Chop then Blend

These last few posts have been choppy and disconnected or, in musical terms, “staccato“. I hope that in future posts, my writing style will mature to a point where bridges between paragraphs are included and the story blends seamlessly. But that is for future posts. And speaking of blending things together, that is what I aim to share with you this very day.

Yesterday, you see, was the last day of and in my temporary housing! In the next few hours, I will move into a semi-stable environment and this is cause enough to celebrate. How do we celebrate over here at premedanny? I will tell you directly: some type of challenging workout, 10 hours of sleep and a smoothie. Do not fear though friends, this is not just any smoothie. It is called:

Alpha-Beta Smoothie

1 cup of almond milk
about 1/3 block silken tofu
1 pre-cooked and cooled yam
5-6 baby carrots
1 small seedless cucumber
1 Gala apple
1 banana
dribble of Udo’s Oil 3-6-9 Blend
1 tsp maca powder
dash of ground cinnamon

Add the soft ingredients at the bottom so that they mix together first and layer the more firm ingredients at the top. Blend away and pour yourself some filling goodness. Please note though, that as with most of my recipes, this is pretty hearty and calorie dense. Also, as I was blending this drink together, one could observe that it was less a drink and more a slurry or perhaps even a thick soup. If this becomes the case for you too, eat with a spoon. I am sure that as you eat, the category of where food falls in the spectrum melts away as the spirit within is nourished. Well, some could say that. I say to you, enjoy.

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Let It Drop

The English language is full of rules, sleights of hand and oddities. One grey area that is profoundly murky to me is when a sentence can function as a suggestion, sage advice and a command. (A great blog that expands upon the grey areas of the English language is Pain in the English.) Let me explain.

The evening started out well enough in a comfortable and unusual-for-this-time-of-year 75 degree F. Myself and two friends swung (swang?) over to the small-town Chipotle for some authentic Mexican food. If you have ever been inside a Chipotle or experienced their ordering line, you know that the restaurant prides itself on its in-and-out food service. The company may even beat Starbucks’s service commitment to having a drink ready under 3 minutes. It is great but sometimes it feels too fast; customers, especially older ones, feel bewildered and confused, holding a complete, fresh, paid meal on a tray all in 1.5 minutes. Unlike the elderly, I have grown accustomed to this system and get frustrated when the workers fumble with the order.
“I say, good man, I said mild salsa AND corn salsa! Can’t you see what you’re doing? Yes, put it on the burrito. How else am I going to eat it?!”

Things were going particularly smooth at the ordering line, as we arrived before the dinner rush hour. At the cashier’s station, I paid with a smile across my face. That smile vanished though, as I picked up the “for here” tray and the contents spilled on the floor and my jeans. Like the usual Chipotle experience, it happened so fast and I thought it was someone else’s food. “Oh Dear”, I mumbled as the cashier snapped to the back room, “Clean up here! A-Sap.”

The area is not exactly small-town as I misled you to believe earlier. Nearby is a host of happening restaurant chains like Chili’s, Subway, Golden Spoon, 24 Hour Fitness. Adjacent to these eateries is an enormous Barnes and Noble bookstore. One can spend a great deal of time in a bookstore with so many titles, topics and categories to peruse. After the burrito dinner, we headed over to this bookstore to hang out, chill, be in the moment. The way to be in the perfect moment in a bookstore is to browse the New Age section. They carry how-to manuals on safe, psychedelic journeys, advice from Fallen Angels, a memoir from the Medium Next Door. A text that I picked up was on visualizing geometry and color for inner peace. Reading one of the exercises out loud went like this:

“You can see a blue circle in front of you. Focus on this.
Now there is a gold triangle in the middle of the blue circle.
Then, a small white light appears in the middle of the gold triangle, in the middle of the blue circle.”

and for more advanced practitioners:

“Visualize orange bands around a green diamond, in the middle of which is a blue circle, in the middle of which is a gold triangle, and in the middle of that is a white light. Feel peace wash over you.”

