Category Archives: Beverages

Switching to a Plant Based Diet After 50

Standard

Screen Shot 2017-12-29 at 8.59.54 AM

Numerous empirical studies have established the advantages of eating a plant based diet over one that is heavy in meats and related saturated fats.  This is old news.  A “less meat, more plants” style of eating can definitely improve the quality of one’s life, and it is better for the planet.

I’ve been a part-time vegan, and full-time vegetarian for more than 40 years now, and I still hear people comment on my high energy levels, my  nice complexion and my abundant, full hair, which are all associated with eating in this way.  I often work from 12-14 hours a day, and still manage to cook whole meals, keep my house spotless, and go out dancing at night, when I feel like it.

In addition, vegetarianism is associated with higher levels of short-chain fatty acids in the gut.  Additional research suggests that it also lowers the risk of heart disease, inflammatory diseases, and type 2 diabetes.

Vegetarianism Over 50

Can changing your diet to a meat free or low meat diet after age 50 still make a difference?  Absolutely, it can, according to experts. “It’s never too early or too late to embrace a healthier lifestyle,” says a leading cardiologist. “The benefits come quickly and continue to accrue with time.”

In one study, women in that age group who ate a mostly plant diet were 34 percent more likely to be free of chronic diseases, such as heart disease and chronic diabetes, 15 years later than women whose diets included more meat.

According to a study in the medical journal, Neurology, a  Mediterranean-style diet,  which is based on legumes,  produce, grains, and healthful oils, such as olive oil, is connected with better cognitive brain health in older adults. Those who favored fruits and vegetables in their diets, and who ate only minimal amounts of lean meats and fish, if any at all,  had less brain shrinkage—linked with a reduced risk of cognitive decline—than those who ate meat on a regular basis. Eating no more than 3.5 ounces of meat daily may also help prevent the loss of brain cells equivalent to about three or four years of aging, researchers say.

How to Make the Switch

Screen Shot 2017-12-29 at 9.00.30 AM

The beef and dairy industries have been allowed to thrive at our expense. Coverups of toxic situations weren’t report it to the public because they didn’t want to scare them! It’s time to put that fear into action for the sake of our planet and the lives of our children. As long as people continue to buy their products, these industries have the power and resources to fight reforms and pump money into the schools with educational propaganda. Let’s help the next generation just say NO to meat!

Any step you take will help, but the more plants and fewer animal foods, the better. Try these easy tips to help you design a plant-based diet:

  1. Up your vegetable and fruit intake. 

Even if you decide that you can’t give up meat altogether, increasing the amount of produce that you consume will help you develop a taste for plants, and can help you transition to a higher fiber food intake.   Gradually adding veggies in unexpected places, such as sliced tomato or avocado on toast, can help.

2.  Resign your plate.

Try filling at least half of your plate with grains, fresh produce or beans, and downsize your meat serving.  When you do choose meats, choose those lean cuts that are healthier.  Think of a stir-fry heavy on the veggies and grains with thinly sliced strips of beef rather than a big steak with a spear of broccoli.   Swap in chopped mushrooms or tofu for half of the ground meat you’d normally use in meatloaf, tacos, chili, or pasta sauce. Or try veggie-based dishes like burritos.

  1. Find your semi-veg style.

Even when you don’t eat a vegetarian diet every day, eating plant based meals once each week is a great way to start.  You can replace meat ounce-for-ounce with one of the new faux meats, such as Quorn or Fieldroast brands.

Screen Shot 2017-12-29 at 9.00.15 AM

 

Vegetarianism for Pain Relief

Because of the anti-flammatory aspects of a plant-based diet, many people who suffer from chronic pain have discovered the benefits of cutting meat out of their diets. Inflammation is a pathological condition underlying a number of diseases including cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and chronic inflammatory diseases.

Diet provides a variety of nutrients as well as non-nutritive bioactive constituents which modulate immunomodulatory and inflammatory processes. Epidemiological data suggest that dietary patterns strongly affect inflammatory processes. Primarily the intake of fruit and vegetables as well as of whole wheat is inversely associated with the risk of inflammation.

In addition to observational studies there are also data from human intervention studies suggesting an anti-inflammatory potential of these plant foods. At the level of bioactive compounds occurring in plant foods, primarily carotenoids and flavonoids seem to modulate inflammatory as well as immunological processes. In conclusion, there is convincing evidence that plant foods and non-nutritive constituents associated with these foods modulate immunological and inflammatory processes. By means of anti-inflammatory activities a plant-based diet may contribute to the lower risk of cardiovascular diseases and cancer. A high intake of vegetables, fruit, and whole wheat as recommended by all international nutrition authorities provides a wide spectrum of bioactive compounds at health-promoting concentrations.

