And a new job for me!
I am quite honored to say that I have been named Director and Dean of Clinical Affairs for the Centre for Homeopathic Education New York City (CHE NYC)... a program integrated with CHE London.
We will continue our current 4-year part-time weekend program and plans are to launch a full-time homeopathy program and graduate programming in 2014.
I have been hard at work along with Tina Quirk (Dean of Academic Affairs) and Marcus Fernandez, Principal of both the program in London and in the US, to get everything ready for classes that are beginning in October.
We will move into our newly refurbished permanent facilities this fall (500 W 35th Street, 9th Floor) where construction is currently underway... beautiful classrooms, consultation rooms, a library, and space for events will make this a hub of homeoapthic activity--and community.
My clinical practice will continue as always... and I will be available for client consultations at the new space beginning in November. Until then, I'm still in the downtown office and seeing distance clients via video conference and phone.
We are building a new and improved CHE NYC website, so in the meantime, you can find our basic information through CHE London.
Spread the word!
Last Friday, Brooklyn got a nice dumping of snow... enough to cancel my teaching commitments for the weekend, thus opening up a few unexpected days to fill with the pleasures of cooking, eating and skiing.
As the snow started to fall, the winds howled, and little icy snow pellets ricocheted off the window signaling just how cozy and warm I was in my sweet little kitchen. Pretty soon, the music was on, and I was cooking up my own storm: White bean and kale minestrone, roasted beets with garlic and rosemary, pork shoulder braised in white wine and fennel, creamy polenta, mexican chocolate pudding with almond milk and cinnamon cashew cream.
For the soup I adapted this recipe from last week's NY Times Cooking for Health section... I sauteed a few slices of pasture-raised organic bacon (no nitrites or preservatives) with the vegetables, used beans that I had made earlier in the week instead of canned beans, substituted sweet potato for the white potato, and added some home made veggie stock instead of water. What turned this pot from good to OMG was the secret ingreient: a few frozen cubes of braise liquid saved from a chicken dish (aka: liquid gold).
Although it may sound like a lot of fancy ingredients, the reality is, it's more of a fancy recycling job...ingredients that rolled from one meal to the next... without adding any more work in the end. For example, when I make beans, I flavor up the cooking liquid with tons of veggies and fresh herbs... not only does it make for tasty beans, it also means the "broth" can be saved for another dish. (I actually like to use the bean broth on my dog Jake's food for added nutrients.) When I make a braise, I freeze cubes of the leftover liquid and use it to spike a grain dish, make a quick gravy or give a flavor jolt to a pot of soup or veggies.
The roasted beets were a nice treat and the garlic/rosemary fragrance made me swoon every time I opened the oven to shake the pan! Simple to make: peel and quarter the beets, coat with olive oil and sprinkle with coarse sea salt. Toss in a few cloves of garlic and add a sprig or two of rosemary. Roast at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes... until fork tender. Delicious hot, warm or cold... if they last that long!
It's a good thing I got all of the cooking done on Friday because Saturday was a winter wonderland and I skiied all day long in Prospect Park. I could never have guessed that one of the best x/c ski days of my life would happen in the city of Brooklyn--and neither could my dog!
Life is full of delicious surprises...
Once upon a time, I lived in a groovy little neighborhood in Philadelphia called Mt. Airy. I had a sweet life where my kids walked to school and my office was 248 paces from home. I had my posse of local food suppliers for eggs, raw dairy, meat, cheeses, flowers, honey and beeswax candles. My co-op once sang happy birthday to me over the intercom. "Happy Birthday Member Two-Twenty-Fi-ive" It was a total foodie dream, all obtainable by short ride on my cargo bike. It was worthy of a Portlandia episode.
The decision to move back to NYC had many pros and cons, and I fully expected to meet a host of challenges along the way. But there was one difficulty I simply could not have anticipated: Food Shopping. After all, I love food shopping. I really and truly love it. I love food shopping even more than I love shoe shopping.
