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Taking Care of Your Veggies and Yourself

By October 19, 2014 Fall, greens, nurturing, practice, self care, taking care of veggies

Saturday I went to the farmers’ market. I was hoping to find a variety of autumn vegetables, and I certainly got what I had hoped for. The tables were loaded with lots of root vegetables: carrots, beets, kohlrabi, breakfast radishes, daikon radishes, and my personal favorite – Japanese salad (or hakeuri) turnips. There was quite the bounty of greens as well. It was a greens lover’s dream come true – a wide variety of lettuces, lacinato kale, red Russian kale, collards, escarole, tatsoi, mustard greens, cabbages, spinach and arugula.

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I have a “thing” for the roots, radishes, kale, and other hearty greens that can be found at the farmers’ market this time of year. The quality of the greens you will find at the market most often surpasses the produce you can buy at grocery stores.

Your greens will have a much longer shelf life when you buy what is locally grown. The less “travel time” there is from farm to market, the greater the amount of enzymes and nutrients the food will retain. And the healthier it is for our bodies.

Here’s a tip for keeping your root vegetables and greens livelier longer. I learned this technique while working in the produce department of a little neighborhood gem: The Turnip Truck natural market. Most larger grocers also use this method to keep their produce livelier and looking good for their customers.

The process is called hydrating. You are basically giving your vegetables a good drink of water. It’s amazing what this does for them. Let’s begin with the roots – if your root vegetables get soft, simply put them in a sink or bowl of lukewarm water. Allow them to soak for at least 30 minutes or until you feel them get firmer to your touch. Then you can drain the water off and either use the vegetables immediately for a recipe or put them back into the crisper in your refrigerator. If you buy a lot of carrots (or other roots) at once, but don’t use them that often, you can repeat this hydrating process as many times as you like.

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For the greens and lettuces, fill the sink or a large bowl about 2/3 full of lukewarm water. Next, trim the very bottom stem off of the lettuce head with a paring knife. If you have a bunch of greens like kale or collards, trim the stems off by ¼ inch. Immerse the lettuce or greens in the water. If you plan to use the greens right away, you can make the water a little colder. This will make a lettuce like romaine a little crisper right before eating it in a salad. Make sure not to put the vegetables into extremely cold water, because this shocks the plant. Soaking the lettuce or greens for at least 30 minutes or up to an hour and a half will liven them up really nicely.

When you take the lettuce or greens out of the water, you can simply shake off the excess water and return them to your fridge, or put them into your favorite salad recipe. If I am going to put lettuce or greens back into the fridge, I wrap paper towels around them to absorb some of the excess water and to keep my other veggies dry.

The hydrating process can help extend the life of your veggies and give them a good cleaning at the same time! In addition to the roots and greens, you can hydrate green onions, potatoes, fennel, and celery. However, I do not recommend this process for squashes, cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, beans, peas, or eggplants.

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Enjoy the fall harvest! If you haven’t tried it yet, check out the farmers’ market bounty. You might be surprised how much you like it!

Lesson: The energy and care that we put into our lives is what we get in return. Taking time to care for our veggies and ourselves gives a beautiful return on our investments. What are you going to do to care for yourself this week? 

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A Beautiful Equation – The Melding of Skill and Love

By October 13, 2014 creativity, Durham, Fall, feeding ourselves, living a joyful life, nurturing, personal growth, pleasure, practice, self care, slowing down, Travel

Wow! Life has been busy and full of adventure. How about for you guys?

I had a wonderful week at the beach with friends mid-September. I took naps. I read fiction. I danced. I fished. I allowed myself to lose track of time. I nurtured myself and friendships with meaningful people in my life. I enjoyed the sun, the sand, and the water.

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That time re-ignited my intention to only put my energy into avenues and projects that feed my soul. I came back from that trip with a new sense of what I am going to be doing next. I will keep you posted on these adventures.

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I returned from vacation with my feet hitting the ground and running. I participated in and planned two different dinners for an annual fundraiser for Durham Central Park called Meals from the Market. I played a more of a hands-on role at a dinner at the historic Kress Building in downtown Durham with hosts Amanda Smith, Marybeth Dugan, and Kenny Dalsheimer. We could not have imagined a more picture-perfect evening!

These guests are enjoying a glass of Friulano, one of my favorite Italian white wines.

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I had the pleasure of working with a close friend and talented chef, Amanda Orser (pictured below on the right). This was mine and Amanda’s first public expression of melding our passions  and skill as a team. We have enjoyed each other’s company in the kitchen for as long as we have known each other.

We plan to facilitate many meals for others in the near future. If you know anyone need of a party, we are your gals. Amanda does the savory cooking, and I enjoy doing the wine pairing and making desserts. I was thrilled to have some of my Pizzeria Toro colleagues, including the lovely Nicky Owens (pictured below on the left), assist in making our service seamless from beginning to end.

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From fundraising to family- I just returned from a long weekend in San Antonio, Texas. I flew out to visit my family. I have a new niece, Rosalie, who just turned six weeks old. I went give her a loving welcome to this world and share some quality time with the rest of my family.

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I enjoyed time in the kitchen with my niece, Selena. We roasted okra that we found at the Pearl Farmer’s Market in downtown San Antonio.

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My mom flew back to North Carolina with me. She will be staying with me for a few weeks. Over this last weekend, we enjoyed a nice balance of cooking, connecting, and relaxing. I am looking forward to spending some time in the kitchen with her. She likes to bake as much as I do. I see some apple pie in our future. It is apple season here in North Carolina. Tonight I made sorghum glazed apples for dinner. They were the epitome of seasonal fare!

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I have another dinner event coming up this week. I am going to make some sorghum and cinnamon ice cream to serve with a pumpkin shortcake. I am excited and nervous to pull off a dessert that I have never made before. What always works in these situations is trusting my instincts and experience. It always turns out great! I was baking long before I could drive a car. I see an opportunity to share a recipe in the future.

With as full as my plate had been over the last month, I am as content with my life as I have ever been. I am putting my energy into projects that I truly enjoy. I am moving into the space of work becoming play. Who wants more of that? All hands raised, please!

Lesson: I am continuing to focus on my goal of only putting my energy into what feeds me – keeping in mind that I want to nurture the expansion of my talents and gifts. I am stretching myself all along the way. Isn’t that what this journey is about? What are you doing to feed yourself these days, even if it’s one little thing (that really is a big thing)?

 

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