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Life without Weight Watchers

13 Jan

I figured I would write a brief post on how life is going since I officially said good bye to Weight Watchers. If you are a regular reader of my blog you may recall I did a post not too long ago where I mentioned that despite being a Lifetime member of Weight Watchers I was thinking of calling it quits. I read Geneen Roth’s Women, Food, and God and it truly resonated with me. Despite having been with Weight Watchers for years frankly I have often felt their program brought out tendencies in me that are just not good. I am almost 40 and frankly I don’t want to live my life always writing down or inputting what I eat on any given day, I am tired of counting points. The changes to Weight Watcher’s program recently were the initial kick in the ass I needed and after reading Roth’s book I really felt much stronger. I also figured worse case I can always go back to Weight Watchers if I fall flat on my ass.

So I made in through the holiday season with no weight gain. I admit I had hoped for a bit of a loss but knowing that I have not been moving nearly as much as I could, that was probably too much to hope for. However making it through a month long period where my holiday baking included Paula Deen’s Red Velvet Cake, Pecan Pies and Cinnamon rolls, let’s face it to gain no weight is a good thing.

It means I am still roughly 13 pounds or so above my “goal” weight yet I am starting to think this place may be the weight my body likes to live at. See, when I first started gaining weight years ago, this weight was eventually where I came to rest for year. It was my pregnancy and  postpartum period that took my body to a place that was truly unhealthy. I knew it was unhealthy when walking became difficult for me and yeah my vain side didn’t exactly like the way my face started to resemble a chipmunk. This weight is also the same place where on Weight Watchers I spent about 6 months after dropping 20+ lbs but still had more to go until I could reach my goal. When I was actively on Weight Watchers striving to get to goal, I basically started living off fruits and veggies primarily to get the numbers on the scale to move downward. I share this to say that I do think for some of us our bodies have a place they are comfortable at.

Right now my goal is simply to start moving more, I strive daily to put a decent share of fruits and veggies in my body and of course the water. But I enjoy food and I want to have a healthy relationship with it and I see more movement which in general increases my mental well being as the key. Not a weekly meeting and not what was almost obsessive behavior over what I was eating. Interestingly this past month during my menstrual cycle, a time where generally I give into whatever cravings I have, I had very few and didn’t see the normal 2-3 lbs period gain that I have had for years.  Now that I am no longer holding myself back, it seems there is no reason to play the food games with myself…if I want  Cheetos, I will have some. No reason needed.

So life is going good without Weight Watchers!

Revisiting the issue of food and class…a visit to Trader Joe’s

12 Nov

Living in Maine is an experience, Maine is a rural state but at the same time it’s a place with class. It’s a place where the pace of life is definitely slow but at the same time due to its natural beauty and relative closeness to places like Boston and New York City, there are tons of transplants here. While this is a rural state it’s rural with a cosmopolitan feel especially in our largest city, Portland. We have a growing well respected foodie scene, shit even the New York Times says we have some of the best bagels here. (This place is fucking amazing).

That said, Maine is slow to catch on as far as the big national trends and places…hell, we don’t even have billboards in this state. When I first landed here almost 8 years ago, you could count the number of Starbucks on one hand and it would not have been full. The first year I was in serious coffee withdrawals since the closest Starbucks meant heading to the next county over. Thankfully after a year here, Starbucks opened in my town…the upside of living in a tourist destination, the tourists like decent coffee. (Sorry New Englanders, where I come from Dunkin Donuts is what you drink at 3 am when you are drunk as a skunk and need to start the sobering up process).

Other national places that were slow to arrive here include Whole Foods, hell that took several years to arrive. Those of us from away were jonesing like crack addicts waiting for the next fix and let me tell you it was a big deal when Whole Foods landed in our fair state. But nothing and I say nothing could have prepared me for TJ madness…that’s Trader Joe’s in case you don’t know.

Now Trader Joe’s is a place I had only been in once before on some trip many years ago, hell the Spousal Unit is a California boy and he had been to them but clearly in the time since we lived in close proximity to one, their legend had grown. I have had buddies in Maine tell me how they drive monthly two states over to go to Trader Joe’s. I admit I am lazy; the idea of traveling like that to spend my money leaves me scratching my head. To each his own though, in my early years in Maine I trekked monthly to Boston just to get my hair done, so who am I to talk shit?

