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In my last blog, I focused on one side of my work that I am passionate about – Bodywork, especially Reflexology or Footwork Therapy. I explained a little bit about Reflexology, the way it is done, and some benefits. Zen Shiatsu is my other interest in my life work along with Reflexology. But the very first thing that I addressed in the late seventies when my health was suffering was diet and especially cooking.
Growing up, I never liked the kitchen or cooking. Food did not mean anything to me. I could just live on sandwiches and simple food. I actually only ate when I was hungry and would grab anything to satisfy my hunger. I was too busy focusing on starting a career after earning my Interior Design degree. That is all I was obsessed with – art shows, furniture, fabrics, painting, and the like. Who had time to cook, or talk about food? When my parents would ask me to go help in the kitchen to learn how to cook, my answer was always, “I hate cooking; I am going to be very rich and hire a cook. This way I don’t have to be a slave in the kitchen.” Well, that was not the Universe’s plan for me. My health started deteriorating and that took me in a whole different path. I met a woman who introduced me to the benefit of eating well and the importance of it in staying healthy and fit. I had to slow down, put my career on hold and get in the room that I liked the least in the house – the kitchen. I learned to become the cook I was going to hire as my wealth was not yet in my reach!
Now, after many years of studying with great cooking teachers and chefs, I love spending time in the kitchen, cooking, reading about food and the benefit of organic ingredients and healthy cooking for stronger health. I even now teach Vegan Cooking for Health, and for several years in Boston, I had a catering company for ill people, for busy people, for friends who wanted to use food as preventive medicine, and for people who worked hard and had no time to cook. I sincerely enjoy food, cooking, creating new recipes, and sharing recipes with others. All these efforts paid off and I feel healthier than when I was in my mid-20s, happier, and stronger.
Two weeks ago, I was part of the SE Works “Recipe for Success” auction and evening. A few members from the East Portland Chamber of Commerce took part in this fund-raising event. Some of us collected gifts to be auctioned, others sold tickets, and a few of us volunteered to be chefs for one night and cook a soup and be part of the “Recipe for Success” contest. It was so much fun.
I spent several days trying my recipe and giving portions to friends and neighbors to taste it and share with me their opinions. The third batch finally was to everyone’s satisfaction. It was quite a week. The best part of it all is that my husband and I ate just my soup every night for 4 consecutive evenings, improving the recipe every evening. I can’t wait to do it again next year.
The basic idea while preparing my “Soup for Success or Recipe for Success” was to prepare a Sweet and Sour recipe with vegetables of the fall season. I chose buttercup squash, cabbage, and onions. They are sweet and known to be beneficial for our body’s middle organs such as the Spleen, Pancreas, Liver, and Stomach. Then I added some lotus root, known in Asia to help our lungs. The natural mucus in it is meant to replace the phlegm we develop in our lungs by overeating refined flour, sugar and dairy foods. For a sour taste, I added sauerkraut at the end to give a nice touch of sour after taste. Sour taste is known to benefit our Liver. Finally, instead of using salt, I replaced the salty taste by garnishing the soup at the end with natural aged miso. Miso is a Japanese fermented, aged soybean and rice or barley puree. It contains living enzymes which aid digestion, and provide a nutritious balance of natural carbohydrates, essential oils, vitamins, and proteins. It is one of the best products the ancient Japanese people ever invented. Legend tells us that miso originated at the time of the birth of the Japanese nation. It is the oldest staple in Japan and is considered medicinal.
Finally the big night arrived, to my relief, because I did not have to cook the same soup anymore. On Friday, October 17th, 2008. We drove to the Melody Ballroom where the Fundraising party was taking place. Soup chefs were vying for the coveted Golden Ladle Award. Guests selected the Golden Ladle award winner by voting with their dollars. In addition, we could win one of the Celebrities’ Choice Awards! The room looked so beautiful with all the decoration, the table settings, the Chef’s tables with all the soup warmers, our names, and the name of our soups. There was quite a set of creative soup chefs. I was very impressed.
The guests came in and tasted each soup of the 20 chefs that took part in the contest. If people liked our soup, they would drop a dollar in our money bowl. After an hour, just before the dinner was served and before the beginning of the auction, the money was counted out of each bowl. That represented the voting of the guests. There was also a jury made up of a group of well-known chefs from the Portland area that had gone around and tasted the soups and made their votes. It was hard to decide on the best soup. There were some delicious recipes. But the jury had its own way of choosing the winner for the best soup.
It was enjoyable getting to chat with all the different restaurateurs and chefs who stopped by to taste the soup and discuss the ingredients and the choice of the recipe. I enjoyed interesting discussions with the chef from Vindalho. My husband, some friends and I love going for dinners there – delicious and unusual gourmet Indian food. I also enjoyed our discussions with the “Salvador Molly’s” owner and chef, a very interesting person. We love their Tamales at their downtown stand at the Saturday Farmer’s market.
There were 3 different categories of winners. I won one of the categories. My soup
“Spanish Fall Fantasy” will be featured in December on the menu at “Salvador Molly’s.” I was quite pleased. All the cooking did not go to waste. How exciting!
My goal was to support the SE Works. I wanted to prepare my soup with local produce from the farmer’s market, to make a simple warming winter soup and have fun. I was very proud of that. All the ingredients I used were local, even the tofu and salmon. These days, with all the uncertainty of the origin and produce, so many people are having health issues. My husband and I are very careful in which restaurants we eat. I shop weekly from the local Farmer’s Market. When the season is over in December, I shop as much as possible from stores that support and carry local produce.
In my Shiatsu and Reflexology practice, as well as my Cooking classes for Health, I am always encouraging clients and friends to buy locally grown produce, to eat seasonal products to support the farmers and the environment. This way, we are a step forward to staying healthier and have stronger energy.
Of course, our lifestyle plays a major role in our physical, spiritual, and mental health.
For instance, chewing our food well, exercising, wearing the right supportive and fitted shoes to keep our feet in good health, getting regular bodywork treatments like Acupuncture, Acupressure or Shiatsu, Reflexology, massage, praying, meditating, etc are all ways of accomplishing improved health. Also, sleeping is very crucial for our daily functioning and good health – sleeping 7 to 8 hours a night is said to be the right amount, and if possible, taking short naps daily to de-stress and recharge the energy in our kidneys (our body’s batteries). I once read about a study done in England regarding this subject. They found out that people who took ten to fifteen minute naps daily, after or before lunch, performed better at work, and in their lives the rest of the day, and were more cheerful.
So, many factors and simple ways that we can apply daily in our lives can play a big role in our well being, in our health, and in the way we feel daily. So, I am very grateful to have been given the opportunity to participate in this charitable event at the SE Works.
I started this blog a few weeks ago. The original intent was that it was supposed to be all about my business. Today, I had a very interesting experience that I would like to share with others who might be reading.
I am a member of the East Portland Chamber of Commerce. I have been attending their meetings for over a year every Wednesday morning at 7:30 AM. Lately, members have been signing up as Ambassadors, a volunteer position. I signed up, trying to give back to a community that is there to help us with our businesses. Ambassadors help in specific events – Ribbon cuttings, welcoming in AM or PM events, etc. This morning, Saturday, September 27th, I went with Norm, Pam, Dave from East Portland News, and Liz from SE Works to the Warner Pacific College. They had just completed the renovation of their grounds, adding great facilities such as a small theater, many piano rooms for the students to practice, recording space, conference room, a nice dining space that is open to the public in the area, as well as the students, and it goes on and on. They did an excellent job. We had a tour around the new building. In just a few months – April to August — they did all the work, and it looks great. The East Portland Chamber of Commerce had its Christmas party there last season. I had a table then, and it looks totally different and much nicer. I couldn’t believe how different and beautiful it all was.
But, what I enjoyed and appreciated most was the art exhibition they had for the homeless people from the “Julia West House.” It was quite touching. The College had most of the art that the homeless people did on the walls of the conference or meeting room. I was amazed with the beautiful work that had been done. At the entrance, they had a sleeping bed on the floor, with a bike and most of what a homeless person would have for daily use on the bike – blanket, pillow, some clothes, and other miscellaneous items. Instead of showing the head of a person popping out of the sleeping bag on the floor, they had a computer screen showing most of the people who did the art work telling their stories. It was beyond belief.
Then I walked around the room to look at their painting and creations. Every piece of art had a little framed story about the artist and what the art meant. It brought tears to my eyes. Every homeless artist had quite a bit to tell in one small piece of art, sort of describing the past, and the future – what they liked or didn’t like about most of their childhood, what they missed, what they would like to happen, all done with a collage of papers, glass, metal, fabric, ropes, buttons, mirrors, masks. I translated the mask like the person behind the face watching back and forward. It was fascinating. I enjoyed reading every story. I managed to meet some of them, and after reading their art, I could feel compassion for each. There was so much joy and hope in their eyes and manners. Most of the pieces were sold. I liked one done by a man named Larry. I asked if I could buy it, but it was “NFS,” not for sale. He did not want to sell it as the piece meant a lot to him. I asked if I could meet him and to see if I could order a copy. I was able to meet him, complimented him on his beautiful work, and told him that he should keep doing it because who knows, he could become famous. He gave me a beautiful smile, and had tears in his eyes. Also, he agreed to make a copy for me. The sale of the art was very reasonable – $25.00. Sharon Agnor is there to help them deal with the checks and profit from the sales, and all the little details involved. She helped them organize their show and directed them in the right direction, a great lady.
The following is from a statement by the Julia West House organization:
Julia West House is a refuge from the street where guests find a welcoming smile, a hot cup of coffee, and someone who will listen. Some guests drop in for 15 minutes, some stay all day. Some come daily, others drop in only once in a while. The services they provide are unique services not available anywhere else. The important outcomes of their programs are the relationships they develop with the guests. Social isolation is a major problem for many people living on the streets or in low income housing. At Julia West House, many of the guests often feel invisible, except when they are at the JWH.
They care about each person. The guests feel trusted enough to tell their stories. And what stories!!! Meals and clothing are not provided there. It is a small space, so they can offer restrooms, private showers, backpack storage, and most importantly, a place to be. It is a place to learn new skills, to get help in connecting with social service providers, filling out applications and finding work. Mostly it is a place to build trusting relationships.
All the staff and volunteers work together to provide seamless support for the guests.
The Julia West House is owned and operated by First Presbyterian Church, in Portland, Oregon.
Their website is www.juliawest.org . They welcome volunteering and donations.
I used to help and volunteer at a women’s shelter in Boston, MA called “Rosie’s Place” that had some similarities. I am very pleased to have found the Julia West House.
Julia West House is located on 522 SW 13th Avenue, Portland, OR. It is a place where low-income and homeless residents of downtown areas become part of a community, a place where they are accorded dignity and recognized as individuals. It is a place where opportunities are offered to guests to learn, become self-sufficient, and improve their futures by gaining new skills.
East Portland Chamber of Commerce Ambassador