Saturday, August 25

Vibrant Driving

Took a corner, sideswiped a truck
Crossed my fingers just for luck
My fenders was clickin' the guardrail posts
The guy beside me was white as a ghost
Smoke was comin' from out of the back
When I started to gain on that Cadillac
Knew I could catch him, I thought I could pass
Don't you know by then we'd be low on gas…
We had flames comin' from out of the side
Feel the tension, man, what a ride!—Asleep at the Wheel

These lyrics lend an airbrushed portrait of what riding in the RV was like. Loaded with our two dogs, abandoning the still-not-done cookies in the frig, and towing the new buggy behind, I clung to the back of the seat (Boomer had insisted on riding shotgun), white knuckled. We were off to the raw food conference.

The thing sounded like a rattle trap. It creaked and cracked, hissed and whined. The thing was so huge it felt like we were whooshing down the road, sort of floating from left to right while forging toward our doom. The dogs were terrified, Dinah was trembling and Boomer panting. Daniel impervious.

I had all these ideas of preparing our lunch as he drove…ha! I could barely peel myself from my seat. I don’t know what got into me, but that thing just did not feel safe. We finally did arrive to the Mendocino Coastline safely though.

Notes from the Vibrant Living Expo ( The conference was really good! I was sad I couldn’t stay the three days, but at least I got to attend one day. Raw foodie enthusiasts discussing topics near to their hearts…like supplements, gee, I am not the only one who abandoned supplements when I started raw…eerie, no one told me to do that and as it turns out, it is common raw foodie philosophy to get your nutrients from food, not supplements. I was with My People. I discussed nuances of different sea weeds with a vendor, found out that the tengusa I had searched for on recipe #10 is actually on the endangered list…no wonder I never found it!

And what a bright and smiling eyed bunch! I swear every person who I passed not only made eye contact with me, but smiled brightly. Wow, what a warm group.

Some of the lectures included: Vitamin B12 (turns out B12 is made by bacteria! It’s not in plants or animals, but is a bacteria that grows on them, wow!), Greens from the Sea, Healing your Body through Eating, Fat and Cholesterol in a Nutshell. I learned more about the importance of enzymes and friendly bacteria. One lecturer, a naturopathic doctor, Ruza Bogdanovich, said we need 85% good bacteria and a max of 15% bad bacteria, but that most Americans, with the way we eat, have the exact opposite. I thought it was interesting to note that our cravings for sweet and yeasty foods is because you likely have a high number of the “bad” bacteria, because this type of bacteria loves that kind of food. This bacteria becomes you! And you crave what the bacteria craves. The reverse happens when you start improving your diet with fresh produce and sprouted nuts and grains. Your body adjusts to a higher count of friendly flora and this bacteria loves the raw stuff, and so this is what you begin to crave more. You are what you eat, microbes and all.

Another lecturer spoke on fermented foods (beer is one, as is sauerkraut and kim-chee) and how they were one of the first foods humans learned to make. It can treat stress, prevent infectious disease and act as a probiotic to combat disease. I also learned more reasons on why to soak nuts and seeds. Apparently seeds contain a high number of enzyme inhibitors, so if you eat them as-is, you are putting enzyme inhibitors in your body—the last thing we need. So when you soak, sprout or ferment them, the enzyme inhibitors are removed, making it an ultra digestible food.

The philosophy of optimum health is simply to have quality food absorption, which allows you to assimilate them and properly eliminate them. Eating a typical American diet does not support these processes, they in fact strip us of our enzymes. Without a high number of enzymes, we can’t absorb the food we eat, without healthy flora and proper enzymatic action we can’t assimilate our foods (so we still feel hungry, not satiated and eat more = big, fat American) and then our elimination is off-kilter, either we’re constipated or our colon gets irritated at the slightest thing. It all makes so much sense. Could it be this simple?

One well respected speaker, the so-called father of the raw food movement, Viktoras Kulvinskas has done years of research. He is a mathematician and very scientific and has produced published research to back up the importance of enzymes, proper diet and the vital importance of digestion on our health.

But I did have one revelation, and the thought that this is a huge omission at the conference or in any of the materials I’ve read, which is water. For example, our water here in San Mateo contains chloramines. Chloramines kill bacteria. So when I drink our water, aren’t I killing all the flora in my gut?? I began to think about this. I noted that my rejuvelacs weren’t as potent compared to the store-bought ones. Could it be that my juice can’t ferment because the water I’m using is sanitizing it?? If this is true, no matter how good we eat, the water will keep destroying my enzymes. So, to me, the quality of your home water would be one of the most vitally important issues…where is it in the literature? More on this later.

