Posts in Category: TV & Film

Out of Sight: Proof that Obstacles are Meant to be Overcome

Miranday July via tumblr - fuckyeahmirandajuly

Miranda July via tumblr – fuckyeahmirandajuly

Good morning everyone,

Over the weekend, I found some time for nestling into a corner of our sofa to leaf through the pages of a magazine.  I never expected to find what I did, but as is certainly the nature of life, something pops up when you least expect it to.  The best part was, and call me superstitious, but it felt like the universes’ forces and energies meant for me to see this particular article.  What a wild world!  (Thank you Cat Stevens, now known as Yusuf Islam, for the 1970 hit “Wild World“.)  What was I reading? The bimonthly magazine, Alcalde that is distributed by Texas Exes.  The article I read was “Uncommon Sense“, written by Rose Cahalan, which can also be found on the Texas Exes website or in the hyperlink above.  Below you will find an excerpt from the piece.

One day in fall 2007, Christine Ha tried to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich—and she couldn’t do it. A year earlier, Ha had prepared an elaborate Thanksgiving feast for her family, but now she found herself throwing the sandwich away in frustration as she wiped jelly off her hands. “It was so depressing to go from making fancy dinners to being unable to make a sandwich,” she says. “I thought I would never cook again.”

Ha was losing her eyesight. It started after her sophomore year at UT, when the computer screen at her finance internship had unexpectedly gone blurry. The next four years were a haze of doctor’s appointments and inconclusive tests. Eventually Ha even had to quit her first post-grad job in software consulting.

After she was finally diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disorder called neuromyelitis optica and told she would lose nearly all her vision, Ha says she felt a measure of relief. “I’m the kind of person who needs a game plan,” she says, “so finally getting a correct diagnosis after four years was a starting point.”

She decided to try cooking again, with the help of a vocational counselor who coached her as she relearned basic skills. Before long she wasn’t just making peanut-butter sandwiches, she was cooking multi-course dinners—only this time with the aid of a talking thermometer, Braille labels on her stovetop, and extra-long oven mitts. The diagnosis also spurred her to change careers.

Read the rest of the article HERE!

In this article, Rose Cahalan–the author–begins by explaining Christine Ha’s experience with making a peanut butter sandwich with just enough detail that we are able to immediately empathize with the story.  We continue reading to find that not only is Christine a lover of the culinary arts but she is also a lover of the written word.  Because of this, I knew I would be thinking about this story for days and I had to find a way to share. My blog seemed like the perfect place!

One of the first aspects about this story that struck me was the most obvious subject-matter, cooking, but more to the point, cooking without sight.  Though my knife skills are improving daily with more precision and ease, I certainly make mistakes and I’m able to SEE those mistakes.   Christine’s ability astounds and encourages me to challenge my other senses more.  Yes, I’ve seen videos of big name chefs who speed dice without looking, but the ability to artfully use their knives takes confidence that is built up with years of practice coupled with the ease of knowing they could look down for accuracy at any time.  All of this to say, when you love something enough–however illogical it may seem to others–find a way to make it work!

Next, I was struck by the manner in which the piece addresses, subtly, that we are all forced to relinquish power at some point in our lives. There are times when the circumstances that surface this ‘release of power’ are more unpleasant for some than others, and oftentimes, not our choice.  In the world of food, there are many certainties–produce tastes better when it is in season– and uncertainties–will the frost this winter ruin the crops?  However, it occurred to me while reading this piece that very few of us recognize what an amazing gift it is to be able to transform a semi-ordinary bundle of veggies into a gourmet meal for yourself or a group of people.  And aren’t we all convalescing due to the abrasions of day-to-day life?  It would be easy to let such a traumatic event turn oneself into a surly person, but Christine’s story implies just the opposite.

Christine Ha - Master Chef

Christine Ha – Master Chef | photo from texasexes.org

On a more personal level; I can say I have not yet experienced anything as traumatic as what Christine Ha went through, however I have certainly had, and still have, obstacles on my food journey. Reading her story has made me all the happier I haven’t thrown in the flag.  We only have one life, and it is our choice to make the most of it, whatever that means to you.  Close your eyes and envision the role food plays in your life, whether it’s on an activism level or right in your backyard. Allow yourself the gift of self-appreciation, as we all do this too seldom.

I hope when you read this culinary adventure tale, you will be just as captivated and moved as I was.  Inspiration shows itself when you least expect it and in the strangest places. Thanks world for not letting me down!

Tell me about a hardship or road block that interrupted your food journey and how you were able to move beyond it or what you are still doing to overcome the set-back.  And remember…bite responsibly!

Healthy Regards,

RAM

As of Late

Good Day All,

Today I just wanted to touch base and send some positive energy out there to everyone.  I know my posts have been very concentrated and less abstract lately, but in my organization I am trying to find a way to mirror all the thoughts I have lately on food, while finding the proper amount of time and energy to shape those thoughts into blog posts.

As I’m sure some of you have noticed I’m dabbling a little more in the media aspect of my blog by trying out the podcast world and creating videos.  It has been both a fun process and a major learning experience for me.  My love has been the best support system and innovative driver.  Additionally, I’ve created a Connect a Bite Instagram that some of you already know about where I showcase little life happenings and the world of food I find myself a part of daily.  A new more fresh looking site is in the works too!

Everyday I feel like I get a little closer to what it means for me to feel more connected to the food world and the true meaning of human rights in that world, and I kid you not when I say time is such a gift.  More than this, the way in which we utilize our time is what matters most.  I’m getting closer everyday to narrowing down my health concerns and in my bodily enlightenment I’m gaining a more positive perspective on my own consumption habits and how to encourage others.  All of this has been unadulterated motivation for me to reach out more to all of you and speak up about the topics and variations of foodstuffs I find interest in.  As time doesn’t seem to permit me being a prolific blogger, I would like to manage more posts that you all find of interest.

