Nerves Before the Pilot Episode

Emotional Sunday.

I spent the afternoon at a baby shower for the producers (and editors and camera crew and director and assistant) of the show, and my heart was just so full at the thought of these two wonderful people, Matt and Sarah – one of those cool, creative, fun and constantly involved-in-everything-awesome married couples – bringing a baby girl into the world.

(Also producers of the show Lehigh Valley Mirror!)

Now it’s a few hours before the the pilot show airs for the first time, and my stomach has been in knots all day.

I can’t stop thinking about how this happened… how I got here, wherever “here” is anyway. Two and a half years ago, in the darkest time of my life, when I felt I had hurt people too much, done nothing but created a mess that could never be undone, felt like my existence in the world was causing more harm than good, and what was the point…

… something in my guts said, “Jaime. You are going to do something important. Please hang on. You’ll figure it out eventually. You will.”

I still don’t claim to have figured it out. Those closest to me know the amount of time I still spend trying to figure it out (bless their hearts), the worry and anxiety and fear that creeps in while trying to find a purpose and learning and getting better and wanting  everything to be good for everybody.

When I think of the people who have helped put this show together, I am beyond humbled. They could spend their time and energy on anything else — countless hours of editing, texts at 1am asking about graphics layouts, the first episode surviving  amidst a production computer that totally crashed and died, hauling equipment around, setting up lighting, takes and retakes, finding the right music, money spent on software and groceries, etc…

To you all, thank you for believing in me enough to devote your skills, energy and friendship. Matt and Sarah; and Christian: you are the greatest bunch of people a girl could work with. If a day ever came when money was no object, I would see to it you are taken care of for the rest of your lives. This is just as much your show as it is mine. I love you and “thank you times infinity” is still not enough.

This is only the beginning!

The TV Guide channel. Kind of surreal.

–         –        –         –          –

Last year I went to a discussion panel on creativity at Lehigh University. A student in the audience raised his hand and said, “I want to make movies, but Lehigh doesn’t offer video production, so for now I’m majoring in English and I’ll study film when I get to grad school. What English classes should I take?”

As one person on the panel began to answer him, he was interrupted by another professor who stood up so assured and said (I’m paraphrasing):

“We live in a time when you don’t need permission from anyone.

You don’t need to wait til grad school. If you want to make movies, get a camera – buy one, rent one, borrow one – and make a movie. You’re in school during the week? Do it on weekends. You can’t get it done by yourself? Meet people who share your passion and help each other. You do not need to wait. You don’t need a class. You don’t need  four years of school and to graduate: those are excuses.

If my five year old son and his friends can grab our digital camera, turn it to the movie setting, make a video of them playing Cops and Robbers, upload it to Youtube and get a few thousand hits, all in one afternoon, YOU CAN MAKE A MOVIE.

Now go and make one.”

 –        –        –        –       –

I do hope you’ll enjoy the first episode of Save the Kales! Surely, there is still a lot to learn and I’m so excited to see how we’ll all learn and get better as time goes on. A lot of work and love went into this project, and seeing it in a tangible form… Wow. Now that I have this out of my system, I’m speechless.

Enjoy!

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WEATHER PREDICTIONS: How Weather Influences Productivity

I’ve had a bunch of OCD’s my entire life. They are very mild – I don’t have trouble leaving the house or functioning in day to day life because of them. But I like things in even numbers. Except six. OhmygoodnessIHATEthenumbersix. Last week I parked in a metered lot and didn’t realize I was in space 6 until I went back to my car where it had been, sitting on the blacktop of SPACE SIX for HOURS and I felt uncomfortable the rest of the day.

I also need touch and temperature to be balanced. (Am I a Libra or what?) For example, if someone with very cold hands touches my right arm, I need them to touch my left arm in exactly the same place.

Another one that has crept up in the last 2-3 years is where I can be, physically and literally exist and take up Jaime-shaped space, based on the weather. If it’s a day I’m working from home and it’s sunny, I cannot be in my house. I pace around hugging the cat and feeling “off” and unproductive even if I’m getting work done.

Rainy days are preferable (unless I’m taking a road trip… but maybe even then) because I can be home and feel relaxed. You are supposed to be home and comfortable and loungey on a rainy day, even if you have a lot of work to do. Although, coffee shops make a great backdrop (one of my favorite atmospheres) for writing and reading and saying hello to neighbors, watching the people scamper with umbrellas.

Remember that scene in High Fidelity when Rob said he organized his record collection autobiographically? Mine is organized by season.

This morning I woke up to a strange weather phenomenon: hovering over my street was a giant dark gray storm cloud, like the space ship in Armageddon. Beyond it, looking toward the library, a bright blue sky with puffy, cheerful white cumulus clouds.

