I'll be on the road this week, and the first stop will be Tyler, Texas, where I'll be seeing my twin brother and his family, and spending some precious hours with my mother. I had hoped to bring a tote-full of magazines for our favorite pastime (as you'll learn, below), but, sadly, we won't be able to do that this trip.
“I think all of us are always five years old in the presence and absence of our parents.”
― Sherman Alexie
Twelve months since this post originally ran--a year for the elder and infirm can see significant changes in health and wellness, and this year, no different. It's during these stretches of challenges that sweet memories sustain, the way that fresh peaches this time of year, make me think of this Texas Peach, Sweet Onion & Thyme relish, and my mother's inspiration.
Last week, the postman brought me a very special package.
In somewhat faint, unsteady handwriting, it was addressed to me, from my Mother. It was a manila envelope of magazine articles she had been collecting, it appreared, for the last few years. All clipped together, individually. Some with faint notes written directly on the pictures--some legible, some, sadly, not. Perhaps if her daughter's aging eyes could strain just a little harder, the smaller words might be made out. Every word, precious. Every article, garden suggestion, relish or condiment recipe, priceless, now.
In my earlier, carefree, somewhat clueless days of youth, a package from the postman would have been fun. We all enjoy getting (bill-free) mail, naturally. But now, these kinds of packages, well they're all the more special. And isn't that the way life is. Back then, we couldn't have even imagined what life truly had in store for us. Oh, we might have been planning the big stuff-- marriages, homes, children, careers. But we truly had no clue about real life. The precious details of living. The fact they we, one day, would be older, and our parents would be older, too.
And, even with the passing of time, and the trials of aging, there are precious moments, special deliveries, that we, in our youthful, dare I say it, blithe ignorance, wouldn't have even recognized. We recognize them now.
My mother and I have always shared a love for combing through home magazines. She, for quaint country-style home decorating ideas, me, for anything food-related, naturally, both of us, garden inspiration. We share a love of vintage anything, and a knack for showcasing the imperfect, in new and lovely ways, whether in people, or things.
We'd spend hours flipping page upon page--stacks of magazines my mother and I, both, had saved for just such occasions. And, because we lived so far from one another, occasions, rare.
Even more so rare, these days. Mom has been living with Parkinson's in an assisted living facility, near my brother, who spends a great deal of his time making sure she is well-tended, and all of her needs are met. I still live quite a distance, and don't get to see her nearly as often as we'd both like. Hence, these occasional surprises become all the more special. The dementia from which my beautiful mother is suffering is unpredictable, at best. Her skills and abilities will be stable for quite some time, then, with no notice, she will suffer setbacks, and small parts of her, little by little, will be gone.
In conversation, I try to rush with words, talk over, conceal, cover-up the occasional out-of-place memory or moment or recollection, not because I care that she get it all right, but because I don't want her to notice. I don't want her to have that moment in which she thinks, 'Wait. That's not right. Did she/he/they notice that?'. I don't want her to know that I saw the stare of unrecognition the last time we visited, until I got right to where she sat, looking directly at me, and I started in with a big 'HI, MOM! You must be waiting for me!' that nudged recollection of what her adult daughter would look like. Like we all do, I want to fix things so she won't have those moments. But there is no fixing, really.
What there is, though, is fabulous; special moments-- moments that make my heart sing! And this package in the mail, this was one of those moments. I've poured over the articles, one by one, time and time again.
I had a bowlful of fresh peaches with which I intended to prepare, and photograph, a peach gallette. I wasn't pleased with the quality of pictures I'd taken of the first preparation (this, I got from my Mother, too.), so I planned to redo. But, when I came across a special article from her favorite, Southern Living Magazine that she had included, well, plans changed. For reasons I'm sure you understand, it had to be made. Several unique tweaks to the original, because that is who I am, were made, but the end product is special to me in a way that hundreds of other jars of goodies I've put by are not. Because this is directly a result from my mother's suggestion--an article she included because she knows, she still knows, who her daughter is. What her daughter loves to do. Like all of the articles in that very special delivery.
