Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Vanilla Birthday Cake


All dressed up for the Pyrate's 13th birthday party!!! This full sheet version requires 6 times the recipe below.

This buttery delish cake will not disappoint.  I made it for the first time a few weeks ago for the Pyrate's birthday dinner and everyone loved it!  I filled it with sun-sweet fresh organic strawberries and bavarian cream using vegetable gelatin instead of traditional gelatin, and a butter cream frosting on the outside with a few drops of organic vegetable food colors to represent the concrete color of the "skate park".  The sprinkles are from a local cake decorating supply store... they are simply gold, silver, and dark green sugar crystals.   You can frost or glaze this cake however you like, or not at all!  It's wonderful on its own, or even with a few berries macerated in a tablespoon or so of demerara sugar to release their juice and make a light syrup.  As I was decorating this cake we snacked on the uneven edges I'd trimmed off before frosting. De-lish!


The best cake recipes I've had usually call for cake flour which basically is bleached all purpose flour that has been sifted 7 times, so to stay on point, I took my unbleached flour through a sifter 7 times.  It only took a couple minutes to do this and the light fluffy texture of the cake is worth the effort.  
This recipe is for two 9 inch round cake layers.  For the double decker full sheet cake I made above we multiplied this recipe by three for each layer so a total of 6 times the recipe.    Unless you have a restaurant style kitchen setup I don't recommend trying to do more than a triple batch of batter at once.  You can easily end up over mixing and your cake will be like a brick!  DON'T DO IT!!  You'll be sorry if you go to all the trouble to make those huge layers and discover it's dry and tough and not like you want it.  Stick with 3 or less multiplied batches at a time.  

Here we go! 

VANILLA BIRTHDAY CAKE 

The players:

1 3/4 cups Unbleached Organic White Flour sifted 7 times. 2 tsp Baking Powder. 1/4 tsp Sea Salt. 1/2 cups Unsalted Organic Butter.  1 cup Turbinado, Demerara, or Evaporated Cane Juice.   2 Organic free range brown Eggs, whites and yolks separated.  1 tsp pure Vanilla extract. 1/2 cup Organic 2 % Milk. 1/8 tsp Cream of Tartar.



The plan:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and generously butter two 9 inch round cake pans.  Line the bottom of pans with parchment paper then butter paper as well.
1. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. 
2. In an electric mixer bowl, beat butter til soft. 
3. Add 3/4 of sugar to butter and beat again til fluffy
4. Add yolks 1 at a time. 
5. Add vanilla and beat til combined. 
6. Add flour and milk alternately in 3 additions beginning and ending with flour. 
7. In another bowl, whisk egg whites til foamy. 
8. Add cream of tartar & beat whites til soft peaks form. 
9. Gradually add the rest of the sugar to egg whites and beat til stiff peaks form.
10. Fold about a third of the whites into the batter to lighten up the batter. 
11. Fold in another third til just mixed in. 
12. Fold in the rest of the whites into the batter being careful not to over mix. 
13. Fill pans and smooth the surfaces with an offset spatula. 
14. Bake on the center rack in your preheated oven for about 15 minutes then check with a toothpick in the center.  If it comes out clean it's done.
15.  Cool in pan at least half an hour before inverting onto rack to cool completely.


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Deacon Fielder Strikes Again...Boston Fielder and his Muthawit Orchestra


I came to be acquainted with the inimitable Boston Fielder about half a decade ago, believe it or not, on Myspace.  I'd been writing a blog there while promoting my music and building up a following which consisted of myspacers worldwide.  We were mutual fans of each others music.  

At some point I'd posted a blog chronicling a particularly challenging period in my journey and the next day, in my inbox there was this message from him... It was raw, straightforward, scolding, as if he'd ordained himself an authority on the subject of Brig Feltus, and it was a profound moment for me.   I'm telling you this up front because there's no use in pretending to be unbiased when it comes to Boston Fielder, the Muthawit Orchestra, or Underground Railroad Broadcasting Alternatives, aka URB ALT.   We have been devoted friends for longer than linear time can define.  We knew each other in another lifetime even.  I'm sure of it.  I am a proud member of the URB ALT Family.  

