My January At A Glance

Its February already and I can’t believe how behind I have with these activities that I actually enjoy doing. Suffice it to say – it will be a January recap at best.

With my new role as an “Editor” of some association with the Health Promotion and Practice Journal (@TheHPPJournal), I have been working with several young MPH interns to assist with the social media push of the journal under its new Editor In Chief. While its been fun having time with students first hand again – its also means lots more reading and meetings to add on.  

With all the weather, unusual for San Francisco, has been causes for quite the series of humorous images. From the local mini walks with Dino, to a few more substantial hikes explore San Bruno Mountain and other local park areas new to me.

 

Had some time in at not one but two of the Bawdy Storytelling shows, when I did a last minute favor for the Host Dixie La Tour and filled in at the beginning of the month and then got a chance to attend a Storytelling Roast of author, speaker and longtime friend Dossie Easton which also got me to reconnect with another longtime pal and author Janet Hardy.

Dixie and I also got to hit the studio at KQED and meet and listen to the Podcaster Earlonne Woods from the Ear Hustle podcast.

As we rolled into February proper I have a new True Passion; The Root of Evil

As a kid, I was fascinated with the case of Elizabeth Short, which back when I was 11 or 12, I happened to come across an early tv show about her and the unsolved case they called the “Black Dahlia”. Even then, and the many books that were written since, have captivated me.

So it was no surprise that TNT’s newest “ I Am The Night” would end up on my real-time watch list. Instead of my traditional way to wait till the season was over and binge watch. 

But what makes it even better is my current day fascination with unsolved case files via podcasts ( blame my buddy in Atlanta, Rachel Kfor that) comes full circle on February 13th when the Root Of Evil podcast begins. Exploring its associations with the myth and mysteries of the Hodel family. Which should make for some interesting listening is that they are including participation from the family of Dr. Hodel.

Speaking of podcasts, I am listening to several new ones and am finally in the prep stage to start recording several of my own. More to come on that!

 

Xmas Recipes 2019

Here they are

I figured it was easier to post the links in one place for folks than trying to constantly add links to the recipes on Facebook. Since many of you asked about the recipes for the South African Chocolate Pepper Cookies and the Polenta Parmesan Cookies I mentioned on an earlier this week, I will start with them.

Black Pepper Chocolate Cookies

This recipe is pretty easy and I recommend you read the instructions a few times first. The Author also suggests starting with the minimum amount of black pepper and then ramp up. I think when I make a new batch I will increase the black pepper up a 1/2 tablespoon. I think you might also be able to swap out the pepper for other types you might have handy as well.

The recipe link is from the website Food52 and was reposted according to the author notes: Text and recipe from Where Flavor Where Flavor Was Born by Andreas Viestad Born by Andreas Viestad (Chronicle, 2007).

Polenta Parmesan Cookies

This recipe was in the December 2018 issue of Food Network Magazine on page 84. The recipe itself is pretty basic and already I am thinking adaptions. Such as making them a bit thicker and turning them into “thumb” print cookies and topping with pepper jelly or a tomato bacon relish. To the taste, they read both sweet and savory so I imagine I could also top with Lemon Rind Jelly.  Just a note on this one – it does need to time to chill. I made mine the night before and sliced and cooked them the next day.

The recipe link is Polenta-Polenta-Parmesan Cookies on Food Network Magazine

 

Hallmark Hell

Even Gay People Do It

As some of you who follows me on social media (@FVSTRONA on that Twitter thing) know I tend to comment about the Hallmark Channels lack of LGBT diversity representation. 

But given that my world is a bit crazed and working as I do in the government – both Paul and I tend to come home pretty stressed. So Lifetime and Hallmarks’ annual holiday overboard on the methodologic and campy “holiday love” stories do serve as a great escape from political commentary and faux leaders trying to pretend that they actually care.

It was this in mind, that when Paul mentioned a trip back east, I conspired to turn the front rooms of the house into our own “Hallmark” style, over the top version of a bnb called “EverQueer”. 

Without telling him, I went through years of collected holiday decorations, managed to hit on a one day 70% off sale at Micheals,  and rummaged through a few pals storage units. I even got to repurpose some ornaments that I rarely get to use now that we put up the slim line tree most years. The end result was precious and we couldn’t wait for Paul’s reaction! I think he may rethink traveling before Christmas any more… This also means I get to bring out some old favorites like angel tree topper that’s been in my family for over 50 years or the diorama I picked up a few years back.

