Posts By Rachel Manning

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

Noshed in a Book: A Thousand Years Over a Hot Stove

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“What’s more important, the food itself or the meaning we give it?”

Watching the weather is a favorite pastime for some–and there are dramatic headlines to draw you in–but when I was a kid, the weather mattered to me for different reasons than pure daily drama.  Sure, when I lived in an area that was riddled with tornadoes, I knew to keep abreast of the weather updates through whatever means I could–probably a news bulletin on the television–in order to stay safe.  Maybe the weather even ruined an anticipated, outdoor field trip every now and again.  But most importantly, there were the days when I planned to make a sweet dessert called divinity with my grandmother (Mama -“mawmaw”).

Crafting the sugary confection was hard work, and she’d always tell me ahead of time “if it’s humid or rainy we won’t be able to make it.”  The thrill of her perfected method of making this dessert instilled in me an unusual need to whisper to mother nature to hold off on her sweaty hot flashes and crying jags for a couple of days so I could get some dessert work done.  Sometimes she leaned in and heard my requests, sometimes I left my Mama’s house sans candy and feeling sore about the weather.  You see, making this candy with my grandmother made me feel important and a part of something I don’t think I understood back then.  Making divinity was part of my womanly right of passage.  Forming those white fluffy clouds of decadence was hard work–a delicate sweet treat to be respected–and my grandmother understood its finicky nature, as well as my own, and introduced this process as a way to train me to concentrate, remain dedicated, and follow through.  Though you’ll never see these instructions listed in a divinity recipe, I can assure you they are key.  Cooking and baking were a part of my life lessons, as I’m sure they are for many women and men during their formative years.  However, today we speak just about women and their role and evolution as creatures of the kitchen, and how they’ve come to translate this position over the years.  Laura Schenone explores women’s history through food and helps us all understand American history through a new lens.

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A Thousand Years Over a Hot Stove by Laura Schenone

Told through a series of recipes, anecdotes, historical lessons and personal recollections, A Thousand Years Over a Hot Stove blooms into a field of fragrant flowers as it pollinates and harvests myths and perfunctory exaggerations about American women.

Schenone explores the long trajectory of women’s time in the kitchen and how they embarked on a world beyond.  Women were of the first to display signs of cooking and would use books to raise money for worthy causes.

Women’s rights, suffrage and winning WWI

Preparing food and cooking for wounded soldiers represented a point of freedom disguised as oppression.  Women’s frugality and inventive nature with what little foodstuffs they had, left them free of having to ingratiate themselves to higher powers for change. Their actions and intentions, born out of necessity and a nurturing nature, were loud and clear.

“American women did not have the constitutional right to vote, yet the food conservation campaign appealed to their love of democracy.  With the housewife’s help, liberty and freedom would prevail.  Each extra bit of food conserved meant more for American soldiers and the Allies.  All this was a woman’s job–essential, morally right, and heroically grounded in the kitchen.”


“In this way, food–in its endless connection to women’s lives–pushed forward the cause of suffrage.  In 1919, Congress passed an amendment to give women the constitutional right to vote in all elections.  In 1920, it was ratified, and a seventy-year battle was won.”

Forced conformity, perpetuity of labels and roles for women in the late 19th century

Still, in the twenty-first century, women are backed into a dusty corner, overrun with spider webs, and told we’re supposed to be something that is innately not who we are.  Conformity has bludgeoned most of us at some point in our life and if you are one of the fortunate few to have made it past your teens with nary a metaphorical bruise, I salute you.  Schenone asserts that even in her role as a skilled physical worker of the land and a provider of nutrition, woman has been denigrated.

In the midst of the war, women were still expected to be “pretty, practical, and patriotic.”


“Neat, clean, pretty to the eye–and above all not too spicy or offensive–these things both food and women were supposed to be.”


“They simply did not, could not, and would not comprehend that hard physical work out-of-doors could possibly be a source of respect and power for women.”

Connecting our life to our nourishment

A most touching motif of this book is woman’s connection to the earth.  I was reminded that what is most beloved about the kitchen, is the depth for which our hands and minds can connect us–by way of preparing a meal or baked good–to the beauty of nature’s offerings.  From one set of hands to the next, a fresh basket of green beans finds its way into my kitchen in spring, and I’m grateful for the love and care that will soon be transposed into my body.  Schenone’s book expresses a pure sense of gratitude, and I respect her perspective on women’s roles because of this.

“‘The act of putting into your mouth what the earth has grown is perhaps your most direct interaction with the earth.”” – Frances Moore Lappé


“By caring about the act of cooking itself, by believing in it, we give food a higher meaning.  Once we value food and cooking, from there other good things follow.  We make good choices.  We care about the animals and earth and other human beings involved in our food chain.  We find nourishment.  We take care of others, ourselves, and the planet.”


“In my most idealistic moments, when I go to the stove or cutting board, I try to think of myself connected to a long human story.  Then, I know that a dinner of sandwiches or a fresh salad with the right amount of grace and love can be superior to the finest presentation of salmon or squab with saffron that is cooked with disregard.”

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As for edibles, I decided to make Gypsy Soup, a recipe representative of rebellion against both corporations and simplified palettes that had taken over America in the mid to late twentieth century.  To me, this soup symbolizes female strength and ingenuity.  Although a hot dish, it folded perfectly into the end of spring here in Austin, Texas, as this part of the state has seen an unusual deluge recently, and a hearty soup felt perfect to top it all off.  Enjoy this recipe, straight from Moosewood Cookbook (1977) by Mollie Katzen; I pulled a copy of this recipe from A Thousand Years Over a Hot Stove.

“The main ingredients–brightly colored sweet potatoes and wholesome garbanzo beans–seamed to stir ancient memories of Mother Earth.  The “gypsy” could be found in the scent of garlic and onion and turmeric, promising and adventurous culinary and spiritual journey far away from those commercialized kitchens of the 1950s.”

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Gypsy Soup (animal-product-free)

Ingredients

  • 2 medium-sized ripe tomatoes
  • 2 cups chopped onions
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 medium bell pepper, diced
  • 1 stalk celery, minced
  • 2 cups sweet potato, peeled and diced
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cups spring or filtered water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp basil
  • dash of cinnamon
  • dash of cayenne
  • 1 bay leaf

Instructions

  1. Heat a medium-sized saucepan full of water to boiling.  Core the tomatoes, and plunge them into water for a slow count of 10.  Remove the tomatoes, and peel them over a sink.  Cut them open; squeeze out and discard the seeds.  Chop the remaining pulp and set aside.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a deep pot or Dutch oven.  Add onion, garlic, celery, and sweet potato, and sauté over medium heat for about 5 minutes.  Add salt, and sauté 5 minutes more.  Add seasonings and water, cover, and simmer about 15 minutes.
  3. Add tomato pulp, bell pepper, and chickpeas.  Cover and simmer for about 10 more minutes, or until all the vegetables are as tender as you like them.  Taste to adjust seasonings, and serve.

Notes

  • I made this recipe almost just as it’s listed.  It was delicious and just what we needed!
  • About 45 minutes to prepare
  • Chickpeas need to be prepared in advance of soup prep; canned ‘ok’
  • Yield:  4 to 5 servings
  • The Vegetables in this soup can be varied.  Any orange vegetable can be combined with any green.  For example, peas or green beans could replace–or augment–the peppers.  Carrots, pumpkin, or squash could fill in for the sweet potatoes.  Innovate!

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Reflecting on my history as a woman in the kitchen, and that of my friends and ancestors, has been a challenging awakening for me.  This book combines my love of food and feminism and is a literary recipe you’re bound to walk away from satisfied.  Share your thoughts and photos about #noshedinabook and check out what else I’ve read this year, here.  Join me for my next reading selection, House of Incest by Anaïs Nin and a supplementary reading selection of Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott.  And remember…bite responsibly!

Healthy & Happy Kitchen Regards,

 

RAM

Noshed in a Book: Salt: A World History

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Salt and pepper shakers were always on our table and near the stove, growing up.  In fact, salt, specifically, was the seasoning used in most of our meals besides maybe garlic salt.  I remember sitting down to meals with my family and the first thing my parent’s would reach for–even before tasting their food–was the salt.  It always seemed strange to me to not taste food before salting it, but from inception to completion, I can’t imagine preparing a savory dish without at least a pinch of salt.  A few months ago, I spent hours–I kid you not–searching around for salt and pepper grinders that suited me, considering coarseness adjustment ‘settings’, grinding mechanism durability, aesthetics, and more, I’m sure.

