20 September 2012
Yesterday, my grandmother told me something I've always known about her - that she would rather pretend that nothing is wrong and just hope whatever it isn't goes away. For most of my life, my reading on this attitude focused on the inherent denial, the refusal to accept reality. But after reprimanding her and demanding she get over it and start facing the facts, little lady, I realized this duck and cover mechanism seems to stem more from superstition than just simple general delusion. If you admit to yourself, and thus the universe (or god, if you must), that something is wrong - then it has to be, right? And if you just ignore it and pretend like there's no red-eyed furball staring at you from your messy closet, then there simply must not be. Right?
Wrong, I guess, although there is something to say for revering the nag of the something we all feel but is intrinsically undefined. My approach to superstition is often the opposite of Lois'. I figure, the more I worry about it, the more declarative energy I put out there - very clearly letting the imps know I am not interested, thank you very much but no thank you, can't you see just thinking about this is making me sweat, just imagining the possibility is making my stomach churn, my armpits are starting to get itchy, for pete's sake please, let me be - the less likely that nasty unwanted thing is to take place. I practice this method of superstition in the way I take my probiotic in the morning and hope it helps my stomach the next day - as a preventative measure. It helps, although one must wonder how necessary that magic pill would be if I could just let go of the incessant defense and pretend that whatever goes on it that little hamster-ball brain of mine doesn't affect the universal grip on my existence what-so-ever.
I'm thinking about all of this as I ride a greyhound down the pike, to route 85, to Union Station, which is located approximately .5 miles from Saint Francis Hospital, where my Grammy, Lois Reiner, 82, is spending day three and is currently awaiting a visit to the O.R. This is a huge inconvenience for her, as she is a tremendously busy woman - often while hearing the recap of her days, I find myself laying down on the sidewalk while subconsciously listing all the ways I spend my time in hopes of calming myself off the 'I am a complete sedentary loser' precipice. My grammy is tremendous and is the epitome of style - well dressed, perfectly accentuated, alluring in her expectations, fantastically witty, a woman who clearly has seen the world and keeps pieces of it in her pocket just for fun. But this is no eulogy - she will be fine, because honestly, what's a pacemaker or a couple of defribulators to a Ahskenazi like Lois? Bupkis, nothing, nothing, just a bother, an inconvenience, and certainly nothing to travel for, so really don't worry, there's nothing you can do, it's boring, we're fine. Well, Grams, I'm not quite fine, and you're just going to have to deal with it.
Sometimes I feel like if I let my guard down for even one minute, if I let up on the worry and forget about the potential for utter disaster and difficulty, I feel like what I've staved off for so long with my mental vampire stake will come for me with a force triple that which I expended in neurotic behavior. But then, sometimes, when the world reminds me how strong the will of a mind can be, how that which sustains us is so much more than mechanisms of the aortic valve and firing synapses, the worrying must cease. This is when the glittery, pulsating, Lisa Frank heart that I swear is just under my forehead skin opens up and starts transforming superstitious energies into love and compassion for suffering - and the rainbow of healing sometimes dually connects to my heart while crossing astral planes to get to the heart that matters.
Grammy is insistent we make no fuss over this little incident, but that didn't stop me from booking myself and my brother bus tickets late last night, and it certainly didn't bolster my legs as my chest flattened and the feeling of a swift swack to the back forced me to stop walking up the hill, figurative and literal, many times in the last few days. But her refusal to sit with the potential for severity has left me with more than a sad duty to do so myself - it has left me wondering how I might best carry out that very terrifying task. If her refusal to weigh reality is based in fear of the universal acceptance that couples with personal acceptance, how dare I dishonor that? If superstition has worked for her this long - and really, it's worked well - who am I to force a change of pretense?
My therapist is always reminding me of what she dubs Realities - the spaces we carve out for ourselves in which our subjective experience is the one that truly matters, and it's in this spectrum that I'm giving up the ghost. I want more than anything in this moment for my grandmother to live, for her to come out of this quibble with the universal quo unscathed, no different than she came in. But I have to let myself at least nibble the wafer or corporeal reality and accept that this may not be the case - and let myself acknowledge that the acknowledgment of mortality is not itself the unleashing of a grim. It can't be. I need to see my grandmother, and I need to see her now, and simply put, You, You Universe that may or may not give a shit about my presumed existential understandings and my highly neurotic attempts to control my own little world, You will just have to sit back and let me try this whole face-forward-and-stop-fretting-that-just-because-I-noticed-the-crack-on-the-wall-the-wall-is-going-to-crumble thing.
