Are you looking for a nice, slow read to fill your evenings this February? Well, do I have a treasure for you.

We tend to skim-read through stuff without the lingering pleasure of allowing a well-constructed sentence, filled with juicy elements, to land on our skin and shimmy up our spines. Not all writing is meant for deep reading. I admit to retweeting links to articles I’ve not read in depth. But writers such as Bill Bryson deserve our attention head-on. His brilliant lyricism and command of the English language made me want his latest book, At Home: A Short History of Private Life, simply not to end.

Using each room in his own home, once a rectory built in 1851, as a point of reference, he takes his readers on a journey into the past. Sometimes with an architectural focus, sometimes with a societal one, Bryson never loses sight of how technological innovation has impacted us to this day. From the pre-Civil War in America to Victoria England to today, we get to tramp alongside the author as he unearths historical facts that would make Wikipedia green with envy.

Consider his description of the German schoolteacher Johann Philipp Reis whose prototype telephone came fifteen years before Alexander Graham Bell filed his patent. The phone never worked and here’s why:

[I]t was later discovered that when the contact points on Reis’s device became fouled with dust or dirt, they were able to transmit speech with starling fidelity. Unfortunately, Reis, with Teutonic punctiliousness, had always kept his equipment impeccably shiny and clean, and so went to his grave never knowing how close he had come to producing a working instrument.

His description of bathroom habits, a relatively new discovery for mankind, is a real hoot, not to mention how the role of the hallway has changed from gathering space to a cheerless, empty one on your way to somewhere else.

As my dad, who kindly gave me the book, so rightly said: “It’s a book so full of information, you have to put it down after fifteen pages to simply digest it all.” So true. But you’ll want to pick it right back up again the next day to explore the next cavern of human existence and the house that has turned into our home.

What good reads would you suggest?

Superbowl Eats the Slow Way

February 1, 2012

When I heard about Tosca Reno’s new book, Just the Rules for Eating Clean, I got curious. Given the Super Bowl is coming up on February 5, 2012, I thought it would be a good thing to provide some of her recipes as a healthier option to the empty, salt-ridden snacks we tend to fall prey to. She offers several rules for “eating clean”, a term I had never heard before. But it makes sense. We often pollute our bodies with things they can’t handle well. The result is sluggishness and an overall sense of puff.

Here are some of the rules she outlines for the best Super Bowl party ever:

Super Bowl Party Rule #8 – Color Up: Super Bowl junk is often a sea of fatty beige foods. Colorful foods are filled with more nutrients and flavor than bland, monotonous, processed foods. Opt for a rainbow of colors on your plate, which offers numerous health benefits.

Rule #12 – Smaller Portions, Smaller Pants (remember my Why We’re So Fat post? Portion size means everything!): A festive atmosphere can often create an eating frenzy, which leaves you feeling blah. It’s okay to enjoy an array of foods, just eat smaller portions. Remember one serving of lean protein is the size of your palm; one serving of complex carbohydrates from whole grain is the size of your cupped hand; and one serving of complex carbs from fruit and vegetables is two hands cupped together.

My power of slow favorite is this one:

Rule #13 – Fletcherize and Swallow: Do you ever fill your plate, only for the food to disappear moments later? Gobbling food is a common disorder in our fast-paced society. Remind yourself to sloooooooow down: eating is not a race. Eating slowly will not only allow you to enjoy your food, but will help you determine when you’re full and help aid in digestion.

Rule #23 – Good Carbs, Bad Carbs: Carbs can be confusing, and are often given a bad rap! Stay away from ‘bad’ grocery store, processed carbs and stick to ‘good’ carbs like fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grain.

Consider Baba Ghanoush (click the title for your copy of the recipe). Doesn’t this look savory?

Photo Courtesy of Donna Griffith

Or how about BBQ Chicken Pizza? You thought I was going all holistic, holy-than-thou on you, didn’t you? Well, you can still have food fun and eat well. Look at this image. I’m getting hungry as I type.

Photo Courtesy of Donna Griffith

A Super Bowl Party wouldn’t be complete without Vegetarian Chili – warming, filling and de-light-ful!

Photo Courtesy of Donna Griffith

If none of these convinces you, Tosca has generously provided many more eat clean recipes on her Web site. Eating clean is not a diet. It’s a way of life.

What recipes would you like to share?

 

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