Thursday, April 29, 2010

Foodie Friday - cocoPop

When bloggers get crazy busy they don't blog.  When bloggers who usually write about food get busy, they don't blog or cook.  In my case, life has gotten hectic, and I've been doing minimal cooking that will leave enough left over for a second or even third meal. Oh, and I don't stop to take photos. Even though last night's meatloaf was fabulous, I didn't have time to coax it into becoming photogenic.  We ate it, I dumped the dishes in the sink, and ran to a meeting. So lately food has to be simple in our house, that's why I like this new product that we recently discovered in Wegman's, our local upscale supermarket.

Let me introduce you to cocoPop rice cakes.

They're nifty whole grain 'cakes', about 5" in diameter, that are freshly 'shot' from an exotic machine right in the store.  (Think puffed rice here.)  The first time we heard them being made, I thought it was a gun shot!  Luckily, I did not embarrass myself by diving into the cheese counter.  I love Wegman's and do wish to keep shopping there.

Here's what an unadorned cocoPop looks like. 
Nothing special, and rather plain tasting.  (Think rice cake.)

They do look better stacked, don't you think?
And they'll look even better to you when you read this label...
That's right, only 16 calories each, no fat, no cholesterol, and only 4g of carbohydrates!  I think this may be the new miracle food.  With those low numbers, you can put hummus, or other spreads on these babies and not feel guilty.  Put some pico de gallo on them and you're burning up all of the calories that have just entered your mouth by the simple act of chewing!   (One cake + 1/4 cup pico de gallo = 34 can you beat that???)

Of course, I've discovered that they are best with Nutella.  Oh my, oh my...How that changes the calories.  One cake + 2Tbsp. Nutella, (no sense skimping), = 216 calories.  Hey, it was dessert! Still not too shabby!
I have no way of knowing how widely available this product is nationwide, but if you spot them in your local supermarket give them a try.  Oh, and don't forget the Nutella!

This post is being linked to Foodie Friday.  To start your culinary adventure, just click on the link. Our hostess, Michael Lee, has Mr. Linky ready to escort you to dozens of wonderful food blogs.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Food For Thought

Traveling With Pomegranates ****
Traveling With Pomegranates is listed as a 'travel memoir', but don't be deceived by that simplistic classification.  Sure, there's a bit of souvenir shopping, and wonderful passages that describe foreign locales, but there are other much more complicated journeys occurring in this book. 

Sue Monk Kidd is approaching her 50th birthday and has entered perimenopause with a bang.  Her daughter Ann, is about to graduate from college and enter the 'real' world. Each is crossing the threshold into the unknown and both are confused, and at times depressed, about the changes that are occurring in their lives. Trips through Greece and France bring direction and revelations, while their time spent traveling together renews and strengthens the mother-daughter bond that Sue fears may have diminished while Ann was away at school.

Early on, it becomes apparent that both women are also on spiritual journeys. Sue is continuing the trek she chronicles in her earlier works. Ann's is just beginning.

After reading the book jacket blurb, I fully expected to have a strong connection to Sue, considering she's my peer and the 'mother' half of the writing team.  I was rather surprised to find that I was much more in sync with daughter Ann!

I lost patience with Sue's attitude towards menopause, and her search for her 'Old Woman'.  She spends far too much time contemplating her own death, instead of embracing her new freedoms. About half way through the book, I also lost interest in her obsession with the Persephone-Demeter myth and her quest for the 'sacred feminine' through the Black Madonnas. I suppose that my religious background, combined with a 'Snap out of it already!' attitude are responsible for my irritation with Sue, but those are the reasons that I dropped this book to 4 stars. (Okay, I was a tiny bit sympathetic, but not enough to go for the full 5.)

(FYI: If you ever need a Greek Goddess refresher course, click here and bookmark. It will direct you to a very clever website that's an invaluable and fun resource.)

Before I explain my attraction to Ann's travelogue, I should mention the 'edibles' encountered in the book. Remarkably, little is mentioned about the food in France, although there is a funny hamburger scene.  There are, however, several meals mentioned during the travels through Greece.  This made me happy. This made me cook!

Of course there was the obligatory Greek salad as shown in the first picture.  Always a delightful first course!

Next up...Moussaka.  Ann experiences the Greek national dish while on tour with her college history class.  I read. I salivated. I created.

And last, but not least...dessert.  Baklava would have been appropriate, but Galaktaboureko was something I had been craving. 

Flaky phyllo dough is filled with a custard thickened with farina. Then the entire pastry is bathed in syrup that is flavored with orange peel and cinnamon. A perfect end to a perfect meal. Indeed this was food for the Gods and Goddesses!  (I think Mary would have approved, too.)
Now back to Ann, and why I was so taken with her version of the story.  I was only a year younger than Ann when I found myself in Greece for 2 1/2 months. My closest friend and her mother were going on an extended vacation to visit family and asked if I would like to go. I hesitated, but like Ann, I heard, "If you don't go, you'll regret it."  I listened. I went. It changed my life in a way that was very similar to what Ann experiences.  The tour guide assigned to Ann's college group tells her that this life changing experience is called 'the Greek Miracle.'  I didn't know there was a name for it.  I just know that it happened to me.

Ann was a history major in college, and was researching a paper on Athena while on her first tour.  She was hoping to see this relief in the museum at the Acropolis in Athens, but the museum was closed. She doesn't get to see the piece until a return trip a few years later.  When she does finally get to view the real thing, her interpretation is different. Her life has changed. She sees the relief through different eyes.
I was an English major, and except for the photos in our art history textbook, and the Parthenon made out of sugar cubes that was enthroned in a corner of the art room, I had little knowledge of Greek art.  I reveled in all art that I encountered in Greece, but the statue of Aphrodite and Eros fending off Pan that is on display in the National Museum in Athens, struck a particular chord with me.  I probably would have been transfixed in front of this piece for several hours if the museum hadn't closed for the night.

I thought that I was Aphrodite in this scenario, because I was the Queen of two dates.  If I didn't think a particular date was 'the one', I refused number 3, sandal in hand.  I was working my way through college and didn't have the time or inclination to waste on dead ends.  My mother used to tell me that I was too critical.
Now, many years later, I'm wondering if I was actually Pan in the grouping. Was I afraid of being alone?  (His name is the root for the word panic.) 

I did start dating my husband a few months after I returned from the trip.  When my mother flippantly asked me if they'd be seeing 'this one' again, my immediate answer was, "Yes. This one I'm going to marry."  I had a new open heart and equally open mind, but I still wasn't willing to settle for 2nd best. Lo and behold, Mr. Right had materialized.Strange, no?

It took me a long time to write this post.  I kept stopping to look at pictures and postcards from that trip, and reread the journal that I kept that summer.  Honestly, I think I enjoyed my reverie more than I enjoyed Sue and Ann's memoir. Our experiences certainly do color how we feel about what we read.

(Note: If you're a fan of Sue's novel, The Secret Life of Bees, you can watch the groundwork for the book take shape during the authors travels.  I also feel compelled to explain the lack of pomegranate photos in this post. Earlier this week, I scoured my corner of NE Pennsylvania for one of these exotic beauties, but alas, my hunt was 'fruitless.')

This post is being linked to Food for Thought. Please click on the link to discover more timely 'edible' book reviews.