And I have a dirty little secret: I have been known to overpay for things that are beautiful, delicious, and/or smell really good.
So it came as a huge surprise that living in Brooklyn, the DIY/Foodie Mecca of the East, food shopping became the absolute bane of my very existence.
Don't get me wrong,I can procure anything that I need... the issue is: how to get there, (godforbid) park there, schlep it back from there, all while trying to find the time to visit a gazillion different shops and suck it up to pay through the nose after waiting in a long line. Fuggedaboudit.
The compromises were sneaking in from every angle. And by the time I caught myself buying pesticide-full, disgusting grapefruit "juice" and homogonized 1/2 and 1/2 FROM TARGET I knew I was in trouble.
Thank god for the Park Slope Food Co-op.
Everyone who is not a member makes fun of it. Even the members tell horror stories of the crowds, the un-bending rules, the work shifts, the lines...
But I have been a member of some food co-op or another since 1992. Starting with the Onion River Co-op in Burlington, VT, The Wedge and Linden Hills Co-ops in Minneapolis, and, of course, Weaver's Way in Philadelphia. And having owned two food businesses, Fiddlehead & Fennel and Alive Kitchen, I am no stranger to what goes on behind the scenes.
So when I found myself working my shift on a busy Thursday afternoon (members work 2.75 hours every 4 weeks)... I was really happy. And my fridge and cupboards are once again brimming with fresh, yummy, healthy food...
For readers who have been asking for more recipes, perhaps now you'll be in luck?
Right now, on this snowy, rainly, sleety day, I've got a pot of veggie stock simmering away, and thoughts of a Moroccan lentil soup (kinda spicy, with a tomato broth) may soon turn into a recipe.
This week I had the privlilege of teaching at Earthwise Ways Herb School in Philadelphia. My dear friend, Maia Toll, (owner of Herbiary and founder of Earthwise Ways) and I have been in conversation for some time about teaching together and about programming that combined our modalities, our skills and our passions. Well... give a busy girl a job and consider it done!
Maia has developed an incredible Community Herbalist Training course that goes far beyond the scope of what is being done anywhere else. In the Advanced Class in Holistic Herbalism, students are not just honing their herbal skills, but are also being presented a multi-modality exploration that includes Homeopathy, Ayurveda, Naturopathy as well as hands-on plant/permaculture studies.
In addition to acute-care homeopathy, I am teaching my Personal Transformation for the
Healing Professional course and The Art of The Interview... two of my absolute favorite classes!
And... each class day includes a "Learning Lunch" which gives students an opportunity to explore food and nutrition while building culinary skills. On this day, we prepared a raw kale salad with savory anchovy dressing and a yummy red lentil curry.
Over the years, there have been a number of well4good workshops, all based on the w4g model of: Food, Movement, Meditation and Purposeful Life Practices. Topics have ranged from Women's Health, Living with Food Allergies, and Loving our Bodies, In Spite of Ourselves.
At the end of each workshop, people always comment on how good it feels to have spent time truly focused on themselves... The energy of the group potentizes the work and we all come away recharged with new tools, techniques and strategies for living well.
With this in mind, I've been working on a new well4good weekend retreat series, designed to recharge and fortify body, mind and spirit. I'll be releasing specific information about the first retreat very soon... it will be held at Pendle Hill, just outside of Philadelphia, the last weekend in November.
A full week after Thanksgiving, but not quite into the holiday bustle, it's a perfect "me" weekend. Please let me know if you are interested in attending!
After the holidays, you'll be hearing more about some exciting workshops and retreats that I'll be leading with my dear friend, Patrick Mitchell. Patrick was the choreographer and artistic director of the dance company I performed with in the 80's... he's an incredibly gifted healer and one of the best teachers I've ever encountered. And when we get together--well, let's just say that there are sure to be a lot of laughs along with the learning.
To whet your appetite--and to keep us entertained--we've started a sweet little blog called, "Life, Love, Lunacy." It's inspired by the letters we wrote to one another during the decade Patrick spent living and working in Amsterdam. It includes vignettes on life, musings on love and a lot of laughing at ourselves. The "Lunacy" refers to the first show we did together... all songs about the moon.
