Wednesday, April 27, 2011

New York City!

Recognize this view? It's a part of Central Park often in movies!
Copyright (c) 2007 Wendee Holtcamp

Heading to New York City in the morning (or "manana" as my dad often said to me growing up) for the annual American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA) conference. I decided at the last minute - last week - to go. I wanted to go when I could get the early registration discount, but decided against it. I did my taxes, and realized biz travel is very good for the tax reduction process! The last time I went was several years back (see archived posts/pics here from NYC in 2007). That time I got to visit Central Park, SoHo, Broadway, Times Square, Chinatown and Little Italy. Quite the whirlwind day. It's fun to ride the subways and everything in Manhattan is laid out so clearly but I'm not so sure I want to get around without a friend!

Lucky for me, my roommate at the conference hotel used to live in the area and she arrives 10 minutes after me at the same airport (there are 3 airports serving the NYC area. I'm going to Newark). I have to get up at 5am - yuk! My roommate and I (who I've not met yet) and I will find our way to the Roosevelt, and then I'm meeting two people - one is my dear friend Miranda Spencer (who I recently saw at the Society of Environmental Journalists conference last October and who took me around NYC back in 2007) but also a writer friend, Sharon Levy, who I have known since I very first started writing in 1995 or so but have never met in person! She is in NYC promoting her new book Once & Future Giants: What Ice Age Extinctions Tell us About the Facte of Earth's Largest Animals.

This is why I love to travel! I get to meet so many amazing writers, many of whom I only know virtually before the conference(s) I attend. Plus writers are just cool people, if I do say so myself. And then all the new editors, writers, agents to meet and information to absorb at the conference itself... whew. It should be a very fun time, and hopefully this time I won't gorge on 16 Godiva chocolates per day, since the Godiva Chocolatier is right around the corner at Grand Central Station. I'm still on the Crazy Sexy Cleanse (ie eating mostly vegan and no sugar though I cheated yesterday and had, gasp, chocolate ice cream with my daughter!) so that should help. I hope.

The conference lasts only 3 days (the last one is a half day and Friday is for members only). I have all Sunday in NYC so I may meet up with a friend, or hang out with some other writers. It should be lots of fun. The only thing I'm bummed about is that tomorrow the forecast in NYC calls for thunderstorms - not the ideal weather for walking around... We could always explore the Met, which I've never been to, but I am praying and hoping for miraculous clearing in the weather (and safe travels of course).

Have a great night and I'll see you on the other side.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Zukamole and other delicious creations

Make Juice Not War! These are the ingredients for the Urban Zen Juice, one recipe I make as part of my new green juicing (apple, pepper, cucumber, romaine, kale, celery, fennel, lemon, ginger - and I threw in a kiwi for good measure)

Time for some more recipes! The Crazy Sexy Cleanse is going fantabulous. I'm on day 7, and feeling great. I gave up meat, wheat, dairy and sugar - though technically I was already mostly a vegetarian (I do not eat factory farmed meat) and eat a gluten-free because of a gluten intolerance (for those unaware, gluten is found in wheat and other grains, so that means no bread, pasta, tortillas etc unless they are made from gluten-free grains like rice, quinoa, millet or others - of which there are many).

The hardest part for me is sugar. I am a huge sugar addict! I love sweets! However, I use Stevia, a liquid no-cal sweetener that is healthy and all natural and that helps keep the sugar cravings at bay. Plus you can have fruit and that kind of thing but just not foods with "added sugar." The funny thing is that after just one week on this, yesterday, I had a sip of D's smoothie at Whole Foods that had honey in it and it tasted sooo sweet to me, and he thought it was under-sweetened and had to add some honey. In my normal life, I'd probably have thought it was not sweet enough too. And the green/veggie juices I drink daily which have very, very low sweetness are perfectly delicious to me now. I actually was using week 1 to transition slowly off sugar rather than cut it out 100% but I managed to almost totally eliminate it other than natural sugars anyway. Tomorrow starts week two so here goes ....