Salt, generally, plays a bigger role in our lives than we know.  And to think, I can’t even remember being told what salt was as a child; I just remember it being around.  A staple.  If my throat was sore, I gargled with salt water.  Stainless still sink looking a little grim? Start scrubbing with salt.  A rare Texas Icepocalypse? Throw salt out on the driveway and sidewalks so as not to slip and fall.  Of all the kitchen table adornments, this functional and ubiquitous substance has made its presence known, as Mark Kurlansky proves in this week’s ‘Noshed in a Book’ outing…

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Salt:  A World History by Mark Kurlansky

An undertaking to be sure, get ready to be instantly transported into the world of salt in Mark Kurlansky’s historical homage to this special crystalline substance.  Contained in these pages is everything you ever wanted to know about salt, save for present day practical purposes and a specific break down of types of salt to flavor.  If you’re a foodie or just a seeker of historical knowledge through a different lens, this is the book for you.  Within its first hundred pages, enticed by the exploration of far-away places and the excavation of salt, but as the book wore on, I began to be turned off by the commentary on human and animal slavery and pages and pages in succession about curing animal flesh and the like.  Don’t misunderstand my feelings for this subject as impatience; what I was feeling was an immense discomfort with our societies’ usage and abuse of other beings.  Our sense of privilege and drought of unquestioning behavior is disturbing to me.  Being a human of the twenty-first century–with many centuries behind me to learn and understand–it is imperative to never let the history of the world become forgotten, but sometimes facing those truths is difficult.  Difficult because we are faced with the physical and moral abuse of others for the luxuries we now all partake in. Luxuries like, yes, salt.

On superstitions and word origin.  People’s credulity is endearing to me as I’m a superstitious woman. Here are a few excerpts from the text that may surprise you.

“A high-fat diet was considered a sign of wealth, and city people luxuriated in more fat than peasants” – In Hungary, 16th Century


“The Romans salted their greens, believing this to counteract the natural bitterness, which is the origin of the world salad, salted.”


“The Roman army required salt for its soldiers and for its horses and livestock.  At times soldiers were even paid in salt, which was the origin of the word salary and the expression “worth his salt” or “earning his salt.”  In fact, the Latin world sal became the French word solde, meaning pay, which is the origin of the world, soldier.”


“Every important period in ancient Egyptian history produced tombs containing detailed information about food.  |  The poorest may have had little to eat but unraised bread, beer, and onions.  The Egyptians credited onions and garlic with great medicinal qualities, believing that onion layers resembled the concentric circles of the universe.”


“The medieval French, Like the Chinese, believed that the presence of women could be destructive to fermentation.  In France, a menstruating woman is said to be en salaison, curing in salt.  It was dangerous to have a woman in a room full of fermenting food when she herself was in fermentation.”

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On non-human animals as important figures.  The human body necessitates a certain amount of sodium intake, as do other animals.  Animals in the wild–in search for their regular intake of ‘salt’–came upon deposits with salt that they could consume in intervals to stay healthy.  They would return regularly to these spots, which would come to be known as a salt lick.

“In fact, it was animals, not so-called trailblazers such as Daniel Boone, that had carved the original trail across the Allegheny Mountains to the Ohio River Valley.” -On salt-licks

On something small starting something big.  In the late nineteenth century to the early twentieth century, the Indian National Congress was under British rule and one of the tools to set this change of rulership in motion was the salt campaign, or the salt satyagraha.  Mohandas Gandhi, a peaceful leader of independence, saw salt–something so small–as an “example of misrule that touched the lives of all castes of Indians.”  Gandhi went on to lead a march of thousands because of how symbolic salt was to the freedom of the Indian people.  Salt has changed lives for the better.

“Gandhi would resist with satyagraha–the force of truth, a force that, he said, would lift both sides.” – On Gandi’s view of striking against British higher powers

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As for edibles, I decided to make easy picked veggies.  Brine and pickling has been a prevalent usage of salt all over the world for centuries, and while I’ve tried my hand before at making kimchi, I’ve never tried pickling other veggies.  I wanted to make something I could enjoy sooner rather than later, and with certain veggies starting to pile up, pickling some of them was a perfect way to put them to use.

” Traditionally, though less so today, a Japanese meal ended with pickles, and in the north pickles are served with afternoon tea.”

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Overnight raw pickled veggies

Ingredients

  • 6 cloves of garlic (thinly sliced)
  • 3 medium to large parsnips (julienne)
  • 3 medium to large carrots (julienne)
  • 5 or 6 green onions (cut into 1 inch pieces)
  • 1 tbsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 1/4 cups spring water
  • 1 1/4 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 4 tsp salt

Instructions

  1. After rinsing and cutting all veggies, mix them well in a medium-sized bowl using your hands.
  2. Separately, fill a medium-sized saucepan with water, vinegar, red pepper flakes, salt and coconut sugar. Simmer, then turn off the heat.
  3. Using the jar(s) of your choice–I used two different sized mason jars–fill each with the ingredients until just under convex portion of jar and edges.
  4. Pour liquid brine into each jar until veggies are covered, completely immersed.
  5. Place lid on each jar and set in the refrigerator.
  6. Best to let these sit overnight, maybe two nights for a more tender veggie.
  7. Enjoy in a salad or maybe even as a side dish.

