In the past week, two chefs in separate interviews have brought up how they note trends and movements in the food world – the ebbing and flowing of ingredients, techniques and ideas – and that those movement have strongly affected the menus they put out at their restaurants today.
I look at the movements of my own life in various ways.
Ten years ago today I signed my first lease in New York, and moved into a 10 x 30 foot apartment on the Upper East Side with three of my closest guy friends from college. Yep, three of us in 300 square feet. Then Brooklyn, then Astoria, then Washington Heights. I have some sharp memories of those places, punctuated by hot summer nights with the boys on the emptied streets of Manhattan, the coffee shops and Italian Ice in Brooklyn, my melting pot of European neighbors and food in Queens, and now the somewhat more subdued, sunlit place I call home.
Ten years ago I was dating Ruark, and we continued dating until four years ago. Now we’re still close friends, and he just moved in with his current girlfriend, which I think is wonderful. In Ohio I dated a man named Adam for a while, and he was sweet and gentle and the kind of man you should date when you’re newly out of a 10-year relationship and need some comfort. He’s now engaged and just bought a house with his fiance, and I couldn’t be happier that he found the kind of love and relationship he deserves. And then there was Aaron, who turned my world upside down by telling me he loved me, and then again when he let me go. I have no idea what he’s doing right now, but hope he’s finding what he needs to feel whole.
And, of course, there’s the storied career I’ve built for myself. First as a wide-eyed actor, putting in my time off-off and off-Broadway and around the country, writing and producing plays I’m still proud of. As a teacher of tiny little kids. As the special events coordinator of a theatre. As a part-time nanny of boys I still love very much to this minute. As a writer of whatever the internet needed so that I could pay my bills without burning out my body teaching while performing at the same time. And now as a freelance food writer and ghostwriter, trying to cut down the amount I work in pursuit of balance. I don’t regret a second of my random decade of work (though my bank account might).
My health, though, is where I see real movements, or waves, or cycles. In college I had confirmed Lyme rather badly. But it was nothing compared to what I experienced around 2007, when everything came out from under me and it took me a long while to build it back. And, now, things are in a middling area, and I once again find myself cutting back – less food, less work, less social time, less movement – so that I can figure out what my body needs most right now to function as it wants.
And then there’s the journey I’m starting off on again today.
Since 2004 I’ve participated in the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer 3-Day. It’s a 60-mile walk over 3 days with a $2,300 fundraising minimum, done all over the country. In 2004 I walked the last one organized in New York, and I saw my new city so brightly during my months training and during the event, where I took steps on all boroughs and many bridges. Then, and in 6 events to follow, I walked every mile. Then I took some time off when I was sick. When I got back, I walked 53 and then 45 miles, all in different cities.
And today my mother, sisters and I head out to Detroit for my 10th event. Things are a bit grey this year with my health, and I’m unsure of whether or not the beauty and energy of this event is enough to trump how the long drive, high-volume of stimulation and stress of walking are going to affect me. But I’m excited to go. In a huge showing of love and support, I’ve made my minimum – as have my mom and sister – and I’m humbled by how many friends and relatives donated even knowing that this year I’ll only be walking about 15 miles of the 60, as I’m pre-capping how much I do so that I don’t overdo, which is how I normally operate.
So, as I sat outside of my childhood home in the (too) brisk morning air and did some breathing exercises and a short meditation, I thought about how lucky I am to have had all I’ve had these past ten years; jobs, lovers, partners, friends I value so dearly, a family who’s stood by me in this sack of skin and bones and mess, the love of two tiny little furry things, travels all over the world, and a way to give back that’s challenging. These events aren’t easy, even for those without a chronic illness. But they mean so much. Because even with what we all deal with – Lyme disease, Celiac disease, various cancers – I do believe that love triumphs, and community, and humility.
And that’s what I’m driving to today.
Olive Oil Blueberry Muffins (gluten and dairy free)
I made these last night to take with me, more because I needed to bake something to calm a very bad day than because I needed to bring something sweet with me. I’m off most sugar and watching my carbohydrates as much as I can right now, as I’m not digesting them well and am on a pre-diabetic regimen for a few months. But my sister can’t eat gluten as well, and some organic blueberries at the market just looked too good not to bring home.
So I pumped as many good alternatives into these as possible – a spicy olive oil a friend of my dad’s sends over from Greece, coconut palm sugar (lower on the glycemic index), Pamela’s Products new gluten-free Artisan Flour Blend (it’s my go-to when I’m not at home with my flours now, all her products are stellar), unsweetened almond milk, and organic everything else. They’re dense, not too sweet, bursting with berries, and they slip easily out of the pan. These are not big and fluffy muffins that you’re going to showcase on a brunch table. They’re friendly, delicious little treats for a long road trip or very long walk.
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup olive oil (you can use vegetable oil, but I love a spicy olive oil in these)
- 1 cup almond milk (or soy, or cow)
- 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
- 2 tsp white or apple cider vinegar
- 1 cup coconut sugar
- 2 1/4 cups gluten-free flour (I used Pamela’s on this one, fair warning)
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 2 cups blueberries (rinsed and patted dry)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In a large bowl, whisk all ingredients up to coconut sugar until the sugar dissolves as much as possible and the wet ingredients slightly thicken. Add all dry ingredients and mix with a spatula until just smooth. Fold in blueberries.
Spray muffin tins lightly with cooking spray, and fill tins until about 3/4 full. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until tops are just firm. Cool in rack for a few minutes before removing.
Makes 12 muffins.