Tuesday, September 22, 2015

50 years after college graduation

50 years after college graduation

1965 After graduation, I found a job in New York City. Nothing worth pursuing. I saw Jay, we parted ways, we….
1966 got married. He was already in the Army, and by September he was on his way to Vietnam, with enough sense to get office work. I got another job while I lived with my parents. We meet in Honolulu for a week – and his parents came too.
1967 Trip to Japan to see Jay shortly after our 1st anniversary. In September, Jay returns, I quit the job and start subbing in Jr High. Not so good with no training! We share an interest in cooking, which becomes a passion.
1969, 1970, 1973, 1975 and 1979 – children arrive and bump the cooking passion to #2. We move from apartment to apartment to house. I’m a happy housewife, mostly, and gardener.
1977 We become initiates of an Indian path which shapes and comforts me. I embrace vegetarian eating and cooking with pleasure.
1978 As an involved co-op member, I see what’s happening in the nascent natural food products on the market, and Jay pushes me when I say I can do better (and at lower cost).  I develop a line of mixes which we find a packer for, and a marketing direction. Manna Meals is born!
1981 The business has reached a stage where we and our 2 sales people decide to become partners in a natural food store in New Hampshire. We pack up, put the house on the market, and (coincidentally) fulfill my longtime vision of living in a small college town in New England, in sight of mountains. Foodstuffs in Keene NH is the right place for us!
We are excited to be there, doing that. The kids love the new freedom they have. However, our inexperience leads to letting a partner overstock and overspend, to the point where we had to buy him out. The other partner went, after a couple years (and an egg throwing episode by his wife… but that’s not ‘about’ me).
I gradually became more and more involved in running the business, and when we opened a 2nd store, completely took on the management – after being bookkeeper, produce manager, deli manager, grocery buyer, etc. Nice run up the ladder.
More years like that: business growing and changing, a restaurant called Butternuts that people still talk about, kids growing and changing. The words of our first pediatrician, ‘Little children, little problems’ are proven true over and over.
1975, 1994, 1996, 1998 – I visit Israel, where my sister and her family live. First with 2 children, pregnant; then for the oldest son’s wedding; then for 1st and 2nd grandchildren.

More of the same, until 2010 when we retired. By this time, all of the kids were on their own, populating the world with our grandchildren.
I returned to cooking with a new sense of competence and freedom. I found a website where some of my original recipes are posted (www.food52.com, as ‘susan g’). We took short trips around New England, finding large and small museums with treasures in towns with good restaurants. I read a lot in a very undisciplined way, leaning and enjoying virtual travel through time and space. I take a variety of courses, from the Great Courses company and on Coursera.
We live in an even smaller town near Keene, in a house with beautiful trees that preclude lawn or garden. At the price of recurring power outages, I love the sight of the changing seasons through our windows and outside our doors.
My life has not been one that has changed the world, but I know I have changed or improved some people’s lives. We have become involved again in Judaism on the small close scale of a Chavurah group. I am grateful for my ‘own’ in-house St Johnnie who still has opinions and retains a perceptive view of what we read and hear, and even if I don’t agree with him, he can provide the stimulus to open my mind.

After 49 years of marriage, we are parents to 4, in-laws to 4 more, grandparents to 10, and happy to have each other. Age has brought its intimations of a  physical body yielding to stress. In the past year I have had a mild stroke and Bell’s Palsy, as well as served as caregiver to Jay during a year of cancer surgery and after his recent stroke.  50 years after our St John’s graduation, I am grateful to the college for opening my mind, opening up worlds of ‘great’ thought in great books, and (I think) teaching me to listen with a critical mind, and sort what is important from what is less so. 

Written for a collection of personal essays, Class of 1965, St. John's College, Annapolis MD

Saturday, May 16, 2015


I might be an anomaly. I’m a vegetarian who seeks out meat recipes. Selectively, yes.. but why?

It’s all about taste. I am lured by the seductive taste and smell - not of the meat (or chicken or seafood) itself, but the techniques of cooking and the fabulous sauces I discover. However I get there, I want to share the tagines, curries, and chilis, the foods of every continent and cuisine. I want to do it without the lamb, chicken or beef.