Arrive as Friends – Leave as Famly – Casa Mia

Standard

screen-shot-2016-09-16-at-9-02-02-am

Casa Mia

The Detour coffee shop was a popular landmark at 3035 Division Street, but its owners decided to move on, and now we are graced with a fabulous new replacement, Casa Mia. This is the Italian restaurant the Richmond neighborhood has needed for a long time. It is quaint, cozy, and lacks the corporate vibe that so many of the new neighborhood restaurants have. What it lacks in the hip and cool area, it makes up for in its genuine charm,  pleasant atmosphere and friendly service.

screen-shot-2016-09-16-at-9-16-30-am

The interior has been completely revamped since the cramped days of the Detour in a pristine solid wood and black metal decor.  Fresh roses grace each table, sleek silver mirrors reflect the soothing pale gray interior, framed, Italian-themed posters add to the decor, all tempered by the rustic cement floor.   The place looks nice!

screen-shot-2016-09-16-at-9-19-39-am

Chef Benito Omana, originally from the Mexico City area, loves Italian food. His humble restauranteur beginnings were that of a dishwasher who keenly observed the chefs in the restaurants where he worked, learning bit-by-bit as he observed, and who gradually worked his way up through the ranks by demonstrating his own talent as a chef. In 1992, he began cooking at popular Portland restaurants, such as Pazzo, Piazza Italia, Southpark, Wildwood, El Gaucho and ElGuero.  In 2014, Benito opened Bellino Pasta & Cafe in Hillsboro, but he lives here in my neighborhood, and when the opportunity arose to open Casa Mia, he jumped on it.

I stopped by for lunch and immediately felt a little wary, because no one else was there. I was further dismayed to note that there were few, if any, vegetarian entrees on the menu.  However, when I expressed this to Benito, he told me he could whip something up off menu, the sign of a truly good restaurant, if you ask me……and he did!  He said that he plans to add more vegetarian options at some point.

I was first greeted by a plate of delicious house made foccacia bread with good olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  I was starving, so this tasted really good.  I was half way through my first piece when my husband, John, decided to stroll over and meet me. He polished off the rest with great enthusiasm.

screen-shot-2016-09-16-at-9-26-48-am

Benito served us a moderately priced Italian wine made from  Nebbiolo, Nascetta, Eau-de-Vie, Pelaverga, and Dolcetto grapes, which went perfectly with our entrees.

Benio whipped up a delicious penne dish for me that had outstanding fresh tomatoes, lots of garlic, basil and some of the best parm I have ever eaten.  It was simple, and quite delicious.  I loved the fact that it was served at a very hot temperature, too.  Great mouthfeel.  Teriffic flavor that made me smile.

screen-shot-2016-09-16-at-9-30-40-am

John had the fresh minnestroni, right off the stove.  Every ingredient was fresh and delicious, and it went beautifully with the wine and bread.

We had cappuccinos and some of the best tiramisu we had ever eaten for dessert.  We’re talking some serious dessert here, folks. It was out of this world delicious!

screen-shot-2016-09-16-at-9-32-06-am

The entire meal cost less than $30, and we made a new friend in Benito, so I’d say we made out pretty well.  Wouldn’t you?

Because of its location along Division street, and the manner in which it is set back from the street, Casa Mia is easy to miss….which is why  I am writing this blog article to urge people in the Clinton-Division-Richmond neighborhood to stop by and check it out.  Benito has big plans for weekend brunch, and serves breakfast, lunch and dinner all week long.  This is a call to action to stop in and introduce yourself to the chef and delight in the wonderful food that John and I experienced at Casa Mia!

screen-shot-2016-09-16-at-9-38-39-am

Casa Mia – Affordable fine dining in a quaint, friendly atmosphere.

Save

Save

Do I Stick it in the Fridge?

Standard

Some foods need to be refrigerated.  Others don’t.  This is a list of  foods that do not need to be chilled.

Screen Shot 2016-02-17 at 6.35.25 AM
1. Bananas – Storing bananas in the refrigerator can actually disrupt their ripening process.  Once refrigerated, a banana may never be able to resume the ripening process even if returned to room temperature.

Screen Shot 2016-02-17 at 6.36.16 AM

2. Yams and Sweet Potatoes – When exposed to cold temperatures, starches found in potatoes will turn to sugar, disrupting their flavor and texture. If you prefer tasteless potatoes that cause weight gain, however, please refrigerate.

Screen Shot 2016-02-17 at 6.37.02 AM

3. Tomatoes – Have you ever tasted a really amazing tomato right out of the fridge?  Nope, Me neither.  Tomatoes LOSE their flavor and become mushy when refrigerated.

Screen Shot 2016-02-17 at 6.37.48 AM

4. Apples -Apples  lose their texture and flavor when refrigerated.  If you want a cold apple, just stick it in the fridge about 20 minutes before you plan to eat it.  Otherwise, store them at room temperature.

