Tuesday, January 14, 2014


 Over a decade ago, the professional organization I was a member of as a Registered Dietitian,  took a pro-active approach on the subject of  promoting local farmer's markets.  I am thankful for this "heads up", because it has kept me alert to the importance of locally grown food sources.  Likewise, it has been a fun travel experience to make it a point to visit farmer's markets across the USA and Canada.  This photo shows the Farmer's Market in Midland, Michigan, which has a more modern design than those old, historic structures you will see in large metropolitan areas.
 The circular design of the Midland market allows ease of access for both the farmers delivering their products, as well as the customers who visit the market.  As you can see, it is a paved, flat surface, that is also handicap accessible. It is located adjacent to a city park that has plenty of free parking, hiking/biking trails, a skate park, and the world famous Tridge Pedestrian Bridge (see my  August 14, 2012, blog post, for more information on the Tridge, 3-cornered pedestrian bridge )
 If you will recall your reading of the Kellogg's Cornflakes cereal box, you will remember that their home---Battlecreek, Michigan---is in a big corn-producing area, so you can be sure that there is plenty of corn available at the Midland Farmer's Market as well.  As with most farmer's markets in the Midwest, they are  open spring through fall, and you can find out their times of operation on their website, www.macc.org/farmersmarket  .  However, in the milder climate of Santa Barbara, California, their weekly Farmer's Market in Old Town ( www.sbfarmersmarket.org ) is open year round.  My Aunt Charlotte ( a California native ) knew about their famous market, and took me there on a pleasant evening in January. In the late afternoon, one of the main streets in the downtown area is closed to pedestrian traffic and the sidewalks are lined with food vendors, craft vendors, entertainers, and all manner of produce---nuts, fruits, vegetables, etc.; it was a delightful experience!
 This photo of a lunch I ordered in a Sacramento, California restaurant is an example of why Sacramento calls itself the "Farm to Fork Capital of the USA" ( www.farmtoforkcapital.com ).  Many restaurants in that city participate in the program, which has the goal of using locally sourced fruits, vegetables, meat, eggs, and dairy products.  Their website says they are home to the largest "Certified Farmers' Market" in California.  Since Sacramento is the state capitol, and located in the midst of farms, ranches, orchards, and vineyards, their claim is undisputed!  Also in California, I was able to visit the well-known Sunday Farmers Market held weekly in front of the San Francisco city hall.  It is called the "Heart of the City" Farmers Market ( www.hotcfarmersmarket.org ), and is well known for it great diversity.  It is also a regular source for nutrition education for those who are interested.  I do not think I have ever visited a farmers' market, where there were so many examples of produce that I had never ---- in all my life ---seen before!
 Even supermarket chains in California are realizing the allure of outdoor produce shopping, and place large displays of their local produce outside the building, to give a more "farmers-market-like" experience to their customers. 
 This large field of produce growing in the Midwest will be harvested and sold at the local farmer's market, as well as a farm cooperative.
 Although creativity with a crop that grows vines is difficult for mass production, a small farm operation can make their trellis for  vegetable vines ( see the flower design? ) an enjoyable aspect of their operation!
 Likewise, many cities are providing space for individuals to plant small plots of garden vegetables that they tend to and harvest.  As you can see in this photo, each gardener can get creative with their scarecrow design, to keep the birds from eating their product before the humans !
 All this work of soil preparation, planting, weeding, watering, and harvesting, will eventually product fruit---like that shown in this photo.  Please note the pretty container the fruit is in.  I found that glass container when I was hiking with a Road Scholar group ( www.roadscholar.org ) out in the middle of the woods, in southern Illinois.  Someone had dumped  dozens of glass light fixtures in the weeds, for some unknown reason.  Although some of them were broken, this one was still intact.  It is the cover one screws over a ceiling light fixture.  I was reminded of this photo, when trying to come up with a visual aid to help me learn my First Place 4 Health ( www.FirstPlace4Health.com ) memory verse: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  Against such things there is no law." Galatians 5:22-23  That is a great promise that God can take a life---even a life found in a heap of trash (like this glass container in the photo!)---and turn it into something beautiful, by filling it with the fruit of the spirit.  Now THAT is something that gives me "Miles of Smiles"!  Tricia 
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Friday, January 3, 2014


 After a few decades of working as a Registered Dietitian in health care settings, I changed my membership from being a part of a clinical practice group, to being a member of a culinary practice group.  That gave me the opportunity to make professional visits to various culinary schools around the USA and Canada.  This is a photo of a poster displayed at one such culinary school, when I visited there a while back.