It’s all about nutrition. We eat to live, we live to eat, and both must be considered. Sometimes all I have to do is take out the meat, and there’s still a meal in the works. I like to look at the balance of everything that goes with the meal so that all the parts leave me well fed.

It’s all about satisfaction. More than a full feeling, I love to have the pleasure of the aftertaste.  I like my house to hold on to the scent of spices, or the chemistry of the sauce in a frying pan or oven. Sometimes, there’s the satisfaction that I have been able to recreate a recipe to my own needs and still retain the clarity and purpose of the original.

Some of my favorites from The Perfect Pantry are the ones I’ve redirected for my vegetarian meals: Southwestern Beef Brisket and Nasi Goreng are two that I enjoy with only a little shift of ingredients. Then there’s Floribean Chicken Chili: first I omitted the chicken, since both beans and (vegetarian) sausage were enough for me. I wanted to taste those Florida-Caribbean flavors! Delicious, but I kept experimenting… if you’d like to see how it is now, here’s the adapted, still evolving, recipe.


Broth: Put ½ onion and 1 carrot (cut in rough chunks), 2 bay leaves, 1 tsp  ground cumin, 1 tsp ground coriander, 1 tsp chili powder, 4 black peppercorns in a pot with 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes. Strain into a container, pressing out as much liquid as you can.

Saute: Cut into ½” dice 1 sweet pepper (red or green or a combination), ½ onion, 1 medium sweet potato; 1-2 carrots sliced diagonally, ½”. In your soup pot, saute vegetables in 1 Tb neutral oil (like sunflower or canola) until they start to soften. Stir in ½ tsp crushed chiles, ¼ tsp chipotle powder (or 1 chile in adobo), 2 tsp ground cumin, 2 tsp ground coriander, 2 tsp chili powder, 1-2 spicy vegetarian sausages cut in ½” pieces. Stir for 1-2 minutes to release the fragrance.

Chili:  Add to the pot the strained broth, 14 oz crushed tomatoes, 1 T red wine vinegar, 1 T kecap manis, 1 ½ cup cooked pinto or black beans (or 1 15 oz can). Simmer ½ hour.

Thicken: Sprinkle 1-2 T Goya Masa Rica (or cornstarch dissolved in some of the liquid).  Simmer 5 minutes. If not thick enough for you, you can increase the amount or evaporate some of the liquid.

Finish: Stir in juice of ½ lime, sprinkle with ¼ cup chopped cilantro.
The original recipe on The Perfect Pantry suggests wonderful garnishes - sour cream, chopped mango, diced tomatoes, grated cheese.

Makes about 2 quarts

Written as a guest post for www.theperfectpantry.com 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013


I am gluten intolerant. It’s not that I hate Ralph Gluten who lives next door to me. I just can’t eat wheat, barley, rye, spelt, kamut or oats. These grains contain gluten, the protein that makes bread rise. I have an inability to digest gluten, so it’s not absorbed in the small intestine and therefore leads to many of the following gastrointestinal symptoms: stomach pain, bloating, distention, diarrhea, constipation, nausea, vomiting, foul stools, weight loss, and flatulence. Other nonintestinal symptoms are: irritability, back pain, depression, hair loss, vitamin deficiency, anemia, bone pain, fatigue, weakness and more.
Gluten intolerance is specifically known as Celiac disease, an autoimmune disease damaging the vilii (the small projections) of the small intestine. This injuring of the vilii leads to years of recurrence of the symptoms I have already outlined. The disease can rear its ugly head any time, from infancy to late adulthood. Today this often misdiagnosed disease is becoming more and more prevalent as evidenced by expanding gluten free sections of most major supermarket chains across the country. One out of every 133 people has Celiac. So there are more than 2,000,000 people walking around with the disease, 97% of which are still undiagnosed. In addition to the symptoms I’ve already enumerated Celiac can lead to arthritis, systemic lupus, certain intestinal cancers, Down’s syndrome, lactose intolerance, infertility, headaches, psychological dysfunctions, thyroid disease and diabetes. Celiac is primarily a disease in Caucasians and those of European ancestry. Women are more prone to inheriting it than are men.
I am 69 years old and was diagnosed with Celiac at a very early age. My parents put me on a gluten free diet during the Second World War when gluten free foods were almost impossible to secure. I was told I survived, for years, on lettuce, chicken and bananas. My symptoms went away for decades and I ate anything I wanted; lately however, my Celiac has begun to take its revenge: digestive issues, bloating, gas, depression, weakness, fatigue and high blood pressure. Sometimes, I think I can cheat because a little white wheat flour doesn’t affect me immediately. Now I realize, I’m just fooling myself. If I eat gluten I hurt, I’m depressed, my bones ache, can’t focus, can’t lose weight, can’t get on with my life. So that’s that. But there are enough really good gluten free substitutes in the market today, for anybody to find whatever they want. So ENJOY, BE HEALTHY!
Jay B. Ginsburg