Screen Shot 2016-02-17 at 6.38.34 AM

5. Onions – If you love soggy onions while also causing the rest of your food to taste and smell like onions, then you’ll definitely want to refrigerate your onions immediately.  Otherwise, try storing them in a paper bag (within a cool, dark cabinet) for maximum shelf-life.  And by the way, did you know that storing onions with potatoes will cause the potatoes to ripen too quickly and to spoil sooner?  The onions give off a gas that causes this, so be sure to separate them for storage, m’k?

Screen Shot 2016-02-17 at 6.39.25 AM

6.  Avocados – Much like the banana, refrigeration shuts down an avocado’s ripening enzymes.  If you want guacamole next month, this may be OK, but if you’re like me, you probably want guacamole today.

Screen Shot 2016-02-17 at 6.41.25 AM

7. Coffee – Contrary to popular belief, coffee is best stored at room temperature to allow the natural oils within the coffee beans to activate its pungent aromatic scent. Refrigeration can actually cause coffee to absorb odors from other foods in your fridge.

Speaking of coffee…I haven’t had mine yet this morning, so off I go.  Have a happy day everyone!

Salicornia Maritima – Something New for Dinner

Standard
Salicornia Maritima – Something New for Dinner

I had seen salicornia maritima, AKA “sea beans” growing alongside the Pacific for years, but never bothered to investigate it.  Then, last Tuesday, when the organic produce delivery came, I reached inside and pulled out a small paper bag filled with it.  Sea beans.  They smell fishy….not all that great….but when I tasted one, it wasn’t bad at all.  Had sort of a lemony taste…very salty…and I figured that if I still ate fish, I probably would have served them up with salmon.  They are dark green, and I thought that since they were in my produce delivery, they had to be good for me…so I looked ’em up online.  It seems they are high in iron and super nutritious.

I learned that they are usually steamed or boiled.  I sauteed them with some tiny shiitake mushrooms in lemon juice and olive oil. Added some freshly cracked pepper and pink Himalayan sea salt and that was it. If I had it to do over, I would not have salted them…but I only added a dash,so it was ok.  Delicious!

 1dinner

I served them up with some vegetarian chick’n a l’orange and a nice helping of creamy polenta with chopped spinach and diced carrots.  Paired the meal with a nice glass of Malbec and really enjoyed it.  So.  There it is.  Something new for dinner.

Place Your Bets….

Standard
Place Your Bets….

I’m not a gambler….but if you are, and would like to place a wager on the Kentucky Derby, this is a venue online where you can not only watch the race.  You can also place your bets!   (Am posting this for a friend who just won $7,000 on a $2.00 bet.)

CLICK HERE!

The Magical Power of Lemon Water

Standard

1lemonwater

I felt emotionally exhausted and physically drained after my trip to another state week before last.  Saying goodbye to loved ones is always so hard, but in this case, it was absolutely agonizing.

Four funerals of friends over a 10-day span was just too much.    On the flight home, I asked the airline hostess for a glass of water with lemon.  Upon drinking it, I noticed that my mood was lifted rather instantaneously.   It was as though I’d just consumed a magic potion.

My mother has always extolled the virtues of lemon water.  For years, it has been my “go-to” drink.  I love it, and I choose it over soda every time.  If I want something bubbly, I will drink either San  Pellegrino or Perrier with a squeeze of lemon.  I love the stuff…so light and refreshing.  Little Ingrid now loves it, too.

None of us drink sugary soft drinks.

1soda

Among many other things the advantages of regularly drinking lemon water include:

  • Preventing  the growth of pathogenic bacteria and the decomposition of tissue
  • Cleansing the system of certain impurities, and also helping prevent certain diseases and infections
  • It is amazingly effective at dissolving uric acid (often the cause of pain and inflammation in joints) and other poisons in the body
  • It can help reduce symptoms of malaria, rheumatism, gout, rickets and tuberculosis…not that I have any of these diseases…

And I think it simply tastes good.

I keep a lemon half in a small glass container right inside my refrigerator door.  Each time I pour myself a glass of water, I grab the lemon and give it a little squeeze into the glass.  Doesn’t take much to impart a truly delicious flavor.  Although, in the summer, when mint is fresh and ripe, I might add a sprig or two of that as well, I never add sugar.   I’m sweet enough already.  😉

People with liver damage often turn to lemon water because its healing power is an excellent stimulant for the liver.   From what I understand, it helps liquefy bile and helps control excess bile flow. For liver complaints, it is recommended that one drink warm lemon juice one hour before breakfast.  Drinking it as a “tea” and drinking it in a cold glass of water provide different benefits and different taste sensations.

One of the most important benefits of imbibing lemon water with some degree of regularity, is its effect on the gastrointestinal tract. Lemon water assists in the process of digestion and elimination.  It also has an alkalizing effect on the body. Increasing body alkalinity is what you should be going for.  It is one of the key benefits of drinking lemon water.

