It Wouldn’t be Summer without Watermelon

When we were kids spending the summer in Atlanta, my father used to take my brother and I to the farmers market to load up the car with fresh peas by the basket (excellent for opening up and having pea fights, btw) and ears of corn by the bushel.  As part of our chores we had the task of shucking, shelling, or peeling vegetables for hours at a time out on the hot balcony, but were often rewarded with ice cream and movies or my favorite, Six Flags amusement park.  Then one day, knowing how much we liked them, Dad decided to surprise us with 13 whole watermelons.  Maybe he got them on sale – 12 for $1, with the thirteenth thrown in like a baker’s dozen – but after we lugged them inside, he lined them up on floor all along the hallway outside the kitchen and ordered, “You kids better eat them dang watermelons!”  Dad hated to waste money.  “Thirteen?!?!” I cried.  They were good and we slowly worked our way through them, but after that summer, I did not eat another piece of watermelon for about 22 years.  As much as I loved the sweet, juicy fruit, I was all watermelon-ed out.  Uh, uh.  Not crossing these lips.

Fast forward to the 1990s… I can’t remember if I was tired of avoiding certain fruit salads, or whether I read how beneficial it was for me on the Blood-Type Diet, but I bought a small container full on a whim at the bodega on 76th & York, and tried watermelon again for the first time since that long ago summer. “Mmmm.  It’s delicious!” I thought.  All on it’s own?  How did we ever put salt on it and ruin this pure sweetness?  I resolved the fruit had to come back into my list of summer favorites.

Since that auspicious day in New York, I’ve broadened my watermelon repertoire to include salads and salsas, as well as margaritas and juice drinks.  And although most of us only think of watermelon as being extremely, um, watery and aiding hydration, it turns out its benefits include anti-inflammatory properties and reducing body fat.  It also helps cardiovascular function and is rich in potassium.  Donc, with this catchy little tune running through my head and a quarter of a watermelon calling my name from the fridge, I had to make something quick and lovely to wash down my almond butter and quinoa cakes.  Thank you, Vitamix!  On this gray, rainy day in Paris, why not blend up a glass full of summer deliciousness?

watermelon cucumber overhead

Watermelon Cucumber Mint Juice

1/4 seedless watermelon (rind removed)
1/2 cucumber, peeled (seeds optional)
1/2 cup loosely packed mint leaves
1 lime, juiced
Superfood boost: 1/4 – 1/2 tsp matcha green tea powder (optional)

Combine all in a high-powered blender. Using tamper if necessary to get the flow going, blend from low to high till smooth. Strain through a mesh sieve into a large bowl using a rubber spatula to scrape sides. Transfer back into blender container to pour. Garnish with cucumber slice and mint.  Serves 2.

It’s so refreshing. Enjoy!

watermelon cucumber plate

watermelon cucumber smoothie

For kicks and giggles, anyone from the US of “a certain age” should remember the ’80s commercial ditty, ‘Summer Summer fruits… Just wouldn’t be summer without them’.  Hmm… Nectarines.  I think I’ll go buy some nectarines.   😉

À tout à l’heure…

 

 

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Eating Healthy on the Go

Flight attendants know every grocery store on every layover they’ve ever worked. Be it Sainsbury’s in London, the smallest bodega in São Paulo, or the closest Trader Joe’s in L.A., we know the perfect pasta sauce in Milan; the best beers in Belgium; plus the most delicious yogurt to buy in Paris (and every baguette, too). Our bags are teeming with enough food to get us through the most demanding flight and, often, a whole 3-day trip. And in the final moments on any given day on international flights returning into the United States, you’ll find us in the galley trading half an avocado for a cupful of cherries, or debating whether carrot sticks and lettuce are okay to bring in the country while stuffing our faces with forbidden fresh produce prior to entry on our way home.

Part of this behavior stems from the fact that we can only eat so much of the same airplane food day after day, trip after trip, and let’s face it: airport food courts don’t offer the healthiest choices. Another issue is that our companies don’t provide us with crew meals, except on long haul legs of over ten hours flying time. We are only entitled (eye roll) to eat what is left over after serving all our passengers. On dinner flights that can leave us with one dried up chicken breast to split between eleven crewmembers… or nothing at all if you’ve gone vegan, like me, and are caught out unprepared.