I could see the colors and shapes in my head, but the directions became a little confusing. It also reminded me of less successful versions of Op Art or theories from a Color Symbolist. I have drawn the exercise below:

Art juices stimulated, when I ducked into the men’s bathroom I began to notice the stall around me as I sat down. The usual graffiti and scratched ghosts of words were carved around in an uneven line at eye level. It doesn’t take much imagination to see someone sitting down in much the same way that you are and then taking out a razor blade and lashing out in arc at the bathroom stall walls. There are some artists who have become quite successful at making works out of tracing stains and other detritus and then rearranging them in formal compositions, like Ingrid Calame. Below you will find my own little arranged composition taken from the stall:  One of the more interesting and coherent messages left was an actual taped business card advertising loan services. “CALL TODD”, it read. A suggestion, a command, advice? “Well I have been needing help with my finances…” was the prompt that this loan representative was hoping to cash in on from an untapped demographic of bathroom users.

Slowly, I began to take notice of someone else in the bathroom. I am not sure about you, but I don’t really like other people in the bathroom at the same time so I wait until that person leaves. Washing his hands, I was almost in the clear until he yelled loudly, “Let it Drop!” and then stomped away.

What was he talking about? Was he talking to me? Was he on his phone? Why did he think he could say that since my life is too hard right now?! These thoughts gathered in my head and I couldn’t let them drop.

Sometimes your intuition tells you that something is going to happen even if you hope it won’t. I had an inkling that this person, almost like a mentor, would be waiting outside to make sure I took his advice. Preparing for what would surely be embarrassing, I washed my hands, took a deep breath, and opened the bathroom door. 

A doughy man stood about ten feet away. We made brief eye contact before he, nodding his head in approval, disappeared into the Philosophy book section.

Geometry in the grass

 

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Took a Hike

The past several posts have included one or more references to tears, crying or breakdowns. While these have happened to moi, at the other end of the heavy matter is how one copes. Research studies have shown that physical exercise can have a positive influence on the body and mind, elevating mood and well-being. Please don’t ask me for the research references; my defenses are down and I don’t have them on hand. I can only sheepishly point you in the direction of TIME magazine or the doctor you feel most comfortable talking with.

Today, I went for a nice hike. The temperature was below 100 F and a cool breeze wheezed its way amongst the hills. The pictures below feature my favorite spot to hike; it is varying in its difficulty and gorgeous scenery surrounds the path. Once at the top of the intial part of the climb, one can see across the great urban sprawl with a full view of at least a dozen cities on either side of your viewpoint. The real treasure though, lies east along the trail. People rarely traverse in this direction so I can always count on some alone time over there.


(Couldn’t help the pun! Love the song)

Going out on the trail...

Even the weeds are robust and healthy along this route!

Trail on the way back

Along this trail, which goes up a steep 1.2 miles at the start and then about 6 miles east, I have seen deer, birds of prey, snakes, tarantulas, a baby coyote, game hunters complete with hunting equipment, and large contraptions that, upon closer view, were large hives. I had no fear – this was Nature, Good-Hearted and I was due for an updated prescription on my glasses soon.

This day will end for me with a spot of yoga and a nice dinner. Please enjoy yourself today or tomorrow in the great outdoors. There is much space to explore and so little time in which to do it. Take a hike mister or ma’am.

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Ground’s Comin’ Up

All alone I have cried. Silent tears, full of pride. In a world full of fear full offffff stooone…

You may recognize these words as lyrics to a popular song in the feature film, “Flashdance”. I don’t claim to be alive when it was filmed, produced, released to cinemas and then VHS for home viewing. What I do remember though, is hearing it performed in the 3rd grade of our public elementary school somewhere in the middle of New Jersey. The minor/major key changes and passionate vocals as performed by the ‘Big Kid Choir’ deeply moved me, the words and tune as shrieked by 4th and 5th graders imbedded themselves into the makeup of who I fastly was becoming.

