To nourish your mind as well as your body

Anger and intolerance are the enemies of correct understanding.

-Mahatma Gandhi

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Shameless Self-Promotion: Critical Mass Performance Group

So, for a little taste of my life outside of the kitchen... I'm a member of a tremendously talented ensemble theatre group called Critical Mass Performance Group.

Critical Mass Performance Group is an ensemble committed to long-term collaborative development of new works, who believe in the transformative power of theatre that is about thought and energy and the human mark in time and space. We seek to extend the boundaries of traditional theatre forms with a rigorous process that focuses on a visceral and poetic meeting of text, idea, image, music and physical expression. Through the provocative enactment of stories, we aim to explore the big questions of human existence which reverberate socially, politically, and spiritually for us.

In our current project, we’re doing what we do best: picking up the shiny rock and examining what lurks underneath. In this work, we explore the connections and collisions of the original American ideals with Poland’s own centuries-long struggle for independence, revealing the complex relationship that has existed between our two countries since America’s founding—a relationship that continues to confound and amaze.

If you're interested in following us in our process, we post updates and photos regularly on Facebook. I also share a mass of little educational tidbits and quotes from our research on Twitter @criticalmasspg - these quotes won't just educate you, they'll make you sound really smart when you're talking to your friends and quoting from the TOP SECRET National Security Directives of 1982.

Hope to see your smiling faces there. After all,  you might as well feed your brain when you're feeding your tummy! Go on, have a peace!

Know What You Eat

The latest findings from the Environmental Working Group's study released in June list the twelve most pesticide-laden fruits and vegetables and the fifteen least affected by pesticide residues.

Most Contaminated Conventionally Grown Fruits and Veggies:
1. Apples
2. Celery
3. Strawberries
4. Peaches
5. Spinach
6. Nectarines (imported)
7. Grapes (imported)
8. Sweet bell peppers
9. Potatoes
10. Blueberries (domestic)
11. Lettuce
12. Kale/collard greens

Least Contaminated Conventionally Grown Fruits and Veggies:
1. Onions
2. Sweet corn
3. Pineapples
4. Avocado
5. Asparagus
6. Sweet peas
7. Mangoes
8. Eggplant
9. Cantaloupe (domestic)
10. Kiwifruit
11. Cabbage
12. Watermelon
13. Sweet potatoes
14. Grapefruit
15. Mushrooms

It is recommended by health professionals (and me) that you wash all veggies and fruits before you eat them or cook them. For the 'more contaminated' list, just make sure you wash much more thoroughly, preferably with a fruit/veggie 'cleanser', or buy organic. Actually, wash more thoroughly, even if you do buy organic. A lack of pesticides on those supposedly 'safe' organic fruits and vegetables can mean a host of other problems.

Don't be a afraid of your food. Just take the same amount of care with it as anything else. It's the fuel for your body. The safer you are on the inside, the safer you'll be on the outside. :) Go on. Have a peace.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Hearty Bison Stew

One of my favorite dishes I have ever had is one I experienced in North Pole, Alaska after meeting a man who's legal name is Kris Kringle. For a while, I thought that my morbid sense of humor had flavored the taste of the delectable reindeer stew house he directed us to, but having substituted the reindeer for bison, I can now unequivocally say that the stew is just delicious.

Hearty Bison Stew
(serves 6)

3lbs bison steak, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 medium white onion, chopped
6 shitake mushrooms
4 cloves garlic (more to taste)
3 fresh meaty tomatoes, chopped
1 16 oz bag peeled baby carrots
3 cups low sodium chicken stock
1 head cabbage, chopped to bite size pieces
olive oil
sea salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste

Season your cubed bison meat to taste with sea salt and pepper, then - using a deep skillet - brown the meat in a little olive oil over medium heat. Remove the browned meat from the pan and place directly into your crock pot.

Add your chopped onions and mushrooms to the meat drippings and oil in the skillet and cook until they are softened - takes about 5-10 minutes.

Pour the contents of the skillet into the crock pot with the meat. Then add carrots, tomatoes, chicken stock, and garlic. Season again to taste (personally I don't like much salt in my food, but for those who do, sparingly add enough until you're satisfied with the flavor of the broth).

Set your crock pot to 'slow cook' or 'low' for 6 hours. When you come back, add the cabbage and then cook it at the same temperature for another 1.5-2 hours.


Monday, August 1, 2011

Haiku for August

Green frog,
is your body also
freshly painted?

-Ryunosuke Akutagawa (1892-1927)

Moroccan Bison Tagine

If you haven't had Moroccan food, you've just got to try it. They do an amazing job of bringing sweet and spicy to mingle on the tongue. Pair this dish with hot mint tea for a more authentic experience. For all my world travel, I first discovered Moroccan cuisine at - wait for it - Epcot in Orlando. There, I had a dish called Chicken Bastilla, which forever gave me a hankering for sweet and spicy dessert flavored main dishes. Since then, I've made Chicken Bastilla twice - it's a complicated process. This tagine, however, only takes about an hour - and most of that is just letting it cook on its own without being bothered.

Now, a tagine (or tajine or tajin), for those who are curious, is named so for the special earthenware pot that this North African dish is typically cooked in. I do not have such a dish, so I used a large pot. However, the tajine pot is made entirely of clay and consists of two parts - a base unit that is flat  and circular with low sides and a large cone shaped cover that rests inside the base while the dish is cooking. The cover is designed that way to promote the return of all the steam condensation back into the bottom.

Moroccan Bison Tagine
(makes 4 servings)

3 lbs bison steak, cut into bite size cubes
4 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, diced
1/2 tsp Spanish saffron threads
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 cups dates, pitted
low sodium chicken stock
3/4 unsweetened coconut milk
~ 1/2 tbsp sea salt and fresh ground pepper, (more or less to taste)

Heat a large pot over medium heat and brown the bison meat in 3 tbsp of olive oil. When the meat is ready, use a slotted spoon to remove it to a plate for a little bit. Now, add the onions to the juices that have seeped out of the meat and cook for about 5 - 10 minutes. Until they're softened and a little brown. Now, add the bison back to the pot. Add the saffron, cinnamon stick, and ginger (the ginger is what makes this dish 'spicy', so if you like more of a kick, add some more here). Stir. Add the salt and pepper. Stir. Next, pour in your chicken stock until the contents of the pot are covered, stir the contents of the bowl so everything is all mixed up together, and let the mix simmer, covered, for 30 minutes. Add 3/4 cup of coconut milk to thicken the broth and then let simmer for another 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the ground cinnamon, test the broth and adjust the seasoning to your taste. You may need more salt or ginger to balance the cinnamon. Continue to simmer, uncovered, for another 10-15 minutes. Add the dates and cook for an additional 10 minutes. Serve hot.