Some days this is my life:

(Note:  Also, this film is a favorite.)

Questions I have for you all!

  • How can I be of more assistance to all of you?
  • What would you like to see from me as a writer and creative force?
  • What are my strengths and how can I improve?
  • What are some topics you’d like to hear more about?
  • Would you like more recipes, more podcasts, more videos?
  • Would you prefer variation in the podcast focus?
  • Do you think you’d enjoy watching more conversational videos or abstract videos?
  • What other thoughts do you have?

Today feels like a wonderful opportunity to share a video a friend and fellow Connect a Bite follower shared with me and I thought all of you would appreciate it.  Thanks for the share, I always love stuff like this, send more my way!

Please enjoy Hurra Torpedo, a Norwegian band who performs mostly on kitchen appliances!  Check eeeet….

 

And more than ever, young Martha Payne remains such an inspiration for me.  Check her out:

Never Seconds

Be well everyone and remember…bite responsibly!

 

Healthy Regards,

RAM

gifs courtesy of russelsbaze

Podcast # 2: Cinema Cuisine: Italy – L’eclisse

Japanese B2 poster L'eclisse 1962

Hello All,

I’m very pleased to say that podcast #2 has happened!  That’s right, if you weren’t absolutely titillated after the first one then this one might help to get you more in the mood for a delicate intermixing of film and food.  Foreign Film Sunday (ffs), also known as Cinema Cuisine, has morphed into the type of occasion that can fall on whatever day is most forgiving with time and the day that allows for the most edits and polishing to occur.  Thanks for your patience in the transitioning.  I hope you enjoyed my introductory post with all of the recipes and my first ever FOOD RELATED VIDEO!!!  Please let me know what you think, and again, much gratitude and thanks to my sweet and talented love for all of his help and creativity.

Podcast HERE–> Cinema Cuisine Ep.2 – Italia

Some notes on Italian food culture:

  • Most beverages are typically enjoyed at room temperature as the Italians feel–and is often proven–this aids digestion. (Personally, I prefer all my drinks at room temperature. My love found this to be a bit more challenging.)
  • Multiple course meals are often followed up with coffee or espresso (Italian press was enjoyed with breakfast and after).
  • As simplicity and full flavor is often the goal in an authentic Italian meal, unless a strong sauce is being prepared–battuto, the starter to a dish wherein aromatics are used:  onions, carrots, celery, parsley, garlic, finely chopped–either onion or garlic are chosen for a dish, not both  (I tried to stick to this principle).
  • Creamy, garlic white sauces are often used on pizza and pasta dishes over red sauces. (I had so much fun creating this sauce).
  • Local, and seasonal produce is important when creating a meal (one of the most exciting aspects, for me).
  • Salad is a side dish, rarely a starter to a meal.
  • Typically each dish is served on a different plate. (We did not follow this tradition, as we would have been cleaning dishes until next year).
  • Primo (starter, rice or pasta), secondo (main course), contorno (side dish). (We enjoyed each of the dishes I prepared all at once rather than in stages with the exception of breakfast).
  • Breakfast is typically eaten around 11 and dinner is also enjoyed much later in the day (8 p.m.). (We ate earlier in the day).

l'eclisse

l'eclisse_1

l'eclisse2

l'eclisse3

This quote is still haunting me:

“Vittoria: Why do we ask so many questions? Two people shouldn’t know each other too well if they want to fall in love. But, then, maybe they shouldn’t fall in love at all.”

Somehow, I was entirely beguiled by the main protagonist, who spoke this line. It has resonated with me ever since.  As someone who has the tendency to look at the world with a relatively cynical view, I cannot question the love and devotion I have to my special someone. However, it does occur to me that before him, there were years of questioning and an incredulous nature that was hard to tame for awhile.  This film helped align my thoughts to the concept that those feelings or perceptions in our life that are left without sufficient closure on finality, leave us feeling as though we’re in a stagnant state of disbelief.  Vittoria seemed like this type of character to me.  Underlying naivety coupled with insecurity.    Perhaps that is why this quote sticks.  There’s discussion of institutions in the podcast, but something we–Matthew and I–neglected to remark on, is the more obvious fact that the film itself was displaying the institution of marriage of hearts to one another forever, and the credibility or likelihood of this happening with comfort and ease for everyone.  Moral concepts, we as humans, try to tattoo onto our culture and place precedence on, lose meaning when we–consequently–desecrate and participate in such institutions without a willing and bending heart.  Again, I speak to the idea of absolutes and their danger.  (See commentary in previous podcasts.)

What is more, our instinct for detachment in some aspects of our lives and–on an outside food related note–our detachment from our food and where it comes from is forgotten and ignored.  In turn, our general lethargy with consumption and the creativity that is necessary in the growth and preparation of all worlds of food is stunted.  Incidentally, the media doesn’t allow much room for empathy and seeing outside of ourselves to appreciate things.  What I mean to say is, our empathetic instincts are being muted because of societal entrenchment into technology and “moving forward”, rather than stopping to appreciate the present.  This is where we’re all flawed; our negligence to stand still and take in the beauty of our world whilst living in it.

l'eclisse

I hope this podcast helped stitch you in a little closer to the food world and it’s connection to another artistic medium.  Let me know you’re thoughts and critiques below.  And remember…bite responsibly!

