It has been a week since I returned from my sojourn to Samos, Greece and I am finally feeling my body has come back to rest on home soil once more… although my mind still wistfully drifts away to that lovely isle with the turquoise waters gently kissing its shores…
But… being a BTD gathering… I must talk about the “food, glorious food” first.
Where to begin except to say that the food was fantastic!! Now… I am not an easy traveler… I often experience an upset stomach when on the road away from home and I live for peppermint tea to soothe my rattled stomach. It wasn’t until the last day on the island that I realized that my usual touchy-away-from-home stomach was completely at ease. No uncomfortable bloating, no intestinal distress… nothing. Certainly, the high quality of the food and the loving way in which it was prepared had much to do with it.
Where we ate most of our food… a taverna owned and operated by Agapi, was a BTD paradise. Our hosts, Alek and Tasso, were instrumental in encouraging the development of mostly compliant dishes, using olive oil, rice flour, etc. Very little wheat to be seen except in the bread basket on the table… along with plenty of rice cakes. I had the same item for lunch almost every day… tuna salad… made to order. Each salad came in a large earthen-ware bowl and was made fresh… no pre-assembly, with an assortment of greens and compliant vegetables, a generous helping of tender tuna drizzled with olive oil and served with a quarter of a lemon. It was delicious and so satisfying… kept me going until dinner. And…. once they know your blood type, no avoids are served in your meal. So…. no olives in my salad (damn!)… even though others had plenty of olives in theirs. I even snuck olives from Debra until she learned that olives are an avoid for B’s. I tell ya… these BTDing friends don’t let you get away with nothin’!! Such love…
Now dinner… dinner was an event. Beautiful oven-baked lamb, turkey souvlaki grilled to the tenderest perfection with onions, garlic, and sweet peppers, juicy, falling off the bone rabbit baked with onions, carrots, celery and lemon, fresh sardines wrapped in vine leaves and grilled or dusted in rice flour and sautéed in olive oil, lamb chops, beef roast, calamari, and more… all flavored with fresh dill, parsley, and other Mediterranean herbs and accompanied with rice, if desired. Along with our entrees we were served the most wonderful dolmas I have ever tasted wrapped in fresh vine leaves, sautéed wild greens which had been collected on the mountainside, sardine, dill and rice flour miniature patties and the same made with zucchini, rice flour, dill and garlic, and those glorious salads. With ample red wine and the occasional white wine of the Muscat grape that Samos is known for… it was truly a BTD heaven.
But being a B… I must have a separate paragraph for the fried feta. This dish alone is would make being a B a pleasure. It was lovely… and so simple. Just onions and a mixture of sweet bell peppers sautéed in olive oil with full-fat feta placed on top until it softens a little. Invert onto a plate and, voila!! The best appetizer for a B ever!!
As much as I enjoyed eating the food… I enjoyed sharing food with other BTDer’s the best. No explanations, no questions as to “why won’t you eat chicken”? everyone making substitutions to fit BTD needs. We all understood each other. And that made for the best dining experience ever.
Many warm and heart-felt thanks to Alek, Tasso, and Agapi for taking such good care of all our dietary needs and requests.
And… how could I forget the fresh bowls of cherries we were served for dessert near the end of our visit… the first of the season. Truly the cherry on top of the cake.
A few weeks ago, after a brief but very intense snowburst, I was hiking up a steep incline. The snow had left a thin sheet of spotty ice on the trail, with patches of dirt showing through here and there. As I crept my way up the hill avoiding the ice and searching for the safe dry patches were I could get my footing, I realized that this was exactly how my life felt as of late… climbing a slippery slope and looking for the dry earth amidst the ice on which to stand.
So here I am standing on a small but rocky patch of ground, trying to get my bearings…
I have spent a large part of the past month preparing to go to the BTD gathering on Samos in Greece. I am thrilled, excited, and honored to be attending and can‘t wait to meet all those lovely BTDer‘s on the other side of the water. I will also be taking the IfHI certification exam while there… wish me luck! Getting my work in order to leave has been challenging as this is part of our busy season. Plus my son graduates from high school one week after I return and relatives galore are descending for that one. April was busy but what a whirlwind May will be!!
In the realm of eating… I went to an awards luncheon and what was on the menu?… of course… chicken and tomatoes. It is always chicken and tomatoes… why is that?? I know… it’s cheap and easy to prepare. No matter… I’ve been to enough of these events to know I will always be assaulted with chicken. So I just eat lunch before hand and nibble on the salad… which ends up being a mighty expensive salad I must say…
And yesterday, in my little health food store, I found some organic, non-homogenized whole milk… with chunks of cream in it even!! I was thrilled! It would be even better if it wasn’t pasteurized, but I think one must have a Jersey cow in the backyard for that option.
But the taste… oh the taste was beyond compare… plus a smooth, velvety texture. Comfort food extraordinaire. If you have the chance to try some… you must. I am not a big cow’s milk fan, and I almost never drink cow’s milk, but I could finish off a half gallon of this milk in no time. Unfortunately, I must be careful with milk consumption at present so I treat this as a special splurge. And I think I will make some maple-egg custard and vanilla bean rice pudding as a send-off treat for myself.
Time for some Carole King too...
I don’t know about you but one of the things about the B plan that is challenging for me is the lack of beneficial fruits to choose from. Let’s see… we got cranberries, plums, pineapple, watermelon, and grapes for B secretors… lucky nonnies get several more. That’s not a whole lot of choices for us secretin’ folks and many of those fruits are available fresh only seasonally for those living in temperate climates.
So I have been looking at easy, doable ways of increasing my bene fruit consumption and am beginning with… the cranberry. Being one of only 3 fruits native to the United States (blueberries and the Concord grape being the other two), cranberries are chock full of antioxidants that neutralize free radicals. And the cranberry is listed as a super-beneficial in some of the BTD health library series. A super-beneficial did you say? Hey… even better!
