Tea Talk: Steve

Steve is one my oldest friends. He writes stories, plays music, makes lamburgers, serves food & doesn’t drink tea.

TEA TALK

introduce yourself!
I’m Stephen Harutunian. I am writer, meaning I am someone who writes; whether I’d consider myself a writer is up in the air. Some days. I make a living right now as an assistant teacher and a server.

What’s your cup of tea?
Fiction. And let’s call it a cup of coffee. As much as I want to, and as many adjectives as I have to describe different teas, I just can’t get into tea. A small part of me, the conspiracy theory part, thinks that no one really likes tea. Anyway, writing is what I do – what I need to do, have to do, every day, in order to feel like me.

SLIP STITCH
What’s your favorite materials or ingredients to work with?
Keyboards…Open Office word processor (if you paid for microsoft office, I’m sorry, or if you use microsoft works, why do you do that?) I like to draft by hand. I like to occasionally use a typewriter. It’s interesting how the writing changes with the tools you are writing with.

What’s a good crafting or cooking tip?
I’m glad you ask. I also love cooking and everything that has to do with cooking, especially eating. I think that cooking is similar to writing and other creative processes in many ways: break things down to basics. Don’t make things too complicated. Start with the concrete and build up. My specialty is pizza. It is important if you are going to make homemade pizza to understand what pizza is in the first place but to also understand what it can be. Use a stone and not a pan.

BRAIN FOOD
Where do you find your inspiration & ideas?
It is important to be compassionate at all times. To see and not to judge. I hardly ever succeed at this, but my best ideas come from letting go of myself in this way.

What’s on your crafting/cooking soundtrack?
Cooking = Rolling Stones. Writing….preferably I’d write in silence. Being a young man fresh out of graduate school unable to afford the luxury of a private place, I need to make do. If people are around making noise, the best way to escape that is with Miles Davis’ In A Silent Way. This album will make everything else go away. It allows me to get into that place I need to be in when I write. If you don’t have this album, go have it. This being said, it probably isn’t the best thing to listen to while driving.

FULL PLATE
What’s a craft or meal you’ve always been meaning to try but haven’t gotten around to?
I’ve never really stuffed a meat.

What’s your favorite easy meal or project that should that everyone know about?
Lamburger. I make the best. And I’m not telling how.

LEFTOVERS
What’s the best thing to do with your scraps?

Recycle. Or Burn. Depending on the quality of writing.

What’s something you can’t live without?
Clean, neat space.

CRAFT CIRCLE
How do you know me or how did you find me?
Ah, so long, so long.

What other blogs are you reading on the regular?
I don’t blog.

LAST BITE
have any websites to promote, or ways we can find you?
Look for more things soon, I’m working hard at publishing. I’m also trying to get in touch with my Armenian heritage and I am starting a new novel on Armenian Americans and violence. For now, you can read this.

CAST OFF
Thanks for reading; Hemingway said something like … a writer who does not think solely of his reader is not doing his job. Kerouac said If I’m not writing for myself than why write at all. And these are my two favorite authors.

open road festival!

So remember my awesome friend Marcus? Well I wasn’t kidding when I said Marcus was business. Last year, he made a huge dent in his dream list by putting together the first ever Open Road Music & Arts Festival right in Worcester! I know right? Gah, my friends are so cool. Anyways, at the time Hydrogen Jukebox was just a little idea, but I was able to throw a few things together and sorta/kinda have a booth. It was great to see it all come together and I can’t wait to be a part of it (and hopefully better prepared) this year!

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I’ve already reserved my vedor spot!
If you’re interested in selling, volunteering or sponsoring the festival,
well… you should visit the aforementioned links!
&&& you should check out this short clip of Marcus
talking about Open Road with pictures from last years’ festival: HERE!

My history with food & Vegfest Worcester!