Healthy Regards,

RAM

-featured gifs/jpg:  courtesy gelsominas, unpetitgateau, missavagardner

Cinema Cuisine: Italy – L’eclisse [1st Video]

YesterdayCafe

YesterdayCafe

Hello Everyone,

My experience with preparing and cooking the assorted dishes for Cinema Cuisine, Italy, was that much more care, devotion, patience and love had to go into each dish.  What do I mean?  Oftentimes in the kitchen, as much as possible, I try to be efficient and quick in my approach to making a meal.  I embrace delicate measures when necessary, but otherwise, I’m multitasking and moving from one dish to the next, incorporating one spice or ingredient after the next. After much sweat and heart, the meal is complete.  Shortly after, I either feel one of two things: a strong sense of accomplishment and elation or a mild sense of disappointment and anxiety.   These feelings are common because I’m either pleased with my creations or I’m displeased with–by my standards–an unsatisfactory outcome.  Either way, I’m able to enjoy my creations with a loved one and, being the critic that I am, dissect the many facets of the meal.  With this in mind, for my Italian meal I allowed self and outside critique, but I channeled a level of love into the process of making the dishes that I rarely do.  It was one of my most enjoyable cooking experiences yet.

Before the big meal, my love and I knew we needed to begin the process of making the homemade pasta for a few reasons, but mostly because we had never used a pasta maker before.  For the winter holiday of 2012, we received an authentic, Italian press (with some extra attachments) and a bamboo wooden drying rack for the pasta.  Up until the end of June, we had yet to crack open the box, and this lack of attention to this thoughtful pasta making gift set in motion my idea of choosing Italy as our next film and cuisine exploration.

Below you’ll find many recipes and my FIRST VIDEO that you too could incorporate into a day or days of Italian themed dishes.  Most of them are my own creations and ideas, but some are inspired by wonderful chefs I’ve discovered.  I hope you enjoy every bite and appreciate the process of making this meal or meals as much as I did.  What is more, as the Italians do, enjoy this meal with a group of people and even encourage a potluck. Making all of these delicious recipes and more could turn into an all day affair.  For me, there’s nothing more rewarding and satisfying.

A quick note on L’eclisse.  Why–before the viewing of this film–I had yet to see an Antonioni film, escapes me, but I can say these dishes couple consummately as their simplicity matches the contemplative and confident manner of this movie.  Please, enjoy every bite and every frame.

Keep a look out for our podcast where you’ll hear much more depth into L’eclisse. I’ll post it in a few days!  Please let me know what you think of the recipes and the tweaks you made to your own creations.  And remember…bite responsibly!

 

Breakfast

Raw Cacao, Avocado Pudding/Spread w/ Apple slices & Italian Press Coffee

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 ripe medium avocados
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 to 3 tbsp unsweetened almond (or coconut) milk to taste
  • 1 to 2 tbsp pure maple syrup to taste
  • 1 or 2 drops of liquid stevia to taste (slightly more liberal w/ powder version)
  • 6 tbsp raw cacao
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 large apple of your choice (pear)
  • fresh coffee beans
  • coffee press
  • water

INSTRUCTIONS

 

For Pudding/Spread

  1. Slice the avocado lengthwise to break past the outter skin barrier, remove the pit and spoon out contents into high powered blender/food processor
  2. Add vanilla, maple syrup, raw cacao, cinnamon and the first tbsp of almond milk
  3. Blend until a smooth, creamy texture is reached (note:  Add remaining tbsp of milk if mixture is too dry. Additionally if not sweet enough, add in stevia–take care to not add too much initially as excessive amounts could make the pudding/spread too bitter.)
  4. Slice apple with skin on and enjoy it with liberal amounts of this delicious pudding

For Coffee Press

  1. Coarsely grind two tbsp of coffee for ever 6 oz of water
  2. Begin to heat water, don’t boil
  3. Place ground coffee beans at the bottom of your press
  4. Pour VERY hot water (not boiling) over beans and immediately cover with coffee press lid, but do NOT press down filtration piece yet; let sit for 3-5 minutes
  5. Press down filtration press piece and pour into your favorite mug
  6. ENJOY!

NOTES

 

This dish could also be made with soft and soaked medjool dates (6 to 8). I happened to not have any on hand. Raisins would also be a nice substitute.

Also, Italians often enjoy their chocolate spread with bread or toast.

For a more dense protein treat, add some pre-soaked raw pecans (you’ll get a flavor closer to Nutella but without the hazlenuts).

Should store, refrigerated for up to two days.  After two days I’d smell it/taste it.

chocavopudding_cab

Flavorful and full-bodied coffee beans from www.equalexchange.coop

Lunch/Dinner

Italian Summer Salad

INGREDIENTS (serves 4 large portions or 6 smaller portions)

  • 1 head romaine lettuce (chopped)
  • 1/2 large cucumber (sliced thinly into half moons)
  • colorful sweet peppers of your choices (I chose:  1 purple, 1 red, 1 green, 1 banana; thinly sliced rings)

INGREDIENTS (DRESSING)

  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar (if you’re watching alkalinity, nix this and add an extra 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar)
  • salt to taste
  • course, freshly ground pepper
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1 tbsp & 1 tsp dried Italian herb mixture (my mixture is:  thyme, basil, oregano, parsley, rosemary, marjoram; if you have fresh herbs available, curve the amount; also, the dressing cannot be kept as long)

INSTRUCTIONS

 

For Salad

  1. After cleaning, chopping and drying lettuce, place it in a large bowl
  2. Add pepper rings and cucumber slices
  3. Toss with clean hands until vegetables are all mixed

For Dressing

  1. Pour liquids into a jar and then add remainder of ingredients
  2. Place lid on the top of jar and shake until mixture combines
  3. Before mixture separates, conservatively pour over salad
  4. Enjoy salad soon, or lettuce will wilt.  If only enjoying in single portions, plate salad portion and drizzle dressing over individually.  Secure remaining dressing with lid, store at room temperature

summa cucumber

summa salad

Beet Balls

NOTES

  • Please see my previous post for the beet ball recipe HERE.
  • Some tweaks: I adjusted the herb mixture, type of mushroom and nut when I made these recently, and unlike my old post, I find that golden beets do bring out a more savory nature to these balls.

