So I don’t typically write ekphrastic poetry because I feel it cements the reader to only one vision. Although, in this particular instance, I feel it will benefit the reader to see the photograph which inspired me to write this piece. My greatest goal, generally speaking, is to create works that allow the reader to have multiple interpretations. So please, tell me your interpretations, how you feel, and what you see.

xoxo Rachel

 

10169

 

Screen Shot 2014-07-06 at 4.56.25 PM

Independence Day

As the Nation celebrates the fourth of July with stars and stripes, fireworks, and songs, keep in mind how free we really are today. Every American should be grateful for his/her freedom in this country, I am not dismissing that. However, we must acknowledge a greater picture, quite frankly, a question. I want you to question your freedom. Question your political leaders, question your medical providers, question your schooling, question your food. How free are you? Do you have a voice? Can you change what services you are being provided? Can you change how your food is being produced? You have a voice, but does it really have an effect if you dissent?

Currently, I am pursing a collegiate degree, thus I am quite aware of tuition prices, scholarships, and financial aid “awards.” Needless to say, the costs are astronomical and I receive no relief due to various government stipulations (but that’s another discussion). Either way, the point of me stating this is not to be bitter. I chose an alternative, a less expensive school. However, not many kids do this – later they leave with over 100K plus in loans. Is this the definition of freedom? College education was designed to benefit you – to turn you into an educated scholar – but leave you with enough money to function. I am not denying education is essential. Everyone deserves the right to an education. I believe education is a confidence builder, a product of human ingenuity, and a tool for creating a bigger, better, and brighter future. Yet, after college many graduates face a bleak future; a future filled with debt.

Our food system…it’s quite clever. In the 1970s something dramatic happened. Scientists realized high fructose corn syrup could be added to food to create a sweetening effect similar to sugar. But here’s the kicker, it was way less expensive. Soon, high fructose corn syrup took over. Today it dominates the food industry. Lunch meats, breads, crackers – products you would never normally imagine containing the stuff is a norm. Why are so many people suffering from weight gain, diabetes, illness, stomach issues, skin issues, food intolerances, allergies, etc.? Since the 1970s these health issues have risen dramatically. Is there a link?

I know a midwife who is fighting to keep her ability to provide gestational care to expectant mothers, and to deliver their babies. Midwifery dates back to Egyptian times – it’s nothing new. It provides natural and holistic care. Yet, states do not like midwives. Why? It’s outside the government-funded hospital. Hospitals make money. They are a business. Midwives, essentially, are pulling money away from the hospitals when expectant mothers choose to use a midwife over an obgyn. Is this freedom?

Now I am not a PhD psychologist or anything, but there’s this psychological mechanism that teaches obedience. After repeated instances of striking your cat for clawing on the sofa, not long after, when you raise your hand to him/her, he/she is frightened and does not do the undesirable act of clawing the sofa. You didn’t even have to strike the cat at that point, but the desired result follows.

Is the same true for us? We are free…but how free? We speak out, but if our opinions are different – the people in charge raise their hand, and the dissent is silenced. Look at the examples I just gave: schooling, food, health – how many people have spoken out in dissent about these topics? And how many people have been silenced?

If freedom is a sound, let it ring.

xoxo Rachel

Support Your Local Farmers

Every Sunday, from 10-2, a delightful little farmers market comes to town. It’s like a magical traveling caravan – filled with all the wonders of the world. I, ‘Pandora,’ and it, ‘the box.’ Luckily, the co-op is nothing like Greek mythology, and when my curiosity strikes, only goodness escapes. From farm fresh produce, to homemade soaps, this quaint market has something for everyone! And the best part? I get to support my local farmers.

20140629-153204-55924753.jpg

Orange Creamsicle Cupcakes

Naturally, when people think “birthday” shortly after they think “cake.” It’s like peanut butter and jelly, bread and butter, bacon and eggs – “birthday” and “cake” just go together!

“So what’s with all this birthday talk?” – you ask. Well, it was my brother’s birthday, and he requested a special treat: Orange Creamsicle Cupcakes. And hey, what goes better together?

Even if you’re turning 100, you’ll instantly go back in time to your younger youth, enjoying orange creamsicles in the summertime from the ice cream man up the street…What I’m saying is, no matter what your age, these cupcakes are just as fun as the real deal.

xoxo Rachel

CREAMSICLE CUPCAKES
recipe by Lauren Kapeluck
(makes 24)

For the cake:

1 box white cake mix (prepared as package directs, substitute 1/4 cup orange juice in place of water)
1 3oz box Orange gelatin
1 tsp orange extract
1 tsp orange zest

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line muffin pans with cupcake liners.
  2. In bowl of stand mixer combine all ingredients.
  3. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes until well combined. Scrape sides of bowl as necessary.
  4. Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full with batter.
  5. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
  6. Let cupcakes cool in pans for 5 minutes, then remove to wire racks to finish cooling.
  7. Once cupcakes are completely cool, hollow out the center using an apple corer.
  8. Fill centers with white cream cheese filling.
  9. Frost cupcakes with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting.

 

For the icing:

2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1 8oz block of cream cheese, softened
5 cups confectioner’s sugar
1 tsp orange extract
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 Tbsp orange zest
orange food coloring

  1. In bowl of stand mixer beat butter and cream cheese until smooth and creamy.
  2. Gradually add in confectioner’s sugar 1 cup at a time and beat well, scraping down sides of bowl.
  3. Add extracts and mix well for about 2 minutes.
  4. Reserve 1 cup of icing to be used as white cream center filling for cupcakes.
  5. Add orange zest and tint remaining icing with orange food coloring until you reach desired color.
  6. Place white and orange cream cheese icings into piping bags fitted with large round tips.
  7. Use orange cream cheese frosting and swirl around the center of the cupcake two times. Fill the inside of the swirl with a dollop of white cream cheese frosting.

Harvest Seasonal Grill & Wine Bar

This place is so chic. A seasonally changing menu – featuring local, organic, and sustainable foods. The concept is both brilliant and delicious! Photo is of the Pesto Caprese Flatbread.

20140620-164446-60286558.jpg

I went to the Glenn Mills, PA location, but there are a few other locations throughout PA. Here’s a link to their website: harvestseasonalgrill.com

I encourage all of you to try it out! Eat local, buy local, be local.

Xoxo
Rachel