Last weekend I went to Worcester’s VegFest.
Before I say anything else, I’ll give you a brief history of my relationship with food, and explain how someone like me ends up at something like that.

hempspread
You know how some people love eating the food they grew up with? I am not one of those people. I grew up on a lot of brown food and canned vegetables. Scrambled hamburger & mashed potato volcanos were considered a treat, american chop suey, pork chops & applesauce and meatloaf were all staple meals, and chicken fingers & french fries was my dining out default (for the first 18 years of my life). I will say, I don’t think there’s necessarily anything inherently wrong with (most of) these meals, but I certainly don’t miss them. In their defense, both of my parents worked hard and these meals were a cheap and easy way of getting food on the table. Besides, dinner time was more concerned with getting everyone together than what was on our plates. I don’t think my mother particularly liked cooking, but it was clear that providing for her family was important to her. I was one of those picky eaters growing up (big surprise). It was hard for me to find things I liked that my family was having for dinner. At one point in middle school I just decided to stop eating meat, but… my family didn’t stop cooking meat. I soon realized I couldn’t survive on canned green beans and bread so I stuck to things I could cover in barbecue sauce until I went to college.

In the dining halls, the only things that looked appetizing to me were at the vegan bar, and when I started cooking for myself, it never occurred to me to cook meat. The only meat I was getting was from the occasional piece of Antonio’s Pizza, if they didn’t have my beloved avocado quesadilla by the slice. When I started cooking with my boyfriend, he suggested we should cook some chicken, and we did this maybe 5 times. Then I freaked out. I’ll spare the details but there was a cooking mishap, it looked gross, freaked me out, and I couldn’t eat it that night. Then I didn’t eat meat all that week. Then a month passed and I found myself actively avoiding meat- something I had only done on accident in the past. I was hesitant (and still am) to call myself a vegetarian, but I started to do a lot of research our food system and looked for recipes that avoided it.
I almost hate to admit it, but I can remember my thoughts solidifying around the time Food Inc came out. I walked into that movie thinking, “if this not eating meat thing is just a phase, this movie is certainly going to prolong it”. I was right. It’s not that seeing the film revealed anything I didn’t already know, it’s just that I wasn’t able to suspend disbelief from the screen to my plate. I started to think differently about the way that I ate, I wanted to know where everything came from and began to strive to eat things as close to their natural source as possible.
coconut bliss
After a few months of this I couldn’t find a reason to eat meat again. I didn’t miss it at all. In fact, I felt great without it! I had been battling an iron deficiency since I was 18 and it wasn’t until 6 months after I stopped eating meat that it corrected itself! I no longer felt anxious, I felt more alert and I was sleeping better. I don’t necessarily think this would be the case for anyone, but it seemed like this way of eating was the best for me. Being pretty close to lactose intolerant, my diet slowly became close to being vegan, but not really. The groceries I buy are probably 97% vegan. I hardly ever never buy eggs, butter, or milk. When I’m out, I treat myself to things like cheese plates at Armsby Abbey and if I’m in the mood, I might even have some fish. I’m not vegan, nor really vegetarian. For me, I believe in mindfulness and moderation. That’s at least what works best for me, it may not be what’s best for you, but sometimes you have to explore beyond your comfort zone in order to discover what might be.
little green radicals
However, I think you can have your cake and eat it too. Though I try to stick to fewer ingredients, less processed foods and mostly plants, legumes and whole grains… I still treat myself. I don’t drink a diet coke everyday at lunch, but sometimes I treat myself to a bottle of micro brewed root beer. I don’t grab a candy bar in the check out line, but instead if I’m having a craving for a snack, I think of something I can make. If I don’t feel like taking the time to make cookies, then I figure, I don’t really want them that bad. If you keep less junk food, you’ll eat less junk food. Moderation is so important. That being said, Vegfest was a day, to indulge.
X’s to O’s Vegan Bakery
(by far my favorite vendor at VegFest)
Collin & I bought one of these Root Beer Float cupcakes to split. And then I went back and bought two more to take home. THEY. WERE. AMAZING.
My extra cupcakes & my new JoTotes camera bag! I’m obsessed.

Before I headed to work we sat by the pond and indulged in some birch beer (for me) and kettle corn (for Collin. It was a nice Worcester-y day and aside from some wind, the weather was nice.
Good job New England, keep it up!

Broot Beer, Tea Talk & Weekend fun to come!

Fancy Feasts: Panda Cakes!

