Last day to vote!

Hello readers!  Fervent Foodie has been nominated for Charlotte’s best Food Blog in the City Web Awards.  Many of you have already voted for my blog, and to you I say THANK YOU!  Voting ends Monday July 23rd at 10am, so if you are inclined to vote please head on over to the awards website (and a big THANK YOU to you as well!).  You can vote up to four times (one vote for each Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+).

Thank you for your support and for reading my blog!

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I hate birthdays.

I hate birthdays.

Every year around my birthday I find myself falling into an unavoidable slump.  It’s not like it used to be back when I was in my early twenties and we celebrated birth-weeks instead of days.  Back then you were something special on your birthday–the queen of the night, the damsel to be doted on–and simply uttering “it’s my birthday” got you on the VIP list.

It’s even harder to compare today’s birthdays with birthdays of my childhood.  Back then birthdays were the highlight of the entire year, just after Christmas and right before Halloween.  In the weeks leading up to my thirteenth birthday, I was hit with a bout of insomnia.  I was most literally too excited to sleep.  I would sit in my bedroom, sweating profusely in the mid-summer heat of the night, fantasizing about my impending slumber party.  I’d think about what I would wear and the games that we’d play.  I’d triple count the number of friends who had rsvp’d.  I’d estimate the birthday loot I’d rake in by multiplying each family member times their average historical gift.  Then I’d visualize all the new school clothes I could buy with the money, and how cool I’d be rolling into 8th grade in a new pair of wide leg J’nco’s and contrasting Billabong T.  My stomach ached with excitement, and when I could think of nothing else to plan nor additional calculations to perform, I resorted to putting together thousand-piece puzzles to pass the hours.  Each dawn I’d pull out my notepad with my hand-drawn countdown calendar and scratch off another day.  Twenty seven days down, nine days to go.  Only nine more days!

Birthdays aren’t like that any more.  If I’m being honest here, and trust me I am, there’s a part of me that wants birthdays to be special like they once were.  These dark thoughts leave me feeling silly, guilty even, for wanting something so childish.  Birthdays aren’t special like they used to be because I’m a grown ass woman now.  Now birthdays consist of working (like a responsible adult), eating a sensible lunch, and dissuading conversations that start with “oh my gosh, it’s your birthday?” or “have any big plans for your birthday?” and especially “soooo, do you feel any older?”  All of this unusual attention inevitably makes me feel devoid because no matter what I’m doing to punctuate the day of my birth it’s not enough.  It’s no slumber party with 8 of my closest friends, it’s no free-shot-filled night on the town, and it’s most certainly no week-long celebration where “because it’s my birthday” serves as my steadfast mantra.

Today is my birthday.

Today is my birthday, and I am not this day’s princess nor am I this day’s queen.

Today is my friggin’ birthday.

Where’s my chocolate cake?

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Let’s lie down.

I went for a run the other day.  It was my first attempt in two weeks.  I set out with the admirable intention of running 6 solid miles, and as I flew through those first two my goal seemed completely attainable, easy even.  But then something happened around mile 2.3. My breathing became heavy and forced, and my legs moved slowly as if dragging two-ton shackles.  I slowed to a walk.  Step. Step.. Step…. My mind spun. “Ok, I’m stopping.  I’m stopped.  I’m not running, because I stopped…  I’ve never stopped mid-run, but now I’m stopped, and here I am.”  I looked around–at the street, the chipped sidewalk, then the grass.  Everything seemed to tilt, like I’d just taken my turn in a game of dizzy bat.  “I’m sitting down now, sitting down.  I’m sitting down.  And now I’m lying.  I’m lying down.  Is it laying down or lying down?  I don’t know, and I don’t care because I’m lying down in the grass.  This isn’t my grass… this grass I’m lying in, it isn’t mine.  I hope they don’t mind, those people whose grass this is.”  I lay there, arms and legs sprawled out to the sides like a beached starfish under the shade of a tree.  Through the canopy of branches and leaves I could see the clouds floating calmly across the blue sky.  And I lay.

I guess, sometimes, you need to lie down.

So I did.

It was unexpected and unplanned, just as I unexpectedly and unpredictably laid down my pen, my books, and my thoughts over the past few weeks.  It has been three weeks since my last blog post–at least that’s what the calendar tells me.  3 weeks.  Where have I been?

I know I went home to Ohio, I went to the beach, and I went to Ohio again.  I know that I pondered, I caffeinated, and I mourned.  We all mourned.  But where have I been?  Where have all my thoughts been hiding?  I haven’t been present, or focused, or active in any which way, so where the heck have I been?

And what the heck have I been eating?

 

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Two years of fervency!

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Today my blog turns TWO years old!  How crazy and cool is that?  When I first started blogging, I didn’t know where it would take me, or who might read my ramblings, or if anyone would find my life through food the teensiest bit interesting.  Despite all of that, I quickly grew to love my blog—one could say it was love at first click of the “publish” button.  In looking back over the last two years, all 365 posts, I feel proud.  Proud of what I’ve said, what I’ve learned, and how I’ve grown, but mostly proud because this blog is ME, Mary, a forever fervent foodie.

 

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Where did that come from?

USDA Organic

Where did that come from?  That’s a question I’ve been asking myself a lot lately.  Where did those blackberries come from?  What about these bananas?  And do I even want to think about where this chicken came from?  The question of “where” has been followed by countless others.  How far did this food travel before it got to my grocery store?  How was is grown?  Is it natural?  Were chemicals used?

Which is better, organic or local?

All of this thinking is new to me, and it’s thinking that’s starting to takeover the majority of my thoughts.  In the past, I’ve purposely opted to be blissfully unaware about my food, especially when it came to meat.  I didn’t want to think about how the meat got into the meat case at the grocery or why all the chicken breasts there were disturbingly similar sizes.  I didn’t want to think about what the chicken had been fed or if she lived a happy life free to frolic around the farm.  I certainly didn’t want to think about feed lots, or chicken houses with next to no fresh air or room to spread your wings, or chickens who were raised hopped up hormones causing growth so outrageous their poor legs were too weak to hold their bodies up.  I wanted nothing to do with any of that.

But here I am thinking about all of it, and frankly it’s uncomfortable.

Over the past couple of months, all of those bullets I’d been dodging started making contact.  It started with a little curiosity about organic fruits and vegetables (and if I should be shelling out the extra cash to buy them).  When I went home to visit family in Ohio I popped the question to my mom, who always seems to be on top of the food scene and has been pushing grass-fed meat for years.  She showed me this video, which I encourage you all to take two minutes to watch.

My Potato Project; The Importance of “Organic”

It’s disturbing, but the fact is the bulk of our produce is grown chemically.  Chemicals are used to prevent weeds, deter insects, and artificially enhance the quality of the nutrient depleted soil.  All of these chemicals become a part of our produce, and this chemical usage and industrialization has a negative impact on the quality of the product the system is producing (i.e., our fruits and veggies).  One example of this is the significant reduction in the nutritional quality of an apple when compared to the apple nutrient stats in the 1950’s.  Today, you’d have to eat THREE apples to get the nutrients one apple provided back in the fifties.  Nowadays, the majority of farmers are using genetically modified seeds, which are magically resistant to chemicals like Roundup and Bud Nip.  These seeds are planted in pesticide saturated soil and throughout their growth are sprayed frequently with, you guessed it, more chemicals.

But what does that mean for us, the fruit and veggie eaters?

As we speak, there is a large russet potato on my kitchen counter.  It is slightly dirty, and I know it will need a good scrub before I bake it.  I think about how this non-organic potato was grown—submerged in poor quality chemical ridden soil—and I wonder what good washing it will really do.  Sure it will get the bit of dirt off of the skin, but what about all those chemicals that have inevitably seeped into every cell of the spud as it grew surrounded by toxic pesticides?  Would I spray kitchen cleaner on this potato to clean the dirt from its skin?  Absolutely not.  We all know it’s not safe to ingest kitchen cleaner.  But apparently it’s safe to ingest Roundup?  And Bud Nip?

Unanswered questions keep piling up in my mind.  I’ve read Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food and I’m currently working my way through Maria Rodale’s Organic Manifesto.  I watched Food Inc., and there are a stack of library books on my counter waiting to be read including Food Matters, Botany of Desire, and Food Rules.  I am passionate about learning all that I can about the industrialized food industry and growing organically.

But the more I learn, the more appalled I become.

The studies are alarming.  Diagnoses for autism, attention-deficit/hyperactivity, asthma, diabetes, and childhood obesity are at all time highs, and according to a study done by Dr. Devra Davis, 1 in 2 men and 1 in 3 women will develop cancer at some point in their lifetimes.  Is it coincidence that our nation’s health has deteriorated as the use of chemicals in the American food industry and the number of processed goods in our stores have soared?

These are the questions filling my head, and I’m hungry to learn all that I can.  What do you think?  Do you choose not to think about these issues?  How do you feel about eating organic?  What about eating local?  How do you know local foods are, in fact, organic?

 

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What’s a gal with no computer to do?

It’s been 5 days. FIVE horribly painful days with no computer. There’s only so much internet surfing a gal can do on an iphone, folks. And the thought of my neglected budget spreadsheet is met with sharp pains in my stomach. So, I’ve been filling my time with other things.

This weekend I headed to a local Great Harvest Bakery to learn how to knead dough (more on that to come soon) and indulged in about three pounds of fresh baked bread. Then, the BF and I headed to the Southern Spring Show to make sushi up on stage with the chefs from The Cowfish. Apparently, I’m no natural at sushi making because the sushi chef kept coming behind me and fixing all my “mistakes.” He actually threw a third of my roll away before plating it up. Ummmm, I would have eaten that dude! I ate a fabulous Italian dinner at Dolce Friday night followed by a fabulous Italian dinner at Hawthorne’s Saturday night and leftover Italian deliciousness for lunch on Sunday. I dined with my pal Vanessa at Table 274 Monday night where I ordered the pork chop with pomegranate chutney, which is extremely odd for me. When the waiter asked how I wanted the chop cooked, I turned to Vanessa and said “you get that choice with pork??”

Apparently the glass of wine I had with dinner gave me gobs of motivation because I went home, cleaned my guest bedroom, did laundry, packed 2 days worth of lunches, and put the first coat of paint on my nightstand. Maybe I need to have weeknight vino more often?

Even though I’ve been mum on the half-marathon training, believe you me, it is going full swing. Only 5 weeks til the big race!

Please excuse typos, run-ons, and grammatical errors as this post was typed on my phone while walking on the treadmill waiting for Body Pump to start. What are ya’ll up to these days?

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If you tweet it, they will come.

Lately, it feels like I’ve been all over the place yet no place at all.  Sure I met up with the Charlotte food bloggers, painted a bookshelf, and got wined and dined at Fatz.  I ran my first EVER double-digit run (hello 10 miles, nice to meet you).  I body pumped, number crunched, and had an eyes-roll-back-into-your-head-delicious pulled pork Cuban sandwich at Midwood Smokehouse.  My computer died, I fell down during my walk to work (YES.. that happened), and, while speed cleaning my kitchen, I managed to headbutt an ajar cabinet door resulting in a rather large egg on the top of my noggin.  I ordered a new computer (for the love of god can it get here already), I got my taxes 90% done, and I extreme couponed my way through Super Doubles week at Harris Teeter.

And yet (until I spewed the paragraph above) I felt like I’d been at a standstill.  Sometimes you just need a little word vomit I guess, and that, my friends, is what Twitter is for.  Yes, the majority of the time my tweets are left unanswered.  Just random thoughts or ideas or questions tossed out into nothingness.  Even without a response, the simple act of extracting those words from my brain to the web somehow makes me feel lighter and more fulfilled.

 

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Please excuse the dust!

Hello, readers!  You may have noticed the site was down for a bit this weekend.  First, a big SORRY.  But second, a big self-pat on the back for finally mustering the courage to move my blog from wordpress.com to self-hosting!  I feel like such a big girl! 

What does this mean for you?  Honestly, not a ton.  Self-hosting will give me a whole heck of a lot more creative freedom to tweak things on the site as I so desire, which I’ll continue to do over the next couple of weeks.

So that’s that.  Please excuse the dust in the mean time and thanks for checking out my blog!

To my email subscribers: please visit www.ferventfoodie.com and input your email address to ensure you continue to receive email updates of new pots. *Note that if you received an email with a post titled “Please excuse the dust” this morning, then you are good to go and no update is needed!

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Detox.

A spongy glazed doughnut.  A homemade scone, still warm from the oven.  A yellow-cake cupcake slathered with thick chocolate icing.  A piece of jam-filled chocolate straight from Germany.  Sugared pecans.  A lemon ricotta cookie.  A miniature cupcake filled with champagne strawberries and topped with a dollop of vanilla icing.  A slice of carrot cake.  A caramel drizzled pecan bar with sugar cookie crust.

All of it.

Each and every sugary treat… down to the last crumb and gooey morsel.

I ate it all.

Today.

This is what we call an extreme lack of self control, and I am ashamed.  When presented with not one but TWO potlucks in the very same day, I cracked.  I ate with reckless abandon.  As I type this I can feel the jitters in my fingers and the creepy crawlies in my shoulders from all that sugar seething through me.

I am addicted and something has to give.

Sugar, I need a break.  Just some time to clear my head, get my thoughts straight, and get back on track.

It’s not you, Sugar.  It’s me.

Just one week apart, Sugar.  And then?  Well, we can still be friends?

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DIY Photography Light Diffuser on the Cheap

When I attended the Food Photography Overhaul last month, I learned good lighting is the KEY to good photos.  I consider myself a pretty darn good student:  I listen carefully, I take notes diligently, and I try to implement my new knowledge as soon as nerdily possible.  Yet, as mentioned in my last post, I experienced some extreme frustration while trying to photograph those delicious balsamic pork tenderloin medallions in low lighting.  The need for light was obvious, but where the heck was it?!  I tried switching locations–the stove top, the living room floor, the bathroom counter, the laundry room–photo after horrible photo.  It was absolutely infuriating!

A couple of days later (once I had a chance to mellow out over a nice cheap bottle of red wine), the BF and I headed to Lowe’s to resolve this lighting issue once and for freaking all.

Here’s what we picked up:

DIY Photography Light Diffuser via Fervent Foodie

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