Balance of Bliss

Everything from potatoes to living fully.

Month: September, 2014

Missing New York.

I’m a New Yorker.  Though I was born and raised in Jersey, went to college in Jersey, and ultimately came back to Jersey, I am a self proclaimed New Yorker.

I lived in New York for about 7 years in my 20’s.  I started working there in college and moved to North Bergen after graduation. My first “real” job I made $75 cash a day at a small production company called Lumina Films on 30th and Broadway. I was their “Production Coordinator” but didn’t have a clue as to what I was really doing. Any young kid out of college really doesn’t have a clue what they are doing.  In school we learned theories, made a few shorts, and studied ethics… but we had no idea how to put any of it into practice.  When I started at Food Network, about 2 years later, we joked that when you graduate they should give you a bucket because in management you need to learn how to bail everyone and everything out.

Needless to say I spent many late nights trying to figure “it” out.  And by “it” I mean everything.  Trying to figure out my job, responsibility, the subways, cable bills, cell phone bills, adulthood, guys, men, how to cook, etc, etc, etc.  But like any young, ambitious woman, I did.  I figured it out in my own way and time.  Thus, tonight, I miss my city.

New York meant so much more to me than a crazy commute and grueling (yet rewarding) career. It meant so much more than bright lights and crazy, fun nights. It meant so much more than falling in love and walking away.  In New York, I met myself. I moved there in the fall, so perhaps that’s why this time of year is so difficult for me?  It doesn’t matter why, it just matter that it is.

So tonight, as I drink my Rioja, listen to Wynton Marsalis jazz radio, and sit in my dimly lit kitchen, I toast to New York City. I toast to every single memory that I still carry and even those that I left in my Crown Heights garden studio.

I’ve been back “home” for about three years now, and even though I hate to admit it, I think it’s still too young to know if I made a mistake.  Regardless, I am where I am and, from what I learned in the apple, you better be happy where you are or you’ll miss out on a lot of greatness.

New York, I love you… always have, always will.

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So many questions, must do more research…

…but it is an interesting spark for a conversation.

Testing Future Conditions for the Food Chain, NY Times 9/22.  http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/23/science/testing-future-conditions-for-the-food-chain.html?ref=health&_r=0
Basically University of Illinois scientists and researchers are mimicking what they expect our environment to be in the next 20 years.  How? By spraying and fertilizing crops such as corn, soy and canola with CO2 and ozone.

I’ll be doing some background research on this because the line that troubles me the most is only briefly mentioned “experts reported that crops grown in environments designed to mimic future conditions have serious deficiencies of certain nutrients, compared with crops of today“.  The mass-produced crops of today are already lacking in taste and, I can only imagine, nutrients.  

Stay tuned.  But enjoy the article.

Summer, I bid you well.

MelonFetaTomBasilMint

Yesterday and today were kind of like a little New Years for me.  Why?  Who the hell knows.  I’ve just always loved the changing of the seasons!  Maybe it’s nostalgia, maybe it’s the need for a change in wardrobe, or maybe it’s just because I’m ready for the next thing.  It doesn’t matter.  What matters is that I actually embraced and totally blissed out on the last day of summer.

The weather this time of year is flipping perfect on the east coast.  We live in the woods on the outskirts of two small, artsy, river towns.  I grew up here so I’m biased, but if you knew it, you’d agree it is quite perfect.

A morning walk on the tow-path with Ms Jasper (our wild and crazy beautiful mutt who is the most snuggly and loving dog I’ve ever met), followed by a run along the river, and then a day full of cooking.  No studying (that story will come sooner than later), no stressing, no thinking about this or that, no nonsense.  Just being.  Just enjoying a day without chatter, without noise, without worry.  I said a solid and hearty “goodbye” and “thank you” to May-through-August and a strong and bold “HELLO” to September-through-December.

MorningRun

So what was the final summer feast of choice?  Aside from being freaking delicious, every ingredient but the feta, olive oil, and balsamic, were grown within 5 miles of our home.  You still have a few days left for this dish, but this recipe is totally worth stashing away until next summer.

