Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Battle of the Polenta...

Sunday, I was zipping through Publix for a few things for the upcoming week and as an impulse buy, I tossed in my cart a tube of prepared polenta with sundried tomatoes. In the fruit section, I also saw, for my first time, a bright yellow slice of watermelon sitting amount the pink slices. Since Gordon is the watermelon lover of all times, and much less adventurous than I, I chose the pink one for his benefit.

As I was checking out, my favorite bagger, Nigel, a tall, skinny (as opposed to thin) Bit o'the Brit, with bright pink Harry Potter glasses that his wife picked out for him, handed me back the polenta instead of bagging it.

"Take this back and buy the corn meal and make your own -- it is cheaper and better," he says with his British accent and much authority.

"No, I am lazy today. I have corn meal at home, but I just didn't want to stand over a hot stove."

His hair practically stood on end as his eyes widened and shone through his pink frames, "WHAT??!! You have corn meal at home and you are buying this?? Take this one back -- or I will take it back for you."

"No really, I want this one," (I lied a bit -- frankly I didn't give a damn Scarlett, but I just wanted to speed up the process since a line was forming.) "I promise to try it from scratch next time, honest."

Looking disappointed, he bagged the prepared polenta, "You won't be disappointed. My wife makes it and there is no comparison."

And just when I thought we could get moving, and I am sure the folks behind me were hoping it was so, Angela, who was checking me out said, "Why didn't you get a yellow watermelon?"

To which I replied, "Well, never having tasted one, I wanted to stick with a sure thing."

"Oh, but they are so much better -- do you want Nigel to run back and get you a yellow one -- they are so deliciously sweet -- you will love it."

Now here, in a perfect world, I would LOVE Nigel to run back and get me a yellow one, but the line was looking surly and I thought I'd just better bring this whole experience in for landing, so I said, "Thanks, but I'll get one next time."

"If you're lucky," she said, "We rarely get them."

And she was right - I have yet to see one since, but I am on the BOLO (be on the look out).

Now, this story would not be complete if I would not share with you the fact that I did, with Gordon's sage coaching and preparation of the polenta mold, (a sophisticated term for the large dog food can he washed, de-labeled and took off both ends), I in fact, made homemade polenta.

It was embarrassingly easy. Standing over the hot stove, my tush! I am embarrassed that I even said that. I used Bob's Red Meal Corn Grits in a 2:1 ratio (water:grits) and it did not take 5 minutes start to finish.

Of course, being genetically incapable of following instructions, at the last minute, before I spooned my polenta into the mold, I added a drained can of white corn and chipolte peppers, stirred the mixture and then molded it and just put it in the refrigerator.

What can you do with polenta? The possibilities are endless -- it boggles the mind.

The post and photo above will show one way, with portabello mushrooms and marinara sauce.

I like mine cold just sliced on a dish.

You could top them with black beans and salsa,

or just salsa.

Gordon, not being anti-sugar like I am, fried his (not being anti-oil like I am) and topped it with maple syrup. He made his own mixture so as not to have lumpy corn and chipolte in it -- but I bet the sweet and the spicy would also be good.

You decide. Let me know your creations.

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The Story Behind the Garden of Eden Vegan Blog

For those of you who knew me prior to December 30, 2009, I was a veteran of the fast food culinary institute. My son, when he lived with me would ask if I had ordered the "Shabbat pizza" yet as the sun was setting Friday nights.

My idea of a good meal was a McFish sandwich, fries with extra salt, and a medium diet coke.

Everything was better covered in a rich creamy sauce and the idea of a naked baked potato was as foreign to me as walking naked in Manhattan.

In June of 2009 I decided to formally become a vegetarian. Although I had dabbled with this, it was not until I read Skinny Bitch that the gauntlet was thrown.

Now being a vegetarian does not sign you up for good health. I was proof of that. Chubby when I started, I indulged in pizza, french fries, cheese, cheese, butter, cheese, pizza......and became very over weight, tipping the Toledos at 200 pounds at 5'4". And taking an assortment of meds for cholesterol and GERD and who knows what else.

As the decade was waning, and with my 60th birthday approaching in the year 2010, there was a perfect storm that snapped my beak and got me in gear. The same friend who gave me Skinny Bitch, turned me on to the John McDougall website. At the same time, there was a Grand Round lecture at the hospital where I work on the book Eat to Live, and at the same time, I was tired of how I looked and felt and needed to make a change.

I regret that I did not start this blog when I changed my lifestyle, but it is better late than never.

My weight is down about 35 pounds, my size has gone from a tight 16 to a loose 12. And I am on no meds, although my vegetarian doctor and I will review my blood work within this month to see if I need anything (like b12) boosted.

I began as a Vegan Minus. Or what I call a Garden of Eden Vegan.

As you know, a Vegan eats no animals nor animal products - none. But then I subtracted oil, sugar, and processed foods.

That is a big subtraction -- but it is this subtraction that helped with weight loss, lack of cravings, increased energy, health, and vibrancy.

Now I am dabbling in raw foods and have signed up to learn with Russell James (google him).

I like the taste and health aspect of raw foods, but worry about the increased calories. So I will (hopefully) use the raw creations as a supplement to my Gan (Hebrew for Garden -- I am in a Hebrew mood today) Eden Vegan lifestyle.

My doctor said that I should write a book about this since most of her patients need it. I said, "Who, or how many, would want to do this?" We shall see. It has been easy (no cravings) and exciting as life and energy unfold before me, just as it was meant to be. (It didn't unfold over a fried fish sandwich, extra tarter sauce.)

Join me or not. Walk with me the whole journey, day trips, part of it, or not. This is my 60th year -- buckle up life, here I come.