Straight from the Scullery

a blog about life, love, and the pursuit of food and happiness...

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Gatsby's Birthday

I remember having a discussion on the beach with my husband...well, I remember many discussions together on the beach. This particular one was pre-popping-the-question;  It was a date, complete with a picnic and a threatening rainstorm, trying to fit in as much as possible before the lightning came too close.

"Favorite novel?" was the question I was trying to navigate with what I wanted to seem like decisive ease. Internally, it was not. Not decisive, not easy. I was racking my brain, listing through novel after novel, tossing out the non-fiction (not technically a novel, after all), suppressing a smile as I debated answering "Little Women" for a brief moment. How could I really explain to someone who'd never read Louisa May's brilliance that my whole persona as a young adult had been modeled after Jo March?

I landed on the perfect answer in 4 seconds flat (it is amazing how much information can pass through a person's brain in 4 seconds...).

"The Great Gatsby."

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Geronimo Surrenders

September 4, 1886

During the late 1800's, non-Indian settlers were flooding into southwestern United States. The Chiricahua Apache nation, including the great warrior, Geronimo, spent decades leading raids against the Mexicans and Americans. Geronimo's mother, wife and children had been murdered at the hands of a group of Mexicans, and Apache land was disappearing at an alarming rate. For thirty years, Geronimo sought revenge.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Healthy Tips from Aristotle

Over half of the adult population in the United States makes the decision to start each day with a vitamin supplement, and the numbers are growing. Sounds like a step in the right direction, wouldn’t you say? At the very least, the adults in our nation seem to be taking a genuine interest in leading a healthy life.

While I am not here to change your mind about those supplements (I am certainly not a doctor! Though most adults are taking supplements by personal choice rather than from doctor recommendation), I would like to encourage you to think about your vitamin intake from a new point of view.

 Rather going into great detail about the number of toxins available to American consumers through their vitamin supplements – nearly ALL of the Vitamin C supplements sold today are made with genetically modified corn products – I will instead share with you the wisdom of Aristotle.

The same philosopher from the 4th Century B.C. who taught us “Good habits formed at youth make all the difference” (one of the wisest sentences ever uttered, in my opinion) also planted a garden and wrote about it, sharing his knowledge of cruciferous vegetables and their health benefits.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Ban the Trail Tweets

You may understand a few things about my personality at this point; particularly the idea that I have my own personal set of rules and I expect no one else in the world to even understand them, let alone follow suit. My rules are elementary (to me), yet to others they seem full of antitheses. If you take the time to scrutinize more closely, you'll find my general rule of life be quite simplistic: Savor every moment.

That's why I'm a trail runner. 

And yes, savoring life can have different pictures within the same frame: I love the fitness involved within the art of running, but I'd like my aide stations to be filled with M&M's and my finish line to feature pulled pork sandwiches. I love morning runs, but I'd prefer them to start MID-morning. I love to start off a race with a group of new-found friends and my all-time very favorite runner in the world, then end up on my own in the middle of the wilderness. I use the road for running when I need to think something through completely...the trail is for thinking about nothing but the intensity of the moment. And I love to blog, but I have little use for social media.

Trail running invites you to become a minimalist, to focus, to test your personal limits in ways you never dreamed of before, and to truly, deeply understand that there is no room on the trail for worrying that you may lose both your dignity and your pride, especially if you showed up at the start line with too much to begin with. 

And that kind of place, compadres, has no room for Tweets or Instagrams. 

Friday, April 26, 2013

Boston IS America

It has taken me over a week to have the heart to write about the tragedy in Boston on Patriot's Day. Many of those days were spent getting over the shock. Then there was the time spent watching to see if they'd nab Suspect #2. Throughout all of that I dug through story after story, watching, reading, and listening for a common theme.

I sorted out my own story, my love for the city of Boston, for not only the Boston Marathon, but the entire running community, and my love for this beautiful nation. I started to write a few times, but didn't want to bore you with my own memories of waiting on Boylston Street, dashing across the Charles River in the rain or eating clam chowder on a cushy bar stool at what used to be called the Bull and Finch Pub.

I also didn't want to potentially bore you with non-fiction commentary that I personally find fascinating...the Battle of Bunker Hill was actually fought on Breed's Hill nearby; it took 86 years for the Red Sox to win the World Series after trading Babe Ruth to New York; or that the streets of Beantown were once flooded with 2.3 million gallons of molasses moving at 35 mph.

