Wednesday, October 6, 2010

What's Your Thesis?

OFF THE RECORD:  I probably need a new website, with a new design, typeface, etc, etc, etc... but it ain't happening any time soon.  ?Por quoi pas?   I've been so on the go, this is the first moment I've taken to write a blog post, let alone update my website, let alone design a whole new website.

Ah, well.  What sparked this little confession was, while searching for the perfect web design for one of my projects at UML, I discovered a totally fun site, with a great look, written by a web designer.  She uses Thesis.  So, my friends, one day I probably will use Thesis, also.  Of course by the time I get around to redesigning my site, I will have found a different, totally gorgeous web look to cop.

Maybe I should just hire a web designer.  I'm such a DIY type, though.  Speaking of which, I need to go take my peanuts out of the oven, and make my family the peanut butter I promised them.

For more regular updates, check my Twitter feed.  @RebekahLFraser

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Behind the Times?

Off the Record:  It's a busy, busy time for me.  Between moving, editing a book about business leadership, writing multiple articles, developing a science website for kids, and taking on a few new clients, I've been on the go!  The upshot (or downside, as it were) is that I've been remiss in blog posts and in updating my website, rebekahlfraser.com.

Never fear, I will eventually post updated materials.  However, if you want more info about my work, like my latest writing credits, before I have posted it on the site, just drop me a line, and I'll get you clips or whatever else you need.

By the way - pick up the latest issue of Vegetarian Times at your local news stand to learn more about urban composting. That little blurb is my contribution to this month's issue.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Gulf of Mexico - the responsibility is also ours

OFF THE RECORD:  One thing the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico shows me is that we as a species and a society are not at peace with this planet! 


As a teenager struggles for independence from it's parents, we fight against mother earth and her natural order. 

Its easy to blame a corporation, but each of us plays a role in this disaster by living as we do.  Do you drive a car?  Do you heat with oil?  Do you use personal care products or cosmetics made with petroleum derivatives?  Do you purchase toys, home goods, office supplies or disposable items made from petroleum-based plastic(most plastic is PET based)?  Did you side your house with vinyl?   Do you see how this is a global problem?  We are all creating this mess.  The good news is we have the power to STOP hurting mother earth.

We may even be able to begin a healing process.

I encourage you to commit to changing one thing each day to lessen your reliance on petroleum products.

We are not powerless and we do not have to point fingers. The path of peace puts the responsibility and the power in our hands and voices.


I will sing and chant for peace on Monday, and my first commitment to environmental change is to stop purchasing products made from petroleum based plastics.

Will you join me?

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Confessions of a Typeface Junkie

I'm envisioning a website to get tweens psyched about science...  thinking about fonts, layout, etc...
Font Squirrel has an excellent assortment of opensource typefaces.  So far,
my fave is


It's fun to look at, and it's got a great name. But, I wonder if kids might be more drawn to headlines in



3dumb also comes in 2dumb (a 2dimensional hand-drawn typeface).   I love the movement and irreverence of both.  There's hundreds to choose from.  Here are a few more of my faves:



My daughter just walked in.  These are her top 3:




OFF THE RECORD:  Veggieburger's got me looking for ketchup.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Good Stuff

OFF THE RECORD:  I'm not that hip to the Beantown scene.

Although I grew up in MA, and moved back to the commonwealth a few years ago, I never really got into Boston life.  So, magazines that cater to Bostonians have never really "done it" for me... until recently.

While eating organic vegan sushi in Brookline, I picked up a copy of the freebie rag, STUFF.

Why?  Who knows, but I'm glad I got it, because otherwise I wouldn't have discovered this extremely well-written, informative, useful and moving article, "Renewed Self, Revamped Style," written by Scott Kearnan.

Check it out, and then visit www.myrecycledhandbag.com to support a great business and a great cause.
You'll probably also be interested in www.rosefund.org

Saturday, May 8, 2010

An Interview with Me on "The Get Inspired Project"

The Get Inspired Project is a yearlong project founded by Toni Reece. She chose to interview me because of Solstice Sing for Peace, the movement I founded in 2008.

Click here to listen:
Day 220: Rebekah Fraser

Off the record: being interviewed was a bit nerve wracking. I'm used to being the interviewer, not the interviewee, and Toni asked some tough questions. Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Twitter is Over Capacity

Has the world gone mad?  "Twitter is over capacity!  Try back in a moment."   This was the message I received when I tried to sign on just moments ago.

