Friday, April 20, 2012

Herb Garden

As a follow up to my last blog post Earth Day 2012- A Culinary/Locavore Holiday and in honor of Earth Day.  I decided to plant a herb garden.

"An herb is a friend to physicians and the praise of cooks." - Charlemagnes

I decided to use the space between my two raised garden beds because I will still be able to access the garden beds from all sides  and I was tired of mowing that little strip of grass.  I decided to use rocks instead of mulch because rocks will last forever, compared to mulch that I would have to replace every few years and now I have a rock garden.

I planted 12 herbs plants:
  • German Thyme
  • Spicy Oregano
  • Greek Oregano
  • Flat Parsley
  • Cilantro
  • Lemon Balm
  • Thai Basil
  • Glove Basil
  • Purple Basil
  • Basil
  • Lavender
  • Dill
I have sage, chives and thyme as perennials in my garden and I have rosemary as a house plant,
    In the following pictures you will not only see the herb garden, but the progress of my spring garden seed that I planted about a month ago they are growing great, notice the baby spinach and pea shoots as well as sage that is growing wild at the moment..  Enjoy and Happy Earth Day, go plant something :)

Until I Blog Again:  Eat Well, Live Life and Be Safe

Monday, April 16, 2012

Earth Day 2012- A Culinary/Locavore Holiday

". . . on April 22, 1970, Earth Day was held, one of the most
remarkable happenings in the history of democracy. . . "
-American Heritage Magazine, October 1993

All Hands on Earth

This Sunday April 22nd  we celebrate the 42nd annual Earth Day. A day that I have personally deemed to be not only a Culinary Holiday but also a day to celebrate being an Locavore.  Treating the environment and our bodies correctly and naturally go hand in hand, but we continue to abuse both, we are becoming more and more obese in America and corporate farmers, seed makers, food producers are continually trying to find a seed that grows quicker, a cow that is so pumped up with hormones that I wouldn't be surprised if it could no longer Moo, but instead quacks.  So why not start making a difference and changing how  and what you eat.

Please take this time to think about what you put in your body, where it came from, how was it raised or grown.  Was it genetically altered to grow quicker while loosing most of its nutritional value, or was it fed growth hormones and raised in unethical and inhuman conditions. Why change your normal routine and think  about going to farmers markets or supporting your local small farmer (thus supporting your local community).  Perhaps raise a few chickens at your home so you have a fresh supply of eggs, but first check your town or city laws, or grow a few fresh vegetables on your deck in some pots.  Even go to your local supermarket and demand change, especially those of you who shop at Walmart.  Walmart is the worlds largest supermarket chain, and they have the ability to make change in where our food comes from and how it is grow and/or raised.

Farmers Markets are almost everywhere nowadays and there are plenty of resources to find local farmers.  It just takes a few minutes and perhaps a few extra dollars.  Dollars that you will most likely spend on medicine, an operation or other health care costs if you don't make the change to unadulterated food products.  Below you will find two links to assist  you on finding locally grown and raised food products.

We are in a time where everyone wants to know how to cook, where chefs are celebrities, and the food network is watched by not only adults but children as well.  But change starts at home, in your local community, on your local farms and in the local stores and even local restaurants.  You can make a difference in the World, To the Earth to Your Body and for Future Generations.  Celebrate Earth Day all year long, as long as  you are on the earth.  We only have on earth and you only have one life.  Doesn't it make sense to make the best of both?

One of my favorite sayings:  Think Globally, Act Locally.

Locavore app will be free on Earth Day

Until I blog again:  Eat Well, Live Life and Be Safe


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Going Grey: Why is it important to be flexible in the workplace?

I recently had an opportunity to speak to JWU students on my management philosophy, a philosophy I have named Go Gray

Several years ago, I had an epiphany while at work, the exact circumstances I do not recall, but I do know that one moment changed my life as to the way I think, treat and manage students, coworkers and employees forever.  At that moment it dawned on me that many things are black and white in this world, but when it comes to managing people and their life moments, black and white no longer exist, the only thing the remains are the varying shades of gray.

For about a month after that moment I focused on my thoughts to developing a training program for the coworkers I managed at the time.  I wanted to manage an office that took into consideration what happened and why  no matter who the person was a coworkers, a students or an employee.  I wanted those opportunities to be used as teachable moments.  I no longer wanted to work in an office that made all decisions based on just the rules, but I wanted to work in an office that made decisions about people based on the "Human Element", I wanted myself and those around me to focus on the positive aspects of the situation and reduce negative ones to come to a fair, reasonable and human decision.

