Archive for the ‘food’ Category

Family & Friends

August 1, 2019

I have some new ones in both categories.

I should be more specific.

I have new family of choice, not of origin.

Though heaven knows I have enough family out there that it would not surprise me in the least if a cousin had a baby and I had no clue.

What I am referring to is Cuban family.

I received the sweetest, most heartfelt gratitudes and thank you from the Cuban people I connected with when I was in Havana today.

Yesterday I finally hopped on Air BnB and reviewed the experiences that I had booked in Cuba.

Normally I don’t actually do reviews on Air BnB.

I have never booked experiences before though and I was asked by each person that hosted me to review them on the site.

Apparently it really helps them and considering the state of economics in Cuba I was more than happy to help in anyway I could.

I gave 5 stars (out of five) to all but one of the experiences.

The one I only gave 4 to wasn’t necessarily the hosts fault.  I gave a lesser rating to my trip to Vinales because the tour tried to pack too much into it.

First, Vinales is almost, not quite, but almost  two hour drive from Havana, so that’s four hours in a car, a classic car–which is at once super cool and also, not comfortable.  At least not nearly as comfortable as a modern car. It was a great car, but my legs were cramped for sure.

Second, the tour really could have, in my opinion, ended after the horse back riding and lunch.

The first thing we did was stop at the Vinales Valley visitor center and take in the panorama of the valley.

It was gorgeous.

After a little education about the valley we headed to a tobacco and coffee farm to learn about how they grow tobacco and to smoke cigars and drink rum.

I did neither of those things.

I did, however have coffee and I bought two bottles of coffee beans.

Yes.

I said bottles.

The country has almost no manufacturing capabilities, everything gets reused and recycled, so my beans came in reused water bottles.

Lovely beans too.

I have been having Cuban coffee every morning since I got back.

Then after the cigars, rum, coffee we went horseback riding through the valley.

It was gorgeous and unfortunately being on a horse did not really facilitate me taking a lot of photos.  No pictures of horses for you.

It was hot though, whew, sweat galore.

After the horses we went to a local paladar and had an amazing Cuban lunch–yucca, lobster, squash, beans and rice, stewed pork, chicken two different ways and I had, for my drink, a huge young coconut that I happily sipped all the juice from and ate the entirety of the insides.

Baby coconut is so freaking good.

Then we went to a cave.

Then we went to a mural.

I did not like the cave, it was too dark and wet and it was hot, it did not feel cool being underground and there were bats and we rode a boat at one point.

I did not need that experience.

Nope.

The best thing about the cave?

Literally the light at the end of the tunnel.

After that we got back in the car and went to visit a famous mural.

Now I am done at this point and the cave had been a pretty popular tourist destination so for the only time I was in Cuba, I had to wait in line to do something.

Never my cup of tea.

The mural was nice, but it was nice, not amazing and it was late and a free pina colada was not to my liking.  Just give me the water and get me home.

And that was my “worst” time?

Please, I got to ride in a classic car, meet cool people, go horse back riding, buy coffee from a Cuban farm, go spelunking and visit a national monument (the mural).  I have nothing to complain about.

The rest of my experiences reflected just that, nothing to complain about, nothing that I would have changed or made better.

I had a slight critique of feeling dropped at Mediteranneo Habana, but it was such a tiny glitch I didn’t give them a negative review.

It was a farm to table experience where I went out and had a tour of the farm that provides meat, milk, cheese, sausage, cured meats, chicken, pig, rabbit, vegetables, all the fruits–bananas, sugarcane, mango, guava, and herbs to this very highly regarded Mediterranean restaurant in Verdado.

The farm was beautiful and I was met by the manager of the farm, his family has been running the farm for 5 generations.  He was super kind, very friendly, had great English, and greeted me with a heaping plate of mango, watermelon, pineapple, and guava.

It was lovely.

I felt so welcomed and really got a grasp of what it is like to farm in Cuba.

Where almost all the farm’s production goes straight to the government.

They are not allowed to keep any of the beef they produce and only 10% of the milk they produce.  The milk they use to make cheese for the restaurant.  I tried four different kinds between the ricotta and the fresh mozzarella I was astounded.  They were so good.

The farm also gives the government almost all pork produced and a fair amount of the eggs and chickens.

I was amazed they are able to stay in production.

It was quite a behind the scenes look at farming and I really enjoyed my meal later at the restaurant.  The transition between the two was a little bumpy, but like I said, the food and the waiter who took care of me pretty much negated it.

And here I am at the end of my blog time, I’ve got to get up early for group supervision and I haven’t even got to the three top experiences that I went on.

They will have to wait for the next blog.

Buenes Noches!

 

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What to Do?

June 29, 2019

What to do?

I have some free time.

The family I nanny for is on summer vacation and this week was my first of six, SIX, weeks of not having to nanny.

Sure.