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Falling Down

Climbing the stone steps to the Peterborough Unitarian Church, I fell. Suddenly I was down, lying still, reorienting. Heather came behind me and helped me up. I said I had to get Arnica, and walked across the street to open the trunk, find the bottle, and put four little white pills in my mouth. I went into the church to join the rest of Animaterra, ready to warm up, ready to sing. Nothing else is so good for me to bring me into the moment and set my troubles aside. Warmup over, I looked down and saw blood on my left foot and knee. Set that aside, a third dose of Arnica, and set my attention to singing for half an hour. How beautiful, such joy! Leaving, I felt the stiffness setting in. At our circle meeting which followed, Kathy provided the bandaids and wash cloth I asked for. More Arnica, a good meeting, moving slow, then drive home to Traumeel Gel. Now, three days later, still sore and stiff, but there was no bruising, and the scraped skin is healing over. So what is the lesson here? Be a Girl/Boy Scout, be prepared? Yes! My purse is a mobile natural first aid kit. At the moment, I see seven homeopathic remedies and two herbal salves. Bandaids are missing and need to be replaced. That covers most emergencies I meet. What I carry changes, evolves, but here's what I have now: Euphrasia (allergy, burning/tearing eyes) Nux Vomica (indigestion) Apis (insect bites and stings, red/hot) Cocculus Indicus (motion sickness) Ipecacuanha (nausea, vomiting) Arnica Montana (muscle soreness, bruising, trauma) Five Flower Remedy (a Rescue Remedy, physical and emotional) TheraNeem Neem Stick (for lips, for any kind of boo-boo) a tin of herbal salve They sit in a little pocket handily set on the side of the purse, with a secure flap and snap closure. The remedies are in very small tubes + a tiny bottle + a small tin, so they all fit. I haven't needed them often, but I would feel unprepared without them. Sunday I was very relieved to know I had what I needed.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Language and Health

‘Corn Sugar’ No More: HFCS Name to Stay

6:55AM PDT on Jun 2, 2012
There are many ways that a product can contain any kind of sweetner but the whole truth is your body neither knows or cares whether a sweetner is liquid, powder or granulated. The problem is not what the sweetner is. It is how much of it you put into your body. Lables are not going to change that. It is using less that will change the way people the way people treat their own bodies. If people can't change it themselves, neither will a name. Less is more!!! As in a sauge - use one instead of two or a half instead of a whole. The only way obesity will end is when everyone who cares about theie bodies enough, changes the amounts they put into theor body. It isn't up to government policy, it is up to each family cook to change the way their own family treats the food they eat.
Comment on care2.com from Janet W. (typos and all)

Read more: http://www.care2.com/greenliving/corn-sugar-no-more-high-fructose-corn-syrup-name-to-stay.html#ixzz1we33YFn6

AND THERE YOU HAVE IT -- The FDA will not allow 'high fructose corn syrup' to rename itself as 'corn sugar.'   'Sugar,' by definition, must be granular.  So, a technicality, but the fact is, the Food and Drug Administration did not cave in to the sugar manufacturers.

