Monday, June 17, 2024

Enjoying Early Summer at The Farmer's Market

group of people standing near vegetables

Summer, my favorite season, is almost officially upon us! June 20 marks the date despite a severe heat wave on its way for the entire east coast starting June18. Luckily, for the past few weeks our mornings and late evening have been in the crisp and cool in the low 60's, despite rising to the 80's and 90's during the day.

Sunglasses on Sand Near Sea at Sunset

Summer for me means trips to the farmer's market, since I no longer grow my own vegetables. I made my first trip to the farmer's market in Wrightstown, Pa. this week, which is about a 25 minute ride from my house through Bucks County.

Landscape photo and picture

It's always a magical morning for me when I go there. The little outdoor market boasts about 20 stands composed of 2 organic farmers, 4 regular famers, fragrant soap makers, honey farmers, homemade specialty foods, food trucks, and a few other kiosks with people selling things they have made. In fact, during the covid years, I rented a spot and sold my healthy plant-based soups cookbook (link to see my cookbook on Amazon).

The make-shift weekly market for farmers is in a big field out in the county. 

Free Fence Wildflowers photo and picture

The merchants and people are very congenial and it feels like everyone is there to hang out, socialize, and of course buy the wholesome goods. There is always live music with a singer. I enjoy the solace of the ride out to country area, enjoy walking around in the big grassy field, talking to people - some that I now know and some that I don't. 


After the market, I drive about 1/4 mile to a little store area. There are about 6 large stores all sharing the same Parking lot in the middle of no where.
Photo

First is a large beautiful natural market (Organnons Market) where I usually get a brown rice vegetable sushi with fermented vegetables and any packaged goods that might be on sale that week. I  read all of the local business cards posted on their bulletin board ( most are holistic or homestead minded)  

Next store is  "OWOWCOW" ice cream shop which makes small batches of ice cream using many ingredients, including milk and cream, from the surrounding dairy farms. Thank goodness it is closed when I get there around 10 am. ( I don't need to be eating ice cream every week) . 

 
In the same shopping area is a local nursery that sells all kinds of plants, trees, shrubs, hanging baskets, flowers, and has starter plants for herbs and vegetables. 



 I bought a small pot of each : organic oregano, basil, and lemon verbena.  I will attempt to plant the herbs this week which may be difficult with my beautifully long and polished nails.

woman's hand with long nails blue polish

There is also an antique shop.  I've never gone into it, but I should some day. 

I'm excited about the new store that opened in the same shopping area recently. It is charming and exudes a peaceful atmosphere with lovely engaging people working there. It is called, "Rainbows of Healing" - A Metaphysical Boutique . Inside I found unique gifts, crystals, jewelry, singing bowls, books, etc. They also give classes and provide services such as Reiki, sound healing, and reflexology. 

(http://www.shoprainbowsofhealing.com). It was my first time in the store. I didn't buy anything but will keep it mind for gifts and I just loved being in there.

Do you go to farmer's markets? What do you buy? 


Friday, June 14, 2024

The Gilded Age Cookbook: A Review



From time to time, publishers offer me the opportunity to review new cookbooks. The Gilded Age Cookbook, by Becky Libourel Diamond, was sent to me in February. Due to my extensive traveling schedule, I am just getting around to the review.

Curiously, when I looked at the author's bio on Amazon, I noticed that Becky Diamond lives Yardley, Pennsylvania which is the same very small town where I have resided for the past 35 years (excluding our snowbird winter months in Florida since retirement).  

Her bio on Amazon: 

"Becky Libourel Diamond is a food writer, librarian, and research historian. She has been writing about food since 2008, parlaying her passion for food and history into the publication of The Thousand Dollar Dinner and Mrs. Goodfellow: The Story of America's First Cooking School. She lives in Yardley, Pennsylvania."
Cookbooks often serve as portals to different eras, cultures, and flavors. The Gilded Age Cookbook is one such treasure that takes us into the lavish world of late 19th-century America and to the culinary delights that frequented the tables of the wealthy elite during this fascinating period in American history.

The recipes span a wide variety of dishes suitable for every occasion,  modernized for today's kitchen. The recipes reflect the dishes served at extravagant dinner parties, ladies luncheons, afternoon teas, Gilded Age beach clambakes, and Gilded Age formal balls. 

