January 9, 2012 Leave a comment
I’m writing this as I roll through the Pacific Northwest via Amtrak…
Still Life with Internet
January 2, 2012 1 Comment
Our NYE party has come and gone, along with its delicious spread of spreads: pear-blue cheese chutney, mushroom-walnut pâté, spicy hummus, homemade crostinis and cinnamon sugar tortilla crisps, various cheeses, bacon-wrapped shrimp, cranberry-orange relish, bhel puri…many of these recipes I will present in the near future for your own experimentation.
As much as New Year’s lists can seem trite, I think it’s important to document where I’m at as an arranger of words, as well as where I am in my life at large, in a space that allows me to revisit my desires and goals and that enables others to encourage me to keep my word. So, without further adieu:
Things to Do in 2012
I. The Professional
II. The Personal
The beginning of the year has to come to be a very significant time to me. At the beginning of 2010, I felt like everything in my life had dropped away and left me suspended, free-floating in empty space, and I couldn’t tell if I was flying or falling. Graduating from college felt like I had run a marathon and vaulted over a single last hurdle off the edge of a cliff with no base, no ground to crash to. I forced a minimal amount of writing, and mostly stopped altogether. 2011 started with a bang and a bruise, celebrating in Chicago for the first time with tons of significant people who, though they may not know it, help keep me driven even though they are typically far away. And I was, of course, playing the waiting game in many ways, including hearing about grad school admissions. As compared to the previous year, however, I believed in the direction I had come to, and was cutting through the air around me despite not having hit the ground yet.
On the front page of my datebook for 2011, I wrote an important note to myself to be read every time I opened it up–”Devote this year to love.” Over the course of the year, my understanding of love developed in incredible ways. Love–big love, capital-L Love, not just the kind you say to your family or your SO, but the way you feel about life and what’s in it and all the people and objects and places you will never know–is why I write, is one of the things at the center of me that makes me the person that I am. Life is too short not to genuinely extend yourself, the best part of yourself, to as many entities in as many ways as you can and to try to see them for what they are and what they can be, to try to understand them in the way they understand themselves and to be a force of exploration and curiosity and growth and passion in their existence, if only for a brief instant.
More than any other goals for 2012, I plan to devote this year to love. My feet brush the ground beneath with every step.
December 15, 2011 Leave a comment
Most of the way through the final full week of classes, and I’ve turned in all my final projects for the semester. Home stretch home stretch home streeeeeeetch
Last week’s adventure to Dill Pickle went very well–a bit pricey for some, I’m sure, but worth it for the quality of goods obtained. I’d been looking for some good bulk granola and it turns out that they actually carry some of the most delicious granola on the planet, made here in ye olde Wicker Park at Milk & Honey Cafe (a place I have walked into, but have yet to actually eat/drink at–it always seemed to be a zoo when I passed by in the summer, but most restaurants on Division are). I did have to wander a little to find it–there’s no large signs outside, just one painted on the door, which I didn’t see until I parked a block or so away and walked along the side of the street I knew it was on.
Getting ready to go on my first documented ADVENTURE THURSDAY! today, so this post has gotta stay short. Commencing C-Fidd signature bullet-point-style update:
July 20, 2010 1 Comment
It would have been a lot easier to address all the things that happened in Chicago if I had posted them on a daily basis, but why post to a blog when you’re busy having a good time?
My trip started with me getting off work late on Thursday and still having to go water my boss’s plants, since I’m house-sitting for her. Thankfully, I had packed all my stuff earlier in the afternoon and made all the food I was going to bring with me (note to any of you out there who want to double my chana masala tofu burger recipe–make two separate batches to put in the food processor and combine when they’re done, otherwise there is too much stuff in the processor to get it all the right consistency; the top will be untouched and the bottom will be pureed), so I was able to clean up everything and throw all my stuff in my car quickly. Megan, Allison and I made late dinner (chana masala tofu burgers and broiled asparagus with olive oil and Parmesan) and hung out with Vikram, then called it an early night since I was having breakfast with a friend and Allison had to work.
