Anything but pedestrian

It may not take a genius to sit in quiet contemplation while staring at a body of water; but you may be one for taking that time to do so. I think that Nigerian-American writer Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu said it best when she said that she, “go(es) to the ocean to calm down, to reconnect with the creator, to just be happy.” Ever since I can remember, I have had a love affair with the ocean. I would surf the waves when I was a teenager and the older that I get, the more I love just staring at the endless waves, cascading on the sandy shore. Being from Eastern North Carolina definitely has its perks because in my opinion, the beaches are some of the most beautiful in the world. But the beaches are not the only place that has been a place of quiet contemplation.

I have mentioned before that my parents house was built 50 yards from a creek that is a tributary to the Northeast Cape Fear River. This creek connected to another small tributary that flows from a wetland area south. These tributaries met behind my parents house and the smaller tributary had a small waterfall. Over the banks of the small creek lied a huge fallen oak tree. I would sit with my back against this tree for hours listening to the sounds of the waterfall and watching a beautiful aspect of nature. There was nothing pedestrian about the situation. The sensory overload was anything but lackluster. This spot in the middle of a wooded area was my secret oasis; my serenity. I would grow older and hurricanes would tame the landscape as they saw fit. Water erodes. Trees fall down and rot. The spot does not look the same anymore but there are other spots that I frequent to try to find a break from the mundane.

On the banks of the Hollands Shelter Creek (a tributary of the Northeast Cape Fear River) sits Hollands Shelter Creek Restaurant. My family took me there when I was a kid and now that I have a kid of my own; we enjoy taking him. Daniel has always been fascinated with the river that flows by the seafood restaurant, so it seems only logical that his favorite place to go is to sit on the dock on the river, eat some ice cream and hopefully spot an alligator.

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Life Hack: Relief for Gout and Arthritis

The_gout_james_gillrayAll of the male members of my family have been riddled with the gout since I can remember. My grandfather used to get it in his knee and my dad would get it in his big toe on his right foot. As for me, my flare ups come in three toes on my left foot and in my ankle on the spot where I broke it many years ago. If you have never had experienced the gout or don’t know what it is; the gout is a form of inflammatory arthritis and the attacks typically pop up within a twelve hour period. The gout is caused by an elevated level of uric acid in the blood which causes the uric acid to crystalize inside of joints, tendons and surrounding tissue. This pain is literally as bad as it sounds and 1-2% of the Western population has had or will experience the gout during their life. Medicines (anti-inflammatory drugs, colchicine, and steroids) have been used to lower uric acid levels in recent years and even a change in your diet can help reduce uric acid levels; but food only accounts for 60% of the outbreaks that will happen to a person suffering from gout.

Regretfully the gout medications are expensive and I had to give up my prescription to Uloric (a prescription gout medication) because even with my deductible, the price had risen to well over $150 per month. I could of course order the pills from Canada at a lower price but I would still be spending around $65 a month for 30 pills. So I looked into the world of natural cures and with help from The Vitamin Shoppe, I found a life hack that is quite literally improving my quality of life. In my research, I found that coffee, vitamin C and low fat dairy products help reduce the risk of a gout outbreak while the consumption of alcohol, soft drinks, red meat and seafood increases the risk. Some key ingredients that work to reduce uric acid levels and help with inflammation are Cherry juice, turmeric and ginger. Along with drinking Pineapple Juice (pineapples are a great source of vitamin C and have anti-inflammatory properties), I created a concoction that isn’t the greatest tasting thing in the world…but I can guarantee you that it works for us. The Dynamic Health company actually has created a Tart Cherry, Turmeric, and Ginger Tonic that is available at The Vitamin Shoppe. I simply take the suggested dose of tonic and add in my preferred level of Pineapple Juice and there you have it: The Deflator (get it…cause gout and arthritis form inflammation…anyways).

tonic and juiceI woke up the first morning after taking it and my pain had subsided overnight. It was still tender but I was at least 90% better. I am still taking the mixture days later and am actually feeling better. My wife heard me talking about how good I felt and how that I was able to move the joints in my big toe like I had not been able to in years; and she was curious if it would work for her arthritis in her back. Well she took it and the next morning she woke up for the first time in years without pain.  Daniel, my son plays full contact football and his back was strained the other day…we gave him some of the tonic and he woke up feeling great. I can’t guarantee that this will work for you because I am not a doctor…but I can guarantee that it has worked/is working for my family. I want to tell everyone that I can about what appears to be a miracle cure for us.

braggsI will also be reintroducing Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar into my every day routine. It is very good for the treatment of gout because the apple cider vinegar moves the pH scale towards alkalinity and therefore, reduced the gout symptoms. I just take it straight like a shot of whiskey but you can dilute it in a cup of warm water or mix 2 tbsp of it with honey.

