Wednesday, August 27, 2008

CSA Report - Vegetable Daze

The tomatoes have arrived in full force and I'm glad, but I'm going to be away this weekend and I'm afraid they'll all go bad. (That was some poor, unintentional poetry, right there.) I don't think I'll have time to peal, seed, chop and freeze them tonight, either. So it looks like I might be carrying them with me. I think everything else will keep until I get back on Monday and can cook/freeze it all. This is what's filling my refrigerator today:

  • 2.5 lbs green beans (includes additional half-share)
  • 1 lb chard (includes additional half-share)
  • 3 large tomatoes, 3 large plum tomatoes and a handful of a type that are the same shape as regular tomatoes but much smaller (4.5 lb)
  • 1 small head garlic
  • 1 extra-large zucchini (free choice item)
  • 1 small yellow squash (.5 lb)
  • 1 small cucumber (.5 lb)
  • 1 Jalapeño pepper
  • 2 small green peppers
  • 1 small head lettuce
  • abt. 4 large stems basil
  • 2 sprigs oregano
  • 1 sprig sage
I'm thinking some salsa might be in my future, if I can keep those tomatoes through the weekend. The basil will make good pesto, although I still have some in the freezer from last season. That extra-large zucchini won't be good for much other than zucchini bread, so, woe-is-me, I guess I'll have to bake some. If anyone knows a good zucchini bread recipe, I'd be happy to hear it, especially if it's reduced-fat or reduced-sugar.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Open Letter to Mothers of Small Boys

Dear Mothers of Small Boys,

When bringing your young male children to the gym, it is in the best interest of everyone involved that you drop them off at the child care room BEFORE taking your things to your locker. Doing so will avoid awkward moments like your son asking questions about naked body parts and other gym-goers fiddling with their gym bags in an attempt to postpone their changing routine or attempting to cover up as quickly as possible. Really, what are you thinking?

Little Johnny does not belong in the ladies' locker room. There are bras and panties and naked boobies all over the place--even at noon. What? He has to use the bathroom? There's a bathroom in the child care center. Let him go there. Sure, naked bodies are completely natural, but you're exposing Little Johnny to the naked bodies of strangers, and you're causing your fellow exercisers extreme discomfort. I mean, would you change in front of a preschooler that didn't come from your own loins?

Thank you for your consideration of these matters. I'm certain you'll think twice before bringing Johnny in again.

Concerned Locker Room Frequenter

Sunday, August 24, 2008

OLS Week 12 - A Little Bit of This and a Little Bit of That

One Local Summer

My refrigerator is overflowing with produce and I needed a local meal for the week, so I decided I’d make some soup. I figured I could make a big pot and freeze some for later, and it would use up plenty of the stuff I got from the CSA this week.

It turned out pretty good, very chunky and flavorful. It probably could have used a little more garlic and maybe some salt because I used sodium-free broth, but I’ll leave that up to you. The recipe I came up with is below. I used a single large zucchini, about a dozen green beans, a couple handfuls of large cherry tomatoes, a small bunch of scallions and blue potatoes from the CSA and some white onion from the farmers’ market, but you could obviously use whatever vegetables you have on hand and adjust the amounts to your liking. In fact, I was going to add some chard and frozen peas in the last few minutes, but forgot. Corn also would have been a nice addition.

Chunky Garden Vegetable Soup

4 cups broth
1 large zucchini, diced
5 scallions, white and green parts chopped
1 cup chopped tomatoes
8-10 baby potatoes, diced
1 cup cut green beans
½ large white onion
4 cloves garlic, minced
Chopped fresh basil, oregano and sage
Salt and pepper to taste

In a slow cooker, combine all ingredients and cook on high for about 2 hours or until vegetables are tender.

Became this.