 

 

 

While it was all for fun – it still doesn’t account they Hallmark refuses to address its lack of LGBT holiday love – short of it’s either afraid of its “mom and pop” conservative viewership or its simply run by folks with an overly conservative, homophobic streak. Gee, I wonder if they would respond if people started to hashtag #LGBTCelebrateTooHallmark with pictures of the loving and holiday celebrations we have. Just saying..

Yup.. $5 on clearance at Micheals and I even found a “custom lightboard”

It was a book club that Sunday and I went big

Because book club discussions aren’t always just about talk.

Our monthly book club is also about what foods we bring; what reading the book inspires us to bring and share. Many of us choose to find a way to bring an authentic or reinterpreted version of something mentioned in the book or from the time period.

Since this month we read David Grann’s Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI. 

My take on the book was positive as a read. Finding it a well-balanced collection of research and storytelling that manages to remind the reader of the historical narrative of racism and white privilege at the heart of so many of this countries moments. But the subject did give me several layers of emotions.

But back to the food

I opted for a Bourbon Pecan Cornmeal cake with an edible gingerbread oil rig and chocolate “oil”. My unique challenge was that I have never made a gingerbread oil rig or any structure before. So choosing the right recipe and the structural challenges were quite the experience. But in the end, it all worked out.

I won’t even mention the stress of moving it in two parts then topping the cake with its “rig” caused.

The cake itself was great.

I liked to cornmeal texture with the nuts. It is one I would remake. The recipe for the cake was from http://eclecticrecipes.com and used walnuts, but I had pecans laying around begging to be used.

Fall catch up

Fall has hit me strong this year.

It’s been a pretty busy few weeks so I haven’t been able to keep up with posting. This week will be a brief recap of highlights as we round the corner into the middle of October. 

As September hit

We tried to get ourselves motivated to do a few of the local street fairs – but we ended up missing the Folsom Sreet Fair but did head out on that Friday before or some fun at the Prime dance.

But continue to manage to get a few urban hikes in and as a treat, we included an unplanned meal at Dottie’s True Blue Cafe at its newest location, one afternoon and managed to get seats with any wait! (note- Saturday afternoon around 1:30 – no line). We definitely enjoyed all the food from the grilled cornbread, sweet roll and crumb cake to the different eggs dishes. Even the coffee is good. This is not some flash in the pan cafe – they have held court in San Francisco as a local and tourist favorite for years. Word on up Dottie’s – the pastries as well as the entrees are large and go fast. If you do get in a line, let the folks know at the counter what pastry you want so they can set one aside as once they sell out – it’s out for the day. 

We did manage to check out some other local street fairs in September, including the Inner Sunset Street Fair which netted use some new food finds to try by local vendors including a new jam and a spicy garlic sesame spread.

Another fun find was these dolls

A pal of mine collects this genre of art representing the African in American arts and when I travel and find some interesting finds for him I call him up. This set of stuffed dolls match in style two smaller ones I got at an estate sale some months earlier. For now, they sit in the living room, although a few folks have referenced the movie Annabel saying the dolls seem to follow them.

I also continue to go through boxes from our move that never was opened as well as boxes sent back from CT. This little guy was an odd character that I remember seeing while growing up. My dad used to have him in different places so now he watches over us.

 

Bookclub, Sales & Food

Knocked out a bunch of new dishes this month including a baked ham with pan stewed apples,  For book club in October – I went with a new recipe for Scalloped Potatoes meet Potato Gratin.  I liked this modified version for its cheesy taste and less liquid than in regular scalloped version. 

Paul and I also managed to score big at the Timbuktu outlet sale with a few new bags. One we had been looking at online we got for less than 25% of the original price.! After the sale, we stopped by a corner Mexican place called San Jalesco we hadn’t tried before but had been around forever. We liked the food so much, we ended up back there a few weeks later to try it for dinner. Well worth the money and the folks working were a lot of fun.

I also found a new fun find at Costco. I rarely have purchased the prepared food at Costco, except for the roast chickens. But the stuffed peppers with ground meat and rice looked great and are a reasonable price. So I figured I would take a risk. My suggestion – do it. They are good, easy to heat up (just add some water to the bottom of the pan first) and are pretty well flavored so no need to “almost homemade” it.  Except maybe some more cheese on it, they require no work.

