rhubarb pie (the greatest)

My step-father and I have 2 delicious summer traditions when I visit the midwest each year: a jigsaw puzzle and a rhubarb pie.  He’s the kind of jigsaw puzzler you want to be-friend, I’m telling you.  He likes the boring, tedious parts of the puzzles (large stretches of ocean…piles of same-colored stones…background) and leaves all the colorful, juicy bits to the rest of us.  Isn’t that dreamy?

He also has a sweet-tooth like I’ve never seen, and he goes weak-kneed over rhubarb pie, which makes my life not only easier come birthday time (late June) but also fun.  Beyond homemade pies, he otherwise desires such things as head covers for his golf clubs and other sundry items I wouldn’t have any idea how to shop for, which is how this tradition came into being.

I just need to be honest, I really nailed it this year.  I decided to stop cheating by getting lots of help from my mom on the crust.  I used Mark Bittman’s recipe from How to Cook Everything for both the pie innards and the crust.  I always want to stump that Mark Bittman — I mean, does he really know how to cook everything?  Well, he knows how to make a pie crust — I know that much — because this one was dynamite.  Just a few reminders from my mom over my shoulder that, in my efforts to be the best pie-roller ever, I don’t actually need to use every ounce of my own horsepower.  Just some breezy, light rolls in every direction and a tender transfer to the pie plate, and well, an easy-peasy pie was born.

I also decided to try my hand at latticing this year — and oh my!  What fun!  All of that weaving in and out reminded me of my rampant childhood pot-holder days.    So easy, and so thrilling to have my floured hands working those strands.  (can you see the butter chunks in this photo?  Oh, yes.)

We achieved a “nice, toasty light brown color” on top and, with a bit of fanfare, decided to break out the best china.  My step-dad announced this looked like a County Fair Winner and then followed that up by saying, “tastes just as good as my grandmother’s used to.”  Now that’s a compliment.


sweet new year

One of the things I appreciate about having grown up in a [loose, sometimes hodge-podge] religious tradition is it gives me fodder for re-claiming, re-arranging, and altogether re-doing things.  That is,  a stepping-off place.  My Jewish partner’s similarly loose, sometimes hodge-podge religious upbringing adds even more holidays to re-consider.

Since having some Jewish influence in my life, I’ve been particularly attracted to the holiday Rosh Hashanah, both for its somewhat universal applications (it being the Jewish New Year — I mean, who doesn’t like an excuse to make a couple of resolutions?) and for its general positive attitude:  a bit of a feast, few rules, some wine, apples, honey, wishing others a sweet new year — what’s not to like?

So, during this week every year I like to buy a box of matzo-meal.  Clearly this company has not changed it’s logo in at least 1000 years and I consider that the means for some good cooking.


Now, let’s be frank.  With all due respect, the mazto-ball soup that one might purchase in a deli is often, well, pretty bland.  Maybe its supposed to be that way for some biblical reason or another, but in our house, we like to give it a little pizzazz.

I start with Mark Bittman’s recipe from How to Cook Everything, but do a little adding.  Mostly in the way of salt and pepper, my friends — how much more kosher can you get than adding a little extra salt?  Some extra salt and pepper and onion to the matzomeal, a bit more to the broth, and I really chunk it up with lots of carrots and celery.  Plus, I cook 5 chicken legs in my broth, and when they are cooked through, I pull them out and cut the meat off the bone and into little pieces, and put it back in.  It gives the soup a lot more flavor.

I’m telling you, there are few things more delicious than a bowl of this soup.  Just like [someone's] Grandma used to make….sort of.   And when you are 1, you get to eat it deconstructed.  So, Happy New Year.   My Jewish New Year’s resolution is going to be to make this soup more than once a year!  What’s yours?


Curing Yourself of an Incurable Disease, Part 7

you are what you eat

you are what you eat

Unorthodox Idea #7

Realize You Are What You Eat.