You can’t have it all, you’re gonna dance right through your li iy iy iy fe Continue reading

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Candida Diem

I haven’t been feeling that well recently.

If one looks back in time there usually is a series of events that offer clues as to one’s current indisposition. This gut feeling I have can indeed be traced back to a few short days ago where there laid a free meal, out in the open, offered by the university where I work at. Nevermind that this had been sitting out for some time and was supposed to be for incoming students, one has to jump at the chance for “free” food. At least, I used to tout this belief system around like the ever looser belt that holds up my pants. There are a plethora of admirable things to live by and for in one’s life; free eatings used to be one of those anthems for me and, by the looks of events, this still is the case for many. Myself and a co-worker treated ourselves to that lunch of refried beans, tortillas, Spanish rice, lettuce, tomatoes and a touch of salsa. A sprinkle of cheese was added last-minute in desperate gyrations as the food workers began to clear the buffet, taking away each item that our shadows passed by.

Depending on how beans are cooked, they can be a nutritional, filling powerhouse with ample carbs, protein and fiber. On the other side of the bean, though, if prepared grossly they can ruin your digestive system and that Candida-do attitude. Rome was not built in a day, I hear, but surely one can imagine it being destroyed in that amount of time or less. Three days later, the old body is coming around from an uncomfortable gastro experience and to celebrate this end, and a new beginning, I purchased some coconut water and made a tasty breakfast.

This recipe is variation on a parfait that my sister referred me to from a cookbook. The original source, however, like several other important details in my life, remains a faceless blur.

*Brief Aside: Cirque du Soleil, a favorite artsy acrobatic group of mine since a young-ish age, developed an emotionally moving program revolving around this concept of a nameless passerby, called, Quidam.

An artist that also comes to mind in terms of visualizing anonymity in society is Do-Ho Suh, whose previous works have included large installations with materials such as dog tags or photographs compiled in a way that the individual is seemingly lost to the whole, or collective. I had the great pleasure of seeing the work “Some/One” in person at the Seattle Art Museum, where it is, thankfully, in the museum’s permanent collection.

"Some/One" by Do-Ho Suh. thousands of military dog tags in the form of traditional Korean dress, 2001. Photo: designboom.com

"Some/One" (detail) by Do Ho Suh. Photo: designboom.com

To continue this rickety train of thought, the breakfast that I had this morning went and looked a little like a Bryan McKnight song:

Step 1: It was like a dream come true
Step 2: Eating, had to stop halfway through
Step 3: It was plain to see that it was only for me
Step 4: Repeat steps one through three

Greek Yogurt and Yam Parfait

Ingredients:

-plain Greek Yogurt ( I used Fage, but Chobani is good also)
-yam, cooked
-strawberries
-blueberries
-kiwi
-walnuts
-maple syrup
-dash of ground cinnamon and possibly ground cardamom
(note: banana would be excellent in this dish)

Parfait toujours!

Layer the ingredients parfait style with yam first, then Greek yogurt, then berries and walnuts. Repeat the layering process. Drizzle with maple syrup and enjoy!

Note that this recipe does have added sugar in the form of maple syrup. Some are embracing a Candida-free diet which simply means that foods are avoided, holistically speaking, that may encourage and prolong discomfort associated with the nameless, faceless, smaller-than-life sprite known as Candida. Excess sugar is usually one of these food items that is cut.

As for this breakfast, well, those that can enjoy a little sugar, will find it is Candida-lyumptious!

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Fumigatorade

Several days ago the Fumigator stormed our apartment complex daring human, beast and insect to survive its lethal spray. El Fumigador provided us the courtesy of foreknowledge with a crookedly taped sign on the front door two days prior. Included on the back of the sign was a small required homework assignment due upon the D-Day. Remove everything from the kitchen and bathrooms and place items somewhere in the middle of the house, it read.