Had some fun with improvising a recipe for Monkey Bread. Which to be truthful, is really just an excuse to east chocolate, sugar, and cinnamon. But it works! Let’s face it – most foods that are this good – aren’t going to ever photograph that way.. so simply imagine how good it tastes. 🙂

Paul really likes Oatmeal and chocolate chip cookies – but they don’t really connect with me – so I decided to whip up a bar (pan) version. This adaption has all the same ingredients with the addition of chopped nuts. Making them thick, chewy and crispy – while rich, they tasted great. Perfect for a office party as they can be cut small but pack a punch of flavors. 

Palm Springs

We tool a quick trip to PS for a long weekend and managed to grab some perfect weather. Since it was last minute – we didn’t make many plans with anyone, but did grab dinner at Grand Central which recently opened ( and yes – go!) and got a peek at Arlan’s newest Daddy’s Barbershop.

Now, did you know – that in Palm Springs – they actually have a station on TV for dogs? Serious. DOGTV is a real thing an pretty much is hours of outdoor nature seems with natural sounds. 

More to come this week including our “On The Train to Reno” weekend

To be continued…

I realized I never posted about my Bear TEDxPtown talk here!

It’s Out;

Just when my life could not get any more interesting; I get asked to do an actual licensed TEDx Talk.

Yes Really! 

Sharing who I was has never been an issue. I learned early on, to be the best I can be today, meant often owning who I was in the past. So, in this case, it played out on the TEDx platform. I was one of the lucky 10 people invited to participate in TedxProvincetown as it held it’s first TEDx Talk series this summer and the links have finally gone live.
26 years ago, I left the East Coast for an opportunity to work in San Francisco in progressive sexual adult content mediums addressing often ignored, overlooked, marginalized and underserved communities. Men like me didn’t fit the then “gay male archetype”; who often struggled to find to a sense of identity and inclusion with so few role-models to draw from.  We often hear and read much on body-shaming and the harmful effect that it has left on women. My talk shares my experiences as a gay man, with features and a body type that refused to fit the “Ken doll” model and how men (aka “Bears” ) like myself created a place for ourselves to thrive as sexual, loving and inclusive beings.

So what happens?

26 years later I find myself talking about those very same issues to a wider audience! It is an honor to share my experience as a gay man on body shaming, invisibility, resilience, and lessons learned from a “bigger” perspective.
But it was an honor to share my experience as a gay man on body shaming, invisibility, resilience, and lessons learned from a “bigger” perspective with an incredible group of people.

Now What?

Visit my talk on the TEDxProvincetown Youtube channel: https://youtu.be/8J-gaUgztjs  , share it with friends, your schools or workplace. Also check out the full speaker’s playlist for all 10 talks. For more details about the talk and how to share it with your friends; visit my Engage Blog post on MentorSF.com

Curious about TEDxProvincetown?

You can find out more on its website www.tedxprovincetown.com or read more about the other speakers https://tedxprovincetown.com/tedx-provincetown-talks-performances/.
The hashtags & social media accounts for TEDxProvincetown include:
#TEDxPtown, #TEDxProvincetown
Facebook: [@TEDxProvincetown
Twitter:  [@TEDxPtown Profile, hashtag: #TEDxProvincetown]
Instagram: [TEDxProvincetown– profile, hashtag #TEDxPtown]

Big, Hairy & Gay; My take on life as a Gay Bear

It’s Out!! Kinda like me!

Just when my life could not get any more interesting with today being my birthday; I figured it was time to share this on BiteTheRoad. So what’s a day in my world like? Well you get asked to do an actual licensed TEDx Talk on being me; big, hairy & gay. 

Yes Really! 

As most of you who read this know, I was one of the lucky 10 people invited to participate in TEDxProvincetown as it held it’s first TEDx Talk series this summer and the full set of speaker links have finally gone live.

And Here It is!

So Why Did I Do It?

26 years ago, I left my life, commuting between Boston and Provincetown for an opportunity to work in San Francisco. I was asked to take part working in progressive sexual adult content mediums addressing often ignored, overlooked, marginalized and underserved communities.
Men like me didn’t fit the gay male archetype; who often struggled to find to a sense of identity with so few role-models to draw from.  So what happens? 26 years later I find myself talking about those very same issues to a wider audience! This partners perfectly with the push in my efforts with MentorSFCA.com to support people in makeing the “best fit” choices for themselves and creating what they need when they don’t see it offered.
It is an honor to share my experience as a gay man on body shaming, invisibility, resilience, and lessons learned from a “bigger” perspective with an incredible group of people.