In recent years there had been all kinds of talk about bringing Trader Joe’s to Maine and it finally happened. They officially opened a few weeks ago; a colleague from grad school actually got up to stand in line at 6 am to shop there on opening day. Um….nothing short of a sick child or a flight will get me up that early. I admit the energy over Trader Joe’s was contagious, the way folks talked about their beloved Two Buck Chuck, the treats, oh my…shit I was expecting a magical experience.

Well today the Spousal Unit and I decided to have an early date while the kidlet was in school and hit up some of the new Maine chain places. First stop Cracker Barrel…that was ummmm interesting. Breakfast didn’t quite rock my world though the hash brown casserole was intriguing, though I admit I will go back, they serve catfish and I do love me some catfish. Enough about the Cracker Barrel though, on to TJ’s.

So we arrive in the parking lot of the Portland Trader Joe’s and it was real clear that just the act of parking the car was going to take some time, thankfully after a couple times circling around a space opened up. First thing I notice people are flying in the doors as if they ate a McRib and their bowels were about to open up, but I think they were just excited to go in. I admit for a moment it felt exciting. I grabbed my cart and away we went, I won’t bore you with the details but I did drop $100 on items that I am not sure I would have normally have bought, after all will I really eat those dark chocolate mints?

What I was struck by though was how much TJ’s reminded me of Aldi, the no frills grocery store where folks who tend to be short on cash shop. It’s my understanding that the two stores have some type of connection though it’s not entirely clearly but what I was struck by is that just like Aldi caters to low income folks allowing them to splurge on cheap faux peanut butter cookies, canned ravioli and pizza rolls. Trader Joe’s caters to the well heeled who like to eat hummus and pita and kick back with a cheap wine but not too cheap. Once the wine can be opened with a cap its officially low class.

I have talked here before how much our food choices are tied to where we sit on the class ladder. I will openly admit that once a year I like to kick back with a glass of grape kool-aid and a fried bologna sammich on Wonder Bread, it’s the comfort food of my youth. Truth is in the past decade or so since I officially moved up the class ladder leaving my working class roots behind by virtue of my education, I have worked hard to change my palate. If left to my own devices I will eat the shit out of fried whatever, smothered in gravy with a side of bread product with a limp green vegetable on the side.

The thing is I know now that such foods are bad for me so guess what? I rarely eat them, they are now officially treats. I literally have willed myself into liking sushi, there are times I ask myself is this really good? Yet as I have shared here before it was in graduate school where I learned to eat it since not eating it made me stand out even more, besides I like spice, with enough wasabi my mouth is on fire so it glides down the old shoot.

Yet it’s funny where food is as much about comfort as nutrition certain food choices are seen as less than and the eater seen as less enlightened yet if you are high enough on the class ladder your junk food is seen as better. Take Cheetos versus the Pirate Booty that the well heeled feed their progeny. Truth is I will takle a damn Cheetos or Cheez Doodle any day over Pirates Booty, yet now that I no longer am a card carrying member of the working class, I feed my kid Pirate Booty. I admit I fear being judged over this stuff, though occasionally we share some of Mommy’s off limits Cheetos.

I must admit I often like looking in people’s carts at grocery stores and today’s maiden voyage into Trader Joe’s was no exception. I found myself thinking that most of the patrons myself included had quite a bit of processed food items in their carts yet unlike many there I have no problem buying the occasional junk food from a regular grocery store. In most stores when I see someone with processed food items I figure they either have no time or talent for cooking, but what I was struck by today was that most of these same people with carts piled high (and I saw a few folks I know personally) would never be caught in say Wally World buying some off brand frozen burritos yet in the right and oh proper setting, buying such things are a sign of how hip you are.

Take the famous Two Buck Chuck wine; while I am not a wine snob, I am not big on California wines so after reading the label I took a pass though the Spousal Unit grabbed a bottle for himself. Yet I found myself wondering how many of these same folks grabbing up bottles of Two Buck Chuck would be caught dead with some Julio and Earnest Gallo? Not many I bet.