For my OLS meal this week, I ate the Chunky Garden Vegetable Soup for lunch with bread from the Atwater’s stand at the market. Simple, easy and tasty. (Non-local ingredients: salt, pepper, broth)

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Preparing for the Pre-release Party

I've been reading my essay, "Flying with a Ghost", over and over again trying to get it down to eight minutes. My voice is starting to get weak, and my cat thinks I'm crazy. I'm practicing making eye contact with my audience, which right now consists of the television, a couple of plants and said cat. I've placed pauses in all the right places for laughter, emphasis, or to take deep breaths to calm my nerves. I've created voices for the "characters" that speak throughout the essay. I've done all I can to make sure I'm ready for the big party tomorrow.

At 3PM I'll be joining a large group of fellow writers and their family and friends for the New Lines from the Old Line State pre-release party. Eight of us will be reading. We'll mingle, sign each other's advance copies and enjoy the excitement of seeing our work in print, bound together in a paperback book that smells like ink and glue. I may not be getting paid for this essay, but I have to admit that getting my work published in an actual book, getting the opportunity to promote the book and read my work at local events, is payment enough. What better way to get my name and face out there? What better way to learn how to read an essay without shaking like a leaf? I'm hoping that this publication is just one more step toward a bound collection all of my very own.

I have this dream that the book will magically find its way into the hands of an amazing agent who is looking for someone new to represent. She flips casually through the book and comes to the last piece and for whatever reason the title catches her eye. Since she has nothing to do for the next ten minutes, she begins to read. Fifteen minutes later, she has checked out my website and sent me an email asking to see more of my work. A week after that, we sit in a coffee shop downtown and she offers to represent me. Within months, I have a book deal from Simon & Schuster and am rabidly writing my collection of essays.

For now, I'm in really good company with a great group of poets, non-fiction and fiction writers from the Old Line State. If you'd like to check any of them out (or if you're an agent looking for some new clients) you can pre-order the anthology at Amazon or Target. We'll also be reading at the Baltimore Book Festival for the official book release on Sunday, September 28th from 5:15 - 7PM. If you're in the area, come on out and show us some love!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Images of Me

This meme has been floating around the internet for a long time and I finally got around to giving it a try. It was fun, and I'd love to play around with the Mosaic Maker some more using my own images. As for the meme, these are the questions and my answers:

What is your first name? Ami

What is your favourite food? Sushi

What high school did you attend? SHCS

What is your favorite color? Red

Who is your celebrity crush? Adam Sandler

Favourite drink? Diet Dr. Pepper

Dream vacation? Australia

Favourite dessert? Angel food cake with strawberries and whipped cream

What do you want to be when you grow up? Novelist

What do you love most in life? Love

One word to describe you? Nerd

Your Flikr name? smtwngrl

I did a Flikr's search for each of my answers, chose a picture from the first page of results and plugged them into the mosaic maker. This is what it produced:

1. Sea Power Glass Wall Wave, 2. Flickr Loves Sushi. Mmm., 3. P1030745, 4. Gizmo, 5. Adam Sandler and Nomar Garciaparra at the G2 Lounge, a hot spot at the Super Bowl XLII, 6. Diet Dr. Pepper girls, 7. Moonlight of Gold, 8. angel food cake from heaven, 9. Red Dawn Light, 10. llibreria - bookstore - Amsterdam - HDR, 11. Comics Addicted Chapter Two - Viciado em Quadrinhos Capítulo Dois, 12. Down on the farm

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

CSA Report - The Green Beans Have Arrived

I know that you were paying very close attention to my CSA report last week and you're thinking, "But there were green beans in last week's share. Is she losing her memory or what?" And since I know you're uber-concerned about this, I'll tell you that I do remember that 1.5 lbs of green beans from last week. I remember because I just finally got around to cooking them and making green bean and feta salad out of them tonight. After picking up six (yes, S.I.X.) lbs of green beans this week. What in the world will a single gal do with 6 lbs. of green beans, you ask? Why freeze them, of course. Admit it, you'll be jealous in January when I'm eating green beans from my CSA and you're buying Green Giant beans in a can.