Example of bug fumigation. Photo: Always Eco Fumigation* motto: "safe, all natural insect control"

Working late, my roomates and I dumped everything on our kitchen table and side bedroom, covered it all in a plastic shroud to ward off evil fumes. For all of Mr. Fumagie’s fuming, I really can’t tell a difference after the fact other than now everything has to be cleaned thoroughly since being laced with toxic chemicals. Spray it, don’t say it indeed. Not really having the energy or motivation, to re-line drawers and replace our kitchen and bathroom items, all objects remain exactly where placed, a contemporary still-life. As I sat down for breakfast this morning, carefully carving out a little niche next to the Pinesol, bear coffee cups and knife set, I began to munch thoughtfully.

Something is wrong if one gets choked up reading the summaries on the back of books on yoga philosophy. Or even worse, on the back of yoga workout DVDs. It seems silly, but it is hard to shake off strong feelings when they come so easily. Just stick in a few words of sentimental value and this ship is shipwrecked. Questions that the modern-day captain and the crew would surely utter are, “Where was the lighthouse?” and “Why wasn’t this seen?”

Signs

1 My next door neighbor, Anita, whom I had developed a deep fondness for, moved to a different city several months ago. I shed some tears and I like to think that she did too, though the verdict is out. When you are crying, the world looks like it is too.

The people who moved into her apartment, are a large family that keep to themselves, though not quietly. Shrieks from children and loud voices of parental correction I clearly hear while prepping for me nightly dinner. “Now, you kids listen up! I am going to countdown from five! If I get down to zero, you are going to be in trouble! Five! Four! Three! (now the voice gets deeper and more threatening). Two!… One…!” The children fearfully relent, “No, Daddy! We’ll stop!!” The ominous countdown as an abstract and effective form of correction brought me back to my own childhood with a shudder.

Consistently their, let’s call them the O’Brien’s, door is left open during normal day hours so much so that I can usually rely on getting an eyeful after work as I open the door to my adjacent apartment and slip in. The oddest thing I have noticed is there is not any furniture in the living room except for a television and the strong scent of lavender that lingers in our shared stairwell. In truth, the most I can gather about the O’Brien’s is from the young ones and their father. One day, coming back late from work, I came upon a private family moment. The dad was leaning close to ground holding snails up by their shells for the boys to see, the dim orange light from the back alleyway where our stairwell exists bouncing off its curves. “This”, he seriously whispered to his sons, “is a snail.” Their eyes opened wide.

So that is all I could tell about the family was that they had a fascination for snails, television and lavender. That is, until one morning, when leaving for work I came upon the dad, awkwardly standing a few steps down on the stairwell, smoking and the unmistakable smell of pot reaching my nostrils.

2 Credit/debit card fraud has its own unmistakable stink. At the grocery store yesterday, I was attempting to pay for my vittles and after trying every option for payment, my card was repeatedly rejected. Slightly embarrassed, I called my small military bank located almost exclusively in Texas (I was excited to discover that they expanded to Colorado! Those in my family that still are with the bank make a trek once a year to make a symbolic in-person deposit), and was informed that my account was closed due to suspicious activity. My heart began to race as they listed off the suspicious purchases, one by one: Healthcare treatment in Montreal, QC, Canada; Gas in Montreal; Sushi in Montreal; Phone purchase in Montreal; Gas in Papine, Jamaica. This person needed immediate treatment perhaps for a gangrenous wound, had some sushi to help with the pain, bought a phone to talk about the pain, traveled around for a while in Montreal, before traveling to Jamaica and then driving around some more. The classy type.

The statistics for credit card/debit card fraud are quite frightening. According to a March 2009 survey, Credit and debit card fraud is the No. 1 fear of Americans in the midst of the global financial crisis. Concern about fraud supersedes that of terrorism, computer and health viruses and personal safety. (Source: Unisys Security Index: United States, March 2009). The Bad News: The number of U.S. identity fraud victims increased 22 percent in 2008 to 9.9 million adults. However, the total annual fraud amount jumped just 7 percent to $48 billion. The report said this is because “consumers and businesses are detecting and resolving fraud more quickly.” (Source: Javelin Strategy & Research, February 2009 study.)
The Good news: The average fraud resolution time dropped 30 percent to 21 hours. (Source: Javelin Strategy & Research, “Identity Fraud Survey Report,” February 2010). It is strange that the crime of theft is essentially the same, but has morphed into a crime that isn’t occurring in reality. The victims, however, still feel the same way that they always have when stolen from. Angry; vulnerable.