I wanted to share a couple of my favorite new recipes! This first one - Zukamole - is a delicious dip made from roasted zucchini and it comes from Kim O'Donnel at The Washington Post. I had bought a whole bag of these summer squash for $1 at my local grocery store and Googled to find recipes. They are labeled Calabaza Squash but when I google that it comes up wiht winter squash not summer squash but these things are essentially like zucchini in look, feel, taste except they are shorter and squattier and lighter green.


3 pounds summer squash
Approximately 1/2 head garlic
1 large onion (sweet varieties preferred, i.e. Vidalia, Walla Walla)
1 teaspoon coarse salt
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus 1/4 cup
1/2 cup basil and/or mint leaves
1/2 cup parsley, stemmed
2 tablespoons juice of lemon
salt and pepper to taste

(I have no idea how to know what 3 pounds is - I didn't actually weigh it - but I just used what I had. I also made it twice - once with mint, and once with basil. Both were great but I think I actually favor the mint version more. I thought I'd like the basil one more because I LOVE basil. But there ya go).


Preheat your oven to 375. Slice zucchini (or whatever summer squash you have...) in half, lengthwise. Separate garlic cloves but keep skins on. Quarter onion. Place vegetables in roasting pan and drizzle with the 2 tablespoons of olive oil and a teaspoon of salt. Roast until extremely tender, at least 1 hour and up to 90 minutes (This is important - the squash gets almost mushy. They were sooo good just on their own too! I've never had roasted zucchini but mmm - delish! Also note that the garlic will burn to a crisp at this length of time, so remove them at 45-60 min while the onion and squash can roast much longer).

Veggies roasting!

While vegetables are roasting, prepare herbs; pull leaves off stems and tear or chop coarsely. After removing veggies from the oven, let them cool slightly and squeeze garlic from skins. Place all vegetables into bowl of food processor and pulse. Add herbs (parsley and mint or basil). Puree until smooth. Add lemon juice and salt. Drizzle in remaining olive oil. Taste for seasonings and adjust accordingly.

ZOMG it is soooo good! I serve it up on brown rice cakes, which are low-fat, gluten-free and vegan! It is a nice crunchy snack with a yummy topping.

Next up... Raw Kale-Avocado Salad. This one comes from Kris Carr's Crazy Sexy Diet book, but is all over the internet. It was apparently "invented" by Raw Food chef Chad Sarno. I even include a great video below by Raw Food coach Karen Knowler. Plus you get to listen to her super cute British accent.

5 large handfuls of green curly kale
Sea salt
1 ripe avocado, chopped
1 green onion, finely sliced
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice

Directions: After washing and draining, chop kale into centimeter-sized pieces and place in a large bowl. Add 1 tbsp olive oil and 1/2 tsp sea salt. With your hands, massage the oil and salt into the kale until the kale is reduced, soft and shiny. Then, again using hands, massage avocado into the kale, that the kale is coated with avocado, but with a few small whole pieces remaining amongst the leaves. Add the lemon juice. Last, you can add any variety of vegetables to make this salad to your taste. Green onions add the perfect kick. Or you can add sun-dried tomatoes, nuts, torn spinach, or fresh tomatoes. Mix all ingredients well. Serve with a light dusting of cayenne, if desired. Yum! It should be eaten within 1-2 days because the avocado on the leaves will start to oxidize and taste funny. An alternative is to add the avocado before each serving.

Until next blogging - have a great week and eat healthy!

Monday, April 04, 2011

learning to kitesurf (sort of)