Anyway, on to the report:

  • 6 lbs green beans (includes additional half-share)
  • 2 lbs chard (includes additional full-share)
  • 2 medium tomatoes and about 10 large grape-type tomatoes (2.25 lb)
  • 1 small and 1 large head garlic (includes additional full-share)
  • 2 small zucchini (1.5 lb)
  • 1 small yellow squash (.5 lb)
  • 1 medium cucumber (1 lb)
  • abt. 4 large stems basil
  • 2 sprigs oregano
  • 1 sprig sage
  • 2 sprigs mint
If anyone has any suggestions for using sage, I'd love to have them. I dried some of it to save for stuffings and the like in the fall, but I don't know what to do with fresh sage.

I'm looking forward to making a sauce or maybe a soup with my zucchini, squash, tomatoes, basil, and oregano, but if you can think of other recipes or dishes that I can use these foods in, I'm definitely looking for ways to change things up. I tend to get into a rut and make the same dishes over and over again, but I can't afford to get sick of these veggies. There are a lot more of them where these came from.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

I Fought the Gym and the Gym Won

Which I suppose means that I won, in the end, but we'll get to that.

I'm an inherently lazy person. Yes, I've just admitted that to the entire blogosphere and all of mankind. But it's true. I have to fight my natural tendency toward lethargy if I want to get anything done. Even the things that I love doing, like writing and decorating my house. Growing up, I was the kid who would rather lay around reading a book than be out riding my bike or running around playing with the other kids. Any activity had to have a clear and very high benefit to cost ratio. Walk a few blocks to get ice cream? Definitely. Run around tagging each other and rolling in the grass laughing about who caught whom? No thanks, I'll pass.

Because I can see this history clearly, it's not surprising to me that I battle my own will almost every time I decide to go to the gym. I go through phases where the gym is fun and exciting and the expected benefits (more energy, weight loss, firmer muscles, time to read my magazines or watch some cable television) easily outweigh the costs (90 - 120 precious minutes of my already packed days, buckets of sweat, getting up earlier or getting home later). More often than not, though, on days when I plan to go to the gym, I'm weighing the pros and cons from the moment I wake up until the moment I start up that treadmill or lift the first weight. It's me against the machine. Literally.

Take yesterday as an example:

I packed my gym bag in the morning and put it in my car, ready for a lunchtime or after work workout. At 10:45, my workout reminder popped up and I immediately dismissed it. I'll go after work, I thought. I'm too busy right now and I'm in a groove. In actuality, I was checking my email or some other nonsense, but my brain didn't care. It just needed an excuse.

At 3:30, when it was time to shut down and go home, er, to the gym, I got caught up in a conversation. By 3:45 I had convinced myself that it was now too late to go to the gym and I might as well go home and take a walk in the park. When I mentioned to a co-worker that this was my plan, she said, "I always say that, but then I never do it." I grudgingly agreed and said, out loud so that she could hold me to it, that I'd be going to the gym after all.

Walking to my car, I went over all the errands and task that needed to be done immediately. We're talking trips to the grocery store for things I didn't really need and household chores that I didn't get around to this weekend. Clearly emergency tasks that could. not. wait. As I approached the gym parking lot, I scrambled for more excuses, finally resorting to the "I just don't FEEL like it" tactic. I made it into a parking spot and turned off the car, but I was still bargaining with myself. It's so nice out. I really could take a walk when I get home. Right after I feed the cat, take out the trash, cook dinner, read my email... You see where that was going.

I pulled my gym bag out of the back seat and walked into the gym, handing over my membership card to the desk attendant. You'd think by this point I'd be resigned to the fact that I was going to get on a treadmill, but no. By the time I'd reached the locker room I had mentally inventoried my gym bag hoping I had forgotten some essential piece of gym wear. Alas, I had not.

While I changed, still fighting the pull of the cardio machines, I promised myself that I could do a short workout: just 20 minutes including a 5 minute warm-up and a 5 minute cool-down. That wouldn't be so bad.

As always, the minute I started up the treadmill and plugged in my headphones to watch Sandra Lee make some Semi-Homemade chocolate treats (oh, the irony that my favorite thing to watch while working out is the Food Network) I was fine. No more mental fights. I was happy to be there, sweating and breathing hard, and drooling over trail mix and scones.