If you’ve read my blog before you may know I live in Paris, but I worked in New York. Then, to make life more complicated and because I’m sadistic crazy adventurous and missed Hawaii, I transferred to the west coast in March, so now I commute 11 hours by airplane to start or end my workday. That’s right. Some people get on the I-405. I get on an airplane for an insanely long time from Charles de Gaulle to Los Angeles, and in the hours before any given flight I’m always in a panic as to whether or not I’ll have enough food. Vegans eat a lot!

So in an ongoing dialog with one of my coworkers, she asked me to lay out a method to my madness. A means to sustain myself while on the go. Inspiration, perhaps, for her to incorporate more the vegan choices into her own lifestyle? One can hope. 😉

The easiest thing I tell her to do is to make friends with the produce department at her local store. Though Bridget and I both advocate organic, sustainable fruits and vegetables, many mainstream grocers like Ralph’s or Vons carry more and more organic produce than ever. While buying exclusively organic foods is not always conducive to keeping a low budget or for times when Whole Foods may not be within walking distance, get familiar with what’s recommended on diagrams like The Clean Fifteen.

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Fortunately these days, most stores carry several types of pre-washed, organic salad greens in bags that, when opened carefully, also double as a convenient bowl for eating on the go. Again, relax… Not everything has to be organic. Avocados and pre-cut pineapple chunks, for example, are perfectly safe additions to jazz up an otherwise boring salad or to enjoy as a sweet treat, and you’ll intake some healthy fats and vitamin C in the process. Add some packaged herbs, like basil or cilantro (coriander), as many of these are hydroponically grown and are generally free of pesticides. These dark, leafy greens have wonderful medicinal properties to aid digestion and bring sparkle to the palate. Always keep in mind it’s best to get ANY veggies in you than none at all.

In my lunch tote today you’ll find bananas (nature’s fast food on a stick), melon, quinoa cakes, almond butter, salad wraps, sugar snap peas (which I had to scarf before exiting Kauai), lentil chips, and lentil dip. And I’m almost never without the ubiquitous nuts and berries, a few raw protein bars, plus the ever-present dark chocolate. Okay, granted some of the items are cooked foods, but I don’t beat myself up over not eating 100% raw when I’m still getting great nutrition. It’s all about maintaining a healthy balance. At the next stop or as soon as I’m home, I load up on greens.

 

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Emergency rations

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Fantastic fruit plate

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In-room salad from the produce department at Waitrose in London. (Yes, I ate it all.)

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Cherries, pre-cut coconut, and dates. Dessert!

How healthy is this, you may ask? Well, I’m proud to say that I recently had my blood work done by a holistic DO, and save for a deficiency in vitamin D – most likely due to living in a northern climate and being cooped up in airplanes – my test results came back with stellar numbers. Since practicing this whole foods, plant-based diet, I have never felt better, cleaner, or lighter. As someone who used to live off 5-hr Energy Drinks and coffee, I no longer have the need or desire to drink either, because I get so much natural energy from foods that thrive in the sun. And by substituting dates or maple syrup as sweeteners, I killed the beastly cravings and eliminated processed sugar, too. The day I woke up and threw away all of the sugar in my cabinet was a day I felt empowered to take on anything. Now I can walk past the best patisserie and not want a thing. Oh, and I never get sick. It’s liberating to feel so amazing and know that it’s real because I’m in control of my health.

The beauty of all this is that you can achieve this same health, this same glow, with a commitment to yourself and a little dedication to honoring all that you can be. Contrary to the myth that “vegan is hard” or expensive or even extreme, it’s totally doable and the benefits far outweigh a daily regiment of doctor appointments and pricey pharmaceuticals. If I made it work on a ridiculously abnormal schedule where my body doesn’t know day from night or night from day, so can you. Using these tips I describe above, small improvements add up to big change. Remember, you are worth it. Get busy living and live life deliciously!

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with nor do I receive compensation for any of the products mentioned or shown in this post. All photographs except The Clean Fifteen graphic were taken by me and you have my permission to share them. Please eat healthy and spread the word.

À tout à l’heure…

A Tough Day to be a Flight Attendant

Aircraft wing shot over Oahu
Aloha Oahu

I Am a flight attendant.  Although I work for a legacy carrier in United States and a terrible incident occurred today in the skies above the Ukraine, I and my fellow crew members worldwide are part of a family.  When one of us is lost through tragedy, the pain is felt in us all and words cannot express our sorrow and anger.

My heart and light goes out to my colleagues and the souls who left us on Malaysia flight 17 and are on their way home. May they return soon and help us bring Heaven back to Earth.  Peace be with them.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-28354856

Candle heart

À tout à l’heure…

 

 

We Are Connected: What I learned from the science geeks

fibonnaci collage-spirals

I’ve been hanging out with some amazing humans online who are much more knowledgeable than me when it comes to that science-y stuff.  I’m the artist who uses photos, culinary skills, and words to express my creativity.  These guys (and fierce ladies) use numbers and quantum physics.  More specifically, Fibonacci numbers, platonic solids; the golden ratio and sacred geometry.  Thanks to books like The Da Vinci Code, I’d at least heard of Fibonacci numbers and even read up on them once, but it wasn’t till I saw a similar graphic like the one above that I was officially *mind blown*.  What can I say?  I’m a late bloomer.  Suddenly, what seemed like a boring, university-level math equation, became well, a universal truth begging me to discover its deeper philosophical mysteries.

Who Are We?  Where do we come from and why are we so similar to the leaves, flowers and the very storms that whip up the dust from which we were told we were created?

The eternal question, “Who Am I?”, has nagged us since the dawn of time (which is an illusion, btw).

The answer which lay before us all along, my friends, was that We Are One.

Examples of sacred geometry in nature
Fibonacci spiral – the natural order of things

We Are One with the stars, the Universe and everything in between… our DNA code swirling in an ancient dance than the oldest of the cosmos.  Endless in variety and complexity, we share a mathematical connectedness to the simplest flower.  We harmonize with great musical symphonies and every unborn fetus unfurling in the womb.  No one escapes it and to deny it invites a dis-connectedness, a dis-harmony that invites dis-ease into our systems.  Man has no right to claim dominion over earth, because Man is OF the earth.  To cause damage only harms the fiber of our being and that which sustains and nurtures us.

The day we band together and look deep into our hearts and minds and hear its calling, is the day our collective consciousness will wake up and sing.  There will be no need for fighting, because we would be fighting ourselves.  There will be no hunger, because we could not bear for our brothers and sisters to starve.  We will be good stewards of the land, because without a healthy environment, we are vulnerable and helpless.  We will know the truth that all life is intertwined.

We Are mere parts of a whole, dancing and swirling in the wind with the trees and the flowers and the storms.  We Are connected.

For a non science-y explanation on this ingenious study, please watch this brief video by Matthew Cross. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0tAZe6pP-FM

Fibonacci Spiral in art

Till next time.

À tout à l’heure…

The Path to Enlightenment: Dark Nights Lead to Beautiful Sunrises

Why is it that the darkest nights of our existence seem to surround the loss of a cherished loved one?

War is filled with unimaginable horror.  Financial ruin is laced with despair.  Famine.  Homelessness.  Our Human condition is rife with struggle and difficulty.

But take any of the above and replace it with the sudden departure of someone you love deeply – a partner, a child – and life becomes hopeless.  Whether it’s through death or indifference, each passing moment feels like an eternity where an endless dialog loops through your mind: Why? How could this happen? How do I move on?

Are we nothing without this connection?  Heart to heart.  Soul to soul… Amor vingit omnia.  Love conquers all.

Love conquers.  Love does not destroy.

not until we are lost do we find ourselves

My darkest nights began not when my body was broken by a car “accident” or when issues stemming from strained relationships with both my mother and my father seemed to choke me.  I survived financial bankruptcy, multiple jobs and home relocations, and adjusted accordingly.  No.  The dark nights began when I “accidentally” discovered the love of my life might be gay.

I was in love.  The kind of love that made angels fly and birds sing when he walked near.  The kind that made my heart skip a beat and had me call a friend to declare, “I’m done looking!” after we first spoke.  This was the man I wanted to settled down with, build a life and have children with. Just like Jerry McGuire declared, “He completed me.” He made me laugh.  He was sympathetic when I cried.  And we told each other everything, or so I thought.