So like most things in America it all comes down to class, even our taste in junk food is segregated, while I didn’t see any good ole fashioned bologna at Trader Joe’s I did see plenty of deli meat that would definitely be higher up on the class ladder.

As for me, while it was great to check it out and I admit tonight’s Mandarin Orange Chicken was tasty as hell, not sure TJ’s will be a weekly stop though it might be nice for the occasional treat. I will continue to eat much like I live wedged between my working class by birth roots and dangling in the middle class, quite an interesting place to be.

Cooking with BGIM

26 Oct

If you follow me on Twitter, you know that despite the fact I rarely talk about cooking on the blog that I actually cook a great deal or rather as time allows. I am not a very crafty person; I can’t sew, knit, crochet or make anything other than meals and kids. Oh, I am rather good at running non-profits and turning them into financially solvent organizations. But how many folks really want to read a blog about how to make a struggling non-profit organization not only financially stable but to see it actually grow? Yeah I thought so.

Anyway in recent weeks I have had several twitter followers ask me for some of my recipes, even real life friends have asked for a few recipes. So as I struggle yet again with direction for this blog, I figured I would institute a new feature called cooking with BGIM. Like many who read my blog, I work outside of the home, so as much as I like to make everything from scratch the reality is that it’s impossible for me to do that every day. However I grew up with Sunday dinners, that one huge meal of the week where my mother cooked the equivalent of a Thanksgiving dinner every Sunday and often we had friends and family over to share the meal with us.

When the Spousal Unit and I moved to Maine, for a brief period of time I attempted to have my own version of the Sunday dinner but as we had no family or friends to invite over when we first moved here, a huge spread for only the three of us (kidlet was not around at that time so it was me, the Spousal Unit and college boy who at that time would have been called only kid) simply made no sense. I attempted to re-start the Sunday dinner tradition when my Mom died but at that point it was simply too painful and until recently Sunday dinner was just like any other night.

However the kidlet is growing up and with my father’s impending move to Maine, Sunday dinners have made a come back. I have very little family and while my son was blessed to have direct connections to my family, the kidlet has none and the act of the Sunday dinner is a way to share one of the many traditions I grew up with her, to connect her with the ancestors so to speak.

So without further adieu here are a couple of items I have made recently. Last night we had lasagna, tossed green salad with local produce and Italian bread and for dessert pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. These cookies were delish though my attempt at using fresh pumpkin was a bust; in the end I used canned pumpkin puree. My fresh pumpkin adventures are another post…let’s just say I applaud folks who take whole pumpkins and turn them into something edible. It’s easier to make bread in my humble opinion than to make a pumpkin edible.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup canned pumpkin

1 cup white sugar (if you decrease this I would not go below ½ cup)

½ cup vegetable oil

1 egg

2 cups all purpose flour (I use King Arthur)

2 tsp baking powder

2tsp cinnamon

½ tsp salt

1tsp baking soda

1tsp milk

1tbsp vanilla

2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F

1. Combine pumpkin, sugar, oil and egg together. In a separate bowl stir together flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.

2. Dissolve baking soda w/milk and stir into pumpkin mixture. Now add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture and mix well.

3. Add vanilla and chocolate chips, mix well.

4. Drop by spoonful onto a greased cookie sheet and bake for 10 mins or until lightly brown and firm.

Note: These are soft cookies, also due to a wonky old stove I baked for closer to 15 mins.

 

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

A few Sunday’s ago I made apricot orange pork chops with roasted fingerling potatoes and sautéed collards with mushrooms and onions. This meal sounds a lot fancier than it is as far as prep time in part because the chops are cooked in the Crockpot. A Crockpot is a lazy cook’s best friend, seriously in winter mine is used at least 2-3 times a week.

Anyway here is the pork chop recipe

Apricot Orange Pork Chops

6 chops (any kind will do though the meat when done is falling off the bone so after making this several times I now get boneless chops)

1 cup apricot jam

3tbsp brown sugar

1tsp salt

½ tsp pepper

½ tsp cinnamon

¼ tsp ground ginger

¼ tsp ground clove powder

1-11oz can mandarin oranges

Mix all ingredients well in a bowl, put the chops in the Crockpot, pour mixture over chops and cook 8 hours on low or 4 hours on high in the Crockpot. They are done when the meat is fork tender.