Now, I'm no twitter-addict. In fact, I don't even tweet every day.  But, now that I can't do it, well...  I think I'm starting to twitch.  What does it mean when Twitter goes over capacity?  What is happening to our communications systems?

Oh, that's right.  Mercury is in retrograde - communications glitches are par for the course until the 11th.   Sound freakish?

Off the Record:   I don't understand most astrological lingo, nor do I wish to.  But this one thing - Mercury in Retrograde - is something I have found to be consistently spot-on.  Whenever Merc goes Retro, I and folks I know experience all sorts of glitches in our interpersonal and electronic communications.  My question is, what does it actually mean, or look like, when Merc goes Retro?  Any Astrologers care to comment?

Caffeine in a Time of Crisis

OFF THE RECORD:  Although I write a lot about coffee, I don't usually drink it.  I generally prefer the way a hot cup of Yerba Mate makes me feel in the morning.

Yesterday was a different story.  Operating on a few hours sleep, I started a new gig at UMass Lowell (very exciting and wonderful!), then zipped into downtown Boston for a meeting with a potential client.  I was tired, hungry and desperate for a cup of coffee!  I knew I needed not only to be "on" for the impending meeting, but also that I would need to stay "on" for the networking event I would attend afterwards at the Intercontinental.

Alas, there was no coffee to be found.  Places were closed at 4:30 in the afternoon; the city was winding down from a water crisis.  Fortunately, I found inner reserves of energy and effervescence and enjoyed both a wonderful meeting and a great networking event.

This morning, my friend Rodney, who works for Equal Exchange, sent me this note:
 

As you may know Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts and most all the local coffee shops went “dry” and had nothing to serve.

But not our café. Not only did our intrepid staff manage to stay open  and serve coffee but they served 15% more customers than usual.

The following note to staff from our co-President, Rob Everts, gives you a glimpse of the accomplishment.


Good morning Causeway Café Team,

I know you are in the midst of another morning rush, creatively working around the water issue and keeping customers happy.  Meanwhile, when you come up for air, check out what you did by the numbers yesterday: 

                Transactions       Total Sales           $/trx
                       533                     $1,829                $3.43



That is 80 more transactions than the prior Monday and $200 more in sales.  And the lower $ per transaction reflects being handcuffed not being able to sell higher dollar espresso drinks.  So congratulations and thanks for busting ass under arduous circumstances. 

. . .At 533 transactions yesterday, clearly the word was out that the EE Café on Causeway Street was the place to be!

And this note to staff from one of our lead baristas, Miranda, helps to paint the scene.

Hey there :)

I've had a blast these past few days.  But I tend to enjoy stepping up to the plate under pressure. :)

Customers were impressed that we were open and brewing coffee and remarked that it seemed absurd that the big chains didn't have the necessary equipment/know-how to do so.  Someone today said, that "you'd think they would just go out and buy this kind of brewer and put it into place rather than shut down coffee completely." 

In the few minutes here and there when I wasn't in a brewing frenzy, I remarked to customers that because we often do events and brew coffee in tents at festivals, and such, that we were well-versed in using pour-over brewers (and pumping bottled water).  I even joked and told a few people to imagine that we were under a tent in the middle of a field with rows of vendors and live music.  I told them this is what that would look like (if stopping by the festival happened to be part of their morning commute).

While I know our coffee didn't taste the same this morning, as it was an experiment to find the right dose/grind/water combination (on the fly), people were able to get coffee and that seemed to be all that mattered to them.  Some of our regulars even remarked that they liked it better than what they usually had (as many were forced to get a roast they were unaccustomed to since we were only brewing Mind Body and Soul, and then switched to Peruvian Medium).

(For me) It was fun and fast and adrenaline pumping.  I usually say ‘hi’ to all my regulars but didn't have the chance to do much more than dose, grind, brew, pour, pump, repeat.  All of us morning peeps are intuitive and we work together so well that this wasn't that big of an adjustment.  We trouble shoot, make decisions, and share tasks - picking up in the middle and switching places so smoothly that everything just worked out as it usually does (even when plugging in the brewers shorted circuits, etc.).

We had long lines and they moved much more slowly than usual (due to our ability to brew the equivalent of two truck-stop pots at a time) but we got through it and only today did customers start to grumble.  They didn't understand that though the water ban was lifted we had many regulations to go through as a food-service establishment (i.e. flushing lines and changing filters).  Having a technician in the middle of everything created a lot of sidestepping/dancing around, but it didn't slow us down.  :) . . .