Let me sustain the illusion of being untethered from the fetters of fate, comfort me without any pressing omens or falling objects, would you? I've fed you fears for a lifetime, might you grant me the temporary relief of no imbued meaning, of no gentle serendipity. Let me walk on the plane in which I can be scared, be worried, cry, get on a bus, ride that bus, sit in the hospital, say I love you, wonder what the consequences may be, sit with the potential for this to be the last time, without taking any cues from me and cashing in a check I truly never meant to pen. Let me live in my fear without letting it fill your gills, please. Let me pretend like I don't know what it's like to worry about something only to have it happen - remind me that I don't make much of a difference when it comes to which way the wind decides to blow.
19 December 2011
24 August 2011
21 August 2011
21 May 2010
12 May 2010
I'm doing Mass Market again this summer - I'm not sure how many of these I've done so far but it's been a handful. I started when I first moved to Boston participating in the PRFM's and then kept going when it became Mass Market. I did the winter Mass Market last year and financially it was a bust, so I'm hoping that this one will be a little more lucrative (especially since they keep bumping up the table fee...). I'm planning on switching up my table this time around, making it a little more refined. I used to have just a mish-mash of stuff for sale, lots of blank books (all different cover papers, so I'd have to display lots at a time), lots of different greeting cards (again, many different kinds, so I'd have to display many at a time), some jewelry, some junk, some knitted stuff, some kitsch, etc etc etc. Last time around I tried to clear the clutter a bit, and this time I'm going even further.
I'm going to stop making pattern-covered notebooks and start making notebooks with images on the front. Hopefully I'll have about ten or so different images to choose from, so there will only be ten notebooks on display. I'll have a small box for the pattern-notebooks, for people to flip through instead of having them laid out on the table. I'm going to stick with the display set up I rigged for greeting cards - and have about 10 different styles to choose from. I hope to have a few amigurumi creatures/food cuties, as well as a few pairs of baby booties. Beyond that, I may have a few hardbound books, but I'm going to devote a good portion of my table to... FOOD. Oh yeah, food. I'm going to have bagels. I'm going to have cupcakes. I'm going to have loaves of bread. I may even can some spreads and sauces and pickles. I'm going to have samples. And I'm going to make money like all the other bakers do (because I watch, I see, they sell out).
So come one come all, and buy a book with your bagels. Or some bagels with your books. Either way, come out and enjoy. Mass Market is always a good time, regardless of whether or not I make money or you find anything to spend your money on. It's a great time for people watching (the creme de la creme of awful/wonderful/ridiculous hipsters/art students/nogoodnicks plus norms/hip families/grandparents on parade) and if you've got dough to spend there's a lot of really worthy crafters and artists overly eager to relieve you of that caysh.
18 April 2010
Some sesame, plain, salted, onion - some everything. Afterwards I made another batch with the roasted tomato/pepper spread I made tonight in the dough - it was my dad's brilliant idea. The spread itself is delicious, and totally perfect for bagel smearing.
12 April 2010
I'm bad at this. I've been bad at blogging ever since I stopped being an angsty teen who sorted her life out through her livejournal. Regardless, I want to try to make more of an effort to update this thing. I'm still making work, I'm still cooking, still baking, still creating, and I need to document it all somehow. I'm an absent minded archivist, which, just so you understand - means I'm a forgetful person who needs to archive her life in order to remember it. So, I'll try again. Maybe harder this time.
Recently I was generously gifted a cuisinart. I feel as though I've wanted my own cuisinart my whole life - and now I have one. No more, "oh I wish I could puree this", "oh, this sauce would be so amazing if I could really get it smooth", no more trying to force lumpy messes through tight-knit strainers in hopes of achieving velvet. No, now, I can dice, chop, slice, puree, and mix all I want - and without spending hours doing so.
Since receiving this piece of kitchen consumer magic, I have been stocking my fridge with sunchokes - that big grocery store full of 'whole' foods down the street has had them in constant supply as of late - and I've been using them to make a really wonderful soup that is just as delicious hot as it is cold (or at least I think so, which could very likely be heavily disputed because I think most people don't appreciate thick smooth cold things that aren't, like, milkshakes).