I hope you enjoy our stories...
I met my dear friend Carmine in 1989, when he was a ski instructor at Mt Snow, Vermont and I was a weekender obsessed with getting in as many ski days as the season (and my work schedule) would allow. We met on snow, but bonded on food and all-things-Italian.
Our family stories had similar flavor and color: laughing, screaming, HUGE holiday feasts, home-made everything... except Carmine's family Made The Tomatoes.
Sure... my grandmother made our pasta every Thursday on her "chittara," my Uncle Armand baked the bread and pizza shells, and durng the holiday season, our tiny kitchen yielded enough cookies and cakes to make Lil' Debbie ready to take up knitting.
But No Tomatoes.
From the first time Carmine told me about this event (and trust me... it's an event) I knew I had to be a part of it.
The day started before 8:00am with seven bushels of organic tomatoes--and ended ten hours later with dozens of jars of what is objectively the most equisite tomato puree on the planet.
In between, under the watchful eye of Giovanna (she does not miss a single trick), we washed, rubbed, rinsed, quartered, heated, stirred, pureed, and jarred.
At the same time, we were served so much amazing food, home made wine, and espresso (thanks to Lucy and Michael) that I was literally full to the point of potential explosion.
It's days like this that make me smile blissfully... grateful for the incredible friends and family that make my world a little more delicious.
Beginners Course with Denise M. Straiges CCH, RSHom(NA) - Class Now Forming CALL TODAY!
Saturday September 29th and Sunday September 30th NY Seminar & Conference Ctr. 71 W. 23rd St. (at 6th Ave.)
Fee: $300 - Register: email@example.com (718) 286-9372
Registration is now open!
This course is a fantastic opportunity to learn more about homeopathic philosophy and the basics of home prescribing. It's also a good way to test the waters if you are considering the full course of professional study.
It has been said that there are two basic emotions: love and fear. Interesting, right? Not “hate” but fear.
“Love” and all its offshoots give us a groovy-good feeling of connection. Separation from that can be described as a hole, an emptiness, or, at its worst-- like when the Dementors get on the Hogwarts express… (get chocolate, Stat!).
Following the thread of the feeling of separateness, teasing through the layers of emotion, unraveling the stickiness of the narrative, tiptoeing around the landmines of anger, denial and the inevitable physical pain that comes when we don’t process the stuff… we find a little gem. That gem is like the DNA sequence of fear.
Mining for the gems is a bit of what we do in the homeopathic process… and it’s a lot of what happens in a meditation practice.
So what about when we find a gem or two?
Occasionally a homeopathic remedy does that miracle thing where the delusion is handily removed and we see reality instead of the movie The Crazies Who Live In Our Subconscious keep playing for us. But more often than not, our Western minds need to be re-worked to let go of the junk we’ve piled in the attic that is our mind.
I’ve written a lot about fear here (check out this post--which links to another--for further perspectives) as it’s a constant in life. And I am forever working in my own life to overcome the perceived obstacles that can keep me at arms length from experiencing joy.
For example, fear is a glutton for the worry of a single, self-employed mother of teenagers. And my personal demons are like junkies in line at the methadone clinic… clean, but still susceptible to temptation.
My latest round had a lot to do with self-sufficiency and a certain level of learned incompetence in the realm of home improvement.
Projects that required heavy lifting, (including a tipped filing cabinet and a box spring blocking the hallway) conspired with piles of un-hung art, and bare windows (that required me to army-crawl from the bathroom to my bedroom if not fully dressed) could bring me to my knees, literally, without warning.
These projects became a metaphor for the heavy lifting I was facing in life.
So I started where I always do… I meditated. Then I got this in my weekly email from buddhist monk Pema Chodron:
HOW TO DEFEAT FEAR
Once there was a young warrior. Her teacher told her that she had to do battle with fear. She didn’t want to do that. It seemed too aggressive; it was scary; it seemed unfriendly. But the teacher said she had to do it and gave instructions for the battle.