Becky Libourel Diamond
Becky Libourel Diamond 

The most unusual recipe I viewed was for Rabbit, Hunter Style. Thankfully, the actual recipe was re-created by a Philadelphia chef to make it suitable for today's cooks. Another more unusual recipe was for Lobster Fricassee

The more recognizable recipes included lobster salad, Waldorf salad, strawberry shortcake, chocolate cake, chicken croquettes, steamed halibut with egg sauce, cornmeal potato muffins etc.

I made a tasty cucumber salad recipe titled,  Dutch Cucumbers which was a family recipe passed down by the author's grandmother from that era which began in the early 1870's. The author refers to it as "a tangy salad with a hint of sweetness." We enjoyed it!

What truly sets "The Gilded Age Cookbook" apart is its attention to detail. Each recipe is accompanied by historical anecdotes, historical photos, and insights, providing information that enriches ones culinary experience. 

Although the book has an extensive bibliography, it lacks a recipe index which would make it easier to find the recipes. Beautiful photos of the recipes and historical photos are plentiful and colorful. The recipe directions are well written, easy to follow, and the recipes look fairly easy to make.

A beautifully designed and well written book, The Gilded Age Cookbook would be a joy for anyone interested in food, food history,  and the particulars of the exciting Gilded Age of America! 

More About the Author

Becky Libourel Diamond is a food writer, librarian and research historian who specializes in reconstructing historical recipes. She has collaborated with several chefs and food groups to recreate historic dinners, including Marc Vetri’s Osteria restaurant in Philadelphia, Chef Adam Diltz of Elwood Restaurant in Philadelphia, COOK (a demonstration kitchen in Philadelphia) and Edible History Supper Club in New York City.  


Sharing on: The Sunday Salon 

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Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Unlocking Vitality: The Vagus Nerve and Energizing Techniques

                                    Free Human Employee vector and picture
How many of us wake up feeling tired, stressed, or feel our energy diminish as the day progresses? 

In the pursuit of optimal health and well-being, we often overlook the incredible ability of our own bodies to actually rejuvenate themselves. 

The other day my good friend Vicki shared a 10 minute rejuvenation video with me that Vicki found on Youtube regarding our "Vagus Nerve".  

                                                     Free Nervous System Brain vector and picture

Of course I had never heard of the vagus nerve, so the first thing I did was look for some solid research into understanding about the function of the vagus nerve and its impact on our bodies. This is what I learned.

Free Technology Laptop photo and picture

The vagus nerve plays a crucial role in regulating numerous bodily functions, from heart rate and digestion to mood and immune response. Ancient practices such as yoga, qigong, and tai-chi teach simple techniques to help energize and activate our nerves, glands, and organs, for improved vitality and wellness.

 Free stones on each other isolated illustration                                                                              

The vagus nerve, also known as the 10th cranial nerve, is the longest cranial nerve in the body, running from the brainstem down through the neck and branching out to various organs, including the heart, lungs, stomach, and intestines. It serves as a vital communication highway between the brain and the rest of the body, playing a pivotal role in the parasympathetic nervous system, often referred to as the "rest and digest" system.

Some functions of the Vagus Nerve:

  1. Regulates Heart Rate: The vagus nerve helps to maintain a steady heart rate, exerting a calming influence on the cardiovascular system.
  2. Controls Digestion: It stimulates the release of digestive enzymes and promotes gut motility, aiding in the digestion and absorption of nutrients.
  3. Modulates Inflammation: The vagus nerve has anti-inflammatory effects, helping to reduce inflammation throughout the body and support immune function.
  4. Regulates Mood and Stress: Through its connections with areas of the brain associated with emotions, the vagus nerve plays a role in mood regulation and stress management.
  5. Promotes Relaxation: Stimulation of the vagus nerve induces a state of relaxation and tranquility, counteracting the effects of the sympathetic nervous system, which governs the body's "fight or flight" response.

I found a great deal of information on the vagus nerve including techniques to help stimulate and energize this vital nerve to help promote vitality and relaxation. 

photo of a hound dog relaxing face on the floor

Here is a list of some of the information I found. 