I had no idea what to do with myself.

I got dressed, I flopped back in bed, I tried to read, I tried to relax with a cooking show until I “figured it out”. It was so incredibly uncomfortable. I considered closing all the curtains and trying to go to sleep until the afternoon. There’s so much to do, so much to write. The places I’ve been, the people met, the food happily eaten in the past few weeks… but how do you do anything on a day like this?

So here I am. One of my favorite coffee shops, armed with books (The Five Things We Cannot Change and my signed copy of Vegan’s Daily Companion, specifically), trying to make a plan for the rest of this day, this week, this month, forever and ever? I don’t know.

From The Five Things We Cannot Change by David Richo (every page is highlighted multiple times, it’s nearly impossible to pull out just one part, but here you go):

“If we have the courage to face life’s unavoidable truths, we will find the grace to love no matter what happens to us. Love is always unconditional.

Neither changes, endings, altered plans, unfairness, suffering, disloyalty, or lack of love can stop us from loving. Our ‘yes’ to such a stunning grace is what our ego always wants to say, since it means the end of being afraid is the beginning of being free.”

I needed to write a post today because now I feel like I’ve done something. Thanks for understanding I used this as a sort of outlet today, differently than other days in content.

I hope you’ll find the courage, motivation and inspiration to do something beautiful today. Even if it’s just to pause a moment to reflect on yourself.

SAVE THE KALES!: New Half Hour Vegan Cooking/Lifestyle/Travel Show airs in May

Hey. You like watching things, right? Watch this:

Maybe The Law of Attraction is real after all.

Starting in May, Save the Kales! will be airing as a half hour television show of the same name. We’ll be cooking in a beautiful “studio” kitchen. We’ll be traveling to different locations (most in or around the Lehigh Valley) to meet the people and tour the places bringing plant-based food, and  sustainable and healthy living ideas to the masses.

Add in a mix of vintage thrift stores, farmer’s markets, animal sanctuaries, and more… and you get Save the Kales! Show. It will essentially be this blog in television format. 

(Wow. Wow. I still can’t believe it.)

ADG Photography

A new episode will air every month, multiple times a month, on RCN Cable – and be stored in the “On Demand” files so you can tune in any time. We will also air commercials leading up to each new show… which means you could be watching HGTV and see a Save the Kales! commercial. Isn’t that crazy!?

Don’t have RCN cable? Fear not. After a week of airtime, all episodes will go online to live indefinitely. My mother would never allow me to make a show that she wouldn’t be able to view from home. 🙂

(I have spent a lot of time in these last two months worrying about what could go wrong: the inevitable anonymous mean passive aggressive comments, the “She’s not as good of a cook as so-and-so, why does she get this?” speculations, the general vulnerability that comes when you put yourself in a vulnerable place… I was going to write about all of these because I haven’t been able to think about this show without thinking about them.

But for now, I’ll leave them aside. This is too good to tarnish with worry and anxiety. Besides, there is a lesson in everything and even the “bad stuff” can be a great teacher. I continue to learn all the time.)

ADG Photography

And I also have more faith in it now (and in myself, and maybe that was the trickiest hurdle of all). My goal isn’t to pretend I’m the most inventive cook, or the most knowledgable about vegan living and issues…

My goal is: to make this lifestyle accessible to people. Especially those who don’t know anything about it and feel it’s too difficult, overwhelming, or expensive. It’s not any of those things, but I don’t just want to TELL people, I want to SHOW them.

And at the end of each episode, if I can provide some knowledge and ideas for eating delicious plant-based meals on a budget, and hopefully entertain and highlight the people and places doing positive things along the way, it will be a success.

And here’s the best part: In a year from now, we will have so much experience and so many episodes under our belt. Perhaps by then a major network will be willing to pick up a show like this in it’s roster of meat-centric programming. While that’s not my driving force, it would be a very Cinderella-magical outcome.

One thing I’ve learned about trying to imagine the future: you can’t. So work hard, smile, and see what happens.

I don’t know that I’ve ever been more nervous or excited for anything in my whole life. I hope you’ll come along for the ride.

–               –               –                  –               –                –              –

It would be impossible to talk about this show without mentioning Matt and Sarah of Lehigh Valley Mirror, my co-producers, directors, camera crew and editors. Lehigh Valley Mirror will also be airing as a half hour show starting in April, featuring independent and creative people and businesses in the LV. 

Matt and Sarah, I could never possibly thank you enough for believing in me to invest your time, skills, and friendship. I’d lasso the moon for you both if I could. You are dreams-come-true to work with. Thank you.