All that fighting, and for what? I really, truly, enjoy my time at the gym once I'm there. It's getting there that seems to be the issue. And some days I'm not nearly so successful at fighting the anti-gym sentiment. I'm glad I did yesterday, though, because tonight I have way too many errands to run.

What? The gym can't win every time.

Friday, August 15, 2008

I've Had a Relapse

It's been a while since I've been on a binge. No, not a food binge (although I'm proud to say I haven't had one of those in a while either). I'm talking about an all-out book buying binge. Yes, I did it again.

It always starts so innocently. I get an email coupon for a deal I can't resist--this time When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris for $12.99--and I go to Barnes & Noble for this one item. But I come out with so much more. I grabbed the Sedaris book, and should have just left with the one. I had another coupon for an additional 15% off a single item, though, and how could I let that go to waste? I started looking around the clearance section and found The Girl Who Stopped Swimming by Joshilyn Jackson. It looked interesting, and I've heard really good things about her other books. It was only $4.98 and I figured it would look good sitting on my TBR shelf next to gods in Alabama and Between, Georgia, waiting to be read. (It just occurred to me that I purchased gods in Alabama for $5.98 during my last book spree. More than a year ago. And I still. Haven't. Read it. Ugh!)

Did I stop there? Take my deals and run with them? No. Of course not. I wandered around, looking for anything that seemed a must-have or that had been hanging out on my wish list for a while. That's when I spotted the Buy-2-Get-1-Free table. Piles of trade paperbacks just begging to be purchased. And there was Mercy by Jodi Picoult! I've been meaning to read more of her older novels so I picked it up and looked for a second and third to go with it. Oh! Songs of the Humpback Whale, too! Now I was really searching; the next one would be free, after all. They had My Sister's Keeper and Second Glance, but I've already read those. No more Jodi Picoult on the table, and nothing else was piquing my attention, so I laid down my two choices and started to walk away.

As I turned to head to the register, I noticed She's Come Undone, by Wally Lamb. While I've read it before, it was about eight years ago and I've been meaning to read it again. I quickly picked it up, stacking it on top of the two Picoults and the two books already in my arms, and mentally calculating the deal I was getting. Three paperbacks for $30 and two hardcovers for $17, minus my 10% member discount and an additional 15% off one of the paperbacks. A gift card that I've been holding onto for several months came in handy, and I managed to get out of there having spend only $20. At least this binge didn't put a huge hole in my budget.

Now I'm going to have to cut back on blog reading (and maybe posting), email checking, and television watching and start reading more books. If only I didn't have to go to work.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

CSA Report & the Pseudo-Foodie Experiments Pt. 3

First the CSA Stuff

Here come the veggies! Things are really picking up at the CSA and I'm starting to thing farmers' market trips will have to be limited. I'm going to have to control myself and stick to fruits and small amounts of a few special veggies (like tomatillos and corn) that I won't be getting from my CSA. This week I came home with:
  • 2 large tomatoes & 2 large Roma tomatoes (2.25 lb)
  • 1 lb green beans
  • 2 small cucumbers (1 lb, I think)
  • 1 head garlic
  • 1 head lettuce
  • 1 lb Swiss chard (includes additional 1/2 share)
  • 1 small bunch scallions
  • 1 medium zucchini (1.5 lb)
  • 1 pint blackberriees
  • 2 sprigs sage, 2 sprigs basil, 2 sprigs oregano
I also ran into another member who told me that I should plan to start getting overwhelmed by vegetables. She said they get a full share and last season her family of three had a really hard time eating everything. I guess I should start seriously preparing myself for some freezing and drying of vegetables in the near future. I've been putzing around with it a bit, drying my tomatoes, freezing some beans here and corn there, but it looks like I better start organizing the freezer for the onslaught to come.