Boris Pasternak, the great Russian poet and this book a cherished gift

3 After reading some poems by Edward Hirsch and Boris Pasternak, I began to doze and daydream on my contaminated furniture:

Like a Chagall painting, I floated over a slanted roof, the tiles radiating heat. Divers dove into a pool and I was high atop a platform, no doubt recalling memories from a large man-made swimming lake in New York. Jumping off, competition materialized beside me and I felt as if I were floating above many waters, spread out lanes perfectly defined by lane lines, like rows of crops in a field. I was unsure where I was or what I was doing, save for all the blue in front and below me. Was this an epiphany, an arrow of clarity?

My body struck the water and the strong smell of chlorine filled my nose.

Photo: dipity.com

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Dinner with Friends (and Family)

Aside from the title’s suggestive reference, yours truly actually enjoyed an entire weekend with mum and da. When time is spent with family, you are reminded, sometimes painfully, of who you have been, are now and where you come from. This is where I come from: the humor and wordplay began the minute I was picked up for our journey slightly north with a hilarious discussion about breathable shoes, asphyxiation and the “silent scream” of shoes in death’s throe. 🙂

Food preparation and appreciation have become major operations as my family has aged together and our food needs have expanded randomly. My dad, I realize, has a refined gourmet’s palate, though struggles to keep it in check. When food positively strikes his high-standard issue taste buds, he says so. And all who are around either beam in pleasure at the compliment (having been the chefs/sous-chefs) or nod in agreement while taking another bite.

Having safely arrived at our destination in Ventura, my Mutti and I made the dinner somewhat on the fly. After shopping carefully for ingredients on prepared lists, we realized at home that some of the ingredients had eluded our watchful eyes.

Flowers were on the list! Photo: Mom

This poses a problem and a threat of logistical breakdown to many but my mother and I are very good at substituting; meaning we are not bothered at all by putting something uncalled for in a recipe if we do not have the actually asked for ingredient. Fresh basil? Nope, but got dried thyme! Two pounds of butternut squash? Nope, only have one pound of squash but bunches of carrots! Most substitutions work well if they are close in flavor and texture to the ingredient in question. I have discovered from experience that if you push too far outside its immediate family, then the safety net simply dissolves away. The two worst substitutions that I have made thus far were using bananas as a healthy replacement for mayonnaise in a tuna salad and, once again, bananas in place of fried plantains in a bean dish. eesh.

While recipes may not cohere as expected, there is culinary freedom in substitution that jazzes up any food, introducing an element of danger. The recipe that me mum and I made substitutions for on that fateful night happened to come together just lovely. It was inspired from the cookbook that the folks at Flying Apron put out. The munchalicious recipe is White Bean and Butternut Squash Provençal.

White Bean and Butternut Squash Provençal (alongside strawberry walnut salad) Photo: Dad

A rarity, this dish had my dad’s approval. “This is very good.” My mom and I beamed in pleasure at the compliment, while nodding our heads in agreement, mouths full of food.

The ingredients are straightforward enough for everybody to understand, adult and child:

chopped butternut squash (and, in our case, carrots)
white beans
chopped onions
a blend of herbs (oregano, thyme, rosemary)
white wine
olive oil
salt and pepper

Mix it all together (holding off on adding the white beans. Add the beanies towards the end of the baking process) and bake in the oven for a little while (I am so sorry! I have forgotten the numbers for the measurements, oven temperature and baking time.) It comes out of the oven gorgeous with a smoky, Mediterranean aroma and the beans and squash are a great, creamy pair and are surprisingly rich. Pair along a strawberry walnut salad, perhaps including chopped bok choy, with Orange Muscat Champagne Vinegar and oil for further meal enjoyment!

