Friday, May 28, 2010

The Occasional Glass of Bourbon: Good for the Soul

Although I’m not a huge fan of fiction, I want to share with you an excerpt from an article Caroline’s well-read and thougtful mother, Linda Kraft, came across and shared with Caroline, and me, by extension. Read through for enjoyment first and then reread thinking about some of the questions raised. I hope that in so doing you find inspiration in Patchett's article (Caroline also recommends Truth & Beauty), in Welty’s vast collection of short stories and novels, and in your own life.

On Monday, I would like to provide my responses to these questions:
1. Is writing an act of daring?
2. What do find interesting about your own life (particularly those things that, to many, may seem mundane or uninspiring)?
3. How would you describe the mood of your home and your daily life?
4. “Dazzling intensity”…can you apply this to someone you know, something you have experienced, or an atmosphere you would like to create?

"Daring From Within: Why Eudora Welty stayed put"
By Ann Patchett | From Preservation | September/October 2006
"'A sheltered life can be a daring life as well,' Eudora Welty wrote at the close of her memoir, One Writer's Beginnings. "For all serious daring starts from within." We have too long thought of daring in terms of Ernest Hemingway taking his guns up to Kilimanjaro, or Dorothy Parker setting the pace at the Algonquin Hotel. It is a pleasure now to be able to consider daring as an art—an intellectual pursuit—that came to pass in a house in Mississippi.

Eudora Welty, who died five years ago at age 92, was born in the state capital ofJackson, and she stayed there. That's not to say she never left. She went away to college, first to Columbus, Miss., and then to Wisconsin. She lived for a time in New York City. She visited Europe. She famously traveled the South taking pictures and writing for the WPA during the Depression. But after her father died of leukemia in 1931, she went home to be with her mother, and it was there, in the house at 1119 Pinehurst St., that she did her work and lived her life.

When you've had the opportunity both to read her books and to walk through her home, it becomes clear how the two are connected. She was a writer who believed there was plenty that was interesting about small-town life, and she filled her Mississippi characters with passionate convictions and dazzling intensity. The woman who lived at the P.O. and the group that came to gossip in the beauty parlor, the visiting jazz impresario and the lowly traveling salesman—all are recorded with Homeric nobility. And although Welty may have been working from home, she was no Emily Dickinson. Her life was full of friends dropping by for conversation, the exchange of books, and the occasional glass of bourbon. One imagines the laughter was so loud, the most glamorous of the New York literati had to wonder whether the lush life wasn't actually somewhere farther south."
LINDSEY AND HER AVOCADO - This makes me laugh every time I type it
This week, I went against my own advice and bought avocados that were already ripe. The bag from Sam’s Club has five avocados and all had ripened but one. I made it through the first two fine, but the last three were overripe with brown spots developing. Oh woe is me, what is Lindsey supposed to do without her perfectly ripe avocado? Not to worry, I am obsessed with several other food items, so yummy meals will go on. My recipe this week, Lindsey’s Kitchen Sink Pasta Salad, uses avocado as a garnish and has several other co-stars. My kitchen sink salad began last summer when at the last minute I remembered I needed a side dish for a church cookout. I hit the pantry, refrigerator and freezer to find anything that I thought would go together with pasta. My first salad consisted of mainly peas, cucumbers, cauliflower and fresh basil from the garden- in addition to a simple dressing. The salad was a huge hit at the cookout and a new classic was instantly born (okay, not really, but a few people did comment on how they liked it). Since the cookout, every invitation to a dinner, cookout or potluck was an excuse to experiment with new combinations for a salad. Some turned out better than others, but I always enjoyed the experience. Below, I have included my most recent recipe, a salad that can also serve as a main meal (carbs, protein, veggies and healthy fats included). Feel free to go wild in your pantry this week and experiment with your own combinations- trust me you will have fun!!

Kitchen Sink Pasta
(5-6 servings)
1½c whole wheat Rotelle Pasta
¼ small head of cabbage
1c frozen sweet corn
1c frozen peas
1 c garbanzo beans
½ c chopped fresh broccoli
1c cherry or cherup tomatoes, sliced
Enough EVOO to slightly coat your ingredients

Juice of 4 small limes
Garlic minced, to taste
Agave sweetener, to taste
Fresh chopped basil, to taste
Sea salt, to taste

Serve with crumbled feta cheese and of course, AVOCADO

For a creamier salad:
Add Marzetti Slaw dressing, enough to coat your ingredients

Lindsey’s Kitchen Sink Pasta gets 4.5 out of 5 avocados on the avocado yummy scale!

