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.

My Guilty Summer Listening Pleasure ; Podcasts from Hillbilly Horror Stories and Bawdy Storytelling

As many of you know, I have a wide range of interests in life and the latest is Podcasts

From my exploits in the kitchen, travel, teaching, and the infamous bookclub adventures. For several months, I have been spending more time walking Dino while Paul was laid up and decided to get on the Podcasts bandwagon. I had done some podcast work during my time in DC in 2016 while on detail to one of the federal agencies who needed some communications support. So was more accustomed to listening to work or political themes shows. But they don’t keep my after-hours attention for long. I needed something that hit close to my own style of storytelling.

So what podcasts am I listening too?

Several podcasts have captured my attention of late. My first opportunity came up because I wanted to catch up with the lovely Dixie and her Bawdy Storytelling series that also has its podcasts and Youtube page. (I recently had the honor to tell one of the stories hosted in San Francisco and truly enjoyed all the work that goes into her shows.)

From time to time we all find innovative and interesting work being done in the arts that need some support. We don’t live in a world where all art forms and content gets access to funds to keep them vibrant. Especially those that are related to the promotion and activism of healthy sexual expression. If you want to help invest some of your monies into keeping sex and art vibrant. Here is another way! Dixie De La Tour‘s Bawdy Storytelling has it’s own Patreon account. For the cost of a few cups of coffee each month – you can help keep storytelling accessible for those who can’t get to a live show!
Patreon is a great way to support the podcasts that you love!

Then a pal from Atlanta turned me on to true crime podcasts and one in particular,  Up and Vanished; a true crime “pod-u-mentary” series set around the cold case of Tara Grinstead from Atlanta. Here is a peek at episode one: Listen

The gravestone which still stands spitting distance where I grew up.

Well, that set the hook in deeper. After finishing it, I was hungry for more podcasts that inspired me to imagine, think, and do more than be just “lectured” at which some of the more news-based shows tended to be. So was searching around for suggestions on some of my other favorite themes such as Horror stories, paranormal, sex, the unexplained and of course one of my old time favorites; The Winchester Mystery House.

One of the suggestions was Hillbilly Horror Stories.

OMG! – after two episodes I was hooked on a new genre of podcasts.

Hillbilly Horror Stories is hosted by comedian Jerry Pauley and his own bright star of a wife, Tracy. Together they bring the perfect balance of sarcasm, intrigue, storytelling and no-nonsense “you are shitting me” humor that I so appreciate myself. Because I can be a bit “linear” I had to start with episode 1, and they have been keeping me company now several times a day since.

I have finally hit the newer 2018 episodes and can see how they really take pride in making content and technical changes based on feedback from viewers and reviews but still stay true to what the vision of the show is. On more than one occasion I have been caught laughing or getting that “chill” at the back of my neck, as I listen with wireless earbuds on- looking like quite the fool myself.

Now don’t get me wrong – the Hillbilly Horror Stories show doesn’t use humor to poke fun at the paranormal. Instead, they use it to give new life to often told stories that many of us had heard before and entice you to look up more on those you never heard before. Do they get it right all the time? Nope. But seems to me, they will be the first one to tell you that and then get an expert on the show to be guest!

Hillbilly Horror Stories can be found on most of the common venues for podcasts, has a great website (and store for those of you fans that like your swag) with older episodes listed as well as a Facebook Group page and Youtube page and can even be found on twitter under Jerry’s @TheRentDaddy profile. Like many other podcasts – they also use a Patreon account as a way to keep fans supporting it and offer lots of great extras to those folks.

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Smart Shopper: Healthiest Foods for Your Family and Your Budget

Eating healthy on a budget is not as difficult as you may think. There are many health-conscious options that provide all the fiber and nutrients your family needs while sticking to a budget. The dietary items that are a part of the five main food groups are all budget friendly, including dairy, grains, protein, fruits, and vegetables. Here are a few ideas on how to shop smart and healthy.