She'll be happy to know I won't let one drop of it go to waste, either.
You could use any relish, chow chow, even jam to dress up a standard piece of meat like this 'South Texas Ribeye' cut of pork from our grocer, as well as chicken, shelffish, a fish filet, sausages, and even a slab of extra firm tofu, if that's your thing. We've splurged with our Special Delivery Texas Peach, Sweet Onion & Thyme Relish we put by earlier this day. It's pretty simple.
Dredge your chosen cut with a favorite dry rub or seasoning salt and set aside, covered, for 10 minutes. Preheat a small, heavy skillet (I couldn't get buy without my cast iron), and melt about a tablespoon of butter, with 1/2 T cooking oil, until just shimmering. Place meat in hot skillet, allowing a sear to form, without moving, which should take about 5 minutes. Turn, sear opposite side. Pour off all but about 1 T drippings, top with half of a half pint jar of relish. Toss in the equivalent of 2, seeded and sliced sweet bell peppers. Cover, reduce heat to medium, and allow glaze/relish/chow chow/jam juices to thicken in skillet, and meat to cook to taste. If thickening occurs before meat is done to your taste, simply add a tablespoon of water to the pan to prevent scorching. When done (Note: Meat will continue to cook; remove from heat when just slightly underdone, say 5 degrees less than the optimal cooking time for your particular meat and cut, if using a meat thermometer.) Remove meat and peppers from pan. Splash an ounce or so of white wine in the pan, deglazing and stirring up the sticky bits, and allow to simmer for 5 minutes, until slightly thickened. Add meat and peppers back to pan, toss to glaze, and serve.
Uncover, remove from heat, and serve. Pairs perfectly with a whole-grain or wild rice, and a crisp, dry, white wine.
"More relishes for you to make & sell."
“A carnival in daylight is an unfinished beast, anyway. Rain makes it a ghost. The wheezing music from the empty, motionless rides in a soggy, rained-out afternoon midway always hit my chest with a sweet ache. The colored dance of lights in the seeping air flashed the puddles in the sawdust with an oily glamour.”
― Katherine Dunn, Geek Love
The Spring Ho Festival
Across the country, the beautiful, fresh, abundant fare you can expect to find in farmers markets, roadside stands, and seasonal markets in the month of July, includes
amaranth + arugula + beets + beet greens + bell peppers + carrots + corn + cucumbers + eggplant + garlic + kohlrabi + okra + southern peas + peppers + radish + rhubarb + squash, summer + zucchini
apricots + blackberries + blueberries + cherries + figs + lemons + limes + melon + mulberries + nectarines + passion fruit + peaches + plums + strawberries + tomatoes
duck + lamb
And a couple of great links, with maps, charts, and interactive resources, to keep yourself, and those you love, eating well:
So, it's like this.
I know I'm supposed to avoid obsessive scale watching. In fact, several years ago during the first leg of this fitness overhaul, I weighed exactly once a month. And every month, for several months, I lost 8-10 pounds. That significant loss fueled my fitness spirit for an entire month, afterwards. I didn't even OWN a scale. I was so smart. I was smart enough to listen to the expert tips, and implement them into my fitness lifestyle. It was great advice, and it worked for me. I lost 50 pounds in six months and kept all but a pesky 5-10 back-and-forth'ers who just didn't get the memo.
|I was so, so good.|
Now, it's not that I'm not taking off the weight. I am. Though achingly slowly right now. It's much more about the mental challenges of weight loss. That's what I'm trying to learn to navigate. Case in point--
Now I own that scale. And I am on that scale WAY TOO OFTEN. I mean several times a day, sometimes. And, as you'll see below, I see why I shouldn't.
|Okay, so maybe I've not been so, so good. But, oh, was this ALL so, so good!|
That I should give up.
I felt old, fat, and ugly.
I'm sure no one else has ever felt that way, huh?
So, I spend 4 days away from that scale. I can feel those
|Time to be so, so good, again!|
They were most likely the result of a high sodium meal, or some other unexplained cause of temporary water weight gain. And..... I'm still mad about it! I still feel like I own those pounds even though they are no longer. What the heck? A week later, and my ego is still bruised, my resolve, faltering, my mood, oh heavens my mood-- cranky. Cranky is a kind word for it.