 

Sauteed Summer Squash

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 summer squash (yellow & zucchini, mixture of your choosing; thinly sliced into half strips)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp grapeseed oil/coconut oil
  • 3 garlic cloves (minced)
  • salt to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste

INSTRUCTIONS

 

  1. After slicing squash and mincing garlic, heat skillet over medium heat and add oil
  2. Once oil is hot–should move like water in the pan–gently place squash slices into skillet and gently toss until every piece is covered with oil
  3. After beginning to brown, add garlic
  4. Cook until gentle (to fork) and garlic is fragrant, lightly browned, but not burnt; about 7 minutes
  5. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, toss, serve and enjoy ^_^

 

Homemade Pasta (gluten-free, soy-free, vegan)

Recipe by:  Cassie

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 tbsp flax (ground)
  • 6 tbsp warm water
  • 1 3/4 cup chickpea flour (additional amount for rolling out and pressing)

INSTRUCTIONAL VIDEO

Check out my very first instructional video (also streaming on YouTube) on how to make homemade pasta!

NOTES

 

  • I made farfalle and fettuccine noodles (both of which fell apart to some degree). I’ll need to do my own personal tweaking to the recipe for the future. Don’t overcook!
  • SALT the water!
  • Make sure you have plenty of flour for rolling out and putting dough through pasta press, otherwise you’ll have a sticky mess.
  • I also recommend keeping a small bowl of cool water nearby wherever your hands are when rolling out the dough. This works much better with moist hands (the dough will not cling to your fingers in such large clumps with a little water).
  • Have a partner! Though you could make this pasta alone, I think it would be more fun and easier with a buddy.
  • Give yourself plenty of time and space. Don’t let the ingredients deceive you, this recipe is relatively time consuming, especially if you’re in a moderately cramped space.
  • Please do not get discouraged if you are in a one butt kitchen or don’t have a pasta press, this is completely doable without both, but it will be more challenging.  Respect your space and the amount of time it will take to make.
  • Kick back and enjoy the experience, otherwise you’ll botch the recipe and process and find yourself very frustrated.
  • Stick to the instructions in the video. Although I’m an advocate of going with the flow in recipes, skipping or rushing a step could lead to problems. :(

 

Walnut Basil Pesto

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 to 1 cup raw walnuts–depending on how ‘nutty’ you want your pesto (soaked w/ apple cider vinegar for 6 hours, rinsed)
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups loosely pressed basil
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup olive oil (more or less to your desired consistency)
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (more or less to your desired consistency, taste)
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

INSTRUCTIONS

 

  1. Place nuts, oil and all other ingredients in high-powered blender or food processor
  2. Begin to blend and slowly increase speed to high
  3. Use bowl scraper to wipe sides of container and blend once more to catch the rest of the ingredients that may have splattered
  4. Depending on the consistency you want (either chunky or smooth), pace your blending
  5. Serve mixed into pasta (specifically for this recipe) and freeze the remainder in an ice-cube tray covered in plastic wrap

NOTES

  • This will make a sizable amount. Try freezing the remainder in ice-cube trays and cover with plastic wrap.  Later, you have a quick meal as all you’ll have to do is pop a pesto cube onto your dish and heat it up or thaw it out.

 

Italian Creamy White Sauce w/ Parsley and Grape Tomatoes

Follow directions HERE for dressing then do the following:

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/4 cup raw cashews
  • 1 garlic clove (yes, more garlic)
  • 3 tsp dried Italian herb mixture
  • water to desired consistency (unsweetened almond milk for a thicker consistency)
  • 6 grape tomatoes (quartered)
  • handful of fresh flat leaf parsley (gently minced; lucky me, this go round I had some from my herb garden!)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Follow instructions for dressing FIRST
  2. Next, add cashews, garlic, Italian herb mixture and water
  3. Blend once more
  4. Serve mixed into pasta (add in parsley and quartered grape tomatoes), or over your favorite, homemade gluten-free pizza crust (without the added parsley, just the tomatoes)!

NOTES

  • Italians typically serve a plain or ‘pasta blanco’ for ease of digestion as a more minimal dish. I dressed up the idea but created a vegan, high protein/omega-3 cream sauce, free of soy and other additives.

fullplate_cab

 

finalmealwithwine_cab

 

Healthy Regards,

RAM

 

Refernces:

Italian Breakfast

Italy Food Culture

Primer – Italian Food Culture

Vegetarian Awareness Month & Thoughts

credit: Superman ( http://www.treehugger.com/slideshows/green-food/can-all-you-can-13-great-posters-when-preserving-was-matter-life-and-death/page/16/ )

Hello Everyone,

(WARNING:  Today’s post may be a little heavy.)

First, I wanted to announce that I have been accepted into the Austin Food Blogger Alliance, which I’m excited about.

Second, as today is World Farm Animals Day, I couldn’t help but think of Charlotte’s Web,a children’s story, and the manner in which this author (E.B. White) and illustrator (Garth Williams) depict such a close and natural connection between different creatures.  I’m also reminded of a novel entitled Watership Down by Richard Adams, which does have a larger historical undertone, but also comments on our need, as animals, for survival and the instinct to look out for one another.  The story focusses on a group of rabbits and I feel that it parallels so much of the strife we go through as humans but the oppression we cause.  I know this may be a dark and unsettling message for a Tuesday, but if you haven’t read or seen the adaptations of these books, I highly recommend it.

