I started writing this blog back in October of 2008. I have loved every moment of it. I am so humbled and gratified that people have trusted me to answer their questions, to troubleshoot their baking challenges and to, on occasion anyway, make them laugh. As much as I want to deny it, I am a teacher at heart. Even running away to culinary school after 16 years in the classroom couldn't completely stamp out the teacher in me.
As a matter of fact, I started my website and blog while I was working in a professional kitchen. I didn't really think about it then, but now I know that my instinct to teach was trying to find a way to reassert itself, even as I was busy feeding happy customers.
And now, fast forward 2 1/2 years (ish), and I have written one post for every day of a calendar year. I've written about salt, about mixing methods, about garnishes, about pound cake in its many iterations. I've tried to convey to you, my friends and readers, that once you unlock the science behind baking and once you learn the techniques and methods necessary to bend your ingredients to your will, then you have won. You are smarter than yeast. You're smarter than flour and eggs and sugar. And fat. You're bigger than them, you have a fore brain and opposable thumbs. Use your tools, be confident in the knowledge that the worst that can happen is that the dog gets a Special Treat.
As much as I love being able to lasso my ingredients and make them do what I want to do, and teaching you how to do that, too, The Beloved and I have slowly started to come around to a new attitude about food. It's one that I heard the Statuesque and Intimidating Susan Powter espouse years and years ago on Some television show. She said that, unless your food looks like it did when it came out of the ground, it's not what you need to be eating.
This was about twenty years ago or so, and I can remember sitting there, trying to wrap my head around what she had said. I had visions of Wild Eyed Woody Harrelson pulling up beets, brushing them off on his worn-for-a-week designer jeans, and chomping down on them right in the middle of a field. And I wondered if, somewhere, there might be such a thing as a Bread Tree.
And then, I conveniently put all of that out of my mind. Part of me kinda-sorta-almost bought what the Imposing Ms. Powter was selling, but the rest of me just wanted ice cream. And bread and rice and potatoes and cake and bean dip and Doritos. And Cheez Doodles. Oh. My. God howIlovedaCheezDoodle. Doodles speak louder than sprouts, so I went on about the business of eating my starchy comfort foods. The only vegetables I would even speak to, let alone eat, were of the starchy variety. And the only green stuff I ate were peas and the occasional lima bean.
You see how I bare my soul to you guys?! It's because I trust you, and I think you trust me, too. So, let's continue with this little soul-baring exercise.
Fast forward a Very Long Time to just about a year ago. If you've been following me for awhile, you might recall that I read Jonathan Safran Foer's Eating Animals around that time. The Beloved and I also went on our first tour of the urban chicken coops in downtown Raleigh. Those two things really started us on the path towards vegetarianism, although we consider ourselves Compassionate Omnivores, eating mostly veggies, grains, legumes and fruits with humanely raised and slaughtered meats on occasion.
And then, just about three months ago or so, Something Else happened. Whenever I go to twitter, I go with the assumption that something that is on my screen when I log on will be useful to me; I'm supposed to see it. So, before I start checking my friends' streams, I read all the tweets that are on that screen. After all, I follow over 2000 people. There must be something in those 10 or so tweets that I'm supposed to see. Otherwise, I would've gone downstairs for a snack and missed it.
This particular time, I saw a tweet from @ChefFelisha, queen of sustainability, champion of real food, wonderful writer and friend. She was referencing a Very Silly Song about green smoothies. I had never heard of a green smoothie before, but since I trust Felisha, I clicked the link and was brought here:
I'll give you a moment. I certainly needed one.
Yes, the song is pretty god-awful, but Victoria sings it with such passion and conviction that I couldn't help but get a little sucked in by her enthusiasm. Again, I was operating on the premise that, since this was on my screen, I needed to see it. So I did a bunch of research, starting with Victoria's website. And, in an eerie, coincidence, the top that Victoria is wearing on the homepage? I have the same top!
I also looked at a bunch of other sites, and I decided that I was going to have to give green smoothies a shot. Of course, I needed to see what The Beloved was going to say about all this. He was his usual supportive, amazing self and said, "Why not?" or something along those lines. So, I hied myself to the store and stocked up on organic fruits and green leafies. And, friends, we did not proceed timidly with a bit of iceberg lettuce. Oh, no. We bought kale and chard and bok choy and all manner of Serious Greens.
