Are You What You Eat?

IMG_0725As long as I can remember I have always been a “health nut” call it what you like, but I have always been health conscience. I think its because I grew up with a very sick Mom, she was always in and out of the hospital, she had 36 major operations. I have seen her in ICU, I have heard how she died on the operating table for 3 minutes, I have seen her hooked up to all those machines, pretty scary stuff for a little kid! As I got older I witnessed many mistakes and wrong doings at the hospitals, even misdiagnosis of major things. I do think it was the doctors that finally did her in, but all that is for another story. However I believe it really influenced my health choices. One of my favorite memories of my Mom is going to the health food store with her. Now back in the day these were always little cozy places tucked away from the mainstream with strange smells and all kinds of interesting bottles and potions. Delicious things like honey and bee pollen, ginseng tea, granola, herbs and spices from far away places.The people there always seemed a bit different, very friendly and wise. It was like no where else I had ever been. A tiny place that you could wander around in for hours and not see everything! Now remember there where no Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s back then, so this was a special place! After we bought our vitamins and some new exotic spices I was always allowed to get something, usually a honey filled bit of candy. Very fond memories!

And so it began… my life long goal of taking care of myself, treating my body with some respect, and trying to make good food choices, since before it was mainstream and cool. My Mom was a wonderful cook, you could find her at the grocery store on her way home from a hospital stay, preparing for the next delish thing she was going to feed us! Don’t get me wrong, I am not a strict fanatic. I enjoy a good burger just like the next guy, but I think it’s really important to eat good food, made with love. It’s what I was raised on!

Who Will You Feed?

“If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one” Mother Teresa

Cooking, baking, creating what a wonderful thing. Feeding people is such a basic human necessity. It is a rewarding feeling when you have been prepping and cooking all day long and finally, finally, everyone is seated and enjoying the meal you prepared. There is a quiet satisfaction in the hush that comes over a room when everyone is eating.

Who do you feed? Family? Friends? Clients? Pets? Do you feed yourself well?

When we are home we have a big dinner every Sunday night. It started out as a way to stay in touch and connect at least once a week with family. But it has grown into so much more. Always an open invitation, friends we haven’t seen in a while or neighbors sometimes stop by. If the weather is nice we sit outside and watch the hummingbirds or bats. Its an opportunity to slow down and connect with nature and loved ones. I greatly enjoy these times especially in todays hectic and very busy lives.

If, like me, you enjoy making delicious, healthy meals you might want to check out http://www.cookingmatters.org where you can share your knowledge and connect with a network of people who share your passion for healthy food and community.

We are getting ready to celebrate  Easter this Sunday. Who will you feed?

Man is Food

imageYou can’t separate man and food, man is food. This is very thought provoking for me. Over the course of history it has always been about the food, hasn’t it? Cavemen gathered together to hunt and eat, if you didn’t eat you didn’t live. Almost all of our holidays are centered around food, Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, etc. Think about it, almost every time you get together with friends and family it is with food. Wedding, food. Housewarming, bring food. New baby, bring more food. Heck people even eat at funerals. Food food food! It’s something you can’t do without, not that you would want to, so you might as well do it right!

I have had this long term belief that good nutrition is the most important thing you can do for yourself and your loved ones. I think growing up with a sick parent kinda gives you a different outlook on things. My brother and I are pretty health conscious. One of the fondest memories I have is going to the health food store with my Mom. Now keep in mind when I was a kid health food stores were different then they are today. No big box stores with shiny advertisements and bright lights. They were always in some cozy looking little house or building and they smelled of interesting herbs and spices. Sometimes a wonderful smell of incense wafting in the background. We would get vitamins and teas and wonderful smelling creams for your skin. I remember always getting some special treat like little golden candies with honey inside. It always seemed so magical and special to me! And I believe it piqued my interest in health and taking good care of myself and those around me. So…if you are what you eat, you better feed yourself well!

Boston Bound 2

Boston

Ok so after a long road trip with plenty of trials and tribulations we make it to Boston. Boston is charming! The streets are lined with quaint little homes with flower boxes and gardens everywhere. The roads are crazy and everyone walks, I can see why as I would rather walk than drive here! You can take more in by walking, driving is a learned skill here. They say the roads follow the old cattle trails and I believe it! We were hungry from our travels so we stopped at a little place right by our hotel called Florentinos. Very good Italian food and seafood, delicious New England Clam Chowder! The menu is large but everything we tried was pretty good.

Some of our adventures included The Boston Museum of Fine Art, simply amazing!  The Constitution, a beautiful ship which was first launched in 1797, docked in the Charleston Navy Yard. We saw the Bunker Hill Monument, Fenway Park, Cheers. We walked around the Boston Commons and watched a crazy one man band playing some great music, we strolled through Boston Gardens, beautiful. We went to Bobby From Boston, a wonderful vintage clothing store. The old floors even creaked as we walked around! So much to see.

Boston has a strong local food scene and a tradition of holding weekly open-air farmers markets, http://www.BostonFarmersMarkets.org There are plenty of foodie options in Boston. Chinatown has variety of Asian inspired cuisine and medicinal herb and spice vendors. Little Italy, as it sounds, has all the italian food and bakeries you could think of, try Mikes. And the influence of my mothers favorite, Julia Childs a longtime resident of Cambridge, lives on in many of the eateries. The Union Oyster House is the oldest operating restaurant in the United States. Quincy Market, part of Faneuil Hall Marketplace, has a variety of restaurants and food shops. We ate at Dicks just for the fun of it, insulting waitresses, goofy hats and all!

We love hockey and went to a Bruins game at the TD Garden, we had a blast! Also stopped for lunch across the street at Halftime Pizza, a game day must! The town was humming because their beloved Red Sox had just won the world series. Statues throughout the town wore Red Sox jerseys!

One last place I must mention was in Salem Ma, a little place on the corner of Derby called Scratch Kitchen, it is a wonderful little place with a focus on regional and local farm fresh ingredients, right up my ally! Handcrafted sandwiches, soups and salads. I enjoyed it so much we ate there twice!

As for Boston, we loved it, a vibrant fun city. With so much to see and do. I am sure we will be back!

Cakes, cakes, cakes!

Half Baked!

Through lots of trial and error I figured out most of my Moms recipes and became a decent cook. I really enjoy baking at the holidays and especially Christmas time. I make lots and lots of delicious treats and pastries. But, as it turns out, I have a rather small family and make way too much for us to eat! Most of my friends work full time so I thought giving deliciuos homemade treats for gifts would be nice. Cookies and cakes and pies, yum sharing the love! They tasted great but the look left something to be desired! Now I don’t know if I told you this before but I am a professional artist, I have a degree in art and sell quite a bit of my work. You can see some of it at http://www.ecumbess.com So now I am thinking…it tastes good but my friends expect more from me!

So what’s a girl to do? I signed up for a cake decorating class at my local Michaels. This was fun! I enjoyed it and wanted to learn more so I took all the classes offered and started putting out some pretty good looking stuff! Goal achieved!!! Yea now I could make tasty treats that looked nice too! Right about the time my last course was finishing up my teacher says “Elizabeth, you should teach this class, you are an artist, you are doing great, you can do this, it’s fun.” Just so happens she was moving and needed to fill her position! Ok! I said I will give it a try!

For the next 4 years I taught cake decorating at my local Michaels to lots of wonderful people! It was fun. I made and decorated lots and lots of cakes! I made birthday cakes, cupcakes, wedding cakes, every kind of cake you can think of! My family was sick of cake, my friends were sick of cake, heck I was sick of cake! Time to move on…