Other benefits include:

  • Helps purify the blood and will also control a tendency to bleed
  • Assists in lowering high blood pressure
  • Reduces the amount of phlegm in the body
  • Relieves symptoms of asthma, allergies and other respiratory problems
  • Nourishes brain and nerve cells due to its potassium content
  • Helps dissolves gallstones, calcium deposits, kidney stones, and pancreatic stones

Basically, as we get older, our bodies “rust” (sort of).   Rust is, of course, the oxidation of metal. And scientifically, aging has been considered the slow oxidation of our bodies. Like those brown age spots on the back of people’s hands?  That’s just oxidized fat under the skin. Oxidant stress is why we get wrinkles, that’s why we lose some of our memory, that’s why our organ systems break down as we get older.  How do we slow down oxidation? By eating foods containing anti-oxidants. If you want to know if a food has a lot of antioxidants in it you slice it open, expose it to air—expose it to oxygen and see what happens. Does it oxidize, does it turn brown? Think about our two most popular fruits: apples and bananas. Turn brown right away—not a lot of antioxidants inside there. How to do you keep your fruit salad from turning brown though? Add lemon juice, which has vitamin C in it, an antioxidant, which can keep your food from oxidizing and can do the same thing inside our bodies.  Lemons are good for you and help slow down the aging process.

I also use lemon juice for countless other things around the house.  For example, I boil a few slices of lemon in about half a litre of water. Let it cool. Pour it in a spray bottle and voilå!   My own homemade air freshener!  I use it as a glass cleaner.  I use it to polish my silver.  I toss a lemon into the garbage disposal to make it smell good.  I use it in my homemade furniture polish.  I just love how it smells.

Lemons.  They’re a good thang!

Lemon slices background

When Someone You Love Succeeds

Standard
When Someone You Love Succeeds

I have to admit it.  Personal success feels great.  Each time I accomplish something that sets me one step closer to my goals, I feel elated.  However, that feeling pales in comparison to the emotions I experience when someone I love achieves success, be it a friend or a family member.  That’s right.  I take more joy in seeing someone I love succeed than I take in my own accomplishments.  For instance, yesterday, I received this email from my husband, John:

 

My Dearest Wife,

Early this morning,  I received the news that my “The Merchant of Pittsburgh: A Comedy” was selected to kick-off San Francisco Dramatists Guild’s  spring Footlights, staged-playreading series on March 2nd.

Attached is the invitation that will be sent out from New York in a few days.

Love to you,

J

SAN FRANCISCO FOOTLIGHTS – March 2, 2015 presentation.

Please join the Dramatists Guild for a staged-reading of John Freed’s

 

“The Merchant of Pittsburgh: A Comedy”

 

on Monday, March 2 at 7PM
Tides Theatre
533 Sutter Street
San Francisco, CA

 

Play Synopsis:


“The Merchant of Pittsburgh: A Comedy” is set in an Equity-based, regional theatre in the late eighties and concerns a fed-up Jewish board member who takes over as acting artistic director in order to stage a Shylock-friendly production of “The Merchant of Venice” while being forced to confront his own set of racial and ethnic prejudices.

 

                        “A brilliant mashup of Shakespeare and August Wilson.”   Arno Selco, Ithaca College

 

 

John Freed’s Brief Bio:
East Coast native by birth, the high point of his acting career occurred at age seventeen playing the lead in “Kiss me, Kate.” He received a standing ovation for his fireman’s carry off-stage of  his co-star after her slap nearly knocked him out at the close of Act One.
Fast forward to teaching dramatic literature, especially Shakespeare,  at Penn State as well as being the theater critic for the “Erie Daily Times” and film critic for New York’s “OneWorld Magazine.” He adapted Richard Wright’s novella “The Man Who Lived Underground” as a radio play produced by the local National Public Radio station and co-wrote “When Shakespeare Was a Woman” while functioning as pro bono drama consultant for the artistic director of the Pittsburgh Public Theatre.
His own writing evolved further from developing a series of creative writing and new media courses at the University of St. Thomas in Texas and at Brandman / Chapman University here in the Bay area.   During this time he wrote  “Love me, Fuseli: A Play about Mary Wollstonecraft and her Circle of Friends” and “Figaro’s Follies” – a new adaption of  Beaumarchais’ “Le Mariage de Figaro” which had staged-readings by the EastBay Players in the fall of 2014.

 

He is currently working on the book and lyrics for a musical entitled “All Hallows at Hearst Castle” with composer, Jeff Dunn.

John bi-locates to Portland, Oregon where his wife, Stacy Alexander, is a graduate student, a professional writer and a mixed media artist.  His playwright website is http://freed98.wix.com/johnfreedplaywright .