Notes:

  • Feel free to mix up the veggies you use: try red onion slices, radish slices, jalapenos, etc…
  • If these veggies are too spicy, cut out the red pepper flakes.

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The world of salt was, and will probably continue to be, one that has its dark chapters.  Sadly, some of the most important materials and commodities in our world have a doleful past, but education and recognition of these events is a step in the right direction.  Without teetering on melodrama, I hesitate not when I say that buying and using salt will never be the same for me again after reading this book, but I’m grateful for the knowledge.  If reading a 400+ page book about salt doesn’t turn you on, I get that, but this book is more than salt, it’s discovery, revolutions, culture, myths and most importantly, salty.  What did you think about this book?  Did it make you feel more connected and aware?  Share your thoughts and photos about #noshedinabook and check out what else I’ve read this year, here.  Join me for my next reading selection, A Thousand Years over a Hot Stove by Laura Schenone. And remember…bite responsibly!

Healthy Regards,

RAM

 

Noshed in a Book: Just Kids

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“I have vague memories, like impressions on a glass plate, of an old boathouse, a circular band shell, an arched stone bridge.”

Another sweet gift from a friend, Just Kids by Patti Smith made its way into my life a few years ago.  Once again–I’m sure you’ll hear this more and more out of me–I don’t know how I went so long without reading this book.  Taking in every sentence as if it were smooth poetry, Just Kids was like delicious ice cream on a hot summer day; you’re moved to gobble it down but you don’t want it to be over. I cannot say that I wanted to live inside of Patti Smith’s world, but I appreciated the books ability to transport the reader into her mindset about life, art, and how we view ourselves and our pursuits, both creatively and personally.   When I was in college I came across Patti Smith’s music and was immensely moved.  A little over a year ago, I had the privilege of seeing Patti Smith perform in a relatively intimate venue and she was incredible.  She was both humble and confident in her ability to jam the hell out!  As the audience, we couldn’t get enough; a motif I see in myself when it comes to her art.

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Just Kids by Patti Smith

A promise takes written form in this meditative and exploratory look into her–Patti Smith’s–early life and her close companion Robert Mapplethorpe, the celebrated photographer and creator of art in many forms.  The delicacy Smith takes with her words and the majesty she holds with her stories has me, still, in a state of awe with her writing.  I have no complaints about this book except that it had to end and begin with the sadness surrounding her dearest friend’s passing.  Smith remarks on her mistakes, but never dwells in the negativity that surrounded each event or transition in her life.  Her portrayal of her personal narrative and the necessity she places in not judging herself too harshly put me at ease.

“I felt a fleeting pang in my heart for I knew that innocent phase of our life had passed.  I slipped an envelope with the black-and-white shots of Woman I that I had taken at the Modern into my pocket but left behind my failed attempts at painting her portrait, rolls of canvas splashed in umber, pinks, and green, souvenirs of a gone ambition.  I was too curious about the future to look back.”

On finding yourself, not selling yourself.  I have this theory that every person has a part of their brain or heart that they put on clearance.  Some people have this clearance regularly and they’re defining who they are by selling themselves short, while others utilize only temporary mark-downs and then spring back to their full-price self.  Whatever sale-rack you tend to place yourself on, if at all, taking note of your shortcomings will only get you so far, and then you have begun to wallow in the self-deprecation and self-doubt.  What’s enlightening about Patti’s story is that while she certainly goes through trials, she never puts her whole self on sale.  She reflects on her moments of self-doubt and leaves it there.  Everyone–but I feel women especially–could use a little more shelving of their self-doubt and less liquidation.

“I bought stacks of books, but I didn’t read them.  I taped sheets of paper to the wall, but I didn’t draw.  I slid my guitar under the bed.  At night, alone, I just sat and waited.  Once again I found myself contemplating what I should be doing to do something of worth.  Everything I came up with seemed irreverent or irrelevant.”

“I craved honesty, yet found dishonesty in myself.  Why commit to art?  For self-realization, or for itself?  It seemed indulgent to add to the glut unless one offered illumination.”

On optimism.  Maybe a little positive thinking can help fill up your goodwill water balloon for life and splash it all over you and those lives for which you touch.

“The goodwill that surrounded us was proof that the Fates were conspiring to help their enthusiastic children.”

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As for edibles,  I decided to make my version of jelly doughnuts.  Smith’s reverence for this nom during a tumultuous time in her life, helped me see beyond the negative view we have of comfort eating.  It allowed me to see that connecting to food happens on many levels and we should respect this.  Also, there were times in Smith’s life when she had only day-old bread and a wilted head of lettuce to eat and share with someone else.  Paled in comparison to this experience is the indulgence of a jam doughnut.