Apricot Orange Pork Chops w/Collards and Fingerling Potatoes

Note: Neither of these recipes are my creations, sadly I cannot remember where I got them so can’t give proper credit but did want to let ya’ll know that.

As a cook, who has been cooking a while I will admit I often take recipes and tweak them to my own taste buds but generally the first time out I will follow a recipe as it’s written unless there is an obvious issue. Happy Eating!

Need fast food Chicago style

2 Apr

This past week for the first time in quite a while, I have been dealing with some serious cravings for Chicago style food-keep your jokes to yourself. No reason for the cravings other than I guess I am a tad homesick. Now after 8 years in Maine, I have grown to appreciate the culinary treats that can be had here, after all how can you not like having access to fresh, cheap seafood? Obviously if you are vegetarian, vegan or one of those folks who just can’t get into seafood then no, access to fresh cheap seafood probably means nothing to you.

On the other hand if you are like many Americans you view things like lobster has being one of those hoity toity foods, something only to be had on special occasions. After all in most parts of this country lobster is downright expensive. I think back to life in Chicago when any meal that included lobster meant good times. I mean shit in Chicago a cheap lobster tail at a place like Red Lobster could easily set you back at least $25, or as I recall one time the Spousal Unit and I went to a well-known place , Catch 35. Where to celebrate my graduating from college I dined on Australian lobster tail that was $75..it was good. No, we didn’t go there again but it was nice at the time.

Well in Maine, for starters there ain’t no Red Lobster and at the right place 2 folks can eat a whole damn lobster dinner for $30. Last year when prices had dropped on lobsters there were places selling twin lobster dinners for $15. Yeah seafood is cheap here, so cheap that after 8 years here I rarely eat lobster anymore and the only seafood I still get a little excited to eat is fried clams. I must admit a good fried clam is amazing.

No, what I find myself dreaming about is gyros sandwiches, italian beefs, italian sausages, pizza puffs, char grilled cheeseburgers from stands that put your burger in a plastic basket. If you are from Chicago or have spent any amount of time in Chicago you know about the ubiquitous hot dog stands. No, they aren’t a chain but they exist in all areas, upscale or not, black or white. Places where you might be able to order a Chicago style hot dog along with Greek Chicken. Or depending on the stand and the ethnic makeup of the owners are area, some southern style catfish with some spaghetti and a slice of white bread..or another favorite of mine, rib tips with fries and white bread.

Damn, just writing this has my stomach growling with desire. Which reminds me that the other night I decided to visit the place in the next town over that is owned by a former Chicagoan who has attempted to bring a downsized version of the Chicago hot dog stand experience to Maine. Can I just say, dude the fries were nice but man, $9.83 for a cheeseburger (not char grilled), fries and a pop (look, I am from Chicago, where its a pop not a soda) is just highway fucking robbery. In Chicago that same meal would have cost me $5 tops maybe$6 and that would have been a big ass burger. But hey he does get Vienna Beef dogs up here so for that I am thankful.

As for me, watch out Chicago I’m going to be home soon and when I get there, I will be eating!

Have a happy Friday and a good Easter if you celebrate.

Potlucks and Race

20 Dec

With the holiday season underway and financial times tough for many folks, everyone is looking for a way to celebrate the holidays without breaking the bank. One of the suggestions that seems to come up often for planning a get together is to make it a potluck style meal. Now obviously the benefits of taking this route are easy to see, no one person gets slammed with the cost of  feeding a gaggle of folks.

I must admit that prior to moving to Maine, the only time I ever encountered a potluck was in the work place. I worked at a few places where my coworkers loved having a potluck lunch…I always thought they were nice but really can’t say I ever went to a potluck style gathering at someone’s house. I never hosted one. Generally anytime I hosted a gathering, I put together the meal and told folks to just bring the drinks.

Yet moving to Maine I have encountered potlucks in pretty much every part of my life. We have them at church, friends have them, even work related gatherings are often potlucks. I have to say that potlucks have allowed me to try foods I would never think about making on my own, some of which have become favorites…cocktail weiners being a big one.