“M” and I met on the 07:39 train to Stamford, CT on the Metro North from Harlem in New York.  Every weekday morning, we’d show up to ride in the same car, hoping to get seats, but often standing next to each other at the door.  Once in Stamford, it was ritual to wait in line for our coffees at Dunkin Donuts in the Stamford station.  My work days were much longer, so I began to look forward to the morning commutes whenever this ray of sunshine appeared on the platform.  He vanished after a month of nothing more than eye contact and I kicked myself for not at least saying “Hello.”  Eventually, I began to forget about him, but the commutes felt empty.

Then one day, this Adonis reappeared, all smiles, and gave me an awkward “Hey” as he left the coffee line on his way to the office.  The next morning, M asked me out to lunch but, because of my grueling schedule, the lunch date moved to drinks on Friday.  Drinks turned into dinner.  Dinner turned into a long weekend and the deal was sealed.  We were both hooked, or so I thought.

Fast forward to Dublin, Ireland.

Due to M’s Stamford boss being unable to extend a work visa to my Dutch boyfriend, and us not quite being ready for marriage, M took a sweet job with Google (Google!) and Google took him to Dublin.  For the sake of Love and my desire to make the relationship work at all costs, I quit my executive assistant job in Connecticut and returned full-time to work with the airline, becoming a transatlantic commuter instead of one on a simple train, waiting for the day we would finally marry.

A few months in to our Dublin life, I flew in one morning and was greeted with nothing more than a sleepy hug.  After breakfast at our favorite spot, M went to work and I went home to use the computer.  Our bid requests were due at the airline and I often used his desktop computer rather than drag my laptop from New York.  As I typed in “Jetnet.aa…” the Windows history automatically kicked in and the address line read “homo.nl/christian/brandon/…”  You name it.  On and on.  Name after name.  Line after line.  Boy names.  My breath absolutely left me.

“Well, that explains everything,” I sighed, as my chest fell and my heart sank.

In hindsight, I could say that our troubles began long before Dublin, when we shifted from that honeymoon phase to one where M had a headache… or it was a “school” night… the big presentation the next day made him nervous… or he was just plain tired.  Days without intimacy turned into weeks.  And when there was intimacy, what once felt deeply connected became mechanical and emotionless.  Once, at the suggestion he get checked out by a doctor, he was found to be fine.

“Do you like having sex?” I worked up the nerve to ask him one day, walking down West 86th St.

If you think you know where I’m going with this, you’d be right.  I asked but there was still an excuse for everything and he assured me all would come to pass.  But things didn’t pass.  Not in New York, and certainly not in Dublin.  I questioned everything I ever knew about myself, about our relationship.  The irony of it was that M was me, ten years earlier (there’s another blog post for you) and I still had not seen the signs or ignored them altogether.  What did this say about my own character and the ability to judge what was best for me?  Did he plant this for me to see rather than break up with me?  Was there something I could have done better or different?  How could I have been so wrong?

I sat on it stewed all day, waiting for him to come home from work in the evening when I confronted him.  To say it ended badly and I was devastated is an understatement.  I had never even told M that I loved him until that night.  We’d never exchanged the words because he told me Love didn’t need to be expressed in words.  It should be shown in deeds and I believed him.  I trusted him. Now, the possibility of Love seemed unobtainable and although he confessed he never acted upon his thoughts of homosexuality, he could be making the greatest mistake of his life by letting me go.  We talked and talked about things we should have said months earlier with no resolution. Heartbroken and knowing it was a decision he could only make for himself, I went out into the night and walked the cold, rainy streets of Dublin for hours, unable to go home, unable to seek shelter and face the hundreds of revelers in the crowded pubs on Friday night.  My phone rang and rang.  It was M, worried, but I couldn’t pick up.  A homeless street punk hurled some choice bigoted words at me. I swerved and raised my fist to punch him, then shouted at him like I’d never shouted before, everything coming out of me at once.  He cowered and apologized and still, I walked until I was empty of emotion.  A cabbie stopped and offered to take me home to get me out of the weather.  I felt like a drowned rat but I was frozen inside.  Hours passed before I resigned myself to go back to the flat where I collapsed, unable to speak to my former lover.  Two days later and with barely a word between us, I left.