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“Every Sunday I would take a long walk to a deserted beach café to have a coffee and a jelly doughnut, two things forbidden in a home regimented by healthy food.  I savored these small indulgences, slipping a quarter in the jukebox and listening to “Strawberry Fields” three times in a row.  It was my private ritual and the words and voice of John Lennon provided me with strength when I faltered.” [On being pregnant for the first time and staying with a healthy-living surrogate family.]

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Strawberry Jammin’ Doughnuts (animal-product-free, gluten-free, soy-free)

Plain Cake Doughnut Ingredients

[Inspired by this recipe]

  • 1 cup coconut sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/3 cup garbanzo bean flour
  • 1/2 cup potato starch
  • 1/4 cup arrowroot powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup melted coconut oil (a little extra on the side for oiling up your doughnut baking pan)
  • 6 tbsp unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup hot water
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar plus some extra for sprinkling on top

Doughnut Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F
  2. With clean hands use some of the coconut oil that has been set aside and rub it on the doughnut baking pan in each crevice
  3. Sift all dry ingredients together in a medium-sized bowl to break down any large clumps.
  4. In a small bowl mix all liquid ingredients:  water, vanilla extract, applesauce, coconut oil
  5. Pour liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir using bowl scraper.
  6. Fill each doughnut region using a tablespoon.  Make sure to fill it above the middle separation as to create a bottom for the doughnut.
  7. Bake for 8 minutes in the center of the rack, then turn the pan and bake for 7 to 8 more minutes or until the doughnuts are a golden-brown color.  Use a toothpick or fork to making sure it comes out clean.
  8. Let doughnuts rest in pan for 5 minutes, then flip over onto a cooling rack and allow to cool for 10 to 15 minutes.
  9. If serving immediately, place powdered sugar in zip seal baggie and place each doughnut in–one at a time–and gently shake around until doughnut is coated in sugar.  Remove and cool for above listed time (10 to 15 minutes).
  10. Once cooled, fill holes with strawberry jam. [I let it spill out, best eaten with a fork. :D]
  11. Using a sieve, sift some of the leftover powdered sugar over the jam and ENJOY!

Quick Strawberry Jam Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups strawberries (cleaned, rinsed, cut into quarters)
  • 2 heaping tbsp raw honey
  • 2 tsp balsamic vinegar

Jam Instructions

  1. Place all ingredients into saucepan and bring to boil over a medium-high heat.
  2. Stirring consistently until most of liquid has cooked out.
  3. Allow to cool before filling doughnuts.
  4. The mixture should become thicker and the strawberries will be mainly broken down.

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There are few people whom I can say I truly admire, but Patti Smith is one of them.  This book, much like her music, pushed me out of a rut and forced me to stand up on my feet and take a better look at my life and the world I live in, and I’m eternally grateful.  I had such a blast making these doughnuts–which we shared with friends–and it allowed me to feel a little more connected to her world.  What are your thoughts on Just Kids and jelly doughnuts?  Let me know in the comments section below and share pics of your #noshedinabook creations. Check out more Noshed in a Book posts to see what else I’ve been reading this year.  Join me for my next reading selection,  Salt:  A World History by Mark Kurlansky.  And remember…bite responsibly!

Healthy Regards,

RAM

Smith in other places:

Commencement speech

 Special site

Free listening

On Lou Reed

Off the Shelf

Edible Inspiration: Week 26

This week’s photos to take a peak at.

1)  These delicate pink flowers all around on foraging walks.

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2)  I’m still in love with this bag with design by one of my favorite illustrators and graphic novelists, Rutu Modan.

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3)  Strawberries make their appearance.

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4)  Preparing pizzas for a friendly dinner.

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5)  This sweet nugget to gaze upon after weekend meal-prep.

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I hope you enjoy this week’s Edible Inspiration and please share some of your #edibleinspiration photos with me.  And remember…bite responsibly!

 

Healthy Regards,

RAM

Edible Inspiration: Week 25

A peek into days passed.

1)  This little squirrel hanging out. I think I scared him, he was very still for a while.

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2)  Rinsing carrots. Nom!

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3)  These Spring blooms didn’t last long in our backyard, but I was happy for them while they lasted.

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4)  A sweet treat in pink.  It’s always nice to support our local bakers.

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I hope you enjoy your weekend and share some of your Edible Inspiration pics with me #edibleinspiration when you can.  And remember…bite responsibly!

Healthy Regards,

 

RAM