 I'm telling you up front because though this is meant to spread the word about the art this man creates, it is unabashedly personal.  Let my honesty about this fact represent my confidence that what you will experience will more than justify my love of all things Muthawit!
So by all means, explore for yourself when you're done here.  You'll find me to be an honest report on the virtues of the man and his art.  I am confident of that much. 
The music of Muthawit Orchestra will not be contained in the structure of conventional musical genre descriptions.  But, oh... it is in every way music, encompassing all genres and none all at once... neo-classic, jazz, rock, funk, bluegrass, gospel, experimental, metal, psychedelic, blues, electronica...and it's own indescribable something-or-other which can only be experienced and never explained.  You can forget about trying to put this man's art into a box and tying it up in a nice neat bow.  If there is any thematic, that be it. 

You will be challenged.  You will be challenged to free your mind, to let go of your own preconditioning, break loose of the chains of stereotype, archetype, and cultural characterization.   The Muthawit orchestra's sound is beautiful noise that will touch your most guttural conscience and your most ethereal dream scapes as well.  It is frightening and sexy and comforting and confusing truth all wrapped up in compositions you can relate to despite your own conditioning.  If you are afraid of your tail feathers shaking, do not listen.  If you are afraid of arousal, do not listen.  If you fear your own emotions, this is not music for you.  Go and have a cup of tea and carry on. 

Every time I listen to this music I rejoice.  lol... I choose my friends wisely, you see...  

URB ALT is also Mr. Fielder's brainchild... a community of artists, filmmakers, photographers, poets, musicians, and their admiring relatives and friends, all attempting to live on the cutting edge of free thought and inspiration.   For me personally it has been a place where I can get to know others like me... alternative thinkers who don't quite fit the manufactured grooves of this groupthink society we all live in.    He will say differently but for me it is a movement, by pure definition of the term.   You see, I have been moved more than once since becoming a member of URB ALT.  Movement is the nature of the beast!  
Boston's orchestra ensemble Muthawit releases its next album soon and I am honored to have been one of the first to hear its jewels pre-mastering and I couldn't wait til the proper time, so I'm telling you all about it now and getting a jump on all the promotional hype that's coming down the road closer to release date.  

As far as I'm concerned, the character of the artist will tell you a lot about their art.  This man is extraordinary in every way that I know him, and has many layers of depth, not to be digested all at once.  
Being his friend is a constant temptation to be greedy. There's stuff I just intuitively know about him but don't have to think about most of the time because it's beneath the surface.  His surfaces, when you meet him, are slow, and easy going, and gentle, just like his southern drawl.  
But don't be deceived.  Every now and then he says something or does something and I'm reminded about that other stuff beneath his skin... things that can be intimidating when one considers to look straight on.  
(Do you think people understand you? Not really. If they did they'd run...)
I gotta look with sunglasses, because he's like the sun.  Most know the sun is strong, so we resist the urge to look at it straight on.  The timid don't bother looking at all, won't even stand naked in its rays for fear of getting cancer, and in the process end up with vitamin deficiencies because of it. The foolish, in their greed, forget and try to look straight into it, and end up with scorched corneas.  
That's what he's like.  Seductive ease on the surface, and raging nuclear energy underneath!  His music is evidence of all that stuff beneath the surface, organized a bit, and recorded for posterity, which is a good thing because his sub-surface stuff evidently doesn't like repeat it self in order to keep you on your toes!

As if to prove my point, while I was writing this last bit a minute ago Fielder emailed me a disclaimer warning me not to hold him to his answers because he plans to contradict himself regularly over the next few months... Schizophrenia Convenia he calls it apparently.. ( one of a thousand Bostonisms I've had the pleasure of cracking up over all these years.)  THEN  a minute or two later, a post-post-disclaimer requesting to add Igor Stravinsky, Samuel R. Delany, and Jack Kirby to his influence list... Did I ask for an influence list? Perhaps he was referring to his heroes... Uncle Baldy, and Co...  He also informed me that this is one of a handful (literally) of interviews he's ever allowed. 

What? I haven't said much of anything about the new album? Perhaps you should go back and read this posting again and pay attention this time. 
There's an appetizer on URB ALT's Sampler Dos which was just made available (for free!!) recently.  Come back after the interview and click the link to get to it! 
URB ALT Sampler Dos
Other than that?  You'll just have to wait!




