Archive for the ‘cooking’ Tag

Pumpkin Stress Reliever   Leave a comment

I love Halloween. I definitely takes the cake (candy) as the most fun holiday. It is also a rare holiday in that the consumerism aspect (getting and consuming mass quantities of sugar), is equalled and maybe surpassed by the human aspect. Halloween involves creativity, time connecting (even briefly) with strangers, time spent with friends and/or family while trick-or-treating or partying, and lots of conversations about costumes.

Another thing that I look forward to every year is the unique stress-relieving qualities of the jack-o-lantern. It starts with letting the creative part of the brain go free to come up with a design. Then there’s the tactile experience of hollowing out the pumpkin, which involves slight physical exertion and plenty of textures and sensations. Same with the carving. I find that hollowing out and carving a pumpkin is one of the few activities where I am automatically fully present and where I experience with all of my senses. The laughter, the feel of the pumpkin beneath my fingers, the smell of the pumpkin, and the taste of the crunchy pumpkin flesh combine to make me feel happy and relaxed.

Once the carving is finished, there is still another stress relieving activity: cleaning and toasting the pumpkin seeds. I know some people hate the sensation of pumpkins seeds slipping along their skin in a bowl of water, but I find the sensation to be like a light hand massage. It feels so good, and I look forward to it all year. And then there’s the wonderful smell of the toasted seeds coming out of the oven and the taste of warm, salted seeds to cap it all off.

This year I reclaimed the jack-o-lantern process. Our old neighborhood was one of those places where a pumpkin left outside overnight will not last the night intact. Combined with the fact that I am allergic to squash (including pumpkin), and my enthusiasm was dampened and I gave up on carving a jack-o-lantern. In our inaugural Halloween in our new house, though, I couldn’t abstain. So I carved my pumpkin while wearing nitrile gloves to keep my hands from breaking out in a rash. I only had one tiny nibble of pumpkin flesh. I did the first part of the pulp/seed separation in gloves. But the gloves came off so that I could feel the seeds on my skin as I swished them around in a bowl. The smell of toasted pumpkin seeds nearly drove me nuts, but I controlled myself enough to avoid tasting in the hopes that in a few years my allergy will be gone. And I am at peace knowing that this year our pumpkins will be composted, not trashed.

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Posted October 31, 2010 by mayakey in conscious living, musings, psychology

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Conscious Kitchen Challenge, Self Exam   8 comments

One of the blogs that I read regularly, Ask An Organic Mom, is doing a conscious kitchen challenge to promote her knew book. I figure I’ll take the challenge and post my results here. To start, the first week is a self exam.

  1. How many meals do we make at home per week? It looks like this is a fixing food at home vs. takeout question. I’m not really sure where frozen lunches or breakfasts like cereal or toast fall because I don’t make my own but on the other hand I’m not stopping at a restaurant. I’ll use the loose definition of grocery vs. restaurant/prepackaged meal (no assembly except heating), which gives us a typical score of +15 (+25, -10).
  2. Look at the ingredient lists on foods in the cabinet. How long are they? Can you pronounce and visualize all of them? The instructions for this questions say to use one item, but I can get very different scores for a range of stuff in our cabinet. There’s the bag of local sun-dried tomatoes that scores +6 points, the can of black beans that scores +8, or the can of soup that scores +11, and then there’s the box of animal crackers that scores -3. Most of the items in our cabinet got a positive score, and I couldn’t find anything that I couldn’t pronounce (but then again, I am a science person).
  3. What’s in your fridge? What is the ratio of fruits/vegetables to packaged foods? We’re helped out by the fact that we only buy produce from the local farmer’s market, and only buy organic milk and butter (although some of the cheese may not be organic). The only packaged multi-ingredient items are juice, beer, and components like roasted red peppers, mustard, hoisin sauce, and mayonnaise. We get a total score of +34.
  4. What’s in your freezer? We’ve reduced our use of frozen lunches, but there’s a certain amount of bias in that I am doing this exercise before the weekly grocery shopping has been done. I calculate our total score to be 0. One package of conventional sausages canceled out one package of organic/humanely raised sausages; two frozen lunches canceled out the homemade frozen pesto and organic ice creams. But the scoring didn’t include the single-item packages like frozen berries, frozen edamame, flax seeds, or walnuts. If I include those at 1 point per bag we get a total score of +12. (Although since three of those are half empty bags of edamame, maybe I need to clean out the freezer.)
  5. How much trash do you create? Do you recycle or compost? We get a whopping +2 score. We recycle, but we don’t compost, and we fill up a garbage bag on average every two weeks. It’s pretty pathetic. I look forward to owning a home and garden so that I can start composting (although it’s a sad excuse since I could compost and container garden in our rental), and I think we generate WAAAAY too much trash.

So on the whole, we get a positive score. We are already working on increasing the amount of leftovers we make for lunches, and decreasing our use of pre-packaged frozen lunches. And I need to stop getting my Sunday morning muffin. I’m pretty happy with our cabinet and our fridge, but apparently our freezer needs some work. Really just some cleaning up work, though, if we can reduce our frozen lunches. the meat in the freezer is usually just a package or two of sausages, and most of the time they are organic and/or local and/or “humanely-raised” (although there’s no certification for that so – grain of salt). I don’t see us developing many relationships with a local farmer for our meat in the next few weeks. And then of course, there’s the composting.

Posted March 27, 2010 by mayakey in food, home

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