Eat, Pray and Live... a blog in three parts.... Part one Mangare!

I start this short series by admitting that I never completed Eat Pray Love and I haven't seen the film. I know how it ends, anyway. Life's to short to waste on bad books, and I hated this one! Elizabeth Whatshername lost me in Italy. I found it unreasonable that the beginning of the book focuses on not the break-up of her marriage, but the break-up of post-marriage lover.  Any person who anyone has seen When Harry Met Sally knows he is the "transitional person". Not the one. So I didn't understand the misplaced mourning of her post-marital lover. For me Elizabeth came off as selfish and whiny. As I read on my contempt grew.

So when she hit Italy and described how she was speaking idiomatic Italian after 3 months, I decided she was a complete hack! There are not many talents that I have, but if I were to admit to any, I'd say I have an ear for foreign languages. Even with some "gifts" in language acquisition, I'm the first to admit that learning a language requires hard work! Unless you are very lucky, vocabulary has to be memorized and then incorporated into authentic language. In other words, Rome wasn't built in a day, and Italian isn't learned in 3 months. Ask any exchange student! She's an unreliable witness.

So, although the blog may sound like an homage to Elizabeth, it totally is NOT! But I like the idea of Eat, Pray and Love - except I am changing the title slightly - lest I be sued for plagiarism (By the way: unlike her book and movie, I am not making 1 cent off this blog).

Fresh lettuce, tomatoes, apples, peaches and pears from Melick's

Part 1: EAT. 
Several of my friends are trying to lose weight - with mixed results. Some of them have not done any better than I have - others have done a bit too well. I want to lose weight too, but I realize that I love food. Food means so much to me - it is a tangible link I have to my mother, it is a daily comfort and joy, and it is a source of nourishment that we all need.

And it is a frustration. I am always eating.  I like good food. Today has been a great one so far for good food: I made a beautiful omelet with fresh peppers and mushrooms, then enjoyed chocolate that a friend brought from Israel... and I just got back from a wonderful afternoon picking fruit at Melicks. We picked apples, peaches and pears and I bought their tomatoes and lettuce. Now as I type this I'm eating a medley of freshly grown tomatoes in a little balsamic vinegar. Heaven! It continues: tonight my husband is making a rare treat (no pun intended) steak for dinner! His cooking is a big treat alone. Yum yum yum!

These are the types of things (sans chocolate and steak, but it was only a taste of chocolate) that I could live on and lose a ton of weight. If only I lived like this every day!

But I also love baked goods, and any sweets in the house have an exceptionally short shelf life. I want to cut that kind of eating - snacking on "empty calories". At 10 pm the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak, and before I know it, I've eaten 5 cookies. On Friday I had a half a dozen cookies for lunch! You should see me when I am visiting friends. I always stand by the food and I always eat everything!

I love healthy food. I love salads and fruits, salmon, chicken and all kinds of whole grains. Why can't I seem to cut cookies, snacks and those lovely salty chips? To keep me in check I use Fit Day to watch calories and I just discovered the CDC's site for looking at what caloric intake to meet your weight/weight goal.

In a few ways I am like my mother. She was a curly haired woman with dark eyes - much more beautiful than mine, alas - and she was good with languages too. We both loved cooking and we both loved food. She was a much better and more accomplished cook. Maybe that's why I love to eat?

So today - in my Eat segment of Eat, Pray, Live, I will share with you two of her recipes for you to try and share with your loved ones. They are both healthy (the first more than the second, but you can substitute whole wheat pasta and turkey instead of bacon) and both tried and true. Both can be altered to meet your own taste buds.  Manga!

In a blender:
1 1/2 cups (3-4 slices) of cubed toasted bread

1 tablespoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon cumin
3 tablespoons olive oil
1-4 cloves of garlic (I tend to use 4)
3 cups tomato juice - the bottom part if possible.

Then add  1 cup water
black pepper
Cayenne or Tabasco or chili
2-4 tablespoons vinegar
3 ice cubes
Blend and chill
Garnish: croutons, green peppers, cucumbers, onions, fresh tomatoes, cubed or diced... or whatever you have in the fridge.
(Note: when I make this I often put the garnish veggies in the blender in the beginning and have a bit on the side for people to add to taste.)

Spaghetti with pea pods

1/3 lb pea pods (remove stems and strings)
3 strips bacon or 3-4 slices boiled ham, cut in strips
1 small onion, chopped
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 Tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped or 1 tsp dried dried parsley
1 lb spaghetti
1 Tablespoon olive oil
Grated parmesan cheese

In saucepan cook onions and bacon or ham until onions are wilted and meat is crispy. Add sugar and parsley. Meanwhile, cook spaghetti in lots of water with 1 TBS salt and drizzle of oil. To saucepan add 1 cup water, pea pods, salt and pepper. Cover; bring to boil, then reduce heat and cook until pods are still a little crunchy, about 8 minutes. Combine with cooked spaghetti. Top with grated Italian cheese.


Anonymous said…
Thanks for the links to local businesses and attractions! We're new to the area so the suggestions are really helpful.
Poppet said…
I'm glad you enjoyed the suggestions. Since you are new to the area, please allow me to add the most important one for foodies: - by far the best local grocery store. They have everything - and a liquor store too, rare for grocery stores around here - and their quality is excellent. People say it is more expensive than competitors, but if you stay away from the fish counter, and buy your regular food there - you'll find their prices are very in line with competitors. Join their shoppers club program and buy their store brand stuff. It's generally really good.

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