Seeking Disambiguation

via Daily Prompt: Notorious

Disambiguation is a new word I learned while working out something to say about the prompt, “notorious.”

It goes like this: I check Google for the definition of notorious just to make sure I have it. I do but only according to Merriam-Webster and Dictionary.Com. In the Urban Dictionary is where I get further enlightened because that has a series of posts defining “notorious” in a completely different way. You revere notorious. You practically worship someone who’s notorious.  Like the rapper, Notorious B.I.G.? I Google him. He found success in his genre for five years. But in life, he only made it to 25. I suspect the Merriam-Webster definition applies to this name, but to his fans, he wears a heavy overcoat of the Urban Dictionary meaning.

Can’t go into some of the stuff I read there. Like what notorious “bmg” means to some people. And the plush toys sold on those Urban Dictionary entries. So I looked Chris Wallace (Notorious) up in Wikipedia. His nickname was Biggy Smalls. “Biggy” and “Biggie” are both called a disambiguation. What does that mean?

“Disambiguation refers to the removal of ambiguity by making something clear.Disambiguation narrows down the meaning of words and it’s a good thing. This word makes sense if you break it down. Dis means “not,” ambiguous means “unclear,” and the ending -tion makes it a noun.” [Dictionary.com]

In Wikipedia, Disambiguation is word-sense disambiguation, the process of identifying which meaning of a word is used in context. Disambiguation may also refer to: Sentence boundary disambiguation, the problem in natural language processing of deciding where sentences begin and end.

In the Computer Desktop Encyclopedia disambiguation has a technical meaning: “In language processing, deriving the true intention of a word that has multiple meanings. The word means “to remove ambiguities,” and it is used in text-to-speech, speech recognition and text mining applications. For example, the word “r-e-a-d” is pronounced “reed” in the present tense but “red” in the past tense. A text-to-speech program would have to determine the tense of the word by the rest of the sentence.”

This concept is really well-explained here.  I liked it because I was looking for an image and saw the title: “My brother is a trained S.E.A.L.”

I don’t think we really need the word “disambiguation” but this last technical one seems pretty useful and has turned into an entire technical subject that applies to many.

And, since the word “disambiguation” does exist, I’m adding a definition of my own:

(Philosophy) The clarification of meaning, intention, purpose and direction of life or some aspect of life through knowledge and understanding of oneself and others. Eg:  I am seeking disambiguation in my life.

Seeking disambiguation can take you almost anywhere.

 

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My Kind of Mother’s Day

Today is Mother’s Day and I wish all mothers a wonderful day! I know there will be special outings, dinners, flowers and gifts flowing today.  I’m a mother myself and like most mothers I’ve done my share of standing up for my children and protecting them when I see they may be in harm’s way.

So in celebration of Mother’s Day, this is what I’m writing about on behalf of all the mothers, the unborn, the newborn, the babies, the toddlers, the young sprouts, the teens, the grown children and the elderly.

DON’T LET PSYCHIATRISTS ELECTROSHOCK CHILDREN!

cchr protest photo

Most people I have talked to think electroshock therapy is totally barbaric and unacceptable.

Most people I know would never want to put themselves, their family or their friends through the agony of electroshock therapy. But they aren’t worried about it because . . .

Most people think electroshock therapy is something that was done in the past, circa “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.”

In fact, electroshock therapy is one of the most brutal “treatments” ever inflicted on people in the name of mental health care and is still being done today on at least a million people a year including about 100,000 elderly, pregnant mothers and children in the United States. (Yes, I said pregnant mothers.)

And the psychiatric industry would like to do much, much more of it. In the United States the American Psychiatric Association (APA) is lobbying the FDA to allow use of electroshock on children, stating in their letter to the FDA that having ECT available is “especially meaningful in children and adolescents….”

They are claiming that if allowed to give ECT to pregnant women, newborns and the very young, the children will not grow up with mental health problems. Yeah. 450 volts through the brain. That’ll quiet ’em down. Maybe forever.