That was the beginning of the dark period.  I literally laid in the dark in (our) Harlem apartment for six days, crying my eyeballs out, listening to Chicane’s ‘No Ordinary Morning’, telling no one of my shame before I had to put myself together well enough appear at work.  Depression set in so when I returned to flying, I tried to work it out of me by putting in an obscene amount of hours.  Periodically, I broke into fits of tears on the plane and locked myself in the lavatory. One crew member who noticed my behavior that was completely out of character was especially kind. (Thank you, DZ.)  I kept telling myself I just needed some time off. I needed a break and then everything would be okay.  Well, I’d broken my foot early in my relationship with M, and soon I broke it again.  Two months off to think.  While home, I picked up books I’d never had time to read and one altered my entire perception: ‘Alchemy of the Spirit’ by Kryon, as channeled by Lee Carroll.  I felt as if Kryon spoke directly to me and knew me for who I was, and I began to feel hope and Love.

This time when I went back to work, I changed my habitual route from London to Paris because everything there reminded me of times I’d shared with M.  I allowed myself to have fun again and met a sort of okay French guy who took my mind off my life, but he frustrated me to no end and rather than break up with him to free myself, I slipped and shattered my wrist on ice.  Four more months off work to think!  Who was I to fathom old habits changed so easily? This time, between marathon episodes of ‘Clean House’ and ‘What Not to Wear’, I dove into all matters of consciousness, ended things with Pepe le Pew, and cleaned up my spiritual house.

I’ve since come to believe the truly lucky ones get to encounter the Dark Night of the Soul through Love.  Love being the one true emotion to its opposite of Fear, it is Love we are afraid to lose.  It is the lack of Love that makes us feel incomplete.  It is Fear that has us believe we will never love again or that we are unworthy of Love and Love will never return.  The Truth is, we are loved beyond measure from a place most of us can only dream of because it does not exist in concrete form.  The higher realms of consciousness where your purest Self dwells wants you to know the relative insignificance of Love from another until you have absolutely, without a doubt learned the significance of loving your Self.

Do you love yourself?  How many can honestly say that?  Allow me to rephrase it.  Do you love your Self?  All of you.  I’m not just talking about your hair or car, or your job and the great physical condition that you may be in.  I’m asking about the pain, hurt, addictions and insecurity.  To have a life sprinkled with the latter is a life lived, my friend.  A life filled with great stories to tell… the kind where the trout becomes the whale of a fish you caught in the eye of the storm when the boat pitched to and fro, and you didn’t have any help, so you reached over and grabbed that monster and pulled it on deck with your bare hands kind of story!  And you survived.

Now this time, imagine yourself outside that same boat, pitching to and fro in this enormous perfect storm, only the fish that turned into the whale is a metaphor for your Self, flailing away and drowning in a sea of Fear and despair.  Monsters of life swim around like sharks… that boy or girl you love lurks, ready to chomp your very heart to bits; your partner swims away without remorse; your child gets carried ever farther away by rip currents, never to be seen again.  You struggle but you don’t see the point.  You want to swallow water and drown.  And then, and THEN a magical light appears in the boat.  It is your Highest Self calling out to you to catch the life ring it sends out to rescue you.  Beautiful light surrounds this crystalline creature and you realize that is the light of pure Love.  Suddenly, as you grab the ring and place it around you, you see that you are this pure, crystalline being, too.  The ring is glowing pink from the energy of this Love and surrounds you with peace and the all-knowing that everything will be okay.  As your Highest Self slowly reels you in to safety, the storm dissipates until there is nothing but calm sea and blue sky as He gently lifts you to safety aboard a magnificent cruise ship.

