food

The way things come together

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Since my last post it has been exactly 83 days. It was the hopeful start of this happy days project and the same day that I bought the rights to my own webpage and I was starting to feel like the cyberworld was truly my oyster. My head filled with ideas of a world in which I wrote everyday, practically spouting forth beautiful language and sage advice, gradually becoming more and more famous until I transformed into blogger and cheese-guru.

And then (in spite of these completely realistic dreams), life happened.

Things got busy, days and weeks passed, and the more time I put between myself and this blog, the harder it was to sit down and start writing again. The truth is, I love writing and I love taking photos and I love musing about things. Sometimes publicly, and sometimes just in my own weird brain. In a lot of ways, this blog has been an amazing outlet for me this year, but when I think too hard about what it is I am actually doing here, it feels a bit pointless. A bit without purpose.

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And so today, on a rainy Tuesday with time to kill, I told myself to get over it. To write because I want to write. To get back on the horse, if you will.

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In the past three months I have made some big decisions about my next steps. I’ve accepted that I will be moving somewhere completely new and that this is both exciting and scary all at once. I’ve been reminded of how many wonderful people I am surrounded by and how lucky I am to have that kind of love and support.

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And so life does goes on, in its funny way, and things pop up and things change. Today, I decided to embark on another baking project (on yes, a Tuesday afternoon, like I said I’m in a weird-in-between time folks) and I was pleasantly surprised, as I always am when it comes to baking, to remember the beautiful way in which things come together.

My love affair with the sandwich

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Well, let’s just say this has been a long time coming. I’ve hinted at it. I’ve made allusions. But if you haven’t picked up on it already, let me just tell it straight — the greatest love affair of my life to date has probably been with the sandwich.

Turkey? Yes please. Dijon mustard? Oh yeah. Tomatoes? Cucumber? Sprouts? Bagel sandwich? MELTED CHEESE? Yes to all of the above and more. IMG_0485
The thing that’s so great about the sandwich is its incredible potential. So much lies between those two slices of bread. I will revel in the buttery texture of a ripe avocado and the tingling spicy sensation you feel in your nostrils after applying too much Dijon mustard. When confronted with a plethora of ingredients and extra toppings, I simply just cannot say no.

Because I was an English major in college, and by nature just a very thoughtful and overly analytical person, one day as I was thinking about my love for the sandwich I asked myself: what does this mean? 

This is probably where most of you will stop reading, lean back from your computer screen, and say who is this girl? Why can’t she just enjoy a tasty sandwich without thinking too much about what it means? Go ahead, take some time to shake your head in confusion.IMG_1114
Back now? Let me just say: I can enjoy a sandwich simply for what it is.

But I also know that I love the sandwich in the same way I love life – stuffed. Full. Brimming with too many things that set your senses off. I just always want to taste and see and smell and have it all.

This all being said, I hope that my somewhat-cliched-sandwich-life-awakening moment doesn’t taint your next eating experience. I hope you don’t pause every time you take a bite and worry about whether or not you should have added the sprouts and what this does or doesn’t mean about your personality.

Just enjoy it. And above all else, please make sure you’ve got some kind of cheese on there. And maybe just a little bacon.IMG_2881

11 Abbreviated Love Poems

 

 

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On one of my most recent expeditions to Powell’s books, (a place that calls itself a mere bookstore but really, is a mecca for all book-lovers, a cavernous, multi-floor building with books practically seeping out of the shelves) I did my usual routine. Walk in. Stand in awe and complete bliss for a brief moment. Commence making my way around the store, saving the poetry and fiction sections for last – like saving the last bite of your meal, to truly savor it.

I inevitably always end up walking out with one or two extra books in addition to the one I went there with the purpose to purchase. What can I say? I have a serious addiction. During this last trip I picked up Adrienne Rich’s The Dream of a Common Language. More poetry to fill my bookshelves and my brain. What can I say? Another one of my addictions.

