They say that behind every great man is an even greater woman. Some of you may know Adam Lazzara, from one of my favourite bands, Taking Band Sunday. I stumbled across his wife Misha’s blog and was really impressed with all that was going on there. Read on and you will see some of the great things Misha has to say about books, healthy eating, vegetarianism, music and more!
So Misha, your blog is filled with wonderful cooking tips and pictures, have you always enjoyed cooking?
Thanks. I’ve always enjoyed the idea of it. I liked to watch my mom cook when I was little. I love the ritual of preparing dinner while everyone hangs out around you, talking about their day, drinking wine and relaxing. That’s what I saw growing up and now I see the importance of that time and cherish it.
What got you into cooking?
I think what I mentioned before, with dinnertime meaning so much to me as a kid. I think it was a natural thing. I come from such a big family and food was what always brought us together. Holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter was when we went to my gramma’s and everyone brought their signature dish, we sat, laid, or huddled wherever we would fit and eat and talk for hours. My cousins and I would steal my Aunt Marion’s dinner rolls that she made from scratch and hide them around the house ’til we weren’t so stuffed and could go back for them. For me, learning how to cook well is like carrying on those traditions.
Have you always been conscious of what you eat or is it since you became pregnant/or becoming a mother?
Unfortunately, I became conscious too early in life. Before, like when I was in high school, it was about my appearance and weight. Looking back, I wish that I hadn’t counted calories or been concerned with things like that. Those experiences are such a big part of why I’m so anti-”dieting” now. In college I gave all that up. I started eating vegetarian but just had fun in life and fun with what I ate, no more “dieting,” just healthy and responsible choices. I want to eat consciously-farmed and prepared foods to help the world, to not contribute to animal slaughter and torture, to get the best nutrition at the least cost for everyone….not just thinking about myself, being selfish and eating whatever I feel like, but considering the cost of all the pesticides, hormones and antibiotics and the price the millions of animals pay that are tortured in despicable conditions. I wouldn’t say that being a mom changed my views; I would just say that not ignoring the truth of what’s happening on those factory “farms” has really contributed to my stance on family farm or ethically farmed living.
What food facts have scared you most?
For example I was shocked when I read just what goes into milk and what happens to dairy cattle after reading Alicia Silverstone’s book.
There’s really just too much to go into! I would say for me one of the worst things is the gestation crates and just the whole sow thing in general. Most people know by now that pigs are smarter than dogs, having higher IQs. Yet people go on obsessing about and loving their dogs while chowing down on bacon. Pigs are scientifically proven to be more aware and intelligent than your puppy but still we treat them so awfully. They live inside in crates of concrete and metal that they can barely lay down in for most or all of their adult lives. Really, it’s just sad that people allow that to happen. It’s people that are eating all that freaking bacon that people joke about and have tattoos of and just aren’t considering the real cost of what they’re eating. Not to mention what it costs to the environment to feed and house this ridiculous excess of domesticated animals because of the high demand. Obviously, you can kill yourself caring about this stuff or just know the truth and try to do as much as you can. That’s what I do. I don’t go around preaching this stuff to every stranger I see buying bacon at the store. This is how I feel but unfortunately balance is required to live in a world this upside down when it comes to animal treatment and a humane diet. I’ll calm down now…
Do you find it hard to be healthy when you are eating out or on the road with your husband’s band?
Sometimes. I’ll still eat stuff like french fries and whatnot if I have to (only vegan or even vegetarian option at some places like IN-N-OUT). I try to find the first and nearest grocery store to stock up on stuff like Amy’s burritos, cans of healthy soups, hummus, et cetera. Then we have stuff on the bus and don’t have to eat dinner from whatever we can find at a Circle K or something, haha.
What is your favourite dish?
Oh, this is impossible to answer. Really, impossible… I’d say maybe plain spaghetti, red curry or just anything with noodles.
Would you ever consider writing a cook book? After reading your blog, I for one would buy it!
Thanks, haha! Yeah, I think it’d be cool to do something like that for college aged girls or young ladies who have never had to “run” their own kitchen before. I’ve had some messages about that very thing and I think it’d be really fun.
In the modern world – time is limited for many people so it becomes habit to grab ready meals, how do you combat that?
I keep groceries on hand, easy as that. I always have things like canned beans, quinoa, brown rice, tofu, frozen veggies, Gardein brand freezer stuff, etc to make quick easy meals with. I keep us stocked up! Minus the Gardein, all the stuff I mentioned is some of the cheapest stuff at the grocery store, so it doesn’t have to be expensive to keep a well-stocked pantry. We still like to do quick stuff sometimes, there’s a gourmet deli/salad/wine store half a block from our house and when we want quick dinner we hop down there. They make me huge and healthy salads, so for us, quick doesn’t have to mean unhealthy.