I still have clients, but only four days of the week.

I have commitments too, so this week I have been city bound.

But.

I am itching for a little adventure.

A road trip.

Not a big one, just where ever  I can get to in three to four hours.

I just figure a drive up or down the coast.

Or.

I may take this Sunday and drive one direction and next Sunday drive the other way.

I was thinking of doing Point Reyes Lighthouse, only to discover that the lighthouse is under repair.

I still think Point Reyes Station is not a bad idea for a Sunday drive.

Oysters.

Hog Island, Point Reyes, Tomales Bay.

Oysters.

I could just do a little drive to a couple of oyster joints.

I just want to drive along the ocean for a while and make a nice memory, feel the sun on my face, stop at a beach along the way.

I could go to Stinson Beach or Muir Beach, I could follow the coastal highway without thought to where it goes.

Drive and stop when I want to.

Grab an iced coffee somewhere or stop at a road side farmers market and get cherries, oh stone fruit season how I love thee.

Pull over and contemplate the ocean.

It’s good for contemplation.

Sometimes I can get stuck though trying to figure out what is the best way to spend my down time and I’d rather not do that.

I have slept in some this week.

Not every day, I’ve gotten up early for group supervision and for my own therapy.

But.

I did sleep in a little bit.

I have gotten to get out to do the deal every day and go places I don’t normally go, hear things I don’t always get to hear read and see folks that I haven’t seen in a while.

I tried to go to a matinee of The Last Black Man in San Francisco, but it was sold out.

I still think a matinee should figure into my down time at some point.

I also think that there’s room for some self care, a massage for sure.

I also did get acupuncture done this week.

The school I go to is affiliated with the ACTM Chinese medicine and acupuncture school, so I was able to get a session for $20!

I am using it to address stress, eczema and my reflux.

I booked another session for next week, shit $20 is less than I pay for my co-pay to see my regular doctor and I got so much information and help in the two hour session I had that it was unbelievably worth it.

The next session won’t be two hours, they do a tremendous back ground and assessment, but really, I have never had a doctor take so much time to find out about me and my needs and my ailments.

It was super refreshing and I felt so taken care of.

I was told that it would take a few sessions but that the eczema should clear up in six to eight weeks, which is fabulous since all the crap I have otherwise tried over the last three years hasn’t worked.

I was also told that they, the intern and her supervisor who saw me, it’s a teaching school, suspect that it’s my diet.

So they made a few suggestions and I will be taking one or two things off my plate for a little while to see if it is indeed diet.

Interestingly enough they think it’s the chicken in my diet!

I roast a chicken just about every week and eat roast chicken with brown rice and a vegetable as my dinner most nights.

I follow a food plan for abstinence and it’s super easy and tasty and it doesn’t take a lot of effort to cook and I’ve been doing it for about three years or so.

Three years.

Right about the same time I notice the eczema on my face.

According to Chinese medicine, chicken can be drying and it’s showing up on my skin as dry red patches on my cheeks!

I mean.

Ok.

I have never heard that before, but tell you what, I’m willing to cut out roast chicken if it will give me back my skin.

Besides.

It’s been three years of roast chicken, time to switch it up for a little while.

And also, finish the roast chicken I have in the house.

I mean.

I’m not going completely cold turkey, er, chicken.

I was raised in the Midwest by a mom who’s parents went through the Depression and WWII.

I know you clean your plate.

You don’t argue about finishing food.

You are grateful for what you get.

You sit at the table until it’s gone, even if it’s cold squash.

Fuck, cold squash is nasty.

Or.

Liver and onions

Ugh.

Hot is bad enough, cold, barf.

You also don’t waste food.

I paid for a nice organic chicken and I took time to cook it and I’m going to finish it off.

My skin can handle a few more days of chicken.

Then.

When it’s gone I don’t intend to buy any for a month and a half and see what happens to my face.

I do believe that it will clear up, whether it’s dietary change or the needles, something about it feels like it’s working.

So yeah.

Self-care is high on my list of things to do.

I may not know exactly what I will be doing with my time–museums, cafes, pleasure reading (I bought a book that wasn’t for school!), lunch with friends, coffee dates, hiking around my house–the sunset last night was spectacular!

2019-06-27 20.26.22

Whatever comes up.

I want to be game for it.

I know only too well how quick the time will go.

I want to make sure I savor every last bit of it.

Especially if it includes oysters!

Rendered Speechless

December 27, 2018

I don’t often look at old photographs.

I just did.

Work photos from over sixteen years ago.

Longer, perhaps, though not much more than eighteen years, I’ve been in San Francisco for sixteen, so they have to be at least that old.

There’s a private Facebook page with photographs of a place I used to run for six years.

1996-2002 I was the Floor Manager at the Angelic Brewing Company in Madison, Wisconsin.

A lot of the photographs are ones that I took myself.

