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Well, I slacked off on photographing the last two weeks of October Unprocessed. Work was busy, evenings have been busier, and photographing and blogging have not been my primary concerns. But it’s Halloween Night, we’re watching Shaun of the Dead and passing out candy, I’m gearing up for the NaNoWriMo kickoff event (yes, I said I wasn’t going to focus on fiction, but NaNo is infectious), and now seemed like a good time to write a blog post.
Here are a few observations about my second year as opposed to my first year:
- I relied on my slow cooker a lot the last two weeks. Bean-based dishes can cook on low for the entire workday, and be perfect when we get home.
- Whereas last year was a sort of consciousness-raising event for me, in terms of realizing just how much food was processed, this year was one for experimentation with recipes. I delved into some neglected cookbooks and tried some great new recipes. I played with bread recipes, seeing how loaves calling for white flour would work with whole-wheat flour. I played around and had fun.
- I noticed how much garlic, olive oil, and olives we consume on a regular basis.
- I’m now obsessed with Greek yogurt. It’s a standard side in my lunch bag, usually mixed with some crushed red pepper flakes.
- Yes, to be completely unprocessed is a challenge. But it’s worth it.
And now, to make up for my lack of food posts this month, I will share my recipe for Soba Noodle Salad.
- 8 oz dried soba noodles (if you don’t use wheat, rice noodles work great as well)
- 1 lb medium, firm or extra-firm tofu
- 1 container of mushrooms
- 1 bunch of scallions
- Sesame oil
- Soy sauce
- Rice vinegar
- Slice up the tofu. Lay it out in a baking pan. Douse with rice vinegar, soy sauce, and sesame oil until a marinade surrounds the tofu (I honestly have no idea how much I add).
- Marinate tofu for several hours (anywhere from 3-8; my marinating time varies based on my schedule)
- Preserving the remaining marinade, fry marinated tofu, roughly 3 minutes per side. I use sesame oil again.
- Slice the mushrooms and put them into the pan with the leftover marinade. If the marinade doesn’t appear sufficient, refresh the sesame oil, soy sauce, and rice vinegar.
- Marinate for at least 2 hours (I prefer 4).
- Cook the noodles at least 90 minutes before serving time. After they cook, put them in the fridge to chill.
- Just before serving, add mushrooms to the noodles. Chop up tofu and scallions, and add them as well. If the salad looks too dry for your taste, add the last of the marinade.
I’ve been holding onto this news for about two weeks now, but I wanted to wait until the contract had been signed and the release date had been set before I put this out to the entire internet.
I am thrilled to announce that Finishing Line Press has accepted my chapbook, We’re Smaller Than We Think We Are, for publication in 2013. I’m so excited to be working with Finishing Line. They’ve published a number of poets I admire, and I’m honored to be included. The book will be available for preorder on January 15th, and the official release date is set for April 27th.
Now I’m in the process of making sure the manuscript is perfect, selecting potential photographs to use for cover art, and other miscellaneous tasks to get everything ready for publication. It’s a lot of work, but I’m enjoying every moment of it. 2012 has been a great year for my writing; it looks like 2013 is going to start off with a bang as well.
I didn’t get as many photos this week, largely because we made a number of the same recipes (avocado toast, avocado, pudding, the couscous dish, and the noodle salad are regular staples in our weekly meals). In addition, there was a bulgar wheat and lentil salad that I forgot to photograph (but fortunately, I’m making it again, so look for it in Week 3!). I also focused on making dishes that would result in leftovers. I was busy with the Austin Rocks! event this weekend, so I wanted food on-hand without having to do much work.
Most popular ingredients this week: avocados, garlic, Greek yogurt, kalamata olives, bell peppers, feta cheese, lemons, olive oil, lentils.
I had a lot of fun with Week Three. Unlike Week Two, I didn’t feel flustered trying to fit the exercises into my life. They also gave me a lot to think about. There was a lot of artistic affirmation this week, including taking stock of all the people I have in my life who support my work, which felt like an extension of Week One. Between these two weeks, I’ve come to realize just how many people I have in my life who have a positive influence on my writing and other work. I’m really lucky.
My favorite exercise was #9. First, we had to list five dead people we wanted to meet. Then, we had to list five dead people (either people we’ve met or people we haven’t) who we wanted to actually spend time with in the afterlife. Most of the people on my first list were writers I wanted to talk to. But the people on my second list were all biological family members and close friends (both of my grandmothers, an aunt, an uncle, and Reesa). It was interesting to realize that, while there are definitely literary celebrities I’d love to meet, what I really want is more time with people I’ve loved and lost.
Week Four is starting, and I have my reservations about it. The tool for this week is Reading Deprivation. That’s right, no reading for a week. Uh, I can’t remember the last time I went a day without reading, much less a whole week. I’m also going to have to modify it a bit. Cameron advocates no reading of anything whatsoever. This includes reading for school/work. Unfortunately for me, this is impossible. Cameron argues that she has had jobs where she’s managed to put off writing for a week, but I think she’s lucky. My job is reading. I get paid to read. If I don’t read, I literally will not get work done. So I’m just going to have to make an exception for that, because I like my job and want to keep it. Also, there are some emails I’m going to have to read. I’m planning a bridal shower and a poetry festival. I can’t just neglect all of my responsibilities.