Next time there's a crisis, I'm heading to the Equal Exchange Cafe!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Stop Being Afraid

Off the record:  While exploring a potential client's website today, I discovered this awesome image.

It's great advice!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Medicine Hunter

OFF THE RECORD: I don't watch the news.  Ever.  In fact, my TV doesn't get any reception, so I just use it to watch DVDs.  I get my news either from NPR, the New York Times online, various web sources, or from primary sources (after all, as a journalist, I'm interviewing people all the time).   This may explain why, until two days ago, I had not heard of Fox News' darling ethnobotanist, Chris Kilham, aka The Medicine Hunter.  For the first time in my life, I may actually be regretting not watching Fox News!  Why?  If you haven't seen Kilham yet, you'll want to.  He's extremely knowledgeable, articulate, thoughtful, interesting and a fun conversationalist.  We were discussing the health benefits of Goji berries and whether the crop would be viable for commercial farmers in the U.S.

You'll be able to read all about it in the May 2010 issue of Growing Magazine.
Until then, check out the Medicine Hunter for an alternative perspective on health and world agriculture.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Creative Non-Fiction

As I write this, two monkeys dangle overhead, peeling bananas and trying to feed me.
Okay, full disclosure, these are not actual monkeys; they are my kids, four-year-old twins who have just discovered how to peel bananas.  Since their revelation, the monkeys (er... children) have attacked every banana in the house.  Normally, I’d join in the ecstasy of the discovery; right now, I kind of wish the jungle would disappear.  I’m on a deadline, and this kind of craziness can make concentration challenging, to say the least.

Off the record:  I don't have twins, but this image came to me this morning, and I thought it would be fun to write about.  Why am I calling it creative NON-fiction?  I am writing, and feeling so distracted, I could almost believe there are two monkeys dangling overhead.  Maybe a better genre title for this would be, "Metaphorical Non-Fiction".   hmm... 

Monday, February 15, 2010

COVER STORY: From the Ground Up


Off the Record: I get a little thrill each time I open a magazine and see one of my articles. It's even more exciting when one of my publications arrives and I see my piece highlighted on the cover.

Last week, the February issue of Growing arrived in my mailbox. My story, "From the Ground Up," is one of the cover stories. Although I didn't expect the article about seed selection tactics to be the most exciting piece I'd get to write, I actually had a great time interviewing farmers. Some of these folks are truly inspiring. Click here to check out the article and post your comments here to let me know what you think.



Saturday, January 30, 2010

Rejuvenation for Writers

There's nothing like time away, with no agenda, no to-do list, no nothing, to reignite my creative juices.
This weekend, I was blessed to visit a newfound friend (also a writer, director, theater & film person) at the gorgeous Cape Cod vacation spot she scored for free. Joining us were my beau, and another couple (he's an actor/writer, she's an art therapist/writer). Of course, we did share our work, somewhat, but that wasn't nearly as important as just being around other artists.

I don't know about other creative-types, but I often forget how vital it is for us to connect, bounce ideas around, and just generally soak up the artsy vibes. Yeah, I probably sound like the stereotypical bohemian or something...

Off the record: I don't care how freakish it seems. Those 22 hours away reinvigorated me. I came home and enjoyed my creative inspiration for hours- writing, painting, brainstorming, even posting a new blog at Conscious Cow. Ain't nothing like it, friends, this swirl of creativity flowing around me. Undoubtedly, my next post will be about the farm education feature I'm writing for Farming Magazine. Until then, I'm enjoying the moment. Hope you are, too!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Issues Affecting Farmers: Late Blight

I have spent the day writing about Late Blight in Tomatoes for Growing magazine.
This may not be a "sexy," topic, but it's gratifying to know that my work can help farmers throughout the country to produce healthier plants with higher yields. This is good for everyone who eats, actually. (And, honestly, who doesn't eat???)

When farmers succeed, we all eat well! When farmers struggle, we all pay more for lower quality food.

OFF THE RECORD: Support a farmer today! Buy local or buy organic! If you can, buy local and organic!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Strawberry Ice Cream Experiment: part 2

It looks like it, it almost feels like it, and it tastes like it. My daughter had two ice cream cones full of it. I loved it, too. Still...


OFF THE RECORD: we agree, the recipe needs just a little bit of tweaking. A little vanilla powder, perhaps, and more time in the food processor. Or, possibly, I should soak the cashews in water, then blend everything in the Vitamix.

What's a writer doing spending so much time in the kitchen? Well... we do have to eat!

