Ah, summertime! After the longest winter ever recorded (in my mind, at least) we’re finally seeing some sunshine, warm temperatures, and most importantly of all some fresh produce. I’ve been taking full advantage of the plethora of leafy greens, juicy berries, and every other edible plant I can get my hands on. You might think this would mean you’d be seeing more blog posts detailing all of the fun things I’ve been doing with strawberries and spinach. Unfortunately, you would be wrong in that assumption, as summertime also means much more time spent at work and very limited free time. As much as I’d love to have a little more leisure time at my disposal, my summer schedule does force me to prioritize and to be much more efficient in order to squeeze in everything I want/need to accomplish during my day. And after too many slothful winter days spent curled up under a blanket, being uber-productive for awhile feels pretty good. Read the full post »
Posted by Katie (A Fork in Hand) on May 23, 2013
A few weeks ago, along with the rest of the northern hemisphere apparently, I set out on my annual spring cleanse. This year, more than ever before, it was so very needed. Our winter, like many of yours I’m sure, was cold, harsh and seemingly unending. Spring has been a terrible tease for the entire month it’s been around, giving us a few days of warmth and sunshine followed by a week or more of wind, freezing rain, and occasionally snow. And just to add insult to injury, I managed to catch the nasty late-winter virus that had been going around, the effects of which hung around for several weeks. All of this had left me feeling stagnant and drained, in body, mind, and spirit, and in desperate need of a system-wide reboot. As challenging as a week of restricted eating can be, I came away from the experience as I usual do: feeling lighter, energized, and with some fresh insights into my eating habits.
As you might expect, a week of eating not-a-whole-lot doesn’t usually leave me with much in the way of inspiring meals to write about. But all is not lost, as I do have a lovely, warming tisane to share with you today that I found to be just the thing to get me through the first few foggy-headed, stomach-growling days of my cleanse. This is a tonic that I often turn to when I’m feeling under the weather, but I find it’s also a beverage that is just perfect for the transitional time between the cold, harsh winds of winter and the balmy, sunshiny days of summer. It will help to stoke those digestive fires that may be smoldering a little low after a few months of heavy winter foods. And even better is that it’s one of those magical drinks that seems to cure whatever ails you whether it be stomach upset, headache, congestion, or fatigue. I’m a big proponent of food as medicine for countless reasons, and with “medicine” as tasty as this I think it’s easy to see why. If you need further convincing, check out the many benefits of the four simple ingredients I used here: Read the full post »
Posted by Katie (A Fork in Hand) on May 2, 2013
1 in 2 American children will receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits at some point during their lives.
Currently, 1 in 5 American children struggle with hunger.
I’ve spent a good portion of the past week reading about, researching, and thinking about hunger in America and these are the two statistics that I can’t seem to get out of my head. I live in one of the wealthiest nations on this planet, yet half of my country’s children will lack a basic human necessity for some part of their lives. I’m still having trouble wrapping my head around this.
I have been so fortunate thus far in my life to have always had my basic needs met many times over. I’ve lived on the east coast and the west coast, in the suburbs, the city, and the country and no matter where I settled I have always had access to nutritious food at a cost that was affordable to me. This is not the case for far too many of my fellow Americans; just shy of 50 million, to be exact. Even more upsetting is the fact that right now our Congress is proposing $135 billion cuts to the SNAP program (formerly known as the food stamp program), the very program that is helping the men, women, and children in these food insecure households. These cuts could eliminate between 9 and 13 million individuals from the program.
How have we gotten here? Well, there are a lot of factors at play: an unlivable minimum wage, unemployment, and agricultural subsidies that result in processed food costing less than fresh, wholesome food to name a few. But from my point of view, a large part of the problem is that there just aren’t enough of us who care anymore. Back in 1968, the film Hunger in America exposed the reality of children dying of starvation right here in our very own country. The resulting shock and outrage of the American people led to the creation and strengthening of the very same assistance programs so many people rely on today, and virtually wiped out hunger in this country. Unfortunately, somewhere along the line the outrage Americans felt over seeing extreme poverty and starvation in this wealthy nation turned to outrage against the hungry themselves for daring to use the government assistance programs that are funded by our tax dollars. Read the full post »
Posted by Katie (A Fork in Hand) on April 8, 2013
Several weeks ago I asked my mom to send me the recipe for my grandmother’s famous Easter eggs. My grandmom would make these delectable confections every year around this time, giving a giant tin of them to each of her children to share with their families. As far back as I can remember, I looked forward to those little eggs every year. Biting into one would reveal a snowy white coconut filling so sweet it could only be balanced by the shocking bitterness of straight up unsweetened chocolate. Even with all of the other Easter candy available to us as kids, those eggs were usually devoured pretty quickly once we got them home. Luckily for us, Grandmom had quite a bit more willpower than we did and also something of an obsession with freezing food so there were always a few extra batches hanging out in her chest freezer next to the ice cream, bread, and potato chips. Yeah, that’s right. Frozen potato chips. I was serious about that freezer obsession.