While I am still making my way through this beautiful book, her series “21 Love Poems” struck me in particular. The honest mix of lyricism and inquiry strike me as completely human. I fall into these words, I bathe in them:

“Sleeping, turning in turn like planets
rotating in their midnight meadow:
a touch is enough to let us know
we’re not alone in the universe, even in sleep:
the dream-ghosts of two worlds
walking their ghost-towns, almost address each other.”

Since I am no Adrienne Rich and since it is a Saturday morning I felt inspired to write my own abbreviated love poems. It may have turned into more of a list of things I love. Call it what you will.IMG_2247
1) Sunsets.
I know they are cliched but they never get old for me. As an avid-sunset-watcher I have learned two important things about sunsets which I will now share with you: 1) the best sunsets have more clouds, and 2) they’re always better after the sun disappears below the horizon line.

2) The sun on the wall in the morning.
It will always surprise you.

3) Friends.
Surround yourself with people you love and you will always be happy.

4) Hot dogs.
They are perfect and I love them. IMG_1098IMG_1101

5) Cookbooks.
They are a subset of my book-buying addiction and I think they are not only useful but beautiful.

6) Inspirational quotes.
As a product of my inspirational-quote-decorating mother and inspirational-sport-quotes father, I am a hybrid of all things inspiring. They’re cheesy and yet they still get me every time. IMG_2426

7) The state of Maine.
The lobster rolls. The coast. The fall. The way the air smells. The no traffic. Everything about it, I love. IMG_2396IMG_0139IMG_1147

8) The smell of garlic on my hands.
I don’t know what this says about me but unlike most people, I like the way the smell of garlic lingers, the way my hands smell like they’ve been in the kitchen. And I swear, I do wash them.

9) Large sweaters.
Another one of my buying addictions.

10) Eating. And taking pictures of the things I’m eating.
As if this wasn’t obvious enough already.IMG_2151 IMG_2161

11) A Saturday afternoon snuggled on the couch reading a book or watching a movie with something baking in the kitchen.
Taking comfort in the slow weekends and the blanket tucked around your legs.

What makes your love list?

 

If I Could Eat Words

IMG_3526This morning I went for a run in Forest Park and I realized seven things.

1) The sun is out.

This is always very exciting for Portland. This is especially exciting this week because we are supposed to have sun for multiple days in a row! Since I’m only working part time right now it is really easy to snuggle down in my cozy bed when it’s gray outside and barely leave the house. The sun is an inviting reminder that yes, there is life outside, and yes, you should get out of bed and go DO something. Go be active.

Just go be. IMG_3527
2) Running through Forest Park is the closest I will ever come to trail running.

After I came up with my brilliant idea to deviate from my normal run and go exploring in beautiful-green-jungle-land, I parked my car and started running.

It truly is such a magical part of the city. It is so wet and green and the sun was filtering in through the trees today in beautiful patterns. I love the feeling of running in cold air — your body is both sweaty and cold at the same time and I think it is some odd combination of these sensations that makes your nerve endings particularly alert. I felt everything. Every tight muscle in my calves, the pull in my chest, and the air pressing into me.

This ecstatic moment of true feeling turned against me after one too many hills when I had to start walking and, after a particularly low moment, lean up against a tree. For the remainder of my brief three-mile run, I alternated between running (on the downhills), walking (up the hills), and taking pictures for this blog post. I couldn’t help myself. IMG_3531IMG_3528
3) Sometimes we think we know what we’re doing and sometimes we know we have no idea and still other times, we are just snotty-nosed, running, and trying not to trip on all the roots and rocks that life (or the trail) throws our way.

Mid-way through my walk/run/photo-taking endeavors, I started laughing. I was so excited to get outside and go for a nice five mile run and here I was stopping every couple of minutes to breathe or take a picture.

I moved across the country thinking I would get here, find work in an adorable coffee shop immediately, and begin filling the rest of my days with volunteer work for inspiring creative writing organizations.

