Good Day Everyone,
Happy Vernal Equinox !
Springtime represents so many things in our society, that it’s hard to overlook this major transitional period–and subsequently positive alteration to the environment–by way of beautiful blooms, pollination and the beginning of a new growing season. Spring washes over us all and makes way for sweet morning reads by a window and fresh spring salads to compliment the change of weather.
As March settles in, I am finding my time being stretched in different directions and all I can think about lately is savory goodness to satisfy my longing to stay nourished through the busy days of work and creative projects. This recipe revealed itself one late afternoon while I was alone in the kitchen and peeking into our refrigerator for what we had “in stock” at the time. These are the moments I enjoy most in the culinary experience because my imagination stands a chance. Have you ever heard that we all like a range of options, but if you present too many, we’re less likely to come to a solidified choice? Well on this particular afternoon, we were just scant enough in the produce department that is our kitchen, that I felt a happy inclination towards this vibrant and delicious spaghetti dish.
I knew I wanted pasta, but mother time had not gifted enough to me in this instance to warrant making it from scratch. However, I was able to use Tinkyada spaghetti noodles and they were just what I had in mind. I wanted a noodle I could wrap my fork around and spaghetti, along with farfalle, remind me of Spring! Also, I wanted to–as I’m sure most of you know about me–balance color, but I did lean on the green end for this dish.
I wanted to balance the semi-soft nature of the dish with something crunchy, and after cutting open the butternut squash, I was in luck; seeds! I decided to combine the butternut squash seeds with the other three you’ll see listed below to make a nice crunchy medley. Honestly, I initially wanted these roasted, but I went with toasted and I was pleased with the results, however I recommend trying both ways. Additionally, I did not hull the butternut squash seeds but ate them as they are.
The peas and the butternut squash balanced their sweetness and semi-savory nature perfectly and will dance on your palette with divine texture and pleasure.
Take a moment this spring to appreciate the colors nature offers, appreciate the remainder of veggies nestled in your fridge and prepare yourself a happy Spring sketti!
Splendid Springtime Spaghetti (gluten-free)
- 1 package gluten-free spaghetti (I used the Tinkyada brown rice kind, but the quinoa pasta is great too!)
- 1/2 cup green peas (fresh or frozen)
- 5 or 6 sun dried tomatoes (cut into strips and re-hydrated if purchased dried–boil water and place dried tomatoes in hot water after removing from heat; soak for 10 min.)
- 7 or 8 thin slices of purple onion (cut in half, and separate into slivers)
- 4 white mushrooms (cut into thin slices)
- 1 bundle of flat leaf parsley(leaves and majority of stems minced)
- 1 1/4 cup red kidney beans (cooked and drained)
- 6 or 7 glugs extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp Spanish paprika
- 1 tsp garlic granules
- 4 garlic cloves
- 1 tsp dried marjoram
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- Salt to taste
- 1/2 medium to large butternut squash (roasted strips)
- A couple of glugs extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 tsp salt
- A few shakes or cranks black pepper
- All butternut squash seeds from cut squash (rinsed well and partially dried–either toss pulp or use for compost)
- 2 tbsp pumpkin seeds (raw; optional)
- 2 tbsp sunflower seeds (raw; optional)
- 1/2 avocado (per person, thin slices)
Instructions (butternut squash)
- Preheat oven to 375ºF
- Rinse and peel squash and chop off bottom and top
- Slice in half through the vertical perimeter and then use seed scooper or large spoon to scoop out seeds and pulp
- Place seeds into a bowl reserving them for the seed mixture topping (see above)
- Cut squash into 1/2 inch thick strips, about an inch and a half long
- Place squash strips in medium bowl and cover with a couple of glugs olive oil, salt and pepper
- Toss squash with hands until it is lightly coated with oil, salt and pepper
- Distribute squash evenly on baking sheet and bake for 30 to 35 minutes (flip half-way)
- Once baking is complete, place aside
Instructions (pasta dish)
- Begin by prepping all veggies
- Boil enough water to be able to submerge entire pasta amount (I break pasta in half); salt pasta once pasta is added. Cook 10 – 15 minutes or until pasta is al dente. Gluten-free pasta can get mushy very easily, that’s why you want it to be slightly undercooked or perhaps this is your taste
- Drain, rinse and place pasta back into sauce pan or pot
- Add olive oil and all spices and marjoram to cooked pasta
- Add all veggies except butternut squash
- Mix well, but gently so as to not tear apart the spaghetti
- Add lemon juice and salt to taste and stir
- Keep over a very low heat to warm until the next step is complete
- In a bowl, mix together all seeds, extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper (lightly coating seeds)
- In a dry skillet, over medium heat, add seeds and toast until golden brown (note: add the sesame seeds toward the end of the toasting process as they will brown much faster than the other seeds)
- Serve pasta in bowls and place butternut squash slices on top, then fan out avocado slices and finally sprinkle with seed mixture
- Serves: Approx. 4 people
- Enjoy out on the patio, your front steps or in whatever immediate outdoors area you have and I recommend following this meal (15-30 minutes later of course :p) with a kombucha!
