You know how it is when you’re feeling like crap? It’s your body’s way of saying, look, we need a re-boot! Listen to me and just clear your books. We need a rest! You know it and I know it when that happens. The question is: do we pay attention?
Having my own show, at Commonweal, where I had cooked for the Cancer Help Program 20 years ago, was an astounding experience where, in the healing space of Commonweal, my paintings took on a magical life of their own.
Have you ever experienced that rare moment when you’ve been around long enough to see signs of system-wide transformation occur before your very eyes? Dear reader, such has been the case with the role of food and medicine in the span of my professional career, during which I’ve devoted myself and my talents towards this very end—bringing science to the table, and food to the treatment plan.
This has been my spring for travel. And talk about contrast! April, Japan. June, Umbria! Japan was an exquisite revelation. Umbria was more of a pilgrimage.
A few weeks ago, I was frustrated with a painting I was working on from a photograph of a sunset I saw while traveling in Japan. The sunset was glorious! But my painting!!! About 12 square inches of the canvas was good and the rest was just overpainted and trite. I showed my friend, and she said, “Ummmmmmmm....” I said, “I know! I’m trying SO HARD.” She said, “That’s the point.” 5 foot 3 inches of stuff and nonsense.
I literally painted over the whole thing.
I’m fresh off the plane from Japan, where in addition to sampling the cuisine (see my field report below) we followed the peak of cherry blossom blooms from place to place by train. Peak bloom is only one week, and which week is not entirely predictable. We hit it! And we were utterly and delightfully besotted. :)
Sunny one day, rainy and cold the next. Peaceful, then wildly windy! Warm, then here comes a snowstorm! Spring is so beguiling… and so fickle!
Let’s not forget, we’re in another transition time. Spring is a little bit of a seesaw. So our immune systems can be tricked! We can get colds or leftover remnants of the flu.
It’s been super rainy here in the Bay Area, in fact, super rainy in many parts of the country. And while you may be yearning for those bright, fresh spring greens it isn’t quite time to jump into a big salad yet. But it is a time when you want to perk up and feel a little brighter.
How do you welcome in the green of spring and still successfully juggle all the vagaries of what’s going on outside?
On a recent Sunday, I was in my pantry trying to find baking powder. If you know me, you know I’m not a baker. Soup, yes! Baked goods, not so much. So I have a little bin at the top of my cupboard where I keep less-used things that I have to get on a step stool to reach. I stretched up, got down my little box, pulled out the baking powder… and noticed the expiration date. Embarrassing!
When you think of February, do you picture the color red, matters of the heart and that Hallmark holiday right in the middle of the month? I remember those old-fashioned paper valentines! Sitting at the table, filling them out, and taking them to school, one for every classmate. And the cupcakes parents would bring in, iced with colors not found in nature. And those hard little pastel, heart-shaped candies stamped with messages (BE MINE). As I got older, it was all about, am I going to get a valentine from a CERTAIN PERSON? And then, am I going to have a date?
Like most of us, as the new year begins I’ve been doing a lot of musing, reflecting, and considering possibilities. Here’s a question that I’m really enjoying turning over in my mind: How can we make more space?
If you’ve been reading between the lines, you may have noticed that this has been a challenging year for me, something I’ve alluded to, but not shared. I have been riding the rollercoaster, touching some of the scariest parts of life, death, and everything in between. There was no recipe for this year of my life. I learned about resiliency. The power of love. The magic of the unknowable. And now that I’m on the other side, I can share.
You may not be surprised to learn that when I’m thinking about food to have on hand for the holidays, I’m thinking soup!
This is the time when you’re entertaining both formally and (more often than not) informally. Your kids are home from college, and their friends drop by. Your favorite Aunt just arrived hungry from Cincinnati. The family is suddenly hungry, and a quick, comforting impromptu meal is in order. Soup!
More and more I’m finding people love gifts of food! Something sweet to have on hand for holiday guests, elegant olive oil or Grade A Dark Maple Syrup, with a colorful homemade tag. Food gifts, DIY or thoughtfully selected, say LOVE—and isn’t that the point? Don’t miss the special new recipe I’ve included this year, from my dear colleague Marti Wolfson, an easy-peasy chocolate bark. Too yum to resist!
What’s the reason to buy a cookbook? For me, it’s either because it’s a good story or because the author has something excellent to teach me. My favorite cookbooks become companions in my kitchen, wise chef/authors I commune with to enhance my kitchen creativity. I love books that share a unique point of view, that tell a compelling story, that are beautifully designed and have gorgeous photography.
Here’s my 2018 list of the best of the best! These would be great gifts... or fit rather nicely on your wish list. :)
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday! Not only because it’s a culinary-centric holiday, but because having a day devoted to putting everything aside (whatever the dynamics!) and giving thanks with family and friends seems the ultimate kind of gratitude. This was the central theme of all my Thanksgivings growing up, when we held hands and my father reflected for a few moments about what really matters in this world. Then we dug into the food and the flood of lively conversation!
Thanksgiving can be full of joy, gratitude, warmth, friends, family, and of course, good food! But it can also be an emotionally wrought holiday, especially when it comes to food.
On a recent 36-hour business trip I was reminded of how super-concentrated time can become. It’s almost surreal. Getting through security is such a strange and unique challenge, then I flew and landed in a different time zone, followed by a packed day full of intensely focused communication.
Are you already surrounded by people coming down with sniffles and coughs? I'm reposting one of the most potent food as medicine—and delicious!—cures I know. If you've never really taken this superfood seriously before, do it now! It will do you a world of good.
Have you been trying to ward off colds and flu as the season changes? Watching out for trick or treating vampires? Have I got the fix for you!
Wow! Am I ever intrigued with a recent article in the New York Times entitled, Why Following Your Passions Is Good for You (and How to Get Started). This features a 2015 study published in The Annals of Behavioral Medicine which found that pursuing your passion both lowers stress and contributes to greater happiness overall. My dears, this is RIGHT up my alley!