Health

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photos by gluttonforlife

12.17.14 Down to the Bone (and a Caramels Giveaway)

I fell down a deep well last week. G was away for a few days, it was bitter cold and night seemed to descend before each day had barely begun. A weighty cloak of despair settled over me as I sank into the couch in front of the dying embers of the fire. I questioned my purpose. I listened to the sneering voices that crowded my mind. I grew listless and small. I sent a text to my husband: I feel frightened and disconnected. And then I realized I had not left the confines of our tiny cottage in four days! I forced myself outside, spent nearly an hour chipping away with a shovel at the ice on our front stoop and then made it to yoga for the first time in a week. When I got home, I was a new woman. Light and movement had managed to penetrate that bleak darkness. Dear reader, I was SAD—as in suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder. It was no joke, but I am better now and committed to going outside every day, no matter what the weather has up its wicked sleeve. 

I'm also done with nuts, chocolate and sugar for the season. Enough! Those things are particularly bad for my constitution. They bring me down. Instead, I have stocked the fridge with pomegranates and sweet-tart clementines, a gorgeous block of Stilton and some fresh chestnuts. And, as always, nourishing bone broths. Don't you love it when something that has been around for millennia—fasting! kale!—suddenly becomes a trend? So it is with bone broths, which are on everyone's lists for "what's hot in 2015." 

Before we go any further, let’s consider how stock differs from broth, often merely a question of semantics. A general consensus seems to be that stock is a relatively clear, unsalted liquid made by slowly simmering bones and sometimes vegetables, which is then used as the basis for sauces and soups. Broth is a simple soup in itself, more highly seasoned than stock and perhaps containing bits of meat. In most recipes the two can be interchanged, though stock is more neutral, with its salinity, strength and seasoning dependent on how it will be used.


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photos courtesy of Blooming Dream

11.17.14 Naturally Beautiful

I have known Suzinn Weiss for well over 20 years and she seems to grow more creative and vital as time goes on. Though originally from the east coast, she headed west for college and took to the light and open spaces. After earning an MFA at Parsons in New York, she moved to Portland, Oregon, and there began her love affair with gardening. She turned her artist's eye to designing lush landscapes and it was the amazing fragrances that rose up from these gardens that inspired her latest venture. For Blooming Dream, Suzinn creates small-batch body oils and natural perfumes in oil or alcohol bases, using organic, fair trade and sustainable materials wherever possible. Her wonderful efforts have been rewarded with many fans (of which I am one, of course), as well as a silver medal at the 2014 San Francisco Fragrance Salon for Top Artisan Perfumer and a gold medal at the 2013 Seattle Fragrance Salon for Best Ingredient Combinations. I jokingly call her a "plantaholic," but it is her love and appreciation for the beauty and healing power of the natural world that makes her fragrances so special. If you're looking to support small, artisanal businesses this holiday season (who isn't?), Blooming Dream is an excellent choice.
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photos by gluttonforlife

11.5.14 Age of Enlightenment

First things first: Thank you all for commenting on my last post. It's wonderful to see you all come out of the woodwork! The winner of Amy Chaplin's At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen: Celebrating the Art of Eating Well is "eb" (Elisabeth Bentz). Congratulations! Please send your mailing address to me at gluttonforlife at gmail dot com. I can't wait for you to start cooking from this beautiful book!

With the change of season, my thoughts inevitably turn to death and dying. What? you cry. How maudlin! And I can't deny that it's with a slightly melancholy turn of mind that I watch the garden wither and decay, for this is such an evocative reminder of the passage of time. Oh, spring will come again—the rhubarb will poke its gnarled pinkness up from the cold ground and the lilacs will bloom in a purple haze—but my own spring's awakening happened long ago and my winter years are soon upon me. Reading this piece by the wonderfully wise Dani Shapiro, I was comforted to know that I am not alone in wanting to acknowledge the inevitable, and to let that open me up to appreciating the moment even more. It's so important to embrace all of life's experiences. If we bury our heads in the sand and allow ourselves to by ruled by fear, who knows what we might miss out on?
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photos by gluttonforlife

10.29.14 Kindred Kitchens & a Cookbook Giveaway

I cook a lot and I own a vast number of cookbooks but, paradoxically, I don't cook from them very often. Mostly, they serve as inspiration for new ingredients, new techniques, new flavor combinations. There are exceptions, of course. Anything to do with baking and I need a recipe. Everything I know about Southeast Asian cuisine, I learned from Hot, Sour, Salty, Sweet, and I have cooked my way through Suzanne Goin's entirely wonderful Sunday Suppers at Lucques. Come fall, Braise by Daniel Boulud is always at hand, as is Tadashi Ono's invaluable Japanese Hot Pots. Nourishing Traditions is a touchstone. These favorites are now dog-eared and annotated, their pages stained with drips and spatters. But it's not so often that a new cookbook becomes part of my weekly repertoire, much less captures my heart. And yet, less than a month after it arrived in the mail, Amy Chaplin's At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen: Celebrating the Art of Eating Well has managed to do both. Read on for the juicy details and a chance to win your very own copy.


