Only in Maine!

The crew are always checking their phones for important updates

Just a quick post today to let you know what I have been up to this week. For a few days, I jumped back into my old life and was the Production Assistant on location with Magilla TV, shooting what has become known as "unscritped" or reality television. We were filming a segment for a series I believe will be known as Family Secrets but I am not totally sure of the title, neither were the rest of the crew. This is a sign of the real change that has taken over television in a not so positive way, in my opinion, however, this story is one that will really warm your heart.

I met the rest of our crew of 3 early Monday morning at the home of Randy Joubert and his wife Jen. Our crew consisted of myself, Ryan Heilman the producer/director and Cory Richardson the cameraman. David is away in New Hampshire shooting some other "unscripted" TV. I think this is the first time both David and I have been working in separate locations for two different shoots!

Until I "googled" the name Randy Joubert, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. This was a last minute call from a production company in NYC and they would not give me any details, true to the style of shooting these days. As I am sitting outside of this guy's house, waiting for the rest of the crew, I find I am familiar with his story because I had seen it on the TODAY show a couple of years ago. Because Maine is one of only 8 states to change the "access to adoption records" laws, four siblings are re-united, each one having looked or wondered about their birth families for many years.

Gary, Joanne, Kat & Randy in front of Randy's Waldoboro home
Two brothers, working side-by-side at DOW Furniture for months before they discovered they were brothers. One sister hears of the discovery and realizes she is their sister! So the Today Show calls up, had the 3 siblings, residents of Mid-Coast, Maine come to NYC to appear on to the show. While the show was on air, a fourth sibling, another sister, phones from Florida! She never even watches the Today Show but just happened to be channel surfing and saw the story when she realized these are her brothers and sister! Isn't it amazing?? Well, it is so amazing it still generates interest 2 years down the road! We followed the Today Show story pretty closely, filming the brothers at the furniture company where they work, interviewing the sister who lives locally and flying the sister from Florida up for an interview.

I cried as I listened to each of their stories.
Ryan and Cory in action
It was an emotional but fun couple of days. We filmed on location at Dow Furniture, in downtown Waldoboro and at Randy's house. The brothers and sisters in tears and happy to see each other. Randy and Gary spend a lot of time together, of course as they work together, but the sisters are not as close. We looked over photos from the past, listened as the 4 pieced bits of their personal stories together for the camera. It was very moving and so unusual how it all came together. Only in Maine! Now its back to the kitchen and off to the Maine Vegetarian Food Festival!

Sloppy Jo's (Josephines)

Sloppy Josephines, delicious, healthy and easy!

Today I am going to Blog as I cook and EAT! I have been cooking all day everyday for the past
(30 years) 2 weeks, with a break over the weekend for my BIL's wonderful birthday celebration in Vermont. Here are a few shots from the party, which did have plenty of great whole,plant-based food options. My family are not all 100% plant eaters but good veggies have always weighed heavy on our plates.
Happy 75th Richard! And many more!
Happy Birthday Roasting going on here

Bill and Jack provide the tunes

Brother John and sister D prepare to sing some Irish tunes
Recognize the T-shirt on Sean??

I'm testing recipes I have been writing for an upcoming publication, unfortunately not of my own :-( although I do have a cookbook in mind, maybe even TWO!

Earlier this afternoon I was testing a recipe for homemade ketchup, something yummy which avoids salt and sugar. I really never use ketchup, if I have it in my fridge, it is for "C" as she has been a ketchup lover since birth! To make the homemade version, I looked at the label on a bottle of  Annie's Organic Ketchup and just used similar ingredients, it was easy, and pretty G-O-O-D. Then, knowing I was having a HUGE craving for summertime barbecue, and for some reason, Sloppy Joes, AND also had to write & test a recipe for Barbecue sauce, I decided to try to turn the ketchup in the Vitamix into BBQ sauce. Guess what, it worked!

The recipe I had originally written was very ingredient heavy and not so much complicated but just time consuming. The resulting recipe adaptation of the ketchup was easy and delicious. I am making the Sloppy Josephines right now! Best of all, I had all of the ingredients I needed and these are sooo simple!

In the pot, simmering, but I could not wait until it reduced to eat some!

Sloppy Jo's with easy BBQ Sauce

Ketchup/BBQ Sauce
1 6oz canTomato Paste
4 - 5 Pitted Dates, depending on size
1/3 c. Vinegar
1 t. Onion Powder
1 t. Garlic Powder
1/8 t. Cloves
1/8 t. Cinnamon
1/8 t. Allspice
1 t. "Rooster" chili sauce
1 t. chili powder
1 T. Tamarind Paste (you could use molasses or even pomegranate molasses if you have no tamarind, don't go buy it just for this recipe)
1 T. Dijon Mustard
1 T. Mrs. Dash
1/8 t. smoked paprika
1 - 2 t.Tamari
1/2 c. water

Sloppy JO's
1 cup TVP (Texturized Vegetable Protein)
1 c. Veggie broth or water
1 c. Onion, finely diced 
1 c. Carrot, finely diced
1 c. Celery, finely diced
1 c. Mushrooms, finely diced
1 cup BBQ Sauce, recipe above
1/2 c. Salsa
1 t. Cumin
Adjust flavors with fresh ground pepper, more Mrs. Dash or other favorite no-sodium seasoning.