Why blog about it? This writer writes a lot about food, agriculture and the food industry, so it's kind of ever-present in the gray matter. Visit rebekahlfraser.com to see samples.

Why blog about it when there's a hot senate race on in my home state?
Because, honestly, with these kind of results, some folks I know will really need SOMETHING to sweeten the day.

Raw Vegan Strawberry Ice Cream

OFF THE RECORD: When my kid came home from school wanting something sweet, I took a break from my research into alternative education for farmers to experiment in the kitchen.

She requested a raw, vegan strawberry ice cream. (Full disclosure, she'd probably prefer the real deal - cow's milk, cane sugar, etc, etc... but that stuff never finds its way into my house.)

So... I whipped up frozen strawberries, cashews, agave nectar and a bit of raw honey in my food processor. The goop tasted great, but the true test is how it will taste and feel on the tongue once it's frozen.

Tune in later today, for the results of our Raw Vegan Strawberry Ice Cream experiment! (and now, back to ag research...)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

New Raw Vegan Recipes + Chocolates

OFF THE RECORD: Inspired by the Master Chef audition process, I hosted a small dinner party this weekend, where I premiered two recently created raw vegan recipes.

The "cream" of tomato soup was a hit. Jenna, who eats dairy regularly, said that if I hadn't told her the soup is vegan, she would have believed there was milk in it, because of the creamy texture and taste. John described my pesto stuffed portabello mushrooms as "outrageous!" Kip said my macadmia cheez stuffed portobello mushrooms were "awesome".

The kids loved the salad and tomato soup above all, until the chocolates came out.

I spent the autumn perfecting my chocolate recipe and methods, so my friends had tasted them before (actually, they received them as Christmas presents.) Still, they're always a fave.

Here's how I make them:



video

The whole batch was gobbled up within minutes!

If you'd like the recipes for any of the above mentioned treats, drop me a line or leave your comment below...

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Me & Gordon Ramsay, part 6: The Call Back

We met in room 902 of Boston's most elite hotel...

Sounds like the beginning of a clandestine romance, doesn't it?
Actually, my rendezvous was with the Casting Directors from the company that's producing Gordon Ramsay's new reality show, Master Chef.

It was one of those rare occasions when I was the interviewee, rather than the interviewer. Being on the other side of the table, and extremely sleep deprived, was a bit daunting. To put it bluntly, I babbled like a brook. Ah, well...

The good news is, they seemed to like me. After 30 or 40 minutes, we parted, all of us smiling. They thanked me for taking four hours out of my day to drive there and back.

Off the record: I'm just grateful I had the opportunity, and I'm looking forward to taking the next step.


Monday, January 11, 2010

Me & Gordon Ramsay, part 5: the audition


OFF THE RECORD: I'm usually not very cold tolerant. I like to keep my house between 70 and 78 degrees. I dress in layers from October to May, and am always thrilled when summer rolls around. So what on earth was I doing standing in line, in the cold yesterday?

Cold does not begin to describe the temperature in Newton, MA yesterday, where auditions were held for Gordon Ramsay's new reality show. The open call was scheduled from 1:00pm - 5:00pm. Hopefuls were instructed to bring their dish ready to serve, at proper serving temperature. I was glad both of my prepared dishes were meant to be served cold, because I and my food waited outside for about 5 hours before going in.

There were approximately 170-180 people in line ahead of me (and I arrived at 1:30!). Some people tired of waiting in the cold and left without auditioning.
Approximately 100 people waited behind me and I'm not confident that everyone got a chance to audition.
I took this photo (of the folks behind me) about 15 minutes before I was admitted into the building for my audition.

Inside, the process was fairly quick and well organized. A casting director separated those of us who had preregisteted and arrived with completed paperwork from those who just showed up with food. Audition-ees were invited into one of two prep rooms, where we plated our dishes and waited for the Food Critic to visit with us.

Fortunately, my sushi survived the 90 minute drive and 5 hours outside. I had wrapped it securely in tin foil but a few pieces did fall over. I spent a few minutes righting the fallen sushi rolls and wiping drips of errant wasabi-almond sauce from the serving plate. I garnished it with fresh cilantro and black sesame seeds, laid out the chopsticks and waved to let the casting director and Food Critic know I was ready.