Mom came through for me with the recipe and here is the email I received back: Read the full post »
Posted by Katie (A Fork in Hand) on March 29, 2013
In my last post I was so excited about the spring-like weather that I promised I wouldn’t be posting any more winter meals this season. Well, as it turns out, the joke is on me because it’s snowing here once again. I’m sticking to my promise, however, so instead of yet another winter dish I’m giving you a winter cocktail! But first, a story. Let me tell you about the worst cocktail I’ve ever had: Read the full post »
Posted by Katie (A Fork in Hand) on March 16, 2013
It is my sincere hope that this will be the last winter meal I’ll be posting for a while. I know it’s only early March and we still have another two and a half months of potential snowfall around here, but I’m beginning to see some subtle signs of spring approaching. Even though there’d been a light snow falling for the better part of the past few days, only a mere dusting has stuck to the ground. The next week promises daytime temperatures in the 40′s, rather than the 20′s and 30′s of the past few months. And I’ve been craving springtime food: greens, tender young veggies, and just lighter fare overall. I’ve started adding salads back into my diet and I’ve even been blending up smoothies for breakfast once in a while, despite the fact that it’s still below freezing when I wake up most mornings. (This mint chocolate chip smoothie courtesy of Vegan Sparkles is one of my favorites at the moment.) Read the full post »
Posted by Katie (A Fork in Hand) on March 7, 2013
I was one of those few lucky teenagers who managed to find a group of kindred spirits with whom to spend my time. We were, to borrow a line from the movie Bridesmaids, a stone cold pack of weirdos, but we shared common values, philosophies, and interests in a way that I’ve come to realize is far from the norm in adult relationships, let alone those in the adolescent world. Although I no longer keep in touch with these individuals except in the loosest sense (i.e. Facebook), their influence on my life was enormous. The experiences, conversations, and adventures I had within these friendships largely shaped me into the person I am today.
Probably my favorite of our recurring adventures involved taking the train into Philadelphia. The purpose of these trips was generally twofold: to get out of the rather boring suburbs in which we all lived and to eat at the only vegan restaurant that any of us knew of. You see, while I had committed to a vegetarian diet in my mid-teens, I had a couple of friends who had already taken it a step further to veganism. Eating at a suburban restaurant as a vegetarian in the late 90s was difficult enough, but trying to find something vegan on the menu? Well, let’s just say I watched my friends eat way too many plates of french fries. But at “our” restaurant we all had an entire menu of food to choose from. No restrictions. No badgering the server to make sure there was no dairy or honey or chicken broth hiding in our entrees. Just ordering off a menu like normal teenagers. In a word: free. And it was this very freedom that made these trips so enjoyable and so memorable for me. It wasn’t, of course, just the freedom I found from being able to choose whatever I wished off of a menu. It was also the freedom I felt from leaving, even if for only a few hours, the town in which I had spent my entire life, the places I would always go, the things I always did. It was about having experiences and making discoveries on my own; relying a little less on the adults in my life and a little more on my peers. Becoming an adult. Read the full post »
Posted by Katie (A Fork in Hand) on February 19, 2013
Yesterday was our sweet baby girl Zoey’s birthday. She turned two. We had a wonderful day full of play time, yummy treats, and lots of love. We did have to cancel the run in the woods that we had originally planned due to the lake effect snow that pummeled us for most of the day, but I promised Zoey we’d reschedule for later in the week. Oh, and don’t worry; I haven’t been taking a toddler trail running in the middle of a central NY winter. Our little girl is of the furry, four-legged variety.
Being an only child, Zoey gets pretty spoiled. Not quite spoiled rotten, but pretty close. And one of my favorite ways to spoil her is to cook up some tasty dog treats for her to enjoy. I know, what a surprise! For an extra special day like a birthday, I like to make something that we can enjoy together as a family, because as much as Zoey loves her parsley and buckwheat “cookies”, Chris and I just don’t really share her enthusiasm. Fortunately for all of us, I’ve found this peanut butter swirled banana bread to be just the thing to satisfy both dog and human taste buds. Read the full post »
Posted by Katie (A Fork in Hand) on February 5, 2013
Last week we brought Christmas back for round 2. Our good friends spent the Christmas to New Years season
making us jealous vacationing in Florida, so we agreed to celebrate together a few weeks late rather than trying to squeeze it all in at the last minute. Although I was more than happy to see the backside of the holiday season this year, I must admit that it was nice to get together for a little belated holiday cheer. We shared copious amounts of delicious beer that our friends had brought back from the many breweries they had visited down south, snacked on olives and cheese, and exchanged gifts. It was a lovely evening spent with wonderful friends, and it served as a nice reminder that we really needn’t wait for the holidays to get together with friends and family, or even to give a thoughtful gift.
Thinking along these same lines, I’ve realized that gift-giving and merry-making aren’t the only things that only seem to make an appearance during the holidays. There are also several dishes that I only seem to cook during the holidays. Now, some of these only come out once a year or so for good reason. For instance, if I didn’t limit my chocolate bourbon pecan pie to Thanksgiving and Christmas it’s probably all I would eat for the rest of my life. However, there are also some dishes that, while certainly more than deserving of their place on the holiday table, would be more than welcome as part of a regular old dinner. One such dish is my Fancy Green Beans. Read the full post »
Posted by Katie (A Fork in Hand) on January 23, 2013
I may have mentioned this before, but I’m not exactly what you would call a winter person. From about as soon as I was old enough to no longer reap the benefits of snow days, I have dreaded the imminent arrival of the cold, the wind, and the snow. I dreaded it so much in fact, that upon finishing grad school in Boston I packed up and moved myself across the country, away from my family and friends, to sunny Sacramento, CA. Alas, I now find myself once again in the Great White North(east) but this time a little older, a little wiser, and with a slightly more positive outlook on the winter season. I still don’t care for winter sports, but I’ve adapted my preferred activities to the blustery weather (snow running, anyone?). I’m still annoyed to be stuck inside while the snow piles up outside my door, but I now appreciate the opportunity to slow life down just a bit after a non-stop summer and fall. And I definitely still lament the lack of fresh, juicy produce, but I love not worrying about heating up the house when I turn on the oven. But my favorite part about winter? The part that makes it all worthwhile?
Soup. Read the full post »
Posted by Katie (A Fork in Hand) on January 2, 2013