Add to that mood one less-than-flattering picture that popped up in social media, and, well, I'm ready to turn this boat around. Whatever the impetus, whether real dissatisfaction with fitness, or imagined weight gain, I think the best way to approach this odd fitness frustration is with steadfast, razor-sharp focus, and determination.
It is a little more than half way through the birth year that authored this Springing Into Fitness personal challenge. And my goal of losing 50 pounds? Well, 35 pounds down, I'm 15 pounds, and 20 weeks away from....
A Fabulous Fifty
Phase II: Doing What Works
Get Moving: Keeping the Pep in Your Step
The last time I successfully lost significant weight and kept it off, I maintained a vigorous fitness plan including cardio, strength, and flexibility training. It helped me build confidence in my own abilities, it helped me have energy, it helped me have greater control over my results. endorphins kept me from running to the candy aisle. So, again, I'll be returning to a more vigorous fitness plan. I'll incorporate cardio, strength, and flexibility training, and I'll be moving 6 days a week.
Habits: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly
Fueling the Machine: Eating Well for Health and Wellness
I think I can speak for a whole lot of people in my world in saying that I hope this intensified focus turns this cranky mood around. Have mercy, I can't even stand myself.
How are your fitness plans working out in this sweltering summer heat? Find a fabulous new lean dish? Figure out how to tackle that flagging discipline? Add some new music to your speed walking playlist? I'd love to hear what keeps you going, collecting your favorite tips for an upcoming blog post, with credit, of course! Leave your links, your tips, your secrets, your magic, your favorite personal fitness tips in the comments below, and you'll see it show up soon on Notes From Maggie's Farm.
|Well I certainly don't want to be known as a Rocky Road. I'ma turn this thing around.|
One of the greatest pleasures I have as a food blogger is working with a community of dedicated, talented, local bloggers of the Austin Food Blogger Alliance. I enjoy the distinct honor of holding the Development Chair on the board, which allows me to learn from, and alongside, some very sharp cookies, as well as the vibrant Austin food community, at large.
This week, the Austin Food Blogger Alliance is delighted to utilize our collective voice in support of the ARC of the Capital Area through our 2013 Cupcakes & Cocktails Fundraiser, to be held at Le Cordon Bleu, at The Domain, in Austin.
The event is open to the public, and details can be found below. Come join us for food, fun, revelry, and perhaps a little extra sparkle.
Dust off your best cocktail duds, and come join in the fun!
Austin Food Blogger Alliance Hosts
Second Annual Cupcakes and Cocktails Fundraiser
Proceeds benefit ARC of the Capital Area
Austin, Texas—The Austin Food Blogger Alliance is hosting its annual Cupcakes & Cocktails fundraiser, this year benefiting ARC of the Capital Area. The event will be held from 6 to 9p.m., Friday, July 19 at Le Cordon Bleu in The Domain.
Samples of local spirits and sweets will be served for a good cause, along with a silent auction of culinary surprises.
Local bakers from Sugar Mama's Bakeshop, SugaPlump Pastries, Delish, Blue Note Bakery, Butter Stick Bakery and Crema Bakery and Cafe will be serving up cocktail-themed cupcakes at the event. Libations will be provided by Treaty Oak Distilling, T1 Tequila, and Hops and Grain. Le Cordon Bleu in The Domain, Google+, and Central Market are also supporting the event.
Since the organization was founded in 2011, The Austin Food Blogger Alliance has given back to the Central Texas community through advocacy campaigns, volunteer projects, and fundraisers.
The group’s previous philanthropic partners include the Sustainable Food Center, The Capitol Area Food Bank, SafePlace, and others. In 2012 the inaugural Cupcakes & Cocktails benefit raised over $4,500 for BakeAWish, a culinary nonprofit that provides birthday cakes to underprivileged children and the elderly in Central Texas.