SECRETS REVEALED

Okay, guys, the time has come… For two months I’ve had to keep the BIGGEST, BEST, MOST EXCITING, MOST INCREDIBLE SECRET ABOUT SAVE THE KALES! EVERRRRR under wraps…

But tomorrow, Friday March 30th 2012, all will be revealed. Check back! 

And I’m incredibly flattered and humbled to tell you that the blog awards just ended an hour ago, and Save the Kales! won Best Food Blog — AND, holy gosh, Best Overall Blog.

Save the Kales! Best of Blogs contest

Our community is full of people doing incredibly creative things with passion and drive and a desire to show that what we do and say DOES matter, our actions CAN make a difference in our communities, and if you’re lucky enough (I am; we are) you make great friends along the way.

I am incredibly thankful. My vocabulary isn’t advanced enough to tell you how much it means to me. With a full heart, thank you.

*Before anyone has a heart attack, that jacket is faux-leather.

NEW VIDEO: Orange Poppyseed Salad with Brussels Sprouts and Golden Beets

I’ve been busy. Like BUSY busy busy, the kind when you take time off to hang out with your friends and feel guilty about it (ew!) or you, uh… are a cook but don’t cook anything for a week.

A girl cannot be sustained on tofurkey sandwiches alone.

I wanted to make a hearty, super-healthy salad with roasted veggies for that cozy wintertime taste, but some bright accents in flavor and color. So I whipped up this salad and a light crisp dressing. Perhaps not the most creative (“put a bunch of things in a bowl and toss!”), but what it lacks there it makes up for in prettiness. Tasty, too.

ORANGE POPPYSEED SALAD WITH BRUSSELS SPROUTS AND BEETS

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 bunch golden beets (or red) with greens removed
  • 2 cups brussels sprouts, halved
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • juice of 1/2 orange (*entire recipe calls for 3 whole oranges)
  • 1 Tbsp fresh ginger, minced
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • fresh ginger (about 1 Tbsp)
  • juice of 1 whole orange
  • 1 orange, peeled
  • 1 apple (peel left on for color and fiber; or removed to your liking)
  • salad greens of choice (I used an organic spring mix)

In an oven heated to 350 degrees, wrap the whole unpeeled beets in tin foil and place on an oven rack. While they are cooking, cut brussels sprouts in half and toss with just enough olive oil to coat lightly, fresh ginger and the juice of 1/2 an orange. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and put brussels sprouts on the sheet. Add to the oven (with the beet package) for about 25-30 minutes.  After that time has passed, remove everything from the oven and set aside to cool.

In a small pan, add the balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, ginger and juice of one orange to a pan and turn on a low heat. The vinegar should let off some steam. Stir occasionally. Reduction will be thicker after 15-20 minutes. Take off heat and allow to cool in a bowl.

Cut the peeled orange into rounds. Cut the apple into bite size pieces.

Open the tin foil package. Beets should be cool enough to handle. The skin should easily peel off. Slice into rounds.

In a large mixing bowl, add a few handfuls of salad greens, all the vegetables and fruit, and the balsamic dressing. Toss with your hands to coat everything lightly. Use the 1/2 an orange you have left and squeeze on top just before serving. Sprinkle with poppy seeds.

As I mention, you can toss some leftover grains into the salad to bulk it up a little. Have some cooked brown rice or quinoa? Toss it in.

Thank you to Lehigh Valley Mirror, as always, and especially this time around for coming over for a morning shoot when I was bumping into everything, fumbling around, almost chopping off my fingers and breaking into sudden bursts of uncontrollable laughter. You do an AMAZING job with editing!

BRUNCH IS BACK: Tummies Everywhere Rejoice

If we’ve ever met in real life, even just for a few minutes, I’ve probably talked about a few things: how delicious broccoli is when roasted; how do shar pei’s get so many wrinkles?; how much I love Sundays and why brunch is the best meal of the week.

Today I’m happy to tell you that the last part is happening, back with a vengeance.

If you live in the Lehigh Valley, you must know who Chef Wendy is. If you don’t, pay attention. Go get a pen and paper and write this down.

 Wendy is owner and executive chef of Balasia/The Honey Underground. The former used to be a brick and mortar business (in a fancy old victorian house in Emmaus, PA), and now shows up at every farmer’s market in the Valley to provide us with tasty lunches and take-home food. The latter is a supper club – a hip pseudo-restaurant that sets up on weekends in a firehall that gets transformed into a calming, candle-lit sit down eatery.

Well, we can all joins hands across America because Wendy is bringing back the best meal, on the best day. I can clearly only be talking about one thing: SUNDAY BRUNCH.