Anyway, it was a fulfilling experience, I ate lots of raw and then we climbed back into the rattle trap and headed down the coast highway toward home. But the glow of the raw foodies must have affected me, because no longer did the rattling and shaking bother me. I booted Boomer out of shotgun position and took my rightful place up front. I even wandered in the back to pack up, swaying to and fro with the groove of the rolling boat, as Daniel (now earning the identity as Ralph Kramden) rambled us down the highway.

We all made it back, rattle-trap be damned. And the cookies? They’re back in the dehydrator. God, will they ever get done?

Carrying a Chocolate Chip on my Shoulder

When I set out to make these cookies, I never dreamed I’d be making, making chocolate chips. I mean, chocolate chips are something you buy in a bag and dump in your batter…."spoon the chocolate mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a very small tip and pipe ¼” in diameter onto nonstick drying sheets, forming 200 chips in all."

My god, this was it. The fine line between commitment and cheating. How criminal could it be to just go out and buy a bag of organic chips? "Dehydrate chips at 105 degrees for eight hours…" that means they’ll be ready at 2 in the morning, and I need the chips before I can start the cookies which take six hours, then 8-10 hours more. Why don’t I just put the frickin’ chips in the oven? They’d be done in an hour, right? I mean really, how much nutritional value am I trying to save here in a chocolate chip? But in the end, I didn’t stay committed to the integrity of raw because it was the right thing to do, I did it because I didn’t have a conventional recipe for cooking chips in an oven. What if I ruined them? No, I had to see it through.

I had even started a whole day ahead of time. And I even began by reading the recipe through (how grown up of me for once). Damn! There was no way I’d have these cookies done by choir-girls night tomorrow evening.

I cancelled my girls choir night, made, made the chocolate chips and decided to take the damn cookies and the dehydrator on the road with me. That’s right. We had rented an RV so I could attend a day of the Vibrant Living Conference up in Ft. Bragg – raw foodies from all over the world would be there, I had to go. The RV has a kitchen, right? I’d just bring everything with me and make them on the road.

This conference is coming at an inconvenient time as I have a big event in four days with the Food Society. It’s their annual BBQ which draws 200 and I’m still getting rsvp’s. So that’s a little nerve wracking, but what put me over the edge is I got a call from my other association. Where are those checks?
What do you mean, where are those checks?
I mailed them out last Friday, aren’t they there yet?

I’m not a worrier. Let that be somebody else’s job I say, which apparently is her job since she thinks the checks won’t get there. What a pessimist. I don’t like the feeling of worrying or being scared, it reminds me too much of the bottom of your life falling like a broken elevator, so I avoid it. Have a little faith, the checks will get there.

I sneak a look at my postage log. 8/16, $1.82 is carefully noted. I know I sent it, have some faith, but still I wrack my brain. What was I doing on Friday, which mail box did I leave it in? God, why is she calling me? Can’t she just relax? I’m sure it will arrive. How could this piece of mail (with $2100 in checks) get lost? I tell myself to relax. It will arrive. Then the thoughts come back, “Oh, why didn’t I FedEx it?” I try to reconstruct my Friday and it’s a void, I can remember Thursday and Saturday in detail. Note to self: write notes to self.

The Day Before. I finish up Recipe #45, Black Mission Fig Tart with Walnut Cream and take photos, too busy to write anything.

I run up to check email, she didn’t get the checks. I will now freak out. I’ve got to finish rsvp’s for two events, pack to get ready, dehydrate the cookies, pick up the trailer, work my regular schedule, and now I have to drop everything and stand in line at the post office to see if they can track those damn checks. An hour later I come back having been instructed to go online to get the phone number of her carrier. Several calls later and having found the postal employees to be surprisingly helpful, they’re telling me not to worry, it could take five days, even ten. I outwardly relax while I inwardly panic. Just what I need when I’m going out of town, something to worry about. I finish my rsvp’s, give everybody headcounts.
Then Daniel says to me, c’mon we have to go check this buggy out.
Buggy? What buggy?
Don’t you remember, he says, we talked about this.
Is this like us talking about getting a second dog and I said no? Or maybe it’s like getting the dog afterall but saying we’d only foster him and now he’s ours. Something like that, because the next thing I know I’m following him back from San Carlos as he drives ahead in our new dune buggy. He’s got some elaborate plan for towing it behind the trailer. I’m too overwhelmed to think about it. The cookies still aren’t done.

I go upstairs and check email one last time, hoping to get that magic email, that yes the checks arrived afterall. Ah, yes a new email has arrived from you-know-who. The beautiful words sing like fairies to my inner child…”the checks arrived today.” A huge weight of worry lifts and I feel like dancing. Then I think, why couldn’t she have trusted they would come? This took hours out of my day. She's holding down the worry job quite well, and spreading the joy. Ah, but now I can’t wait to go on this little sabbatical. Daniel pulls up in the RV. I stick the cookies which defy dehydration into the refrigerator. I'll deal with you later. Let the games begin.