Below is a quicky email interview I sprung on him today without warning.  These are his off-the cuff answers.  Thank you Boston for your friendship, for your music, for your wisdom, and for your most admirable existence!!   May your purse reach you...

What is Muthawit? A loving homage to my elders, peers, children and folks who use common sense.  
When did you start Muthawit? When I was 7 years old.
What was your inspiration for its creation?  My grandmother's singing voice and my grandfather's speaking voice.
What is the Urb Alt Movement?  Following the North Star is a movement that inspires me personally but I wouldn't call URB ALT a movement.  The financial component would make that hypocrisy.
What makes the Urb Alt Movement important in these times?  I don't know that URB ALT is important.  Is making people feel good about themselves and others enough to say that it's important?  Hmm. 
Would you compare Urb Alt with other movements in music history? Pouring glass as slowly as possible into a pitcher.
What kind of people are participating in your movement?  People who probably don't consider it a movement because movements tend to have a head, the head is lopped off by history and then it dies, is placed in a museum or cryogenically frozen in a state of mediocrity.
Who are your musical heroes past and present day?  Uncle Baldy, Marvin Gaye, Alice Coltrane and that old dude who used to sit on the front row of the church is Tupelo and chanted "Yap, Yeah, Yap, Yeah" during Reverend Pulliam's sermon.
In 10 lines of PROSE or less, describe your musical compositions in poem. "Beauty. Booty. Baby. Bounty. BOOM."
Do you think people understand you?  Not really.  If they did they'd run.
Does being understood matter to you on a personal level?  It means everything and nothing.  Too much to do.
Does it (being understood)matter to the successful spreading of the music?  Only if the music is good does it matter and even then pirates will hijack it on the seas of change before the purse reaches the hands of the chosen.
What do you believe your art contributes to the world?  Joyful cacophony and a good reason to get out of bed or stay in bed depending on the situation.
Is there a subject matter you are afraid to write about?  No.
Is there a subject matter you love to write about?  No.
What is the story behind your new album's title Men and Women?  The death of individualism, the rise of the IRS in the micromechanics of governing and the joy of watching tadpoles swim downstream.
What was the most joyful moment in creating the music on this album?  Mixing PMS Junkie.  It was a bloody good time.
What challenges did you face in making this album?  Tenant revolt.
Is your music influenced by any esoteric or ethereal experiences?  Mainly dead people who walk with us and share our experiences.  They like to dance and eat popcorn.
Did you have any experiences of transcendance during the creation of the music on Men and Women? If so, explain.  I got regular sleep for the first time in well over a year due to roommate overhaul.  It released a torrent of positively kinetic energy.
Which song is your favorite and why? What's it about?  My favorite didn't make the album cause it hasn't been written yet.  It'll be the greatest song ever written in history.  Better than anything Lennon and McCartney or Liberace could produce on their best day.
When will the album be available in stores?  May 9th.  Mutha's Day.
What are your thoughts on overcoming incomplete paradigms in life?  A paradigm by nature is complete.  It's a simple signpost of change that has served it's purpose.
What are you dreaming up for the near future artistically?  Children.
What are you dreaming up for the near future personally?  Protection.

LOVE

CAN YOU STILL LOVE ME IF WE DISAGREE ON SOME FUNDAMENTAL LEVEL?
Love is one of life's basic principles of effective living.
We must love each other, even as we hate deplorable behavior. It takes discipline.
So now, what of your neighbor, or the driver who cut you off on the freeway, the teacher you cant seeme to please, or the head of the NRA?
I don't know about you, but my body is made up of dna that was born in a place known to be the very womb of the human race...
I am born into this world from a sacred origin, and there is no deed, no offens, no ill word that can sully my holy title!
I am God's child, my very atoms passed through vessels of the spirits of my ancestors, born of the land Africa, thus so am I!
My ability to love, be loyal, be honorable, be responsible, work hard, be honest, do not depend on the actions of others.
I manifest these things because they represent that sacred identity in me, the pure that transcends this body and its mind engine.
Do you see your reflection? In the darkest of battles, love is the sharpest of swords, the atomic neutralizer, the great peacemaker.
Today, and every day, I encourage you to LOVE.
Yourself, others, no matter the situation, let your actions be lead by love.
Tomorrow? Honesty.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Brig Feltus Live at Little Temple 4/29