The day arrived. The student warrior stood on one side, and fear stood on the other. The warrior was feeling very small, and fear was looking big and wrathful. The young warrior roused herself and went toward fear, prostrated three times, and asked, “May I have permission to go into battle with you?”
Fear said, “Thank you for showing me so much respect that you ask permission.”
Then the young warrior said, “How can I defeat you?”
Fear replied, “My weapons are that I talk fast, and I get very close to your face. Then you get completely unnerved, and you do whatever I say. If you don’t do what I tell you, I have no power. You can listen to me, and you can have respect for me. You can even be convinced by me. But if you don’t do what I say, I have no power.”
In that way, the student warrior learned how to defeat fear.
But the heroin dealer was offering a buy-one-get-one-free to my demons, and I was still crawling on all-fours to and from the shower.
Enter Helen Reddy and The Lady Drill.
Back in 1992 I moved from NYC to rural Vermont. I lived in a house that was only heated by wood… I schlepped, shoveled and hammered. I even learned to make balls of shaved pine doused with kerosene to get my fire burning quicker (boom!). I’ve camped alone. I’m certified in wilderness first aid. I ran a marathon for god’s sake. What was my problem?
Tired of hearing myself complain, I went to the tool corral at Lowes and bought a drill--the one with the picture of the woman on the box seemed like my best bet. I learned about drill bits and masonry anchors, got a new hammer… and reached DIY nirvana.
Taking action is an amazing drug. Facing fear, but not doing what it says, is absolutely intoxicating.
So on this Sunday morning, I am positively beaming after successfully hanging my living room curtains (three windows wide—needed the extra long rod, and FOUR drapery panels!), five coat hooks, and countless pieces of gorgeous artwork.
While I have not been streaking around the place (yet), I will admit to playing the Helen Reddy song quite a few times.
Here me roar!!
What are you afraid of? What are the Crazies telling you that you can not do? What can you do instead of listening to what fear tells you?
What do you need to do in order to roar?
Thoughts for a Sunday morning. Enjoy...
While my boys are at summer camp, I'll be very busy celebrating my very own palate.
People, let it be known: I can (and will) cook what ever I damn-well-please for the next 7.5 weeks, and nobody--ain't nobody--can complain about it.
Yes, I love to cook for my family. And yes, I love nothing more than entertaining a house full of hungry friends. But the pleasure that comes from cooking for one (or possibly two) is magically delicious (more than Lucky Charms, trust me).
The photo, above, is from yesterday's lunch. It's a simple salad that includes some of my favorite ingredients for the Solo Meal: beans (these are soldier beans bought fresh from the farmer's market, simmered with kombu for extra minerals), fancy cheese, baby arugula and steamed veggies. There's also a little dollop of lacto-fermented red cabbage (delicious and fab for the gut) and some of my favorite gluten-free crackers.
You'll know it's lunch because instead of a nice glass of wine, there's iced tea. In summer, I keep a pitcher of brewed iced tea in the fridge at all times. I like to blend a few herbal teas (lemon zinger, peach roibos and Good Earth spice make a great combo) with some local raw honey for a delicious treat.
But lest you think that this is a labor-intensive gig, let me set you straight: it's not. The whole point here is to keep it easy and to have ingredients on hand that can be worked together over the course of several meals.
Which brings me to a mention of the absolute best cookbook I've gotten in years (no small honor considering the ridiculous tonnage of cookbooks I just moved): An Everlasting Meal, Cooking with Economy and Grace by Tamar Adler. This book will truly change the way you shop for, cook and eat food. I kid you not.
And now, although I'd love to go into more detail about the ingredients and preparation of my meal, it's ice cream time. Unlike when the boys are home, I know that the pint that I bought yesterday is still in the freezer!
In the meantime, I'd love to know about your favorite solo meal... do you cook something special? Or is it Lucky Charms, all the way??