I knew implementation this would not be easy, I often questioned myself on what I was attempting to do.  But deep down I knew it was the right thing to do.  Much of my life was dictated by rules, policies and procedures with a total disregard to what happened to the actual person or how my decision might impact that person right then, right there.  Cooking is black and white, its made correctly or it isn't, it taste correctly or it doesn't, you follow certain health codes so that people don't get sick, but people, I came to realize make mistakes and if they can learn from them and if they aren't habitual mistakes why punitively punish them, we are after all we all make mistakes.

The more I researched this area, the more excited I became to work on changing the culture of my office. Here a few of my findings and some recommended reading to anyone trying to make change.

Intellectual Deficit Disorder

The process by which there is the potential to make our smart students turn not so smart by telling them all the things that they must not do.

 Here are some of the quotes that helped keep me going.

"Culture does not change because we desire to change it. Culture changes when the organization is transformed; the culture reflects the realities of people working together every day." The Key to Cultural Transformation, Leader to Leader (Spring 1999)

 "I never teach my pupils; I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn" –Albert Einstein

"I would rather be deep and simple than shallow and complex"- Fred Rogers, aka Mr. Rogers

Books I found helpful

Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard 

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Crown Business; 1 edition (February 16, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385528752
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385528757

Students of Life

Today’s college students are catapulted into adulthood as soon as they arrive on campus. They’re away from home, trying on new found independence and wondering where they belong. While they’re still navigating their way through an extended adolescence, they are confronted with major life decisions about careers and their view of the world and their place in it.  Where do we fit in?

Until I Blog Again: Eat Well, Live Life & Be Safe--- and, also, GO GRAY

Saturday, April 7, 2012

My First Seder Dinner

The Passover Seder  is a Jewish ritual feast that marks the beginning of the Jewish holiday of Passover and involves retelling of the story of the liberation of the Israelites from slavery in ancient Egypt.
 My first Seder experience happened at Temple Shalom in Middletown, Rhode Island.  Although I was not actually partaking in the ceremonies, I got to experience the Passover Seder (a Jewish ritual dinner)  based on the haggadah, a book of instructions, prayers, blessings, and stories that lays out the proper order for the ritual. Haggadah means “the telling,” referring to one of the most important aspects of the Seder: the recitation of the Exodus story.

I took several photographs before service began to give those of you who like me (until this point) an idea of the foods used and there symbolism. Below myself & Professor Brian Van Gyzen and Johnson & Wales Hospitality Student Corey Smith.

The Tree of Life

The Seder proceeds through its 15 steps:

Kadesh (sanctification of the day)
Fill your cup with the first glass of wine or grape juice, lift the cup, say the Kiddush (sanctification over the fruit of the vine and over the special energies of the holiday), and drink, leaning to the left. Tradition says to fill the cup to the brim, but also says that you shouldn’t get drunk, so you only have to drink half the glass (which may be small).

The Manischewitz Wine

 Urchatz (handwashing with no blessing)

The second step is a ritual ablution — a spiritual cleansing by pouring water over the hands. The water should be warm enough to make the washing pleasant. Traditionally, a pitcher of water is used to pour water over the right and then over the left hand. You can then dry your hands on a towel. In some homes, and in a large congregation, the leader often acts as proxy, performing the urchatz for everyone in attendance. Ordinarily a blessing is said over the ritual washing of the hands, but not this time.

Karpas (eating the green vegetable)

The first bite of food people get is the karpas, the green vegetable, symbol of spring and renewal, which they dip in salt water (purifying tears) before eating. Apart from its ritual symbolism, karpas serves as an hors d’oeuvres before the meal. Wise arrangers make sure there is plenty available, so eat plenty.

Yachatz (breaking the matzah)

Now the Seder leader picks up the middle of the three matzah from the matzoh plate and breaks it in half. The leader puts the smaller half of matzah back in between the other two pieces of matzah, but the larger half is reserved as the afikomen (“dessert”), which is eaten at the end of the meal.
In some families, the afikomen is taken away and hidden somewhere in the house, and near the end of the Seder, the kids are allowed to go looking for it (see Step 12). Another common practice is to place the afikomen near the leader, from whom the kids must steal it during the Seder without the leader noticing. In some Sephardic families, each person places a broken afikomen matzah on their shoulder, symbolizing the quick exodus from Egypt.

Maggid (telling the story)

Usually the longest of the 15 Seder steps, the Maggid is the telling of the Exodus narrative. It’s now that the youngest child at the table asks the four questions (every haggadah lists them). Actually, any person can read the questions, or everyone can read them together. The four questions all revolve around the basic question, “Why is this night different than all other nights?” (Mah nishtanah halailah hazeh mikol haleilot?)