And, of course, the side salad could be substituted for something completely different. Just be careful when baking and cooking for those that you love, with this word of caution: there is no substitute for a safety net.

bok choy rose

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Mind over Matter, or Form vs. Function

There is much debate in the art world concerning the roles of and differences between fine art and functional art. “Fine” typically relates to work that is created for a gallery or museum setting, that can be more or less academically based or supported. “Functional” can also be made for a gallery in mind, and relates to, well, art that comes with strings attached. Example: This teapot has a quirky spout and handle, sculptural elements and an experimental glazing technique but in the end, it is intended for another use, to be admired while performing its civil duties. Modernists argued intensely about the arts in culture, breaking away from traditional roles. I personally feel that functional or decorative (as it sometimes called) art has gotten a bad reputation for reasons that are beyond its control and have more to do with swinging attitudes in society.

A shirt I recently purchased borders the characteristics of both fine and functional design. This shirt has a wide, wide collar and frail, little screen print drawings on its front that at first I associated with either balloons, Russian Constructivist palm trees, or missiles. After staring and staring at the collar of the shirt and the faint, cute-ish graphics, I pressed my fingers to my heart, careful to avoid a deadly mistake, and liked what I saw.

Photo: gilt.com

Photo: gilt.com

In a fail swoop, my wallet opened to my hand, money left the account, and the shirt is now on its way to being mine. The problem with being in stores, whether physical or digital, is that there is a correlation between the time spent there and the amount you spend. For me, the cost doesn’t rise, it plummets. I usually put back the few things that I liked, upset and demoralized. And so, now that some time has passed, I may have made a bad decision. Talking with a friend about it, she quipped, “The shirt would be great for pajamas. Just not for wearing in public.”

Bitten Off More than I Should Chew

I made a self-creation pasta recipe the other night, which is frequently the start of an interesting evening. The noodles were boiled out of their hard-headed shells and morphed into my own image, namely pliable and subservient. Plopped into a bowl, topped with fresh garlic, basil, olive oil, chopped romaine lettuce and avocado, I knew something was missing. The missing something has a solid reputation for being the “Salt of the Earth”. It is called Salt.

Photo: foodjimoto.com

Those salt containers with built-in grinders are quite convenient and easy to use. Just twist the containers while upside down and ground salt is freshly brewed before you! Firmly gripping the salt grinder, I wrenched it clockwise to get a finely ground powder. If there is one thing I have learned in life, it is that a firm hand is taken seriously. In fact, while watching a slide show at an awards presentation, a quote came up from the Bible. For those that aren’t familiar with a book in the Bible called Ecclesiastes, there is a verse that goes a little something like this: “”Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might…”

The top of the container shattered, dumping whole blocks of salt on top of the pasta. Not one to be so emotionally small that I would throw my hands up in despair, I gingerly picked out the larger pieces and ate (quickly, as the night unfolds fast after 10:30pm). Noodles hanging out of my mouth, I lifted my head to take a breather from eating. Glancing at the now broken grinder, a thought dawned on me as I chewed.

There were broken bits of plastic in my pasta and I had no idea if I had taken them out.

With diet, I am sure that most people eat for function as well as aesthetics. There is a whole industry and artistry based on the preparing and designing of food that look and taste appetizing. This is called the CULINARY ARTS. For every beautifully articulated culinary creation, there is an equally satisfying, perhaps romantic image, of a bowl set down in front of you, accompanied by the words, “It may not be pretty, but it’s hot and will fill your belly.”

