I just love the farmers market during Summer.  This is not my fave season, although if you have friends with a beach house — as it turns out I do —  life is certainly greatly improved.  But, goodness, the market is lush with fruits and vegetables for the most healthful cooking.  And, living.

Of course, we are in the middle of peach season – yummy.  Eaten in the hand, or sliced into whole grain cereal and a dash of nutmeg, or macerated in cognac with a scrape of vanilla bean.  And, that’s if you aren’t going to cook cobblers, pies, crumbles.

Summer Wonders

Summer Wonders

This weekend, at the Union Square greenmarket in Manhattan, I happened upon the cutest little tomatoes.  Larger than cherries, smaller than standard.  With a deep orange/red color and topped with a dash of burgundy.  Wonderful.  I cut them up and added them to my sautéed fairytale eggplants, with some roast chicken.  And a crumble of James Brown blue cheese from the Cato Corner farm.

I would show you that dish, but gee, it seems to have disappeared.  But, here are some of my market goodies sitting on my NYC kitchen windowsill.

 

This is the time of the year when I cook up some of my grandmother’s garden vegetable dishes: with fresh green beans or zucchini. When I was growing up, you could not get me to eat them.  Now, they are not only redolent and evocative of my youth, they are simply delicious!

Grandma’s Green Beans

2 Tomatoes (Beefsteak are fine, no sense overpaying for heirlooms at this time of the year)

3 handfuls of Green beans (look for those flat Roma beans – but any type or color will work)

2 or 3 smallish Potatoes (I like the little Yukon Golds — starting to see the first picks of the season)

3-4 T. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Cut up the tomatoes, put them in a saucepan first — they create most of the liquid you will need for this dish.  Cut up the potatoes into biggish chunks then toss in the green beans. I remove the ends – cook’s choice.  Drizzle on the olive oil, pour in (maybe) a couple of tablespoons of water, salt and pepper.  Put on the lid and cook at a low, slow simmer.  20-30 minutes or so.  This is no al dente affair.  More like a vegetable stew.  I let the potatoes determine the length of the cook.  If you pick a potato that can stand up to the cook, you should be fine.

Buon appetito!

 

 

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In the verdant land of Oregon, not just the peace-love-tie-dyed people are on the green side.  Green in that sustainable way, I mean.

On the coast of Oregon, in the most plebeian of food establishments, you will find little signs indicating the provenance of the food you are purchasing.  Or, about to eat.

Surfing at Agate Beach

In Newport, Oregon there are several “restaurants” that feature locally caught fish.  And on the menu or in the glass case, you see things like LC Big Buoy – meaning Line Caught aboard the boat “Big Buoy”.   The fish is, of course, fabulously fresh and delicious.  But, you know you are the in presence of people who understand “sustainable” at a very real level.

I put “restaurants” in quotations, by the way, because some of them are really fish markets with some tables and a great cook in the back who understands how to coax the best flavors from the catch of the day.

I do enjoy “food as metaphor” — for this practice in a old fishing port in the central coast of Oregon, shows they respect the very stores they deplete everyday when they catch what the Pacific has to offer.

On a practical matter, that means I have had scrumptious simple grilled halibut sandwiches.  Clam chowder with huge chunks of local clams swimming in a sea of white cream.  And, I haven’t even moved to Dungeness crab and salmon.

It’s in season is not just a slogan here on the Oregon coast.  It’s Life.

At the Fair

Battered Bacon on a Stick!

It struck me this week when I went on a fairly uncharacteristic (well – these days anyway) binge.  The circumstances did not seem to particularly encourage the binge.  I wasn’t really hungry, but binges are rarely about the food.  Salty versus sweet:  this probably has some deep-down meaning I don’t care to ponder.  Bottom line:  binging serves a purpose.  It is up to each one of us to determine that purpose.

What did I eat?  Okay – in the interests of full candor here – and what good is a blog that is less than candid?

  • Chicken salad sandwich on a white roll
  • Wheat roll and butter
  • Butternut Squash Soup

I could have stopped there.  I was on jury duty that day.  I had a long lunch break and figured, what the hell, I’m not in the mood for still yet another green salad with chicken breast so have a sandwich.  I made a fairly indulgent (for me) choice although I did opt for “half a sandwich, a cup of soup.”  I could have picked simple protein, lightly dressed – or with mustard.  I could have had a clear soup – instead of creamed.  But, that is not what I wanted — and it was not what I ordered, and ate.  Eating the roll — with butter — after eating the sandwich should have made me suspicious.  But, I ignored the warning signs.