My son found the common theme in this nightmare before I did, and pointed it out without realizing how deeply his words struck me.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Ditch Your Control Issues

Simplicity, as a way of being, goes way beyond making dinner in six ingredients or less. It is more than consolidating errands or cutting back on spending.  And it is deeper than limiting the number of invitations given to a birthday party or reducing the size of the front yard flower bed. While these ideas are helpful in the short term, they do little to reduce the stress levels of an overly complicated way of living in the bigger picture of life.

Certainly do make those changes as you journey toward a more simplified lifestyle. However, as you embark upon the adventure of disentangling the complex minutes, hours, and days that make up your life, remember that the keys to achieving personal goals can only be found deep within yourself.

A common characteristic of people (no one group in particular, just a basic human trait) is the interminable need to control. We have an insatiable desire to exert our own control over others, over the community, over nature…everything. The best thing we can do with that need?

Let it go.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Shamrock Shake-Worthy

While I most certainly will never proclaim to be the most healthy eater you've ever met, there actually are some standards I do like to maintain. I love to eat whole foods and I love to cook from scratch. While I have been known to eat chocolate chip cookies and leftover pizza for breakfast (on more occasion than one), I have also countered that with broccoli quiche and oatmeal with blueberries and cream. Two superfoods in one meal, I'd like to point out (broccoli and blueberries).

I also like to think of myself as a person who "gets along with others," in most cases, although on occasion, I have admittedly crossed paths with a certain number of (up to this point) folks who had yet to be assigned a category in my mind. Irritating, perhaps. Obnoxious. Self-absorbed. Certainly those could be category titles, but until now, there has never been an all-encompassing adjective that was quite fitting enough.

And so I'll take a brief moment to thank McDonald's for providing me with a list of 54 ingredients (complete with nitrous oxide and other additives that the World Health Organization has warned to be carcinogenic) that provides not only a standard that I hold for my personal well being, but also a new title to the select few people I hope to never run across again in my life. The Shamrock Shake-Worthy. Who else but your arch-enemies would you actually feed this to?

Monday, March 18, 2013

Capitol Hill Bake Sale

I am trying to determine if the US government has finally come up with a viable plan to raise funds in a way that does NOT involve raising taxes (or that silly notion of actually paying attention to where all of the billions of dollars are being spent).

I think they are gearing up for the mother of all bake sales. I mean, really...there must be a good idea SOMEWHERE within all this madness. 

You see, the USDA is debating whether or not to purchase 400,000 tons of sugar in order to limit the available supply, in turn, boosting the dollar amount made by sugar producers. 

I'll give you three guesses as to why the government is actually involved in this sweet deal. It's really not the bake sale idea (brilliant as it may be), nor does it have anything to do with our nation's dramatic increase in waistline measurements (though a sugar tax has been proposed in order to combat our nation's obesity problem, but the idea was fairly short-lived. What would we eat, for crying out loud??) And if your third guess is anything beyond self-serving, well, think again. We're talking about politicians, after all. It's the government.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

What So Proudly We What?

I am finding great entertainment value in creating a new Top Ten List for myself, and although it is not yet completed, I am going to share the beginnings of it with you.  I am titling it "Top Ten Things Every American Should Know." Or you may hear it referred to periodically as "What Exactly Is America Thinking About?"

In pondering the contents of this list, I remembered (probably from Jeopardy!) that March 3 marks the anniversary of the date that Herbert Hoover signed the congressional resolution stating that "The Star Spangled Banner" is our official national anthem. 

As is the case for most everything that is done on a wide scale, of course there were (and are still) grumblings and disagreements surrounding the musical selection. I suppose everyone needs a cause to believe in or a bandwagon to jump on.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Inspiring Doesn't Describe It

The world's oldest marathon runner has decided to hang up his shoes today, after completing a 10K in Hong Kong in 1 hour and 32 minutes. He is 101 years old.

That, in itself, gives a person reason to pause and do some serious inner reflection. However, there is even more to it than that.

Fauja Singh, the Indian born runner who now lives in London, has not been a runner his whole life. He spent the majority of his life as a farmer, and took up running at 89 years old in the face of tragedy. He'd lost his wife and his son, and says that running gave him purpose and a sense of peace.

Who couldn't use a large dose of that?

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Top Ten Things I Learned in New Orleans

10) That the Voodoo Queen, Marie Laveau, viewed Voodoo as an extension of Catholicism. I've never followed up with fact-checking from the Vatican, but I am thinking they are in disagreement.

