15 April 2009

habana outpost grand re-opening

The weather is warming, and so is the globe. So get on over to hot, hot Fort Greene favorite eco-eatery, Habana Outpost to celebrate Earth Day this weekend. Full deets (via Brooklyn Based) below.

Habana Outpost will re-open this weekend, kicking things off with an Earth Day bang. It’s a fitting start to the corn-grilling season for a place that has claimed the title of being Brooklyn’s first eco-eatery. Whether you show for the solar panels and green design or for the Cubans and frozen mojitos, be sure to bring the little ones — the Earth Day Expo includes arts and crafts, face paining and DJs. Noon-6pm, Sat. & Sun., 757 Fulton Street, Fort Greene.

land, people, food... happy days

Not exactly. This isn't your abuela's garden. The Garden follows a South Central LA community fighting to keep their 14-acre garden. The trailer alone was enough to get me riled up about the "powers that be." This one's going on my Netflix queue, stat.

Read more at Black Valley Films official film site.

diy yogurt

I've been wanting to make my own yogurt for a while now. I just read a great tutorial in the NY Times on how to do it. The thing is, I've come to prefer goat's milk yogurt to cow's milk. It's supposed to be easier to digest. I might not have an easy time tracking down goat's milk to make it a regular practice.

(Goat image via Redwood Hill Farm)

Maybe I'll experiment with other types of milk, though I'm not sure if it'll work... hemp milk yogurt anyone?

To make yogurt, first choose your starter yogurt. If no one offers you an heirloom, I recommend one of the ubiquitous global brands, sweeteners and stabilizers included. They tend to have very active bacterial cultures, including EPS producers, and the additives end up diluted to insignificant levels. Delicious specialty yogurts make less predictable starters.

Then choose your milk. I prefer the flavor and consistency of yogurt made from whole milk. Many types of reduced-fat milk replace the fat with milk solids, including acid-producing lactose, and make a harsher tasting yogurt. Soy milk sets into a custardy curd that becomes very thin when stirred.

Heat the fresh milk at 180 to 190 degrees, or to the point that it’s steaming and beginning to form bubbles. The heat alters the milk’s whey proteins and helps create a finer, denser consistency.

Let the milk cool to around 115 to 120 degrees, somewhere between very warm and hot. For each quart of milk, stir in two tablespoons of yogurt, either store-bought or from your last batch, thinning it first with a little of the milk.

Then put the milk in a warm jar or container or an insulated bottle, cover it, and keep the milk still and warm until it sets, usually in about four hours. I simply swaddle my quart jar in several kitchen towels. You can also put the container in an oven with the light bulb on.

Once the yogurt sets, refrigerate it to firm its structure and slow the continuing acid production. To make a thick Greek-style yogurt, spoon it into a fine-mesh strainer or colander lined with cheesecloth, and let the whey and its lactic acid drain into a bowl for several hours. (Don’t discard the whey, whose yellow-green tint comes from riboflavin. It makes a refreshing cool drink, touched up with a little sugar or salt.)

Read the rest

reflecting on l.o.v.e.

A reader requested that I post a summary of how I felt on last week's raw, vegan adventure. Not a bad idea. Here are the highlights of the physical, mental, and emotional roller coaster that is l.o.v.e. (live.organic.vegan.experience).

For the full experience, start reading here and work your way to today.

l.o.v.e. - the recap

On Monday, I took on l.o.v.e. with few expectations. I knew a little bit about what I was getting into. I knew it would be raw. I knew what there wouldn't be -- animal products -- and that was fine with me. I knew there would be juice. I'm generally not a juice drinker. I like to sink my teeth into what I consume. I tend to feel hungry often. Whether this is a real physical hunger or a pattern ingrained in my brain, I would figure out as the week progressed.

During the week I felt hungry alright. Especially in the morning. I drank my juices and I felt hungry. I tried to breathe deeply and focus on work, but that was a challenge. I realized how much I think about food, what an integral part of my day it is. Every meal is a question. Fortunately for me, it's not 'will I eat,' but 'what will I eat.' I thought of this often. How fortunate I am to have this basic need covered. There is never a doubt in my mind that I will be able to acquire something to eat, let alone something healthful and nourishing.

