Archive for March, 2009

Dragging

My focus and energy have been dragging since about Sunday, not to mention my less-than-stellar mood.  I’m starting to wonder if it’s perhaps because my nutrition has taken a small dip this week– starting with a single piece of coffee cake at a cafe, and progressing into the replacement of my normal morning cereal with a very delicious, though nutritionally devoid, pecan coffee cake (Doc and) I made Sunday morning. That, of course, has snowballed into daily chai lattes and vegan chocolate chip cookies. Plus, I’ve neglected to take my vitamins this last week or so… oh, and did I mention that I ran out of decaf coffee last week, and so had a couple of cups of caffeine? I wonder if I’m suffering the fallout of that?

I’m cat-sitting for my advisor this week, and I never feel entirely comfortable in other peoples’ kitchens (including my mother’s kitchen). So, I haven’t been cooking as much, instead resorting to leftovers and more-convenient (though not “convenience”!) foods like crackers and cheese, and pitas and hummus. And coffee cake.

Ugh. Why do I let this happen? I know I’ll feel like crap if I eat like crap! Stupid stupid stupid lazy lazy lazy.

I need to find a way around this, actually.  Every time I go to the field, I end up either 1) gaining an obscene amount of weight (along the lines of 30 lbs), 2) losing an obscene amount of weight (along the lines of 20 lbs), or 3) suffering from general digestive discomfort (thanks to a near- complete lack of vegetables in my diet).  Or some combination of the above.  All of this in turn leads to and reinforces an already present depression or moodiness (hey! a structuring structure!).  Needless to say, not my most productive state.

The worst of it is, if I’m already homesick/ depressed, I really won’t give a sh*t about eating well.  And then it just forms a vicious cycle.

So, two questions: how do I avoid laziness at home, knowing full well that my mood and state of mind are closely tied to what I eat? and: how do I maintain a decent level of nutrition if I’m living with a family that subsists on tortillas, white rice, and beans (and noting that bringing my own food is absolutely not an option)?

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Haybales

It was gorgeous out today, and I had the camera out. I totally should have snapped some pictures of the garden, and posted a little update. Perhaps tomorrow (even though it’s supposed to rain).

Instead, I took pictures of haybales. Round haybales, to be precise.

A normal person might ask me “why?” Why indeed.  Well, it’s a long story. Let me shorten it.

My mother asked for one thing for Christmas. A picture of a haybale, preferably black and white, to go above the fireplace.  The catch(es)? I had to take the picture, and it had to be a round haybale.  I’ll cut the drama and just tell you than I failed miserably.  My mother was not thrilled.

Tomorrow is her birthday.  51. I was not home for 50. I think I may have failed pretty miserably at whatever gift I gave her for 50. So I spent my afternoon searching out round haybales. I found them.  The results are below.

My question for you, then, dear readers (of which I think I can count on three. You know who you are.) is: Which photo should I get printed, all nice and professional-like at Foto-One, for my mother’s birthday? Keep in mind these things: 1) she will mat it and frame it so that it is square, 2) it will go above a stone fireplace mantel, 3) the frame will be wide and black (she and I have similar aesthetic senses when it comes to framing), and 4) she requested black and white (but i kinda like the tri-color one). Respond in the comments section, plz.

Oh, I’ve been digging the Flash-Animation Gallery builder on Lightroom lately, ever since I re-did my portfolio for a grant. Hence, the Flash-Animation gallery of the haybales.  When voting, plz use their number (i.e. 1/4, 2/4, 3/4, 4/4). Thx!!!

Also note: if you’re typing in the following URL, it’s case-sensitive.

http://www-personal.umich.edu/~kfultz/Haybales

Localism

My roommate came home from brunch two weeks ago looking decidedly troubled. She had gone to eat with her, um, Friend (also my friend, with a little ‘f’, to whom I introduced her) at a local/organic foods “breakfast club” held at an acquaintance’s house a few blocks away.

“It was like being at a cult meeting!” She had exclaimed to me.  “These people [pause for emphasis] are in a cult!”

We have had somewhat heated debates, sometimes tongue-in-cheek sparrings over what a certain sociologist actually means by “common sense knowledge” (yeah, we’re dorks), but lately we’ve been quabbling over localism in relation to our shared class on “Consumption.”

My roommate’s argument is that localism, like any other set of beliefs, is just that. It’s a system of values just like thrift, religion, or pacifism.  It happens to drive consumptive practices in certain spheres.  And yes, like in every value system, there are hypocrites.

I really don’t argue with her there. I’m totally aware of the constructed-ness of localism as a value system.  And yeah, it happens to be a value system that I ascribe to myself.  What I don’t understand, though, is why it bugs her so much and why, for example, religion does not.  I understand that she might feel like she’s at a cult meeting during brunch or at the Farmers’ Market, but I feel like I’m at a cult meeting during church services.  She says it’s the self-righteousness of locavores (those that eat local food).  Clearly she has not had a nice long discussion on morality and religion with my aunt.  Different strokes for different folks.

Maybe I took a big glug of the Koolaide, though. Or make that “locally roasted, fair-trade, organic coffee.”

So I dragged my Friend (in town for spring break) out of bed early on a Friday (okay, technically, he dragged me out of bed because I kept hitting snooze on the alarm, which is a pet peeve of his. tee hee hee.) to go with my friend (who is my roommate’s Friend… get it?) to this dude’s house to have brunch made by a guest-local chef.  My roommate stayed cozy in her bed.