Mt. Saint Helens. Photo: Roddy Scheer

I find that I approach eating as a way to fuel my athletic endeavors, so it can be tricky to create and aesthetically appreciate nutritionally dense food. Often, I do not have major problems with rinsing canned bans, chopping up lettuce, shaking out some nutritional yeast, shredding carrots, chopping garlic, mixing all of it in a big bowl with hemp oil and apple cider vinegar and eating it. Straight out of the mixing bowl, folks. Or eating slices of bread for dinner, one right after the other. When it gets that bad, I turn to you Cook books. Humble bundles of coated paper, cook books are often overlooked, but when accompanied by images, they can create the proverbial order out of chaos. Muffins are one of the foods that fit the bill; they are both nutritionally dense and very cute to look at. Their intent is clear but that rounded top brings to mind sublime associations like Mt. Saint Helens.

The first muffin recipe that I have made can be found here, though it first appeared in a vegan cookbook (I forget the name…sorry!)

Muscle Muffins

1 cup whole wheat flour (or other flour of your choice. ex: garbanzo bean flour, etc.)
1 cup unbleached white flour ( or other flour your choice. The recipe will not be fluffy, but pay that no mind)
1/2 cup powdered soy protein concentrate (or other protein. ex: rice, hemp, whey, etc.)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 large bananas
3/4 cup soymilk (or other milk)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup molasses (black strap)
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1 cup raisins or 1 cup other dried fruit
cooking spray

-Preheat oven to 350°F.
-Spray a 12 cup muffin tin with cooking spray.
-Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl.
-In another bowl combine wet ingredients.
-Add they dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix well.
-Fold in dried fruits.
-Fill muffin tins (they will be full).
-Bake for 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.

The variations are endless on this recipe. I have added nuts, vegetables, other fruit, even Maca powder, which has tantalizingly been called by some as the “Superfood of the Andes” or “Viagra of Peru”.

Sitting with a muffin resting in my hand, my contemplation of its role as an object and as a perishable item of consumption rises along with the grumbling of my stomach. Obediently, my hand lifts the crumbly muffin to my mouth and it seems that function and form have surprisingly made peace with each other, before the end of all things.

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Full in the Moonlight

“Now where did I write that down?”

Such is the fate of many a text. I have a nasty habit of jotting down essential thoughts, recipes, and financial correspondence on whatever happens to be around. There was a large storage container in my room that was banished to the garage and, along with it, reams of perfectly acceptable and large college-ruled paper. I often find myself torn between biting the bullet and running down the stairs, fighting off the would-be-creeper assailants sorts that usually hang around where I live. By then though, my thoughts have changed in priority from the top of Maslow’s hierarchy to near the bottom, under the category of “safety”. So, frozen in place, wondering if it is a good idea to jot the notes I took while talking with a loan representative on the back of an advertisement for Bepto-Bismol, I go ahead and take the risk. And end up suffering the consequence.

“Now where did I write that down?”

I made food last night and desired to share the recipe because, what the hey, I thought it was pretty good. I remember scrawling in the margins of an envelope the recipe, complete with notes and a little drawing and committedly setting it down. “That is going in my bag for tomorrow,” I audibly thought. Later in the evening, somehow surprised at the mess piling up in my personal areas of the apartment, I started disfiguring scraps of paper, odds and ends that looked like junk, and dramatically casting them in the trash. In so doing, today, I cringed in realizing that more than likely sentimental notes, quotes from loved ones, enigmatic phrases and numbers were thrown away. That letter with my recipe was no-where to be found. I can just imagine some person combing through the trash and picking up a half torn stained envelope with crazed instructions for some type of potion: “… 1 …imp… char…stalk… oil…yeast…stir oil.. sit and enjoy!!!!”, illustrated by a funny looking drawing of something in half a circle.

I have taken the pains to recreate the recipe based on taste buds (nay, I brush my teeth and tongue) based on memory. I apologize for any gaps.

