Hunger In America (Pt. II)

When E and I were moving this past summer, cleaning out the kitchen in itself took a whole day (and that’s just an apartment-sized kitchen) and the frustration didn’t just end with packing pots, pans, and dishes. The fact that we were throwing away TONS of food from our cabinets. Food that wasn’t just mine, but some leftover from roommates, visitors who came on through, parents and friends who thought you could use a lil extra something…

It hurt enough to see all that stuff go in the trash, and there had to be a better solution. And thus, we ended up putting all we could into a bag and donated it to our nearest Food Bank NYC.

Interested? These were the guidelines we were told:

  • Pile up whatever non-perishables you have that’s not expired. Yep, it’s called shelf-life for a reason! But if it’s not that far from the date, you can give it a shot to see if they’ll still need it.
  • Find the location nearest to you and call ahead to see if someone would be there to collect.Β The lady in charge was on vacation, but luckily someone else was there to help. Not everyone’s protocol might be the same, and since it was in the dead of July’s major heatwave, we needed to be sure there was a definite point B from walking at our point A . The Food Bank actually ended up being in a church a few blocks away from our apartment and unmarked (no sign except inside the church).
  • Our site had some preferences to what food was to be donated (based on necessity) but in case you ever find you have any questions here’s a list I found of some suggested food items for giving.
  • Also, don’t always expect a receipt. Honestly, we weren’t concerned with a tax deduction that so much as our need to find a place for this food, the fulfillment of knowing it wouldn’t be wasted, and the reassurance of knowing that someone else could benefit from this situation more than us.

And I hope that someone did.

Prezzies

Well, it’s that time. A milestone in the year of the life, and this time, it’s for E πŸ™‚

My fiance’ will be turning 30 this upcoming weekend, and although a new decade in the life may be met with some moaning and groaning for some, I plan to make this as smooth a transition as possible.

Case in point, the perfect present I found would have to be something he ultimately wanted. Unfortunately since Aerosmith is nowhere near us and the surprise party has already been done before, I rooted around and finally decided to give him what he wanted: a skydiving lesson and a really good seafood meal.

So now that the skydiving lesson was taken care of (booked for a Sunday not too far from now!) there was deciding on a dish to make. Now of course, this of course is thrown with a little bit more of a selfish intention: I more so want to have fun making something just as much as he will get to reap the benefits of eating it! And since of course in the pro-spousal support he always offers of saying he likes anything I make, well, that wasn’t gonna cut it this time.

And so, after digging around a bit and toying with some ideas, the challenge has been set and the excitement begins! I decided a One-Pot Clambake would be the perfect offering for all of E’s tastes – sausage, potatoes, corn, spices, but most of all, mussels, clams, and LOBSTER!!! (I have yet to make my first lobster, and yep, now the moment has come) Perhaps it’s because I was never the biggest lobster person, but the moment finally seems appropriate.

The new multi-cooker’s waitin’ to be christened and hodge-podge’d. L’Chaim.

Reflecting – 6/16/11

It’s been a few months now with these blogs, and I think now it’s a good time to reflect.

When I started LittleTreats, it was something that began as a second try to get out there again and write about what I was passionate for: food and life. Sure, it still remains the great foundation for any writing of any sort, but it actually took me a little while since then to realize there needed to be more meaning for me than that.

Thus came the next two: Caro’s RECIPES & Each Time. One documenting how one could make food, and one devoted to my love of the arts. Both of them pretty much captivated by the need to educate. As I consider myself both an educator and an artist, in a way I felt that this truly what I was more passionate about the need to help people learn… and here’s why.

Just as we need to eat? we need creativity. We NEED an outlet for whatever ideas may come about, and we NEED to know how to keep our eyes open to what’s around us.

And as I love teaching, I will definitely try to do my part to continue on with that l’il mission statement. These two somehow, I feel, have become two of the things we’re losing touch with in our ultimate education for life. We depend much on what we’ve learned from school, but always saying we need more, more, more … I’ve come to determine that where schools really can only do so much, in the end it’s up to us to keep that fire going. We’re a very culturally-rich nation, America. But what everyone else seems to have a hold on us is their values outside of their school life.

I’ve come to realize that the need to feed your senses needs to just be one constant walking ground. Just as the arts are important, so is the need to educate folks about food. In the efforts made to better our health in this lifetime, we need to take the steps to be willing to explore, and just be in the know.

