 minutes more until crispy and golden brown
  11. Enjoy plain or with your choice of dipping sauce (preferably something spicy!)

Notes:

  • I discovered that a little bit of mixed dry ingredients go a long way, so don’t over dip or you’ll get an onion ring that’s too flour crusted.
  • These would be especially tasty with a chipotle dipping sauce.

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If ever you wanted to read a book that would help you exercise a friendship demon or feel less weird and alone in this crazy world, Ghost World should be added to the list.  Our outer-expression is special and certainly a part of our unique self, but using this expression to escape yourself should never be the answer, and I think Clowes truly touches on this in Ghost World.  With Independence Day on the horizon,  whiz through this book and chow down on some onion rings while you’re waiting on your grilled veggies and tasty desserts, and of course chat about changing the ghost of a town you might be living in into a burgeoning hot spot for unique shops and creative thinkers.  What did you think about Ghost World?  Did you read the book first or see the film?  Share your thoughts and photos about #noshedinabook and check out what else I’ve read this year, here.  Join me in my next reading selection–POETRY!– Live or Die by Anne Sexton.  And remember…bite responsibly!

Healthy Regards,

RAM

p.s. A track I love entitled Ghost World–with relevant lyrics–by one of my favorite musicians.

 

 

Edible Inspiration: Week 27

This Friday, I come to you equally enchanted by nature as I am with all that nourishes us.  I am enamored daily by the reparative nature of not just our edibles, but our environment and how we choose to embrace our surroundings.  I want to share with you a number of photos I’ve taken over a few weeks that make me feel not only closer to my life experience but all of you.  Thanks for taking a peek.

1) Beautiful Texas prickly pear blooms in our front yard, and remember the bare necessities.

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2)  Made a batch of raspberry leaf tea to ice.  It’s soothing and relaxing, especially for women. Take care of yourself, ladies!

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3)Unedited, Austin sunset from our front yard.

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4)This wild flower and its sparse beauty.

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5) The royal peacock.

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6)  My summer solstice lunch with a Refreshing Summer Cucumber Salad.

bowl of pinto beans and rice with plate of cucumber, tomato, and red onion saladHappy summer everyone!  Don’t forget to share some of your #edibleinspiration pics with me and check out more Edible Inspiration.  And remember…bite responsibly!

Healthy Regards,

RAM

Noshed in a Book: Madame Bovary

“But life for her was cold as an attic whose window faces north, and boredom, a silent spider, spun its webs in the shadow of every corner of her heart.”

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The location for which you read this book is critical.  Place yourself in a garden–preferably a quiet one with no mosquitoes and a cool breeze–for the first half of this book.  Make sure you’re resting against a big, soft, fluffy pillow cushion for the last half.  Honestly, this was my first read of Madame Bovary (I know, I know), and I wasn’t sure what to expect.  Let’s just jump right in, shall we?

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Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

I don’t often find myself being emotionally wrecked by a book–instead tending to associate “tearing up” with watching an emotional scene in a film–but by the end of this work I could barely stop gulping, and tears were abruptly streaming down my face like random Texas rain showers (except my tears weren’t followed by bursts of sunlight through the clouds).  Treasured for centuries, this was my first reading of Madame Bovary, and my initial thought was, “why the hell has everyone been talking about this book like it’s juicy ripe tomatoes on a summer day?”  Actually, I didn’t think about tomatoes, but damn, summer tomatoes are great. I digress.  It’s not as though I didn’t generally appreciate the book, but I felt then, and still feel now, as though I’m not sure what I should take away from Flaubert’s Madame Bovary, but perhaps that’s the point.

“How she yearned for those ineffable sentiments of love which she had tried, in imitation of books, to envision for herself.”

Not muddled in figurative language, Gustave Flaubert wrote this book in a way that’s structurally approachable by any reader.  His syntax, dialogue and plot movements were all right on target.  The work never dragged and I grasped each of the main characters, except the book’s namesake herself, Madame Bovary.  I don’t mean to say that Flaubert’s movement and character traits were not intimate and well thought out, but his ability to truly connect the reader to Emma Bovary’s life within those pages, felt lost for me.  From the moment we’re introduced to her, Emma is generally in anguish or in a fretful state of self-hatred.  Her beauty– inflated by what she sees as the inadequacies of her husband–her insecurities and vulnerability–tarnished by her greed and shallow spirit. Madame Bovary suffered ceaselessly, but for what?  What is clear to me is that the purpose of this story was to wander aimlessly, the way life can.  That’s the true beauty of this work.

