I added a surprise second selection for this particular Noshed in a Book post. Most of the time, before I begin reading a book, I take some time to ponder the title and what it may or may not mean in relationship to the text. Collections of poetry are no exception to this rule, and, I would have to say, heighten a stronger sense of my analytical self than prose. Then of course there’s biographical books, which often–not always–follow a restrictive naming; the reader needs to grasp the purpose of the book immediately. Oddly enough, reading Live or Die by Anne Sexton unfolded a series of poems that revealed the true meaning behind the title, but The First Biography of Joan of Arc–my surprise additional reading for this post–did not deliver on the title. Titles are important, but maybe this was a lesson for me and us all that you can’t judge a book by its title, and if you do, expect to be surprised and don’t be disappointed if you’re not. Let’s dive in!
Live or Die by Anne Sexton
A series of poems that are organized chronologically, which for better or worse focus on our delicate relationship with not just death, but life as well. My approach to poetry is one that is unpracticed because I tend to not read collection after collection, instead spreading out poetry collections over time. Also, there’s a level of apprehension I have when reading poetry. Each word is precisely chosen and I often fret about not giving due time to each poem and respecting its pacing and structure. Anne Sexton’s writing is remarkable and flows and I didn’t once feel overwhelmed by the direction or pacing of her poems. Just some of the topics Sexton touches on in this series are dreams, womanhood, death of love, death of literal life, mother and daughter confessions, and bones. Here are a few excerpts that moved me.
“Awake, I memorized dreams.
Dreams came into the ring
like third string fighters,
each one a bad bet
who might win
because there was no other.”
“I was tired of being a woman,
tired of the spoons and the pots,
tired of my mouth and my breasts,
tired of the cosmetics and the silks.
There were still men who sat at my table,
circled around the bowl I offered up.
The bowl was filled with purple grapes
and the flies hovered in for the scent
and even my father came with his white bone.
But I was tired of the gender of things.”
“Death’s a sad bone; bruised, you’d say,
and yet she waits for me, year after year,
to so delicately undo an old wound,
to empty my breath from its bad prison.”
“If I’m on fire they dance around it
and cook marshmallows.
And if I’m ice
they simply skate on me
in little ballet costumes.”
The First Biography of Joan of Arc by Daniel Rankin and Claire Quintal
A book that is by no means a page turner, but by all accounts clear and concise in its diction, this text outlines the life of Joan of Arc–know as the “Maid”–a heroine of the fifteenth century who led and structured a siege in order to take back France from England during the Hundred Years War. Only a teenager at the time of her leadership of the French Army–behind King Charles the VII–and at the time of her horrendous death–she was burned alive–Joan of Arc stands as a figure of bravery and as a trailblazing representative of the “YOLO” concept before it was ever a concept. She lived her life for a purpose and broke through many class and gender barriers to be the figure she was for the people of her time and generations after. This book, as I stated earlier, did not deliver on its title. Maybe my expectation was too simplistic, but I wanted a straightforward description of her life up front with factual information pieced in categorically after this. I feel like I have come to know more details about Joan from other sources over the years, but this book did a great job of outlining sources of materials and chronology. Here are a few quotes from the texts that may intrigue you.
“You believe, gentlemen that because I am a woman, I do not know how to conceal a secret. For your information I know every detail you have discussed. Here I give you my pledge–I WILL NEVER REVEAL PLANS WHICH ARE TO BE KEPT SECRET.”
“The Maid has made use of magic and diabolic cunning. She is a heretic.”
“For some time past it has been known to all and it is notorious that a woman who insisted on being called Joan the Maid, discarding the garb and vesture of the female sex, an act repugnant and forbidden by all law, a deed contrary to Divine Law and abhorrent to God, put on and wore men’s garments and likewise armed herself as a man.”
“As soon as her armor was made she put it on, went out into the fields of Poitiers with other armed combatants where she handled her lance as well or better than any man there. She rode spirited chargers, the capricious ones that no one else dared mount without fear.”
“Without the presence of Joan of Arc it seems certain that the courage and stamina of the soldiers marching toward Reims would have dissolved into a speedy disaster.”