But I Need Your Help

I am proud to have been able to address body shaming, invisibility and love beyond limits as part of the TEDxProvincetown program to audiences that extended beyond just gay men, including people of all types, ages, genders and orientations.

I want to spread the word spread. I am asking for your help in getting this talk out. Helping me share the message to all audiences. This talk is one of the first licensed TEDx talks that actually addresses body shaming, sex, inclusion, and visibility from a bigger-bodied gay man’s experience. Because of this, it has the potential opportunity to reinforce that desire and love can blossom no matter the body type.  The more views the talk gets, the higher it ranks and the better the chances that it gets picked up for wider distribution. I’m asking that you include the link below in any announcement lists, email, newsletters or websites in an attempt to get the widest scope.

How Can You Help?
Simple. Share the video link to your friends. Share it on Facebook, Twitter,e tc. Anywhere you think people will see it. Don’t hold back to only LGBTQ audiences. This is a message for everyone.

Sharing is as easy as 1-2-3:

1. Copy and paste the link below
2. Add some your own thought or comment that you think your followers and friends would get intrigued by and want to watch it.
3. Add a few of the “hashtags” (Those words followeed by a #) to help it show up in searches.
** Don’t forget youtube also allows you to use embedded code as I did above if you prefer to have the video sit and play on your websites too.
The link to my talk on the TEDxProvincetown Youtube channel is as follows: https://youtu.be/8J-gaUgztjs
Feel free to tag me in any social media you choose to share using any of these hashtags:
#TEDxPtown
#BearTalk
#WhoDoYouSeeNow
#MentorSFCA

My social media accounts include:

Twitter: @FVStrona,
Instagram: @FVStrona

Then What?

Whatch the rest. All 10 of the talks were outstanding and different so you may enjoy checking out one of the other co-presenters by checking out the full speakers playlist for all 10 talks here

Curious about TEDxProvincetown?

You can find out more on its website www.tedxprovincetown.com or read more about the other speakers https://tedxprovincetown.com/tedx-provincetown-talks-performances/.
The hashtags & social media accounts for TEDxProvincetown include:
#TEDxPtown, #TEDxProvincetown
Facebook: [@TEDxProvincetown
Twitter:  [@TEDxPtown Profile, hashtag: #TEDxProvincetown]
Instagram: [TEDxProvincetown– profile, hashtag #TEDxPtown]

How To Eat Healthy Anywhere

You have worked so hard on sticking to a strict eating plan such as the paleo diet. However, it can prove challenging when you need to leave your house, especially when it is time to go to work. At the office, it can be even more tempting when your co-workers bring in special food to share that may not be on your meal plan. Here are some helpful tips for managing these temptations while staying on track with your progress.

Pack Your Meals The Night Before

It is more than likely that you will not have enough time to pack your approved meal when getting ready for work. Therefore, make sure you have all of your meals, snacks, and drinks packed the night before so that you can grab it as you run out the door. You are more likely to stick with your eating plan if you have your food on hand to eat at lunchtime.

 

Have The Right Essentials

Back in April, we posted about some ways to eat better specifically when on the road and I mentioned that the right food containers make all the difference. My love of the Lock and Lock line always makes for some great handy food options. But other essentials make sense. A new favorite is the Yeti brand Rambler. This 18-ounce container is a perfect fit for most briefcases and bags, keep temperatures perfect and with the extra accessories, like the Rambler Chug Cap you can both the option of an open mouth container and the removable smaller cover. Great for beverages, soups, stews etc.

 

Politely Refuse

If someone passes you a slice of cake at an office birthday celebration, you can help pass it along onto another willing candidate. Make sure to practice an answer such as, “Thank you, but I’m all set,” ahead of time so that you are not caught off guard. There is no need to mention your eating plan at this time. You can also give an extra congratulations to the special person that is being celebrated. Sometimes it also means the “fake out”, grab a small plate fork, a napkin and put some food on it.. then as you work your way around the party, you can dispose of it. But in peoples eyes, you will have “had something” and allows you to maneuver out of those more pushy folks.

Stack Emergency Snacks

Portion out some small amounts of your favorite meal plan food that are shelf stable that you can keep at your desk or car. These can be eaten when you are stuck late at the office and get hungry. The last thing that you do not want to do is raid the vending machine out of convenience. Wherever you store these treats, whether in a drawer or in your car, make sure that they are in a sealed container. The last thing that you want to do is to attract ants, bugs, or mice to your workspace. I do this a lot, it may mean spending a few dollars more on some prepackaged snacks – but they keep longer that way.