Without ranting, I must comment on one particular aspect of this book–a big one–that is unsettling to me.  Emma takes to reading novels to ward off her boredom with the world she’s living in and to educate herself.  However, after Emma’s homemaking abilities plateau, the elder Madame Bovary suggests that books be prohibited.  The overt denouncement of Emma’s want for literacy, as a driving force for her deranged and calamitous behavior, is an obvious commentary on societal expectations of women and the roles that both men and women play therein.  Though obviously purposeful, I have to wonder what Flaubert’s intention was by accelerating and perpetuating Emma’s constant state of torment and tension.  All the while, Flaubert seems to understand the repression that was–and in many ways still is–woman’s plight.

Some quotes that stood out to me for you all to contemplate.

 “Perhaps she might have wished to confide all these things in someone.  But how to express an unanalyzable disquiet which changed aspect as clouds do, tormented by the wind?  She lacked words, opportunity, courage.”


 

“Self-assurance depends upon the environment in which it is placed:  one does not use the same manner of speech on the drawing-room floor as in the servant’s quarters, and a wealthy woman seems to have about her, to defend her virture, all her banknotes, like a coat of mail, within the lining of her bodice.”


 

“But vilifying those we love always alienates us from them to a certain extent.  Idols should not be touched:  the gilding comes off on the hands.”


 

“She was so melancholy and so calm, at once so gentle and so remote, that in her presence one felt overcome by a glacial charm, as one shudders in churches under the touch of flower scents mingled with the chill of marble.”

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As for edibles, I decided to make something wherein I could utilize some of the vibrant and cooling summer produce we’ve started to get in our CSA box (you all know me, I love to take advantage of my box goodies).  The ending of this book made me feel stuffy, confused and irritable.  My mind was trying to parse together the connection between the beginning and the end.  I needed something to refresh me.  That’s why I decided make a chunky summer salad.

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Refreshing Summer Cucumber Salad

Ingredients

  • 4 medium cucumbers (rinsed and cut into 1/2 quarter pieces)
  • 2 small red onions and 1 small yellow onion (cut into small pieces)
  • 2 medium ripe tomatoes (rinsed and cut into chunks)
  • 1 tbsp dried parsley (or handful of leaves if fresh-rinsed)
  • 1 tbsp garlic granules
  • coarsely ground black pepper (about 4 turns)
  • 1 tsp fleur de sel (or to taste)
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice

Instructions

  1. After all veggies are rinsed and cut, place them in a medium-sized bowl along with the remaining ingredients
  2. Toss with clean hands until well mixed
  3. Serve immediately or chilled

Notes

  • If serving immediately, try adding some avocado chunks!

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My edition of this book is very old, as it was my great aunt’s and then my grandmother’s after her.  It has been through a lot, and probably shouldn’t have been read, but I couldn’t resist being a part of this literary artifact.  Slowly, the binding came off in pieces and, forgive me for being impractical, but it felt well-timed with the arc of the storyline.  What are your thoughts on Madame Bovary?  Find more Noshed in a Book posts here and share some of your #noshedinabook pics with me.  I can’t wait to see what you’ve been reading and preparing!  Join me in my next reading selection, Ghost World by Daniel Clowes.  And remember…bite responsibly!

Healthy Regards,

RAM

Noshed in a Book: House of Incest & Bird by Bird

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There are entire sections in bookstores devoted to self-help and existential crises–strings of volumes about a particular topic that ails your mind or social life–but I have found that the most inspiring and motivating writing, cloaks itself in books and pieces that you may not have imagined moving you in such a way at the onset.  The pairing of these two books, came not because of some underlying connection I foresaw between them, but rather their inherent differences; one book comments about guidelines while the other is stripped of a typical structure and speaks to its reader through a kind of stream of consciousness.  My introduction to Bird by Bird began a few months ago after taking a class and being given some lines from the text.  Intrigued by the no-nonsense nature of Lamott’s writing, I purchased the book in no time.  My acquaintance with Anaïs Nin started on an unspecific date some time ago and I’ve wanted to read her writing in more depth ever since.  I chose to start with House of Incest because, though obviously personal to Nin, this short text is connected to dreams and the relationship a person can have with them.  I loved the idea of pairing dreamy and practical prose together and seeing where my hunger would take me.

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House of Incest by Anaïs Nin

There were many directions this piece of fiction took my mind.  A short, seventy-two page text that, without me telling you what it is about, grips onto reality and pulls down her unmentionables.  There were times when I felt as though I was caught in a loop of words, twirling in her dedicated syntax and palpable mission with her diction.  It’s the kind of text best read in one sitting, although I didn’t have this privilege; I was guilty of re-reading pages, just to take in her fluidity with language and mood once more.