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.
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!
Today I’d like to do something I’ve meant to do for quite sometime, a focused piece on a blogger I follow, who has inspired me or left a sweet feeling in my heart after reading/viewing their blog. Sarah Britton is just this person and My New Roots is her fantastic blog. I came across her blog a year or more ago, and the first I saw it, I spent hours rummaging through all of her old posts–from the beginning–because I loved her message so much and what her blog stands for.
As I’ve not come out and said this yet on the blog, 2013 is the year I will call “The Health Trials”,dumdumduuuuummmm…almost as though I’m in a life game, fencing with what ails me. And because I’m me, I’m going to conquer and get answers! My New Roots has been such a motivating factor in this plight. Why is this? It’s not because she herself–Sara Britton–has made overly confessional posts and twaddle about her life/food/health journey, it’s because she focuses on diversity in the diet, cleanliness of our pallets–metaphorically–and bursts with helpful recipes that put into action her philosophies. A woman who truly connects her bites!
Throughout my personal food journey, My New Roots has helped me keep perspective on my greater goals in the ‘food world’, and I cannot say enough about her bravery in reaching for what she wanted in the culinary world.
Enough about what I think, here are a couple of excerpts from her blog that you may find interesting–both are from her ‘fall’ section.
Below you’ll see sample of A Brush With Health
Dry Skin Brushing is something I learned about last year as I was attending school for Holistic Nutrition. I had never heard of it before then, but the subject surfaced in several of my courses until curiosity got the better of me. Now, dry skin brushing it is part of my daily routine and from this simple act I have seen many positive changes take place…
The skin is the largest organ in the body, and is responsible for one-fourth of the body’s detoxification each day, also making it, one of the most important elimination organs. More than one pound of waste products are discharged through the skin every day! Toxins from everyday soaps, cleansers, antiperspirants / deodorants, lotions, cosmetics and synthetic fibers worn next to the skin, can gather beneath the skin’s surface and contribute to a variety of skin problems and conditions, as well as prevent the skin from breathing. If the skin becomes inactive with its pores chocked with millions of dead cells and chemical residues, then impurities will remain in the body. The other eliminative organs, mainly the kidneys and liver, will have to increase their labor and will eventually become overworked, thus eventually creating disease.
Read more HERE!
In this sample, Whole Food Thinking and Whole Plant Eating, Sarah focuses on eating the entire vegetable, a waste-free message I second! Beet greens are delicious. 😀
Would it sound strange to buy sneakers without the laces, or a sandwich and throw away the bun? Well, it seems to be in this culture of ours, we’ve grown accustomed to eating just part of a whole food, and tossing away the parts that matter most. We peel our apples, we separate eggs into their respective white and yolk parts, we strip our grains of all their exterior nutrients to make pristine, white everything, and we lop the tops off our root vegetables. Stop the insanity!
Foods are whole for a reason – they are all perfect packages of well-balanced nutrition – designed that way for our benefit. Beets are a perfect example of this. Fortunately, this time of year, you can find them in their whole state, with the delicious green tops attached! It’s like getting two vegetables for the price of one! Here are some other vegetables that you can eat (gasp!) whole.
Read more HERE!
Also, my love and I are taking a vacation to New York and I hope to take hoards of photographs that I plan to share with all of you when I return. Maybe I’ll even be stirred into yummy inspiration! I’m more than thrilled at the thought of all the incredible food and food experiences that await us.
Bite responsibly in the coming October, and I hope to give updates soon!
