RV Chronicles #4 – Travel Book

20191116_165526“You can see a war out there, or you can see a friendly place.  Or you can simply see and skip the words.”

-Charles Bowden, Some of the Dead are Still Breathing:  Living in the Future

So, this story is not an RV chronicle, but it is RV adjacent.

We were in New York City for the weekend.  Mark took the kids to an M&M store in Times Square.  I opted to go to a large independent bookstore in Chelsea to be amongst my people.  I love to go to independent bookstores because the staff are not only really friendly, but incredibly knowledgeable.  I wanted to find a travel book based on RV adventures. 

Although I didn’t find one, the person helping me showed me a book of essays entitled, Some of the Dead Are Still Breathing: Living in the Future by Charles Bowden.  I loved the title, so I that was an easy sell.  Then, she showed me some books by French authors traveling around the U.S.  I bought the one that was most critical of America, as I love a little snarky adventure.

When I approached the cashier, he looked at me with disdain.  It was as if he was saying with his eyes, Here she is.  Another middle-aged white lady.  What is the book of the day, ma’am?  Ah, Meditations on Menopause? Good choice.  It is a typical look and I have seen before.  The NYC intellectual look, I call it. I usually wilt when I see this look as I still have an “also-ran” attitude when it comes to NYC.  I am from Cortland, NY, which the New Yorkers view as basically, Canada. Definitely not New York. Although, as I have gotten older, I do not shrink much anymore.  I met his gaze head on.

As he was ringing up my purchases, he grabbed the Bowden book and asked, wide-eyed, “Where did you get this?”.  I looked around, my Catholic guilt showing, and said, “From the travel section?”. My statement was posed as a question because I was stunned by his.  Then he asked, “Who gave you this book?”. This time, I stared him right in the eye and said, “Someone who works here.” In my mind I was thinking, Listen, Skippy.  I don’t know what this is, but don’t try to pull anything on me.  I’m a New Yorker, too. Upstate New Yorker.  

I was relieved when he started gushing about the author.  His love for Bowden’s work made me just happy to be alive.  This kid went from sullen and dark, to sweet and puppy-ish in a matter of seconds.  He said, “Oh, do you want a bag?” and I responded, “Yes, the tote bag that I picked out before.”  He shook his head, apologized and blushed brightly like a Christmas ribbon.

I like to surprise people, and it’s even better when they surprise me.

When I left, I checked my Google Maps app.  It looked like I had a 15 minute walk ahead of me to our hotel.  No big deal. I started walking down Houston and then up 6th Avenue.  It was so great to walk in the city and see real life in front of me – men playing basketball, old couples walking arm in arm, kids in strollers.  Although it was only 33 degrees, I was feeling quite warm basking in the NY glow.  

I had been walking for a good 20 minutes and my face was starting to sting from the cold air.  I decided to double-check the hotel address. 827 6th Avenue, OK, and I am now at…..127. WHATTTTTT!!  So, I misread Google Maps. The directions from before were for driving distance, not walking. I was in for a 60-minute walk.  Ah, no big deal.

I kept an eye on the blocks as they rolled by – 200 block, 300 block….whew!!!

 I got to the hotel feeling pretty good about myself.  I had some cred after that walk, I tell you. I announced to the front desk staff that I just walked there from Little Italy.  I got a lot of accolades and we laughed about my Google Maps guffaw.

I remembered such an important lesson after these two situations.  Even though I am a control freak, I definitely enjoy the unexpected.

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Garden

20180614_171002“What is called genius is the abundance of life or health, so that whatever addresses the senses, as the flavor of these berries, or the lowing of that cow, which sounds as if it echoed along a cool mountain-side just before night, where odiferous dews perfume the air and there is everlasting vigor, serenity, and expectation of perpetual untarnished morning,—each sight and sound and scent and flavor,—intoxicates with a healthy intoxication.”

Henry David Thoreau’s journal entry, 11 July 1852

There is a healthy intoxication in North Carolina during these sweltering days of summer.  Farm stands abound with fresh produce and it is the time to try out new recipes. Each summer, my daughter and I plant a small garden in our backyard full of herbs and tomatoes.

I have been researching foods that help reduce inflammation associated with RA.  My sister gave me an excellent resource, The Anti-Inflammatory Diet and Action Plans by Dorothy Calimeris and Sondi Bruner.  I have found that some of my favorite foods/herbs (basil, strawberries, spinach, pineapple, cherries) might help with inflammation.  My go-to fruit lately has been cherries, much to the delight of my Michigander husband.

I have been trying some of the recipes from my new cookbook and wanted to share some of them with you.  I have been making a lot of smoothies lately. With temperatures rising to 100 degrees, something cold really hits the spot.  This smoothie is my current obsession:

Cherry Smoothie, serves 1

1 cup of frozen, no sugar added, pitted cherries

¼ cup frozen raspberries

¾ cup coconut water

1 tbsp of raw honey (try to get local honey for the pollen, which helps with allergies)

1 tsp chia seeds

1 tsp hemp seeds

Drop of vanilla extract

Ice (optional)

In a blender, combine all ingredients until smooth.

So, I made this smoothie for my husband before one of my son’s soccer games.  As he tasted it, he said, “is this alcoholic?” Umm… no? FYI…Watch how much vanilla extract you put in this smoothie.  I misread the recipe and added a teaspoon of vanilla extract, not the drop that the recipe called for. It does taste alcoholic when you do that.  Not bad, but definitely not the drink to have at a Saturday morning soccer game. Lesson learned.

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The next recipe is an unusual entree, but I promise you it is delectable!  Again, I’m a little obsessed with cherries lately. They are just so sweet and fresh!  I found this recipe for Chicken Breast with Cherry Sauce and my husband made it for me.  It is unbelievably good, healthy and celebrates the abundance of the season:

Chicken Breast with Cherry Sauce, serves 4

1 tbsp coconut oil

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Salt

Freshly ground pepper

2 scallions, sliced

¾ cup chicken broth

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

½ cup dried cherries (I used fresh cherries.  They made for a little more liquid. See step #5 below.)

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees fahrenheit
  2. In a large, ovenproof skillet over medium high heat, melt the coconut oil.
  3. Season the chicken with salt and pepper.  Place the chicken in the pan and brown it on both sides, about 3 minutes per side.
  4. Add the scallions, chicken broth, balsamic vinegar and cherries.  Cover with an ovenproof lid or aluminum foil and place the pan in the preheated oven.  Bake for 20 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.
  5. If you are using fresh or frozen cherries, transfer the sauce into a saucepan to reduce the liquid – making the sauce thicker before transferring back to chicken.

Exploring new recipes makes this transition exciting.  I am able to find better ways to eat clean and preserve my health.  Oh, and I also made Lavender and Honey homemade ice cream from the lavender in our garden.  I won’t add that recipe. It was unbelievable, but definitely not anti-inflammatory or healthy.  Sometimes you just have to indulge. And I was still honoring the abundance of our garden.

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