Ketchup/BBQ Sauce
  1. 1. Blend first 8 ingredients in high speed blender and thin with water until desired consistency and you have Ketchup!
  2. 2. Add next 5 ingredients and blend thoroughly, adjust flavor with added Tamari if desired and you have Barbecue Sauce!
Sloppy Jo's
  1. 1. Place Texturized Vegetable Protein (TVP) in a med. size bowl and mix with boiling stock, cover and set aside
  2. 2. In a large skillet or saucepan on med-high heat, saute chopped onions in a bit of veggie stock or water until translucent. Add carrots, celery and mushrooms. Cover reduce heat and cook until all liquid is released. Add  reconstituted TVP to pan.
  3. 3. Add cumin and stir, add BBQ sauce, and Salsa. Stir well, reduce heat to low and reduce liquid if needed.

 Allow this dish to cook at least 20 minutes to develop the flavors. I'm sure it will be even tastier tomorrow but I could not wait. I served mine on a Joseph's 100% Whole Wheat mini-pita which I keep in the freezer. These pitas contain no preservatives so they are best kept in the freezer, but they thaw super quick. I lined the pita with lettuce leaves fresh picked from the garden.
I used these ingredients because I had them on hand, in fact I'm thinking On Hand Vegan might be the title of my cookbook, what do you think? Other titles in the running are The Recycled Vegan  and maybe third in the trilogy; Toaster Oven Vegan. Feel free to substitute any type of bean or lentil for the TVP, or even add some to the pot. I was thinking the TVP is what separates this Sloppy sandwich from a bowl of Chili.

Have a great evening!


Blue Zones Hold Four Keys to Longevity (from Diets in Review)

Recently I gave a Power Point Presentation on this very topic to a group who's focus is the aging population in their community. She does a nice write up here  so I wanted to share what Diets in Review's Lacy Hansen has to say about this very interesting topic:

Seems nearly every day new reports about aging and how to slow or reverse the process hit the airwaves. As Americans, we seem to be obsessed with staying young, however, it seems we’re not going about it the right way. National Geographic writer and explorer Dan Buettner recently gave a TED talk regarding longevity and who in the world is aging the best.
Buettner refers to the areas of the world with the healthiest and oldest people as Blue Zones. In these zones he has found commonalities that link these cultures and their longevity. One myth Buettner’s studies dispel is that longevity is genetic. Buettner explains that only 10% of how long we live is dictated by our genes, the other 90% is dictated by our lifestyle. Furthermore, Buettner debunks the ideas that effort will allow one to live past 100 and that treatments exist that can slow the aging process. After observing the Blue Zones, it’s clear that lifestyle is key to the aging process.

Buettner focused on just three of the Blue Zones to draw longevity links. The spry 100 year-old men of Sardinia, Italy, the healthy great-great-great-grandmother in Okinawa, Japan, and the American Seventh Day Adventists in California that live nearly ten more years than their fellow Americans all have four common lifestyle traits that lead to their longevity.
The first trait found among these groups is that they move naturally. Buettner specifically pointed out that they do not exercise, but that they have set up their lives where activity is a constant. The Sardinians live in vertical homes and climb steps daily and many are shepherds walking and climbing the fields. The women in Okinawa sit on the floor and get up and down nearly 40 times a day. The Seventh Day Adventists do manual labor and take nature walks. These are just a few of the natural acts these cultures do daily; they take no conveniences and manually do most tasks in life.
The second trait Buettner found is that those in the Blue Zones have the right outlook. All the cultures take a time to downshift. The Adventists take a 24-hour Sabbath every week, no matter what. In addition to downshifting, these cultures have a sense of purpose. Whether it’s the faith they follow or their devotion to their life purpose, these cultures live for a reason.
The third trait is that these people eat wisely. The cultures primarily have a plant-based diet, they drink red wine daily, and they have means to avoid overeating.
Finally, the people in the Blue Zones connect. All of these cultures put loved ones first and place high value on their elders. They don’t live alone and live life among other people. They may belong to a faith-based community or even a “tribe.” These cultures proactively seek out the right people to live their lives with.
No pills, no treadmills, no “diets”, or self-help books are found in these cultures. Those who live the longest in our world have been doing so with the technology and ideals of their ancestors. Buettner’s research really challenges all of our society’s beliefs of how to live a long healthy life.
map image via AARP; woman via
June 6th, 2012