So, next show on the calendar!!  Hope to see you there if you're in town!!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Pyrate Turns 13

So, on this past Friday, the Pyrate turned 13... I am officially the mother of a teenager.  Wow.  There have been moments over this last year when he spoke to me and that newly acquired deep toned voice shocked me... made me feel pangs of longing for the squeak I was so accustomed to.  But as life would have it, things do indeed change... My son, sweet, kind, funny, patient, and super-smart... is becoming a young man, facial hair and all.  Yikes.  

We spent the entire weekend celebrating with family and friends, starting with Friday evening.  I made his cake during the day... an organic creation: vanilla cake with bavarian cream and fresh strawberry filling, with buttercream frosting and a skater dude theme, made from scratch and decorated by hand, like I do every year!  (recipe will come in a later posting this week) 
The cake was a big hit when presented at the end of dinner!   I know there'll come a day in the near future when I won't be able to do this for him because he'll be off somewhere on an ocean somewhere saving a shark or something... so I'm enjoying these times while I still have them...

The evening's dinner celebration included 35 family members and close friends, and both the Pyrate and I were so moved by how many showed up.  The chain of tables the restaurant put together was so long you had to either call via phone or actually get up and walk to the other end to talk to someone there.  We had good food, lots of laughs and fun all around. 


The night was highlighted by the Pyrate reading a speech he wrote about coming of age, and his views of his life past, present, and future.   I've included it below because it was too loud in the restaurant for the people at the other end of the table to actually hear what he was saying, and also there are others who couldn't be there who the Pyrate would love to share this speech with.  So at the end of this post is that speech.  My son, he amazes me... to no end, how thoughtful and conscious he is.   




That night, three of his closest friends slept over and we got up early the next morning and went to a really cool skate park where we met up with the Pyrates cousins.  We spent the whole day there!  I made sandwiches:  turkey/avocado/spinach, curry chicken salad, and salami/sopressato with cherry preserves vinaigrette, (all recipes coming later this week) on artisan breads bought at a local bakery the day before... organic kettle chips, kashi chocolate chip cookies, and a fruit punch I made from cranberry juice, cherry juice, and fresh squeezed lemons. (recipes later this week). 
The boys had a ball, skating their butts off.  It was interesting to watch them overcome their fears and try tricks they hadn't tried before, and how they supported each other, cheering each other on, making sure no one got left behind.  Very impressive.  I am blessed that my son has such cool friends as these young men. 


All in all, it was a fantastic day!  The sun was shining, there was a gentle breeze, the spring flowers were blooming... The grown ups played frisbee and entertained each other with silly jokes.  I think I might be doing a few more picnics during the warm seasons this year... I had a lot of fun!  That is, until the gangsta squirrels decided to eat our precious leftover birthday cake!!!!!  ARRRRGH!
So, that's how it was.  I survived this better than I thought I would.  I only cried once, and that was out of the pride swelling up inside me as the Pyrate read his speech at dinner.   Another birthday past.  The weekend was over... his friends gone home...  back to life... open house at school tonight.... 
Meanwhile, the Pyrate's coming of age speech :