Vegetables

Canned vegetables are manufactured in healthy, safe conditions. Buying canned vegetables in bulk is a budgeted solution that is a great item for the family. Additionally, leafy vegetables often go on sale. You can blanch leafy veggies like kale, spinach, greens, etc., then package them in a freezer bag and store them until you cook them. Frozen vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, etc. are a great source for healthy eating as well. Also, fresh veggies are seasonal, and certain varieties, like corn, can be purchased at bargain prices during the summer. Want to make it even more of a social event for yourself? Check out the local farmer’s markets and when they happen and make an afternoon of it.

Meat Protein

Yes, you can eat meat and be healthy. It’s about how much meat you eat. When cooking lean beef, pork, and poultry, a single serving of these proteins should typically come in at 3 ounces per person. It’s common for American restaurants to serve up extremely large portions of meat. When in reality, we only need to consume a fraction of that amount protein to eat a balanced meal. As a general rule, 3-ounces of meat should take up the same amount of space on your plate as a deck of playing cards.

By portioning out your meals and planning accordingly, adding meat to your diet can be both healthy and affordable. A tip to keep in mind is to shop for sale items and to buy inexpensive cuts of meat and work them into different meals throughout the week. Burritos, casseroles, soups, and stews are all great options for using inexpensive cuts of meat like skirt steak, chuck roast, and chicken thighs. Beyond portioning out your meals, shop smarter by eating local, free-range, and certified organic meat when possible. Like produce, you can also shop for meat when it’s in season and pay attention to sales.

Other Protein

Lentils, beans, peas, and soybeans, are quality protein products, and they carry a long shelf life. Bags of protein are an inexpensive meal that can be turned into soups, stews, and casseroles, which can also be made and frozen for future meals. 

These types of proteins are perfect for balancing a busy schedule and meal times when you partner them with slow cookers and insta-pots!

Hint: before you hit those bulk bins, find out how old the beans are. Sometimes the ones that are bagged may yield a better bean. Don’t put your nose up at canned beans either. More often than not you can open a can or two and add them to a dish last minute without the long slow simmer that dried ones need.

Grains

While you are out shopping, pick up grains like cereal, rice, oatmeal, pasta, and brown rice. Whole grain and refined grain products also carry a long shelf life. When possible, buy these grain products in bulk to save money. Then, keep bags of trail mix, nuts, dried fruit, and whole grain snacks to munch on. Buy large inexpensive bags and break them down into individual bags for everyone to take to school or work. Combining grains and fruit is another great way to layer flavor too! You know one of my favorites remains those protein-rich “eat on the go” blueberry oatcakes that I have shared before.

Fruit

Watermelon Chili with all the fixings

Watermelon and melons are least expensive during summertime and fruits like apples or pears are priced low in the fall. You can also get good deals for fresh fruits at local neighborhood farm stands and outdoor market areas. Don’t be afraid to experiment with them. Taking watermelons and paring it with savory and spices changes enhances its sweetness. One of my favorite ways to use it is as a Watermelon Chili; served cool, with ginger and garlic, the thickened and savory chili is meat-free and allows each eater to custom top it themselves. Canned fruits and frozen fruits contain healthy nutrients that you and the household need. Canned and frozen fruits are available in price specials that are budget conscious, so keep your eye out for promotional deals. Many of them are great to add to doughs for a quick fruit enriched bread.

Dairy


Dairy items can be a health food challenge to keep fresh, but it can be accomplished. Butter, powdered milk, and cans of condensed or evaporated milk have a closet and refrigerated shelf life that is good for a couple of weeks, so those are good options to stock up on.

Yogurt and cheese products provide the body with calcium, potassium, protein, vitamins (A, D, B12), niacin, riboflavin and phosphorous. With growing children, dentists recommend dairy for growing bones and teeth— especially for fighting tooth decay.

Unhealthy meal items fail to provide the nutrients that the human body needs and they tend to be expensive. Nutritious meal options can be prepared quickly, easily, and with the healthiest foods for your family and your budget.

Now that you know how to shop smarter, explore our recipe index so you can start cooking.

 

 

Resources:

 

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From Fort Mason to Recipe Testing Saturday

Thursday & Friday

On Thursday we had a buddy in town for work so thought we would try out a Bay Area favorite eatery Brenda’s French Soul Food.