To push their agenda further along, the APA is holding their annual conference next week in San Diego, California to discuss ETC for children. They will be severely challenged by some of the country’s most dedicated human rights activists–members of the Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) and those who stand with them in solidarity against such brutal torture.

What Can You Do About This?

Join CCHR’s Protest March demanding that ECT is BANNED in the United States. The March will be on Saturday May 20th starting at 11 a.m. in Horton Plaza, 4th and Broadway in San Diego. Contact CCHRofLA@gmail.com.

Sign the CCHR petition to ban ECT here and share it with everyone you know.

Learn more about it here. 

 

 

 

The Underside of Cooking

We ALL know the underside of cooking–gourmet or otherwise!

That’s right.  It’s the cleaning.

There’s nothing like a clean and sparkling kitchen to inspire more creativity, more willingness to go the extra mile and prepare something new and adventurous.  In the interest of honesty, I admit that my kitchen is not always what you would call “sparkling.” Okay. I admit that my kitchen is rarely sparkling.

It is decently clean, but on my schedule, the Battle Plan of household chores to be done is usually very long and the time to accomplish them is usually quite short. The jobs get rotated according to what is screamingly vital that day.

Today my kitchen stove was calling my name. One thing I really dislike is a dirty stove, and mine had collected some grunge that escaped the daily wipe down.

Another thing I dislike is the smell, expense and toxicity of cleaning solutions. For one thing, I don’t think most of them work very well. It is unrealistic to think that everything can simply be sprayed and wiped.  I like the idea of using WATER.  And SOAP or something. And a little ELBOW GREASE.

A few weeks ago, I discovered that a strong vinegar and water solution would take soap scum right off the walls and door of my shower.  I was impressed!  Maybe you all already know about this. But I didn’t.

So I went back on the Internet to look for natural stove top cleaning solutions and found a great website called, “So Not Betty.”  Have you heard of it?  I learned to make a simple paste from my kitchen staples to totally clean and shine my stove top!  It worked really great and some grunge near one particular burner that I thought was permanent is now nearly gone.  Another round of natural stove top paste will probably finish it.

Here is today’s recipe from Chandra at “So Not Betty.”  [ I had a hard time actually finding the home page of the website. There are a lot of blogs that play on the idea of not being Betty (Crocker?) so this is where the actual recipe came from: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/26/clean-stove-top-naturally_n_3499261.html]

Stove Top Cleanser

1 Tablespoon Salt

1 Tablespoon Baking Soda

1 Tablespoon Water

Make a paste and dip a cloth or sponge into it and scrub.  I found this paste requires lots of rinsing with water and wiping to remove all the paste residue.  But it isn’t difficult. Besides, as you know, I like to use water to clean!

I hope you can benefit from my experiment with this. Now that the stove and kitchen really are clean and sparkling, onward to some creative cooking!

What do you find are the most effective natural cleaning solutions that can be made at home?

Get Back on the Rails with Three Easy Tips

This holiday season I managed to NOT GAIN any weight from Thanksgiving through Christmas. Quite a good accomplishment I would say! And, it is a first! Yes, I indulged and enjoyed treats and special meals but I just didn’t make every moment of every day in December be an excuse to stuff my face with foods I normally don’t eat. In fact, I think this is the first year in a long time that I remained unstuffed and mostly uncompromised during the celebrations. (Patting myself on the back.)

Even so, I certainly did make and eat more than my share of  holiday indulgences. Did you?  Are you thinking what I’m thinking?

“Time to clean up my act!”

What with the cookies, pies, stuffing stuffed in squashes, potatoes, and numerous other carb-loaded meals that seems like it would be the first place to cut back, doesn’t it?

Well . . . yes and no.

This is the traditional post-holiday season for joining weight-loss programs, making fitness resolutions and promising beneficial dietary changes. But that doesn’t mean we should go to the other extreme and attempt to cut out entire major food groups or set impossible and un-maintainable goals for ourselves.

Our bodies work on a basis of homeostasis. (I’m a poet and don’t know it,) The body likes to maintain the status quo. So if you want to make changes, you’ve got to train your body to be able to adjust the way you want it to.