We started having a big honking 16 oz green smoothie for breakfast every morning. My first one, I did not love So Much. Make that "at all." But the next day's was...better. And, day by day, they were easier to drink. And after a week, it seemed like I couldn't suck them down fast enough. At one point, I think I heard my body say, "Finally she's giving us what we need!" I'm less hungry now than I used to be. I'm pretty sure it's because I'm eating (drinking) something nutritious that my body craves, so once it gets what it needs, it kind of shuts up.
Now, this is the only change we decided to make to our diets. We never discussed any other changes, but as we continued to drink the smoothies, more and more we would wonder, "Why throw bad food on top of good? Why sit down and eat (and this is purely from me) a Vat of Pasta when you know it would be better for you to have some fresh fruit or some hummus and vegetables?"
A month into our Smoothie-ganza, the old blender gave up. I'm pretty sure that after years--Years!--of hanging out, only earning its keep making the odd frozen margarita, it was wondering what it had done wrong to be so Sorely and Intensively Used. And then he started to smell funny. So we put him away and told him that he was off the hook. And that is when we bought our Blendtec. Yup, the same kind of blender that coffee houses and Paneras and Jamba Juices all over the nation use to make their frappes and mocha-chola-chinos or whatever now lives in our house. And the only appliance not deathly afraid of her is the Viking Mixer.
Three months in, I sleep more deeply, awake more rested and generally have enough energy that I don't have to take a three hour nap every day. Seriously--a Three Hour Nap (cue Gilligan's Island theme). I started calling it a Half Night. Now, I take maybe a 45-minute nap once or twice a week. I used to literally pass out, and now my naps are fairly light. Yay, me!
So, while I still eat some Items that don't look like they did when they were growing, such as whole grain bread, some happy meat and the occasional (not everyday) plate (not vat) of pasta or rice, I really am sticking with alternating days of green smoothies and cottage cheese/flax oil/fruit smoothies for breakfast, and lots of vegetables, lightly cooked and not stewed to death.
Where does that leave dessert? As an Occasional treat. Do I still love to bake? Yes, but I'm not doing it as frequently. I love a yellow cake with a delicate crumb, but I doubt that all the super-refined ingredients are good for me. So, moderation is the new watch word around here.
And, because I'm talking about (and eating) way fewer desserts than I used to, I want my corner of the Hinternets to reflect what I'm doing and how I'm living. What can you expect from me from here on?
- more Sunday Supper-type posts
- more savory and fewer sweet recipes
- more reflections on living and eating with intent
- more cooking, rather than baking techniques
- more posts about healthy living, food-wise or not (but only if I know about them personally. I won't ever bother posting about something that I don't know anything about).
What will be the same?
- Of course, I will continue the mentoring sessions with Jasmine. Just because I'm not eating a lot of baked goods these days doesn't mean that I can't or don't want to teach others. By the way, as I post the sessions, all you'll need to do is mouse over The Mentoring Sessions Tab up top, and a magical nested menu of the sessions will appear. Just click on the one you want.
- My archives are still here, and searchable, as well as my Recipes page, so just because my main focus is changing doesn't mean that I'm wiping out all that came before. I'm a work-in-progress, not a Swap Meet.
- I will still be More Than Happy to answer any of your questions about baking and pastry.
- I will continue to post occasional PMAT Live! Videos, and I welcome your ideas for video topics.
- I shall still use Lots of Capital Letters. (I learned that from AA Milne, in case you were wondering).
- Occasionally, it will still be necessary for me to write about pound cake. Or pie.
Wow, so that was a Very Long Post. If you're still here, I hope you'll leave a comment letting me know whether you'll be following along with me on this journey towards my optimal health. I don't intend to preach, because your path might differ from mine, but I will let you in on all that I (and we) are doing to become healthier, happier people and also better citizens of the world and partners to each other.
Thank you so much for all of the conversations over the years, and I truly hope that they continue.
All the best, and until next time, Have a Lovely Day!