kite ~ sun ~ sky ~ moon ~ love
Copyright (c) 2011 Wendee Holtcamp

I had the most amazing Saturday. It was the quintessentially perfect day - sunshine, friends, beach, relaxation, love, laughter, food, fun. Me, D, my friend Stef and her hub Ro and their daughter went to Stewart Beach in Galveston and they brought along their two kites because a new hobby of their is kitesurfing. Kitesurfing is a sport where (as far as I'm gathering) you fly a kite to move you on a board in the water. But first you have to learn to steer the kite and the best way to do that is on land. This is not as easy as it sounds, but on the other hand it's not as hard either. I watched Stef and Ro, and the wind would pick them and drag them across the sand. This scared the bejesus out of me. I almost didn't try. I encouraged (forced) Doug to try (ha ha), and then I said ok, it didn't kill you, so now I'll try. And I LOVED it! Now R&S may not have loved how many times I crashed the kite into, er, the car, the sand dunes, etc etc, but... I had so much fun! Ro had a kite that is about 3 or 4 times as large and he takes it on the water with a board. At the end of the day, we went to eat at Yaga's on the Strand and then went to the candy store across the street. It didn't even clear up until about 12:30pm, so we went to the beach with a leap of faith it would clear up and both of us said a prayer and wha-la it cleared up!
This is Stef showing me how to steer the ropes to keep the kite in the air.
I am flying the kite here and S&R are telling me kind of what to do to keep it airborne.
This is D trying it out.
This pic cracks me up! It looks like Ro is being held up by the federales at the border! But really he is holding up the strings since I crashed the kite in the dunes. Oops.
This is the coolest Hipstamatic iphone camera app that Stef has on her phone. I love it! I want to see if they have something similar for the Android. I was reading The Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell. I love that book!
Peace out man!
We got a couple of her daughter's Barbies and I call this the bitch slap Barbie shot. OK just call me weird, but I was cracking myself up anyway!
Another shot of the cat-fighting Barbies.
I love this photo so much. Stef is just having so much fun. she was actually showing her daughter how to steer the kite, and I wish I'd caught her daughter's face and Stef's in the same shot together but alas I didnt!
D&I at the beach.
Another shot of the kite and moon in the late afternoon sun. OK there's not too much of a dune here, but there was a small one. what can I say? It's Galveston. It was actually not a bad looking beach, just flat.

Friday, April 01, 2011

I am grateful for...

Gratitude #1 - Life! Mangoes!

Life is like a mango. Juicy, messy, and delicious! With that in mind, I am going to catch you up on my life over the past couple of weeks with photos that show things I am grateful for in my life. A lot of them relate to food, don't they? I love food. I love variety. I love that we get to eat three (or more) times per day, to sample in the goodness of the fruits of this earth, the fruits of God's creation! Amazing! The closer to natural, the better, aye? So Gratitude #1 is that I was just saying to myself that I really was craving mangoes, when I walked into my grocery store and there was a heaping pile of Ataulfo mangoes on sale. These are not found year-round as the other mangoes are and I love them! Super sweet, juicy, delish. Just like life!

Gratitude #2 & 3- Query Challenge Team #1 and Crazy Sexy Diet book!

My team on the Freelance Success 6-week "Query Challenge" came in 1st place! That means we earned the most points for sending out queries to editors, getting assignments and/or sending "letters of introduction" to potential clients. This landed me some exciting new work! But as a result of being 1st place, each team member got $10 in Amazon bucks.

I used my prize to buy this book by the inspiring Kris Carr. It's apparently #1 on Amazon right now! Despite the title, it's most definitely NOT a "diet" book but one that includes a 21-day cleanse of turning one's diet into something truly healthy - no processed crap, no meat, no dairy (just during the cleanse if that's what you want) and lots o' veggies. At a very young age (late 20s?) she was diagnosed with an incurable form of liver cancer, so instead of accepting her fate, she took her health into her hands and started eating this way and has totally stopped her cancer. I've blogged about her before, but she runs the social networking site, My Crazy Sexy Life. She also did an awesome documentary (where I first heard about her) called Crazy Sexy Cancer, and she ended up marrying the film producer - how cool is that? I'll also share this, Top 15 Crazy Sexy Diet Tips.
Gratitude # 4 - Fresh veggies!

These are the ingredients I used in my green juice smoothie for lunch today.
Gratitude #5 - Make Juice, Not War!

This is Kris's recipe from her book.
-2 large cucumbers (peeled if not organic)
-Big fist full of kale or romaine
-Big fist full of sweet pea sprouts (if easy to find)
-4-5 stalks celery
-1-2 big broccoli stems
-1-2 pears or green apples (optional)
- 1" ginger root

*I modified it a little. I didn't have any broccoli or sprouts, so I used kale AND romaine. I also used 1 pear and 1 apple (not a green one though). I love my Jack LaLanne Juicer too!

I decided to turn the juice into a smoothie, so took some of the pulp from the juicer, added it to the juice, a little ice, a scoop of protein powder in the blender (not juicer this time) and wha-la! Yummy green smoothie! Here's to health!
Gratitude #6 - Raw Food Potluck Party!