Copyright 2013 Connect a Bite at www.connectabite.com
Good Afternoon All,
On Saturday, I had the privilege of meeting with assorted Austin Food Blogger Alliance members and helpful staff (Suzanne Santos and Susan Leibrock) from the Sustainable Food Center ,who discussed the Capital Campaign and more information about connecting to farmers and vendors within the various markets that are held. I would like to take a moment to focus on something I mention regularly on my blog, eating local and supporting those farmers within your region–if this is within your power. About a year ago, I did an internship with SFC and I was welcomed into their close-knit community of hard-working food activists. I was able to see first-hand, how involved each member of SFC is in the process of bringing helpful and useful projects into the Austin community. Their moves may not be excessively bold or very mainstream, but SFC does a great deal for the food community, those desiring to be apart of their food community or those inclined to become educated about it.
By supporting their new and first actual center, you will help introduce a multitude of advantages to the community such as: a commercial kitchen, a teaching garden, and outdoor learning pavilion and much more! This will help expand, the already in place programs like, Happy Kitchen and Sprouting Healthy Kids.
Please, take a look at their website and even if you cannot contribute financially, spread the word about this cause and maybe even stop by the farmers’ markets in Austin.
Thanks for reading and remember…bite responsibly.
(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.
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.
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
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,
Today, I would like to take some time to express my true appreciation for the local farmers’ where I live–and everywhere for that matter–who make farmers’ markets possible. In no particular order, here’s Reasons I Adore Shopping at My Local Farmers’ Market:
Members of the community working together for something bigger. Each market I attend I am reminded that with perseverance, communication, integrative ingenuity, and thoughtful behavior anything can happen. Well maybe not ANYTHING, but most things can organize. The FM is a true reminder of the grace and beauty that human beings can possess if given the opportunity and knowledge to do so.
Recognizing a face with what I’m eating. Making the connection between the food on your plate/bowl/napkin/hand to its originator is an incredible rush. I mean, the next best thing would be taking the necessary steps to growing all of your own produce (I’m a beginner farmer now), but recognizing a face and having them recognize you back is one immediate way to show appreciation for all that nourishes us. Connect the dots, that’s all I can say, do this when possible.
It’s an experience. In many ways, calling the farmers’ market an ‘experience’ seems to down-grade its importance, but perhaps grammatically it’s all in how you look at ‘it’. Nonetheless, if you’ve never been to a live market, it’s certainly something you should try. I will warn you, there is a level of intimidation on your first visit that may make going sort of off-putting. For some people, this feeling resonates over into many visits until they get into the swing of things. Markets can be highly trafficked, especially if it’s a well marketed one in a bumpin’ area. This alone can cause introverts or claustrophobes to run screaming, but please, I beseech you to give it a try. I am by no means a crowd person, but it’s quite exhilarating to be sure.
Nutrient-packed veggies and fruits. In their raw form, you can’t do any better than snagging some fresh peaches at your summer FM. Yes, you might be able to easily pick up peaches at the grocery store, but they might be shipped in from another state, and be hard like stone fruit (they are more decorative than edible). When you buy from your local market, the produce is most typically ripe and full of flavor. Also, keep in mind that every time your food is shipped in, it is that many more days lacking in nutrients. After talking with a farmer a weekend ago, I was convinced to buy a basket of tomatoes that needed a bit more ripening simply because he just picked them the night before. Delightful.
Organic without the label. Many small farms cannot afford the cost of labeling their produce USDA Organic, but rest assured, most local farmers’ produce is in fact organic and free of many of the chemicals that turn a normal strawberry into a toxic mess.
Experimenting with vegetables and fruits I’ve never tried before. From the geometrical masterpiece of romanesco brocoflower to the crisp and colorful Japanese kale , I’ve never been disappointed by the choice of interesting and fun produce. I’ve ‘mixed-it-up’ a few usual recipes with an item I would have otherwise ignored in a grocery store.
I could easily list more, but instead why don’t some of you tell me about your market experiences. The good, the bad and the ugly. I hope I’ve helped many of you cultivate more reasons to shop at your local market.
I would also like to give a special thanks to the Sustainable Food Center‘s staff and volunteers who work hard every week to keep these markets running smoothly.
Have a lovely day, and remember…bite responsibly.