Maxim Abraham-Klaus Feltus Adamec Recke

    March 19, 1997. Appx. time: 13:00 Pacific Time. I was born. I am the child of Brigette Ruenette Feltus and Andre Recke. This was the beginning of my life. My mother’s cultural history, African American and Native American in heritage, dates back several generations here in America… the last two here in Los Angees.  My father’s story is new to this country, since he moved here just before I was born, and he grew up in a small town in the country side of Bavaria, Germany.    I think that I represent the American part of my heritage more than my German side, one of the largest reasons being that I live in the U.S., so I do not speak much German. I haven’t spent much time there, so I don’t know much about the rest of the German culture.
    I was born into a family filled with creative people. I have relatives that have a myriad of professions, from muralists to singers in bands. My mother was the latter of the two, was also once a makeup artist and hairstylist, then a singer/songwriter, and soon an author of her own cookbook!  My father is a manager in the music industry, where he has helped many artists to go after their dreams, and he is also a very good bass guitarist.  My grandparents are also artistic.  My granny plays piano, writes music, and teaches young people to play.  My paw paw is an amazing cartoonist, sculptor, and landscape architect.  Both of my great grandmothers were creative, one played piano, and was a sought after seamstress, the other a poet and writer.  Even my Opa in Germany is pretty crafty with his hands, having made many of the toys my dad played with as a boy… My family’s creativity encourages me to express my talent like the rest of my relatives. It was inevitable that I would be a very creative person. I love music, art, and science. I wish to create and advance the worlds of all three someday.  I am on my way now in my everyday life while I draw, practice guitar and saxophone, and study the field of marine biology.
    I think that I have some good qualities as a human being. I can see from many different points of view, yet I have a mind of my own and can think for myself. I also think that I am very intelligent and a fast learner. I think that I am fun to be around. I want to be honest, too, but sometimes I worry about what people will think of me if I tell the truth.
    I wish to be the one that doesn’t blend in, the one that doesn’t bend to the seeming force of peer pressure. I want be original, authentically me.  I want to do the best that I can, even though sometimes I don’t show it. But now that I look back on my mistakes, most of them could have been avoided. And I don’t want to be the one who had a lot of potential, but never gets anywhere. I believe that that would be a sin.

I love many things. I love my mother, my father, my stepfather and my stepmom Andreas and Shauney, my family, my best friends. I love the ocean, and everything in it. I have no idea why I love the ocean so much. I guess it’s one of those things that is just branded into your brain. I guess it might be because the ocean is the closest thing to pure life and harmony that we can get here on this planet.  I think it’s interesting that we know more about outerspace than we do about something on our own planet, the ocean.  Most of the earth’s organisms live in the ocean, including a lot of the oxygen producing plants on earth.  I plan to explore these things for the rest of my life.
I love my parents. They have stuck with me through hard times, especially my mother. I think its because she knows what its like to grow up mostly without a father in her home. She has always taken care of me, making sure to raise me right. She is always there when I’m feeling down. I love my mom.  I love my dad too.  He’s a really good person, fun to be around, and he works hard  so that I can have a good life.  I love my dad.
     I believe in many things. I believe in peace on earth, and an end to world hunger. I also believe that some religions do not truly grasp the entire concept of the universe, and teach everyone that if it isn’t mentioned in whatever holy book that religion might follow, its not possible. What about the flight of man? A few hundred years ago, Christians thought that the flight of man was blasphemy and anyone who tried to achieve this feat was a devil-worshipper. But now that we have planes, we all know that the church isn’t right about everything. I do believe in God, but I do not believe anything about  the corrupt aspects of any organized religion.
  
Today is just the beginning of another chapter in my life. It will be hard sometimes, but I want to make it through with a smile on my face. I want to be that kid who stood out, the one who refused to give in to negativity. I believe that I will succeed in changing the world, in some substantial way.
When I get older, I want to change the world. I want to try and open peoples’ eyes to pollution and the fact that the human race will cease to exist if we continue on this path of destruction, along with the rest of our fellow organisms. There are many living things suffering in the world. I also want to help to save the ones who need help. I want to be a part of the revolution that changes how people think about the earth in general forever.
    I owe the fact that I have such a good life to a lot of people. For example, my teachers and my whole gigantic family. They are the reason that I am who I am today, even though I might think they are just giving me a hard time. I know I’ll look back and thank them all. So I’m just gonna get it over with now while I have the chance.  Thanks to all of you and those who are not here for all the ways you have made my life a good one so far.  I am blessed and I thank God for you all.
My mom always reminds me that today, already while I’m still very young, I can already make a difference by setting an example with my friends, by being kind, helpful, productive, and thoughtful.  Sometimes it’s not easy to be all those things, especially when you come int contact with so many people not trying to be those things.  But I try anyway.  It’s challenging because there’s a price for all of this.  I often stand out like a sore thumb and kids sometimes make fun of me.  But I just try to remember what everyone who really matters tells me… No one can define who I am, but me.  There is a poem by William Ernest Henley called Invictus.  My mom shared it with me recently.  Apparently Nelson Mandela would recite this poem daily to himself when he was all those years in prison work camps.  Maybe this will help me like it helped him to remember that I am the captain of my own destiny. 