Friday morning, Nick and I got breakfast at Courier, went to the library so I could get some CDs for the weekend, and swung by Art Mart for kicks. After that, I showered, packed up the car, and headed for Chicago. Justin and Sean’s place was easy enough to get to, and we managed to find some prime (read: free and close to my destination) parking right beyond the gravel plot next to their apartment building. Since Sean had a full weekend pass for Pitchfork, Justin and I spent a chunk of the evening wandering through the area where they live, checking out a sweet used record store, some bars, and American Apparel. We made an awesome vegetarian hash (like the breakfast food) for dinner (which I’ll post the recipe for later this week) and waited for Sean to get back so that we could rate one of the bars near their apartment. We ended up at some place advertising “boutique beers” (namely, ones you can get at the Blind Pig or Crane Alley for a couple of dollars cheaper–oh, Chicago), where I discovered that apparently every halfway decent bar in Chicago has Pimm’s No. 1 Cup (<3<3<3). I wanted to get a bottle of wine to take back to the apartment (since Jewel-Osco is just down the street) that was not the abhorrent Charles Shaw that my two fine hosts have stocked up on, but was foiled by Jewel’s policy of ending alcohol sales after 10pm. Instead, I ended up in line with Sean in ecstasy over his good fortune (buy one, get one free deal on Doritos) and Justin regaining his composure over his E.L. Fudge cookies after they drew looks from stockers in the snack aisle for their joyous shouting over appropriate food.
Saturday, Sean left for Pitchfork and Justin and I went to pick up Allison from the train station. After dropping her things back off at the apartment and contacting Kesha about hanging out for the day, we took CTA over to Devon Ave to browse South Asian stores (and a Russian bookstore, which was selling a Barack Obama matryoshka set; the owner asked Allison in Russian if she spoke the language while we were browsing). It was hot and we gave up on trying to find an ibrik for Allison, but I found some Turkish coffee and bought a bunch of movies and CDs. We had Indian food for dinner (<3 malai kofta, roti and mango lassi <3) and browsed a little more before Kesha dropped us off at a nearby theater to see Inception. It was good–definitely a plot movie, not a character movie, but very enjoyable. We took the CTA home to meet up with Sean and admired the view of the downtown skyline from the roof of their building. Robin, Ryan, and Kesha showed up at the apartment before we wandered down Division for a place to hang out. Justin’s friend Carl joined us as well–great evening out with friends at another bar that serves Pimm’s. Note to St. Louis bars: stocking Pimm’s would curry a lot of favor with me.
Sunday morning, we prepared ourselves for a long, hot day outside at Pitchfork Music Festival. On the walk to the park, a lady parked on a corner we passed started shouting out her window at Sean, who had to ask to repeat what she said: “You! You got nice legs!” Unexpectedly awesome.
We bought water bottles at a convenience store closer to Union Park to bring in, and began our full day of listening. We caught the last half of Allá‘s set, which I enjoyed enough to pick up a CD (and which I later got signed by their lead guitarist, who was walking through the festival grounds during the afternoon and was very, very nice). Then we watched part of Cass McCombs before Allison and I wandered off to hear what was happening on the other stage–Best Coast, which was pleasant but not hugely remarkable. We decided to find the water fountain and check out the massive number of tents for a while and grabbed an early lunch while we had time (before all the big deal sets later in the day). I was overwhelmed by the amount of interesting things for sale, from jewelry to custom knitted music equipment cables, new vinyl to band posters, fair-trade clothing to hammocks. We ate delicious lunch courtesy of the Chicago Diner tent (vegan gyro) and listened to Beach House while sitting in the shade. We waited in line for 30 minutes to get water before catching Surfer Blood‘s set, then traipsed off to see St. Vincent–Annie Clark can shred. We thought it best to start staking out standing room for Pavement at that point, so we forewent seeing Neon Indian and Sleigh Bells (who, according to Sean, performed a truncated set anyway because they only had a little over 30 minutes of material) and worked our way around deep into the crowed of other Pavement fans and Major Lazer spectators. The same incredibly drunk and/or stoned guy who stumbled through the audience for St. Vincent and shoulder-checked me and Allison because he couldn’t keep himself upright ended up behind us during the Major Lazer set, and as could have been predicted, he behaved even more like an intoxicated asshole behind us, continually running into me and trying to grind on Allison. His also-intoxicated friends couldn’t control him at all, so we made a lateral move into the crowd and left them to drop each other while trying to force each other to crowd-surf.