What environmental issues bother you the most?
Oh, goodness. The fact that people completely ignore what’s happening and what’s going to happen if we keep farming and consuming livestock at this rate. Even if you don’t believe any evidence that you see, why would you want to eat something that’s been pumped full of hormones and antibiotics and lived out its life standing around in its own feces? Who’s that cruel? No one would be if they opened their eyes and actually saw what was happening. It’s the ignoring and turning a blind eye that baffles me. I’m all for family farm life. My brother and sister-in-law run a beautiful family farm in northern Georgia that I love to visit. The problem is the farms that are now essentially factories where animals aren’t treated like animals in any sense of the word, yet their meat is treated like food.
People have criticised you for bringing up your child vegetarian, I for one do not see anything wrong with providing what you feel is the best food for your child, is there anything else you would like to say about that?
I agree with you, haha! As you can tell from the previous questions, I feel strongly about this topic. That’s plain to see. Regardless of that, why anonymous people would think they have a say in how to raise my own son is nothing short of bizarre.
I wrote a piece recently about how there is so much pressure on people to be thinner than they should and work out to extremes and the whole beauty myth that goes on within the media, how does that make you feel? How do you personally find a happy healthy balance?
I take that very personally because I struggled with that in my teenage years. I wish there was pressure from the media for girls to be happy. Intense pressure to do what makes them happy and that weight was just ignored unless it was a health issue. I wish there was pressure for girls to read books and cherish intelligence and to be kind and generous instead of pressure from the media to be skinny and bitchy. I think a lot can be said for family support and priorities. Of course the media plays a roll but as long as families are still supporting things like academics and integrity and overlooking the weight and cattiness (is that a word?) then most girls can hopefully overcome that voice from with out telling them they need to be skinny. I think another good way to balance the pressure from the media, from shows like Gossip Girl or The Real Housewives or whatever is to not watch them and to be a good friend to GIRLS. I’m scared of girls that say they don’t have any girlfriends. I always wonder what that means when they say that. And also just to be kind and be sure of yourself, a lot of insecurities are taken out on other people in negative ways and that’s not fair to you or them.
What made you become vegan and what do you feel are the benefits of a vegan lifestyle?
Well, it started with the cleanse “Ultra Metabolism Diet,” when I first gave up all cheese, eggs and dairy about a year ago. I say on my blog “about me” that I eat “mostly” vegan. I would say vegetarian but that wouldn’t be a strong enough word. I would say just vegan but I don’t like that pressure. I’ve mentioned many times before, it will help everyone the more OFTEN people eat vegan meals, but a lot of people are scared of jumping in headfirst, so to speak. I’ve mentioned before that if I got pregnant, for example, I would eat a mix of vegan and environmentally-conscious vegetarian. I just know how I feel, but that doesn’t mean I’d throw the veganism out the window. Just because I would want to eat cage-free, organic eggs for that extra protein doesn’t mean all of a sudden I’d stop eating other meals that are completely vegan. Does this make sense? Haha, this is all hypothetical. I just like to showcase the opinion that you can be “half-vegan” or whatever you want to call it. So many people are scared of eating that way because diehard vegans are so outspoken. But every little bit helps, and eating vegan once in a while or toning down a full-on meat diet will help. That’s the point and that’s my goal….slowing down factory farms and “balancing the scale,” not for everyone to eat vegan all the time.
Your blog is also full of all the books you read. What are you top 5 favourite books/authors?
Whew, this is tough. “Atlas Shrugged” by Ayn Rand is probably my favourite book I’ve ever read; it really altered my attitude on life. The rest are in no particular order and subject to change…”On the Road” by Jack Kerouac, “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen, “Slaughterhouse Five” by Kurt Vonnegut, “Return of the King” by JRR Tolkien and “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” by CS Lewis.
Have you always been a bit of a book worm?
Yes, absolutely. My parents have pictures of me having fallen asleep with books on my face from the age of 2. All the books I mentioned above as my favourite except “Atlas Shrugged” I read before I graduated high school. That’s probably why they were so influential to me. I’ve been what you might call “obsessively” reading since I can remember! I used to ask my dad only for books for Christmas when I was growing up, which is still where the largest portion of my book collection comes from.
I could not imagine life without books and am dipping my toe into the world of writing, have you ever been tempted to try to write a novel?
Yeah, actually, I hope to one day. I have some ideas. It’s hard work for me to sit down and write fiction, but I do try.
What are the best children’s books out there you have come across?