Nin camps out in a world of dreams–or a stream of dreams, if you will–and we the audience come along as her fellow camp kids, getting to hear her stories of sameness and the selfish human lust for anything that’s accepting and similar.  Never resting too long on any one particular message, Nin quickly morphs her audience–along with her characters–into a relationship of trust.  Do we, as human beings, find oneself in another person and call this love, or are we infinitely selfless in our love?  She posits that love, and our interpretation of it, is questionable, and her challenge of this idea is aptly put.  Nin also depicts moments of consciousness directly beyond the womb and the trauma of birth.  She comments on human fragility–particularly female fragility–and what it means to feel as if you could be vanquished at any moment; the gulping hedonism that tears us all open and exposes our lesser side.  This text is one for which you should begin with an open mind and heart.  I felt confused and unnerved with some aspects, yet in love with others.  This book was an inspiration for writing TO your ideas and feelings, not structuring them.

Additionally, the particular edition of the book I read had incredible photo montages by Val Telberg, a visual artist of the early twentieth century, which truly added to the intensity and brevity of the text.  If you can find this edition, I highly recommend!

“When human pain has struck me fiercely, when anger has corroded me, I rise, I always rise after the crucifixion, and I am in terror of my ascensions.


“I could not bear the passing of things.  All flowing, all passing, all movement choked me with anguish.”


“The world is too small.  I get tired of playing the guitar, of knitting, and walking, and bearing children.  Men are small, and passions are short-lived.  I get furious at stairways, furious at doors, at walls, furious at everyday life which interferes with the continuity of ecstasy.”

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

The subtitle of this book is Some Instructions on Writing and Life, and Lamott is true to her word.  This book was as much about giving thoughtful advice as it was about writing, and without spoiling too much, let me say that you will not come away from it without some stronger sense of purpose for your position in life and how you approach it.  Our propensity for writing comes from an internal drive to ignore the inertia that may take over otherwise.  Art is not always something that most have a natural and innate aptitude for, but rather is something that is learned and practiced with dedication and grit.  If any of us hope to be good at, or aim to succeed at, anything in life, it is just that we should commit to being devoted and steadfast in our wish to learn and improve. Only then can we unleash our skills and talents and, most importantly, learn to trust in ourselves and others.  Lamott contends that a life worth living is one for which we’re lucky enough to wrestle with our demons long enough to find what we’re willing to practice and dedicate ourselves to, long-term.  This is our lasting gift, if we choose to let it reveal itself to us.  I would recommend this book not just to writers, but to anyone who wants a more genuine and practical take on living life to its fullest.

“My deepest belief is that to live as if we’re dying can set us free.  Dying people teach you to pay attention and to forgive and not to sweat the small things.”


“You don’t have to see where you’re going, you don’t have to see your destination or everything you will pass along with way.  You just have to see two or three feet ahead of you.”

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As for edibles I decided to make something with pumpkin seeds.  I wanted to utilize food that was high in a particular amino acid, tryptophan, known for raising serotonin, which stabilizes sleep, mood, and anxiety.  Pumpkin seeds are a wonderful source of iron as well, and happen to be one of my favorite noms.  House of Incest and Bird by Bird call to attention not only the necessity of dreaming, both literally and metaphorically, but what we can learn from the act of sleeping and dreaming soundly.  There could be no better fit of a foodstuff to pair with these two books than pumpkin seeds.  Reading does not require a person to be relaxed nor does sitting down for a meal, but both tasks remain more approachable and filled with joy if we’re rested and calm.  Additionally, you all know how much I love mint, and our most recent CSA box had the most beautiful bundle of mint; I couldn’t wait to put it to use.  In fact, my mind is brimming with ideas for mint this summer so maybe I’ll be able to share a few more of them with you.  For now, enjoy the delightful flavor of this pesto and have sweet, vivid dreams.

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Pumpkin Seed & Mint Pesto

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
  • 1 bunch fresh mint leaves (discard or set aside most of stems/rinse)
  • 6 sun dried tomatoes
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp pink Himalayan salt (or to taste)
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast

Instructions

  1. In dry skillet, spread pumpkin seeds out and toast for a few minutes over a medium flame or heat until they are golden.
  2. Place garlic cloves, pumpkin seeds and mint in food processor and pulse three or four times until roughly chopped and blended.
  3. Now, add in remainder of ingredients and blend until smooth but still modestly chunky.
  4. Enjoy with zucchini noodles (as pictured) or with pasta, as a dip, on pizza or whatever suits your fancy!

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I thoroughly enjoyed the close reading of these two books.  Insight shows itself in unexpected places; open yourself up and you’re sure to be filled by some wonderful words of wisdom.  If you’re interested in reading other Noshed in a Book posts, I’d be delighted, and please take a second to share some of your #noshedinabook thoughts and pics.  Join me in my next reading selection Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert. And remember…bite responsibly!

Healthy Regards,

RAM