April 2014

Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin —
Salad freshens without enfeebling and fortifies without irritating.
Caesar1 790 xxx
photos by gluttonforlife

4.28.14 Hail Caesar

The Caesar salad is the definition of a classic: something with an established and recognized value that never seems to diminish. Though hackneyed, lackluster specimens abound in airport terminals and chain restaurants everywhere (often inappropriately laden down with flabby bits of shrimp or chicken), when made properly this salad remains truly great. It was invented in the 1920s by Caesar Cardini, an Italian immigrant and restaurateur who lived in San Diego, California, but ran businesses in Tijuana, Mexico, where Prohibition did not staunch the flow of alcohol. According to his daughter Rosa, he came up with the salad on the fly one day when ingredients were low. Apparently the original did not contain any anchovies—that umami flavor came from Worcestershire sauce (which does, in fact, contain anchovies)—and was made with whole leaves of romaine lettuce meant to be lifted by the stem and eaten with the hands. So decadent, so divine. It's all about crunching into that cool, refreshing lettuce and licking that creamy, garlicky dressing off your fingers. I'll never eat it any other way, and neither should you.
Pablo Neruda —
I want to do to you what spring does with the cherry trees.
Field garlic1 790 xxx
photos by gluttonforlife

4.23.14 Further Afield (& April Hot Links)

Driving home last night on dark, rain-slicked country roads, we saw the ultimate confirmation that spring is here. Every year, on a wet, foggy night in April, there is a frog exodus. I'm not quite sure where they are going—from one part of the woods to another? from the pond to the marsh?—but they inevitably cross our road en masse (and, sadly, not all of them make it). Now we will hear them getting down to business in the damp nether regions of the forest, and soon we will see the jellied masses of their eggs in the vernal pools, brooks and streams. In the garden there are other signs of spring: the first tentative pink sprouts of my peonies; delicate green leaves and buds on the lilac bushes; my beloved lovage unfurling; a few tender leaves of sorrel. And further afield there are some wild edibles to be found if you're ready, willing and able.
Ambrose Bierce —
Better a meal of vegetables where there is love than a fattened calf with hatred.
Rice salad 790 xxx
photos by gluttonforlife

4.13.14 Vegetative State

I know a true vegetative state is no joke, but I couldn't resist this as the title for my current vegan existence. On day 12 of the Spring Detox/Cleanse, I am more than halfway through and I can officially say that this has not been about feeling limited or deprived. If anything, I have noticed how comparatively little food I need to feel nourished and full, and that is without consciously trying to reduce my intake. Although the cleanse calls for three meals a day—with the last one being a simple bowl of soup—G and I have mostly been satisfied with just two. I think this is because we eat our biggest meal of the day somewhere between 3pm and 5pm, something I doubt we'll sustain as it's just not that practical given our work schedule and our desire to socialize with others. Come Friday, I tend to like a cocktail, but have been content with my latest obsession of coconut vinegar with seltzer. Cinnamon tea and the occasional medjool date have been enough to satisfy my sweet tooth. As for some of the vegan dishes I've been enjoying (already previewed on Instagram @LauraSilverman), please read on...
Gillian Welch, "Hard Times" —
Hard times ain't gonna rule my mind no more
Granola 790 xxx
photos by gluttonforlife

4.8.14 Energy Crunch

It's day five of my 21-day vegan cleanse. It's not really going to be a big deal for me, I told my health coach (discover her wisdom here). I basically eat like this all the time. Plus I'm not an emotional eater. Right.

My coach told me to use the advent of spring and the inevitable awakening and clean-up of the garden as a metaphor for my own self. And on Sunday, as I knelt on the still-frozen earth, hacking away at dried twigs and grasses, pushing aside sodden and broken-down leaves and pine needles, I saw that I, too, was badly in need of a refurbishing. It became clear that the extra pounds I have acquired over the last 5 years may well have helped buffer me against the particular pains and hardships of that time. Though I may not be the kind of emotional eater that relies on chocolate to mask a feeling of vulnerability, I am no stranger to taking comfort in food. But things have changed: my husband is healing; spring is here; I am reconnecting with a kind of movement and wholeness that I had begun to forget. Oh, and the cleanse? It's also meant a renewed commitment to daily meditation, which is good since my mind has been racing a lot. Could be that no sugar, no cheese and no alcohol really does have an impact on me. I've been falling asleep early, sleeping for 9+ hours and having vivid dreams. Tectonic shifts. I fear many things, but change is not one of them.

Mark Twain —
The first of April is the day we remember what we are the other 364 days of the year.
Landscape 790 xxx
photos from the interwebs

4.1.14 Make Peace

As I write this, there are two tiny ants crawling around on my desk: proof positive that the world is waking up and spring is imminent. I heard the low trill of an Eastern screech owl the other morning and witnessed four robins sprinting across the lawn. There have already been rumored sightings of bears. Soon the frogs will come out of their deep thaw and the woodland orgies will commence. Tempers can run hot at this time of year, as even emotions lie dormant and come bubbling up as we begin to move and shake our creaky limbs. Be gentle with yourself, and with others. Stretch. Stimulate your blood flow by taking a natural bristle brush or a dry loofah and brushing your skin in long strokes toward the heart. Lighten the load on your organs (especially the liver and gall bladder) by eating fewer processed foods and meat and increasing your intake of greens, especially the bitter ones like dandelion and the chicories.

I was lucky enough to jumpstart my seasonal transition with a few days at Kripalu, a wonderful yoga and wellness center in Lenox, Mass. I've been there several times and really appreciate all it has to offer: yoga, massage, hiking, meditation, privacy, community and delicious, healthy food. As it happened, my reading for the Berkshire Festival of Women Writers took place there on the last day of my stay, so it was incredibly serendipitous and convenient.