Watermelon, Jersey Tomato, and Feta Salad with Basil and Mint

Ok, do you really need a recipe for this?  Trust me, you’re smarter than you think and produce this pure doesn’t need much more than a splash of EVOO, aged balsamic and maybe a dusting of coarse salt (if you feel so obliged).  Just cube up the melon and ‘maters, sprinkle on about a tablespoon of feta, and then top her off with a handful of chopped mint and basil (the more you chop or rip your herbs the more essential oils will be released, making your salad more aromatic and freaking irresistable). You won’t be sorry and you sure as hell won’t want to share – but share, because greediness is neither classy nor sexy.

And there it is.  My final moments of summer… in a bowl… and I ate every.last.one.

C’mon, Autumn, your turn!

Awaiting my creative genius.

So while I wait for her to arrive, I’d like to share one of my favorite TED Talks.  Inspiration is an essential ingredient when nourishing your soul.  I’m sure most of you have heard this before, but it’s brilliant and I find myself coming back to Elizabeth’s calming release of expectation often. It’s a friendly reminder to get off my own case.

Elizabeth Gilbert, Your Elusive Creative Genius. Ted Talk

Keeping it simple.

SunnyEggs

As a verb, bliss is defined (by Google) as “reaching a state of perfect happiness, typically as to be oblivious to everything else”. I like this.  What resonates with me is the to be oblivious to everything else because it gives me the grace, the power, the allowance, to be in my own moment without distraction. “Sorry, I can’t right now, I’m experiencing bliss”.  How great!

Yesterday I was at my first professional dietetics conference as a newly credentialed DTR.  We had a lovely discussion on slowing down to savor the food we eat, enjoy the people we are dining with, and allowing ourselves to “take lunch” rather than “take a quick lunch”.  There is nothing complicated about this concept and yet it is something we (mainly women, I think) have a hard time practicing.  Taking the time, allowing ourselves to separate and enjoy the bliss of a moment is something we need to  make a cognitive decision of every day.

The majority of my friends and family are married and either have a baby on the way or have their families started.  I can only imagine how challenging balancing home and professional life is for them.  But, maybe you guys have the advantage!  You have a really good excuse to slow down and make Sunday dinners the priority.  You have the chance to teach your children and remind yourself that food is delicious nourishment and a fueling gift we give to ourselves throughout the day!  This goes for all of us: I believe food is medicine and, next to physical activity and socialization, the best form of preventative care we have. This is important stuff and we have many opportunities throughout the day to do good for our bodies.

I want to keep this first post short so I’ll just share about what I did this morning and part of the routine I am challenging myself to keep.  So, my alarm went off at 5:40am.  I hit snooze once and woke up at 6:30am.  After taking Ms Jasper for a walk, I came back in and immediately started thinking about and having anxiety about all the piles of work I have on my desk.  Then I stopped.  I physically stopped myself and said “make yourself a damn breakfast sandwich.  A really, really delicious oozy-yolk, breakfast sandwich.” I did.

If I can give anyone a piece of advice on adding excitement to your dishes: get friends from all over India. Why?  Because their sauces and chutneys are packed with healthy flavor and can take any food and knock it up.  Have them cook for your, have them teach you, and fill your cabinets with their spices. If I wasn’t marrying Matt I would totally look for a hot Indian guy (which wouldn’t be hard to find) with a family who loved to cook (that wouldn’t be hard to find either).  Trust me, these people have it going on!!

I digress, back to my sandwich and morning bliss.  Yesterday at my parents I plucked a green tomato.  This morning I fried three slices of said tomato, over-easied an egg, slathered some North Indian chutney onto my multigrain toast, and stopped thinking about everything I had to do. I focused on the textures, the complexities of the flavors, the sweet sourness of the green tomato, the smoothness of the yolk, the fire of the spread, the crunch of the bread!  Bliss!  If only for 7 yummy minutes, complete culinary bliss.

Posts will be getting longer and more in depth with recipes and such, but I felt the need to publish something… that sandwich inspired me.

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