The food at Brenda’s rocks. Simply said, as you have seen me write before of my love of the Old Skool Cafe, Brenda’s is going to give them a run for the money for my top favorite. We went with the always standard of fried chicken with greens, smokey Shrimp & Grits. To start the meal we jumped on the garlic shrimp spread. So good it was worth not being kissable for a few hours. While stuffed, we had to try the flight of beignets with its plain, chocolate and apple options along with the special chocolate bread pudding. The food was nicely prepared, fresh and hot. Service was a bit off that night, but I heard they were running short staff. But not being in a hurry, we weren’t stressed about it. They also have a nice selection of jarred condiments and pickles for purchase. The place does get crowded and doesn’t take reservations. So be prepared to wait during prime times.

 

Friday was supposed to be a “me” day, but between getting caught up with errands, groceries, and some paperwork it sure didn’t leave me a lot of time. After running over to the grocery store, we ended up out of time for a movie. So we decided on dinner out at Eric’s for Chinese food. While usually a long wait, we scored that night with no wait.

Saturday

the hot grilled eggplant sandwich at Readers

the hot grilled eggplant sandwich at Readers

In an attempt to avoid Sunday’s annual excuse for stupidity, the Bay To Breakers madness (now its not that I don’t like the event itself, rather the entitlement that it seems to instill in its very white and male partiers) we took a ride over to Fort Mason to check out Readers Bookstore/cafe for some books and lunch with a side stop at Flax before heading home to work in more edits.

This is an orange version with the single step method crust

This is the lemon version with the two-step crust

Then I thought it would be a good time to work up a test batch of the new recipe I have been tinkering with for the Pistachio Crusted Lemon Cream Cheese/Marscapone Crunch Bars.

While the first one was cooling, I worked up another variation as an Orange Creamsicle Bar for Paul.

Of course, the Boss just got comfortable and watched hoping for me to drop something. But sorry, Dino – not today little man.

 

Sunday

Poor Dino, he is getting tired of our walks too. Since I discovered the podcast Up & Vanished, We have been extending our walk time while I listen to episodes. Which is fine except when its meal time. I think he will be glad when Paul is up and active again. 🙂

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Book Club Goes South Of The Border; So Did My Cooking This Week

After a rough week – I needed to “stress cook” with Mexican themed dishes

To balance the very healthy dinner the other might, and inspired by the book that we’ve been reading for Book Club this weekend; The Uncomfortable Dead, with its Mexican theme,  I decided to look into some older recipes and given I needed the distractions – went out to try these Mexican themed recipes.

Mexican Wedding cake/cookies

First I tried my hand at a batch of Mexican Wedding cake/cookies (aka Russian Teacakes or Snowballs); it would seem that most cultures have a version of this butter, sugar, flour & nut recipe and everyone has an opinion on what makes them authentic and the “best”. So while mine didn’t come out the way I planned with a cute little crescent or ball shape, and they looked more like “pillows” than I intended they still ended up tasty.  I think I went short on the amount of flour I was supposed to add so they spread during the bake – but from the feedback, I got – lots of folks said to keep it that way. This cookie has always been a favorite one of mine, that one of my Aunts would often make, but I tended not to eat them when out in public, because some versions (especially the Italian one) have hazelnuts. Which is one of the few foods I am strongly allergic too. But in the spirit of Book Club, I thought, “let’s go ahead and I’ll make them” and to make them my own, I did a rough toast and grind of not one nut, but three;  toasted pistachios, almonds, and pecans! Now the recipe is super old school, including the mixing, is all by hand, and I mean “hand” no mixers or spoons. So you can imagine the mess at one point.

Pickled Carrots and Jalapeños

Back in the day, when I first moved to San Francisco, I came across a tucked away Taqueria in the Mission that the owner used to make buckets of pickled carrots and jalapeños. They weren’t something I had tried before moving here. So while she is now long past, I always try to look for that perfect heat and crunch. So “hot off the presses” from the fermentation class I took in April, I decided to also whip up some of my own pickled carrots & jalapeños for Book Club.