 

Dramatists Guild’s San Francisco

(end)

My response to John:

To My Most Admirable Husband,
So, once again, a public acknowledgement and congratulations in the midst of many, my darling.   What an honor for your play to kick off the season!  There are insufficient words to convey how proud of you I am.  Each play you write is better than the one that came before it.   I enthusiastically encourage you to continue with your play writing, just as you have always encouraged me with my own creative endeavors.  It is with great happiness that I  look forward to seeing what you come up with next.  Oh….and “break a leg”  (figuratively…not literally)  🙂
Your loving wife,
Anastasia

A Walk to The Waffle Window – A Portland Tradition

Standard
A Walk to The Waffle Window – A Portland Tradition

After having stayed awake long into the night to wait for a phone call, I woke this morning feeling fairly groggy.  I had been promising Ingrid that I would take her to the Portlandia-famous waffle window on Hawthorne, so we got dressed and set out for a walk through the hood, up to Hawthorne street. I didn’t stay groggy for long.  This is truly a beautiful city.  The sun was out, the temperature was mild, and we were both in a great mood.

A true sign that spring has almost sprung was the abundance of flowers that we saw along the way.

flowers2

Of course, we had to stop for a little tree climbing along the way…

tree climbing

And a wee bit of balance beam walking…

We also had a nice discussion about media…Vinyl vs. MP3s, to be exact….

vinyl

But we finally arrived at our destination.  The legendary waffle window.  Some of you may have seen it in an episode or two of Portlandia or maybe you read about it in the March 2012 issue of Bon Appetite magazine.  Others may have seen it in one of the many documentaries that have been made about what an awesome city Portland is.  The waffle window is just another of those fantastic things that makes Portland unique….and it is a mere 7 blocks from our home!  The line was long, but the wait was brief.

waffle window

I ordered the Farm Fusion waffle, which was a combination of Mushrooms, spinach, roasted pepper, tomato and marinated chèvre.   Yum.   Had that with a 16 ounce latte and enjoyed every bite.

waffle 1

Ingrid had the day’s special, which was some clementine orange and blueberry concoction with an orange/caramel sauce and whipped cream.  Mind you, we do not allow this child to eat these kinds of sweets often, but she thoroughly enjoyed this.  These authentic Portland style Liege pearl sugar waffles are truly a unique treat!  They’re made using a yeast dough instead of a batter and are baked with pearl sugar to give the waffle a delicious crunch. I guarantee that this place’s specialty Portland style Liege waffles are unlike anything you have had before.  Absolutely delicious!  No complaints!

blueberry waffle

The place has 2 or 3 specials each day, and a menu with a wide array of both sweet and savory waffles from which to choose.  They also have a fabulous drink menu that includes some of the best coffee drinks in the city and unique teas and lemonades.  For instance, the basil/blackberry lemonade is one of my favorites.

waffles

The concept is very simple.  People just walk up to the window, order, then go to the tented area in the back of the building where they enjoy their food.  There is also a full-service breakfast place in the front of the building where wafflers can take their fare and eat indoors….but the tent thing was an adventure for Ingrid, so we did that.  Her mother (my daughter, Sarah) joined us, and we had a nice visit as we enjoyed our food.

This was a good start to a good day.  I love spending time with Sarah and Ingrid, especially in a city such as Portland, that has so much to offer in terms of great food, unique ambiance and just good vibes.  Happy to be alive.  Yup.

 

 

 

An Evening at Xico

Standard

My 89 year old father (in another state) suffered a serious medical setback yesterday, so my heart was heavy with worry all day.  Fortunately, he came through the procedure with flying colors and was recovering rapidly last night, so I met a friend for dinner to celebrate that and to simply relieve some of the tension that I had been feeling.

It’s always a treat when my friend, Denise, flies in from Tuscon.  Last night was no exception.  We had a lovely evening at one of my neighborhood’s best restaurants, Xico.  Located at 3715 SE Division Street, Xico offers a small array of freshly prepared, gourmet Mexican food and designer cocktails.

The wait staff is highly knowledgeable about both food and beverage.  This is always a winning element for me.  I like it when the staff knows the food well and can talk about it intelligently.  Here is a little video of Denise and the waitress discussing some of the food:

After hugs and greetings, we started our meal with  smoky margaritas made with Sombra,  one of the restaurant’s “suitcase” mezcals from a mysterious collection that Xico owner Liz Davis hunts down in dirt-floored Mexican palenques where men still hack agave cores with machetes.   It also had fresh lime juice, honey and a half-rim of rust-red, “worm salt” or  sal de guasano, a condiment traditional to Oaxaca but little known here.

