non edible delights

on my way to work on tuesday, i had to stop at blick art supplies to grab some face paint for an upcoming event at the dorm i work in. despite the lingering sleep still in my eyes, i felt a nice buzz riding through downtown, watching the world crank up for the day. after locking my bike up on the corner of sansom and chestnut, i noticed this little sign right next to the door leading down to blick:

in a city as old as philadelphia, you see a lot of historical monument signs outside of buildings and homes, and while it's a cool reminder of how much has happened here, you sort of get used to it. however, this sign (or "tablet" as it refers to itself) gave me a distinct thrill. who on earth is the mystery admirer who placed it on this wall? what did eakin's studio look like in 1885? can anyone just put up a tablet commemorating an artist of historical significance? and calling yourself "an admirer" is so much more romantic than "anonymous," or a real name! maybe it was the lack of coffee in my system, but something about this sight just made me swoon with joy.

with a lingering smile, i bounded down the steps into blick. i forgot how visually overwhelming big art stores can be, and to add to it, this one in particular is lit insanely brightly, so everything just pops. my eyes immediately pulled me in a hundred directions, toward different colors, textures and shapes.

keep in mind that i don't actively make this kind of visual art. despite my years of art classes in middle and high school, i wouldn't really know what to do with a tube of oil paint or tiny plastic trees. the things i felt compelled to photograph don't appeal to me because i want to buy them - they're just weirdly pleasing to my eye.

wandering through the store, i thought about how a real artist might feel in here: aisles and aisles of glossy new materials and tools ready to make anything the heart desires. so much potential energy waiting to be unleashed through eyes and fingers out into the world. then it hit me - this is exactly how i feel upon entering a well-stocked grocery store or farmer's market. different items seem to whisper of what could be, and as i take it all in, ideas start to form in my brain, called into being by some mysterious force of creativity. so many things seem possible as i fill my cart with assorted sundries.

the connection between art and well prepared food shined brightly as i considered all this on the way to blick's kids section. whether it's a white wall, public park, or an empty porcelain plate, filling spaces with form and/or sensation that didn't exist before is what makes life tolerable, even beautiful. it's what makes us feel connected to one another. it's what prompted an admirer to hang a plaque for thomas eakins on a dirty gray wall in center city.



pack a bowl (full of salad greens)

it's not like dressing a salad with tongs or a wooden fork & spoon is that much of a chore, but something about it just annoys me. precious ingredients always go man overboard or i get balsamic on my white shirt or something. first world problems, i know. but sometimes, it's the little things that separates mundane tasks from being a pain in the ass and being no big deal. this set of bowls - in cheery crayon hues and sturdy as hell - are kitchen tools i find myself using almost every day. it might be funny to think of plain old mixing bowls as "tools," but they really do wonders. the secret is all in the lids!

they make the act of preparing a salad the easiest thing in the world. everything goes in, dressing is drizzled on top, lid is snapped on, and then you shake shake shake shake shake shake shake shake. you get full, even coverage of dressing on the salad, with no sad dry greens hiding at the bottom.

trying to eat more spinach these days

the lid + shake technique is especially good with coleslaw. plus, for leftovers you don't need crappy tupperware - the bowl is its own leftovers container! you don't have to look too far for thrills in my kitchen. my set is by martha stewart (who i've learned to stop hating and start sorta appreciating), but there are surely other good brands if you think m.s. is a zombie lady and are loath to give her any of your money. ooh, here's some nice ones on amazon. a bit pricey, but anything that makes you want to eat more salad is a worthy investment, in my book.




for some reason or another (could've been my very recent birthday and the extension of the annual shenanigans? or the highly anticipated return of this reason for copious beer consumption?), this weekend was a doozy. without even really trying to, i partied with the gusto of a woman ten years my younger. raucous times with friends, ballgames, quality time with my fella: all were so, super fun, but i felt hella worse for the wear come this morning.

my idea of a "hangover cure" is usually coffee and some steely resolve. however, this morning i realized, while pawing around aimlessly through our fridge, that we had all the makings for one of my favorite breakfasts - and, coincidental nutrition-bombs - of all time.

kale smoothies! i was first introduced to the idea of raw kale pulverized with other, more traditional, smoothie ingredients by the wonderfully weird folks at the satellite cafe in my old stomping grounds of west philadelphia. i can't be sure, but i think their kale smoothie involves pineapple juice, kale, coconut milk and some other stuff. my at-home version was a bit different, but that is the beauty of smoothies, right? you can just throw whatever produce you've got into a blender, give that thing a whirl, and out comes a delicious breakfast beverage!

let's not front: it is the kale that saves your life. without it, you've just got some pulverized fruit and juice, which certainly does a world of good for your aching body as opposed to a jelly donut or whatever. but it's the beta carotein, vitamin and calcium packed green that somehow makes you feel like a million bucks (well, a thousand, maybe) when you woke up feeling like a piece of gum stuck to someone's shoe.

The Lifesaver
~takes 5 minutes
~makes 1 large, or 2 small smoothies

1 cup of kale, tough stems removed and torn into small pieces
1/2 cup plain low fat or soy yogurt
1 ripe banana
1 handful of grapes
3/4 cup orange, mango or pineapple juice
1 tablespoon ground flax seed (optional)

- slice the banana into pieces. put into a blender, or into a tumbler that can handle an immersion blender.

- add the yogurt, kale and grapes.

- pour the juice on top, and blend. add a bit more liquid if needed.

- to really kick your hangover's ass, stir in 1 tablespoon of ground flax seed after blending. but if that's like, too much effort for your weary bones, just chug that smoothie and wait for the rush of well-being to kick in.

the kale smoothie in its natural habitat

so, even though i pick my poison...at least i've got the antidote, right?