Monday, March 22, 2010

Butter-Baller on a Budget

Hi Folks!

So it has been an interesting past couple weeks since my last post. I briefly mentioned how I would be undertaking a little project from March 1st to May 1st. This project/experiment/self-discovery has a few rules. The main rule being that I'm allowed to spend only $10 a week on food. I was originally going for zero a week but soon decided that might be a bit too ambitious of me. I came up with this crazy idea after being inspired by a amazing yogi by the name of Swami Kripalu. He was well known for his fasts from food and from speaking. One story told to me by another amazing yogi by the name of Sam Chase who studied at the Kripalu Center, was particularly inspiring. I'm not going to tell the whole story because it takes a lot of body language to explain since Kripalu frequently went on silent spells. The story was about how Kripalu heard peanuts were the new miracle food and so he decided to fast for 90 days solely on peanuts and water in hopes of finding some type of enlightenment. 3o days in.... written on his mini chalkboard 'nah, not really diggin the peanuts, but its only been a month (obviously my words, Kripalu didn't use the word diggin)'...60 days in.....'i'm starting to think peanuts are not the miracle food, but who knows enlightenment can be just around the corner'....89 days....'peanuts are baaaaad, but what's one more day. you never know'. Well I thought the idea of only peanuts was funny and his attitude toward the experience was charming. But there was no way I was going to pick one so called miracle food like acai, mangosteen, or any trendy exotic super plant to fast on so I tailored one to my lifestyle.

As you know I cook during the day and work at the restaurant at night. At the end of the day I see a lot of food go to waste. I mean A LOT. There isn't really anyone to blame, customers expect fresh products. I have to admit that the sight of it is a little heartbreaking. Every new person at the restaurant has such a hard time at the beginning coming to grips with throwing away a dozen organic whole wheat homemade baguettes straight into the trash. All I can tell them is, " you''ll get over it." Then they do. But is this how we want to start looking at waste? Just a part of our daily routine? When I have left overs during the day from my cooking job I'm usually able to save it and take it home. Sometimes though I have to admit, I get a little snobbish. I say, "well its not going to taste as good later, I probably won't even eat it." In the trash it goes. With all of that said I've decided to go on this mini fast. It's a fast off of purchased foods. I've been using the term 'freegan'. Some of my friends have called me 'freegan crazy'.

Before the 1st I made a trip to Trader Joe's to buy a few staples like PB&J, vegan butter, oat bran, brown rice, almond milk, nuts, and few frozen veggies. I spent a total of $65. Since then I've spent a little over $20. The first week $7.5, second $2.5, third $10. I've been getting by with a lot of the food I take home from the restaurant like pasta, amazing soups they make every morning, gelato, and a LOT of bread.

The experience has been positive so far but I'm less than halfway through. I will give you guys a better idea of what I'm actually learning from this when I get closer to its completion. I will also be posting my recipe for my super cheap veggie lumpias.

PS: As part of the trip I've decided to watch documentaries regarding food, animals, consumerism, stupid americans, etc.... So far I've seen FOOD Inc, and The Cove. I would love recommendations for more:)


Keep 'Freegan' Cookin, Good Lookins!


Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Life of a Superheroine

Greetings Folks! Welcome to my new blog, Eat Butter Live Butter. This is a little peek into the happenings of my NYC journey through various jobs and countless experiences with food, culture, and everything else in between. Enjoy!

I'm currently working for Andrew Zuckerman Studio. He's an amazingly talented photographer and has published three books thus far. This is one of my favorite photos from his book titled Creature. His studio is located in Chelsea and staffs anywhere from 7-12 people at a time. Before my arrival, the studio would order delivery or hire a catering service for staff lunches. Cursed with a green conscience, Andrew could not stand all of the waste take-out food produces. He also could not shake the ongoing nightmare of mystery baked greasy spaghetti stuff in gargantuan aluminum tubs he once received from a caterer. Fed up with the caloric crud and a drawer full of soy sauce packets and plastic sporks, he knew it was time for a change. Upon relocating to a bigger studio, he decided to build a kitchenette in the new space. And what's a kitchen without a cook?

About a year ago, I was fortunate enough to stumble upon an ad for a personal cook on Craigslists. With no previous history of professional cooking or culinary school, I clicked on the ad anyway. Next thing you know I was prepping for my interview/audition. I wanted to make so many different things but realized I needed to focus on a few staples to give them a taste of what I can do. Well it was all a hit and I've been whipping up awesome lunches for them ever since.

The studio staff are generally open minded eaters. They're usually just worried about hitting some of the major food groups and keeping it healthy. I rarely get anyone with dietary restrictions except the occasional 'no condiments anywhere near my sandwich' guy or the 'carbs are the devil' guy. They're all real chill and interesting folks who I have the pleasure of eating lunch with everyday.

This is by far one of the most pleasant jobs I've had. I'm able to utilize my creativity with recipes and am constantly learning something new. It's also nice to cook for the occasional celebrity visitor. Not to mention his hottie good friend, Jake Gyllenhaal. He's also currently working on a project about music so I've been lucky enough to catch a few of the interviews. Really inspiring content, make sure to keep an ear out for that.

I'm constantly discovering, creating, and searching for new recipes. So feel free to trade or just pick up a few of mine that I'll be posting. They're always super simple, quick, and of course tasty.

For extra income, I also work as a waitress/barmaid at Quartino in the Bowery. Quartino is an Italian Organic Pescetarian Restaurant. The cuisine is inspired by Ligurian staples such as whole wheat pastas, pestos, and one of a kind olive oil. All of the breads and pastas are whole wheat and home made everyday. The idea of the restaurant was conceived by a few Italian doctors wanting a place where they can enjoy home cooked meals with only the freshest ingredients. They also own the olive orchards and vineyards in which our oil and house wines are derived. All of these fine details ensure an organic dining experience.

Both jobs keep me fairly busy during the week, but what's life with all work and no play? A New York City kind of life, that's what! I had recently freed up my Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays; a first in my NYC career. I have chosen to dedicate 10 weekends to Yoga to the People's Teacher Training course. This includes rigorous personal practice, lectures, workshops, and a lot more I'm not quite sure of yet. I'm two weeks in and I'm already feeling extremely motivated and excited for every new experience. Before starting the training, I made a few lifestyle changes in order to prepare physically, mentally, and spiritually. I must say, it feels damn good! On Monday I started a new project/experiment that I will be conducting for the next two months. It's main rule is that I spend only $10/week on food. I know sounds ludicrous right? Well check back next week and I'll tell you all of the details to my wild endeavor.

Till then... keep cookin, good lookin!