And Then My Foodie Adventures

And speaking of tomatillos...(What? I mentioned them back there.) My most recent pseudo-foodie task was to turn those funny looking tomatillos that I got at the farmers' market into salsa verde. I'm a huge salsa fan and when I saw Tiffany's recipe for Salsa Verde Chicken, I knew I wanted to give this stuff a try. Since I was short on time, I looked for a recipe that I didn't have to cook and ended up basing my own recipe on a couple I found while searching my two favorite recipe sites: Allrecipes and Cooking Light. I'm sure there are many different versions of this salsa, but here's what I came up with:

Fresh and Simple Salsa Verde

8-9 tomatillos, papery skins removed, quartered
1/2 medium red onion, cut into thick wedges
1/2 cup cilantro leaves packed
1 4 oz. can chopped green chilies, undrained

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until well chopped and mixed.

One word: Delicious.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

OLS Week 11 & The Pseudo-Foodie Experiments Pt. 2

One Local SummerMy One Local Summer meal for Week 11 was inspired by a tomato sauce recipe in How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. I made an all-local pasta sauce of tomatoes, sautéed garlic, zucchini, and red peppers, basil and hot Italian sausage and served it over couscous. (Not the best picture, but take my word that it was really good.)

For a side dish (and as part of my pseudo-foodie experiments) I ate sliced heirloom tomatoes, sprinkled with purple basil from my garden and drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. I got two quarts of the tomatoes at the farmers' market on Sunday, each quart a mixture of interesting colors, shapes and sizes. I know none of their names, but they tasted oh-so-good. These pictures capture just a few of the varieties pre- and post-preparation. So far, some have been sweet, some tangy, some sweet and tangy. It's like a grab-bag of flavors (or a box of chocolates)--I never know what I'm going to get.

(Non-local ingredients: couscous, olive oil, vinegar)

Monday, August 11, 2008

OLS Week 10 & The Pseudo-Foodie Experiments Pt. 1

Before I get into all my foodie adventures, I managed to get my One Local Summer meal for Week 10 in just under the cut-off: a homemade pumpkin-zucchini muffin from Cat's Paw Organic Farm. I ate it for breakfast Sunday morning. I look forward to Cat's Paw muffins every Sunday. They're my weekend treat. I've tried every low-sugar, low-fat muffin they have--Lemon Blueberry, Nantucket, Morning Glory, Banana Honey Bran, to name a few--and each one has been better than the last. I only allow myself to buy one per visit because I know I'd be eating the huge muffins for breakfast every day if I didn't. And every week I resist buying her cookbook because I know I'd be tempted to make her delicious treats more often than necessary (or healthy).

My trip to the farmers' market this week also produced a lot of great finds: peaches, apricots and apples, tomatillos, miscellaneous heirloom tomatoes, plum tomatoes, white corn, yellow beans, an onion, two cucumbers, red bell peppers and a couple longer-type peppers in red and yellow. If I had been thinking clearly, I would have gotten cilantro, too.

With all that great food I had to figure out how to use and/or preserve it, so I've been playing foodie. Here's the first of my food experiments:

Making Jam

When I got home tonight, I found the apricots I bought to make freezer jam had ripened much faster than I expected. It looked like I'd have to make up the jam tonight before they got too soft and mushy. Thankfully, the process was super easy. I used the Ball Freezer Jam mix (you can get it in the canning aisle of your favorite store). To make the jam, just crush enough fruit to make 3 1/2 to 4 cups (depending on the type of fruit), mix the packet with 1 1/2 cups sugar (or Splenda), and then add the fruit to the sugar mixture and stir for three minutes. Easy-peasy. It made five 8-oz. containers (also purchased in the canning aisle). Four went straight in the freezer and one is in the refrigerator. I was going to do up my peaches, too, but I wanted to see how the apricot jam turned out first, because it doesn't seem to be as thick as I'd have liked. It's more like a sauce than a jam.

When I do the peaches, I might try using less fruit per pectin packet. I also used the Splenda baking blend and reduced the amount by 1/3, using just a 1/2 cup of the baking blend (1/2 cup of the baking blend = 1 cup sugar). It tasted plenty sweet and I can't imagine this reduction had anything to do with the thinness of the jam, but I might be wrong. I may also try the full sugar amount next time just to be sure.