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photos by george billard

10.14.14 Catskills Getaway

This past weekend we took off into the Catskills to celebrate our anniversary (lucky seven!), visit friends and explore some new territory. The fall colors were at their peak. Birds, bugs and bees filled the skies, harvesting whatever remains before bunkering down or heading off to warmer climes. The air was crisp, the skies turquoise and the colors of the leaves more nuanced than a Missoni sweater. Fields of milkweed exploded in a profusion of downy, winged seeds. I find few things as uplifting as piling into the car and hitting the road when the destination means new experiences, old pals, wild beauty and delicious meals. And so it was.
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photos by gluttonforlife

9.16.14 Winding Down

Summer has such momentum to it. All that sunshine and daylight just winds you up and you go, go, go. Then suddenly the light begins to wane and all around things start to curl inward. Where green once predominated, yellow is now creeping in. The goldenrod has exploded, a few sunflowers still remain and the leaves are tinged with jaundice. We cling to the last vestiges of the season, even as we reach for our sweaters, lay the first fire in the hearth and prepare to hunker down. I want to share with you some photos of the garden I took that show the last blooms. And then I'm going to tell you about a rice salad I invented earlier this summer that was a big hit at a couple of different parties. So cheer up, there are good things ahead!
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photos by gluttonforlife

9.8.14 All Juiced Up

It's been a strange season in the garden. Unusually cool temperatures have resulted in a glut of cucumbers, thriving greens and herbs, and not a single summer squash. A year without an onslaught of zucchini just feels unnatural! The tomatoes have been a mixed bag: lots of Green Zebras and Brandywines, other varieties decimated by blight, and many falling off the vine green. I see green tomato-lemon marmalade in my future, not to mention green tomato chutney and plenty of fried green tomatoes. But with what's left of the ripe ones, I envision perhaps one more gazpacho, one last tomato sandwich and definitely some fresh tomato juice. Nothing else comes close to capturing the essence of the season. (Except perhaps a perfect peach. Or buttered corn. Or blackberries.) I make it with my Hurom juicer that has become a staple of my kitchen. It's a slow-masticating design that first crushes food and then presses it to extract maximum yield with minimum oxidation, meaning you get the most nutrition from juice produced this way. The smell and taste of fresh tomato juice is one of the great pleasures of late summer.
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photos by gluttonforlife

7.31.14 Eat Your Vegetables

It's the last day of July. Summer is peaking! And I'm about to bid you farewell as we drift into the dog days of August. It's been strangely cool in these parts and the nights have been downright chilly, which makes for some powerfully good sleeping under a fluffy duvet. But the garden needs a lot of heat right now to keep producing—those tomatoes especially!—so I'm hoping it's just a blip. Speaking of the garden, ours is featured on Gardenista today; come for a visit here. Even if you don't have a vegetable-producing garden of your own, summer produce is abundant at farms and farmers markets. I stopped in at the Union Square market last week and came away with a big bag of red okra (I love it sliced and pan-fried, sprinkled with salt and cayenne pepper), another of English peas and 6 ears of sweet corn. These tastes really define the season for me and I can't seem to get enough of them!
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photos by gluttonforlife

7.22.14 Blenheim Bouquet

A good apricot is an elusive thing. As in the quest for a good man, you have to bite into quite a few before you find a winner. I read recently that Frankenstein farmers are taking the best elements from an apricot and the best from a plum and creating delicious hybrids with names like pluot, plumcot and apriplum. And yet I still want that perfect apricot, with its faintly downy curves, rosy bloom and fudgy flesh. Once in a blue moon, you might come across such a specimen, most often of the Blenheim variety. (Those of you familiar with Penhaligon's fragrances will remember Blenheim Bouquet, a bracing mix of citrus oils, spice and woods that has nothing to do with apricots but provided inspiration for the title of this post.) But somehow even the very best apricot never seems to quite live up to the taste I carry in my sense memory. Which is where roasting comes in...
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7.4.14 Born Free

Well, the first thing I have to say is that you all are poets. Talk abut using your words! In telling me what summer means to you, you conjured up so many ripe images, so much nostalgia. (Those of you who have not yet had a chance to leave a comment on my last post, still have time to do so before midnight on Sunday 7/14 to be in the running for a box of summer treats from the Glutton for Life kitchen.) Turns out we all love being outdoors more. Swimming, gardening, visiting those green places we return to every year. School's out. We kick our shoes off. Everything loosens up a bit. How fitting then that on this day of high summer, on this Independence Day, we celebrate freedom. In this country, it's a bit tattered but there's always hope that we'll rally and reclaim our birthright. In the face of all that is so blatantly bleak, I choose optimism. There is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way.
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