Keep Motivating Pictures At Your Workspace

Have a tangible reward in mind when you reach your goal weight. If you plan on going somewhere special, you can print out a picture and stick it in a spot on your desk where you can see it frequently. You have worked this hard to stay committed, and this is one assignment that you can see through to the end.

Sources:

  • Bon Appetit | 100 Lunch Ideas on What to Pack for Work
  • Kyani | Eating Healthy While Working
  • Zen Habits | 17 Strategies to Stick to Your Diet and Get Fit

Office Picnic Saturday

Office Picnic Challange – because I love coming home to an “oh by the way”

Dino has it rough

Picnic panic defense! With us, both being on vacation for two weeks and then Paul had to work in Baltimore right after it’s been a busy catch up with on my end. Paul then reminded me that it as his annual office picnic on Saturday too. So I managed to get into the kitchen and make some of my favorites to being with.  Of course, Dino was hoping I would spend more time with him after his two weeks at Hightail Hotel, than my being in the kitchen while Paul was away – but he got plenty of snuggle time later.

First – the cookie!

Perfect for a picnic as it is for dinner is one of the favorites of his office is the variation to the Black Pepper Biscotti Ifrom Valerie Bertinelli. I have made this a bunch of times and its become a perfect goto not to mention is a great based to change it up from. In today’s version, I made one with chopped walnuts and almonds (because that’s what I have handy). I also used a bit of lemon extract in place of the peel that is mentioned in the previous post since I didn’t have any handy. But go easy on lemon extract, a little goes a long way. The second version is essentially the same but without nuts or almond extract. For this one, I amped up the vanilla, added some powdered ginger and a bit of homemade ginger syrup (see the recipe below). The third version was a Spicey Chocolate Biscotti with dried cherries. This was a made up recipe, so is in draft form but I liked the version enough to bring. I think next time it needs more cayenne (most likely 3/4 tablespoon in total).  Once it gets done I will repost the final version recipe.

Second – the fruit salad

This was an easy one Summer + Picnic+ Fruit Salad. I have been making this cool watermelon chili, but on a recent episode of Sara Moulton I saw this new version that uses Watermelon, Cantaloupe, Feta Cheese, and Procuitto. I have made it now for several potlucks and news this one would be perfect. She adds paprika which gives it this sweet smokey flavor for a different twist. Sara’s version of Two-Melon, Proscuitto and Feta Salad is really good as is. Try it first then change it up for your needs. At times I have swapped in smoked ham slices and or pepperoni in place of the prosciutto. I change up the nuts from time to time.

For this weekend version, I kept it pretty much the same but swapped out 2 tablespoons of olive oil with 2 tablespoons of a local Habanero infused olive oil. You will notice that this shot has a lot of extra marinades. That is on purpose. I like to much that I save it and use it as a salad dressing base or as we did on vacation when I made it. Just add more melons.

As an extra – cold marinated cucumbers and carrots

This is one from my childhood I revamped. its quick and easy to make – tastes better the longer you let it chill. But equally as good with a 30-minute marinade. Unlike the Pickled Carrots and Jalapeños I did before, these require no heating. Just chop, pour, season and chill. This one I eyeball for measurements – eventually, I will try to measure it out. Slice up some 2-3 English cucumbers on an angle, toss in come carrot slices (or buy them already fancy sliced), add 1/2 cup of white vinegar, juice of 1/2 lemon, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, add chopped parsley or cilantro, 1/2 cup of sugar and 7 or 8 ice cubes (1/2 of chilled iced water works too if you are short on time). Mix well and leave in the refrigerator 30 min to overnight. Taste to flavors. You want a tart, sweet, herbed crunch. Most fresh herbs work. As does add sliced raw peppers (hot or sweet), radishes, even celery.

 


Ginger Syrup 

Ingredients
  • Several large pieces of ginger, peeled and rinsed and sliced, approximately 4-6 inched or about a cup sliced.
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
Directions

In a saucepan – cook the ginger, water, and sugar first to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for 10-12 minutes. Remove from the heat to cool 5-10 min. Once cool, strain out the cooked ginger into a clear glass jar. add a few uncooked peeled pieces of ginger and refrigerate.

Note: If you want some extra zing, add cinnamon sticks or rosemary to the simmer and strain out.