Jun 27, 2009

for the last 5 years craig and i have participated in angelic organics, a community supported agriculture program located in caldonia, illinois. each year we sign up for a 20 week vegetable share, receiving a 3/4 bushel box of locally and organically grown vegetables every saturday throughout the summer and early fall. we share our box with another couple, and even splitting everything in half there is still always plenty of food. for the last three years we have also participated in an egg share, receiving a dozen beautiful golden free range, horemone free eggs along with our vegetables.

our share this year started on a weekend when both craig and our friends were out of town, leaving me with the entire box of vegetables to myself. i saw this as a challenge and decided to kick off a week or two of the raw diet, which i did last summer and really enjoyed. however, the week also coincided with me starting a new job with a caterer, and with that an unpredictable daily schedule.

i decided to stick to about 80% raw, incorporating one or two cooked elements every day. it is easy when i'm at home but difficult when i'm meeting up with friends and having to taste food i'm preparing at work. i think i'm at about 70% now, which isn't bad. at home i've made salads, spring rolls and raw marinara, but at work i've been eating whatever is available, and eating out with friends i've been tempted by too many dishes on menus to order simple salads. so when i can't be strict to raw dishes, i at least follow the following pairing guidelines for healthy digestion:

fruit - always eaten alone, at least 45 minutes before eating anything else.
vegetables - try to stick to raw veggies, or lightly steamed or stir fried. can be eaten in combination with any of the other groups (except fruit!)
meats - i'm eating just one dose of animal protein a day (if that), usually it's just an egg or two. meats can be eaten with vegetables, but not with any other group.
starches - trying to stay away from processed bleached white starches and sticking to whole grains. can be eaten with vegetables, but not with any other group.
dried fruits and nuts - can be eaten alone or with vegetables, but not with any other group. trying to stick to naturally dried fruits and raw nuts.
dairy - trying to stick to minimal dairy. goat cheese is the main cheese i'm eating, or ricotta. no milk or cream in my coffee - i'm using almond milk at home or rice or soy milk if i can get it at a coffee shop.

so that's it. it's pretty easy if you can be creative. i make a raw marinara by processing onion, garlic, tomato, carrot and fennel and can eat that over ribbons of raw zucchini or a whole wheat pasta, or as a base for a whole wheat pizza. i can eat a seared piece of fish or some scallops or shrimp over a bed of spinach with a carrot slaw on the side. a big salad with a poached egg on top and a little lemon juice, or a salad topped with almonds and sun dried tomatoes. vietnamese spring rolls - rice paper wrappers filled with tons of fresh herbs and veggies and a honey soy dipping sauce. yum. for breakfasts i'll use my juicer and make an awesome liquid breakfast with ginger and apple and lemon and some romaine lettuce. then fruit until lunchtime. then a raw lunch, a snack in the afternoon of nuts or raw granola or fruit, and dinner with a cooked element.

vinegar is one of my best friends - it tenderizes veggies while giving them a tart flavor. one of my favorite dishes, one that i've been eating at least once a day and most of the time twice a day, is what i call bruised greens. i've used kale, chard, totsoi, spinach, and the tops of beets, radishes, or turnips. take a few big handfuls of your greens, wash them, chop them and put them in a bowl. drizzle about a tablespoon of olive oil on top, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. squeeze half of a lemon over top and massage the greens with your hands until they wilt and tenderize. top with a poached egg, a piece of fish, or put it over brown rice or pasta. or simply eat it alone. it's that good.

i'm feeling energized and healthy, and i've lost a pound or two (although that wasn't my main goal in doing it this year.) mostly i'm doing this to challenge myself, to learn new recipes, to remind myself to follow guidelines and to get out of the carb loaded winter diet i've gotten used to. to kick start the summer by eating healthier and treating my body better, and to enjoy the veggies in our box every week. and really, massaging greens is kind of theraputic.

Jun 14, 2009

ok, so school is out for summer (straight A's!) - which for me is only a mere 3 weeks until classes begin again. during that time i plan to catch up with friends (hi, friends!), eat a little healthier (made easy by coinciding with the start of our angelic organics CSA share), and relax. and i have one week left of my full time job until i join the ranks of people with flexible schedules and time off in the middle of the day. although i really am going to have a hard time leaving the company i've been with for the past 4 years, i am really looking forward to the next few months' lighter schedules.

i'll also be taking more photos now - i've taken an unplanned hiatus for the past year or so, posting mostly iphone photos to flickr. after taking (and doing very well in, i might add) a food styling and photography class, i've reconnected with my love for my nikon, and i'll be keeping it with me more often now. i'll also be experimenting with more food photography if anyone wants to invite me over for dinner...

so today i purchased a scooter to get me in between home, school and my two new jobs. it is a 2003 yamaha vino, a little 50cc scooter that i don't have to get a motorcycle license to ride. he's a brownish/greenish/grey (i have gendered him to be a boy) with beige accents and fabulous custom leather saddlebags. i am waiting on the title to get him registered, plated and stickered, and i have to get one of the side mirrors replaced, but i should be up and running in less than 2 weeks. i tootled around the neighborhood today and wondered the whole time why i didn't buy a scooter before now. riding is an instant pick me up, and i can't wait to start commuting between my various destinations on something other than the bus.

he has amazing pick up, and i've found it easy to adjust to the balance and control of the bike. it will be such a great way to commute between home, work #1, work #2 and school. more realiable, faster, and safer than the walking + bus riding i would be doing otherwise. and way more fun.

Jun 7, 2009

change is good. i've had to keep telling myself that every time i've had a mild panic attack while dwelling on all of the changes happening in my life right now. i've been sort of quiet about it all, but everything is in place and i feel comfortable telling everyone now.

i quit my job last week. i have been an office manager/travel arranger/accounting admin/general behind the scenes do it all lady for the past four years for a really great company full of really great people. i've watched the company double in size, move locations, have supported the staff and celebrated with them. i have seen coworkers come and go, get married, have babies, and have formed relationships that will last a lifetime. i am leaving behind friends, my own huge desk, daily snack time, a beer fridge, a steady salary, a company matching retirement account and being on my own health insurance policy for a future filled with unpredictable part time jobs. and i couldn't be happier.

since i've been in culinary school for the past 5 months i've learned a lot. a lot about food and cooking, the culinary industry and my own strengths and weaknesses and how they will eventually come together. i've also learned that going to school part time on top of working full time and also managing a personal and family life is really really hard. i've neglected some of my reading for class, have pushed away some of my friends, and have become stressed and easily irritated at work. i decided a few months ago to start thinking about working part time while i finish school, and things just happened to all fall into place in the last couple of weeks.

i have signed a 6 month contract with a caterer to help her get her business organized and poised to double in size next year. i'll be creating a recipe database, organize and take photos of her food, help with some marketing, employee training and occasional food prep. it is such a great opportunity to learn a catering business from the inside out, and i can't wait to start. i am also going to be working for a shared use kitchen, a inspected and certified commercial kitchen where entrepreneurial chefs can go to make food for sale (rather than illegally making it in their home kitchens). i also have a few other occasional opportunities that i am working on to fill the gaps. a few of these positions have the potential to turn into something more secure once i've graduated at the end of the year, but for now i have no idea where i'll be come january. but i'm convincing myself that the change is good and it will all be ok.

i'm really looking forward to learning from all of these opportunities, to learn more about myself and where i want to be. and to have a weekday or two off each week to study, relax, and cook. and see where this change will take me.