The two of you sit down at a table nearby and drinks of the cleanest, freshest water are set down before you.  As you take in the water, you’ve never felt more comfortable with another Human and want to share all your previous troubles with your Highest Self, but He assures you he’s heard it all before and winks.  “Drink and be refreshed,” He offers, and your cares dissolve with each sip.  As if the water is infused with pure Love energy itself, you begin to see your life before you as your new friend smiles on.  You see your journey, from birth through childhood struggles, high school trauma, family drama, and beyond.  You have a window on that first, perfect love mate and the life you built for yourself based on what you knew to be true at the time.  You may even note the life you once held was not your own, but that of what others around you dictated you should have based on their own experiences and expectations.  And then you get to the part where all hope was ripped away from you and you found yourself struggling in that sea.

“Finish the glass,” your Highest Self says lovingly, while gazing as if He can see into your very Soul.

As you tip the glass toward you, you notice it is no longer filled with the same water, but now contains the brightest, most colorful juice you’ve ever tasted.  This is no ordinary juice.  It is shining like the brightest rainbow and sparkles in the light radiating from you and your friend.  And as you drink this time, you see a life filled with rich experiences, none of which would have been possible without having swam through that sea that existed before this moment.  You understand that all the hurt, pain, and anguish; the FEAR were all always encircled by that same pink glow of Love, like the one in the life ring.  You feel grateful that all that ever happened before brought you to this very moment, otherwise you may not have ever met this wonderful side of you that loves you beyond all measure.  Knowingly, He nods and it is you who smiles in return.

“Let’s order new drinks, shall we?”

The two of you sit for a while on the bow of that ship, cruising along a crystalline sea that appears as magical and divine as you and your own true Self chat until you integrate with one another.  The life once lived served its purpose to bring you to the place where you found your Self, the one that loves you and wishes you to understand there is no reason to look for validation with Love from another.  Love was within you all the time.  Now you can lift your glass and toast to a new beginning.

I Am Love.  I Am.

Free from the past, confident in your future, it is you who commands the ship now. Onward.  Across the sea of Love and enlightenment.

I hope this helps.

A tout à l’heure….

Les Champignons de Paris

Champignons de Paris at Bio C'Bon
Les champignons de Paris at Bio C’Bon

A few months ago through the magic of Facebook, I read a story about a little appreciated gem in the organic food bins of Paris. Les champignons de Paris, to be more specific.

A cross between ordinary button mushrooms and porcini, these fungi are grown in old limestone mines deep within some of the abandoned Métro tunnels on the fringes of the city and are readily available throughout the year, thanks to the mushroom farmers who maintain the tradition.  The problem is, there are only about six growers left, according to the article, yet to my happy surprise one day I realized the bin in my local Bio C’Bon organic grocer was labeled ‘Champignon de Paris’.  Was it a marketing trick or were these the real deal?  Hmm… The label on the box reads their origin is Périgord, from the Aquitaine region of south central France, not exactly from the spooky catacombs of City of Light.  But did it matter when the mystique was so tempting?  I had to find out, so in the basket they went.

Champignons de Paris
Champignons de Paris

Searching for a recipe to showcase my treasures, I settled upon one inspired by Giada De Laurentiis’s citrusy mushroom salad. Using ingredients available year-round, I like the lift that lemon gives in winter. During hot summer months, I find the celery especially cooling, and the salty character of celery makes a refreshing vegan replacement for the parmesan cheese called for in the original recipe. Fresh and fragrant basil lends an earthy note.  Overall, the texture and crunch make a great combination.

If you can find celery in the shops with leaves attached, you’re so lucky!! You’ll be able to enjoy an intense flavor of the vegetable, which compliments the mushrooms without overwhelming them. Plus, you’ll enjoy its wonderful cleansing properties, which help to flush the system of toxins while aiding digestion, and the lemon juice will alkalize your blood and bring your body into balance.

I do not receive any endorsements for recommending a product, but unless you possess the knife skills of a Ninja, consider investing in a simple, Japanese mandoline to make the job go much easier and infinitely faster.  Just please, please, please mind your fingers! Mushrooms are a bit too small to use with the plastic guard that comes with the mandoline and Kevlar gloves aren’t quite practical for the job.  The bulbs whittle down quickly and could leave you in for a shock unless you’re careful, but the fine slices are worth the effort.