The rest of the Maggid answers this question with the story of the Hebrews’ exodus from Egypt, some Torah study, and a discussion of the description of the four types of children: the wise child, the wicked child, the simple child, and the child who doesn’t know enough to ask a question. You may be tempted to look around the table to find a good example of each child, but it's more appropriate to look inside, to find the parts of ourselves that fit each of these descriptions.

Finally, the second cup of wine is poured, but don’t drink it yet! Traditionally, you dip a finger into the wine and transfer ten drops of wine to your plate, one for each of the ten plagues in Egypt. Then, after songs praising God, pointing out the various items on the Seder table yet again, and reciting the blessing over the wine, you can drink the second cup. By this time, you usually need it!

Rachtzah (handwashing with a blessing)
It’s time to wash your hands again, but this time you do say the blessing. It’s customary not to speak at all between washing your hands and saying the blessings over the matzah. You can use this time to reflect on the sanctification and purification that you’re undergoing.

Motzi (blessing before eating matzah)

Next, raise the matzah and recite two blessings over the bread: the regular motzi blessing and one specifically mentioning the mitzvah (Jewish commandment) of eating matzah at Passover.

Matzah (eating the matzah)

 Blessings said, everyone breaks off a piece of matzah and eats it.

Maror (eating the bitter herb)

It’s perfect Jewish irony that just as your stomach is starting to growl, you get to eat maror, the bitter herbs. Whether you eat a fresh slice of horseradish (which promises to bring tears to your eyes) or a leaf of romaine lettuce (which is pretty wimpy), you should be thinking of the bitterness of slavery. Traditionally, you should dip the maror in the charoset (the apple-nut-wine-cinnamon salad) to taste a small amount of sweetness along with the pain
The Charoset 

The Horseradish and Beets

Korech (Hillel’s sandwich)

While the English Earl of Sandwich is generally credited for inventing the snack of his namesake, Hillel may have originated it two thousand years ago by combining matzah, a slice of paschal lamb, and a bitter herb. Jews no longer sacrifice and eat the lamb, so the Passover sandwich is only matzah, charoset, and a bitter herb now (many people use the chazeret instead of horseradish).

Shulchan Orech (eating the meal)

Once the korech is finished, it’s time for the real meal, usually beginning with a hard-boiled egg dipped in salt water and quickly progressing to gefilte fish with horseradish, matzah-ball soup, chopped liver, and as much other food as you can stuff down your gullet.
Although you drink four ceremonial glasses of wine during Passover, this doesn’t mean you can’t have some more during dinner, too. No beer, though.

Tzafun (eating the afikomen)

Whether or not dessert is served after dinner, the last food that is officially eaten at the seder is a piece of the afikomen matzah (see Step 4), which symbolizes the Pesach sacrifice. If the afikomen is hidden or stolen by the children, it must be returned to the leader by the end of the seder. The seder can’t be concluded without the afikomen (and tradition says that the Seder must end before midnight), but the children are usually pretty tired at this point, so both sides have good bargaining positions. Many folks don’t actually eat the afikomen itself; any taste of matzah will do once the afikomen has been returned.

 The afikomen also represents the part of the self or soul that is lost or given up in enslavement. The Seder represents the journey from enslavement to freedom, and at Tzafun, people reclaim the pieces of self that were missing. Again, it’s traditional to ingest the symbol to internalize it.

Barech (blessing after eating)

Jewish meals always conclude with a blessing, and this meal is no different. At this point, however, the meal may be over, but the Seder is not. The third cup of wine celebrating the meal is poured and, after a blessing is recited, drunk. Now, a curious tradition occurs: A cup of wine is poured in honor of the prophet Elijah, and a door is opened to allow Elijah in. Many folks think the cup is for Elijah. Actually, the extra cup stems from a rabbinic debate over whether we should drink four or five cups of wine during the Seder; the compromise was to drink four (the fourth is drunk in Step 14), pour a fifth, and wait until Elijah comes to tell the Jews which is correct.

An alternative custom invites each person to pour a little of their own wine to fill Elijah’s cup, symbolizing each person’s own responsibility toward bringing about redemption.

Hallel (songs of praise)

After closing the door, the final Seder ritual includes singing special songs of praise to God, and then filling, blessing, and drinking the fourth cup of wine.

Nirtzah (conclusion)

The prescribed rituals and actions end at the 14th step; Nirtzah celebrates a conclusion. The most common prayer at the end is simply L’shana haba-a bi-Y’rushalayim, meaning “Next year in Jerusalem!” Then, depending on the hour and the energy level of the participants, you may find yourself singing more songs and possibly even dancing! Some families make a tradition of reading aloud the Song of Songs at the end of the Seder, though be prepared for sleepy groans if you suggest it.

 Gefilte Fish

 Matzo Balls for the Soup


Enjoy Passover & Easter

Until I blog again: Eat Well, Live Life & Be Safe