The event is open to the public; general admission tickets are $35 each and may be purchased at http://cupcakesandcocktails2013.eventbrite.com/#.
|The ARC of the Arts Studio and Gallery Show|
About Austin Food Blogger Alliance
The Austin Food Blogger Alliance seeks to support a local membership of food bloggers and the community through educational initiatives, social events, and philanthropic endeavors. Founded in 2011, the Alliance has over 150 members. The 501(c)7 nonprofit is the first blogging organization of its kind in the United States and serves as a model internationally. The Austin Food Blogger Alliance Cookbook was published by The History Press in 2012. For more information, visit www.austinfoodbloggers.org.
About ARC of the Capital Area
ARC is a nonprofit committed to promoting independence and choice by providing individualized services to adults and children with intellectual and developmental disabilities, has a wide variety of programs, including: an art studio, case management services, guardianship services and juvenile justice services. Visit www.arcofthecapitalarea.org to learn more.
|Regina shares her artwork, and the story behind it, at the ARC of the Arts Studio and Gallery Show.|
Matches adults with disabilities with professional artists in the community.
Provides individuals with developmental disabilities and their families with access to holiday assistance, medical/adaptive equipment and supplies, and crisis assistance to help with housing, utilities, medical payments, transportation and childcare costs.
Coordinates a range of community integration services and supports to help adults with developmental disabilities, many of whom live alone, to achieve and maintain personal independence.
CLASS offers individuals with disabilities who need attendant care an alternative to institutionalization by helping them access the resources they need to live and work as independently as possible in the community.
Includes low or no-cost parent mentoring, special education advocacy, support groups and guardianship services for parents and caregivers of children with developmental disabilities.
Helps under-resourced families to establish guardianship of children with developmental disabilities who have recently reached or will soon reach adulthood (age 18).
Provides educational advocacy and support to help youth with developmental disabilities (ages 11-17) and special education needs to complete school, stay out of the justice system and become contributing members of the community.
|Nicole, the talented artist, introduced us to her parents as her benefactors. She made my day. And her artwork, an uncanny animal likeness of a certain pair, hangs proudly in my home.|
It is also an honor to have from maggie's farm be a part of the lineup of stellar products and services offered as a part of the evening's silent auction. If blue-ribbon jam,jelly, relish, chutney, marmalade and dessert glazes are your kind of thing, be sure to drop by and throw your hat into the ring for a custom gift basket of from maggie's farm bestsellers.
We'd all love to see you there!
We'd all love to see you there!
“They say I'm old-fashioned, and live in the past, but sometimes I think progress progresses too fast!”
― Dr. Seuss
I couldn't have said it better myself, and nowhere is this sentiment better evidenced than by the popular cocktail culture of the hipster age.
Deconstruction and reconstruction is the craft cocktail hobby of the moment; what once was humble, simple, and delightfully unfussy is often, now, a mere memory of the cocktail, expensive, and garnished with chicken bone, tropical fruit foam, and vintage swizzle stick.
In a tiki glass.
And, hey, I'm all for fancy from time to time. But some things are best left to their brilliant basic bones. Just don't mess with it.
Say it with me. Leave well enough, alone.
Take the old fashioned Old Fashioned.
"Its early days, circa 1800, were its most simple: Drinkers added bitters and a bit of sugar to a small amount of whiskey as a morning palliative." (source: Tasting Table)
Along about time of Prohibition, the cocktail became a popular method of obscuring the taste of inferior liquor. About mid-century, the classic preparation was eschewed for the then-popular trend of adding fruits, and syrup, and perhaps a maraschino cherry or three, and the simple, humble cocktail became a sickeningly sweet caricature of its origin.
The craft cocktail movement of the last decade sought to return to the classics, reviving the art of mixology by perfecting the basics. Below, find Tasting Table's suggestions for creating a perfect, basic, beautifully simple, old fashioned, Old Fashioned.
And if you're just the kind of guy or gal who can't leave well enough alone (I confess I often don't), find a few newfangled variations on the theme, and a little history of the cocktail, on Tasting Table: Anatomy of a Cocktail.
