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Archive for June, 2007

first signs of summer

Sunday, June 24th, 2007

Though the weather in New England has been typically fickle, with a few days of eighty degrees followed by longer stretches during which we’re lucky to reach sixty, it is now officially summer in more ways than one. The summer solstice was Thursday, but more importantly, my local farmers market is now open!

Currently, the selection is small, as are the vegetables. On the other hand, the little baby greens are so tender and flavorful. For example, the collards:

I also picked up some arugula, which was making its first appearance at this particular market, some spinach, from which I must admit to still shying away at the grocery, a bag of mixed greens, and a bunch of chives.

I eagerly await the plethora of heirloom varieties this market promises, including zebra tomatoes, hardneck garlics, pattypan squash, etc.. It’s like a healthy version of Cheers where “everybody knows your name, and they’re always glad you came.” :)

And this year, it gets even more like it, as there is a new stand: a wine-maker with grapes grown right here in New Hampshire, Jewell Towne Vineyards. They’re not the only ones braving our short growing season; there is also Flag Hill, which is actually closer to me and this farmers market, though they’ve never set up shop here. So, a pleasant surprise indeed, prompting me to bring home a bottle of Maréchal Foch (a red) and a zinfandel.

Father’s Day

Monday, June 18th, 2007

It was a busy weekend in the kitchen as I whipped up some treats for my Dad and step-father and made a couple dips for “Fight Night” with the guys on Saturday.

This time we got to watch the UFC *live* in the afternoon, since the event was held in Ireland. We had a beautiful day here in the 80′s, and it was quite enjoyable that no one was struggling to stay awake until the usual 2 AM. (Actually, we’ve gotten around this by making it a habit to watch it the next day, observing a news blackout until then, so as not to reveal the results.)

Salsas are so fun to make. I experiment with different variations every time and let the flavors develop overnight. This one was on a tropical theme, with Captain Morgan’s rum and coconut extract giving it a nice sweet heat. To its left is the raw-ba-ghanoush that I had first tried myself last month.

When my Mom and step-dad returned home from an afternoon enjoying the outdoors on Sunday, I made a special delivery of his favorite peanut butter pie, just in time for their dessert. For the crust, a raw mocha creation served as the partner in a classic pairing.

My Dad will have to wait a little longer for his goodies. He now lives in North Carolina, so I shipped him some raw chocolate truffles.

in the zone

Sunday, June 10th, 2007

That’s where I was yesterday as I contended a couple rated chess games. At least until my blunder under pressure of the clock in game two. LOL. The battle was a tactical slugfest and far too complex to be done justice by the accelerated time control of Game/60. (Each side gets an hour to allocate as s/he sees fit for the entire game, making for a maximum session of two hours. Overstepping the time limit also counts as a loss.)

My opponent, Braden Bournival, is a titled master, officially recognized by the World Chess Federation (FIDE). He is a three-time, repeat champion of New Hampshire, the first of which we shared, and is more than 400 rating points above my “Class A” rank. Ratings are statistical measures, and this kind of disparity predicts a 99% win ratio for the higher. So, if we were to play 100 games, the odds are I would only manage one win. This was almost it! Quite literally, “The one that got away.” All in all a fun afternoon of chess in the wilds of NH. (Replay games)

Could the healthy fuel with which I provided my body and mind be responsible for such clear thinking? Perhaps… ;)

From a kitchen table loaded with goodies:

Here’s what I packed for the day:

  • 16 ounces watermelon
  • one big papaya
  • one orange
  • 1/3 avocado
  • six ounces romaine lettuce
  • 2.5 ounces red cabbage
  • three ounces broccoli
  • three ounces chicory
  • brown rice protein
  • 32 ounces coffee (black)

On another note, what’s this about Edwards not knowing of PETA?!

“I can honestly say I have never heard of PETA,” said Edwards. “They don’t want people to eat meat? Well I am not in favor of that.”

Yikes. Go Kucinich! :)

Vegan Done Light

Sunday, June 3rd, 2007

Like a proud papa, I am very excited to announce the “arrival” of my first cookbook! To torture the metaphor, this has indeed been a labor of love.

It has been a dream of mine for some time to publish a physical book. However, as I started in and began researching the options, the up-front investment, the number of recipes required, the editing, etc., it began to look like a multi-year project. The desire to put my crazy vegan creations to paper was just too great for such delayed gratification. I particularly considered many self-publishing and/or print-on-demand options. Some only let you go through their site (and whose ever heard of most of these guys?) Others, by setting outrageous base prices, make it cost-prohibitive for the buyer, even if the up-front cost is thus practically eliminated for the author.

Eventually, I turned my attention to the holy grail of self-publishing, the vaunted e-book. Let me tell you, this too comes with many hurdles! Whereas the more traditional routes run up against startup costs, restrictive contracts, etc., the e-book arena is fraught with technical hurdles (nor is it completely absent these other issues). And there are many charlatans out there ready to cash in on our ignorance by hawking software, hosting packages, and how-to books of their own. As a software engineer (aka, computer programmer) by trade, I was determined to create my own using available open source and cobbled-together freeware tools. Though to some extent I succeeded in this regard, I ultimately found it safer to leave the full automation/security aspects of the checkout to reputable vendors. To this end, I chose PayPal for collection, in conjunction with one of their recommendations for the actual product delivery and tracking. Both of these, of course, cost money, but they are worth it. With a full-time job, I cannot personally handle every transaction and, honestly, I didn’t really trust myself to automate all the moving parts.

Alas, there was still the actual book to write — recipe selection, testing, formatting, nutrition analysis, etc. — which added several more months to an already equal amount preceding that for the above. I am extremely pleased with the finished work. The recipes run the gamut from breakfasts to desserts and consist of reader favorites and requests and from the much appreciated feedback of family and friends. (I always encourage them to be brutally honest, as I’d much rather make something differently for a future gathering or bring something entirely new than unknowingly repeat a disaster. LOL.)

So there you have it, the nitty-gritty, behind the scenes. I hope you enjoy the results. It’s a tremendous weight off my shoulders, but more importantly, a crowning achievement, akin to reaching the peak of a beautiful mountaintop. Like my Mom exclaimed, when I told her last month that things were coming to fruition, “FINALLY!” :)

My Cookbook:

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