Far and away, “The Chronicles of Narnia” by Lewis which I reread about this time last year and fell in love all over again. I also like “City of Ember” by Jeane DuPrau, which I was actually hoping would be more in the “young adult” arena when I bought it, but it’s definitely children’s lit and it’s a very neat story. Of course, we love Shel Silverstein around here. He’s wise, sad, cute, smart, funny and disturbing all at the same time.
Is there any character you wish you could be from a book?
Elizabeth Bennett-Darcy is up there around the top of that list and though I wouldn’t really want to be Katniss Everdeen, she is super bad-ass and awesome. This is a good question and honestly something I haven’t thought about before.
As a child I loved the idea of the magic faraway tree and the land of Narnia, what were your escapisms?
Ah, I love the idea of Narnia so much. This is a funny question because I had my own little secret place I dreamed up. We lived in a really old, huge house growing up and there was a tiny little door that led to the pipes below my mom’s bathroom. I always imagined that if only I opened it, it lead to a giant room with a glass chandelier with a black and white checkered tile floor, full of all the food I loved and beautiful dresses that fit me perfectly and on and on. Haha, I spent a lot of time “down there.” I totally forgot about this until now, haha, good memories.
Have you ventured into the world of kindle or ebooks yet?
Nope, for two reasons. I don’t know how to work our Kindle and I love everything about books. I noticed at Starbucks a few weeks ago they were giving away the first of the “Artemis Fowl” books online for their iTunes weekly giveaway or whatever it is. I’ve been wanting to read that so I’m going to attempt my first online book reading. We’ll see!
What are your views on that over the hard copy?
Hard copy all the way for me, but I understand the urge to save on printing and paper, so I’m all right with it, even though it’s just not the same.
Now Downton Abbey is a favourite TV show of yours, out of all the period drama’s out there, why do you feel Downton has become such a huge hit with the American public?
I don’t know, but I love it. Maybe the time period is one that is interesting Americans. I know I loved the first episode with the Titanic story line. It was interesting to me. Also, the characters are also so well-developed! They’re not either good or bad, they’re complex and real-seeming. And Mary Crawley’s wardrobe is incredible, so chic. Her and Matthew’s relationship is great, all the waiting, the drama, turmoil. There’s so much to say about it that’s interesting both visually and within the story. I love it!
You have to juggle parenthood with having a husband in a touring band, do you still manage to get out on tour as a family?
Not as much as we’d like, but when we do it’s super fun and special. Adam’s still at work, though it may not seem like it since his job is so different from other people’s, as are all the other guys in the band. The bus is full, everyone’s away from home and their loved ones; it’s hard to squeeze in, especially with a toddler like a ping pong ball. We make it work, and I’m lucky to have family so close around me to help out when my husband’s gone.
Do you play any instruments yourself?
Haha, oh yeah. My dad was a music major, is very into music and can play most instruments pretty well. I started playing the flute when I was like 9. I play the flute, piccolo and oboe. My husband thinks it’s funny and asks me to get my flute out and play sometimes. I usually say no, though I always do intend to find some nice sheet music and keep practicing, unfortunately I never actually get around to it.
My brother is in a band (called Jet Pack) and they are heavily influenced by Taking Back Sunday and Blink 182, they’ve noticed lately that a lot of bands they are touring with are using backing tracks and miming – what are your thoughts on music moving in that direction?
I don’t know. I think evolution in music is normal and like all different styles. I get why people do it. I just hope the art of ACTUALLY playing instruments and singing without altering vocals in a band is never lost.
Speaking of Taking Back Sunday, what is your favourite track by them?
The slower tracks are mostly my favourite. Winter Passing, My Blue Heaven–the ballads. Really, I like it all. I listen to them on shuffle, I listen to their Pandora station, I listen to their brand new stuff on Adam’s iPod, I listen to it all and like it.
Who are your favourite bands? Um, Imogen Heap was always a favourite of mine. I would say some of favourite stuff to listen to is in the same genre as her–A Fine Frenzy, Maria Taylor / Azure Ray, Blonde Redhead, Regina Spektor, stuff like that. I like bluegrass country and folk music from Avett Brothers to Ryan Adams to Neil Young. I also just listen to and love a lot of rock and indie stuff. So…I just love music!
Any new up and coming bands that you could recommend?Hmm… I’m so bad at this. I got a Lianne La Havas album from a friend, and I find it very soothing. I think it’s her first studio album. My brother is in a band called “My Secret Other Girlfriend” with Adam’s little brother, Nathan. I honestly love their music and think it’s great.
Check out My Secret Other Girlfriend
Check out Misha’s blog: http://mishaboom.tumblr.com/