Now, how about labeling for dairy hormones?  How about the simple truth on a label for genetically modified plants and animals?  Let consumers make informed decisions, through information only available on labels.  (Consult those little produce stickers.  But, have you ever found the one that means 'GMO'?)

ABOUT THE COMMENT I copied above...  What Janet W. has said makes so many good points!  Yes, sugar is sugar.  The qualifications:  there is evidence that HFCS is particularly agressive when consumed.  A carb is a carb, but whole foods treat the body more gently than refined, and bring with them the benefits of the nutrients they carry.  Sugars have a range on the glycemic index and differ on the -ose composition, and (to a far lesser degree  than grains) can bring along some nutrient buffers to their pure hit.  Choose your sweeteners with attention.

Then, the issues of quantity... Valuable information you can learn from labeling is the breakdown of carbohydrates on the nutrition label.  If you are about to buy a manufactured product, compare items for the amount of sugar.  Check portion size too -- they may not be computed on the same amounts, or the portion size may be unrealistic. 

Following a recipe?  Here it's all in front of you, no secrets!  I just saw a cake recipe -- 2 9" layers, 2 cups maple syrup in the layers, 1/2 cup in the frosting (made with 1 pound of cream cheese), 1/4 cup in the 'healthy' fruit filling!  And the author of the recipe had reduced the sugar when she converted to maple syrup.  Common sense, anyone?

Janet says, "...when everyone cares about their bodies..."  Such a paradox in this country with its bountiful food supply, food costs still at a historically low level, mostly good information about nutrition easily accessed!  We're also a culture of rampant plastic surgery and Botox, anorexia and bulimia, skinny models and weight loss fads.  Too many people care about their bodies in strange and sometimes destructive ways, when the slow simple answers should be on our plates.

FOOTNOTE ABOUT SODIUM  I recently bought a package of English wholemeal biscuits.  I had a choice of 2 brands, with similar ingredients.  Checking the nutrition information panel, I found one had 4 times more sodium than the other.  Without that information, I would have ignorantly bought the other brand and ignorantly enjoyed it.  Another very sneaky excess in packaged food.


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Need an Intestinal Workout?

I can hear myself quoting myself:
Fiber is a sponge and a broom. A sponge because it will pull toxins from the intestines, and a broom because it will sweep the toxins out of the intestines.
That was a handy analogy so that people who came to VitaSource could see a vivid picture of how fiber can work. Some people like to take seasonal change as the time for a dramatic internal cleanse. Simplify what you eat as a modified fast, concentrate on herbs and fibers in liquid meals. Some of the cleanse plans promote agressive, even explosive elimination. (The most common question was, Do I have to stay near the bathroom?) I prefer to advocate a more gentle approach. What you eat should be easy on the gut -- that food is assimilated. What you eat should be a pleasure -- that's better for you too. Fibers can be incorporated in a daily routine, in a simple drink with greens for gentle ongoing cleansing. Happier gut bacteria, happier elimination, better energy, better health. Now, quoting Carol Steadman:
Fiber without water is called a cork.
Fair warning! Plentiful water from pure sources makes everything work together.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Minor Angst

Daunted by technology, I plunged in and followed the prompts, filled in the blanks: I think I just set up a Facebook page for VitaSource. It has no photo: how do you do that? Have to import some kids (my own) to do it for me. Started a discussion, Resolutions 2010. Let's see where this goes.

Then I came to Blogspot to dump the spam comments, reset settings to try to prevent it. More tussles with technology. You start to feel OLD when you jump into new waters and find them cold --- and do I care?

There is weariness on me. Old year ending, no good books to read; that is, no mysteries. There are books aplenty piled up next to my bed. One that is fascinating is a history centered on the spice trade -- but I can only get through two or 3 pages at a time. Another is the next alumni seminar reading (Mind and Matter, Erwin Schrodinger): heavy, have to get going!

Knitting socks, slow work on #3 needles, and when I finish the first one I'll have to make another one if I want to wear them. I'm not a one sock person! I can't do my usual read and knit with this one, a definite restriction on my doing either one. At least when they're done they will be stunning!

Soon I will really have time to manage meaningfully. I can see that challenge, need to meet it.