But I have to admit I have often wondered is something as simple as a potluck, a cultural difference? See, among my Black friends even in Maine, very few host potlucks. To be honest, I only know one Black person that will host a potluck and even then she still provides most of the meal with the idea that others will provide the dessert.

Now I gotta be honest, I have asked some of my inner circle their thoughts on why don’t Black folks embrace the potluck as a cheap way to entertain and to be honest, I am not gonna post the replies since frankly they are insulting and not logical. After all lack of hygiene knows no racial boundaries and yes there are plenty of white folks who consider their pets family members but Black folks like animals too and might get a stray hair into the chili as well.

So I ask you dear reader, is a potluck a symbol of a racial and cultural difference? Or is it just a regional difference?

I love the idea of entertaining yet rarely do it because of the cost and most certainly am thinking that potlucks might be a way to entertain without breaking the bank. Yet as a Black woman, I am strangely curiously about why potlucks are not as popular with Black folks as they are with White folks.

See, this is what happens when you are stuck home with a sick child and snow…your mind goes all over the place!

Food snobbery

3 Dec

I have been doing this blog well over a year now, a year and some change. I have talked about a fair amount of topics. It’s been a while but if you are a regular reader, you know I like food…a lot. I like good food and when the spirit moves me, I like, no love to cook. Sadly the spirit has not been moving me since my ass is struggling to just get past this month. I swear December is the culmination of all that plagues those living on the financial edge and yours truly gets to hear it all. By the time I get home, I have no energy to even think of providing nourishment to my family…thank goodness for a freezer stuffed with soups! As well as a few trusty inexpensive places to eat at when I need to eat out!

Anyhoo, in all the talk of good food, organic food, healthy food, it might be easy to assume that I fall into the food snob category. Well, it’s an easy mistake to make since it seems anyone who fits a certain criteria clearly would never eat junk food or feed it to their kid. Um….not at all.

In fact I was happy after a conversation with a local friend the other day where we were discussing the merits of chili dogs and it turned out we had both grown up eating chili dogs made with Hormel canned chili with no beans. Even now as adults, a proper chili dog at home needs to have Hormel’s canned chili at least for me. Yeah, I know how to make chili from scratch and in the cold weather months, I do it often. But when I feel the urge for a chili gog, I reach for the canned chili.

Now I know for some of my readers as well as some in my personal circle that probably sounds like a gross admission. I mean let’s face it canned foods really have a pretty bad reputation. Maybe it’s because of my work but I have to admit the growing trend towards food snobbery at times gets on my nerves. Yeah, its nice to have a lovely home cooked meal made from scratch with wholesome foods but in a time when so many are struggling to just put food in their bellies, I can’t get worked up on what people eat. Let’s face it sometimes it’s just not financially feasible for some to eat healthy. It’s funny because we live in a time when it’s frankly more costly to eat healthy than it is to simply eat. As I have developed my own cooking skills, while I find cooking to be relaxing at times, fact is it often requires more, not just in cash, but in time and tools, things that some lack.

Recently I was in a discussion where someone asked why would anyone use creamed soups when they can make them? Good question. My guess is because it’s a time-consuming endeavor, I like creamed soups and make them often, but if I was making a meal that required a creamed soup, I’d probably use a canned soup instead of making it from scratch. Unless I had one already in my freezer, leftover from a previous meal.

I am a big believer in moderation. Now a steady diet of canned unwholesome foods is bad for you, yet at times it seems that those of us who admit to liking less than healthy foods tend to be seen an unenlightened bunch. The fact is anything can be bad for you, I have met too many vegetarians who frankly were not healthy eaters.

The thing is when you look down or make judgements on folks based off what they eat, what purpose does it serve? Food is a deeply personal thing, many of our attitudes and thoughts on food are shaped by our childhood and while many of us may change the way we eat as adults (hello…I am a Black woman with southern roots, fried chicken, fried fish, collard greens cooked in pork products anyone?), sometimes even the healthiest, most organic eating folks still have appetites for things based off our youth.

While I have no problem with anyone eating a certain way, it’s when we use food as a means to judge and look down at others which is not cool.

One in Eight Folks….