  1. Deep Breathing Exercises: Deep, diaphragmatic breathing activates the vagus nerve, sending signals to the brain to induce relaxation and reduce stress. Breathing techniques such as belly breathing, box breathing, or alternate nostril breathing helps to engage the vagus nerve and promote a sense of calm. I know first hand that deep breathing exercises worked for my mother-in-law.

  2. Cold Exposure: Cold showers or immersions in cold water can activate the vagus nerve and stimulate the body's natural stress response, leading to increased resilience and vitality. Brief exposures to cold water to begin, and then gradually increase the duration as tolerated. (This one is definetely not for me, but my son does it and finds benefit)

  3. Yoga and Meditation: Practices such as yoga and meditation have been shown to enhance vagal tone, improving the function of the vagus nerve and promoting relaxation.  Check out Youtube where you can find many short videos that can easily be done at home for both yoga and meditation.

  4. Laughter and Social Connection: Laughter and positive social interactions helps stimulate the vagus nerve, promoting feelings of happiness and well-being. Spending time with loved ones, engaging in activities that bring you joy, and cultivating a sense of humor influences and nourishes the vagus nerve.

  5. Gargling: Surprisingly, something as simple as gargling can activate the vagus nerve. Gargling with warm salt water for 30 seconds helps stimulate the muscles in the back of the throat, which are connected to the vagus nerve.

Youtube provides many choices of yoga, tai-chi, chi-gong, self-care, exercise and vagus nerve videos. A simple search on the vagus nerve will provide a variety of simple techniques that you can do at home. 

My friend Vicki found this one (link to the Youtube) which I am not promoting, I only tried it.

Free youtube social media logo illustration

                               this one or a shorter one (link to the Youtube) 

I tried it, it took 10 minutes of basically tapping on my stomach and belly button, and I actually felt more relaxed after doing it. It seems innocent enough as it is mostly tapping on the area of the stomach and bellybutton. 

There is also a one minute energizer reset- here  (link to the YouTube)

According to the research, by incorporating simple yet effective techniques to stimulate and energize the vagus nerve into your daily routine, you can enhance your vitality and reduce symptoms of stress.

I'll be trying this 10 minute technique for the next 10 days and keep you posted...

I want to share a recipe as well: I make it with cherry tomatoes!! A delicious easy soup rich in anti-oxidants and nutrients!

bowl of tomato carrot soup , vegan, gluten-free soup

 Roasted Tomato and Carrot Soup  (link to recipe) 

As always I must share the following disclaimer: 

Disclaimer: I am not a medical doctor and I am not trying to diagnose, treat or cure illness. The information in this blogpost is strictly for informational and entertainment purposes. If you are having medical issues always consult a qualified medical doctor before changing your diet or doing any exercises. 

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Thursday, June 6, 2024

Refreshing Cucumber Salad with Clear Rice Noodles



cucumber noodle salad- GF and vegan
Cucumbers, onions, sesame seeds, mint, parsley, and rice noodles are some of my favorite salad ingredients that I use to make this easy, light, refreshing, and healthy hot weather salad. 

As we delve into the hotter summer months, think cucumber recipes to help combat the heat and stay hydrated and energized. Cucumbers are a delicious low fat and low calorie addition to any meal that help cool you down, nourish your body, and invigorate your taste buds. 

Cucumber slices

I know it's only the beginning of June, but the temperatures in the Philadelphia area are already sunny and in the upper 80's and low 90's right now, and I'm feeling the heat and humidity!

cucumber salad with sesame seeds and onion

Truthfully since I've been traveling for over a month, I have been eating out entirely and have not been doing any cooking at all!. 

It's been a shock to have to go back to shopping for groceries, then having to bring everything home, put things away and then actually having to COOK!! It's work- 

It is so much easier to eat out, but of course not as healthy.  Money wise -actually groceries are pretty expensive, so not sure that it costs that much more to eat out for 2 people)

I'm easing into making soup and salads. Yesterday, I made a simple spinach and yellow split pea soup in my Instant Pot as well as this simple cucumber salad.

palak dal at http://www.realfoodblogger.com

This salad is not only delicious, but it is also gluten-free, and vegan. It's a vibrant fusion of simple flavors that provide an abundance of health benefits.