During the raw detox, I didn't need to think about what to eat. All of my meals were prepared for me, I just had to pick them up every morning.

What I needed was self-control.

Before I'd pick up my meals, I would read an email with the menu and instructions for the day. Next to each meal was an approximate time for consuming it.

For the first 3 days, this is how it went. First, the energy elixir at around 8 or 9am. Then, a little bit of self-control. Drink some water. Next, fruit juice at around 10 or 11am. Then a little more self-control. Don't look at the clock, stop thinking about food. Stop salivating when the person next to you is eating an egg and cheese sandwich. Drink more water. At around 12 or 1pm, it was time for veggie juice. Sip it slowly. Make it last. Enjoy the savory flavor. Think about how good this is for you.

At 2pm, time to rejoice. It's time to really eat. This might have been my favorite part. Every day was a new inventive lunch. Spicy burrito, chipotle nappa wrap, sunflower falafel. It was divine. I resisted the urge to just shove it all in. I took my time. I savored each bite. And the funny thing is, it wasn't so hard to do. Eating slowly made the enjoyment last longer, and it fulfilled me even more than if I would have scarfed it all down at once.

Another meal came at around 4pm. Usually something light, a salad of beets or edamame. I had something planned after work every day that week, so I wouldn't be able to eat meals 6 and 7 until at least 8pm. I found I wasn't really hungry in the evenings. I felt really calm. I'd still think about eating my last two courses, both dessert in my mind. But I think I could have done without them, or at least not finished them.

I grew up with the rule of 'no dessert until you finish your dinner.' I don't think it's a bad rule, but it definitely trained me to think that I should always finish everything on my plate, regardless of how full I feel. I try to be mindful of whether I'm eating out of habit or desire, or eating because I'm still hungry. It's amazing how little it takes to truly satisfy physical hunger. The hard part is telling my self that I don't need to keep eating.

And then something clicked

On day 4, something magical happened. My whole body buzzed with energy. I felt euphoric. I didn't need to watch the clock. When it was time to eat, my body knew it. I'd float out of my chair and calmly go to the fridge. Sit down and enjoy. I'll admit that I was getting a little bored with the juices, even though I knew they had something to do with the amazing feeling coursing through me. That night I went to yoga, uncertain of whether I could make it through class. I more than made it through. I could see myself shining in the mirror. A friend and teacher who was in the same class later told me that my aura was aglow. I believe it.

If day 4 was the pinnacle, day 5 was the descent. If you've been following these posts you'll know, that was at the end of day 4, the monthly visitor came to ravage my insides. I thought I had it covered with a hot water bottle and ginger tea, but when I awoke on Friday at 4:45am, I had to give in and pop a couple of pain killers. I felt a twinge of failure, having to poison my newly detoxified insides. But there wasn't really anything I could do. I knew the pain would be even more distracting than any amount of hunger I felt all week would be.

On my last day of the fast, I felt ready to move on. I also felt a bit conflicted. What should I eat tomorrow? There were some basic instructions about coming down from the detox, like eating fruit and salads (which I partly followed). But after having gone through this, I didn't want to screw it up and return to old eating habits. Not that I was an unhealthy eater before. A friend once told me that of everyone she knew, if she had to lick anyone's sweat, it would be mine. (I'm not sure what would warrant that kind of action, but hey, I took it as a compliment.)

Before the fast, I already thought a lot about what I put into my body. I cut back on meat and dairy, I tried not to eat highly processed foods (though one of my vices is Mallowmars, thankfully, they're a seasonal food). I ate veggies, fruits, and nuts regularly.

Now, I have an even greater perspective.

I have a better sense of when I'm really hungry, or just falling into a pattern of eating. And I've been exposed to another way of enjoying food (isn't that what it's all about?). I feel fortunate to have been able to experience this pure way of eating, and the pure feeling of bliss it can bring.