Saturday, November 30, 2019

Come On Tell Me Who Are You?

Ice Cream treat from the new neighborhood parlor, salted caramel.  I'm trying to ignore that there is an ice cream parlor literally downstairs.  

I've been listening to spiritual leaders talk about how to harness creativity for writing or cooking or whatever it is we do.  Basically I believe the takeaway is that you cannot touch or find it, it finds you which has always been my experience as well.  Instead of trying to force it to come, waiting getting more frustrated, they say to go take a walk, do a chore, an errand which allows you to basically leave the 'search' and usually it will come around.  Then when you feel it it says to go at it vigorously and use it all up before it goes away.  First of all I love that people have deeply thought of all of this and recognize something that any creative person has already discovered naturally and that is that inspiration is a fickle little wench.  She seems to toy with us, coming mysteriously.  We try to understand how to conjure her but apparently the joke's on us as it has nothing to do with our thoughts but perhaps, our lack of thought.  When we are living our lives, innocently being in the moment she comes around and shines her light on our world.  We say there it is!  And immediately we try to get after it, all that she's brought us because it might be there for an hour, it could go away after 20 minutes.  You never know.  And I have thought before and just heard it said again, that its much like riding a wave once you do hitch onto her energy.  You may be able to stay with it for hours and what a gift that is.  What is that swell attached to anyway? Where does it exist? Is it energy, is it the actual consciousness stream that we have temporary access to like a treasured library book?

But others say just start writing and things will come, so I have to wonder how many times I've written from my ego versus the alternative.  After a lot of listening, I see that your ego really leads you down some bad roads and is a self centered, often mislead goofball.  Even though these are ideas, I do think everything I'm learning is in line with all I've ever learned and forgot but agreed with many times before.  One for example is that you are not who you think you are, that your ego is just some Frankenstein that you've built out of all that you think you are.  I'm shy or so I thought.  Maybe it's all just made up silliness. They say I choose to be shy by defining myself as such.  I've heard this before from other self-help types but looking at it from this angle of the prism makes much more sense to me.  It's not that I'm so outgoing, it's that I'm none of these things. This shy, awkward, aging, nervous Andy-stein doesn't exist. BUT, my physical avatar can display any trait of my choosing, always.  That's a whole 'nuther bird right there!

The fact that the egos plans are deeply flawed makes you wonder if it's because we need an upgrade in our software or because we don't have enough stimulus in our everyday life to keep us on track. We wander and wonder, perhaps with too much free time.  We used to concentrate on the day, killing a tiger or fishing for food, dragging a mate to our cave.  Having the time now to contemplate all these avenues is a privilege that we've turned into a curse.  Others have made a shrine to their egos and refuse to acknowledge connection with everything and everyone.  When we can create from this divine source its awesome but when real drama is created in our lives by us, it's a self-made prison of worry and anxiety. 

Roasted Whole Chicken and Acorn Squash

Friday, November 29, 2019

Do That To Me One More Time

How does this happen? We bought take-out again from Brisket Brothers after a 20 minute take down review of our last attempt.  This time though, no specials just simple cheeseburgers.  There was a very familiar taste, school satellite lunches come to mind or drive-in foil packet burgers.  It was a good memory possibly to a time when that was the best you had ever tasted so far in your short life as a young child.  At least this is what I told myself.  P just thought they sucked.

I'm less picky and secretly liked the slightly mushy fries and greasy bun.  And honestly for $10, that's a ride I would take again.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Seems I Got to Have a Change of Scene

I went to Madison, Wisconsin and somehow still have no clear idea of the terrain but I know it was wonderful to leave New York for a change of scenery.  It had lots of water from 3 large lakes and a very noticeable peaceful calm about it. It was cold the day we arrived and very windy.  We stopped at a local restaurant for lunch before checking into the hotel and made sure to get some of that great cheese and locally baked bread.  These were house made spicy potato chips, a great idea!
Waypoint Public House
We were invited to spend Thanksgiving with P's family and friends at their gorgeous farm house.  If you were to have a gathering in your dreams, this might be the venue.  A huge open space with rooms galore and a full service basement that opened to the outside complete with kitchen and bar.
Our hosts were great cooks but more importantly amazing, good people.  They accomplished impressive feats like serving a complete meal including hot turkey to 24 people all at once.  Later when we helped clean up we all realized they had to go out and get place settings for that many guests as well as silverware, platters and plates, bowls to mix everything and serve.  This was the Woodstock of Thanksgivings.  Some folks were to stay longer and most arrived days before.  Napkins, table clothes, drinks, wine and the cleaning!  The cleaning must have gone on for days and days.  They had freshly baked bread, snacks, not silly ones but well thought out ideas like a gorgeous cheese platter with fruit and the best crackers.  Susan made bagels, no, listen to me, she made homemade bagels! Can you imagine, because I can't?   I'm telling you, the people in my husband's family are capable, like really capable.  Not to mention pies and desserts with fresh whipped cream and this all happened quietly without any known stress.  I say known because there had to be some in existence but we sure didn't feel or see it.  The spacious farmhouse must have been slightly responsible for the good vibes but of course the people that gathered were all there out of love and thankfulness.

This group was thrilled when they had the spontaneous idea to make Micheladas, a Mexican drink with beer and tomato juice. I recalled that those were supposed to help with hangovers.  I think they wanted to make Bloody Mary's at first but beer is the choice liquid of most of the family.

P's sister and partner have bees and chickens, and are refurbishing a real barn.  It was all very lovely to be honest and even though I'm dreadfully shy in large groups, I stayed pretty comfortable and content.