"Sun"-drying Tomatoes

While at the farmers' market, I got a half-peck of plum tomatoes (about 25) for $3.50 (who says eating locally is more expensive?). I had planned to dry tomatoes last year when I attempted to grow them myself, but never got around to doing it partly because my plants were ruined by birds (and my inability to grow things) and partly because I didn't know what to do with them. I didn't want to dry them outside in the sun (too many opportunities for pests and stuff, yuck) and I didn't want to preserve them in oil (too much added fat for my tastes). So I did some more research and figured out I could dry tomatoes in my food dehydrator and then freeze them. At this time, I'm drying more than two dozen plum tomatoes. A few of them are finished, but the majority of them are going on their 12th hour of drying. I can't wait to use these tomatoes in sauces and dressings.

And that, my friends, was my first foray into the world of a foodie. Stay tuned for future chapters as I take on tomatillos and heirloom tomatoes.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Call Me a Copy-Cat

I'd like to say that Erin has once again inspired a change of style, but I'm starting to fear I've become the haircut copy-cat. Either way, I'm in love with another new 'do. (Please excuse the makeup-less appearance. And I had a really hard time getting a good face-on self portrait with the available lighting, so you don't get one. Trust me, though, it looks good.)

In other news this weekend:
  • I won $20 for Sephora and $10 for Target during the Bloggy Giveaway Carnival. Wahoo! Now, what to buy?
  • I saw Hancock last week with My Love. I know it got really bad reviews, but I actually enjoyed it.
  • I got the final word that Mexico in January is really on. I'm going to Mexico, people. Sun, sand and (gulp) beach. Must. Commence. Weight loss. NOW.
  • My skin is breaking out like crazy. At 32 I expect the occasional hormonal pimple, but my chin is starting to look like it did in my teens. Unacceptable. I'm afraid it may have something to do with my recent increased intake of carbohydrates.
  • I realized last week that I haven't eaten meat in weeks. How does that happen? It wasn't purposeful, but I think the plethora of veggies these days has usurped the presence of meat. I don't mind. My only concern is that I might not be getting enough protein. I see more fish and beans in my future.
  • My new favorite place is Panera. Did you know they have free wi-fi? And free refills on soda, coffee and tea? It's my new favorite place to go and write when I'm too distracted at home. (Or when I feel the need to be around other living, breathing human beings while I get some work done.) I also love their soup/salad combos. Yummy. This is NOT good for my budget.
  • It was an incredibly beautiful day today. The sun was shining and there was a nice breeze, not a single cloud in the sky. I actually took advantage of it and walked in the park this morning. It was 68 degrees at 9:30AM with practically no humidity. I'm not complaining, but that's a bit unseasonably cool for August 9th.
I hope you're all enjoying your weekend, too.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Another Week at the CSA

I know I've said similar things before, but it really is nice to be bringing home fresh fruit and veggies that are grown where I can actually watch them mature before they're picked. This week's pickup included:

  • 0.65 lb. Swiss chard
  • 1 head lettuce
  • 1 head garlic
  • 1 small bunch scallions
  • 0.9 lb. red potatoes
  • 0.9 lb. tomatoes (1 large)
  • 0.85 lb. zucchini (1 large)
  • 2 small beets (1 donated by an anonymous beet-hater)
  • 2 sprigs basil, 1 sprig sage, 2 sprigs oregano
  • a little more than a pint of blackberries
I got to pick my own blackberries again, and on my way to the patch I passed flowering zucchini plants (it was all I could do not to pick some of the blossoms for stuffing, frying, or stuffing and frying), ripening tomatoes, a raspberry patch, and various as-yet unidentifiable plants that haven't started producing their fruits. So much is still to come: cucumbers, peppers, beans, more berries, sweet potatoes, and yes, more kale. Each week I wait with bated breath to find out what I'll be taking home. And even when the haul is a little smaller than I expected, it's still exciting to put my bag of produce in my car and slowly drive past the fields where it all grew.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