These suggestions are completely up to you but I could not urge you any harder to please at least try these remedies if you suffer from the gout or arthritis.

 


Images:

The Gout by James Gillray. Published May 14th 1799. Via copy at [1], Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3796712

Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar, Fair Use.

Waiting for Fermentation

I live in Rose Hill, NC; which is home to the largest winery in the South. Seriously. In my small town, we have an award winning winery that produces one of Martha Stewart’s favorite wines. I think that we as residents take for granted the scope of how big that the winery actually is. I think that we as consumers and residents as a whole don’t think about the items that we use. Let’s just take for instance, the wine that is produced around the world (sparkling wine, table wine, vermouth, white wine, red wine, whatever)…I don’t really think any of us think about the steps that it takes to get the grape hanging on the vine to the bottle that sits on the grocery store shelf.

According to the Wine Institute’s Preliminary research, United States residents alone consume an average of 949 million gallons of wine per year which equates to a total of 2.94 gallons of wine per resident; and with an average of 3.3 pounds of grapes going in to the creation of one bottle of wine, I can understand why I see so many fields of grapevines. The Duplin Winery has a tank capacity of over 1.7 million gallons of wine and sells over 450,000 cases of wine per year. The sweet cloying of wine lies thick in the air and the ambrosial aroma sticks to your skin as you walk among the towering tanks that house the wine whose creators are waiting for the cold fermentation process to produce a proper result.

The grapevines that I pass on a daily basis yield grapes that are used in the creation of a luscious liquid that is delivered to thirsty patrons around the world. The grape’s juice is squeezed from the fruit and transferred to the tanks whose behemoth bellies house the sweet muscadine juice until a time that the aluminum leviathan creatures will entrust its created bestowal upon the bottlers. The wine-makers carefully monitor the process and from the ‘terminus a quo’ of the spheroidal fruits to the transfiguration of the a delicious wine. The journey of the berry’s menial genesis into something so complex amazes me but with science a little bit of love…anything can happen.

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Structures of Fengshui

Golden Dragon

Most Americans and the select inhabitants of larger cities from around the world have seen the quintessential ‘Chinese takeout/buffet’. Most of us have one or two in our towns or in our neighborhoods. If you live in a larger city, you probably can smell the soy sauce laced smoke bellowing from exhaust pipes because it is more than likely within walking distance of your apartment. We walk in and order the chicken wings or that shrimp fried rice that you’ve been craving. You grab the soy sauce packets that end up littering your counter at your house and relish at the sound of the crack as you pull your chop sticks apart. But what about the facade? What about the mass-produced mock-Asian architecture that adorns the walls of our local Chinese restaurant? Do we notice the 6 foot high foo dog statue that wards off evil spirits from the Imperial Chinese Buffet? What about the elegant golden dragon that slinks his way up the colossal columns that adorn the entrance way?

Is our stomach so harmonized to the MSG laced food that an an invisible fengshui-esque force metaphorically draws us auspiciously to the food sitting in the pans that sit just above the water boiling beneath the buffet; or is it the seasoned wok being tolled back and forth over the flowering flame that is stir frying seasoned meats and vegetables that draws us in? Are we so caught up with our lives that even the architectural structure that was meticulously nominated by many a worried owner is now inconsequential to busy bystanders? Sadly it’s not just the adorned Chinese buffets that we miss. We truly are a generation that has forgotten to stop and smell the roses; or elevate our eyes to find the most minute bit of beauty in the Asian architecture outside of the local Chinese buffet.

A new Grainy Orange Drink

Metamucil_ad_(cropped)

If you were a child of the 80s, you will remember that Metamucil commercial where the guy takes a spoon full of the orange flavored granules and mixes it until it looks like the delicious drink that it ‘should’ be. Well there was a time that I guess that I missed seeing that commercial.

I remember being in love with Tang and Country Time lemonade when I was a kid. I would take spoon fulls of mix them in the tap water at my grandparent’s house on the hot summer days that I would spend with them. One summer in my youth, I remember seeing a new type of ‘orange flavored’ granule on the counter of my grandparent’s kitchen. I got out my favorite octagonal shaped glass, filled it with tap water and began to mix in the new orange flavored granule. It wasn’t as delicious as Tang but when you are thirsty, it wasn’t that bad. I must have left a small amount of residue on the counter after I had created my mixture because she immediately became inquisitive. She asked my cousin, who said that I had made the mess but the mess was not what was on my grandmother’s mind.

She asked how many spoonfuls that I had used and I reluctantly answered, ‘two’. She walks over to the phone to call my mother at work and I hear a chuckle from my mom on the other end a stern ‘it ain’t going to be funny to him in a little while’. I thought I was about to get a spanking due to using this new orange drink without permission but boy was I wrong. I realized what my grandmother meant by ‘I’d know in a little while and I will spare you any details of the pain and bathroom agony that ensued for the rest of the day. All I know is that it will still be a cold day in Hell before I drink Metamucil…or a really constipated day in hell rather.

via Daily Prompt: Grainy


Images: Metamucil advertisement Photo Source is the National Cancer Institute and company of ownership is copyright owner, fair use.

The Nacho Legacy

NachopostWhile watching Nacho Libre the other night, I started hitting up google (as I usually do) trying to find out information about the real Nacho Libre. Well as you usually do, on Google, I found out more than I bargained for. Nacho Libre is a movie starring Jack Black but the forename ‘Nacho’ means something in the gastronomical world. Nachos are usually a simple snack food that we all know derived from Mexico. This simple dish is now made by taking tortilla chips and plopping melted cheese down on top of them. Some ballparks, concert venues, restaurants and bars are kicking it up a notch (to steal a line from Guy Fieri) by elevating the snack food to a full blown main dish by adding ground beef, ground pork, chicken, beans, olives, jalapeño peppers, sour cream, guacamole or any other misc topping that your heart could desire. So why has this dish, that many people in America label nachos as a cheap ballpark snack or when souped up, view it as a to-be-shared bar or restaurant appetizer, become synonymous with snacking? Does this simple chip delicacy deserve to be known as more than a chip snack covered in fake cheese?

The nacho itself began life in Piedras Negras, Coahuila, Mexico; which is just across the 640px-Piedras_Negras_SignMexican border from Texas. The town teamed with people in 1943 because the U.S. soldier’s and their families stationed at Fort Duncan in nearby Eagle Pass would come to Piedras Negras to shop. On one specific shopping trip, a group of U.S. soldier’s wives arrived a restaurant in town after a day of shopping but they arrived just after the kitchen had closed down for the day. To not turn away any business; the maitre d of the hotel, Ignacio “Nacho” Anaya, concocted something for the ladies to eat utilizing what he had left over in the kitchen. As he looked around the kitchen he could only find left over tortillas, cheese and pickled jalapeño peppers, so he cut up the tortillas into triangles and deep fried them. He took these crispy tortilla ‘chips’ and covered them with cheese shredded cheddar cheese and melted the cheese in the oven. As they were still piping hot from the oven, he sliced the pickled jalapeño peppers on top before they were whisked away to the table.

The ladies loved the dish and when asked what the dish was called, the quick thinking Nacho says, “Nacho’s especiales”. From there the legend was born. Word continued to travel and somehow along the way, the apostrophe was lost or the pronunciation was lost 640px-Sausage_sandwich_with_nachosin translation but the ladies told everyone that they must try the “Special Nacho” instead of Nacho’s Special. The popularity of the dish skyrocketed, despite the miscommunication in the name. Nacho began working at the Moderno Restaurant in Piedras Negras but eventually opened his own restaurant, Nacho’s Restaurant. Nacho’s original “Nacho” recipe was printed in the 1954 St. Anne’s Cookbook leading to the dish spreading throughout all of Texas and all of the Southwest….and the rest is just history.

Waitress Carmen Rocha took the recipe from a restaurant in San Antonio, Texas with her to Los Angeles where she introduced the dish at El Cholo Mexican restaurant in 1959. The dish continued in popularity and a cheapened version of the dish was marketed in 1976 by 640px-Flickr_jennerosity_3399911471--NachosFrank Liberto at the Arlington Stadium in Arlington, Texas. This version which utilized a zesty cheese sauce and premade ‘tortilla chips’ became known as what we call ‘ballpark nachos. During a Monday Night Football game, Howard Cosell a sportscaster working a Monday Night Football game, mentioned the new dish in his broadcasts which introduced the dish to the dish to a whole new demographic. Over the years has led to many varieties nachos being found on menus all around the world.

So whether you like your nachos the old fashion way with homemade fried tortilla triangles topped with cheese and pickled jalapeños; Mexican restaurant style topped high with ground beef, pico de gallo/salsa, guacamole, jalapeños, sour cream and lettuce; gastropub style made with heirloom tomatoes and roasted duck; or the cheap, quick and easy ballpark version, just remember to tip your sombrero to Ignancio “Nacho” Anaya and yearning to never turn away a customer.

Well….I think I’ll go now, because now I’m hungry. For some nachos of course. 🙂

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Images: 

Nacho Libre image

Piedras Negras Sign Image by and accredited to Mquirarte – Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17937208

Sausage Sandwich with nachos image by and accredited to jeffreyw – Uploaded by Fæ, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=23104887

Featured Image – Nachos image by and accredited to Jennifer Feuchter from Surrey, British Columbia, Canada – Flickr, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9803156

Nachos with beef and beans image by and accredited toRenee Comet (photographer) – This image was released by the National Cancer Institute, an agency part of the National Institutes of Health, with the ID 2646 (image) (next). https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1635390