Tuesday, September 23, 2014

How I Became a Whiskey Woman

When I first fell in love with whiskey, it was while I was falling in love with a man.

The two seemed, at the time, inseparable. They were both adult and refined, but slightly caustic. They provided a burn down to your core, and it was at once satisfying and that left you reeling. Both drink and person seemed intensely masculine. There was a sense of history to them, a connection to artists and poets and the stuff of bardic legends. He knew about literature and music, and we drank whiskey while discussing these things. In winter he wore thick woolen sweaters that matched the peaty undertone of good scotch. In summer he wore cotton button downs like crisp mint juleps. When he was full of sentiment, he’d sigh and croon, his voice cracking like a pour of warm rye over cold ice.

Monday, September 22, 2014

The person you thought you remembered: Surviving depression

My friend Amy has it all. For one thing, she’s drop-dead gorgeous. She’s blond and fit and always looks like she just stepped out of the pages of a catalog. Even better, she’s an impossibly talented opera singer with a rare vocal gift and the work ethic to put it into practice. She lives in the stunningly scenic part of Colorado around Denver. Her circle of girlfriends has remained tight-knit since college, despite being spread out across the country (and sometimes the globe). She just got engaged to a sweet, smart man who mountain bikes up and down Colorado peaks and has an encyclopedic knowledge of music.
She is also the poster child for the fact that depression doesn’t care if you are pretty or smart or talented or how much money you make or if you’re single or if you live in the first world. Depression doesn’t care who you are. Depression doesn’t care about anything. It isn’t a thing at all that might operate by logic or feeling or even some base-level survival instinct programmed into its DNA like a virus or bacteria. It simply is what it is—a poorly understood disease that can strike anyone. But it does make you forget who you are. It makes you not care about anything.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Kitchen Intuition: Tomato soup in a snap


I have a feeling that I’m never going to stop writing about tomatoes. After last week’s article about stocking the pantry, I wanted to write about some kind of quick and easy prep that could be made from a well-stocked pantry. I looked around for some inspiration, and my eyes fell on some canned tomatoes. As soon as I saw them, I was struck with an intense craving for tomato soup. I had to have some, but since we’re still in tomato season, there was no reason to crack open a can, as I still had plenty of fresh ones.
I made my soup with three ingredients: tomatoes, onions and garlic. That’s it. This soup is so ridiculously quick, easy and delicious, I can’t believe I ever bought tomato soup in a can. Depending on what you add to it, it can be vegan, paleo, gluten-free, low-fat, low-carb and low-calorie. And it is an all-season soup; use fresh tomatoes in summer, and eat it either hot or cold. In the wintertime, you can whip up a quick batch with canned tomatoes while the kids are out playing in the snow and have the ultimate cozy food waiting for them when they come back inside: hot tomato soup and oozy grilled cheese sandwiches

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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

CARTA Diaries: Janay Rice's story matters everywhere

I took a seat on the bus behind a small child with a round face and a buzz cut. He was near a blond woman, her hair slicked back in a ponytail. She was clearly responsible for him, though their exact relationship wasn’t clear. It was a jostled ride, the driver hitting the brakes hard at red lights, train tracks and in the face of fast-merging cars. I kept sliding forward and tipping from side to side as we cruised from downtown up Bailey Avenue. The kid’s feet were propped up on the edge of her seat, and he was fidgeting hard from the shifting momentum of the bus and the usual boredom kids face when asked to sit still for too long.
"Stop kicking me," she said. He squirmed into a new position in his seat but kept his feet resting on the edge of hers.
The bus hit another jolt. "I said to stop hitting me," she hissed. Her eyes narrowed on him like a cat ready to pounce.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Porch sitting our own souls: Why it's crucial we unplug and slow down

Every single morning, my day starts the same. At least initially, there is very little variation. I roll over in bed, blinking at the light and trying to swim back into consciousness. I wonder what time it is or if I need to turn off an alarm. So I grab my phone—the modern woman’s clock, calendar and camera all in one. And then it begins. It’s not enough to look at the time. I have to immediately download the slew of vaguely important, definitely intriguing data from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and my usual round of websites. Every. Single. Day.
This morning, I did the exact same thing. I slept in for once, because it’s Saturday, darn it. The bedroom was bright and sunny when I awoke, and the first thing I saw were the vintage paperbacks arranged on the mantle in my bedroom. I thought about how pretty they looked and flashed back to something I said to my roommate the previous day about how all I wanted to do this weekend was lie in bed with a book and some kittens. Then, the conscious curiosity interrupted the subconscious mind wandering and brain noodling over whatever dreams I’d had the night before and how they related to whatever is actually going on in my life. The dream about work. Fretting a little about how a gift went over. Wondering what the day will hold. 
And, bam, that’s it, I needed to know the time.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Kitchen Intuition: Stocking up

We are healthier when we cook our own food for a very simple reason: when we cook, we control the ingredients that go into the food. The companies that prepare so much of the takeout, frozen entrĂ©es, mix-and-eat boxes and restaurant meals that we eat are motivated by a desire for us to spend money on their food, so they’ll throw in whatever it takes for them to turn a profit and keep us coming back for more. Quite often, that involves a lot of salt, sugar and ingredients that come out of a chemistry lab, not from a farm.

I found the breathtaking quote at right during a fascinating talk from food writer Michael Pollan about how cooking can change your life (the quote below at left also comes from the same video). The problem, though, is that cooking takes a lot of time, planning and effort. And if you’re already juggling jobs, kids, pets, friends, job training, school, caring for elderly parents, budget pressures and your own desperate need to just go soak in a tub for a while, cooking can be really hard.

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