This idea is not unorthodox at all.  It goes without saying, right?  Still, when you are on the miracle mile towards self-healing, it is important to remind yourself that each and every morsel you put in your mouth is an opportunity to make a contribution towards health.

Food choices are some of the easiest places to look and make changes — even small ones — towards what we want for our bodies and ourselves.  The logic is right there in choice, if you think about it — what you put into your body is what you’ll get out of it.  For example, do we want our bodies to look and behave like a bag of Cheetos or like organic tomatoes? In other words, do we want our systems to be made up of processing dyes, empty calories, and chemical preservatives… or do we want them to be natural, alive, and full of energy?

death spray

There is a movie that came out a few years ago called Our Daily Bread that shows — with striking and objective imagery like the photo above — where, exactly, our food comes from.  There is one particular scene that stays with me.  We see a middle-aged man arrive at work and go directly to the locker room to dress for the day’s duties.  At this point, we don’t know what those duties are.  We watch him methodically don a kind of hasmat suit, complete with a face mask, gloves, and special footwear.  He is totally sealed in; not an inch of his body exposed.  Seeing the extent to which he is protecting himself, we might assume this man was about to clean up a toxic spill, perform live surgery on a poisonous snake, or enter a burning building.   But no, we quickly learn he is merely treating our food.  We see him enter a large greenhouse, and with a spraying hose, distribute chemicals on a huge crop of growing peppers.  This man’s head-to-toe protection suit keeps him a distance away from the hazardous chemicals he is spraying on our food. In the very next scene, he sits down to eat his lunch.

As I said yesterday in regards to how we speak to the delicate healing systems at work inside us, we can’t engage in warfare — at any level of consumption — and expect to balance our own systems.  Peace just isn’t achieved through violence — we know that — so let’s stop supporting food sources and systems that promote it.

A few years after I was diagnosed with Lupus, and I was still juggling medication dosages and different advice from different doctors I had a realization: I am the ONLY person who can truly take care of this body.  The same is true for you. If self-healing is your goal, start investing in yourself by choosing life-giving sources of daily sustenance.

Here are a few places to begin:

1. Get the facts. Put Our Daily Bread or the movie Food, Inc on your Netflix queue and learn about where your food comes from.

2. See that what’s best for the planet is also best for us. Get some education and a great story with one of these enjoyable reads: Animal, Vegetable, MiracleThe 100 Mile Diet, or Omnivore’s Dilemma

3. Take ownership. Shop at your local farmer’s market and/or join a CSA for the freshest, organic ingredients.

4. Stop drinking out of plastic bottles! Buy a water filter and save money while you are saving your own life.

5. Cut out the unnecessary drugs. All the chemical preservatives in processed and frozen foods go directly into our bloodstream. When we are already taking prescription medications, that can add up to a large amount of chemicals having their way with our internal systems.  Trim the fat — start cooking your own simple meals.  That way you can be in charge of using fresh natural ingredients, and start filling your body with live, active nutrients it needs to bolster it’s own healing. Cooking can be easy and simple.  If you are new at it, start with Mark Bittman’s fabulous How to Cook Everything. Take it from me, that book can turn just about anyone into a family chef.

6. Start to see your health as a life-long journey. When you spend a little extra money and effort to procure organic meats, dairy, and produce from small farms you’ll get it all back and then some in so many other ways.  A few extra dollars is a small price to pay for a healthier body; cleaner, safer water sources; a more beautiful and functional environment to live in; and a sense that you are contributing to a small-business fair economy, among many other benefits.

7. Put love in your food. Before you eat anything, remember you are feeding the miracle-making temple that is your body.  Take a moment to acknowledge the true meaning of nourishment when you are cooking and preparing meals, and another moment just before you eat to let your body know you are taking care of her. Go ahead and envision your daily intake working wonders on you.  It is.

I’ll see you tomorrow for Unorthodox Idea #8