margarita

3 appetizers accompanied our cocktails.  We had a small dish of the Queso Fundido, which is usually served with chirozo (Mexican sausage) but, of course, being a vegetarian, I asked that this ingredient be omitted.  It was a perfectly perfect blend of broiled queso barra and muenstar topped with serrano-tomatilo salsa, radish, cabbage and Xito’s fresh-pressed tortillas that were bursting with organic corn that they grind themselves, right in the back room. They smell like wildflowers. A lot of this restaurant’s ingredients must be smoked, crushed, pampered, or flamed before being blended into their masterful concoctions.  This dish was complex with multi-layers of salty, smoky flavor and bursts of fresh herbs.  Wow.  There are simply no words to fully describe how delicious it was.

queso

We also had the Blood Orange and Apple Salad, that consisted of tequila-infused apples, pomegranate, cucumber, chile arbal, queso cotija resting in a drizzel of blood orange vinagrette.  Mmmmm!  It was as delicious as it was beautiful!

salad

The third appetizer we tried was the Fried Cauliflower.  These were cruciferous  flourettes in an arbol salsa with queso cotja, creme and cilantro.  It was light, full-flavored and delicious.  It seemed the flavors of all the food at this restaurant are so perfectly balanced.  It is unbelievable how they do it.  For every tart flavor, there is a counterbalance of sweetness, and everything was so masterfully prepared and presented.

cauliflower

We each had a main entree, too.  I am not going to write about Denise’s entree because she had pork and fish…but my own was a delicious, roasted Chili Relleno with Amaranth and Black Beans.

chili

This dish was prepared unlike any chili relleno I’d ever tasted, starting with the fact that it was roasted and not fried.  The chili was filled with black beans, amaranth, sun-dried tomatoes and requeson.  It rested in a tomato-canela broth and was topped with sour cream, guacamole, sauteed hedgehog mushrooms and sliced vegetable escabeche garnish.  It was served with a side of Mexican rice.  By the time it arrived, however, I was so full that I could only eat a bite or two, so I had it wrapped and took it home to enjoy for lunch today or tomorrow.  It was light (despite the sour cream, which I pushed to one side…) and delicious!

Denise and I had the best talk!  I enjoyed her company so much, and especially enjoyed the fact that we talked about a future business that we are planning to do together.  She and I just click, in terms of our belief systems and the things that are important to us.  We both had such a good time.

I walked home, ever thankful for my good friends, for my family, for living as close as I do to restaurants such as Xico, for the crisp, cool evening and for just being alive.  Evenings like last night make all of my hard work worth every minute of it!   Oh….and speaking of hard work, I should get back to it now.

Hello 2015!

Standard
Hello 2015!

Happy New Year

arrivadercchi

We celebrated long into the night to bring in the New Year.  John and I were guests of our friend, Toni,  and her British boyfriend, Peter, and another Brit, who was also named Peter, at a local Jazz club.  The music was an incredible mix of jazz and classic rock tunes from the 60’s and every subsequent decade to contemporary times.  We had a lovely dinner and danced the night away…..with plenty of cowbell.

( Wait….do you recognize this woman?! 😉 )

cowbell

The club is called, “Arrivederci” and was a delightful surprise to us.  We do not frequent businesses in the suburb of Milwaukie because we have everything we need in our own neighborhood.  It probably would never have occurred to us to go there, had we not received the kind invitation to join Toni and the two British P’s.  However, we were so pleased that we went… and already have plans to go back.  It is a cozy, tasteful Italian restaurant that schedules world class musicians on a regular basis, really good food and a nice selection of area wines.  The owner, who is a friend of Toni, often stands in with the band and plays a dynamic jazz sax, which he did on New Years, and he sings.

white rabbit

The band was comprised of a compilation of musicians from other bands to create a one-night “New Years Eve” combo.  (That’s what they called themselves.)  They were great!

  We had so much fun!  The conversation (between songs) was lively and we could not have asked for better company.

stacy sings

John and I spent a quiet day at home yesterday, doing as little as possible.  I made some good food, and we noshed throughout the day. He went out for a bit to get us a salad for dinner from St. Honerie Boulangerie,  but I stayed in and laid low.   Had some good talks.  Read.  Watched a little telly together.  Thus far, 2015 has been a good year.  I have highest hopes that it will continue to get better and better!

Oh…and I have to mention one other thing.  Yesterday, on New Year’s Day, our orchid plant bloomed full force.  This had special significance for us (which I won’t go into) but also symbolizes the delicate balance of life and the incredible number of things that we both have to be thankful for at this time.  This flower is a miracle! Isn’t it gorgeous?!

orchid

Wishing all of you the very best.

 

Last Update of the Year

Standard
Last Update of the Year

I have been trying to make it over here to do an update before the end of the year, but this has been my first opportunity to do so.   First, let me thank my 590  wonderful subscribers and other readers for your continued support.  I appreciate each and every one of you and hope you have gained something from being a part of my life through this blog.   I wish each of you a happy and prosperous 2015.