Third, in light of today’s holiday, I want to take a moment to highlight the Farm Sanctuary in New York.  I found out about this place about a year or more ago through a podcast called Vegan Radio .  I’m not sure that they still do productions, but some of their pods were pretty informative.  I digress, Farm Sanctuary is special to me for many reasons, but one big one is what they do for turkey’s every year.  Confession:    Last year I chose to not participate in the Thanksgiving Holiday for an assortment of reasons, but one of those was to show grace and gratitude to all the millions of turkeys that are slaughtered each year for one day.  I needed to use that day in observance of these animals.  When I found out that the Farm Sanctuary in NY actually feeds the rescued turkeys dinner (squash, pie and cranberries), Celebration for the  Turkeys, I was elated and filled with an incredible amount of relief.  What a wonderful message and action!  So, if you’re in the area, or want to take a trip this fall, I recommend stopping at the Farm Sanctuary in California or New York and enjoy the presence of these creatures and enjoy a delicious vegan dinner to follow.

Finally, just as a note:  I have many killer posts a brewin’, some which are far over do, but I would also like to talk about, World Vegetarian Day, which occurred yesterday (yeep, I’m a little behind on the post I know, but I didn’t forget. 😀 ).  This day–which this year fell on a Meatless Monday–was first recognized in the late 1970s by the North American Vegetarian Society (NAVS) and has gotten much notice as the decades have passed.  It is the first day in a series, which highlights Vegetarian Awareness Month and ends with World Vegan Day 1 November 2012.  Although it stands true to me that nothing should be truly celebrated just one day out of the year, I think there is something special about having specific days to focus on a topic.  I hold this day very close because of how it relates to food and its connection to our lives.

Pinpointing one trend I’ve noticed in the year of 2012 more than any other–in relationship to food and diet that is–is that a vegetarian or vegan diet (which largely defines my lifestyle) makes people, at large, feel uncomfortable, ill at ease, self-conscious, a little twitchy and sometimes I would say anxious.  These flurry of emotions seem to surface as soon as someone sees what I’m eating, my diet is discovered, they hear someone commenting on a dish I’ve prepared, they feel as though their diet is under attack, and often they get defensive and try to find loop-holes.  On the other hand, I’ve had an incredible amount of positivity and interest thrown my way this year in regards to my diet, diet in general and food related topics.  I’ve acquired more readers here and I’ve had thoughtful discussions begin about important and simple subjects.  Different perspectives are important, and I certainly can’t cover everything in one blog post, one tweet or one Facebook status update.  I’m grateful to those who have allowed me the room to grow this blog/website into something more than just a virtual page for commentary of my own, on assorted topics regarding food and our relationship with it.  Living a life free of animal products has been one of many challenges, discoveries and enlightening experiences.  Personally, I have a sensitivity to blatant misuse of non-human animals, but my ongoing goal is to become more connected to all of those less than obvious actions that occur and are so easy to overlook if you’re connected to the mainstream ‘eating’ world.

SOOOOO, rather than writing a long and overly sentimental post about being vegetarian (not that doing this would be a bad thing), I’ve decided to approach this day with humor.  Here are some cartoons you might enjoy, pass them along!  It’s so easy to choose to be offended by something that questions your beliefs (we see this occurring a lot recently around the world), but I prefer to laugh and take a moment to reflect on the heart of the matter.  Who are you truly mad at when someone negates your food choices or lifestyle choices?  Humor is indeed a way to embrace that elephant I keep talking about.  Think about it.

http://s9.photobucket.com/albums/a53/chessclubgroupi11587/get%20fuzzy/?action=view&current=vegetarian.jpg&sort=ascending

 

http://s9.photobucket.com/albums/a53/chessclubgroupi11587/get%20fuzzy/?action=view&current=vegetarian.jpg&sort=ascending

 

Here are a few posts you may find intriguing on a day like today:

I hope you all have a great afternoon!

And remember…bite responsibly.

 

Healthy Regards,

~RAM~

Let’s Talk it Over

I cannot think of a day that passes by where I don’t discuss food in some manner or it is not brought up in my presence.  Food, in so many ways, has a magnetizing effect on people, and I think there are a lot of answers to the ‘troubles’ we might have in this wacky world, if only to sit among friends, co-works, peers, mentors, even strangers and talk about food.  Yes, there’s room to be offended, but there’s also room for opening up one’s perspective on how they view food.  You may even find those certain special people with whom you can esoterically confab and create a high point to your day.

Today I just want  to talk about food.  Why I like it, and why I enjoy gabbing about it.  Someone recently said to me, ‘I think it’s weird that some people just go on & on about food, I don’t get it.’  Well, it is my goal to help  you get it, and even if after reading this post you still don’t give a hoot, at least you might be able to appreciate what you don’t understand.