29 Nov

One in eight Americans are currently using food stamps to eat. Let me repeat that figure, one in eight Americans are using food stamp benefits, with one in four kids  receiving these benefits. This was the story that caught my attention this morning as I read the NY Times.  To be honest I am not even surprised at that figure, I could have told you that months ago based off my line of work. I talk with the folks at our local food pantry on a regular basis and they have told me that weekly they are swamped with new faces. Faces of folks who use to bring in food or cash who are now on the receiving line.

Those of us in the direct  aid business have noticed the new faces of those seeking help, in many cases the folks we now see look a lot like us. Poverty is a funny thing, we can wax poetically about helping “those” people…yet it’s funny when we start to realize that those people are a lot like us. It can become rather uncomfortable.

Think about it, if one in 8 Americans is dealing with food insecurity to the point of seeking assistance, that means there is a good chance that right now as you read this, there is someone in your inner circle struggling to survive. Oh they may still live in their middle class house and still have the Subaru/Volvo (insert car of choice) and have all the trappings of middle class success. But they may be cutting back on eating so the kids can eat, they are the ones I notice in the store who no longer have full carts and often look pained at the checkout line.

I talk a lot about money and my own mistakes with money so much that I think that there are those in my personal circle who think I am really bad off. Nah, I am in debt but I haven’t faced food insecurity since I was a kid. I may owe Visa, MasterCard and Discover card but thankfully we have not fought over a can of beans. I don’t even say this to be funny it’s just that the way I was raised and the work I do allow me to realize that while being in debt sucks, there is a wide road between being in debt and working to get out of it versus not being able to literally put the food on the table. It’s a distinction I remind the Spousal Unit of often when he gets down about our situation. Yes, I need to be out of debt but it’s a lot worse to be in debt and hungry.

I decided to write this today because the story stayed in my mind as our family went out to breakfast today, I generally prefer to save money by eating in but hey I am human and was simply tired. I thought about how fortunate I felt that I could make that choice. I started to think what could I do other than my professional work to help someone? If I knew someone personally I could help, I would and I will. I ask you dear reader that as we start this season of consumption, perhaps you can look around and see who in your circle needs help. Maybe you can buy one less gift and instead do something for someone else.

In this country of supposed wealth the fact that so many of our fellow citizens are struggling with basic needs such as food is wrong. We need to do something, what are your thoughts? Clearly what we need are jobs so that folks can get back to work yet that clearly is not happening at a rate fast enough to help folks, so instead we need to help our fellow-man/woman/child.

Cooking is a radical act

1 Sep

I read a pretty diverse assortment of blogs on a fairly regular basis. I have my political blogs, black blogs, cooking blogs, you get the picture. Anyway recently I was reading one of my regular blogs and the blogger made an indirect slam towards women who cook and do crafty work, the implication being that women who devote their blog energies to such endeavors really don’t have a voice as far as more serious discussions.  For some reason that comment stuck with me, to the point that yesterday as I was cooking a batch of chicken soup for the girl child, that it hit me…cooking and doing crafty work is not only radical in today’s world its downright empowering.

I admit this is going to be disjointed since its late but stay with me. Two images of my mother who has been deceased now 5 years both are around cooking. When my mother was starting chemotherapy, I went home to visit, well the day I was to arrive she was having chemo so the night before she started chemo, she stayed up late to cook one of my favorite meals. See, my Mom showed her love through cooking and here I was coming and despite the emotional roller coaster she was on, it just would not do to not have her daughter’s favorite foods prepared.

A few months later after we learned that despite chemo, radiation and lung surgery, we received the heartbreaking news that the cancer had spread to her brain…it was not a good time, and my folks decided on brain surgery. I went back home and at this point my Mom was not in good shape, yet the night before her surgery..brain surgery, out of nowhere she got a surge of energy and made me my absolute favorite meal, chicken and noodle stew. It was the last meal that my Mom would ever cook for me as she would only live 7 more weeks and would never return home.

It was funny because the night she made the stew, I watched her (she had never shared the recipe before and in her condition she wasn’t writing the recipe down) yet she cooked it as perfectly as she always had despite having horrible headaches and a fast growing tumor in her head.