Although I don’t have the album that they are located in.

I used to take a lot of staff photos.

Before Facebook and camera phones.

I kept a photo album in the office and I would put it out during big staff events.

Most usually the annual holiday party that I was in charge of organizing and running.

We got silly.

I remember one year I bought a bunch of disposable cameras.

Oh the pictures on those cameras.

Many stories.

I was rendered speechless though when I saw a photograph of myself that may have been at my heaviest weight when I was working there.

I don’t actually know what I weighed.

I didn’t like to use the scale.

But I do know that the shirt I was wearing was a size 26.

I now wear a size eleven.

So much has changed.

I just sat on my couch before logging onto my computer and I had an abstinent meal.

Abstinent for me means no flour (of any kind–almond, oat, coconut, corn, wheat, etc) and no sugar.

I do eat fruit, so I get sugar that way, though I tend to not eat fruit with my dinner.

I will.

Just not always.

Fruit is a sort of desert for me.

For dinner tonight I had about a 1/2 c of sautéed broccoli with a cup of brown rice and a roasted chicken leg and thigh.

I had some bubbly water and I listened to jazz.

When I think about the way I ate when I ran the Angelic.

Oh my God.

Freaks me out a little.

Sort of like how the picture did.

I almost want to post it here but I’m not actually sure how to do that and I am also not really sure I want to post it anyway.

I am grateful though for the changes I have gone through and for the good reminder that although my body doesn’t look the exact way I want it to, it looks a hell of a lot better than it did.

I mean.

I used to have a double chin.

I haven’t had a double chin in a long ass time and I am hella grateful for that.

The amazing thing about the photo is that I’m doing the splits on the bar.

I was a lot more limber then than I am now.

I was also studying to get my black belt in Kung Fu.

That also blows my mind, that I got a black belt at the weight I was.

I wonder sometime what it would have been like if I had lost the weight sooner.

But really that doesn’t do me much good to think about that, it’s just fantasy and speculation.

I also had to have some recovery under my belt before I could get abstinent, recovery, therapy, self-care.

A lot of that.

Self-love.

I am really quite proud of myself when I see how very far I have come.

All things considered.

I shouldn’t be where I am at today.

I am very, very, very grateful.

I’m also grateful to have gotten through Christmas.

Three gay boys, two movies, and one sushi dinner.

It was an official San Francisco Christmas.

Matinee at the Kabuki, hanging out in the Castro, then the Metreon in the evening.

I am grateful too for the people I spent time with.

I am grateful for San Francisco being my home.

I am grateful for all the lovely gifts I was given.

The biggest one, always does seem to be perspective.

That’s why the photo hit me so hard.

Just how far I have come.

I’m 46 now.

I look so much better at 46 than I did at 26.

I may have been a little older in the photo, but my weight would have been about the same.

It got bad there for a bit.

But then I think, I needed to be the way I was, to feel safe.  I ate to feel safe in a body that was not a safe place to inhabit.

I ate because I had been hurt.

I did not want to hurt anymore.

I also ate because it was a compulsion.

There were times when I would find myself in the dark raiding the desert fridge at work– shoving an entire piece of Irish Cream pie into my mouth, one, two, three pieces in under five minutes.

I hated it and I couldn’t stop it.

I also didn’t realize that once I put sugar into my body it was sort of on.

Sugar is just as addictive as many narcotics.

Sugar activates the same place in the brain that cocaine does.

I loved cocaine.

And before I had cocaine.

I had sugar.

I had a lot of it.

God.

Just thinking about how much soda I drank too.

Ugh.

I mean.

I worked in the service industry for two decades.

I did not drink diet soda ever, I scoffed at it.

I drank straight up Coca Cola.

I drank vats of it.

When you work in the service industry you usually get free soda.

And because I was in management, I got free meals.

French fries dipped in sour cream.

Fried fish sandwiches with buckets of tartar sauce.

Pasta with chicken and mushrooms and cream sauce and parmesan and bread sticks.

OH bread sticks.

Idaho nachos–cottage fries instead of corn chips–with heaps of cheese and chicken and black beans and guacamole and sour cream.

Pizza.

Pizza.

Pizza.

Beer cheese soup.

And it was a brewery, so yes, lots of beer too, many, many, many pints.

Ex-employees used to joke about how they would lose the “Angelic 20” when they stopped working there since they weren’t always drinking the beer.

Which was not light in any sense of the word.

Oh.

How things have changed.

For the better.

I might have a nostalgic moment once in a great while for something.

But not ever looking like that picture again?

That will kill any craving I might have.

Fact is.

I don’t crave food, when you don’t have it in your system, the urge goes away.

Hella grateful for that too.

So here’s to not having to make New Years resolutions.

I am resolved every day.

I am happy.

Joyous.

Abstinent.

And.

Motherfucking.

Free.

 


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