Invictus
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Cook 'n Dine with Brig Feltus

What happens when you learn how capitalism has completely corrupted the way we eat in this country?  You buy less processed foods.  You stop feeding your kids fast food.  You start educating yourself, and you try to cook more.  You buy fresh produce and meats from the supermarket and prepare them yourself. 

Are you safe then?  Well, no, it seems the horrifying truth is no.  Even if you do these things you are exposing your body to foods riddled with pesticides, genetical engineering, chemical fertilizers, hormones, and antibiotics.  That's just for starters.  The horror story gets worse because beyond these very tangible and obvious crimes against humanity, we are purchasing meats that come from animals raised in the most atrociously unnatural conditions in the name of mass production and high yield.  Animals are being fed foods they would never normally eat because those foods are cheaper, and because those foods manipulate the animal's metabolism, making them grow faster... up to 3 times what they would have without any manipulation. 
Produce is plucked green and unripe before the sun has gifted it with the nutrients, color, and flavor, just so that it can survive its journeys to far away places where that produce may not be growing at that time of year.  It's often treated with chemical gases once arrived, so as to create artificial ripeness.  This is why fruit from a tree in your yard tastes so different from fruit bought at your local big chain supermarket.  
We eat this food without knowing... thinking if we cook fresh food, we're doing good by our families... not understanding the growth hormones given to animals is being ingested when we eat them and our children are reaching puberty at younger and younger ages because of it.... not understanding why when we buy fruit in the grocery store the flavor is so hit and miss.... not understanding that there is very little if any research to determine what the consequences are to eating genetically engineered foods.... meanwhile cancer, diabetes, autism, immune disorders, and hundreds of other ailments continue to plague us and we don't know how we get them.

I'm only so far talking about those of us who try to do good. I don't even want to get into what's in all the packaged foods and fast food we eat in this country.  Why the hell are we in such a hurry anyway?  Greed is killing us.  It's the other name for capitalism and convenience,  if you really think about it and it's killing us one bite at a time. 
I am always outraged at the way you can walk into a grocery store and there can be two seemingly identical items on a shelf, sometimes from the same corporate source, one says 'organic'  the other not.  The organic is always more expensive.  It's preposterous.  Why, after all should it cost more to get your food the old fashioned way, with less chemicals, less pesticides, less interference in general?  Shouldn't it be if we mess with it less, it would be cheaper?  Wouldn't it make sense that if the produce grew an hour drive away, it would cost less than the one imported from South America???  Well, unfortunately, the way our food system is set up, there's no way for organic to compete on a large scale.  So we reject it.  Throw our hands up and give in to the poison... We are literally drinking the koolaid and we don't even realize it. 
So what then?  What happens when you realize this?  Well, in my case, I had the opportunity to live in other countries where the food systems are not all about capitalism. 


They might be fascinated by our bright colors and shiny flashy labels, but back home in their countries they do things a little differently than we do.
When I was living in Germany 13 years ago, there was perhaps one or two supermarkets in the cities I lived in and they weren't very popular.  Why not?  They were not needed. They were really just a novelty you could find in the really big cities where there were a lot of Americanized amenities.  That's what they call it... Americanized.... Shameful...

But again, those stores were novelties, mostly marketed towards homesick expatriots living there or poor souls who somehow thought anything Americanized was cool. 
The average person didn't go there.  It wasn't not as convenient, as inexpensive, as fresh as what they could find right outside the door to their home...
Each little neighborhood... I'm talking about a couple of blocks square... had a butcher who got his meats from the farmer who raised it, somewhere within 30-50 miles on the outskirts of town, and he received it whole and cut it into the various cuts of meat himself on the premises and sold it within the same week... each had a produce stand (or two) where you could buy fresh fruits and vegetables grown nearby... yes, they still had bananas from south america and such, but the majority of the produce came from a farm close by... and if it was out of season, they didn't have it.... simple as that... I remember thinking to myself I must be tripping off of culture shock or something because I could have sworn that the vegetables tasted better and I didn't understand at the time why... each neighborhood had a bakery with fresh baked bread and such.... and if you wanted things like cereal or other packaged foods you'd go to a store that pretty much only sold that kind of stuff... even there, was no frosted flakes, cocoa puffs, cap'n crunch, or honey bunches of oats.... there were different sorts of whole grain cereals, oats, grits, wheat meal, muesli, and the occasional granola... there you could also buy your dairy products which came from a farm which was, again within 30-50 miles of the city you were in... Cheese could be bought there too, but you could get that fresher and better quality at the cheese monger in your neighborhood.  All of these would be within easily 5 minutes walking distance and everyone owned one of those rolling market baskets that fold up like an umbrella.  People didn't even often drive to get to these places. 