Shrimp with Corn and Chard

-10-20 piece of frozen-pre-cooked de-tailed shrimp (thaw for 3 minutes under cold water)
– handful of corn (I bet blue corn would be great!)
– 1-2 stalks of chard or other hearty, leafy green
– 1-2 cloves of garlic
– salt to taste
– 1 tsp or so ground mustard
– 2 tsp dried basil
– handful of nutritional yeast
– lime juice
sriracha sauce to taste

Directions
– sauté garlic in about 1 TBS of olive oil. stir until fragrant (about 30 sec). Add shrimp and corn and stir. Let sit for a bit.
– Add spices and nutritional yeast.
– Add chard and sriracha sauce. Let sit.
Just before serving squeeze lime juice on top!

The other dish in the photo is simply mashed sweet potatoes. Add some almond milk to the mash for creaminess.
Enjoy!

~

Before this, I took close to a 45 minute shower, lost in thoughts. Before that, I worked out with the P90x-ie and a yoga dvd. Leapfrogging past to that night, I served myself the meal and sat at the table. Cautiously cracking the blinds, I peeped outside. The moon was out.

Ah, memories. I closed my eyes and there was not a piece of paper in sight.

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Storm Clouds

Every Saturday mid-morning somewhere in the 1990’s, my sibs and I would devotedly watch the animated series for X-men (which I might add, is finally out on DVD). We loved and embraced the show and its characters. One telling instance of this was during the summer, when our family went on vacation. Not able to watch the show, I remember riding along in the coveted middle section of the family van, mournfully humming the theme song in my head.

At a certain point, as we grew watching, other struggles in the series became apparent other than the ultimate good vs. evil theme. The characters became complex, real in a soap opera sort-of-way, and battled not just others that were “bad”, but each other due to complicated loyalties, and themselves as they explored mortality, religion, and love on Earth and other planets in galaxies far, far away.

The X-men characters spilled over into our fantasy lives with all of us picking our favorite mutants to channel and enacting out adventures in exotic locales, with mountainous terrain and dangerous villains within the confines of my sisters’ shared room with two beds. If the mutants we picked didn’t have the powers we wanted, they were incorporated into the fold after much debate and substantial evidentiary support. Another way that was more popular to get other powers at a cheap price was to channel the character of Rogue and suck the powers right out of the opponent.

Our papa wasn’t too happy with the costume choices for the characters and let us know, but, eh, c’est la comics. Years later, when we were all in competitive swimming, those costumes didn’t looks so bad as our racing attire closely resembled what the mutants wore that we had so imaginatively played.

This past Christmas, the trailer for a movie came out that visually looked stunning. It turned out that the director of this movie was also the director for such family films as “300” and “Watchmen”. I saw this film yesterday and felt Sucker Punched. Feeling like a rain cloud was following me around, later in the day I watched “A Serious Man”, directed by the Coen brothers. The day got darker from there, which, to my reprieve, announced the arrival of bedtime.

It will be a deep sacrifice and a perfect victory.”

While I am cheesily quoting the movie, I keep thinking to the X-men characters of Storm and her godson, Mjnari.

In an episode, Mjnari, a mutant blessed (?) with enhanced speed, is possessed by a powerful entity known as the Shadow King. Storm, in a whirlwind, flies to free her godson. To summarize, Mjnari races into the side of a mountain where a rift between the Astral Pane, a place of pure psychic existence, and “Earth” has been opened, with the Shadow King close at his back, to the the other side of the rift in order to free himself of possession. Meanwhile, the rift where he entered closes. This leaves Storm helpless and desperate as her following actions show.

This scene was a favorite joke between my oldest sister C and I. We would drop down to our knees in the backyard and cry out, “Mjnari! Mjnari!” while making scraping motions with our hands, collapsing onto the green grass with laughter.

I miss my family terribly. A poem I began to read this morning and then abruptly stopped, “Dawn Walk” by Edward Hirsch, went like this:

Some nights when you’re asleep/ Deep under the covers, far away,/Slowly curling yourself back/Into a childhood no one/Living will ever remember…

The sacrifices my family and I make and are still making with our time and distance from each other keeps me coming back again and again to the scenario of Storm, audibly beseeching the heavens, clawing against the solid and silent mountain.

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