Tuesday, January 1, 2013

One Little Word: Be

My  word for 2013: be
"What Bee Did"    by Julie Larios is a poem that has buzzed around my ears since last spring. I read it for Poem in Your Pocket day to my students. I love the word play:
"Bee not only buzzed.When swatted at, Bee deviled,
Bee smirched. And when fuddled,
like many of us, Bee labored, Bee reaved."
Isn't that like so many of us? Instead of just being or letting be we are bedeviled, besmirched, befuddled or bereaved. Instead of waiting, resting in faith we belabor. We distract ourselves. We avoid. We run. We work. We do.

I've never participated in a one word , word up or one little word challenge, but I was inspired by Ruth Ayres' artwork on this  post on Two Writing Teachers in mid-December. I was struck by Ruth's word salt and the verse on her artwork Mathew 5:13 . I love the layers in the piece, the suggested texture and grain--the simplicity of black and white and it's connection to the word's form on our tables. I have been reading and thinking about the one little word challenge since.

I share my wonderings. I talk. I speculated about the one word thing with friends, with other Moms, with my Mom, with people at church, in the bookstore and at the market.  I decided to take Ali Edwards' workshop. A friend registered with me.

Last night at a New Year's Even celebration I was talking to someone I'd just met about the challenge and sharing Ruth's story of salt. When she asked what word I'd chosen it was clear: be.  "Be still and know...(Psalm 46:10)" was her reply. We shared a smile and then talked about being as opposed to doing.

It's going to be an amazing year.
Slice of Life served up by  Two Writing Teachers
every Tuesday.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Saturday Soup Competition

 My husband, Rick,  graduated from Johnson and Wales. He bakes bread. He roasts coffee beans. He makes ice cream. He brews beer.  He marinates. He grills. He does amazing things with food every week, so when he challenges me to a cook-off, I get busy.

Our most recent challenge: butternut squash soup. I had the best butternut squash soup I have ever had a local cafe called Bikes, Beans and Bordeaux. Tour de France themed, the cafe seats less than thirty folks. Fare features freshly prepared soups, salads, and sandwiches in an eclectic, upscale atmosphere rich with local art. I raved about the soup.

"That was the best soup ever: a perfect savory sweet balance and not too creamy. It's seasonal, but the owner said the chef will make it a few days into November. I need to bring you some of this soup," I gushed in the kitchen still in my Gladiator gear, sweat-dried hair curling out in all directions.

"Hmmm, you haven't had the soup we serve at the Grand. Creamy, the chef garnishes it with Nueske's bacon and roasted pumpkin seeds: incredible," was his reply

"No, I don't think that would be as good. This soup is the essence of butternut squash. It whispers autumn. You..."

"You haven't had my soup. My soup is probably better than that cafe's soup," he asserted.

You can see how it went. Soon enough someone had a hand on the squash in the vegetable bowl and had set the oven to 400. The challenge was on.

We each created a butternut squash soup. His, cream based, came out the color of a Meyer lemon (tasting on the right). Mine, vegetable-broth based, boasts a caramel color (tasting on the left).

Our son and his spend-the-night friend served as judges. The friend is a renown soup-hater. The list of foods he actually enjoys is quite short: bacon, corn dogs, pizza, milk. We figured whichever he disliked least would be the hit. The boys devised some sort of scoring system based on taste and challenge etiquette  Texture, color and depth of flavor did not factor in to their evaluations. Threatening to dash a competitor's soup with vinegar counted as a deduction.

My husband prepared his soup in secret while I was otherwise engaged, so when it was my turn to cook, I had to guard against spying and sabotage. He came to wash the dishes. He came in to inventory the pantry. He needed to check the refrigerator. Empty the dish washer.  The minute I'd crossed the kitchen to chop vegetables for the week's mini-quiches, he had a spoon in my soup stock. The boys took off a point for that and for the vinegar threats.

Once my soup finished we ladled tastes into shallow serving bowls for the boys. Our son dipped right in to my soup. He'd prepared the table with water glasses and two spoons to insure a clean palate for each taste.

Judge #1: our son.
Judge #2: not sold on soup.
We did not anticipate a tie, but, we had a split decision from the judges. One preferred the creamy soup and the other preferred the vege-broth base. My husband declared both delicious.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Pizza Crust Experiment

This summer I committed to getting stronger and eating healthier. That has meant avoiding processed food and sugar. I've upped the protein and vegetables and haven't been eating much in the way of white flour. Friday nights are pizza night at my house, so in July I made pizza using zucchini slices as the crust. I liked the flavor; it satisfied my pizza craving. I just can't keep eating like it doesn't matter. I'm not twenty-five. The extra weight I've been carrying needs to go. I won't balk at a monthly or semi-annual trip to Mellow Mushroom, but I can't indulge in cheat meals every week. Making pizza on a vegetable crust satisfies my need for melted cheese-y goodness and is better for me.

Last night's crust experiment was the best so far. Jicama (Yambean) is a crunchy vegetable related to the sweet potato. It reminds me of a water chestnut on steroids. Bland, it soaks up the flavors paired with it. I love it chopped in a salad or added to a stir fry. When I saw one larger than my fist in the grocery store, I immediately thought: pizza crust. Here is a vegetable that won't sag. Here is a vegetable with less water run-off. Perfect pizza crust.

I sliced the jicama with a big knife. I imagine a mandolin would create a thinner slice. I made two cheese and pepperoni pizzas and two fig, goat cheese and prosciutto. First the sauce.

Then the cheese.
You can see that the size of the slice is 4-6 tablespoons. Jicama is a low calorie food but nearly all carbohydrate. A cup (or 120 grams) of Jicama delivers 46 calories, 11 grams of carbohydrates, 6 grams of fiber, 1 gram of protein, 2 grams of sugar and 0 grams of fat. It gives women 25% of their daily fiber and is chock full of vitamin C.  
I baked them in the oven for 8-10 minutes on 350. 
See not much water on the plate from the Jicama (with Zucchini there was more water). 
It stays strong for pick up (one of my favorite features). 

Kept well in the fridge for the Disney worker's dinner. He reheated them in the toaster oven and they came out just as crispy. I'll definitely be on the look out for large Jicama.