It was customary to buy only what you'd use in the next couple of days and that was fine because you knew that at any time, on your way in from work or school you could stop through and pick up fresh items.  
Foods didn't have to be advertised as organic because it was the law that they be that.  They didn't need not to be because the farmers could manage to keep up with their livestock... enough to supply just the butchers in their town, and not an entire country.  By the way the entire country is smaller than the state of texas...

Did you  know that in America there used to be several dozen suppliers of meat?  Now there are about a handful... yes, actually less than 5 major meat suppliers in the entire country!  Do you know what that means?  These companies have streamlined the raising, feeding, and production of meat in this country in such a way that they can cost effectively supply a country that is probably 50 times the size of Germany!!!   You can imagine the atrocities without actually seeing them with your own eyes. 


In countries abroad, the way they produce their food is more sensible, safer, less expensive, and truly, truly more convenient and NO ONE IS COMPLAINING!  Yes, logistically it means they eat less animal products than we do.  We eat too much animal products anyway... feeding the greed in us... But the truth should hurt!

 Here, you can buy a cut of meat and there is no regulation that says they have to tell you if it has been treated, for example as some ground meats with fillers are, with ammonia... or to inform you of whether or not the meat is from a cloned animal.  Or whether the 3 lb chicken you're buying has been fed animal waste products mixed in its meal and  is really 2 lbs and the rest is salt water injected into it to make it look more plump.... (by the way, they're selling it to you by the pound and you're paying for that pound of salt water... basically paying to be lied to... )  Our regulations are in reverse.  There are regulations for those claiming to be organic but none saying that non-organic food producers have to disclose anything... Okay, they disclose "ingredients" but nothing about the processing, nothing about the growth, nothing about the pesticides, hormones or antibiotics... because we would be outraged! 


So what now?  In my case, I am now slowly weening my family off of non-organic eating habits.  We are shopping farmer's markets for produce when we can and buy from the organic section in the supermarket.  We're eating less meat because it's expensive to buy free range, grass fed, hormone free, antibiotic free animal products.  We also shop at small bodega type markets which we know buy their fresh foods locally within our state.  
I cook more often.  I seldom eat at fast food places anymore except in an emergency, and I try to hit up one such as Chipotle which is a known practitioner of sustainable foodsWe are not religious about all of this.  But everytime I buy food, I am conscious now.  I am aware now.  I don't ever put anything in my mouth without understanding the consequences.  It is a matter of awareness. 

And this is how Cook 'n Dine with Brig Feltus was born.  I wanted to share what I'm learning with people who would listen.  We're making it fun by visiting farmer's markets, watching films, cooking together, and then dining together. 

The first one was a great success, with a sold out attendance and raves afterward.  We went to a farmer's market, watched a film about farmers markets around the country, and then cooked a delicious Sunday Brunch style meal. 

This month, we'll be headed out early in the morning to a local organic farm that supplies fresh produce to high end restaurants and farmer's markets in Los Angeles county.   We'll be watching Food Inc.  and then cooking with the foods we bring back from the farm. 
If you are an Los Angeles local and any of this post inspires or moves you to make a change in your own life, please join us!  Let's learn together and spread this information to others that we love.  As corruption crumbles this obscene way of life all around us, just like in other living species, only the fittest will survive.  I don't intend to be among the feeble.  I intend to be among the strong, and  I'm starting with this small baby step and I hope you'll take it with me. 
Monthly sessions can be attended by signing up at brigfeltuscookndine@earthlink.net
You can also join our facebook group to stay in the loop regarding future events.
Co-Ed Cook 'n Dine with Brig Feltus group page on Facebook
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