When the Food Critic arrived, I explained how I had created the raw vegan dish, without rice or fish. She lifted a piece in her fingers and popped it in her mouth. She chewed for what seemed like a very long time while I examined her face for signs of appreciation or repulsion.
Possibly sensing my nervousness, she explained something about her process, and described the taste as unexpected, light and ( music to my ears) REFRESHING. We discussed how the sushi might be served as part of a meal, what other dishes I might include, etc. She asked how I learned to prepare such food (my response: from my family, reading cookbooks, experimenting, and watching cooking shows), and whether I would be willing to prepare cooked food (Yes. I do this for my daughter anyway.)

The fact is, in any other situation, I probably would have gone home after 30 minutes to an hour of waiting outside with temps in the 20s. Something held me there, some feeling that I had gone this far, and needed to get through the process and see if I had a shot. For most of the time, I didn't even mind the cold. In those moments when my body just wouldn't take it, a very nice woman let me warm up in her car. Anyway, it was worth it - I got a call back!

More news tomorrow, after my meeting with the casting directors.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Me & Gordon Ramsay, part 4: preparing for the audition


OFF THE RECORD: I had a little mishap in the kitchen this morning. I realized I had forgotten to buy a cucumber, an essential ingredient in Mystery Dish #1 (and I live 20 minutes from the nearest grocery store). I found a neighbor with a cuke, but when I cut into the avocado, which wasn't even ripe when I purchased it Friday, it was brown. Another "essential" ingredient for Mystery Dish #1 unavailable...

After a few moments of alternating between panic, temptation to give up, and general pissiness, I decided to do my best with the ingredients on hand. Good call, Fraser!
And muchas gracias to my beautiful daughter, who pitched in like a trooper, washing, cutting, spiralizing, and cleaning up in my wake. (...this from a kid who doesn't even like cooking!)

Here's Mystery Dish #1 in progress...















After cutting the raw vegan sushi into bite sizes, I tried a few... delish!

So, I guess there are no "essential ingredients", except maybe the nori wrap.


The prep for Mystery Dish #2 went smoothly, but I was not pleased with the look or taste of it, even though I followed my recipe exactly.


I haven't made this Winter Fennel Salad in a long time, so I guess my taste buds have changed. Still, I brought it along, just in case something went wrong with the sushi during the 90 minute ride to the audition.

Which dish did I share with the Food Critic? Find out tomorrow, when I blog about my audition for Gordon Ramsay's "Master Chef".

Until then, Salud!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Me & Gordon Ramsay, part 3: nuts

Off the record: While I watch my friend's 7-year-old plays hockey, my food is practically making itself!
The Sicilian almonds have been soaked, germinated, & skinned.



Now they're dehydrating. Tomorrow, they'll be crisp and ready for processing.

Mystery dish #1 is in progress.

I am also soaking raw walnuts.



When I return home from my little friend's hockey game tonight, I'll drain the walnuts and purée them with some other ingredients to create the sauce for Mystery dish #2.

The thing about raw food prep is it takes additional planning and a little extra time. There's always lots to do ahead when one is preparing dishes with nuts. But it's worth it!

Okay, back to watching these kids play. More news, and photos, from the kitchen later.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Me & Gordon Ramsay, part 2: shopping

After much deliberation and recipe review, I opted to prepare not one but two dishes for my "Master Chef," audition.
Whichever turns out best is the one I'll bring to the casting directors/tasters.

With that in mind, shopping was easy & quick:
two oranges, fresh cilantro, almonds, yam, avocado...
Wonder what I'm making?

I'll drop some hints during "Prep, part 1" tomorrow.

Off the record: I'm getting excited about this!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Me and Gordon Ramsey

Off the Record: I love FOOD!

OK, if you've read this blog before, you already know that. It's probably why I write for so many food related publications. In fact, today, I spent nearly four hours interviewing professionals in the Maryland/Delaware produce industry. (But I digress...)

I also love to perform. So, when a notice hit my email box from Boston Casting for an opportunity to audition for Gordon Ramsay's new reality show, "Master Chef," I had to check it out. They're looking for untrained gourmands with unusual stories or diets who are willing to put up with some good old fashioned Hollywood abuse all in the name of kick-ass chocolate (or other edible delights.)

Since I've been eating Raw Vegan for four years now, I figured I'd have as good a shot as any... so off I go this Sunday for my audition.

How does one audition for a foodie reality show? Make food and wow the casting directors with it! Yikes. The possibilities are numerous, and I'm not sure which way to turn... Simple and Delish, or Complex and Creative... Sweet or Salty? How about Umami, that elusive sixth taste identified by the Japanese...

Tonight I will choose my dish; tomorrow... SHOPPING FOR INGREDIENTS!