As for edibles, I decided to make a piña collada smoothie. This all started a few weeks ago, on a Friday evening, in the midst of pizza making. All of a sudden I started thinking about piña colladas, and how I HAD to have one. The Mr. and I started to scour the kitchen for all of the basic ingredients and had to improvise. Let’s just say, after extra handfuls of ice and almond milk it was eventually edible. This culinary experimentation got me thinking about how I wanted to do this the right way, with or without the buzz. Although it has been noted that Anne Sexton liked Dry Martinis and taking on the town with Sylvia Plath, I can’t help but feel she too would have loved the indulgence of a tropical treat every once in awhile, especially in the summer. As for The First Biography of Joan of Arc, well, some of you may need something to liven up your day after this dry read and perhaps even have a lively discussion on women’s cultural icons with your gals. Either way, enjoy the treat!
Piña Collada Smoothie with Mango (animal-product-free, gluten-free, soy-free)
- 1 cup coconut milk (from a can)
- 1/2 cup almond milk
- 1 frozen banana
- 1 heaping cup fresh or frozen pineapple
- 1/2 cup fresh or frozen mango chunks
- 1/4 tsp Madagascar vanilla extract
- 1/2 -3/4 cup ice cubes
- 1 full dropper of liquid stevia (or to taste)
- Cherries(frozen or fresh) and dried coconut for garnish
- Pour liquid ingredients into blender first, then add frozen fruit, vanilla extract, ice cubes and the sweetener
- Blend well until creamy
- Garnish with cherries and dried coconut
- Enjoy in your favorite glass
- Spike at will with your choice of rum, or if you’re my husband and there’s not rum around, use whiskey (don’t get me started, haha)
Poetry and history have a differing tone that’s unmistakable, but reading the voice of a strong woman followed up by reading about the voice of another strong woman, was both inspiring and empowering. When you read these books, what tasty treats come to mind and what are some of your favorite Anne Sexton poems or excerpts? Know any special factoids about Joan of Arc? I can’t wait to hear from you all. Share your #noshedinabook pics and thoughts and check out more Noshed in a Book posts. Join me in my next reading selection, The First Bad Man by Miranda July. And remember…bite responsibly!
Happy Birthday Connect a Bite! I can hardly believe it has been two years since I began writing and sharing all the many ways we can connect to our food through celebrating women, social commentaries, creating recipes based on what you have on hand and in season, questioning the norm and many more things!
Thank you, to anyone who has been positive and encouraging to me during this time. I’m grateful to have this privilege and I appreciate your support and enthusiasm. The nature of this blog has, in many ways, grown from a casual way to express thoughts and observations on the food world to a place where I’m able to highlight new recipes and share my thoughts on what’s going on in food news and begin my new series–inspired by the web–called ‘Kitchen Letters’. Connect a Bite has given me the gift of believing that writing and linking ourselves to the food world is not only rewarding, but fun in many ways.
2014 has many more exciting things to come, like more videos, podcast episodes–‘Cinema Cuisine’–, more original recipes and possibly an interview series. I hope you’ll join me in this journey. ^___^
If you’d like to be in the know about what’s to come in each post, feel free to subscribe by entering in your email on the homepage in the right column. If you would ever like to contact me directly with thoughts, questions, comments or feed-back, feel free to email me at email@example.com You can find me on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest,YouTube and facebook too!
There’s no doubt this last year brought about enlightenment and challenges, but I know those occurrences have helped in the shaping of what I hope becomes a growing source of enlightenment for all of you! I look forward to many more years of bringing meaning to what you’re eating! And remember…bite responsibly!
Healthy, happy and grateful regards,
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
Happy International Women’s Day! As with last year, I encourage each woman out there to find where you feel your place is in the culinary world, be it writing, cooking, growing, or the myriad of other fields under this umbrella. This year’s IWD theme is, The Gender Agenda: Gaining Momentum, a topic that resonates with me to a large degree. Especially engaging is the idea of ‘momentum’, which I believe is of the utmost importance to everyone, but especially women; now and in the future. Much of my journey as a woman has been influenced largely by the force or energy I was willing to put into a project or situation. This would, in turn, further my skills — mind or body– in some way and has led me to be able to share my knowledge and experiences with all of you. Without this internal impetus, I feel as though all of our compasses would be pointing the wrong direction. However, this energy has not always been easy to come by, nor was it a cinch to channel and utilize.
