Tuesday, March 30, 2010

You're From West Virginia?

What do you think of when you think of West Virginia? Hillbillies, marrying your cousin, dueling banjos, or more currently the Final Four? Surely one of those images comes to mind. Several of the more unpleasant of them would come to my mind before we made the decision to make this move.

How about these images instead:

(Techincally she wasn't born in WV, but she grew up there.)

 So, West Virginia should be known more for all the amazing people that are from the state than for the typical stereotypes that we associate with it. For a complete list check out: http://jeff560.tripod.com/famousk.html.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Spring Break in Texas

As Spring Break begins, I find myself in the great state of Texas. Houston, TX is home to all of my immediate family and anytime I get to spend a few days here it feels like a vacation. Spring is in full bloom and the air is thick with pollen and wonderful springtime blooms.

My parents moved to Houston 3 years ago from their home in Little Rock, AR and my brother and sister in law ended up here shortly after my brother worked in Houston in a consutling position. Coincidentally, my parents and brother both settled in Houston while D and I stayed in South Carolina at PC. Since we get together so infrequently it is always a great time when we all get to spend time together over dinner.

While I enjoy cooking and enjoy finding different things to cook, my brother takes the joy of cooking to another level. He continues to impress all of us with his amazing culinary creations. Tonight was no exception. As I enjoyed meeting the newest addition to his family, Gray the boxer, my brother worked on his latest delectable dinner of pan sauteed Halibut with a Meyer lemon aioli and Morel mushroom and asparagus salad. WOW!

Dinner was exceptional and the company was even better. As the Mountaineers of WVU made it to the Final Four, we wined and dined and took a few family pics. Sadly, D was not able to join me on this visit and so is sorely missed in these photos.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Unhealthiest City to Congressional Measure

Anything about West Virgina tends to peak my interest these days...Especially anything that combines my new home with my most favorite hobby, food and cooking. So when I read recently that a Food Network celeb was airing a show about a very unhealthy WV town, I was very curious. What could possibly be so unhealthy about my new state?

It turns out that Huntington, WV was recently named the unhealthiest city in America by the Associated Press based on data from the CDC.  A little digging on Huntington led me to find out that it sits on the Ohio River in the Southwest part of the state. To the south are large coal mines that feed our power plants. Prior to the modernization of the coal industry Huntington was a hub for manufacturing jobs in the chemical and locomotive industry. The primary diet consisted of rich, fatty, fried foods with gravies and sauces that were worked off with manual labor. Since modernization, the manual labor that burned the calories of that food has all but disappeared. However, the diets of most of Huntington's residents have not changed with the times. Fast food resturants dominate the town and there is very little emphasis on exercise. The economy has suffered so much since the change in industry and with that the town has gotten increasingly unhealthy. It is said that Huntington is tied with a few other metropolitan areas for the proportion of people who don't exercise, have heart disease and diabetes.

Unhealthiest City is not the way city leaders probably want their town to be recognized. That doesn't exactly make me want to hurry up and get there. Luckily, help is on the way. While things can't be changed over night, small steps can be taken to help the citizens of this town change their attitude about healthy eating.
Tonight on ABC (if you can pull yourself away from the Sweet Sixteen) Jamie Oliver, of the Food Network, begins his new show called "Food Revolution." The show will attempt to persuade the people of Huntington to go for fresh, affordable foods and produce over processed foods.

Not only does he hope to help the town of Huntington, Oliver hopes to help begin a Food Revolution in the lunchrooms of our schools. As Congress considers legislation to toughen rules that regulate school lunches the former "Naked Chef"  plans to take the initiative to the White House at the conclusion of the show.

As an educator, foodie, and soon to be West Virginian I can't wait for this! Check it out tonight at 8 PM (EST) on ABC or check out Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution page and sign the petition to bring healthier options to our public schools.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A Mountaineer Soon To Be

In just three short months my husband and I will be leaving our sweet South Carolina home to become WVU Mountaineers. (D will actually be the official Mountaineer, I will just be the support.) It is with many mixed emotions that we make this move. D's thoughts are much more logical than mine: where will we live, what kind of job will I get, how much work will he have to do.  I am much more preoccupied with the fact that we are moving to the NORTH! Forget all the logical worries about a house and a job!

OK...OK, I realize that technically Morgantown is south of the Mason Dixon line (by 10 miles maybe). However, they don't say ya'll and they don't drink sweet tea. Those two things alone define it as the North. On our most recent trip I was talking to the guy in the music department of Barnes and Noble. After several minutes of conversation, he very politely asked me where I was from because he said I had such a great Southern accent. WHAT? If I Motown were truly in the South my accent wouldn't be great, it would be normal!

What have I gotten myself into? If I am going to be a true Mountaineer I need to know a little about this new home of mine. After some research here's a little history lesson...West Virgina was one of 2 states to form during the Civil War, along with Nevada. It is the only state to have formed by seceding from a Confederate State. West Virginia separated from Virginia and was admitted into the Union in 1863 as an official new state. South of the Mason Dixon Line or not, doesn't sound like the south to me.

Regardless, I have so far not met a West Virginian that wasn't a kind and gracious host to me in my navigation of this new adventure. Additionally, I have been overwhelmed with the beauty of the landscape. While I am reluctant to accept my departure from SC, I eagerly await our WV future.