Prior to my Mom’s death, I was a proficient cook but I was not passionate about it, yet through her last days I realized that cooking is about nutrition but its also about love. After my Mom’s death, my cooking has grown to the point that even my family and that includes my picky Dad have all said its as if I started channeling my Mom when I cook. I enjoy cooking, when I prepare meals for my family I see it as showing love. Last week I was rushing two hours before elder boy left to go back to the Midwest to prepare his favorite breakfast, he told me not to worry about it but I know how much he loves fried potatoes and onions, so I cooked them.

I look at the blogs of women who share their handicraft and culinary talents and think that for so many of us who are so busy that we have no idea what the stove actually does, that perhaps we should step back and learn something. Once upon a time family meals were the norm, yet how many families no longer break bread together?

In the Black community, broken families are the norm, in many cases headed by a single Mama, sometimes there are issues with kids running amok, would things be better if families ate together? I know I sound hokey but I do believe there is something special about family time. In my house even when its pizza night we sit and eat it together at the table where the table has been set. My son jokes I am one of the only folks he knows who does this; for us setting the table and sitting together is a norm. The type of norm that if we saw more of it maybe there would be less violence in our communities.

So to all the ladies who cook, knit and sew…you are changing the world, maybe not on a large macro level but on a level that indeed makes a difference. Cooking and taking care of one’s family is a radical act in this time.

Thrift is the new Black

23 Mar

It seems in the past few months every where we turn, we are hearing about how ordinary Americans are looking to save money, and basically live a frugal and even sustainable lifestyle. Its clear that as the US and even world economies continue to tank that folks are looking to cut back either by force such as a decrease in income or just the realization that constant consumption is no longer the in thing.

In fact with the announcement that First Lady Michelle Obama is using part of the White House lawns to start a garden, I suspect that one of this season’s hottest new hobbies will be gardening. Yep, no longer will folks be coveting the latest pair of Jimmy Choos or some other high end item, instead folks will be talking about the latest heirloom tomato they are growing. Ok, that might be a tad much but seriously, I do see things such as gardening becoming quite popular.

Already in my little town it seems there is talk of establishing a community garden, which I must admit I am excited about. I don’t have much usable land that gets sunlight so the idea of a plot of land to garden in is actually making me excited.

I must say that I am glad to see Michelle Obama taking up the issue of healthy food, I suspect as a native of Chicago’s south-side she is quite familiar with the lack of access to healthy foods that many poor folks and folks of color have to live with….in my Grandma’s old neighborhood which was on the south-side of Chicago, you could find whatever type of alcoholic beverage you wanted to quench your thirst and take away your sorrows. However finding the fixings to make a tossed green salad that was not made of iceberg lettuce was comparable to getting the winning numbers of the lottery. Hard as hell to do.

While organic foods have been in style for a while, fact is that for a large segment of the US population, organics are no more acessible than a lobster dinner to most folks, so seeing Michelle’s face along with area DC school children in the dirt looking to plant food is a good thing.

It seems as a culture we need role models to guide our process. Anyway for those of us who practice being thrifty and already had plans to grow some food, we are trendy. Let’s just hope that like Starbucks took over our lives for years that this quest to live simply catches on like a $4 latte.

Eating local

17 Mar

 

These glorious pics are far our first pickup from our Spring share of our CSA, as regular readers know I strive to eat locally. One of the joys of living in Maine is that I have easy access to farms which means fresh food is easily accessible, yes it costs a tad more but from a taste perspective, nothing beats local eating.

We started buying locally about 6 years ago, I joined our CSA and was immediately hooked, though Mister Spousal Unit is not as sold on the concept as I am of buying local though he admits the local ground beef we get is far tastier than the regular stuff at the store.

Anyway spring is in the air with the arrival of greenhouse greens and other goodies. By the way our first share has eggs which mini me had the pleasure of playing with the lovely hens that laid the eggs when her and Papa did the pickup. In addition we had onions, cabbage, carrots, greenhouse salad greens and beets…oh, can’t forget the beans (red).  Its been great having daily salads again now that I can get real lettuce, the stuff available at the grocery store is tasteless in comparison.

Not much time for a long post since my computer spent most of the day at the computer shop being repaired, apparently she wanted a vacation…catch ya later.