Thus, being present but still looking forward, I’m pleased to say that there has been a significant amount of growth, love, positivity, polish and inner strength in my life over the past year, and because of this, Connect a Bite has grown an even stronger place in my heart. Additionally, I’ve had my struggles and bouts with the other side of the coin and I can say those strifes have also led me to where I am today, probably with even more vigor and personal integrity. Food and the world of food, in its many shapes, sizes and forms, is a world I know I belong in and a world I can’t wait to grow deeper roots in with every year that passes.
Thank you everyone for reading Connect a Bite and allowing my words the potential of touching your heart and minds. For this coming year, I hope to produce more personal foliage and when this occurs it will not only be because of my forward focused nature, but, more importantly, because of your support and happy thoughts. All of my aspirations combined, there are a lot of cool changes and plans for this year, so keep an eye out! I have learned an immense amount in the last year, and I plan to live a life of continual education with the help of all of you. I hope to become more connected to all of you and help connect you more with everything food!
And of course, remember…bite responsibly!
With much love and peace,
Happy Crisp and Chilly Morning to Everyone!
Being a woman comes with many perks and many punches, but I would like to think that there are ample ways to align our body and our mind to reach a state of internal tranquility or at least try. What do I mean by this exactly? As superstitions do or do not align with science, there are some who believe that a woman’s menstrual cycle is connected with the moon. What action should we often have to keep in mind to flow more succinctly with the moon and its shifts? Answer: What we choose to eat.
Bonjour Everyone & Welcome to Connect a Bite!
Today feels like a wonderful time to kick off Connect a Bite because it’s a very special day for women around the world, as it is the 37th International Women’s Day to be celebrated, and the United Nations International Women’s Day theme this year is ‘Empower Rural Women – End Hunger and Poverty’.
I wanted to use the message of ‘end hunger and poverty’ theme to introduce Connect a Bite a little more and welcome all of you into the conversation of what it means to bring meaning to what you’re eating, and how we as individuals–and some of us as strong women–can become changing forces within our community.
Connect a Bite can be a useful tool and resource if you are ever feeling as though you’re reaching an exhaustive rut—because believe me this happens to the best of em’—or you’re just in need of a personal boost of knowledge and trusty tips. Realize that what we eat, how we treat all animals around us, and the environmental choices we make every day affect our fetching looks, moods, outlook, inner strength and will.
Start small, little maybe even teensy weensy, just make the promise and commitment to yourself that you will help change your life by starting with your cupboard and this will give you the personal boost and enthusiasm to help affect other people’s lives. As women, we have an amazing amount of endurance and ingenuity, on this special day, take the time to exercise these abilities.
So, to align ourselves as women with something that’s truly in our roots, make a point to cook or prepare a delectable meal from scratch today and start by buying locally grown produce and fare. Don’t just dump a can of soup from a can, or pop a frozen pizza in your oven. I say, don’t even dump some pre-mixed lettuce from a bag today. Blend, slice, dice, bake, boil, roast, toss and stir-fry it up all on your own. Call or text your mother(s), sister(s), grandmother(s), aunt(s), god mother or even a close female friend, borrow a recipe and then veganize it with love and a dash of spicy! Try adding your own personal twist, give it a zippy name and then as you’re eating know you made a difference. Place a—distinctive and often overlooked wild flower that has popped up in your yard—in a recycled jar or small vase on your table for a splash of nature while you dine. Run the water a little less after you clean those dishes, and ‘break bread’ by the light of the setting sun or an aromatic soy candle instead of keeping the lights on. Make this meal more than a meal, make it an experience and you as a woman, and even my men followers, will be one step closer to truly connecting and affecting.
And remember…bite responsibly!