That is, I could have kept on,  if this were about food.  Something in jury duty struck an anxious chord with me.  The judge’s questions about ‘have you ever or anyone you know been convicted?” for one.  Was I supposed to divulge the youthful indiscretion of getting busted for pot possession?  I sweated that out for a year and the judge tossed it out…said I didn’t need to tell anyone about it – it was as if I had not been arrested, booked, fingerprinted and mug shotted.  (all of which I was).  I figured that gave me a pass.

That someone close to me was convicted – was another thing.  Candor unnecessary because it is not my story, but theirs.  But, it clearly stirred up some stuff!

The binge.  Oh yeah: the binge.  After the lunch that let me beyond sated, I headed back to the courthouse.  Passed a bakery and thought, what the hell.  No, let’s be honest: I was foraging for binge food.  And, pie came to mind.  Childhood comfort food if e’er there were one.  So, I stopped at Billy’s Bakery, counted my shekels and saw I had enough to get

  • a piece of peach pie

The pie was okay.  But, just okay.  I am pretty sure the peaches were not fresh – and the pie was cold – and I didn’t feel like bringing anyone else into my shameful little overindulgence and get it heated up.   I ate it.  And, enjoyed it.  Very little.

After court, when I revealed the other’s conviction, I entered the streets of the city – in search of more F-O-O-D.  I had entered the gateway to the binge.  I bought

  • a raspberry shortbread bar (I should’ve gotten the lemon bar the night before – and maybe this binge would never have started.  Who knows at this point.  Though, c’mon!!!  YOU SHOULD KNOW!!).
  • a lemon raspberry cookie.  Then
  • a dark snickers bar
  • And a Häagen-Dazs® ice-cream bar.

You know in writing it doesn’t look so bad.  But, it felt bad.  And, I felt badly about it.   So, here is the point of this candid anecdote.  Life presented me with an opportunity, not to pick on myself, not to beat up on me, not to even feel badly about the day, because it was past and passed.  This was my chance to look at what was underlying the binge.  And, learn from it.

When we go into that zone where all we think about is food, overeating food, what we would eat if we could – and would.  Then, how icky we feel afterwards.  ALL of that distracts us from what is really bothering us.  So, I didn’t think once that day of the anxiety over the conviction revelation.  Or, what the power that incident still clearly held over me emotionally.  All I thought about was E.A.T.I.N.G.!!!

To my credit – and we all have this power, I did look at that behavior the next day – and analyzed it for what it was.  That allowed me to leave the binge behind.  And, be all the wiser for looking at what caused it in the first place.

And, we’re not talking those donut-shaped tiny little oat cereals.  I am posting from London, baby!  The land of fish & chips, fab Indian food, and baps (big ol’ luscious looking rolls).  Yum!

A glimpse into Janet Eats on vacay.  Vacations can, of course, be challenging on the food front.  There is a wonderful technique in Weight Watchers® that enables you beforehand to consider your weight goal.  Three choices: lose, stay the same, gain.  If gain, how much?  Lose?  Really!?  On vacation?!!!  You are a better man than I if you can make that your goal.  But, hey, it is YOUR weight loss journey.  I usually choose gain two-three pounds.  Generally, it works.  Especially if you add walking to the equation.  I tend to pick walking cities.  And, certainly London qualifies for that.  Even the little towns outside of London, which happens to be where I am staying with a friend.

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It is well-known in the weight loss world that one of the best things you can do is keep a food diary.  As a writer, I understand all too well, the power of pen on paper.  Something profound happens with that direct link between the brain and the ink.  I’m sure there is some science behind it.

Writing down what you eat keeps you on track.  Even if you are not ready to start changing the way you eat, start tracking.  When you eat it, write it down.  Some recommend you write the time, place, and what you were feeling.  That’s a fine idea.  But, if you are diet daunted, keep it simple.

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You might wonder why I chose to write about pigging out in my last blog Janet Eats.  Too Much.

It just struck me that to stay true to my “mission” here on JanetEats, my ‘how I lost 50 pounds’ – I need to be open to all the nuances and challenges of that task.  It would be important to share the whole experience, not just the heady “whoo-hoo look-at-me I’m-losing-weight experience.  And, this blog is not just about losing weight through Weight Watchers, though it is clear that I swear by that program.  Why?  Simple.  It’s the “less in, more out” school of eating that leads to successful weight loss.  Weight University, I often call it.  It is a good time to learn whaddup with the overeating experience.

We do have our ups and downs.  We’ve seen that dramatically with Oprah.

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Kids eatingOne of my Weight Watchers® leaders, Michael, always uses the phrase “a close relationship with chicken, tuna and cottage cheese“.  Of course, that is just a clever way of pointing out a common peril of DIET mentality.  That you have to eat diet food.  Only.  All the time.  Same time, same chicken/tuna/or cottage cheese.

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