They added another table to make room for additional guests and used the children to help make individual place cards for all.  

The little kids were like real adults that were able to joke and be cool the entire time.  I was so touched by being around them.  Such bright spirits!

I can honestly say I love each and everyone of these people and consider the bookends my ancient spiritual compadres. 

Homemade Sourdough Bread.  Get out!
My mother would have loved this room, a solarium, looking out onto countless birdhouses and a field with tons of trees. It has a blue tile floor and wood beams on the ceiling.  I kind of gasped when I saw it, sunken from the living room, struck by such a wonderful space to witness beauty.  You can imagine it in the spring filled with happy plants.  The whole place leaves you with that feeling.
My only regret was that I didn't go back for seconds on my dinner plate however I did manage to test all of the desserts...a couple of times.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

You're Toxic I'm Slippin' Under

Sheet Pan Rice Bowl
I'm sure if I searched I would find something wrong with all these amazing chicken sausages flooding the market.  Flavored with apple and mango, jalapeno even!  I already know charring them like this is bad due to the carcinogens.  But the good Lord gave me taste buds that I aim to use and this rice bowl right here is just about heavenly as a no-brainer meal.  Leftover rice from a Chinese take out night, a sheet pan of roasted chunked seasoned vegetables and sausage.  How could this possibly be wrong.

There is something about roasted anything that makes it a gillion times better. 
Sheet Pan Dinner

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

When I Hear Music

Image result for cher mermaids eating snacks gif
An all time favorite - Mermaids
Like music, many people ask you to define your cooking style.  Actually come to think of it, no one has but I feel pressure to know in the case they ever do.  I've understood mine, only through knowing what it isn't.  It obviously isn't based on technique or culinary training, definitely amateur but home-cook sounds so darn boring.  It's not pretentious, has some kick, heat and spice, speaks to a budget, hopefully slightly creative (although not much lately). I buy organic, grass fed, local and all that when I can but I'm not obsessed. I'd love to have my own garden someday but it ain't happening on a Brooklyn fire escape, not with these ninja squirrels.
This poached egg on half a reheated leftover pizza slice would be a great example of my style.  I'm a hint of Cher's, Mrs Flax in Mermaid's where I fear the commitment of a full sit down dinner.  I'm very into one bowl meals and 'bites'.  Snacks excite me.  I cringe at the word 'supper', it reeks of the dreaded 6pm sundown hour and normalcy.  I was never a fan, even in childhood of sitting at a table facing humans.  I'm too bothered by the chewing and silverware clatter.  I'm more happy dragging it to my cave and devouring in peace. 

I actually fit this Epicurious description quite well from this lighthearted article:  7 types of home cooks

The Freestyle Dilettante
The kitchen is where you express your creativity, a rules-free zone where you combine whatever cuisines, techniques, and ingredients happen to catch your fancy. Sometimes, your one-of-kind creations are mind-blowingly good (and unrepeatable--why didn't you write it down!) and other times, well, whatever. You had fun.

Sidenote - aka YouTube wormhole:  Speaking of freestyle, my goodness as soon as I read that word it takes me back to the wee 80's in Fresno, California where our butts were saved at the record store I worked by this genre.  Debbie Deb, Lisa-Lisa and Cult Jam, Expose, The Cover Girls, and the list goes on and on.  I can still hear When I Hear Music on repeat for what seemed 2 solid years in a row.  You could not keep the 12" in stock.  The DJ's had to get the girls to the dances held in the halls and if you didn't play Debbie Deb, then you might as well expect to see an empty floor and stacks of lonely guys.  I was fascinated that something so void of soul could spark so much passion in this crowd but it makes complete social sense since the boys needed girls to watch their spinning sessions on the cardboard that doubled as mating displays.  
Hanging in the backroom of Record Factory in Fresno California circa 1984

Sunday, November 24, 2019

You're Living in a Past, It's a New Generation

Chinese Take Out from Hua Long.  The great thing about the counter girl at this local establishment is she hates everyone, she's an equal opportunity hater.  She's a young beautiful girl, maybe her parents own the restaurant and she clearly is on for bigger things but she helps out which is still a great character builder I believe.  But maybe it doesn't feel so great, a little hard for her.  Being a teenager in this town is tough enough.  But I like her spunk.  In a great way, it cuts out all the nonsense.  Things happen fast because there are only two things you do in this place, order your food and pick it up.  Small talk is out of the question and if you want spicy mustard, be sure to ask for it before she staples that bag if you know what's good for you.  She's not having any questions about the menu.  I get that.  Every single chinese take out has the exact same menu of 1000 items and they really are able to make any of them but you as a consumer should know at this point, what's in Kung Pao chicken for example.  And also get your drinks somewhere else because she doesn't like being bothered with finding you the right soda.  I'm assuming all of this to be true based off my 10 minute experience fetching food from Hua Long tonight.

Friday, November 22, 2019

There's Nothing You Can Do But Your Can Learn How to Play the Game

An opened faced burger with baked wedge fries.  Is there anything new to learn about burgers?  The only news here is my discovery to put the tomato on the cheese during the melting process as well as the thinly sliced, fanned-out onions.  The cheese acts as glue so that everything stays together while you're cutting bites, instead of it sliding around all over avoiding your fork, something that's given me much frustration in the past.  I want the complete bite each time but have often given up after chasing that slippery little tomato piece around the plate. And a warmed tomato releases those fruity flavors that you remember, making them taste like tomatoes from the 1970's.