As I approach the end of 2014, I have made some big changes in my life.  First, I have eliminated some unhealthy familial relationships that were dragging me down,  and have grown closer to other family members.  Both moves proved to be freeing and healing.

I have begun a regular meditation and yoga practice.  I am making art again.  I still have a four point in grad school and am slated to graduate this summer.   As for friendships….every single friendship that I had at the end of last year is still in place.  One, in particular, is stronger than ever, and I feel so blessed because of this. (4).

r     Rene Best musician

Life here has been a December whirlwind!  I took a couple of fun little trips…some that I can talk about, and some that I can’t.  However, my break from school proved to be no break at all.  I had a difficult midterm that took an entire day to complete, two discussion papers to write, a paper on women in leadership roles and a psychometric analysis of a psychological testing instrument used to determine levels of creativity.  Eeeee!  I still have two papers left to write before the fourth, but I’m fairly certain I will be able to complete them on time.  I have also been finishing up a lot of work projects that I had to finish by tonight.  Those are completed and sent to my editors, so I feel great about that.

The good news is that John is home, and we have been having the best time!  We took Ingrid Christmas shopping and to Peacock lane.

hh1

We spent a quiet Christmas together at home, then went to our daughter’s house for gift exchange and a delicious dinner.  My son in law, who makes THESE  gorgeous knifes and teaches black smithing,  hand forged an incredible cheese knife for me. I am so proud of it!  (I love handmade gifts best of all!)   For the handle, he used exotic wood that had some naturally-formed cracks in it.  He ground up turquoise, suspended it in resin and filled the cracks with it.  The picture does not do it justice.  This is a gorgeous knife! He also hand carved a beautiful wooden spoon for me and gave them both to me in a nice wooden holder.  So talented, he is! Thanks, Nate!

knife

John wanted to do something extra special this year, so surprised me with a trip to Sun Mountain Lodge   up in the beautiful Cascades. What an incredible trip! It was cozy and romantic, stunningly beautiful and gave us the opportunity to get caught up after spending a long time apart.  We loved it there and want to go back in the spring.

cascades

Met some friends there, and were able to parlay the journey into a side trip Seattle where our granddaughter, Maya, is visiting from the East Coast.  We were absolutely thrilled to learn that she plans to return to the Pacific NW.  We have missed her in the 5 months she has been gone!

ingrid and maya

We stayed with our darling friends, Sheryl and Dylan and really enjoyed the company.  Sheryl is like family to us.  It was high quality, beautiful family time.  We visited and took Ings to the park.  We went out for dinner.  We went to an incredible display of Christmas lights.  It was so much fun.  I feel so happy just thinking about it.

ings and sheryl

Much, much more has happened, but I haven’t the time to write about it all.  Tonight, we are going to join our friends, Toni and Peter, as we did last year, for dinner, drinks and dancing.  We’ll start the evening off at a little wine bar known as “Arrivederci” and then meet other friends in another location to ring in the New Year together.  There won’t be any redneck bars and plastic cups in the mix for this year,  but as my friend pointed out, I’ve always been more of a crystal stemware type anyway, so it all works out. 🙂  I know I’m loved.  I’m happy.

I’m lucky….and I know it.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Be safe and have fun!

I Thank You….And I Wish You Happiness on This Day.

Standard

thankful

To my family, my friends and my readers here….I am thankful that you are a part of my life.

Happy Thanksgiving with Love.

Sending love and strength afar.

Doctors Without Borders Auction Preview!

Standard

https://www.biddingforgood.com/auction/auctionhome.action?auctionId=208357702  <——-click here!

Here is your chance to preview all 141 STUNNING pieces of mosaic art created by artists from all over the world in the Doctor’s Without Border’s Charity Auction that will be coming up in November.  There are SO many beautiful choices!  Proceeds go toward a most excellent cause, so make your selections and get ready to place your bids!  dwb mosaic 2014Four René

by Stacy Alexander

© Stacy Alexander – 2014 – All Rights Reserved

Cute Kids – Expensive Meal!

Standard
Cute Kids – Expensive Meal!

http://nyti.ms/1stkqAN   <——click this link to watch the adorable video.

From the New York Times:

One Saturday afternoon last month, six second graders from P.S. 295 in Brooklyn got a head start on the fine-dining life when they visited the acclaimed French restaurant Daniel. There, five waiters presented them with a seven-course tasting menu (after the trio of canapés and an amuse-bouche, naturellement). The meal was overseen by the star chef and eponym himself, Daniel Boulud, whose goal was, he says, “for the children to really discover a lot of flavor, a lot of layers, a lot of texture.” These discoveries included Smoked Paprika Cured Hamachi (the “most-foreign thing for them,” Boulud says), Crispy Japanese Snapper (“which they loved to see”) and Wagyu Beef Rib-Eye (“a big success”). To capture the children’s reactions, the magazine asked Jeffrey Blitz, the director of the Oscar-nominated documentary “Spellbound,” to make a video. The initiates seemed to enjoy the experience, but that isn’t to say they loved all those flavors and textures. At one point, after tasting a custom-made nonalcoholic cocktail, 7-year-old Chester Parish said: “This is, like, the only good course. It’s yummy.”