Keep it classy, cocktail lovers!
Y'all. These shishito peppers, well they're a big deal.
They are the hipster-riffic appetizer of the moment.
They are on the menus of the places to eat.
They are eaten roasted, grilled, fried, broiled, and tossed with salt, olive oil, balsamic, garlic, maybe covered or tossed with cheese or sausage or almost anything you can imagine-- or nothing at all.
They are in season right now (don't wait much longer!).
They are the bomb.
On a recent trip to one of Austin's local farmers' market, I hit the jackpot. Johnson's Backyard Garden set me up with the peppers and the onions, to accompany the lovely Indigo Rose heirloom tomatoes I was cradling in my palms as if they were precious treasures. Because they were. And their cost was commensurate with their value. (Let me just say, right here, that heirloom tomatoes cost way more than the conventional mealy, tasteless tomato I'm purchasing for half the price, and less than half of the satisfaction. In tomatoland, you get what you pay for.)
Because the fun of shishitos are that about one in ten pack a bit more wallop than the rest. And no amount of studying will determine which pepper will, um, surprise you, a bit. Each bite is accompanied by 'is this the one?', and all eyes are on the eater.
Admittedly, even the offender is still much less aggressive in heat as its cousins, serranos, jalapenos, habaneros, and the like.
Simply toasted with a drizzle of oil and tossed with a little coarse ground salt, a bowlful is blissful, shared, with a few ice-cold beers.
But have I ever been known to leave well-enough alone?
one pint of fresh shishito peppers
one pint of heirloom Indigo Rose tomatoes
one red onion
about one tablespoon olive oil
the juice and zest of one lemon
coarse ground kosher salt
(see optional seasonings, below)
served with herbed chevre, either purchased as is, or home-seasoned, using the herbs with which you've chosen to season the vegetables. (Note: Chevre can be very soft, or it can be found to be a bit firmer. I began with a firm chevre, seasoned it as above, added a bit of minced fresh garlic, and enough heavy whipping cream to allow it the softness necessary for spreading, a little more than a teaspoon.)
Serve, plain, as an appetizer, tossed together for a tasty side or lunch, or, if desired, with crostini, or crackers
Preheat broiler. (Alternatively, you may grill, or pan-roast in a cast-iron skillet over high heat.)
Wash vegetables and dry thoroughly.
In a small pan, 1. add completely dried, whole shishito peppers. 2. Add whole, washed and thoroughly dried small, heirloom tomatoes. 3. Slice whole onion in half, lengthwise, and into bite-sized wedges and toss with peppers and tomatoes. 4. Season. For this batch, I drizzled with olive oil, the juice and zest of a lemon, coarse ground salt, and sesame seeds.
On the top rack under the preheated broiler, place pan, and watch closely, with oven door ajar, until vegetables begin to char. Remove from heat, carefully, toss, and replace, repeating until most sides of vegetables are blistered.
Remove from heat, allow to cool a bit, taste, and correct seasonings.
While the ease of standard prep of a drizzle of oil and a sprinkle of good salt makes these little babies so simple and attractive, they are the perfect foil for seasoning combinations that are bit, like me, out of the ordinary. Sesame oil, either toasted or not, as well as hot chili oil, in combination with olive oil (to lower the smoke point just a bit) lends an entirely different flavor profile, well-suited to seasonings like freshly grated ginger, garlic, sesame seeds, and Asian spice blends. To go in a Spanish-inspired direction, consider a 'grassier' olive oil, perhaps with sliced Marconi almonds and smoked paprika. Go oil-less with your favorite vinegar or citrus-based sauces like Ponzu, as well as soy or tamari sauces. Italian-inspired flavors of garlic and Parmesan cheese, perhaps with coarsely ground black pepper? And then dip them into a golden runny yolk of a poached egg??? Well, you can see how fun these little treats can be.
Play around a bit with your favorite flavors and see what masterpiece you develop!