Three easy tips to get back on the rails

1. Whole Grains.  My best advice after all those flour products and simple carbohydrates is NOT TO ELIMINATE CARBS!   Instead, consistently use whole grains and just cut out or cut back on the refined and processed grains.

Whole grains means the entire grain, unbroken and un-made-into-flour, not cracked, not rolled, not processed into any other format than just a grain. Included are things like brown rice, millet, quinoa (really a seed, but that’s okay), barley, buckwheat, wheat berries, whole oats—you get the idea.

HATO MUGI SPRING STEW

 

Pearl Barley with Black Beans and Carrots

Not included would be any breads, pastries, pastas, pizza dough, baked goods etc that are made with refined grains such as white flour. Check it out! “Rye bread” ingredients might say there’s rye flour but also it could say “wheat flour.,” That doesn’t mean whole wheat and probably means white wheat which has already been stripped down before it is even made into flour.  I think most of you know what the difference is between whole unrefined grains and the other stuff.

For the most part—at least for a while—I recommend avoiding or greatly reducing bread, cereal and flour products made from whole grains that were nonetheless cracked or floured, pasta, noodles. Also potatoes.

Some other foods that can help satisfy a craving for refined carbs are beans and squashes.

2. No sugar.   No sugar including honey, definitely no agave syrup (it is like high fructose corn syrup in how it affects your body), brown sugar, molasses, cane-anything and any products that contain these. But does that mean going from Sweets City to desolation? Absolutely not! You can get your whole grains and satisfy your sweet tooth by using whole grain sweeteners such as brown rice syrup and barely malt. These are complex carbohydrates and can be eaten in moderation without throwing your body off. See what I recommended in my top ten Christmas gift for cooks list.

FRESH COLLARDS

 

Collard Greens

3. Eat those veggies!   We all know we should eat veggies, but how much do we really need? I would say as much as you can manage but no less than 40-50% of your food volume. At least while you’re cleaning up your act. And every day this should include dark leafy greens like kale, collards, turnip greens, broccoli rabe, etc.

BEAUTIFUL WARM BRUSSELS SPROT SALAD

 

Warm Brussels Sprouts Salad

Even if you get some of your veggies in a smoothie, that is better than nothing.

 

This is by no means a complete rundown on what to eat to be healthy. There is so much more and so many great books and advices that you can read and follow.

These are, however, my top three tips on getting back into balance after a month-long holiday season of indulgences. This is what I’m doing and I’ll let you know how it goes.,

I’d love to hear what you are doing and how it is working for you!

 

Christmas 2014 Top Ten Gifts for An Adventurous Cooking Life

HOLIDAY GIFTSSometimes it’s hard to know what that crazy cook in your life would really like for Christmas. And because of that, since we too are crazy cooks, sometimes we don’t always get our heart’s desire either!

Last year for Christmas one of my sons gave me something truly adventurous to try in the kitchen—a Molecular Gastronomy Kit. That’s a mouthful all by itself. It is a selection of natural texturing agents that can be used to deconstruct any dish or cocktail using molecular techniques. Still don’t get it?  Me either until I tried it out. Lots of fun and adventure here.

So let’s get shopping! There isn’t much time left. Most everything can be purchased online to make gift giving easier for us last-minute people. Luckily “cyber Monday” has become “cyber Everyday ‘Til Christmas!” There are lots of sales yet to be found.

Top Ten Gifts for An Adventurous Cooking Life

10. Cookie Cutters from cookiecutter.com. Yes they have a lot of cookie cutters including for Christmas but also for all the other holidays AND you can have a custom designed cookie cutter made! Now that’s a cool idea! Shipping is free for all orders over $50.

9.  Suzanne’s Specialties brown rice syrup. Traditional rice syrup plus flavored syrup such as chocolate, maple, raspberry and more!  High quality, no sugar, complex carb sweetener with flair. Maybe your favorite health-conscious cook will make you some cookies! You can get a mix and match pack of 4 or 12 of these through Christina Pirello’s website, Christina Cooks. (Yes, I confess, I just bought a four-pack for myself the other day.)  The pricing is good and includes shipping. About $30.