Welcome to the Dinner Party Download

Standard

dinnerpartydownload

One of the luxuries that I afford myself while John is away teaching, is listening to the radio as I fall asleep at night.  I can’t really listen to it during the day because I have to concentrate on school and work, so as a reward in that last hour before I fall asleep, I love to listen to the Dinner Party Download from my bed. This is a light, interesting, funny and entertaining program that imparts a lot of knowledge into a one hour format.

I’m sure there are other ways to find it, and I think you can even pick it up online, but I use the Tunein Radio app on my phone. After the app is open, I click “Talk” then “Arts & Culture” and finally, “Dinner Party Download.”  The program is hosted by Rico Gagliano and Brendan Francis Newnam who have formatted it so that listeners can “win” their dinner parties.  That is, the entire program is much like a dinner party itself.

The show always begins with a corny icebreaker….just some dumb joke told by a celebrity…a one-liner, usually at about a 4th grade level.  After that, listeners hear news headlines for the week.  Then comes a bit of trivia or interesting history.  For instance, last night’s program was about this week back in 1849, when the great gothic horror writer Edgar Allan Poe headed off on his last business trip. What happened after that remains a mystery… except for the fact that he died.

So, after every detailed historical trivia story, listeners are taught how to concoct their  own  appropriate cocktails from  bars that have something to do with the historical story that was just told.   The Poe-related cocktail was from a bar named after his famous poem, Annabell Lee….and the bartender talked about how the cocktail was developed and how to make it.  Each week, it is something different.

The show talks about books, food, films and has great musical guests that select THEIR favorite songs that they deem appropriate to play during a dinner party.  Some of the playlists are great, and I’ve added them to my own iTunes playlists.  The tastes are always eclectic and usually very interesting and good.  Quincy Jones was on a few nights ago, and talked about his idol, Clark Terry.  There are new musicians, old musicians and everything in between.  It is a great way to learn some musical history and to get turned on to some great music that you might not have known about previously.

Mia Wasikowska was on the program talking about her film work.

mis

Steve Martin talked about his endeavors playing the banjo.  Geoffrey Rush was on.  Mads Mikkleson.  The guests are interesting, and they talk about things from unique angles.  It isn’t one of those trite celebrity gossip shows.  The entertainment is pithy and gives in depth looks into these people’s lives and work.

This show is a winner, folks.  I highly recommend it.

 

To My Best Friend

Image

think

Another Beautiful Breakfast

Standard

Yesterday, my friend and neighbor, Jeremy, went out mushroom picking.  I felt so grateful when he gave me a heaping helping of these beautiful Chanterells!  They are my favorite kind of mushrooms…subtle and rich at once, and so beautiful to behold!

shrroms from jeremy

Then, this morning, my organic produce delivery came.  Mind you, these vegetables are the most delicious I have ever had!  This is week #3, and I couldn’t be happier.  I get them from Organics 2 You, here in Portland.  Everything is locally grown.  The staff is friendly.  The company is very personalized and competent.  I can’t recommend it highly enough.  In addition to their delectable produce, they also offer a few extras, so I ordered some cheese, eggs, coffee and yoghurt this week.  It has been a long time since I’ve eaten dairy and since I just ran out of my calcium supplements, I thought I’d eat some.  I rarely do that.

produce

This photo doesn’t even begin to show you everything that was in it.  There are fresh carrots, more peppers, fruit galore and beets underneath what you see here.  I added the chanterelles to the nice bag of shiitaki mushrooms that I got in the delivery, and am trying a new kind of coffee as I type this.  Delicous! Received another package of kiwi berries, too, which I really love.

veg

So…..for breakfast this morning, I chopped up both kinds of shrooms, a de-seeded habanero pepper and some Tuscan kale and tossed it very lightly with a little EVOO.  (extra virgin olive oil)  I cooked that for about a minute and a half, and then added an egg.

egg on veg

I let that cook through for about 20 seconds and then scrambled it together with the vegetables.  Then I added some high quality, raw, sharp cheddar cheese….just a little sprinkle, and a tablespoon of my homemade artichoke/pepper bruschetta and stirred that all around and let it cook for another minute or so.  Added sea salt…pepper….

1breakfast done

Served it up with a cup of hot, black coffee and some riper-than-ripe organic pears with a light dusting of fresh ground cinnamon.  I practically inhaled this breakfast!  It was one of the best I’d eaten in a long time! Made me feel like dancin’ a little jig!