The 3 boys I nanny for all had birthdays one right after the other, so of course I had to think of something new and exciting to do each time. First was the oldest, then the youngest, and then a few weeks later it was Tucker’s 8th birthday. Tucker is always feeling left out so I wanted to do something that would make him feel special. The kid absolutely ADORES animals. Everything he does, all the toys and games he wants (or owns) all involve animals somehow. Once I asked him what he was doing on his DS & he said “cleaning oil off a seagull from the gulf.” So cute. Anyway, so I knew I had to do something with animals. One day he started telling me about his love for pandas so- pandas it was!

My awesomely crafty lady friend Steph (who I haven’t seen in forever! I miss you Steph!) once got me the best book anyone could get me ever called Hello, Cupcake! It has the cutest & for the most part- fairly easy cupcake decorating ideas in it. Check out the link for some how to videos! Most of the decorating materials they use are things you can find at any candy store, which is great for whipping together awesomely adorable cupcakes.

I usually just look at the pictures & improvise with whatever I can find at the grocery store or in my cupboards. For these, I did a regular sized cupcake and a mini cupcake both with a basic vanilla cake. The bigger cake is coated in chocolate frosting dipped in Oreo cookie crumbs. The mini cupcakes are frosted with vanilla (with a mini marshmallow underneath to help give the nose some dimension) and decorated with black icing and mini chocolate chips for the eyes. The arms are halved Oreo’s with white icing for the paws, and I found chocolate Cheerios for the ears! (I looked for “Oreo-O’s” which may or may not exist anymore. The last time I remember seeing them was probably the mid 90′s).

& Of course they were a hit! For Tucker’s “birthday craft” (Yeah, I make up excuses to craft with them on a weekly-ish basis) we made our own root beer! It was so much fun, I can’t wait to try it! That post will be coming soon, along with another Tea Talk and some pictures from this weekends’ Vegfest!

Brrr, it’s almost May and I had to light a fire tonight. With the boys’ family on vacation this week I finally have some free time, so Collin & are planning on heading to Amherst tomorrow. I’m feeling ambitious about it, but there’s supposed to be thunderstorms all day. I refuse to let them get in my way. I’m determined to find as many faces as possible, eat too much of the food that I’ve been missing, and explore all the nooks & crannies I love about that place, rain or shine. Hopefully it will be nice enough to bring my camera!

xoxo,
katie

Tea Talk: Nate

This Tea Talk is with my truly amazing friend Nate. He is definately a fellow crafter & foodie and his current passion is pizza! Check out his interview to get some good cooking tips, and maybe one day I’ll get him to give me that dough recipe! 

TEA TALK

introduce yourself!
Me? Nate Rossi. Entrepreneur. Wine Enthusiast. Avid Cyclist.
 
What’s your cup of tea?
The Dream? To someday open my own gourmet pizza restaurant. I would call myself an artist. Pizza is my medium and your palate, the canvas.

SLIP STITCH
What’s your favorite materials or ingredients to work with?
It’s all about the dough. Live and die by the dough. Without the right dough everything goes to shit. I make my own and only with King Arthur flour.

What’s a good crafting or cooking tip?
If cooking at home, turn your oven to BROIL for the final 2 minutes, and don’t over-sauce.

BRAIN FOOD
Where do you find your inspiration & ideas?
I usually start with one ingredient and craft my pizza around that. ie: Curry, or tater tots, or mock eel.

What’s on your crafting/cooking soundtrack?
The Decemberists. The Arcade Fire. Maybe a little Talking Heads.

FULL PLATE
What’s a craft or meal you’ve always been meaning to try but haven’t gotten around to?
I haven’t tried alot of tofu. I would like to incorporate some tofu or soy products into my repertoire.

What’s your favorite easy meal or project that should that everyone know about?
 Never underestimate peperoni. Nothing is as great as  a great pepperoni pizza. Go to your deli and get “sandwich” pepperoni. about 2″ diameter.

LEFTOVERS
What’s the best thing to do with your scraps?

Compost! seriously, come on?

What’s something you can’t live without?
Cheese! A world without cheese is not a world worth living in.

CRAFT CIRCLE
How do you know me or how did you find me?
We are forever friends.

What other blogs are you reading on the regular?
FailBlog.org

LAST BITE
have any websites to promote, or ways we can find you?
no.

CAST OFF
 Is Hufu a real thing? Can you buy it places? I have conceptualized a “Soylent Greens” Pizza  around Hufu (a human meat substitute). JK… sort of…