8. Winter Forest Soaps and Lotions from Williams Sonoma. I usually don’t go in much for scented things but this one made with essential oils, Winter Forest, really captures my imagination and it is delightful! It comes in a dish soap, a counter cleaner and a hand lotion. My Hubbin’ gets this for me almost every year!  $12-$42.

7.  The R-Evolution Molecular Gastronomy Kit. This is the one I described. There are several places to order this from and here’s one—Cookswarehouse  About $60.

6. Teavana Perfect Tea Maker. I saw this demonstrated at my local Teavana store and I have asked Santa for one (Pleeeease!) If you love loose leaf teas you know that they can be messy and it’s easy to waste the tea. You can put the tea in an unbleached tea bag, But it is not so easy to reuse the tea for a second cup. If you try to use the tea loose in the tea pot, you have to strain it out and the clean up is tedious as well as wasteful. This little glass teamaker comes in two sizes and is very reasonably priced. Teavana does have a website.  $20.

5. Vitamix on QVC. I always wanted a Vitamix and two years ago I saw it on a great sale on the QVC on TV. They ship it to you when you order and you can make payments. This turned out to be a less painful way for me to purchase—and immediately receive—my Vitamix which I love love love. So if you’re favorite cook has this expensive piece of equipment at the top of his or her list, I highly recommend getting on the QVC website and watching for those holiday sales and easy payments. It is very well worthwhile.  $500.

4.  Back by popular demand! Flavored high-quality balsamic vinegars from Oleaceae. No limit to what an adventurous chef can come up with using these! Cocktails, dessert sauces, dressings and marinades all from vinegar?  Yes! Unfortunately it is too late to get a delivery by Christmas but don’t let that stop you! These are incredible gifts even if late. $20 a bottle.

3. DIY photographic light box. If your chef is also a food blogger, maybe you’ve seen how frustrating it can be to take decent photos of food! Believe me it is really hard to get a good result unless you can control the environment your photographing in—especially the light! What could be more thoughtful than a hand made gift that takes about 20 minutes to make and uses only a few common and inexpensive materials? (Etsy entrepreneurs would also love this.) Learn how to make a light box here.  $10 or so and a little of your time.

2. Personalized Chef gear from Chefwear.  I once got a personalized chef hat and chef pants for Christmas and wore them and wore them. What a fun way to acknowledge the chef in your life! They even have them in kids’ sizes!  $10.95-$32 plus personalized embroidery.

and the number one fabulous gift for the chef in your life . . . . .

1. Every chef enjoys a night off from the kitchen. Or a long weekend. Or even a week! But if your fave chef is very health and natural food conscious, you probably know that he or she has a hard time finding ANY restaurant or resort that serves meals that are up to their own standards. I can tell you that around my city, I’m the best chef I know and I enjoy my cooking better than any I can buy in any restaurant. What’s a hard-working chef to do?

How about a Healthy Cruise!!!!? Now you’re talkin’!  This is the one to take.

Holistic Holiday at Sea March 12-15, 2015  Features macrobiotics, vegan, T. Collin Campbell, seminars, excursions and cruise ship entertainment and amenities. $3,000 – $8,000 or so per couple.

Wishing you and yours a wonderful holiday season!

 

 

Not Just Brownies Any More

Stoner Lasagna. I'm sorry but "stoner" is not a description to be proud of.

Stoner Lasagna. Nothing to be proud of.

Since it is the holiday season, what better time to return to my blogging after a three-month hiatus? After all, ’tis the season for all kinds of festive foods, holiday cheer and good wishes to my readers.

Yes, but that is not why I decided to write today. You can call me a Scrooge or a Humbug and I won’t mind. I came back here to have a little non-Christmasy rant about something.

I came across an Associated Press article about Executive Chef Chris Lanter who owns a French restaurant named “Cache” in Aspen, Colorado. Lanter was demonstrating to a group of “marijuana aficionados” how to prepare foods with marijuana in it. How to deglaze a pan with pot-infused brandy. How to “pair” marijuana with fine foods.

GIVE ME A BREAK!

Pot foodie:  “Excuse me Chef, but is it okay to pair Northern Lights with fish?”

A hip Chef: “Yes that is a lovely combination. And if you find you don’t like it, just take a few more hits and you won’t care!”

This is not new in Colorado ever since they passed a law legalizing this drug. The pot industry there is said to include “a booming trade in cookbooks, savory pot foods and frozen takeout dishes that incorporate the drug.”

REALLY?  FROZEN DINNERS?

Kid to big brother: “I’m hungry and Mom’s not home from work yet.”

Big brother: “Don’t worry. I’ve got this frozen lasagna in the microwave and you can have some.”

Kid: “What’s that funny smell?

Big brother: “Who cares you doofus. Just eat it!”

Chef Chris Lanter. A stoner who thinks he's going to make money pushing the envelope to get on-site pot consumption legalized so he can serve his "cuisine" in his chic restaurant.

Chef Chris Lanter. A stoner who thinks he’s going to make money pushing the envelope to get on-site pot consumption legalized so he can serve his “cuisine” in his chic restaurant at the vast detriment to our society, especially our youth.

What really irks me is the way this whole thing is being positioned.  Chef Lanter is “acclaimed.” His eager audience paid $250 to see his pot demonstration and attend a special weekend celebration in Aspen.  Lanter’s French restaurant Cache is described as “tony.”

WELL LA DEE %^$#*& ING DA!

There is an ongoing public relations campaign to make consumption of marijuana acceptable. One must understand that there are vested interests and when you see a story about illicit drug use becoming okay to do, you are looking at someone’s PR campaign. All you have to do is follow the money.

Most people—even pot users—are not rock-solid certain that usng and consuming marijuana is a good idea because we all know it is a drug, it lessens our awareness, makes us introverted, and can be addictive and it has other undesirable side effects.

Or do we?  [No wait. It’s an ingredient, right? Like an herb? It’s natural and organic. It has to be safe because the government is legalizing it. I heard it’s even medicinal, dude! Look–here it is in this cookbook. How bad can it be?]

One wise person said to me, “It’s not just a ‘gateway drug.’ Let’s face it. It’s a full-blown addictive drug with damaging side effects all by itself.”

Justifications for legalizing this illicit drug are plentiful. In the meantime, the PR Spin goes round and round and has even targeted those of us who love food and cooking. What a frivolous excuse for a covert enterprise.

I will never be that kind of “chic” or “tony.”

I will never be that stupid and uninformed.

Here’s a link to some very good and accurate information about marijuana. The entire website is really, really excellent and I suggest it for yourself to be informed and of course for our children so they don’t grow up thinking marijuana-laced steak au poivre is fine dining. They need to know what it REALLY is.

How to do the Hokey Pokey

Hokey Pokey

How do you have your body trained?  Is it trained to be overweight? To want lots of bread, pasta and sweets?  What about what most people call, “comfort food,” which is generally soft, sometimes gooey, and often sweet?  Like Mac n’ Cheese or Pot Pie?

There is a term I learned in fifth grade science — “homeostasis.”  Dictionary.com defines it as “the tendency toward a relatively stable equilibrium between interdependent elements, especially as maintained by physiological processes.”  That’s about right.

Did you ever go on some kind of diet, actually lose a lot of weight, and think you had it made only to find out that your body weight crept back up over time. My friend Kate reminded me of this just a few weeks ago.

It’s because of homeostasis.

Especially if you try to lose the weight fast and/or with dramatically different dietary choices.  Your body is trained to be a certain way and is not going to easily be persuaded to make and maintain a sudden big change.  So you get cravings and thoughts that you “need” to eat something you may have been trying to avoid.

It works the other way around, too, if you trained your body to do something good or healthy.  For instance when I was younger, I worked out in a gym very regularly for many years. I was used to weight training and did it most of my adult life.  Then along came a period of time (years)  when I didn’t belong to a gym and didn’t work out at all. One day I got myself a new gym membership and signed up for a personal trainer to refresh my weight-training skills.

Almost from the beginning—once I got over being “sore” — it was as if my muscles remembered how it used to be. I got back into the workout routine incredibly fast and got very fast results. I was back to homeostasis.

I believe understanding the body’s need to maintain homeostasis is the key to making healthy changes. I do not support “fast” weight loss plans. I already know they will fail because they violate the survival drive of the body to maintain the status quo.

There are some times when someone needs to make very drastic and complete changes to their diet for health reasons. Such as they are trying to save their life! This takes extraordinary, long-term determination.

It is possible to make drastic, complete changes and do well with them even if you aren’t trying to save your own life. I’ve done it. I made a complete, turn-around, change-everything, 180 on my dietary habits when I started macrobiotics in the late ’70’s. How did I make that kind of change so successfully?  I moved into a house owned by two extremely experienced macrobiotic teachers, one of whom was a highly trained macrobiotic cook. She not only knew superb macrobiotic cooking—how to balance the diet, how to make the most delicious food in the world—she knew how to take one look at any one of us living there and understand what one ingredient or dish we needed if we were starting to crave our old ways or getting off balance in any way.

I ate her food/cooking every day for about two years while I learned to do it myself.  By the time I was done and living in my own house, my body had achieved a new training in how to “be” and what foods now represented “homeostasis.”

There are places you can go to learn how to cook this way, meaning the cooking, the balance, the understanding at a glance what food would help at any given time. There are schools and individual cooking teachers around the world who teach this.

So what do the rest of us do who aren’t going to live in someone else’s house and be fed every day while studying how to completely makeover our lifestyle?

Do the Hokey Pokey and, (you know the words)!

  • Consider finding a teacher who’s right for what you want to do and take a few cooking classes!  I taught cooking for over 35 years and have gotten many people off to a great start in pursuing healthier cooking and eating. For some people, taking ANY kind of cooking class would be good because many people are way, way too dependent on the short order cook at the fast food restaurant, or the factory production manager at the frozen food plant, or the good folks at the pizza delivery outlet. Go on! pick up a knife and a carrot and see what you can accomplish!
  • Do read up. Books and blogs are full of all kinds of food and dietary advice. I know—this is difficult because there is so much out there. How do you know what’s right? (I’d love to say, “gut feelings.”  Is that a funny joke?) A lot of the advice out there is pure nonsense but one thing I do know is that whatever route you take, YOU have to be interested. YOU have to decide it sounds good.  YOU have to invest your time and attention in something that makes sense to you. If it doesn’t turn out to be so great, you can always change your direction!
  • There are some really basic things that should be present no matter what kind of dietary advice you decide to try.
  1. Quality of food is extremely important. It should be organic and not have any genetically modified ingredients in it. (Non-GMO)
  2. Do not try to eliminate a whole major food group such as “carbohydrates.” That’s ridiculous because just about everything has carbohydrates just like nearly all food has protein to a greater or lesser degree. Worried about so-called “carbs?” Educate yourself to know the difference between a whole grain and a doughnut. All “carbs” are not the same and not bad.
  3. Until you learn how to balance your meals for optimum benefit, think “Variety.” Variety of colors, cooking styles, veggies, fruits, whatever it is. Variety will actually take you a long way toward your goal to eat healthier.
  4. Chew. Whatever it is you’ve decided to eat, whether right or wrong, it has got to be chewed very, very well. More info on that in my previous post.

Realize that unless you have an emergency health condition requiring immediate, drastic and extraordinary change, the healthy changes you decide to make amount to re-training your body so it becomes accustomed to a new state of homeostasis that can be maintained.

 

Food Recalls (Or, “They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.”)

Food recalls can be really scary sometimes, especially if you think you may have the item in your kitchen or pantry or even worse, you may have eaten the suspect product! I haven’t written a lot about food recalls myself, but today I am going to do it if only so you can benefit from my experience.

A recent recall I read about was about 4,000 pounds of beef recalled due to “incomplete processing.”  That just leaves so much repulsion to the imagination that I can’t begin to express it. Downright lurid, that is.

Unfortunately I recall eating a lot of beef in my younger years. For instance my Dad grilled steak every Saturday night for dinner. The accompanying family fun and observing how proud Dad was to provide his family with prime grade-A beef made this seem like a good thing. All that delicious grilled fat with slightly crispy edges! The way the marbling made it taste!

Well, for the first few chews anyway. After that there is really no taste to speak of and I would swallow the rest. Talk about “incomplete processing!” I’ve observed that’s what most people do when eating beef or meat. The first few chews pull out the fat and added flavoring (BBQ sauce, chemical-laden tenderizer, marinade, spice rub, A-1, etc.) and the rest is tasteless and chewy and why bother to continue chewing?

Eventually I found out what happens to un-chewed foods such as meat and beef when you swallow it! Your stomach doesn’t have teeth  ya know!  Yes protein can be broken down but how big a chunk of un-chewed beef do you think your stomach is going to handle and how long does it take?

Not sure of the size limit, but I’m sure the food has to be pretty small to really get digested. As for the time it takes, beef and meat take L O N G and typically putrify before digestion has a chance to be completed.

Luckily our bodies are very survival-oriented and can stow that undigested food out of the way. Well, not exactly out of the way. Ever wonder what that overhanging gut is packing? Not just “fat.” It’s undigested food. And if the undigested food stays there long enough, it gets about as hard and solid and black as the macadam they pave your road with. Not exaggerating. Get out the jackhammer.

How’s that for lurid food recall?  “I recall eating too much meat and ending up with a parking lot paved gut!:”

To add insult to injury, there is the matter of meats such as beef creating an unhealthy acidic condition in your body. There is also the fact that eating a lot of meat easily creates an imbalance that often leads to craving sugar and sweets. No wonder the best part of my childhood Saturday night grilled sirloin dinner was roasting marshmallows over the still-hot grill after we ate!

You know when most people grill steak and other meats outside? In the summertime when the weather is hot and we don’t want to cook inside the house. You know what food can make your body produce heat like there’s no tomorrow? Meat and especially beef.

I mentioned this to someone just yesterday and he responded that he has noticed when he eats meat he sweats more.

Now we all know that everyone has not decided to give up meat. Beef is still “What’s for dinner” for a lot of people. What to do? It is not easy maintaining balance and health while eating beef and other meats but it is easy to start controlling and counteracting the negative effects.

  1. (Obvious if you read this post) Chew your food until it is liquid. This is an old, traditional maxim that people used to know. Know now that it still holds true. Chewing is your first digestive action and is extremely important even if the flavor of your steak has waned.
  2. Cooked food does not have live enzymes to help digest it. So follow this advice too: “Don’t dine without enzymes!”
  3. Portion your meat serving so you are eating twice as many leafy greens plus other vegetables as meat. And the smaller the portion of meat, the better. Do you really need a 12-oz New York strip or would a few slices of very high-quality beef strips in a large veggie salad give you the flavor and satisfy the craving?
  4. Quality counts. It is well-known that animals raised for food production such as beef cattle are fed with GMO feed, antibiotics and hormones. At least buy organic. If organic seems expensive, wait until you find out how expensive those medical bills will be when your heavy and unbalanced, undigested meat eating habits catch up with you!

For more information on making the transition to a healthier diet, contact me directly. (See sidebar)

A Day in Corrales and a Vegan Lunch

My husband picked a beautiful day to take us to Corrales, New Mexico where we took a tour of artists’ studios.

New Mexico is chock full of artists and while you’ve probably heard about the art colonies in places like Taos or Santa Fe, every New Mexican town—large or small—has a cache of wonderful local art. Corrales, or should I say “Corraleans” call their place a village. I suppose with only 7300 people that is true.