Needless to say, I think that my dreamer mentality might have slightly clouded my perceptions of what moving to a new city and searching for a job looks like. There have been a lot of moments of self-doubt and frustration, just like everyone at the crossroads of this transition point is experiencing.IMG_3521
I want to say that when I write things on this blog like, “You know what to do, so don’t be afraid and go do it,” I don’t presume to know everything. Not even close. I have been afraid many times. I question what to do. I worry. But by writing and dreaming and reaching I find a kind of encouragement. And that’s all I’m trying to share here.

Sometimes we have days where we realize we can’t run up the hills as well as we thought we could, we have snot running out of our nose, and there are way too many rocks on this path that we can trip on. I say, embrace the hilarity and run or walk or skip or stumble on dear readers.

4) A sandwich with melted cheese and tomato soup cures everything. IMG_3539
This is true. Melted cheese and some hot soup that you can dip your sandwich in are probably two of my most favorite things in the world. Not even just favorite food, I’m talking favorite things. Of all time.

So if you are feeling particularly discouraged on a given day, turn to the soup and the sandwich (more to come on this love affair in a later post). IMG_3536
5) If words were money and also edible I would totally live off of them. Off of them and nothing else. Except maybe grilled cheese. And tomato soup.

This was one of the last things I realized on my run this morning. I realized that if I am the kind of person who feels so compelled to stop mid-run repeatedly and take photos for her blog post then I should probably start taking this blog thing pretty seriously. Which is why I’m going to try and start posting regularly, three times a week. Which is why I also want to say thank you, to all of you for reading, following, and just generally supporting the wild whims and odd creative brain-firings of a 22-year-old, curly-haired, college graduate living in Portland. Truly, thank you.

An Ode To Turkey Day

On Thanksgiving morning at 11am I was standing with my mom in the kitchen.IMG_2998Light was filtering in through the windows, the cheesy Thanksgiving day parade was playing in the family room, and I had just come home from a “turkey trot”. This turkey trot was not the widely known 10k that most DC residents participate in but rather, a group of friends that gather early in the morning to get a little exercise in, catch up, and say hello before rushing home to be with family.

My turkey trot consisted of me walking about 2 miles and then eating a glazed donut. And it was perfect. Afterwards, I was happy to be in my warm home, happy to know that the rest of my day would be spent solely in the kitchen. IMG_3027
“I love that Thanksgiving is a time where everything stops in the middle of the week in the US,” my mom said. “Everything stops just so that we can eat and talk and spend time with friends and family.” What a resounding truth. Thanksgiving is one of the few holidays we celebrate in the US that doesn’t have a lot of pomp and flair. There are no gifts that are given, no party hats, no countdown. There are no fireworks or free candy, no crazy costumes, and no explosion of all things pink, heart-shaped, and chocolate.

Instead, Thanksgiving is a holiday that exists simply – we eat good food, we spend time with dear friends and family, and we finally take the time to slow down and articulate what we are grateful for. The equation for a happy thanksgiving is almost so simple, it makes you wonder why we don’t take the time to infuse these things into our daily life more often. IMG_3065
My Thanksgiving vacation this year was a lot different than I was expecting. I was thankful for my amazing friends and family but I was also grateful to reconnect with some old friends, to be reminded of my past.

This Thanksgiving was also different because I successfully cooked my first turkey. When confronted with the impending threat of a turkey-less Thanksgiving (thanks to a vegetarian mom and a dad and brother who I love but were not about to spend four hours with a naked bird in the kitchen), I accepted the challenge. IMG_3057
And after six hours of cooking, I produced something that both looked and tasted like a turkey. Success!IMG_3062
(I can’t say the same for the gravy, that turned out to be more of a paste.)

Honestly, the thrill of tending to my bird and that pivotal moment when the internal temperature reached 165 degrees was unlike anything else. I was reminded again of how satisfying and pleasurable the simple act of preparing and sharing food can be.

Among other highlights of the day – delicious chocolate chip coffee cake for breakfast, spending time with two adorable puppies, and taking many many pictures of food. IMG_3055IMG_3048IMG_3037IMG_3020IMG_3016IMG_3003IMG_3061

“For is there any practice less selfish, any labor less alienated, any time less wasted, than preparing something delicious and nourishing for people you love?”
― Michael Pollan, Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation