The Unbearable Whiteness of Lasagna

Becoming a plant-based vegan offered another connection point between Mark and his dad. We had baseball and sports (for much of our relationship), books and writing, and then, just prior to his leaving on his walk, I decided I’d see if I could go two weeks without consuming dairy or animal-based food products (namely meat). During his trip, we kept a dialogue going about plant-based eating and associated food-related topics.

This re-ordering of diet and food might seem drastic. It really wasn’t. I just stopped eating some foods–eggs, cheese, yogurt, and meat. I replaced them with mainly plants—fruits and vegetable that I already liked and was eating. A new attentiveness ensued, searching for meals and recipes that fit with that.

In August when the three of us were together in Omaha, Yelp directed us across the city to a nondescript eatery in a converted gas station. I found out later that the chef was none other than vegan cook and cookbook goddess, Isa Chandra Moskowitz. The food on the menu was amazing. “So this is veganism,” I thought at the time. Afterwards, it made sense to seek out her books.

Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook is a book written with Terry Hope Romero for people like me (and Mary); those coming to veganism who want to learn to cook vegan, and not rely on others to cook for them.  The authors bring their unique, DIY-informed approach to food, billing it as “the essential guide to mastering the art of vegan cooking.”

Vegan cooking 101

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Restaurant Food

What makes Americans fear their kitchen stoves so much? Huh?

Well, it appears something is at the root of the rise in eating out. Just last year—for the first time, ever—Americans spent more on restaurant food (and bar fare) than they did on food from the grocery store. The data reflects a pattern hearkening back to our “halcyon” days in America, the 1970s.

Perhaps the paucity of exciting food from the decade when things began unraveling drove a generation to seek their sustenance outside their home kitchens. Experts tell us that much of this is due to females now working somewhere other than where they’re domiciled. I think one assumption that’s safe hold is that Johnny is pretty useless in term of opening a can of beans and throwing some rice into a pot. Or maybe, we haven’t evolved as far as we think we have and it’s still a woman’s job to cook (and clean), while bringing in half of the household income, women’s lib be damned!

Cooking doesn’t have to be a comedy routine.

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12 Things

Americans love their bulleted lists. As if there really are “three steps to success,” or you actually can make $100,000 and never change out of your PJs in the morning.

Yet, there are steps that you can take that may deliver positive impacts on health, offering up benefits now, and as you get older. Eating right has its perks.

Six weeks ago, I decided to see if I could take a sabbatical from meat and dairy. I blogged about this nearly three weeks ago. Since then, I’ve been trying to set a few things straight relative to the depressing election of 2016. A lot of good that did.

So back to health and what we eat. Dr. Michael Greger, along with writer Gene Stone, published How Not to Die: Discover the Foods Scientifically Proven to Prevent and Reverse Disease. It could also have been subtitled, “The Medical and Scientific Reasons to Adopt a Whole Food, Plant-based Diet.” Both subtitles lend the book sound overly scientific and textbook-ish air. How Not to Die is far from either category. It’s a primer for anyone considering adopting a diet centered on whole foods and plants, with plenty of data, but also many humorous anecdotes from Greger’s own life. I’ve found it invaluable in getting started and immersed in a brand new way of living. Continue reading

Plant Power

When you begin questioning the systems that make up a country whose very foundation is a bedrock of lies and half-truths, the challenge becomes—how far do I go in disavowing falsehood? It’s easy to backtrack on a handful of things, but in a capitalist economy, most people have little choice but to sell their labor to employers and kowtow to the powers that be.

Back in August, we went out to Omaha. I wrote about Mary’s participation in the USA Triathlon National Championships held there. It was a hectic but fun six days.

Mark met us on his way back across the country.

On Saturday night, we decided to go out to dinner as a family like we’ve done countless times before. Mark’s been embracing a plant-based eating program for more than a year. I suppose we could have taken him to a steak restaurant and made him eat salad while we chowed down on top sirloin, but doing that seemed like a shitty thing to do to a son who has consistently shown up in support of his parents and their various endeavors, be it book signings or triathlons, not to mention extended-family gatherings. Plus, I like vegetables, too.

Yelp is an app that’s rarely led me astray. When I checked out vegan restaurants in Omaha, a place called Modern Love sounded pretty funky and cool. I called, made a reservation for three, and plotted the night’s plan. Continue reading

Making a Clean Shift

Six weeks ago, I decided to make a change in how I was eating. When you live with another person, it’s helpful when they also validate your choice, and go along with it. Mary and I are both more than six weeks into what we’re calling “clean eating.” Others knowledgeable in our new lifestyle choice might refer to it as paleo.

It really doesn’t matter what you call it. Both of us feel better, have lost weight, and more important—we’ve eliminated so much junk and crap from our diets that it’s hard to believe we didn’t both adopt this earlier.

We’re both active people. Swimming, biking, running all require a good energy source and fuel for our bodies. Add to that the demands of work and the 21st century lifestyle—one that seems intent on killing us all—and changing things up becomes all the more apparent, at least in hindsight. We’re both amazed that it took us so long to get here.

Actually, I’m not unaware of the paleo lifestyle. Both Mary and I know enough people that are living it. Several friends and family members that are into CrossFit have been adherents of paleo. Our sports medicine doctor has hinted to both Mary and I that making dietary changes, especially given some of the inflammation and sports-related issues Mary and I have both been battling, might be a wise choice.

Paleo made a flash on America’s constantly-changing radar of new fads and dietary choices a few years back. Like most everything else, it was gone, and Americans were off searching for their next flavor-of-the-month. Continue reading

In the Blink of an Eye

Life’s circumstances can turn on a dime. In a world where technology is exalted and worshiped, we’re less likely to remember that our seasons evolve and fluctuate.

We’ve just come through a stretch of weather spanning 3-4 weeks where May felt like mid-July, or even early August. Then, in a matter of minutes on Sunday, as a cold front passed over central Maine, the humidity and heat were switched off, replaced with a crispness that has been missing for much of the past few weeks.

This morning, I awoke to steady (and needed) rainfall. Talk of drought was replaced by reminders of “flooding in low-lying areas.” As the old-timers would say, “if you don’t like the weather, wait a minute,” offering their apt and simplified descriptor of what the meteorologists tell us about Maine’s weather.

Sunday, my sister and he who we know as “Handy,” were doing an early run-through of some recipes that may show up in the upcoming Moxie “Cook Off,” better known as the Moxie Recipe Contest, which she reminded me, would be taking place in “40 days and 40 nights.” This year’s Moxie culinary throw-down seems to be taking on something akin to biblical import in Lisbon Falls and surrounding communities.

Moxie-The star of Moxie Season.

The focus of Moxie Season.

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Local Food is Radical

On a daily basis, we are bombarded by a myriad of messages, all carefully crafted and coordinated by our corporate overlords. In case you haven’t been paying attention, we don’t live in a democracy, a democratic republic, or whatever else we were brainwashed into believing our American government was supposed to be during our 12 years of indoctrination in public schools. And then, of course, we’re convinced to add another four, six, or eight years on top of that, just for the privilege of tacking a few letters after our names for the purpose of “prestige.” And at what cost does this so-called honor come?

It’s too easy to succumb to this onslaught and get caught up in all the finger-pointing and ideological blame-gaming—it’s so much easier to control and subjugate a people divided. But this isn’t intended to be a screed, a diatribe, or even a jeremiad. No, I’m here to talk about simplicity in its most basic form—local food. Continue reading

Writing About Food

Writing about food, just like almost everything else in our 21st century lives has changed. I don’t know what it is, but much of our current food writing seems to me to be carried out by writers that are more about the art of food, with less awareness about its preparation. Or, if the writer knows his or her way around the kitchen and kettle, then it becomes necessary to pull the “food snob” shtick, which I absolutely deplore.

It seems everyone these days is writing about lobster rolls. There’s the Lobster Gal, who has a new book out, and then, Yankee has another spread on the “best” lobster shacks in New England in their Best of New England issue. There are all manner of varieties of this common narrative—we get it—New England has lots of lobster “shacks.” Continue reading

Cheap Meat

True believers are a dangerous lot. Not dangerous in the sense that they’ll physically hurt, or inflict something worse on you—dangerous in that they think they are the only ones with a direct line to the source of truth.

Their unwavering belief in their cause—whatever that cause might be–renders them incapable of considering alternative viewpoints, or being able to empathize with how others frame the same issue with equal fervor.  While belief of this type is often directed towards deities and religious systems, more and more this same kind of rote call and response is found in most of the debates about issues from gay rights to gun control. Ultimately, people just end up talking past one another. Continue reading

Time for Food

Real food takes time. Time to grow it. Time for the harvesting, or the fattening of livestock for those who don’t have an opposition to locally-grown meat.

Since convenience foods have come to predominate the American diet, the home cooked meal has become an endangered species. Families no longer commune around food, instead, everyone fends for themselves. If you have older children, think about the last time you had a family meal that wasn’t a special occasion, but just a normal weeknight. Continue reading