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Super Bowl Sunday – one of the very few and rare moments in time when Jason is home for a full day and a whole night. No work calls, no office madness, he’s all mine. The fact it’s the Super Bowl Sunday (which to me it’s just as thrilling as the Groundhog Day) has nothing to do with Jason’s freedom. It’s a pure coincident, serendipity if you will.

I’ve turned down invitations to various parties involving beautiful people, gourmet food, belly dancers and notables such as celebrity stylists and monarchs of whole countries! Ok, I kid, silly. However, I did make sure that the only thing we had planned for today was NOTHING. And then I got this email from Leslie:

Not only did I love the remix, but also I could not say no to Leslie, except we pushed it to Sunday. Had she lived closer, I’d probably have her hang on to the spare key to our house so she can come visit more often. And believe it or not, I’ve never baked potatoes the way she described. Back in Poland, we do it Neanderthal style – we set up bon fire and bury potatoes under its flames. Those babies taste like nothing you’ve ever had in your life.

So I bought a bag of Russet potatoes for later today. I’ll give them such a makeover their own mother won’t recognize her Russet babies. There will be make up, and glitter involved, mani/ pedi, and hair spray. I’ll then record the session on a series of color photographs and post them along with my next entry.

Speaking of potatoes, I went through a meat-free week and in the process reinvented a couple of veggie dishes from my repertoire. When Friday glanced into our refrigerator, a day before our habitual grocery shopping spree, there were only 2 bell peppers left, green beans, mustard and one sad bunch of greens. I was to make dinner out of those bustards.

I paced through the kitchen scratching my forehead, nodding along as I threaded back and forth, with an occasional hum breaking that intense silence. Half an hour later, as I was juggling a pot of boiling water with potatoes and green beans and simultaneously stirring caramelizing onions and red bell peppers in an iron skillet, Jason walked back from work and asked:

What are you making?

I don’t know. Ask me again when I’m done.

Then I dove again into the refrigerator and surfaced back holding the lettuce with my teeth and squeezing a half-empty jar of mustard in my armpit. I put together all the dressing elements and let the Magic Bullet do its magic. I drained the potatoes and beans and tossed them together in a large bowl with the vinaigrette, chopped Romaine lettuce and parsley. I seasoned it with more salt and pepper, and then topped the mountain with my caramelized onions and bell peppers. The sugar and balsamic vinegar turned them into that sweet and tart cherry that tops the proverbial cake. Loose leaves of mint perfumed the dish, giving it a new twist.

Here’s the summary:

POTATO AND GREEN BEAN SALAD

WITH CARAMELIZED PEPPERS & ONIONS

–       red skin and purple potatoes, cut in thick slices

–       green beans

–       Romaine lettuce

–       large onion

–       2 red bell peppers

–       1 tbsp ground fennel seeds, for caramelizing

–       fresh parsley, roughly chopped

–       fresh mint, roughly chopped

–       3 tbsp of raw cane sugar, for caramelizing

–       3 tbsp of balsamic vinegar, for caramelizing

–       olive oil, for the dressing

–       white balsamic vinegar, for the dressing

–       1 tsp Dijon mustard, for the dressing

–       1 tbsp honey, for the dressing

–       salt + pepper to taste, for everything.

Fill a small BOWL with the SALAD and be assured this will be plenty for a full, nutritious and satiating meal. You don’t need to be a fan of football to enjoy your own  SUPER BOWL.

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HOLY FUCK is the best running music I’ve listened to by far. This electronica band from Toronto has successfully established its presence on the independent music scene since their creation in 2004.

Check them out on youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hrtQEaeGaZY

Make sure to TURN UP THE VOLUME!

5933_123004603012_592198012_3071034_3721692_n After a weekend of various festivities and loving life while indulging on some luscious treats, I finally drove my self to the gym to bring the discipline back and regain inner balance.

What you take in, make sure to extract in some other form. Keep it forward. Don’t think about calories. That is just as bad for you as smoking – both deeply affect the quality of life, and shorten it. Whether it’s the toxin of a cigarette, or a toxic thought that brings you down, stresses you out, and keeps you in the clutches of guilt, both are just as destructive to your system. If you see your body as a car engine, you’ll know exactly how much gas it can take to run smoothly. If you flood it, the engine will cough and stall on you. Stay in tune with your body; it will tell you exactly what it needs whether it’s a slice of cheese or pastrami, a crunchy carrot, a steaming bowl of soup, a brownie oozing with chocolate, an earth shattering orgasm, or breaking a sweat during a high energy run.

It was HOLY FUCK that filled my head space allowing my body to chase free thoughts while treading on gym equipment, and – believe it or not – to completely relax. The old truth has proven itself once more – everything in nature thrives when in balance.

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The weekend was officially launched with a Thursday Night Picnic in a park with a bunch of Leslie’s friends, and friends of friends, and then some. Each one contributed to the potluck on a patchwork of blankets. There was a jar of divine potato salad with a secret ingredient of grated pickles. We had tortilla chips and red snapper ceviche, quinoa salad and chunks of watermelon. Someone else brought a package of cheese nuggets made from REAL milk. I took a bite and was startled at how much the taste resembled flavors I remembered from home. It tasted like…hm… cheese?! Yes, the real deal…

I grew up in a small city in then still very agricultural Poland. Even though the town was surrounded by the industrial chimneys of power plants, we still lived close enough to farms and the countryside. Fresh milk straight from a cow, farmer’s cheese, large eggs, and grass fed beef were easily accessible. It was cheap, and yet organic. When I first came to America and had a bowl of cereal with “milk”, I couldn’t finish my breakfast. It tasted nothing like milk I ever knew. Frankly, it was pretty disgusting. It’s saddening to see the “food-like products” – to quote Michael Pollan – filling up hundreds of food stores’ shelves all over the States. Those items are tempting for their price, I understand, but the quality is just as low. I am convinced our society would be a much healthier one had it nourished itself with the pure foods produced by our planet.

My decision to take a vegan route was more complex than just based on the taste of food, but that was one of the important elements. I lasted about 7 years. However, now, living as a recovered omnivore, I still drink almond milk, I pick my veggies from local farmers at a market, I choose organic meats, eggs from cage-free hens, and beef from happy cows fed on grass, and not corn.

I digress.

At the picnic we shared wine, stories and laughs. Hours later it was the chill of the night that drove us away. We packed Cosmo and went home.

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To be continued…

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