Noodles in a bowl


You will need:

  • Fresh cucumbers: These hydrating gems are the star of the show, offering a crunchy texture and a subtle, refreshing flavor that serves as the perfect base for the salad.
  • Clear rice noodles: Delicate and light, these translucent noodles add a delightful chewiness to the dish while keeping it gluten-free and satisfying.
  • Optional Colorful vegetables: Think bell peppers, carrots, radishes, red onion, and red cabbage – not only do they lend a beautiful array of colors to the salad, but they also provide essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
  • Fresh herbs: Fragrant cilantro (or parsley) and mint add a burst of freshness and elevate the overall flavor profile of the salad.
  • Zesty dressing: A tangy combination of lime juice, rice vinegar, and a hint of sweetness from maple syrup ties everything together, creating a vibrant and tangy dressing that coats every bite.

The Health Benefits:

  1. Hydration: With its high water content, cucumbers are incredibly hydrating, helping you stay cool and refreshed on hot summer days.

  2. Nutrient-Rich: Packed with vitamins K, C, and B, as well as minerals like potassium and magnesium, cucumbers provide a nutrient boost without adding excess calories.

  3. Digestive Aid: Clear rice noodles are gentle on the digestive system, making them an ideal choice for many with sensitive stomachs or dietary restrictions.(always check with your own doctor)

  4. Low-Calorie: This salad is light on calories but rich in flavor, making it a guilt-free option for those watching their waistlines or aiming to maintain a healthy weight.

  5. Antioxidant Powerhouse: If you add the optional colorful vegetables to this salad it provides a wide range of antioxidants, which may help combat inflammation and support overall health.

  6. Vegan and Gluten-Free: By omitting animal products and gluten-containing ingredients, this salad caters to a variety of dietary preferences and restrictions, ensuring that everyone can enjoy a and partake.


    cucumber noodle salad, gluten-free and vegan


    a plate of food with cucumbers and radishes on it

Ingredients: Serves 2

1 large English cucumber, washed well and sliced very thin (or cucumber of your choice)
4 ounces of clear asian noodles, cooked and drained
1/2 cup of onion half moon slices
2 tablespoons of chopped parsley and or cilantro (your choice)
2 tablespoons of freshly chopped mint
1 tablespoon of sesame seeds (raw or toasted)
Optional: 1/4 teaspoon (or less) hot pepper seeds
1/4 cup of rice vinegar (or more to taste)
1 tablespoon of freshly squeezed lime juice 
1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder
1 tablespoon of pure maple syrup

**This recipe is the basic salad. If you like you can add thin slices of radishes, add grated carrots, slivers of cabbage, diced sweet red peppers etc. You can eat it as a salad or leave out the noodles and eat it on (GF) bread. 

Directions: 

  1. Start by cooking the clear rice noodles until they are soft, then drain and set aside.
  2. Slice the cucumber into thin slices or use a spiralizer or a vegetable peeler to create thin ribbons of cucumber. Optional: Chop the bell peppers into small pieces , and grated carrots, and red cabbage into very thin strips. 
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the cucumber and cooked rice noodles.
  4. In another bowl combine the vinegar, lime juice, garlic powder, maple syrup, and optional hot pepper. Toss in the fresh cilantro and mint leaves, and drizzle the zesty dressing over the salad.
  5. Gently toss everything together until well combined, making sure the dressing evenly coats all the ingredients.
  6. Chill for at least 1 hour, garnished with extra herbs or a sprinkle of sesame seeds for added crunch.
Variation: Make it without the noodles 

a plate of cucumbers with a spoon on a pink table

My Notes: 
1. Be sure to chill your salad so it will be cool and refreshing!
2. I listened to a Podcast today regarding gut health. The three most important recommended suggestions for better gut health are: a. Hydration with water. b. daily movement c. fiber intake from plants.

Try some of my other cucumber recipes: 

Lemony Israeli cucumbers and tomato salad

Asian grated cucumber and grated radish salad 

Chilled Cucumber Detox Soup 




Sunday, June 2, 2024

In My Kitchen June 2024

It's the beginning of June and I'm joining Sherry in her monthly "In My Kitchen" share. 

I've been away for about a month, so the only new things I have to share are the few kitchen items that I purchased in Paris, our last stop (6 days) before we flew back to Miami. 

Shopping in the Montmartre village with charming restaurants, artists, and stores. 
There are also neighborhoods and amazing churches. 

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