Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Favorite Foodie Books

Some hugely influential books for me the last several years, listed in the order they came into my life...

I'll read anything this guy writes. I saw him on Oprah and was hooked. This was my first Pollan book, and it's radical yet accessible. This is legendary now: "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."

I've been reading Kingsolver novels since high school, but this memoir fascinated me. "This is the story of how our family was changed by our first year of deliberately eating food produced from the same place where we worked, went to school, loved our neighbors, drank the water, and breathed the air." Includes some great recipes, too.

Another Pollan. This edition was given to me by good friend, Natalia and has fantastic illustrations by Maira Kalman. I typically don't like the concept of 'rules' as an artist, but these are ones to live by:
"Avoid food products containing ingredients that a third-grader could not pronounce"
"Shop the peripheries of the supermarket and stay out of the middle"
"Eat your colors"

A beautifully illustrated book about what happens on a farm. Growing up in Kansas you'd think I had a clue. Nope. Learn how to plow a field, name all the crazy farm equipment, types of roosters and their combs, how to shear sheep, parts of a bee, what flowers are edible, and so much more. I need to appreciate where my food comes from, and the many magical steps of creation involved before it even gets to my kitchen.

Got this book for Christmas from my mother a few months before my bariatric surgery. Showed me how to purée and bring great dishes to more solid stages as I healed. Healthy recipes for everyone. Protein and portion amounts carefully listed, vital for adjusting to a new way of life. I tried lots of recipes on my friends at 'tester dinner parties.'

Gorgeous photos. Reminds me that you only need a few fresh ingredients to make an excellent dish. My friend Randi had a copy and graciously passed it on to me, along with a stack of Food and Wine magazines that I'm totally hooked on.

The latest and greatest. Present from my Dad this last Christmas. Came across the blog first, fell in love. Shows you how to organize your kitchen, stick your pantry, pick the knives that work for you. Lists essential equipment and 50 essential cooking skills. Lots of goals I can wrap my head around that are not overwhelming at this point. My kitchen is a second studio; in fact I spend more time there now than in my art studio. This book will be on my counter in reach non-stop.

Kitchen Meditation

Each day is brand-new, so is each potato  or cup of flour or whole chicken. They are not the same potato or cup of flour or whole chicken we worked with last week. Ingredients will vary in quality and freshness; they will be drier or moister, or larger or smaller. Certain items will go in and out of season, or vary according to manufacturer. Good cooks and happy cooks take pleasure in responding to these changes and variations.

Further, your kitchen might be cooler or hotter than before, or you might have a new oven or a different knife in your hand. And, just as important, you are not the same person day to day, or at least you are not dealing with the same set of moods, energies, and priorities. The nature of the world is that everything is in motion; everything is in flux. Perfection, by extension, is a moving target as well. This is both the beauty and the challenge of cooking.

So cooking well, and indeed living well, involves responding with grace and agility to whatever circumstances present themselves. Which means we have to have a certain amount of openness and trust, and a willingness to be attentive and curious. It means we have to look more closely, be more aware and alert, and more forgiving. With our eyes open, we can then discover how each moment, each circumstance, has its own perfection: this particular lemon, this pot, this rainy/sunny/snowy day; this body today, this mind, this simple, extraordinary human life.

Dana's meditation from The Kitchn Cookbook.
Photo from shower-yoga.com

Here's to a healthy 2016!

Here's to a healthy 2016! Wanted to 'come out' on fb with my new self if you hadn't  already seen me in person the past several months. In May, I had gastric sleeve surgery and it has changed my life. 80 pounds and counting. Cooking almost every meal. Swimming three times/week. No lupus fatigue flares. Unbelievable creative energy. More benefits than I can count. The surgery has done this much; it's now my charge to make it my forever lifestyle. I could fuck this up royally but I won't. Surgery was not an easy decision and I had a difficult recovery; I was obese for every reason in the book. But I'm not looking back now. Our culture talks a lot about 'diet' and 'exercise' but we need a new vocabulary. And one thing I've almost never heard discussed is portion size, how much we really need for fuel. It's shocking. My new reality is about one cup per meal and special vitamins every day. For everyone I wish a strong step toward wellness, whatever that means for you in 2016. Feel free to message me if you have questions. Best.