Writing is hard work as any writer or student can attest. A few students from Greenspire School in Traverse City tried their hand at the genre of food writing and asked if we would critique and publish their pieces. It is with pleasure that we present the aspiring writers’ food essays for Oryana readers. Enjoy!
A Cheesy Thanksgiving
By Lillian Greene
During the holidays, people have to do many things like bring out decorations, find the perfect movie, and get gifts and candy. But one of the most challenging questions that can make or break the holidays is what to eat on the day of celebration. Fortunately, there is one thing you can put on your list of holiday foods to make it even more special, and that’s cheese. Yes, with all its different varieties, it brings back the moments of my father and me going to a cheese shop and picking out different types of cheese.
There are several types of cheese including blue, hard, pasta filata, processed, semi-hard, semi-soft, soft and fresh, and soft-ripened. All of these cheeses come with different and unique flavors for Thanksgiving. Pairing brie with cranberry sauce brings out the sweet tartness of the cranberries and also makes a lovely gooey texture, best for dipping with crackers. After crackers and appetizers comes the side dishes like green bean casserole and mashed potatoes. Luckily they have something in common, cheddar. When it comes to dishes that have a more bland taste, there needs to be something to really kick up the flavor, and cheddar brings out that taste within these dishes.
Like a star on a Christmas tree or eggs on Easter, you cannot forget the main dish of Thanksgiving, turkey. Now this is a bit of a hard one because you can’t just dump random cheeses on a turkey and call it dinner. You need to turn it into something like turkey sandwiches. The best cheeses for this are provolone and pepper jack. These cheeses will create a balance between creamy and juicy, adding enough flavor to notice but not take away from the turkey. Another dish you can create with leftover turkey is a Turkey Parmesan, which has a nutty taste that really brings out the flavor of turkey. Alfredo sauce can also turn Thanksgiving leftovers into a memorable meal.
But like everything else in the kitchen, the best results come with time and experimentation. Choose what makes your taste buds go wild, and pick a cheese that will make your guests come back for more.
Chewy Ginger Candy
By Aevryn Butler
When I was growing up, my family all had a lot of different allergies and issues with food. We didn’t know what was causing these allergies and reactions, so it was hard to find stores that didn’t have a limited variety of substitutions. My mom started shopping at Oryana when I was a baby and it became our go-to store because of how many allergy friendly and organic options there were.
We could only have certain types of candy because most were made with just about everything we were allergic to. So when we did get to have candy, it was always for special occasions like Halloween or Christmas. Since I wasn’t very familiar with “normal” candies, I grew more fond of the alternatives that we could have more often. One in particular was Gin Gins Chewy Ginger Candy. My mom was already a big fan of it because it helped her with nausea when she was pregnant with my little sister, so she would always let me have a piece or two.
Gin Gins Chewy Ginger Candy is a yummy alternative for anti-nausea medicine and just a healthier candy. They are non-GMO, gluten-free, vegan, and made with fresh ginger. These sweet but spicy candies soon became my favorite, and I would beg my mom to buy some every time we went to Oryana. They were delicious to eat as a normal candy and were just as good melted into a cup of tea when I was sick. Eventually they became something that we would always have stocked in our cupboard for whenever we wanted to grab a few.
After a few years of discovering that I am not actually that allergic to many of the foods that the rest of my family is, I was able to have more popular candies. As much as I love almost any candy that I can have, I still will always prefer the ginger chews to anything else. Every time I stop by Oryana, I always leave with a small pack of Gin Gin Chews to enjoy whenever I want one.
How To Go Vegan
By Ash Jurek
If you’ve always had an interest in becoming vegan, whether it’s for personal beliefs, health reasons, or environmental concerns, you’re not alone. This lifestyle choice has gained great popularity in recent times as more people have become aware of the potential benefits. Health-wise, a vegan diet can lead to a lower risk of heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer, thanks to the diet’s focus on plant-based foods rich in nutrients and low in saturated fats. Environmentally, it contributes to reduced greenhouse gas emissions, conserves water, and aids in diminishing deforestation. Ethically, it falls in line with the beliefs of those who advocate for animal rights, as it reduces demand on the animal industry, letting fewer animals be unethically farmed.
Transitioning to a vegan lifestyle can certainly be a rewarding experience, but it requires knowledge and planning. An apt way to begin transforming your lifestyle to a vegan one is to educate yourself with vegan resources and recipes to ease the process of changing your diet. Adjusting your diet is never an easy task, and resources such as Veganuary and The Vegan Society can offer complete guides on nutrition, recipes, and lifestyle tips. You can also try to find local stores and communities that advocate for veganism, such as Oryana. The app HappyCow can also help you find more vegan restaurants and stores near you.
The transition to veganism does not have to be abrupt. Gradually incorporating more plant-based meals into your diet and reducing animal products can make the shift more sustainable and enjoyable. You could start by having one or two completely vegan days per week (“Meatless Mondays”) and slowly raise the number of vegan days as you adjust to the new diet.
by Landen Finkel
A snack you take outdoors with you has to be convenient, something lightweight, and easy to eat. It should be small enough to take with you, something in a reusable container, and one with minimal trash. If you’re going to be doing calorie-burning activities then it’s important to bring a calorie-dense snack that will provide you with a larger amount of energy. If you are going to be outside for multiple days, or maybe you’re just out in the sun all day, you will want to make sure it’s something that doesn’t need to be refrigerated.
I spend a lot of time on the water fishing, from walking in a river for a couple of miles, to cooking on the ice. There is a big difference in what I can take with me depending on what I do. When I am on foot in a river with only a small sling pack on my side, I need to pack lightly, so almost always I have some sort of granola bar with me for starters. This will hold me over when I forget to eat anything else. I also usually have an apple with me for when I just want to eat something sweet. Finding a small snack to take with you—trail mix, jerky, cheese and crackers—shouldn’t be too complicated. Generally, I try to stay away from foods that are overly processed and have an excess of sugar. Another thing I usually have with me is a protein shake; these are very convenient when you are active and don’t want to waste much time on a meal because they are high in protein and hydrating.
Sometimes when me and my friends will be stationary all day, we bring a grill and some sort of meat, usually venison. When I’m out on the ice walking around with five different layers on and a 100 pound sled behind me, I need to eat while I’m out there to maintain my energy. Also, it’s a lot of fun to do with some friends out on the ice. Usually, we bring a grill and gallons of hot chocolate and cook whatever we might like to prepare for the walk back.
When hiking and exhausting yourself all day, carbohydrates are going to be your main source of energy. Since proteins take a lot more water to digest, eating too much protein can easily lead to dehydration. No matter what you’re doing outside, if you’re exerting energy, it’s important to keep up with all of the nutrients that you need to properly function.
Regarding trash, almost everywhere I go I see cans on the river bank or cigarette butts left in the square mark made by a shanty. It’s so important to remember to leave the area where you were the same. It’s unnatural for an animal to encounter any of our garbage and when they do it can be harmful. When I am done, luckily it’s a lot easier to carry out a lot of trash when you have a big sled. I like to take all of the fishing and cooking gear out of the shanty and throw it next to my sled, then bag all of the trash inside the shanty before taking it down. Whether you’re just eating a small snack or opening multiple packages to make a meal, it’s always important to pack all of your garbage and leave the area the same as you found it.