The tour included 75 artists which was more than we could manage to visit in one day. As we drove through the village, we saw Villa Acequia, an historic building circa 1862 on Corrales Road. There they had a sampling of all the artists’ work so you could decide which ones to visit. We didn’t want to be that organized. We just wandered around all day but we did stop into this Villa. It was shaping up to be a very warm day.

We’re flirting with summer over here in New Mexico. ENTRANCE TO VILLA ACEQUIA I was fascinated with these shadows on the front walkway of Villa Acequia. Inside was beautiful too. The owner recently restored this historic building and isn’t sure yet what he’s going to do with it. I thought it would be a beautiful place for a wedding or an event. Inside was all the art and a lot of information. I didn’t photograph art but I did photograph a lovely easel I found inside. EASIL This is not an unusual objet d’art, I know, but it was inviting me to come try my hand at painting! I also took several photos of this: BATHROOM SLASH WINE CELLAR   wine in the bathroom This is the restroom/wine cellar.  Ladies, did you bring your corkscrew when going into the facilities?

We really only got around to seeing about a dozen of the seventy-five artists. We found several that we truly admired including a family of photographers, a glass infusion artist, and wonderful potters.  My Hubbin’ bought me a beautiful pottery serving plate made by Sandy Lipka. You will see more about that when I feature it in a cooking post!

Of course, we got hungry. We went to one of the small, gourmet restaurants in the village (there are many) called The Indigo Crow Cafe. Indigo Crow Cafe is by no means a vegetarian or vegan restaurant but they do feature several suitable choices on their menu. More and more restaurants are doing that these days.

My Hubbin’ opted for Sunday Brunch and I chose a portabello mushroom sandwich which was excellent! Unlike most I’ve had, they do not smother it with cheese and it was not in the least bit oily so the mushroom and vegetables actually stayed in the sandwich instead of sliding out of the multi-grain ciabatta.. PORTOBELLO SANDWICH 1   This was perfectly refreshing and satisfying! FLOWERING CACTUS It was a lovely day in Corrales!

This New Year is All Ours

I live one of those crowded, impromptu lives. It has many more things jammed into it than one imagines would fit into the small space of twenty-four hours a day. Lucky for me, time is only a consideration—not a steadfast rule.

Last year, in late 2013, I was entertaining the idea that I probably had too many pursuits, too many “hobbies,” too many unfinished projects.  But like the flu that descends upon us in an unkind surprise visit, that idea quickly wore out its welcome with me.

This was the oddest holiday season I can remember. Usually before Thanksgiving has even arrived I’m onto decorations, gifts, seasonal holiday dishes, special blog posts, and striving to make the most of one of my favorite times of the year. Not this time. One advent calendar went up in November and we fed on salted caramels for twenty-five days in December. Snow began falling on my blog (Love that!). A few gifts eventually got wrapped and exchanged. I wore my Christmas scarf at the Christmas party at work. It is bright red and says, “But Santa . . . I can explain!”

No Christmas recipes got posted. No December Chocolate Mousse. (It was going to be a Black Forest Cherry Chocolate Mousse Cake. I might resurrect this idea for Valentine’s Day.)

My Christmas dinner consisted of Lentil Soup, Roasted Vegetables and Salad. It was absolutely delicious but not fodder for a Christmas Eve cooking blog post. No.

A post title got written:  “Keeping Christmas.” But only the title. I’ll save it for next year.

I traveled to see family Christmas week but the main celebration was meeting my new daughter-in-law to be and celebrating my son’s engagement to her. That was wonderful and personal and better than any Christmas celebration.

I do like the idea of a “New Year!”  2014 promises to be the absolute best ever for me, my family and my friends. I’m certain of that! And I am happily carrying on the theme of this recent holiday season – take it as it comes, create it as I go. No resolutions, no pressure.

Thank you for reading my posts and for all your comments and acknowledgements! I am itching to return to my kitchen and pull out my camera and share my cooking life with you.

All the warmth and pleasure of loving friends and family to you in this New Year. And may you dream the best dreams and realize them in life. Whether your days fly by in a blur or meander along at an endless stretch, they are all yours to enjoy as you wish if you make it so.