Why Food is Amazing – Why I Love to Talk about Food

  • Carbon matter is important. It’s what makes us functional as human-beings, ‘beings’ period.  What we put in our mouth that transports and transmits the many signals and channels in our body is fascinating and important.  It just is. 😀
  • Stemming from the above idea, even if you find eating to be a chore, it still is one of the very reasons you’re able qualify your senses with more than a 2-dimensional experience.  Perception and depth, food is all the 3-D I need.  Sorry all you big-time directors/cinematographers, I won’t convert to visual hyperbolizations, but all you foodies, give me more.
  •  Aesthetics:  No matter if you find a certain item/dish to look grotesque, said emotions are aroused due in part to the gross-out food’s appearance.  Some of my favorite cooked dishes look rather strange and sometimes unappetizing, yet some have such vibrant, bursting colors and shapes.  I’m drawn to them simply because of their appearance.
  • Memories/Nostalgia:  I’ve been hard on myself over reminiscing about assorted treats and savory dishes I grew up eating that I wouldn’t want to consume now.  This is not so say I have something inevitably glamorous to say, but in many ways it’s cathartic to mull over our eating habits of the past and present.  Additionally, if you smell fresh basil and it reminds you of your grandmother’s garden or you get a wif of someone’s freshly made pie and you think of your favorite birthday party or even if you’re recently vegetarian and you smell some cooked animal and it reminds you of a dish growing up that you ate, it’s okay.  There’s nothing wrong with that.  Those feelings are normal, and we’re ‘hard-wired’ to feel these sensory explosions.  I say, rather than resist it or have extreme stages of denial, try embracing how you feel and ask  yourself why?  Are you attached to the food itself or the memory you’ve attached to the food. Hmmm.
  • Celebration:  I was in a nutrition class last August, and I had an instructor tell us we
    shouldn’t use food as a reward if we ever have children.  She said this is a bad idea because as humans, we shouldn’t associate our consumption habits with our emotions.  Though I think she has a very valid point, I’m a feeler, a talker, a very demonstrative individual, so knowing this about myself, I can’t imagine not associating food in some way with how I am feeling.  I am by no means promoting binge eating habits, or excessive abuse of food under the influence of stress or a similar emotion, but I am suggesting that food can be a celebration.  Food is highly connected to the way we feel.  A celebration in many ways is about expressive behavior, connection, loving behavior and affection. Celebrations are heightened by delicious and familiar foods.  Food is that unexpected collaboration of so many of our senses joining together for their own physical soiree. It’s the least we can do, right?  What do I ask of you readers?  Instead of just cramming down those fantastic cup-cakes at your friend’s birthday gathering, try just taking one and thoroughly enjoying it.  Feel the frosting on your mouth and the texture it brings to your palate and smell the sweet aroma of the cake.  Appreciate.
  • Food is something to explore.  From how it’s created to how it comes out (whoops), I think the entire process of consumption intriguing.  When you begin to grow something edible, a feeling comes over you that’s rather alarming.  “This is hard work, but amazing.”  When you’re consuming excessive pre-packaged, processed foods, and taking pharmaceuticals later to make up for the detriment these substances have had on your body, so much of the care and connection to the food is taken away and dribbled down to a loaf of chemical mess.  There are a lot of arguments against why growing your own food is negative, but having a herb garden, taking a trip to a local farm, or even just chatting up a farmer at the farmer’s market is better than scanning a bunch of bar codes.  Unfortunately, economically, many of the foodstuffs that make a healthful and fulfilling diet are expensive and out of reach to many.  In a country of great wealth, we too (Americans) have a growing number of impoverished and malnourished.  Just think of that, with so much, we have so little we give.  Explore what you’re consuming, where it came from and how it go to your hand/plate/bowl, MOUTH and enjoy the satiety.
  • I’m reminded of an episode of Superman the Animated Series (season 1, episode 7)

    ©DC

    featuring Metallo.  Metallo was formerly a regular man (John Corben) and was surgically turned into a man of metal.  He has super strength like Superman, but can no longer sense anything or feel emotion.  (Although they show him getting angry…hmm).  We’re previously shown that John Corben the man, is both a womanizer and foodie himself and enjoys the pleasures of a rich diet. When he’s converted into a machine that has one major use, extra strength, the embellishment of his neglected senses is the writers way of sending a message.  Our senses are connected and make us who we are, animals.  If we can’t enjoy a delicious meal, that makes us a little less animal.  Just a thought.

Though this list is by no means exhaustive, it is a conversation starter.  Something I mentioned ad nauseam was ‘senses’ and how we both use and abuse them and how connected our ingestion of food is to our sensory pleasures.  What do you think?  I’d love to hear from you.  Tell me why you do or don’t love food and talking about it.

And remember…bite responsibly.

Healthy and Chatty Regards,

~RAM~

 

What ‘The Five Year Engagement’ Taught Me

Hello gentle readers.  Happy Free Comic Book Day!!!

Some of the free comics I picked up. :D

A note that’s ever so off topic, yes, it’s free comic book day and I got some fun loot.  It’s always okay to nurture the nerd in you, and what a great way to do it.

DC © Animal Man

Lately, as film is a very important and fun aspect of my life, I’ve made a point to check out at least one new film a week in theaters. What’s on my mind today?  The Five Year Engagement.  Props to Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller for pulling off one of the few non-vomit worthy romcoms I have seen. Though there were a couple of schmaltzy moments, I feel like this film truly stayed away from a lot of the maxims that are tossed around like a dinner salad in most films of its genre.  But that’s not exactly why I am bring up this film, not entirely.  What I’m here to reflect on is two things:  animals as a metaphor for change and the use of (oh and SPOILER ALERT) a food trailer.  Within the film’s most gripping moment, we see Tom (Segel) bevel himself into a Michigan hunter who lives off of his forage and more than peruses becoming one with nature and the animals.  Dear fur-lined mugs with hove handles, drinkable honey (Tom become somewhat of a bee keeper), to an entire meal centered around the ‘game’ he’s hunted, Tom has created what could be perceived as both eccentric and weird to grotesque and appalling to some. Now That I’ve created this lovely visual for you all, let me get down to the brass tacks (plz excuse my cliché).  My initial and most immediate reaction after viewing these parts of the film was disgust and irritation.  ‘Oh, spectacular.  Another Hollywood film that blatantly uses non-human animals as just another prop, comedic relief, amusement factor.  Exploitation, yuck!’  However, while digesting the film I was brought to the conclusion that though it seems harsh to create a type of metamorphosis for a man by him turning into his nature creatures, this could also be seen as something more natural.  I began thinking about how estranged Tom’s character had become by this point in the film, and how we as human beings are more capable of adapting to our surroundings than we truly realize.  Our lives are more circumstantial than we realize and we’re going to flourish in some way no matter where we reside.  The use of faux animal in TFYE no longer disturbs me.  No actual animals were harmed and I have come to understand that I feel Segel and Stoller could be making a bigger commentary about how we abuse our surroundings.