That said, I don’t think I’ll lack the inspiration to keep writing. πŸ™‚

Many, many thanks and hoping for the best yet to come ~~ Caro

The Power Struggle

(still one of my absolute favorite Calvin & Hobbes strips πŸ˜‰ )

So as I mentioned previously before, up until about age 20 I was shamelessly one of the pickiest eaters known to man. Perhaps running off seven-hours from home in college is what did the trick to get me to try other foods. I was no longer shamed into eating or trying something, but somehow, something clicked inside my brain and the ball began rolling. Sure, I still don’t like certain foods and some continue to follow a similarity to me for what would be Satan’s navel piercing, but alas, I’m not a kid anymore and with age came SOME wisdom if any. *Yay*

Though credited as the weaker one of the five senses (crazy, huh??) we’re all driven by taste throughout our lives. That said, I started to wonder if this is really the reason that children are seen as the “picky eaters” in life. But this is pretty much as it goes: as the receptors in our brain are changing, so are the taste buds … pretty highly sensitive things to rely on when you’ve really only got a couple years of life on your roster. The appearance, the smell, just about every bit counts!

So of course with the sensitivity comes the toss-up: Will kids eat it? Or not? Pretty much somehow driving course to becoming a battle to the death at the table.

The familiar scenario: The little Foodette won’t eat it. Something they love is on the table, and they still won’t eat it. You make deals, you bribe, you threaten, you throw up your hands and wonder what’s it gonna take to get this kid to eat?

I’ll tell you what they’re gonna eat: nothing. And they will be sure of that. So give it up.

There’s literally no reason to stress about it. Basically, it boils down to having a choice: You can have your blood pressure rise and fall continuously over this constant power struggle, or you can surrender to the fact that children, as much as you’d like to think are the inferior party, know the hold they have over this part of their lives. You could argue until you’re blue in the face, and one of you is in tears, or you can both agree upon 2-bites of something, drink up whatever’s in your cup, and move on. Not to dessert (unless they ate!), but just moving on in general. The kid will get hungry, but they certainly won’t starve.

Look, just as you wouldn’t want someone to shove food down your throat, don’t do it to them. I don’t think I’d have grown up with half the issues with food that I had throughout my life if I wasn’t guilt-tripped, scolded, and forced into eating stuff I just didn’t want to. Find a balance, talk to kids, see what they’re interested in.

By all means, I’m not saying we should still limit children’s choices in the full-circle of eating. Chicken nuggets are great and the ones shaped like dinosaurs sure make it more exciting, but they’ll be capable of more interesting food if you keep having it make a special guest-star cameo in lives. While making guacamole, I once had a student who decided to snack on an entire handful of cilantro! πŸ˜› saying it “tastes like coffee”. Hey, you never know πŸ˜‰ We also had a student literally RUN from the guacamole because “it was green”. But lo n’ behold, they ate the most of it of anyone.

A few things I noticed that might help out a bit …

– Eat what everyone else is, and by “everyone”, it’s everyone at the table. Unless someone’s got allergies at the table, hopefully there’s already a good justice system in seeing everyone’s eating the same thing.

– You get what you get, and ya don’t get upset. The same goes for the consequences: you don’t eat? you don’t get the good stuff either (dessert). Tough break, but there’s always another day tomorrow. Try, try again. If there are tears? talk it out. If there’s protesting screaming, they’re asked to leave the table and go find something else to do.

COOK IT TOGETHER. If they’re not gonna eat it, at the very least, they’ll help with how it’s made and they’ll see just what goes into it.

– And again, the 2-bites Dealbreaker is a pretty classic take, with a drink of whatever’s in their cup. In the end, everyone’s gotta eat to feed the body. You need food to be healthy, and food to grow. They’ll be able to put 2-and-2 together after a while.

– oh yea, and ps, read a few books about food too! Perhaps it’ll get a few sparks flying here and there. (I’ve got a few personal favorites, and will definitely post them later)

– and again, no need to make eating a battlefield. It’s supposed to be a fun, joyful thing to do, for both adults and kids alike. And hey, it’s a privilege if you’ve got plenty of food at your disposal (but don’t despair if your kid doesn’t seem to care about that concept. It doesn’t mean they’re heartless! but most likely just something they probably can’t relate to)

Continuing on to promoting a hopeful, great future for the Foodettes?

I hope so. πŸ˜‰

A Mass(ive) Market, a “Super” Market?

To market, to market …

Where the concept of business goes hand in hand with food, it’s undeniable that the American culture truly has poured much effort into the influx of people’s needs to have the food they’ve enjoyed for ages.

Is a supermarket really a “super” affair anymore? With every trip to CostCo, Sam’s Club, or even Super Target (yep, Target x 10. Felt like I needed a Segway just to get a dvd) I find it to be almost an adventure of seeing how people’s logic comes into play. Sure, everything you need is in one spot, but frankly? I’ve never been that person who’s been attracted to buying the food there. I don’t know why. Perhaps it’s the massive-warehouse-esque set-up, however I think it goes together similarly with my ultimate dislike of truck stop convenience stores (the smell alone makes me nauseous). Which really in the end, is that I have absolutely no idea how long that food has been sitting there, and thus kind of not wanting to know what lurks inside when I open the package. I’m finicky, what can I say. Definitely not quite as inviting.