 At the time of my visit, the New England Culinary Institute ( www.neci.edu ) had a branch in Essex, Vermont.
 The NECI was located on the grounds of The Inn at Essex ( www.essexresortspa.com ).  As you would expect, the Inn at Essex made use of their on-site experts to provide a variety of culinary resources, including making cakes considered a work of art---not to mention---delicious to eat! 
 Also, as is often the case at culinary schools, the kitchen is designed in such a way that spectators can easily look through the large plate glass window to observe the food preparation in progress.  Class size is kept small in the three teaching kitchens, to give all participants the opportunity for a "hands on" experience.
 I was intrigued by this big hunk of salt, along with its silver spoon and salt server, because it is not something I ever saw in the big hospital/nursing home kitchens where I used to "hang out"!
 Throughout the property, the interior decorators have made use of the "butcher block"  decor style, which included this large bulletin board in the hotel lobby, telling the days activities.
 Likewise, their outdoor signs use the butcher block motif in their design.
 My favorite use of the butcher block motif, however, was that each guest room door was marked with a small butcher block, and whisk!
 The exterior of the resort also has paid attention to detail, by having that common New England building style of light-colored exterior, gabled roof line, shutters, and window boxes.
 These geraniums seemed to be enjoying their location in this cheerful-looking window box!  Considering that the resort is located near Burlington, Vermont, you can imagine that in the wintertime, this window box may be full of snow, rather than fresh flowers!
 The 18 acres that make up the grounds of The Inn at Essex have several different areas, designed to accommodate the needs of almost any kind of group activity.  This fire circle area would no doubt be a great place to gather for fireside activities in the evenings.
 The property also boasts a meticulously groomed herb garden---probably the prettiest one I have seen in all my travels.  This is especially remarkable since the chefs of The Inn at Essex  actually harvest and use these herbs in their daily cooking duties!
 Perhaps it is this angry looking "chef" scarecrow---complete with chef hat,  a spoon in their hand and bowl at their elbow, that keeps the vermin out of the herb garden!
 Yet another example of picturesque settings located on the property is this gazebo.  It is a location that can be used for weddings and other outdoor celebrations.
 Likewise, summertime events can include outdoor pool parties/receptions. They also have a rock climbing wall, indoor pool, and full-service spa.
 The A-frame glass wall enables guests inside to enjoy the beautiful grounds, even if they do not choose to go out to stroll on them.
 The big A-frame glass wall is the backdrop for a large dining area that can be used for culinary demonstrations.  This photo shows that the teaching chef was allowing me to try my hand at making crepes---something which I had never done before!
 Seeing this chef start from scratch with just eggs, flour, sugar, etc.---to create something delicious, reminded me of a cooking show I watch on Christian television, where the chef asks for a blessing over all the ingredients he has gathered in front of  him, that will be used in preparing the dish for that particular television program.  It was a reminder to me to give thanks for the ingredients I use, not just the end product.
 The chef I mentioned that prayed over his recipe ingredients came into my mind, when I was trying to find a visual image to help me learn one of my First Place 4 Health ( www.FirstPlace4Health.com ) memory verses that says: "And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." Colossians 3:17 .  This photo shows God not only answered my prayers that my crepe-making efforts would be successful, the placement of the crepes is to remind me of the cross, where Jesus sacrificed HIS blood, to save me from the penalty of MY sins.  Now THAT is something to give thanks about!   If you would like to find out more about the The Inn at Essex and their Cooking Academy, just phone 1-800-727-4295 or email  info@vtculinaryresort.com  .  Spending some time at this location will give you "Miles of lick-your-lips smiles" !  Tricia
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