All Over the Blogsphere

It seems I just can't help myself when the request for guest posts goes out. I can't stop volunteering. Last week there was my guest post for Confident Writing and this week I'm a guest blogger over at Crunchy Domestic Goddess. If you're interested in my journey toward local eating (as if you don't get enough of that here), feel free to head on over. A little comment love wouldn't hurt, either.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

The Return of Fiction

I've been reading a lot of non-fiction lately. First there were books on writing book proposals and on improving my freelance income, some of which I've finished, some I've set aside because I'm too busy actually working to read them. (I suppose that means I'm applying what I'm learning.) Then there was The Omnivore's Dilemma, which I finished this weekend after three months. I really enjoyed this book and I learned a lot of eye-opening (or eye re-opening in some cases) things about our American food culture, but non-fiction, however good, is just not the same as a good novel or story.

Non-fiction or fiction, I haven't touched a single book in my TBR Pile since April. I've been craving fiction, and the only way I've been able to feed that craving of late has been through some books on CD. I listened to Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman during my trip to visit my family. (Have you read this yet? I highly recommend it.) Love the One You're With by Emily Giffin came after that. And this week I've been listening to Swapping Lives by Jane Green in my car on the way to and from work. But I haven't had time to pick up a good novel or read some short stories, hold them in my hand and turn the pages of my imagination, without feeling guilty. It seemed there was always something else I should be doing. But last night, after an hour and a half working on a new essay, and thanks to Verizon failing me yet again so that I couldn't spend time reading blogs or my email, I picked a book off my shelves and spent an hour reading short stories from Ursula Hegi's collection, Hotel of the Saints.

Like an addict craving her fix, just the sight of the book cover, the feel of the pages between my fingers, made me giddy with anticipation. The smell of the paper and ink brought a smile to my face and I cozied up with the words. Ah...I've missed this, I thought as I immersed myself in the first story. Fiction--it's my vice.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

OLS Week 9 - Tomatoes Galore

One Local SummerI'm a little late getting this up, but I did actually eat a local meal this week, despite my inability to motivate myself to get creative in the kitchen. Last summer at this time I was coming up with new and exciting (although not always tasty) dishes that used up the plethora of vegetables I was bringing home from the markets. This year, I'm struggling to come up with anything appetizing that doesn't take more than an hour to make from refrigerator to table.

This week, I discovered the tomato sandwich. OK, I rediscovered it. I remembered eating BLTs with my family on hot summer evenings and I absolutely loved them. While I'm not a big bacon eater these days, just the thought of fresh-from-the-garden lettuce and tomatoes on soft bread with a little mayo and some salt and pepper makes my mouth water. I didn't have any bread on hand, so I pulled out the bread machine and whipped up a loaf of whole wheat bread.*

For lunch on Wednesday (and for a few other meals this week), I ate fresh tomato and lettuce sandwiches on homemade bread. The tomatoes came from a local farm stand, the lettuce from my CSA and the bread from my kitchen. For a side dish, I included some tomato wedges tossed with basil and a little salt and pepper. Easy. Local. Tasty. Perfect. (Non-local ingredients were mayo, salt and pepper.) In fact, I'm drooling right now thinking about them and might just have to start up the bread machine again.

I'm hoping I can make week 10 a bit more creative, but I'm not making any promises. There are plenty of tomatoes to be eaten, after all.

*Note about the bread: Most of the ingredients for the bread weren't local, but because they came out of my pantry and I made it in my house, I'm counting the bread local for this week.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

And the Winner is...

The official winner of the Writing: My Life book giveaway is commenter #22, Dani'! Congratulations to Dani'; I'll be sending out Animal, Vegetable, Miracle as soon as I get her mailing address.*

Thanks to everyone who visited and entered my giveaway. I hope you all found something you'll be interested in coming back regularly for. I always love "meeting" new readers.

Congratulations, again, to Dani'! I hope you enjoy Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and find it to be as inspiring as I did.

*Note: If Dani' does not respond to my email by 8AM on Tuesday, I will pick a new winner.

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