Since I feel like I have sorely neglected the avocado, I will end with some important nutritional information from Body and Soul magazine.

Avocado is a health food. Really. In fact, it is one of the healthiest fruits on the planet. How could a creamy indulgence loaded with calories and fat qualify as nutritious? It's all about the type of fat.

Although it's true that an avocado packs a lot of calories and fat into a small package -- an average California variety has 289 calories and 24 grams of fat -- only 4 of those fat grams are saturated. Most are monounsaturated (17 grams), which lowers "bad" LDL cholesterol and raises "good" HDL levels. The remaining fat (3 grams) is polyunsaturated. According to a study from Ohio State University, the fat in avocados may aid your body's ability to absorb certain nutrients. One such nutrient is lycopene, which may help prevent heart disease and prostate cancer; others include beta-carotene and lutein, which may decrease the risk of certain cancers and eye diseases.

But there's more to avocado than its good-for-you fat. Per ounce, avocados contain more fiber than other fruit; a typical whole avocado has a whopping 14 grams, which even rivals the fiber in a serving of shredded wheat and bran cereals. They also provide more protein than most fruits, making them a great energy source (since you need carbs, fat, and protein for sustained energy).

Still not convinced? Compared to most fruits, avocados have higher concentrations of many B vitamins, as well as beta-carotene, magnesium, and vitamins E and K. These nutrients support and sustain your overall health, not to mention your energy, metabolic functioning, and strong bones. Avocados are loaded with potassium -- even more than bananas -- which research shows may help lower blood pressure when part of a healthy diet. They also serve as a great source of glutathione, a powerful antioxidant that fights unhealthy free radicals.

When you consider all the nutrients housed in a single avocado, the calories no longer loom so large -- especially if you give it a starring role on your plate, as you would a serving of meat or fish. So go ahead and indulge in avocado -- slice it on a salad, smash it and spread it on some bread, or try one of Lindsey’s famous recipes.


  1. Liza,
    I burst out laughing last week when I got my copy of Body and Soul in the mail and it fell open to the article about avocados. I thought of you and Lindsey. Speaking of magazines, I want to recommend my other favorite subscription: The Sun. It's a little 30-year-old publication that features personal writing, essays,interviews, a little fiction and poetry, and great black and white photography. It's a bit pricey because it has no ads, but it's worth it. I just bought my brother and mom gift subscriptions so that I could pick their brains after we all read the articles. You would love the topics- community, environmental issues, human nature, etc. They have a website-- check it out! You can't read current articles in full text, but maybe past issues. The covers are also great.


  2. Hi, Melissa. Fantastic recommendation - Websites are very much like magazine covers and acknowledgment sections of books for me - I can typically tell whether I'll be interested in the item/subject upon first glance. If I like the font, color choices, immediate headlines, graphics, I usually feel drawn to the cause, too. I just looked at the site for a couple of minutes and I'm leaving to go out of town, but I really am looking forward to exploring further on Sunday. Thank you!
    Hope the semester is winding down for you:)

  3. I am going to make a mango and avocada salsa next week to go with grilled fish. If it is as tasty as I think I might share it with LINDSEY so she can use it on her weekly recipe.

  4. yum mom- You are featuring two of my favorite fruits!
    Liza, Eudora Welty sounds very interesting, perhaps I will check out some of her work at the library this summer. I am very intrigued with the quote that a sheltered life can be a daring one- it makes me want to read her memoir. I look forward to reading your responses to your questions on Monday!

  5. Sounds delicious, Carolyn. Maybe you and Lindsey can co-write an entry next week:)!

    Lindsey, sorry this didn't get posted on Wednesday! I got in from Lexington and just wasn't in the mood to write. I really think your recipe sounds soooo good. Leigh agreed - on facebook she mentioned how hungry it made her:) I admit, I know very little about Welty, but I look forward to doing some research. Would love to hear your thoughts on the questions, too!!