Little round ruby of a fruit that freezes so well when fresh… I always stock up on organic raw cranberries during the winter season. However… this year the fresh organic berries that were available in my neighborhood were pitiful… almost half of the bags were filled with rotten berries. So I didn’t stock up like usual. I am looking for a small organic grower for next season that will ship fresh by the pound but have yet to find one.
In the meantime… I am taking the advice of a dear friend and adding a splash of unsweetened cranberry juice to my drinking water in the mornings. I am not a juice person, mind you, so drinking a large glass of sweetened cranberry juice loaded with sugar is so distasteful to me. I know… I know… there are many cran juices out there sweetened with white grape juice… but have you ever tasted just white grape juice before? I have. It tastes just like sugar water. Blech! But… the unsweetened juice with water… heaven…. Adds a crisp tartness to the water that is not too sour. And the color… oh the color!!! It makes me so happy to drink a beverage of such a shimmering shade of transparent red. I smile just thinking about it.
So… give it a whirl! Perhaps it will make your heart sing, too.
A couple of weeks ago, I saw Jill’s recipe posting of the "No tomato Tomato Sauce" that is listed in recipe base and just had to try it. Oh, B secretors… rejoice!! It really DOES taste like tomato sauce. Granted… I’ve been off tomatoes for so long that I have just a vague memory of what real tomato sauce actually tastes like. But this sauce is gooood. And made from a base of carrots, beets and sautéed onions. Excellent. Even the tomato eaters in my household enjoyed it. I decided to give it a whirl because I had a hankering for eggplant parmagiano, and basil or cilantro pesto just doesn’t cut it when it comes to eggplant… my usual Italian sauce standbys. I was tempted briefly to try an alfredo sauce with the eggplant but thought I’d search for a better substitution. I’m so glad I did.
And this sauce is easy!! Sauté the onions and garlic in olive oil, steam the beets and carrots, put in a blender/food processor with a little water (I use the steam water from the veggies) plus some lemon juice and spices and voilá!! A richly hued jewel-toned beauty of a sauce… in a striking magenta. Everyone commented on the color. OK… perhaps I went a little heavy on the beets but they’re beneficial, right? Gotta work those in when you can.
Last week I had the distinct pleasure of hiking in the snow. Now that may not sound pleasurable to you… especially in March… but it was a lovely experience. Just as I began to climb the cañon, snow began to fall… in those distinct crystalline, symmetrical shapes landing on the surface of my jacket. Each one similar in shape and size but unique and separate. I watched them land and sparkle for a few seconds against my arm and then quickly melt. I looked out across the cañon as the snow floated from the sky… giving shape and volume to the space between the cañon walls… each little flake mapping out its own journey through the space. And the feeling in the cañon when the snow falls is one of my favorite experiences… subdued, full, the almost soundless sound of snow falling. I enjoy experiencing the cañon in all its many moods.
Even though it snowed last week… and will again…the breath of Spring is noticeable in the cool air.
And today… I saw a Robin perched outside my kitchen window…
Yesterday, I started on my usual Sunday hike… got out the door late… decided to do a quick hike. Got to the parking lot…jammed packed. Went to a new spot… unanticipated…. unplanned.
On a whim… headed up a side trail… wary it might be too slippery and dangerous. But something continued to pull me inward. I decided to trust the pull.
Came upon what is usually a dry arroyo for run-off during flashfloods… at most, a small barely noticeable trickle of a stream. What a surprise when it was a complete sheet of frozen ice arcing down the ravine. A cascading waterfall stilled by the touch of winter. A magnificent sculpture shaped by wind and cold… with the chorus of tinkling water flowing beneath.
Up the slushy path and deep into the heart of The Mother… dank, dark, absolute quiet. I notice the densely packed Doug fir towering above me and up the steep sides of this narrow side canyon… stifling sunlight. I stopped several times to witness the profound silence… not a sound but the rushing of blood through my head and the beating of my own heart. I stop just to relish the lack of sound. Not even a whisper of a wind… gently held in the arms of the ravine.
Nearing the top, the grade of the trail steepens sharply. An effort to get to the top. The sky bursts into view amidst the top of trees. With all the effort of pushing up the hill, as I near the top, I am quite suddenly birthed on top of the ridge…. a sharp inhale of breath as if it were my first. A few more steps along the ridge and the view of the entire canyon opens before me. I feel as if I am viewing my own heart.
From here, the presence of sky dominates. The cry of a hawk echoes through the space between, tree and rock and blue. Sound travels differently up here. I no longer feel my own heart beating but I see it everywhere in the pulsation of life around me.
I sit perched on a rock facing the canyon and then I see it… the most amazing tree shape. Having been knocked over and partially uprooted many years ago, this tree did not die but survived through the strong hold of a few determined roots. But having its natural direction of growth thwarted, this tree grew along the ground with branches reaching skyward like mini trees. And where it’s trunk was bent, twisted, and scarred from the fall were the most incredible patterns of shape and color and texture. It was amazing to behold… as if a bonsai master had deliberately bent, shaped, and scarred the tree for the beauty of it.
I paused for a moment and wondered if my own journey through life, my own inevitable falls and scars held such beauty.
Back down the slippery trail, I was able to slide through the slushy snow on the steeper sections of the trail, and still remain upright! I stopped by the frozen waterfall one last time to listen to the bright song of water flowing beneath. I thought how each journey… no matter how short… is a metaphor for moving through our lives. There are steep sections, slippery spots, obstacles, moments of pause and stillness, gifts of perspective and insight.
And the opportunity to see the beauty in all of it.