Tom Solomon (Jason Segel) working in his medic themed food trailer.

Likewise, these two writers tied in the trendy food trailer as a way for Tom to find another way to exist as a creator of enjoyment by means of food, yet in a much more approachable and feasible way.  However it seems meat consumption is oddly belabored, which I wasn’t a fan of, but I suppose you can’t win them all.  The point of me mentioning all of this?  Connectedness to your food and the environment cannot just stop with a grocery store or market visit.  I feel it needs to be a notion that you carry with you.  Some may find this to be a very heavy chip to have on your shoulders, but I find it invigorating and enlightening to enrich my life with analytical thinking.  Somehow, it makes the asinine more understandable.

See this film, let me know your views.  I would like to hear from you.

Have a killer Comic Book Saturday!

And remember…bite responsibly.

Healthy Regards,

~RAM~

 

 

What’s it all about?

Walt Disney Productions

One weekend can feel very differently from another depending simply on a person’s outlook.  This weekend in particular I watched a lot of films including :  Celebrity, Whatever Works, Around the World in 80 Days, Jeff Who Lives at Home, and Who Killed the Electric Car.  I am not sure if the perspective I gained is something I did consciously, but each film appeared to touch on a theme of personal choice and how these choices affect other people.  The lines of this idea were not perfectly drawn in each movie, but I think the ambiguity is perhaps why they lingered with me.

To be perfectly fair, there is a nihilistic side of me and I’ve been known to be a bit of a misanthrope, but as time progresses, this side of me is dissolving to some extent.  Why is there this negative side of me?  I don’t know that I can answer that question with 100% clarity, but I know there’s one aspect of nihilism that stays with me.  I find comfort in questioning things, and I feel a lot of questions of life, existence, and how we’re all tied to one another can be dark, grim and appear disorderly, but they are nonetheless questions that need to be asked.  All of the above being stated, I’d like to think that I am a blossoming optimist with each day that passes, and that is why these films affected me with such percussion.

Without meandering down a long road of diction and rhetoric, I’d like to show you a 6 1/2 minute clip from Whatever Works, that channeled my inner pessimist.  There’s a sunny side, so keep reading, post video. :)

Whatever Works; written & directed by Woody Allen

Everybody’s happy to talk, full of misinformation.  If I have to eat nine servings of fruits and vegetables a day, I don’t want to live.  And with it all, the day still comes when they put you in a box.

– Boris (Larry David, from the clip)

Immediately after seeing this portion of the film I felt very silly for starting this blog.  I questioned what I was doing writing out posts for anyone to read, knowing that I’m not an expert on the subjects I discuss.  I’m just another student of life–as trite as that may sound–like the rest of you, why should you care about what I have to say?  However, commiserating and discussing is never a bad thing.  Questioning and expressing thoughts is not illegal, and it happens that there might be a select few who do care about what I’ll be mulling over on each entry.   Worry resolved.

A proselytizer I am in context to supporting a cause or point of view, but I am not the type to push my views on others unless an urgent situation presents itself.  Being vegan is a ‘lifestyle’ in many ways, and unfortunately the term itself has a very negative connotation.  I think living a cruelty-free life is still something that needs to be discussed, and connecting our actions with what we eat is as well.  Clarity in life is difficult to find, and we’re all left with the big question, what’s this all for?  I don’t have the answer you want, but I can say the life you lead is up to you in many ways, but ignoring signs of change and impact can be a mistake.

Every tiny choice you make impacts the next, and of course domino effect kicks in.  Living life knowing that each choice made is invariably leading to death is realistic, but how pleasant is that reality?  I’m not saying pull an ostrich, but dwelling on unharmonious factoids about the demise of our existence is dreadful and unproductive.  Be aware, and move on, trying to make changes in whatever way you’re capable.

On food.  Remember, you don’t have to eat the way any person tells you to, but it’s okay to seek advice and counsel about what you consume, how it affects your body and where it comes from.  What’s most difficult about change at an adult age–in relationship to diet and moralistic choices in connection to other animals–is that we’re not all raised with the education necessary to comfort these quandries.  The learning curve and empathy factor is thrown off tremendously.  The how and where factor of what we consume is more important than most realize.    Moreover, eating is fantastic and can be very enjoyable, but there is a purpose for what we eat.  Understanding and respecting this connection can make the body that moves you through life healthier and ideally happier.

http://www.lesleycooks.com

And remember…bite responsibly.

 

Healthy Regards,

~RAM~

Fraggle Thoughts

Fraggle Rock gang

If you’re ever looking for a program with a message, than Fraggle Rock is the show for you.  I find that with every episode I re-watch, I am reminded of simplistic and virtuous concepts that we adults could take to heart.  Though today’s post will not directly relate to food, I feel each topic mentioned is certainly ‘food for thought’ in correlation with leading a thoughtful, genuine and Kind Life – style.

First let us take a look at clips (some are quite long) & a provided short summary thanks to Wikipedia.  Then stay tuned for my reflection on the take-away message and how we can merge our personal goals and perspectives with how we choose to approach food.