Champignons de Paris - salad bowl
Champignons de Paris – into the salad bowl

 MUSHROOM CELERY SALAD

  • 1 lb fresh mushrooms (button or a mix of button and cremini mushrooms), stemmed, cleaned and sliced very thin
  • 1/2 Cup celery, tops reserved (optional), sliced very thin
  • 2-3 T parsley, chopped
  • 2-3 T basil leaves, julienned
  • celery leaves, chopped (optional)
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1/4 Cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • sea salt, cracked pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients except lemon juice and olive oil in a medium salad bowl.  Toss to combine.  Pour on the juice and oil, season, and continue to toss until all ingredients are well incorporated.  The acid in the lemon juice will begin to break down the greens, so consume as soon after mixing as possible.  (You can also leave the prepared vegetables ready in the bowl, as shown above, and wait to combine with the oil and juice at the last minute before serving.)

Excellent when served with a simple grain, like the baguette Giada suggests, or keep it gluten-free and use as an accompaniment to cooked quinoa.

Good and good for you, I think this simple but delicious salad is just about perfect.

Champignons de Paris - salad toss
Champignons de Paris – salad toss

 

Champignons de Paris - dinner
Champignons de Paris – dinner is served

Let’s eat! Bon appetit!

À tout à l’heure…

Because it’s Father’s Day

It’s Monday where I am, but still Sunday in Hawaii, and therefor still a national holiday, so please bear with me.

After looking at so many photos from others online today, in the closing hours of Father’s Day, I searched but found I have only 3 good pictures of my father. The first (below) is from a time before I was born. The second is from a crazy, emotionally draining summer. And the third is from when he was so old and we were so estranged, we barely knew each other. So taking a cue from the song by The Script I posted on facebook earlier, and from MJ and BN… I wonder what my dad would see if he could take a look at me now.

My mom left her marriage when I was five and took my brother and me with her. I grew up in her house, not my father’s. He was the fun dad. The summer dad. The one who showed up with a girlfriend or a new wife and a new set of step-kids, and took my brother and I away to give my mom a break. He was the father I never saw during the school year, or shared any birthdays or holidays. The father I told my 5th grade school friends was dead. (I got busted when one of them saw him pick us up next summer.) Maybe I thought of him as dead, but when I was the one in the hospital and near death at 21, having not seen him for seven years, he showed up at my bedside (with yet another wife) and told me, “If you eat, you get out of here.” So eat, I did. Slowly but surely, I got out of the hospital, but once my recovery was certain, he disappeared, alienating me once again.

Though once daddy’s little girl, years later, it didn’t stop him from saying some horrific things to me which still bring tears to my eyes. I learned my dad cut me out because he was hurt after my parents’ divorce. You see, he initially thought I wasn’t his child. (Sorry to air that Mom, but we know the Truth.) My mom said he could charm the skin off the snake. He lied to me. He manipulated me. I felt I had to be the good daughter and help him when he needed it, but I did not like him. When I learned of his death, I cried for the father I didn’t have, not for the one I had.

What would he say if he could see me now? I’ve grown from the child into a woman. I’ve traveled the world and gone on wonderful adventures I’m sure he would’ve loved. I’ve made countless friends and, knowing nothing but change, had many lovers. (I guess that apple didn’t fall too far from the tree!) I’ve lived as fearlessly as I could, and am independent to a fault. Apparently, I have my father’s no-nonsense approach and my family tells me, “You’re just like him!”

I’m not angry anymore. And though I once was, I’m no longer resentful of the relationships he had with my siblings and nieces. You see, we can only work with the tools that are given us. We can either live by the sword or die by the sword…. Change tools, learn new skills, and build the future you wish to have. It’s never too late to learn love and forgiveness.

When one day I’m blessed to have a family of my own I will take these lessons to heart and raise my children to know the greatest bond we can share is with each other. Though they will never know my father, I pray that the man who is theirs will love them, unconditionally, and nurture a lifelong relationship with them. Together, we can transmute the old Karma and begin anew, with smiles, with laughter, and with Love. And then, may Ed Kennedy smile down upon us and repeat, “I told you, I didn’t raise no dummies.”

Happy Father’s Day, Dad. We’ll give each other a great big old pat on the back when we see each other the next time. Don’t flirt with any lady ghosts, ok?

Me and Dad
Me and Dad

Peace and Love.  

À tout à l’heure…