And feeling a little hot and spicy these days, yourself? Learn how, and why, to heat up, and cool off, with these, and other nutritional power-packing peppers. Visit Tips For Tuesday, Superfood: Hot Peppers! and find scads of delicious dishes, all by fellow Austin Food Blogger Alliance members, in which they are showcased, by visiting the link above, on Notes From Maggie's Farm.
In the middle of summer in Central Texas, just about the only thing that's growing happily, and abundantly in our gardens are hot peppers. They are, like the natives here, full of vim and vigor.
They can help you stay full of vim and vigor, too!
Health Benefits of Peppers
All peppers are rich in vitamins A, C, and K, but the spiciest, especially red peppers, are simply bursting with them. Antioxidant vitamins A and C help to prevent cell damage, cancer, and diseases related to aging, and they support immune function. They also reduce inflammation like that found in arthritis and asthma. Vitamin K promotes proper blood clotting, strengthens bones, and helps protect cells from oxidative damage.
Red peppers are a good source of the carotenoid called lycopene, which is earning a reputation for helping to prevent prostate cancer as well as cancer of the bladder, cervix, and pancreas. Beta-cryptoxanthin, another carotenoid in red peppers, is holding promise for helping to prevent lung cancer related to smoking and secondhand smoke.
Besides being rich in phytochemicals, peppers provide a decent amount of fiber.
Hot peppers' fire comes from capsaicin, which acts on pain receptors, not taste buds, in our mouths. Capsaicin predominates in the white membranes of peppers, imparting its "heat" to seeds as well. The capsaicin in hot peppers has been shown to decrease blood cholesterol and triglycerides, boost immunity, and reduce the risk of stomach ulcers. It used to be thought that hot peppers aggravated ulcers. Instead, they may help kill bacteria in the stomach that can lead to ulcers.
|These quick and easy Pickled Hot Pepper Rings are one of the top recipes on Notes From Maggie's Farm.|
Both hot and sweet peppers contain substances that have been shown to increase the body's heat production and oxygen consumption for about 20 minutes after eating. This is great news; it means your body is burning extra calories, which helps weight loss. (source: How Stuff Works)
The World's Hottest Pepper Brings Pleasure and Pain Relief-- ABC News
Peppers and Your Health-- Web MD
Dr. Perricone's #7 Superfood: Hot Peppers-- Oprah.com
The Nutrition of Hot Peppers-- FitDay
|Try your hand at roasting Hatch Chiles, or any chiles for that matter. Consider using gloves if your skin is sensitive to capsaicin.|
Jalapeno-Cornbread Poppers--Slow Down and Savor and Touchdown Jalapenos-- Gouramanda
Local Savour Texas Meatloaf Sandwich
Smoky Southwestern Steak & Sweet Potato Chili--A Time to Kale
Spicy Pork and Pear Stew-- Full and Content
Chile Lime Chicken in Coconut Sauce-- The Voluptuous Table
Hatch Chile Meatballs-- Three Diets One Dinner
Vegetable Mains or Sides
Roasted Acorn Squash with Hatch Green Chile Glaze-- Full and Content
Summer Squash and Pepper Fritters-- Full and Content
Jalapeno Vinegar Slaw-- Full and Content
Sauces, Salsas, and Dressings
"For the Birds" Salsa-- And Then Make Soup
Zesty Citrus Marinade-- Prep Dish
Jalapeno Cilantro Cream Sauce-- What Jew Wanna Eat?
Green Chile Honey Mustard Dressing-- Full and Content
Aji (Hot Pepper Sauce)-- Coseppi Kitchen
Sweet and Spicy!
Hatch Chile Brownies with Grand Marnier Whipped Cream-- Foodie is the New Forty
Melissa from Red, White and Blueberries prepares Caliente Mexican Martini, from Metropochris, Salsa Crema from Kristin Schell, and Jalapeno Cheese Beer Bread from Curious Cuisiniere.
Stop by later in the week for our take on one of the hottest, and hottest peppers around right now, Blistered Shishito Peppers with Red Onion, Santa Rosa Tomatoes, and Herbed Chevre. It's an appetizer, or full meal, of the moment, and done in scant minutes! You're going to love this one, friends.
Stay hot, and stay cool, y'all!