Season 1, Episode 4, You Can’t Do That Without a Hat

 

Wiki Summary [with my added notes in parentheses]:  When everyone gets tired of Boober (the neurotic of the Fraggle bunch, with a good intentions but a negative outlook) being afraid all the time, Red (wild, care-free and zany) takes him to the Trash Heap(a Fraggle’s oracle of wisdom), who then, somehow, makes his hat lucky. Boober’s bravery is cut short when it blows off his head, and is stuck being wimpy again. But when Gobo finds the hat on a Doozer, who’s lost in the Gorg’s Garden, will Boober be able to save Gobo from being thumped by Junior?

My Thoughts:  Within every person is at least an ounce of insecurity waiting to be satiated by courage, confidence and valor.  However, without facing what fears we have that create said insecurities we cannot grow as individuals and recognize all the beauty, growth and possibilities around us.  Although I’ve sort of overstated the obvious, as Americans (and I’m sure from any foreign perspective) life becomes increasingly busier the older we get.  It’s a part of our culture to be constantly moving and facing the ever-changing world around us, otherwise we’ll be left.  Right?  Wrong.

I say it is okay to live your life at your own pace, the catch…keep up and always stay aware.  In this episode Boober has a hyperbolic fear of almost everything.  He’s lost his hat and he feels incomplete in some way.  When he realizes later in the episode that he doesn’t necessarily need the hat to feel confident and strong his perspective changes.

Everyone does this to some degree. I say, great!  If you have a pair of stellar shoes, a rad skirt, a killer pair of jeans, or even something smaller that makes you feel more energized and self-assured then pop it on, but try to step away from objectification of your feelings.  Take control of how you feel and allow yourself the growth–lack of concern–to fret constantly about what other’s may think or the negative outcome.  Open yourself up to the positive in life and there’s no telling what you will be able to accomplish.

Season 1, Episode 5, The Thirty-Minute Work Week

 

Wiki Summary [with my added notes in parentheses]:  Gobo (sort of the leader of the Fraggle bunch, curious, plays a Fraggle guitar and generally happy) gets postcards, Mokey(whimsical, sensitive and spiritual Fraggle who partakes in all things close to ‘earth’ and artistic) collects radishes, Boober does laundry and cooking, and Red does swim meets. But now it’s time for Wembley(fun spirited, encouraging, happy and positive in his own right) to get a job, but Wembley just can’t seem to find what he wants to do, until he hears about the Volunteer Fire Department.

My Thoughts:  Life should never feel like a constant competition, but in many instances we are each vying for the next big thing to occur in our life and we certainly want to get their before our peers and colleagues, right?  Wrong!  This behavior can be exhausting, foolhardy, and will probably only lead to personal turmoil and potential let-downs.  I find that with most individuals choosing their perfect career is next to impossible.  Even the lucky-few who knew EXACTLY what they wanted to do from the moment they took their first step (I exaggerate, oui), there is still a tinge of ‘what if’ inside of them and most certainly the prospect that they too could be doing something better and with more precision.

In this episode Wembley is unsure of what he wants to do in a lot of ways because he is intimidated by the ease that his Fraggle buddies have with their life-duties.  He is focusing too much on others capabilities and interests and not his own, a mistake many of us make on our journey’s.  Additionally Wembley finds himself unable to choose where his specialities and affections rest.

I implore you to take the time and make the effort–even if you’re sure–to figure out what you want to do with your life because we can’t all be Highlander.  It is most assuredly important to use mentors and people around you with whom you admire and look to for inspiration, but don’t fall into the trap of obsessing, worrying and comparing yourself to them.  Allow yourself to compliment others and give recognition and praise where it’s due.

Wembley knew all along what he thought was cool, but he was to clouded by negative self-worth to truly see it.  Lesson; know that you can’t be perfect at everything.  Find that special something you have, even if it’s tiny, and work on it.  It may not be your ‘job’ for life, but it could very possibly be the key to confidence you’ve been needing to find that perfect job for life.

Season 1, Episode 6, The Preachification of Convincing John

 

Wiki Summary [with my added notes in parentheses]:  Mokey decides that it isn’t proper for Fraggles to eat the constructions Doozers(these are small non-Fraggle ‘blue collar’ workers within Fraggle Rock, who are constantly building towers) work so hard to build. To convince the other Fraggles that she is right she gets the help of Convincing John. But when the towers cramp up the caves, will people still be convinced?

My Thoughts:  It’s very easy to jump to a conclusion about someone, something, an issue or topic, but as Mokey shows us, assumptions and rash choices can get us into trouble.  I say question, yes, but don’t dismiss other outcomes unless you’ve fully done your research.

I work on staying true to practicing what I ‘preach’ every day, because there are a lot of sensitive and touchy issues that come up when you’re vegan.  Any type of alternative lifestyle is questioned.  Just know that you’re never alone and that even if you feel you are ‘RIGHT’ there’s always an opposing factor.

Mokey asks her Fraggle friends to join into her cause and then goes so far as to instilling law.  The mistake here is forcing others to share your beliefs and feelings.  Pushing any ideals or thoughts on another person is going to be detrimental and could ruin a relationship.  If you’re concerned about a situation, join a cause and find gentle and   pragmatic ways to instill knowledge.  Never force an issue, and try your best to not be a ‘know-it-all’ because one of the many beauties of life is learning and discovering new things.  Ask questions and listen.

Everyday is a new opportunity to explore a facet of the world we have yet  to tackle.  When we make choices about what we eat, how we eat, where we eat, with whom we buy our food from and so on, those choices have huge impacts on not only ourselves, but on everyone in our community, city, sate, nation and so forth.  Commemorate the connection.

And remember…bite responsibly.

 

Healthy & Aware Regards,

~RAM~