 

Cherry tomato and Red Wine Jam

The primary dish I had planned to bring to Book Club I started the prep on Friday night so that a certain someone could sleep in and not hear me banging around the kitchen. This dish is actually one from Pati Jinich’s Cherry tomato and Red Wine jam on goat cheese covered toast. She is the lively and creative host of Pati’s Mexican Table which I have been tuning into more and more

When I first read this recipe, I had an “hmm so it’s like a warm Mexican style bruschetta” moment, but like the cookie, most cultures have some kind of combination of tomatoes, cheese, and bread as a starter. Still, the recipe looked good, and I thought I’d give it a try. I have to say I’m glad I did. It was a super easy recipe to make, the outcome was very very tasty.

Note to self: It holds up well so would be perfect for entertaining (think the annual holiday open house) by doing parts of the prep the day before, the do the simmer in the morning and spoon it out just before serving.

The only thing I felt I needed to do differently from the recipe, was adding a little squirt of lime into the tomatoes before spooning out. I think next time I could use a little extra zing with some diced jalapeño too. But overall a definite win.

Also managed a few treats for the guys!

If you follow this blog you know that over the holiday I did some fun bookmarks and “Keepers” from old jewleryWell I figured it would be fun to create some old school bookmarks to surprise the Book Club with as a companion theme to the book “The Uncomfortable Dead“.

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Eating on the Go: How to Find Healthy Options on the Road

Eating well can be challenging on its own but eating well while on the go presents its own unique set of challenges. Luckily there are easy ways to reduce the likelihood of living on convenience store burritos and slurpees while on the road. Check out these tips to keep your eating habits healthy and your journey enjoyable.

Plan Ahead

The most effective way to maintain a healthy diet or even just access to foods while traveling is to plan ahead. Sturdy fruits like apples, bananas, and oranges travel well without any prep work or refrigeration. Vegetables like snap peas and baby carrots also hold up well when packaged in zip-top bags. Other fruits, like grapes, cantaloupe, or pineapple, and vegetables like carrots, celery, or jicama can be prepared at home and carried in small containers within a soft-sided cooler or ice chest (just make sure to refreeze the ice packs in your hotel room each night). Include items like beef jerky, tuna pouches, string cheese, Greek yogurt, fruit leather, and a refillable water bottle to ensure you have a healthy snack or mini meal close by whenever hunger hits. For years I have been a huge fan of the Lock & Lock brand of food storage products. I think I have mentioned them several times including when they come back full, rare but always a nice treat or during my party prep posts.

In fact – I think its the primary food storage product I have used for the last 15 years. With a silicone seal, locking clips and shapes that fit nicely into my bags and got me back and forther to Atlanta and Washington DC during my recent commute effort. They are my go-to “travel buddy”.  While many of them came from QVC back in the day, they are now available on Amazon. These are a few of my favorite sizes; the Lock & Lock Plastic Food Storage Airtight Container Set (2300ml/78oz+1000ml/34oz+(180ml/6oz×2) is a good starter. I use whatever I don’t need for craft supplies. But at less than $20 they are a good all around set. Another good by is the  Lock & Lock Water Tight Food Containers, 14-Piece Set it is a few dollars more at $29 but fills in the packable sizes. You can still find them on QVC (no affliliate links – just a good resource) and they often offer larger custom sets, such as the Lock & Lock 18-piece Storage Set. Oh and Lock & Lock often has a wide assortment of colors and sales  – so they are the ones I will but for doggie-bags, this way I dont have to worry about getting them back.

By the way, they just aren’t for people food – Even Dino got some of the Storage Bins Food Storage Container with Flip-top that fits the medium bag of his food.

Dont forget that great recipe for the protein oakcake recipe I posted – those are perfect for travel plain or with jam and peanut butter on them. Freeze them the night before and by the time you are ready to eat them they will be thawed.

Vending Machines

Look past the candy bars and toaster pastries and you will find an assortment of healthy (or at least healthier) food options waiting in the nearest vending machine. Most vending machines offer such nutritious snacks as nuts, raisins, trail mix, beef jerky, and sugar free gum. You can also find healthy versions of normally unhealthy treats, like dark chocolate or whole grain chips and crackers. While the packaged cookies found in vending machine are full of fat, sugar, and preservatives, Fig Newton cookies can tame a sweet tooth while providing a dose of real fruit, whole grains, and fiber. Some vending machines even offer bags of microwave popcorn that can be prepared in your hotel microwave. Many places are reaching out and trying to offer a wider range of vending machine options. While in Las Vegas recently, I even saw one machine that was chilled and had fresh fruit.