However, there are some MASSIVE markets that somehow seem to always get my engine revved. I have yet to discover more of course, but if you also ever get to check out the great markets in and around Doylestown, PA, I say go for it because the food and ambience alone will have you coming back! (thanks to my friends, Jen and Jon!)

Some great places I love to shop for num-nums, despite bein’ large n’ in charge:

HMart (aka Han Ah Reum): Yes, of course you’d say I’d be biased for loving a Korean market, however it’s not just the Koreans that flock to their local HMart to re-stock! Over the summer, I overheard my chiropractor telling the rest of the people in the room how he shops at the HMart near his home in New Jersey for the reasons alone of: the freshness, the food, the atmosphere, but more importantly, the deals! As a father of 3 daughters, he said he found himself constantly back there bc he felt they had more to offer than his local supermarket. On weekends, the place will be PACKED with people who feel the same way! From cuts of quality meat (that’s what we always go back for), to the deals on fresh produce, plenty of flavors and tea the bottle … but most of all they will be cooking on-site and constantly offering the most delicious samples throughout the entire store.

I will often lose E in the midst of what is probably sampling heaven on Earth…


Eataly: I will later on be devoting an entire entry to this place, but for now, here’s a little taste. If you haven’t checked out Eataly in the Flatiron District of NYC (and expanding its business beyond), I say it should be a must if not just to see what it’s all about. Put together by a powerhouse team of Mario Batali, my favorite, Lidia Bastianich, her son Joe, and Oscar Farinetti, this place is truly a savory playground for the senses and I felt like my durned feet had wings on them. This is definitely ANOTHER place that if you don’t plan ahead, you’ll get swept away in the massive crowds that will clamor around for straight-up quality Italian love for food. The intention, they said, was to make it a one-stop massive market to educate folks on the celebration of real Italian food. It truly is an inspiring place (although a little pricey $). Wall-to-wall with local meat & fish vendors, gelato and wine stations, the best pasta, cheese, and olive oil Turin would have to offer, and in my personal opinion, the best prosciutto and preserves LIFE would have to offer. There is a restaurant on site I have yet to try .. but once you get a taste, you might find yourself wandering back over many times more πŸ˜‰


– Farmers’ Market: Cannot emphasize this one enough. Anywhere you are in the world, if you’ve got a farmers’ market somewhere nearby? GO. The importance of local eating is definitely worth your while for if not for your health and tastebuds alone. This stuff offered up out in the open is usually picked the day off, and brought to you from not too far beyond your reach. But of course, all is not limited to just food at the Farmers’ Market. Following the seasonal patterns, get your fresh-cut flowers, your Christmas trees, a genuine wool sweater, and my personal favorite, the Textile and Fabrics Recycling booth.


Mitsuwa Marketplace: The beating center of the Japanese shopping center in Edgewater, NJ … this is the perfect place for one to get their fix in Japanese products, toys, cookers, snacks, and of course, food. From groceries to side vendors (and the occasional Blue Fish cutting extravaganza!) Though a little on the pricey side, I find myself here every month to stock up on bottles of Oi Ocha Green Tea, and, shamelessly, a green tea ice cream from one of the small vendors inside as well. It’s clean, efficient service and never a rat race (though beware, parking there can be!) But by all means, you’re not limited to the marketplace itself. Across the way from the marketplace is a tea & ceramics store (VERY much a gem to find gifts!), Japanese toys n’ novelties worth checking out, and for the ladies, a Shiseido facial & makeup products store.

live from Mitsuwa Market … it’s the Giant Bluefish Cutting Extravaganza!!

Chelsea Market: And then of course, the heart of Food Network and beyond – Chelsea Market. A fantastic food concourse located smack dab in the Chelsea/Meatpacking District of NYC.

I’ll admit, the first time I ever went here? I felt like I was on Cloud Nine, mostly due to the fact that you can make so much of this alone: go to the market, search around and literally eat bit by bit from all that is available to you in there: Buon Italia market, Eleni’s, Ronnybrook Dairy Farm, The Fat Witch Bakery, Ruthy’s, Bar Suzette creperie… the list goes on and on. I actually loved also checking out the wine vault in here – wonderful people and a fabulous selection of Malbec!

ps, for all the fancy-pants folk, Morimoto’s restaurant is also on site here. πŸ˜‰ So go take a walk on the Highline, make your way over to the market, and venture off on the cobblestone streets to see what other great things Chelsea has in store for ya.

By all means, this is just me talking, and there’s still so much more to discover in favorite places to find the good stuff …

Share the wealth! If you’ve got a favorite market to find great things, hand over the address and I’ll be there!