This whole thing started about a month ago with a fundraiser for the Farmers’ Market and Slow Foods Huron Valley.  It was apparently so much fun, that this dude (I’m going to keep referring to him as that) decided to hold brunch every week.  He named it “Café Selma” and posts a sign out in his front yard on Friday mornings to let his neighbors and passers-by know to come on over.

The menu and chef change every week, and the staff is all volunteer.  This week, the chef was the owner of Arbor Teas (http://www.arborteas.com/), a locally-owned organic tea distributor.  The menu included an omelete made with eggs from chickens in the dude’s backyard, mushrooms, cheese, and my friend’s greens (www.brinesfarm.org); waffles and fruit; and homemade granola and yogurt.  I know that following my usual eating-out policy, I should have gotten the waffles (because I don’t have a waffle iron at home and so can’t make waffles). But the omelete looked really good, and we all know that I’ve been on an omelete kick lately.

I also (drumroll please) had a cup of regular coffee, because they didn’t have decaf. Make that two cups of coffee. I am now hallucinating and twitching.  No, I won’t resume that habit; it was a treat and helped to get me perked up for what will be a pretty solid day (1pm-10pm run run run).

The crowd was mostly late 30s, 40s, and early 50s… my Friend and I were definitely the youngest ones there (and my friend referred to some local roasters as “28-year-old kids”, which made me feel like a baby!).  The demographic was about what you’d expect for Ann Arbor.  White, highly educated, working in the creative or intellectual industries.  Able to take Friday morning off from work.

I chatted with the folks that sat at the table with us (most of the others were on the couch or at the counter in the dude’s gorgeous kitchen) about anthropology, and they asked me if I was working for the government.  Didn’t know quite how to reply to that… I got the feeling that “the goverment” were “good guys” for these folks.  Granted, they’re not “bad guys” for me, but they’re definitely not “good guys” either. Hm. Hard to know what to say when your political leanings don’t quite jive with mainstream democrats, but there’s no other way to describe them.

The food was quite tasty.  A real treat was the home-cured ham in the omelete; I almost never eat pork, but this was really delicious.  My Friend also happens to be a fan of pork, and we got the low-down on how the dude had cured the ham.  He has quite the set-up in his basement.  We also got to sample some of his proscuttio, which I (uncultured as I am) had never tried before. Quite tasty.

Payment was by “donation only,” which really meant that in order to not appear as a total jerk, you had to donate something.  We ended up paying about $10 each (which was “suggested”).

I’m still digesting (um, literally and figuratively) the whole experience in relation to my roommate’s critiques, and in relation to this class on Consumption I’m currently in.  The critiques in regards to class and values are on the mark and relevant, but I don’t know if that justifies passing judgement on localism as a value system.  Of course its flawed, but so is any other set of beliefs, and no one is value-free.  What to do?  I think I’ll go again next week.

Munchies

It’s been a looong week. Partially it’s just because it’s the week after spring break, and the week after any break is always tough.  The week after a really fun break spent with someone you don’t get to see very often, and wish you spent more time with, is even worse. (But that’s okay, because that someone is coming here for his break tomorrow!!!)

There’s also the stress of applying for summer funding, working on human-subjects ethics applications, and the usual weekly reading load. And its tax season.  Add to all that that one of my closest friends has abruptly stopped being… well… friendly towards me.  I don’t know what’s going on, but I wish they’d talk to me.

Anyway, I get to justify a little stress-eating.

My mom was visiting this weekend, and we made a delicious batch of homemade hummus.  Unfortunately, I polished off all of my crackers and still have more than half a container of hummus left. Oh, darn.  I swiped two pieces of roomie’s bread last night (shhh, don’t tell!), but felt guilty doing that again today.  And my food budget is done for the week.

So what did I do?

I made my own crackers! Seriously, these are the easiest things in the world.  I whipped them together after doing my taxes AND having a glass of wine, at 11 o’clock at night. Yes, those last three things are concurrent (taxes, wine, 11 pm).

I got this recipe from Bittman– there’s a reason he’s called the Minimalist! (From How to Cook Everything Vegetarian)

Basically: Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Dump 1 cup flour (any kind– I used a mixture of whole wheat pastry and whole wheat) into the food processor. Sprinkle on a liberal pinch of salt. Add two tablespoons oil (any kind– I used grapeseed, but you could also use melted butter or olive or almond, etc etc etc). Process. Add 1/4 cup water. Process. Continue to add water until a soft ball has formed– not sticky, though.  If it gets sticky, add a bit more flour.  Roll out on a lightly-floured surface, to about 1/4 inch or thinner. I sprinkled sea salt on top and gently pressed it into the dough, just for added aesthetics.  Carefully transfer to a cookie sheet, pop in the oven for about 10 min, or until the sheet turns a golden brown.  Let cool a bit, and break into pieces.  I went for “rustic” shapes, but if you feel the need to eat absolutely square crackers, score the dough with a sharp knife before baking.

Oh look! I have pictures!

in-the-oven

cooked-edge

with-hummus

Okay, so, the colors (and lighting) aren’t so appetizing… but you get the idea.  I actually like the crispier edges the best… the thinner, the better when you roll them out.

And yes, I know hummus should really be served with soft flatbread, and that certain people will be annoyed/ appalled that I eat it with things like crackers and toast.

To that I say, Nom nom nom.