9) That my favorite bar in the world is on the corner of Bourbon Street and St. Philip, and was built around 1722. It was used as a base for Jean Lafitte's Barataria smuggling ring, and he is still hanging around haunting the place (The governor posted a $500 reward for the capture of Lafitte. Lafitte, in turn, posted a $1500 reward for the capture of the governor). The bartender pours strong drinks, and my date asked me out for another after finishing the very first one...

8) It has been said that the key ingredient to "The Best Sandwich in America" is the olive mix used in making the Muffaletta, but I beg to differ. The key ingredient to ANY sandwich is the bread, and with the wrong bread, even "The Best Sandwich in America" is not yummy.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

I'll Miss the Dragon

February 9, 2013 marks the last day of the year according to the Chinese zodiac. When we wake up on the 10th, the Year of the Snake will commence. Focus. Discipline. Slow, continuous improvement. Attention to detail. That is what the Snake asks of us in the upcoming year.

And that's all good and well, I'm sure it will serve good purpose (Really? A whole YEAR of that??) Perhaps my blogs will truly begin to show a regular pattern of writing. My training runs might actually be able to IMPROVE my trail running times rather than being put off to bake a cheesecake. Achieving the nine goals that I wrote down for myself on January 1...those all have the potential of coming to fruition. I suppose there is potential here.

But ohhh how I will miss the Dragon that we are leaving behind. Dramatic events, full of unpredictability and fun. Dragon years are fantastically lucky ones with regard to new relationships. The advice for the past year had Dragon telling us to relax and enjoy ourselves. The Dragon Year was also full of generosity, good will, and extravagant food in front of us.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Confusion Surrounding the Upcoming Season

I am relieved to let you know that the "healthy eating habit" you have been so virtuously adhering to since January 1, 2013 is rapidly drawing to a close. The seemingly long hiatus between unhealthy eating seasons is, mercifully, almost over.

We had our warm up junk food fix with Halloween, small break, then the pure gluttony of Thanksgiving. Once Thanksgiving hits, it's pretty much fat, carbs, and sugar throughout the month of December, ending on New Year's Day with a groan and a horrified gasp from atop the bathroom scale. Three weeks have passed now, and I have to admit I've had some pretty amazing salads along with a meal of fantastically prepared fried rice (okay, there was bacon in it).

What season is upon us? You're seriously asking? Tsk tsk. Why, it's Girl Scout Cookie Season, of course. And, provided all of the boxes arrive safely home (they will be traveling dangerously close to a registered Tag Along addict), there will be Trefoils stacked to the ceiling. I am creating a map of hiding spots in the house complete with a decoder as soon as I've finished sharing my confusion with you.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Vampires and Politicians

I am curious what images come to your mind when you hear the word "smugglers" enter into a conversation. Do you envision Captain Jack Sparrow stumbling toward you, asking why all the rum is gone? Or recall the last article you read on all of the drugs making their way past border patrol and into our country? Or if you're an Agatha Christie fan, maybe you remember wondering whether or not Valerie Hobhouse was indeed a part of that smuggling ring on Hickory Road...

I am fairly certain that I can tell you what image does NOT come to your mind. Garlic.

Yes, I mean the fundamental ingredient in many favorite recipes, including my favorite spread on baguettes (which, since the masked bandits have been rounded up, I have appropriately renamed Oven Roasted Garlic Smugglers).

Garlic, it seems, has been quite a hot ticket amid the European Union for the past few years, but as breaking news will tell you, the criminal masterminds are now safely behind bars. You can rest more easily now, I'm sure.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Light at the End of the Trail

Fortunately for me, my love for food is matched by my love for trail running. It somehow manages to balance things out, quite literally. Except during holiday season, when all running seems to halt and is replaced by cookie exchanges, extravagant meals, and intensely high levels of saturated fat.

This holiday season was extraordinary in many ways. The food was incredible. The time spent with family, unparalleled. The culminating event of the vacation...well, I can't clearly remember how that ended up to be a part of the schedule. And for a brief moment mid-way through, I questioned my sanity level.

January 5, we'd somehow decided, would be a fantastic opportunity to run a 25K trail race in the mountains of West Virginia. Somewhere between mouthfuls of End of the World Cheesecake and Christmas Dinner Beef Wellington, I heard my own little inner voice crying out desperately..."You're running 15 miles in 11 days!" I was sure to drown that silly little voice out with crab and artichoke stuffed mushrooms as quickly as possible.