My friend Eileen held a raw food potluck at her house last week and it was great! Only it turns out that the recipe I brought, the Collard Green Coleslaw, was not actually fully raw - oops. I've blogged that recipe before here and here (recipe), and since I boil the vinegar-sugar mix and pour it over the collards, it isn't raw. Plus raw foodies use agave instead of sugar (though it was organic, unprocessed cane sugar). One of my favorites was this Ani Phyo's Almond Veggie Pate Nori Rolls. Yummo! That link goes to a video of her preparing them, and here's a link to the recipe.

More pics from the picnic. On the far right behind the tomatoes is another fave - dehydrated kale chips. O.M.G. these were freaking amazing! Here is the recipe, courtesy my friend Eileen!

Kale Cashew Crispy Snacks

1 bunch fresh organic kale
½ c. raw organic cashews (not soaked)
¼ c. filtered water
¼ medium organic red or yellow bell pepper, chopped
1 tsp ripe red jalapeno pepper (remove seed and membrane) I OMITTED THIS.
Dash of cayenne pepper.

Rinse and drain the kale, remove from thick stem parts (can save stem parts for smoothie). Grind the cashews, add remaining ingredients, blend until creamy. Place kale in large bowl, pour the cashew sauce over the kale and massage with your hands. This will soften the kale and allow it to absorb some flavors. Spread on teflex sheets and dehydrate (115 degrees) until crisp. Usually 6-8 hours, more if weather is humid. Cool and store in airtight container.

Gratitude #6 - Friends!

And my dear friends at the Raw Food potluck, some old and some new. Make new friends but keep the old, one is silver and the other gold.
Gratitude # 7 - Great editors!

My article Regal Return in Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine just came out! (I blogged the adventures reporting the story here and here). I love the spread, and I truly am grateful for the wonderful editors there who appreciate me and my writing style, and give me steady work! Of course the Texas legislature may pull the rug out from under that... but the editors are fantabulous!! I just turned in an article today for the 10th Annual Water issue (July) on wetlands, and my editor quickly sent me back this reply, "Fabulous! Damn, you’re good." Wow! That made my day!
Gratitude #8 - Delicious Wild Alaskan Salmon and D.

I made this lemon pepper marinated salmon (MSC sustainable certified, no less - from Target) and salad with yummy fixins for dinner the other night when I hung out with D. We are taking things slowly, enjoying what may be his last days here. But maybe not. We just do not know what the future holds, and I'm ok with that. As mad as this man can make me sometimes, I love him dearly and we can have a heckuva lot of fun together when things are good.

Gratitude # 9 - My kiddos! And lovely days for bike rides!

One of my favorite things to do is take a bike ride from my home to a Starbuck's about 4 miles away, and then back. It goes across the San Jacinto River so it's just a lovely ride. Of course Sam hates bike riding but Savi loves it (isn't it always that way? One kid likes something and the other doesn't). The other weekend, we rode bikes across the bridge and then stopped and had some Tex Mex before heading back. Springtime is just the BEST in Houston - gorgeous weather! I love sunshine soooo much!

Gratitude #10 - Kitesurfing and sunshine at the beach!

Tomorrow I am going kitesurfing with my friend Stef and her hub Ro and D. I have never been kitesurfing and I didn't go to the beach last year so this will be so much fun. I can't wait! This is a pic Stef took so I hope she doesn't mind I nabbed it from her FB page! :o) We are going to Galveston's East Beach manana. Woohoo!

Other than that, I have an exciting new project I'll be working on for the next few months (will announce soon) and I'm about to work on taxes (oh joy) and I'm planning a trip to Cali with my kiddos after they get out of school so Savi can look at a few colleges (UCSF, Pepperdine, Stanford, UCLA) and visit my bro and Maggie and baby Freja in Joshua Tree, CA (Maggie just moved there from Sisters), and do some fun outdoorsy stuff on the way -maybe Yosemite? Sam wants to fish in a clear water stream - any other suggestions, since we already did Yosemite a couple years back? blogged highlights here and here and here. Only a couple more summers with my beautiful children and I want to enjoy every minute of it!