Saturday, October 31, 2009

Uphill Climb to Organic Lifestyle

Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato Soup with Caramelized Shallots
Eggs Josephine ( Poached Egg over Crabcakes and Spinach with Rosemary Potatoes

View of Los Angeles from Runyon Canyon Park in West Hollywood
Runners and Walkers going Uphill to Runyon Canyon

I started at the bottom of Runyon Canyon and already, my heart was pumping fast. It is such a steep climb that by the time I got to the entrance of the park, I felt my chest about to burst. Not giving up, I walked up some more, with sweat running down my forehead. The climb uphill to the first bench and a few feet beyond got me going and my heart got used to it.

I just had to stop a number of times to soak in the view of Los Angeles. I am posting the photos so you can have a sense of that day.

Yes, it is beautiful day in Los Angeles! The dogs were unleashed and they were running up the canyon. Some of the hikers are so fit, they took the more steep climb uphill. As for me, I just modestly walked up the first part of the canyon, inching my way up to the top. But, today, did not quite make it. I was too tired to go on and started my walk downhill.

By the time I got down, Activate folks were giving away their berry, orange, fruit punch and lemon lime drinks. It is kinda a cool drink, with liquid vitamins stored on the cap and several twists to the right releases the vitamins into the drink. So, it felt like you were interacting a bit more with your drink before gulping down the liquid. As to their vitamin claims, I leave that up to you, the consumer, to make sure they are substantiated to be true. At any rate, a free drink at the base of the canyon after a vigorous climb is so so welcome!

With hungry tummies, La Maison became our breakfast stop. Surprisingly, when I ordered La Maison breakfast, Rio surprised me with a new entree, Eggs Josephine: poached egg, crabcake and sandwiched in between is sauteed spinach, with a side entree of rosemary potatoes. It was so so good that my hubby remarked " a sexy entree " and all I could say was fabulous! It was so worth every bite and every dollar we paid for both. On Saturday, cheese roll was available and I grabbed my half dozen. While waiting for breakfast, Sienna came with Cayden and their mom, Bettina and it became such a reunion of neighbors. Bettina even split up a pecan tart with me, so yummy!

After a fruitful day of exercise, a good breakfast and a reunion with good neighbors at the bakery, I got home and wrote some more. Tonight, I am blogging for I felt like experimenting with fall harvest: sweet potato, butternut squash and shallots. The inspiration came from seeing our First Lady Michelle Obama become first farmer in harvesting sweet potatoes with middle school children. A wheelbarrow full of sweet potatoes, some 700 pounds of produce were harvested from about $150 worth of treating the soil, seeds and plants. A great bargain when you think of it, aside from being good to Mother Earth.

When we are good to Mother Nature, as the folks in Gaviotas did in Colombia, after planting 6 million trees, they turned a desert into a rainforest with a thriving economy from rainwater processed into bottled water, with plastic packaging like legos, that are used as toys later; and paint thinner, and other cosmetic raw materials harvested from the barks of the trees.

We may not have to harvest from the barks of our trees, but in our back yard, we can plant, just like the First Farmer/First Lady, and then, from that harvest, experiment with making soups, which I did tonight.

It is called Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato Soup. Okay, do you want to know how I did it, it is so simple...

2 Shallots, sliced thinly ( slice them thinly to caramelize them and use them as garnish when serving the soup. )
2 Sweet Potatoes ( peel and slice into cubes )
1 Small Butternut Squash ( peel and slice into cubes )
Fresh Ginger ( slice thinly a few pieces )
Ground Ginger ( one tablespoon )
6 cups of water or chicken stock

Heat up your pot. Add olive oil and few tablespoons of butter. When the oil is heated, add sliced shallots until they turn brown. Set aside some as garnishes. Add ginger and when the oil is infused with ginger ( smell the waft of ginger from the oil ), remove the ginger. Add the sweet potato and butternut squash. When browned, add ground ginger and salt. Add 6 cups of water. Boil until the vegetables are soft. Use the lowest flame and do slow cooking. As you cook the vegetables, a sweet organic aroma fills up your house. Then, you know fall is here.

Before serving, use a potato masher to blend in all the vegetables, or a processor or a hand blender. I prefer to use no electricity and to only use the masher, as if I am cooking in the countryside. It also helps to conserve energies so as not to add to global warming.

Serve with cheese bread. Two bowls of soup and we were done!


It was a great day of walking up the canyon with my hubby. And a nice quote from him as well " Appreciation comes from knowledge of contrasts. " EBD.

Indeed a knowledge of contrasts allows me to appreciate an active lifestyle. I know what it was like when I was sick, bed-ridden in a university infirmary, fighting for my life when asthma, influenza and allergies all converged to weaken my immune system. And my only prayer to God is what gave me strength, the antibiotics and even the oxygen tank took three days to work on my weakened body. The good care and companionship of my new friends in Visayas State University kept me sane and whole, even if with a weakened body. And my hubby had to walk, take the jeepney several times to purchase my medications. On the third day, I was released, but only after meditating for my vitals to be normal. At 6am, when the nurse checked me, my vitals were abnormal and I was not going to be released. Three hours later, after prayers, meditation and journaling, my vitals normalized that I was released.

Since then, it took two years of juicing every day for my immune system to be stronger, thanks to the experimentation that my hubby did to find a formula that works for both of us. By the way, I do have the power juice recipe in this blog if you want to try it.

No claims will be made though, just to share that I found myself getting stronger with juicing, exercising, and eating organically! Of course, that comes with a good night' s sleep and lots of laughter, courtesy of my friends, Josephine and Carmen at La Maison du Pain, and if Bettina walks in, she would get into the rhythm of our conversations for the day, and all four of us would be laughing.

Beginning Sundays, until Dec. 31, visit La Maison du Pain, they will be serving hot chocolate, sweet crepes and Eggs Josephine. I cannot wait for tomorrow to be! Are you coming to have breakfast with me? C'mon now, mix and mingle!! I sent out invitations to folks in Facebook, and let us come in droves and make this a happy neighborhood!

So, going up the canyon, walking in the sun, even if my chest feels like giving up, and as long as I can still breathe, even with a bit of discomfort, I prefer being active. And I nurture that wellness by eating organic, or less preservatives, less chemicals, and more of Mother Nature's harvests!

And while I use more of Mother Nature's harvests, I invent, I create, and I find that just listening to my instincts, I can actually come up with recipes, my own form of culinary arts!

It helps that I buy these organic produce from the farmers each Sunday. And sometimes, they too get to taste my banana bread that I bake when Maura visits me.

So, from Mother Earth to the farmer who tends the soil and the harvest, and from my table to yours, bon appetit is what I greet you today. It is indeed a good day and night this last day of October 2009, Halloween!!


Post a Comment