Sunday brunch was actually how I became familiar with Wendy and her food. A few years ago, we would wait all week for Sunday to approach so we could go to Balasia (then in Emmaus), sip coffees and organic juices and sparkling waters. Order meals that were so beautiful in presentation, the first time I saw one of Wendy’s dishes I exclaimed, “I feel like I’m eating a sculpture, a work of art”. 

Everything vegan, organic, local as often as possible… it was a meal to be savored, eaten slowly and shared by passing full forks across the table. It was so fun to bring out of town friends there, and even they would say things like, “I wish there was a place like this Brooklyn”.

 And let’s not forget to mention another culinary superstar on the scene who will also be a part of this meal, Misi from Diver Catering. She will make a fool of anyone who thinks vegan sushi is boring, flavorless or unappetizing. You can hire Misi for special orders and occasions, and also find her at the Steelstacks Farmers Market which is (new and!) every Saturday from Noon-4pm. Once again, proof that food can be, and most definitely is, art.

This upcoming brunch is a one-time event, though hopefully enough interest will mean more and more could happen in the future. I hope to see you there!

INFO ON HONEY UNDERGROUND/DIVER CATERING SUNDAY BRUNCH

  • Sunday, January 29th 2012
  • 11am – 2pm
  • RESERVATIONS ONLY
  • Call: 484.330.6405
  • Or respond on the FACEBOOK PAGE
  • Cost: $25.95 per entree; includes a healthy cocktail & hot coffee/tea
  • At the Honey Underground, Hereford PA (past Emmaus)
  • More info and directions on the site
You can view a detailed menu on the FACEBOOK event page.
AND enjoy live music from this year’s winner of the LV Acoustic Contest, Kwesi Kankam. (Exactly the sort of voice you want to hear at a meal like this!)
(Thanks Lehigh Valley Mirror for this video)

NEW VIDEO: Vegan (Eggless!) Quiche. Yes, Really.

I first learned about the technique of combining tofu and nondairy milk to use as an egg-like mixture from what may have been my first cookbook, The Garden of Vegan by Sarah Kramer and Tanya Barnard. They sit there on the cover having a picnic in vintage dresses and pretty tattoos and inside all of the recipes are sassy and 1950’s kitschy clip art is found on every page.

The great thing about this quiche recipe is that once you have learned the basic “egg filling” ratio – 1 cup of tofu blended with 1/3 cup nondairy milk – you can pretty much add anything else you’d like and make your own recipe!

I made this quiche based on what ingredients I had on hand and what I thought would look pretty and colorful. Get creative with spices and veggies. *Note that using some turmeric will make the mixture yellow and look more like eggs if that’s what you’re going for.

WATCH THE VIDEO BY LEHIGH VALLEY MIRROR (below):

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 premade pie crust (read ingredients! or make one from scratch)
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 5-8 mushrooms, chopped
  • 1-2 Tbsp soy sauce (or Tamari or Bragg’s)
  • about 2 tsp. dried basil
  • 1/2 block (one cup) extra firm, or firm, tofu
  • 1/3 cup nondairy milk of choice (I use almond milk)
  • 1 Tbsp turmeric
  • 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 2-3 green onions, chopped
  • salt to taste
  • about 12 stalks of asparagus (to garnish the top)
  • 5-7 grape tomatoes (to garnish the top)

Save the Kales on Lehigh Valley Mirror

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Add olive oil, onion and garlic to a pan and sautee about 4 minutes until the onions start to become translucent. Add red pepper, mushrooms, soy sauce and basil. Mix everything and let cook until veggies just start to soften, another 5-7 minutes.

Press the water out of the tofu. (For this recipe you only use half the block, so put the rest in a container of water and put it back in the fridge.) Put tofu in a food processor with the nondairy milk. Blend until smooth.

Save the Kales Vegan Quiche on Lehigh Valley Mirror

Add tofu mixture to a large bowl along with the veggie mixture. Add turmeric, nutritional yeast, green onions and some salt to the bowl and mix everything together. Add to the pie crust and spread out evenly.

Place asparagus stalks on top along with the tomatoes in a pretty pattern, if you choose to use them. (You can also just make them part of the veggie mixture.) Bake for 35-40 minutes at 350 degrees. The top will get golden brown.

Save the Kales Vegan Quiche

*TIP: Often times premade pie crusts are sold in twos. This recipe also only takes 1/2 a block of tofu. If you have some extra veggies and spices, you can easily make two quiches instead of one!

BONUS: The extra tip in this video is about using olive oil to remove your eyemakeup! Check it out around the 6:30 minute mark.