Grocery Stores

Instead of relying on restaurants and convenience stores for meals, seek out the nearest grocery store to find healthy food that is much cheaper than most restaurant fare. Many large grocers have a well-stocked salad bar where you can fill up on fresh fruits and veggies. Some even offer hot soup made fresh every day. Individual servings of meats, cheeses, yogurt, boiled eggs, or fruit cups are also available. Food from the grocery store is much cheaper than restaurant food, so do not overlook this option. When I was traveling  I always checked to see where the closest Trader Joes was. While Whole Foods was a great option (but expensive) as well as the traditional grocery stores, I like Trader Joes sizes, and they often have ready to go sized meals perfect for the plane.

Eating healthy on the go requires a little forethought and preparation but can also save you both time and money. A little advance planning and finding healthy options at the vending machine and local grocery store can make your next trip a success.

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It Was A Fermentation Weekend

Fermentation you say?

Yup. I got a rare chance to take a class on it. This one was on Fermentation, but first.

OK yes. I am “one of those” that when I get a new cookbook; I read it cover to cover. So there’s nothing better than getting a cookbook that actually has some storytelling in it. I finally got my copy of DeepRunRoots from A Chefs Life’s Chef and Author, Vivan Howard. All I have to say is it’s a good thing I had a full pack of post-it tabs! Oh and by the way- the cookbook is huge and very well done and worth every penny.

So, of course, that meant a morning was spent first finishing up another batch of DeepRunRoots version of watermelon rind pickles. My first batch did well, (which I Facebooked and Instagrammed but didn’t write here about but you can find via the hashtag #BiteTheRoad) but having used those bowling ball sized watermelons which will only make 4-5 jars. Those went pretty fast, and I also wanted some of that leftover liquid to simmer down further into a syrup for other uses this weekend.

Next on my “To Do’s” before I could get myself ready for Fermentation class

Was to knock out a few quick “gestures” for a few pals recovering from surgery; my fav lemon bundt cake converted to mini loaves drying. Many of you who read this, know I am a big fan of making a heartfelt and genuine gesture or appreciations. Be it a way of saying “thank you” or recognizing someone who went the extra mile or simply to cheer up a sick friend.

In this case, in addition to having someone home laid up post surgery, I have two other friends who also went under the knife (or laser as the case may be” and wanted to prepare a little something to send over. To be precise –  my philosophy is either drop it off and go or mail it. When making a gesture like this, it isn’t supposed to be a way for you to take up the persons time with social stuff. It’s your making the effort to drop something off and not be in the person’s way by making them entertain you.

Now I keep a few recipes for precisely this. That meant a trip to the “tree” to get some lemons and I adapted my favorite lemon bundt cake into mini loaves. Now, this isn’t my recipe – it’s one of those from the folks at King Authur flour called Lemon Bliss Cake. They do it so well I don’t really screw with it. The batch recipe makes a huge bundt, two loaves or 4 mini’s. (Check out the recipe’s comments as many shared include some great tips). One lucky person is even getting a jar of the pickles.

When all that was done – it was time for fermentation!

Why Fermentation?

Well, why not? I grew up seeing my Mom occassionally can and jar fruits, pickled eggplant and such but never really learned how. Last year I started to explore more about canning and pickling and decided why not learn more. A pal who has taken classes from the UC Master Food Preserver Program mentioned they were doing one on fermentation. What I liked most was it was hands-on and you got to take stuff home and all materials and supplies were provided, you just had to bring an apron. You can read more and see whats coming up here or the more San Francisco/San Mateo centric list here.

So bright and early Saturday morning we drove down to the Elkus Ranch Environmental Education Center for the class.

I have to say it was one of the best mornings I have had in a while.  With some great volunteers and trainers from the Master Foor Preserver program and a small group of learners, we got down to business with making a huge batch of Kimchi, a jar of preserved Lemons (which I had already tried and written about last year) and a starter kit for making home-brewed Kombucha.

Oh yeah  – if you are so inclined, the next Master Food Preserver Open House/Volunteer Recruitment is May 8th. I may be leaning towards doing the Master Food Preservers Introduction to Canning next myself. They can also be found on facebook: MFP Facebook