I don't have a real recipe written up, but I'm going to do my best to share with you what I've been doing so that maybe you can make some yourself. You could do this with a blender too (and honestly, I guess you could get serious and do it with a mouli, but that'd be tough and messy) - but it definitely needs to be processed.
Ingredients (only makes about 2 or 3 good sized servings):
- About a pound of sunchokes
- Three to five potatoes of your liking - I've been using yukon golds but I have also done it with a mix of red bliss and yukon. I would use something with a bit more flavor and creamy consistency than plain old idaho's.
- About 4C broth (I haven't had any homemade broth recently, and instead have used store bought - chicken/veggie broth leaves the soup with a less altered taste and color; mushroom broth gives the soup a deeper flavor and color, and is really quite good. A mix of two of the three would also be fantastic - clearly, use veggie/mushroom to make soup vegan)
- 1 medium sized shallot
- 5 or so good sized garlic cloves (because I love garlic)
- spices (i like to use bay leaf, fresh thyme, pepper and kosher salt, curry, paprika)
- butter (i use soy butter, but you use what you want)
Peel the sunchokes and potatoes. Submerge the sunchokes in cold water until ready to use.
Dice garlic and shallot.
Cube the sunchokes and potatoes into manageable cubes.
Sweat garlic and shallot in butter over med-low heat, in large deep walled sauce pan, until fragrant. Don't allow the garlic and shallot to color. Add the cubed sunchokes and potatoes, increase heat slightly. Add about a tbsp of fresh thyme. Add salt and pepper to taste, (if desired) one whole bay leaf, as well as paprika and curry to taste - probably about a 1/2tsp of paprika and curry, although you can do more or less as you please. Stir well and pour broth over it all - the broth should just about cover all the business in the pan. Still well again, making sure to scrape the bottom of the pan well - there shouldn't be anything stuck to the bottom but you want to make sure all the yum is incorporated well into the broth. Cover and bring to boil. Lower heat and summer until sunchokes and potatoes are soft - sunchokes may get soft before potatoes but as far I can tell it doesn't make too much difference for this recipe if they 'over cook'.
Once everything is soft (not mushy though - soft like for mashed potatoes), and ladle into processor (be sure to remove bay leaf). Process in small quantities as to not overwhelm machine. Pour into bowl. Once everything is pureed, strain soup through fine strainer - a chinois is ideal (wish i had one!). Soup is ready and delicious - eat immediately or store in the fridge for a few days.
The soup is delicious on it's own but I like topping it with well diced pan fried bacon (if I was rich I'd use prosciutto) and lightly sauteed arugula with garlic. Don't over sautee arugula, and if you are using bacon sautee the arugula and garlic in some of the leftover bacon grease for an extra delicious treat. In the picture below I also added some grated monterey jack cheese (cabot, lactose free).
This recipe can be made to be vegan by using soy butter, veggie/mushroom broth, and obviously not topping it with bacon/sauteing the arugula in bacon fat.
When I make this soup, things are good. It satisfies my craving for dense, creamy soups that almost always have cream or milk in them - while being entirely dairy free yet fantastically thick and smooth. Beyond that, it keeps me grounded and steady in moving on, in mending this broken heart.
For me, cooking is a time to stop and think about nothing and everything at the same time - while my mind may wander occasionally (and often some of my most incredible thoughts come while in the kitchen), for the most part my mind is set on the task at hand and I am liberated and relieved through the meticulous processes of preparation, cooking, and cleaning. Since that heavy magic was lost, though, I have found that my kitchen brain has changed in someways - as our love was so heavily tied to our time in the kitchen, I am reminded constantly of everything I had, and subsequently lost, when I cook. But at the same time, certain things I now incorporate into my kitchen time - the way I now dice shallots, understanding the chemistry behind my dough, having the confidence to make that which i once bought - are constant reminders of the gift that came despite the loss along with it.
I learned about sunchokes and turning them into soup in his kitchen, and making this dish is especially emotional for me - while the sadness and nostalgia are there, entirely present, so is the gratitude for all that you taught me. Thank you for that.
24 January 2010
23 January 2010
Sometimes Peter and I draw comics together. On our way to pho the other night, we saw some kid playing a game of exquisite corpse. We had brought note cards and pens with us to draw anyways, and so we ended up playing three rounds. Our food came so quick that night this was all we got to do! Anyways, the pho was delicious and these are awesome: