7 Days of Spring Cleaning

It's officially spring time, folks. And with that comes... SPRING CLEANING!

So I'm going to tell you a little tale, starting about 9 months ago, when I graduated from UC San Diego and moved "North". My reasons were varied; mostly, I was ready for a change of scenery, cheaper rent, and of course to flee back to the warm comfort of the nest and avoid the cold harsh realities of a post-graduate economic-pitfall kind of world. I'll mostly skip what happens the next few months, suffice it to say I managed to avoid unpacking hardly anything except what was absolutely necessary (again, varied reasons, too psychologically rooted to bear on the ultimate point of this entry, whatever that may be).

Fast forward to two weeks ago. Grandma was coming to visit. Grandma needed a place to sleep. I unpacked and cleaned. Ta-da! Miracles do happen my friends.

Now, having cleaned up that part of my life, I've decided to do a Springtime Detox of my body as well. It's been a long rainy winter up here. And I work someplace where cookies the size of your face are readily available. I'm feeling worn down and fatigued, and I'm ready to feel different. So, yesterday began my 7-day Spring Detox. For the next 7 days, the following rules apply:

- No wheat
- No meat
- No dairy
- No booze
- No unnecessary sugary things that magically haven't been eliminated by the above categories

I figure you can do anything for about 7 days, right? And knowing myself, I need a specific set of rules and guidelines to follow if I want any results to show up (exhibit a: the last four times I've tried to eat differently). I reserve the right to extend this if I start suddenly feeling fabulous and svelte at the end of one week.

I started yesterday, and so far it's going pretty well. I have a feeling the intense "give me sugar and junk food in my face noooooow" cravings will kick in tomorrow, but hopefully not. I'm helped along by the fact that several of my family members, chiefly my dad Tim and stepmommy Vicki, have dabbled in many various dieting trends, most recently a raw, gluten-free and vegan-esque diet involving a high-powered juicer. In any case, I'm somewhat aware to the different options that exist for me. And yeah, lots of people have already asked "oh my gooooosh what are you going to eeeeaaat, vegetables??"

I've been eating pretty well so far. Yummy smoothies, brown rice, oatmeal, broccoli, and tonight I made a massive pot of Escarole and White Bean soup (recipe to come, pending permission from the folks who originated it and who are currently working diligently towards cookbook publication, and who could throw me out of the next family gathering if they so choose--hint, hint.)

I'll keep you posted, oh ye of the internet mists. This is yet another built-in accountability method for myself, of course. And it's slightly indulgent. In a low fat, low carb, totally-in-line-with-my-rules kind of way. Yay.


Basic Bruschetta

My mother and I celebrated a lovely Easter at a family friend's house, complete with egg dye-ing, good wine, excellent food, great company and a pretty random spring storm. This may be the first Easter I've spent in the midst of a massive April shower... Although to me, Easter should always be windy and slightly cloudy (comes from spending so many Easter's at the farm in Kansas.)

Anyway, we were asked if we could bring along some wine and an appetizer, so I coached my sous-chef Mom into helping me throw together some basic tomato bruschetta. For those who don't know, bruschetta can come in many shapes or forms, and can also be mis-pronounced in about four different ways (it's supposed to be something bru-sKET-uh, but even with 8 years of Italian I still mash out the word broo-shedDUH in my best American voice possible.) I've tried a ricotta-tomato one, a surprisingly delicious chicken-liver concoction in Florence, and about everything in between. But far and away a simple tomato and basil combo is my favorite. I think I started with something by Mario Batali, but kinda went off on my own direction with it. You can find a million different variations on the same thing; I'll just credit the Italian population of the world as a whole. Find one you like and make it your own!

Basic Bruschetta

You will need:
Some tomatoes (we used about 5, the clustery-vine type)
Some fresh basil, cut into thin strips (6 leaves? I dunno, eyeball it)
About 1/4 cup or less good olive oil (I use Colavita extra-virgin)
1 clove or so of garlic, mashed up in your garlic masher device (or just minced)
Black Pepper and Salt, to taste (skimping not necessary)
Dash Balsamic Vinegar (if you want)

And then you will do this:
Chop up those tomatoes! I cored and seeded mine, but if you don't mind the mushier texture, then do as you please. After chopping all those babies up, whisk together your garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper. Dump it in with the tomatoes, mix, and then throw in the basil. I threw a dash of balsamic vinegar on top, which accidentally became about 10 dashes, and had to drain some out. In the end, you couldn't taste it much, but I adore the stuff and include it wherever possible.

Meanwhile, have your mother or whoever your assistant may be, thinly slice up a baguette. Throw the slices under the broiler for a few minutes on each side (or just one if you're lazy). While they're still warm but cool enough to handle, rub each piece with some raw garlic. That's right, just lop a clove in half and rub it straight on that hot bread-y goodness. It really whams up the intensity of the bruschetta. If you don't want to mess with all this, just buy some good crackers, and add a bit more garlic to the bruschetta so you get a nice hit of bad breath to share with everyone later. They'll thank you for it, I promise.