Are we human?

Mural at 728 Hill Street,  Downtown Los Angeles, 2018

Mural at 728 Hill Street,  Downtown Los Angeles, 2018

I was walking around downtown Los Angeles the other afternoon, enjoying some fresh air. June Gloom arrived  a little early this year and the weather was super mild. I had my headphones in and I was in my bubble, listening to an episode of the Moving Well Podcast. Unfortunately, I can’t remember who the guest was.  

Sometimes, when I listen to podcasts, it’s just for background. Although, occasionally something sticks. This time, what stuck really didn’t have much to do with the topic and more to do with my surrounding. I may be wrong, but I think this is what I heard:

It’s important to approach our clients as human beings.

Wow.

I can’t even remember what the context was but it struck me as so powerful. In my practice, I like to put  all the technical jargon aside, and talk like a person. Not a teacher, not a “movement professional,” just one person talking to another person about how to move their body. In a natural way.

Here's what struck me that day.  We need to do this not just with our clients, but with everyone we encounter. We need to put the humanity back into being human.

I’m not sure if you are aware of the humanitarian crisis happening in Los Angeles currently. Homelessness isn't just a problem here, it's an epidemic, especially downtown, where I live and work.

Having spent most of my adult life in cities, I'm used to a certain level of wildness. As a petite woman, I had to make a choice early on. Walk around worried about being in danger, or hold my head up high and own the sidewalk. I chose the latter. Part of that includes (within reason) making eye contact and acknowledging the other people who are out and about.

This eye contact, this acknowledgement, this recognition of another person is often the only positive contact some people have in a given day. It’s the little part that I can do on a daily basis.

If you would like to help, there are places who need donations, volunteers and attention. My top two are :

The Downtown Women’s Center

The Weingart Center

 

Israeli Couscous For The Win

Kerri Baker Magazines

I'm a compulsive magazine buyer. None of that "read it on the inter-webs" thing. I want the actual paper, trees be damned. I know, I know. That's not how we are supposed to be in this age of going green. It's my indulgence.

I tear out pages, snap photos of products so I remember to buy them at the drugstore. One day I may even make a vision board. And recipes!!! I love, love, love a good magazine recipe.

Kerri Baker Blog Cooking Ingredients

My current favorite is Fregola with Charred Onions and Dill, in the March 2017 issue of Real Simple. I believe it was in a collection of recipes that travel well for picnics. Who doesn’t like a great picnic recipe? Everything about it sounds so good. Honestly, everything about it is so good. I've made it several times and as with any great recipe, I've made some adjustments. I leave some things out, replace the Fregola with Israeli couscous. Little things like that. 

It's so easy. First I put my cast iron stove top grill over two burners and heat to medium. If you don't have a grill, use a griddle pan. While that heats up, cook the fregola in boiling salted water according to the package directions and set it aside on a cookie sheet to cool. And by fregola, I really mean Israeli couscous. They are very similar and the couscous is much easier to find. 

Kerri Baker Pilates Blog Cooking

While the couscous cooks and cools, slice the spring onions in half lengthwise and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. If all you can find are green onions, they will do. Just pick the fattest ones you can. Char them on the grill for about six minutes then set aside to cool. The first time I did this, I almost burned off my fingertips. So really, just take the time to let them cool. Once cool, chop them up. 

While the onions cool, zest and juice your lemon. If you don't have a zester, use a veggie peeler and remove the yellow skin, leaving the white behind, and then mince it. The original recipe calls for 2 teaspoons zest/one teaspoon juice. I use it all because I am a huge lemon fan.

Again, original recipe calls for a half cup of butter. That is not to my taste. I cut it to two tablespoons. If you're vegan, you can just use olive oil. The butter/oil mixture is just a bind for the dill and lemon (in my mind anyway). Mix the lemon, softened butter, garlic and dill in a small bowl then salt and pepper to taste. They put a small shallot in as well. I skip it because I found the garlic/onion combo enough. Your call.  

Toss everything together in a bowl and you are done. If you are a poultry eater, I like to add diced chicken breast. If not, lemon pepper tofu would be excellent as well. Everyone needs a go to Spring/Summer lunch and this WILL BE MINE.

Without further ado, here is the recipe:

Israeli Couscous with Charred Onions and Dill

  • 1 cup Israeli couscous 

  • 1 bunch spring onions, trimmed and halved lengthwise

  • 1 tbsp olive oil

  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter, softened

  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped

  • 1 large lemon, zested and juiced

  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill, plus more for garnish 

  • Salt and black pepper 

  1. Cook couscous in a pot of boiling salted water according to package directions. Rinse, drain, and spread in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet; set aside to cool. 
  2. Preheat a grill pan or cast-iron skillet over medium-high. Toss together onions, oil, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Grill or griddle onions, turning occasionally, until lightly charred and white parts are tender, about 6 minutes. Coarsely chop. 
  3. If your butter is not super soft, melt it in a small pan or the microwave.
  4. Stir butter, garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, and dill. Salt and pepper to taste. 
  5. Just before serving, toss dill butter with cooked couscous and charred onions. Top with a little more dill.
  6. Add a protein if you want and enjoy!
photos by  charitybakerphoto  (with the exception of the stack of magazines)

photos by charitybakerphoto (with the exception of the stack of magazines)

Why don't you blog?

Kerri Baker and her dog Beatrix

"Why don't you write a blog?" This is a question I hear often, followed by, "It's just like journaling. You can totally journal. Everyone journals." Do they? Really? Who are these magical creatures who journal every day? Please introduce yourselves so you can give me pointers. I've tried on and off for years to journal. Fitness journals, diet journals, business journals. And yes, I've even tried blogging (never actually published a single entry). Been there, not done that.

I don't have an answer to why I don't have a blog. But I do have a story for you. Let me tell you about a girl in college, a yoga class and a journal that wasn't.

It started during my senior year at San Francisco State University. I signed up for a yoga class at 9:00 AM on Thursdays, figuring it would be an easy A. Not so much. First, getting there at 9:00 was rough, because I was not a morning person. Living in San Francisco, there was something happening every night of the week, and I was thoroughly enjoying myself. Theater, concerts, a whole lot of dancing and very little sleeping. It's a gym class, attendance isn't mandatory, right? Wrong.

Second, the professor assigned a book to read and made journaling a requirement. I'm sure he had good intentions. I read his book, Yoga: The Spirit of Union by Laurence Caughlan

It was filled with pictures of the bald eagle he rescued and yoga poses executed perfectly on mountaintops, in valleys and every other serene location you can imagine. He felt it was important to explore your process, dig deep into your yoga journey.

For me, it was fulfilling the necessary Physical Education requirement for graduation. That was my process. I didn't want to delve into my soul, figure out what made me who I was at the time. Graduation was top of mind. And I just needed to get through this class, graduate and get on with the rest of my life.

But again, it's a gym class. Why am I reading this book and writing about my experience? Why indeed. Had I bothered with the process, I would probably be more at peace and all that woo-woo now.

Before I realized it, it was too late to take the class Pass/Fail and I knew that easy A wasn't happening. On the Wednesday night before the final class, I wrote an entire journal full of bulls***.

I was getting a Psychology degree, I had plenty of nothing to write about. Finished the class with a C- and haven't been successful at journalling since. Nor have I developed a sustainable yoga practice. I wonder if there is a correlation?

They say that practice makes perfect. Write a little every day and the words will flow onto the page. Right...I'll settle for practice making things easier. We will see.

So I'm tackling the journaling challenge now. Hopefully I can write something interesting. Or at least entertaining.

As for the sustainable yoga practice? There's still time. For now, I've got pilates.