Still, even with making exceptions for the essentials, it’s going to be a long week. No books. No magazines or literary journals. None of the blogs in my Google Reader. No webcomics. I’ve only been awake for about three hours, and I’m itching to pick up the copy of The Haiku Handbook that I just got from the library after nearly a month waiting for it to come in. Last night, I dreamed that I read a magazine. I have a whole list of things to do today, but this is going to be tough. Sunday afternoons are so often spent on the couch with a good book, that even knowing I have a list of things to do, I want to settle in and get cozy with a cup of tea. I don’t know how I’m going to make it to Saturday.
If anyone who reads this blog has done The Artist’s Way before, any advice on navigating Week Four and the Reading Deprivation would be very much appreciated.
The above video made the rounds on the internet last week, so it’s slightly old news, but it’s so great that I had to share it again.
For those of you who missed this one, a news anchor at a Wisconsin CBS station received a snarky letter from a viewer criticizing her for her weight. Not for her reporting skills, not for a story she presented, but her appearance. Which has no bearing on whether or not she is capable of doing her job of delivering news accurately.
Rather than being ashamed, Livingston went on the air and addressed the comment publicly, called the viewer out as a bully, and talked about the negative consequences that weight discrimination can have on children.
For all the fearmongering about obesity in this country, there is also a high rate of eating disorders, particularly among young women. And even thin people, when surrounded by a culture that denigrates fat people, are affected by size-negative messages. Being bombarded by magazines and television that claim you can never be too thin gets into your consciousness and wears down your self-esteem. We need more women like Jennifer Livingston, who are willing to call out bullies and create space in the world for confidence.
People don’t have to be thin to be healthy. Discovering the Health at Every Size community in 2008 was key to me shaking off negative images, and to ignoring toxic media claiming I would never be good enough. We don’t need more weight shame in this country. We need to learn how to be healthy, love ourselves, and welcome a diversity of shapes.
Back in January, I took up the challenge of writing one small stone every day for the entire month. Two of those pieces were selected for A Blackbird Sings, which is now available on Kindle in both the US and the UK. (UK readers can also preorder the paperback here; US paperback coming soon.) I love the little poems in this anthology, and I’m honored to be a part of this book. In addition, editors Fiona and Kaspa have declared November 1st Mindful Writing Day (in addition to being the first day of NaNoWriMo, for those of you keeping track…), and the Kindle edition will be free that day (plus, you have the chance to win a copy by participating in the event).
Older readers might remember that I lost one of my closest friends to cancer on January 12th. I submitted five small stones for the anthology; two of them were written within days of that event. My two grief stones were the ones selected to be published. Despite the fact that ten months have passed and I have come a long way in the process, I admittedly felt vulnerable when I checked the proof copy. Both of my pieces are only three lines each, and yet they bring back the memories of those first few weeks of knowing Reesa was gone from my life.
I’m glad these small stones are out in the world. I hope they’re able to give someone else insight and hope.
View all the excellent photos from this challenge here.
I’m doing October Unprocessed again this year. Since I know what to expect, this year will be more about sharing what, exactly I ate, rather than recording my experiences and impressions.
I used The New Moosewood Cookbook a lot this week, as most of the things in it either are or can be modified to be unprocessed, and because the recipes tend to make large portions. Leftovers are key when you’re eating almost entirely at home.
Most common ingredients in week 1: avocados (no difference from daily life), garlic (we went through an entire bulb in one week), peppers (bell and jalapeno), onions, beans, olives, and Greek yogurt. This year, I’m interested in seeing the consistent ingredients week-to-week.
There was also a delicious pesto-artichoke-olive pizza that I made for dinner on Sunday night. Unfortunately, I was so excited to eat it that I forgot to take a picture.
Stay tuned for more unprocessed photographic deliciousness next week!
I finished week two of The Artist’s Way on Saturday, amidst the fun of the Georgetown Poetry Festival. The whole week was busy, between general life, working on the poetry festival, and an emergency root canal (one of the teeth damaged in my car accident a few years ago decided to start dying). I ended the week feeling like I hadn’t accomplished much, because it was a struggle to fit the exercises in with everything else. But I did work every day.
I’m really enjoying doing the morning pages, even though it requires getting up even earlier. My head feels clearer throughout the day when I do a big brain dump first thing in the morning. They’re definitely paying off. I also feel like certain projects I’m bandying around are coming together, especially my next poetry book. I have a title and a basic structure for the next collection, and it feels as though I’ll actually meet my goal of a rough manuscript draft by the end of the year.
This week’s progress was small, but no less incremental. I look forward to seeing what week three will bring.