We survived Major Lazer and stood around while Big Boi played the opposite stage. Pavement took the stage a little after 8:30 and some intro by an old Chicago shock jock DJ who talked for way too long in order to be purposely annoying. Despite the bass being far too loud and Stephen Malkmus losing his voice, the show was fantastic–all in all, worth the months (or years, depending) I’d been waiting for it. There is something fulfilling about seeing a band that changed your musical tastes, how you listen, what you expect from music, and, well, your life. Pavement defined a period of my life–seeing them perform was more rewarding than I can put into words.
After the festival ended, Sean, Allison and I booked it back to the apartment and hung out with Justin, who was fabulous enough to have a great homemade dinner waiting for us when we returned. Jams, Charles Shaw, Andrew W.K. party tips, and a shower with sunglasses ensued–a relaxing end to a long day.
Sunday, Allison and I packed up and left (and I managed to forget my travel coffee mug and had to have Justin ship it to me today). We got back to Urbana around 1:45pm, and I dropped her off at her house and sampled one of Dana and Connie’s amazing cookies (a recipe I will post once I acquire) before heading to the library to return the CDs I’d checked out. After rolling my window down to use the drive-through drop-box, it refused to roll up and instead, replied with a horrible grinding, clunking noise. The forecast was rain and storms through the rest of the day, so I met Christy for lunch as planned and we went to Schnucks first to get trash bags to cover my window. After eating (Courier again–amazing black bean burger with sweet potato chips), she was gracious enough to drive me to the hardware store to get clear tarp and duct tape so that I could see out my window to drive home. The tarp managed to be too opaque, so after spending at least 25 minutes securing it, I ended up ripping it off so I could drive and drove the whole way home on the highway with my window down while it threatened to rain. It poured on me at one point for a good ten minutes, but other than that, I managed to get back to Springfield between downpours and get my car into my parents’ garage. At least my day was concluded by finding that the sweater vest Jenna has been working on for me since last September came in the mail and fits beautifully.
That concludes my weekend, which was everything I expected and more. I’m so fortunate to have the friends I do–ones to come with me to concerts, to put me up for the weekend and share their food and culinary skills, to hang out and have a good time, and to help me deal with unexpected crises.
And in case inquiring minds want to know, I took the car into a mechanic this morning (in more rain), who is ordering a new cable drive regulator for me. I should have my car back Friday after the part gets in. More from me later in the week.
July 11, 2010 Leave a comment
Watched the World Cup final today–despite so many more knowledgeable folks talking about how ugly and poorly-played a game it was, the tension was almost unbearable and made it riveting, at least for me, to watch. Congrats Spain, Holland, and Germany, although I would have liked to see Uruguay win the consolation match on Saturday.
Rewind a little to Friday. I drove to St. Louis after getting off work, and Suraj and I got Persian food at Cafe Natasha on Grand. Wonderful food, and I think I would have been happy with anything I considered ordering–there was a lot to choose from. I ended up getting the shami platter with lentil and raisin rice, which was a fantastic combination that was tied together bythe tanginess of the dill-cucumber yogurt sauce (similar, to me, to tzatziki, although this was thinner). Their Persian ice cream was delightful (and a massive portion, a whole sundae glass) as well, flavored with pistachios, saffron, and rose water. Veg-friendly, and I think some dishes can be prepared vegan upon request.
On our way to an office get-together Saturday, we stumbled upon a Korean bakery over in Chesterfield. We picked up a few things, including a red-bean-paste-filled pastry with walnuts, a soft “baguette” made with sweetened condensed milk, raisins, and walnuts, and some almond cookies.
Hopefully more to come this week as I refine my plans for Chicago this weekend (PAVEMENT PAVEMENT PAVEMENT). I need to talk about more than just the food I eat.
July 7, 2010 1 Comment
As promised, here are my two customized recipes of the previous weekend.
Pasta with garlic and oil (pasta aglio e olio)
Note: Another Bittman recipe from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, I simply added to it. The cooking directions are again straight from Bittman’s cookbook. Super easy, fast, and it turned out to be a party fav.
Chana masala burgers
Note: Chana masala is one of my favorite Indian dishes, and I love the promise of fusion food. I was already planning on making this bean burger recipe with chickpeas, so I thought, why not tweak it to compliment my love of Indian flavors? This is the simplest, cheater’s way to do it (after all, I should use a good chana masala recipe and make my own spice blend), but they tasted great and they are incredibly fast to prepare (I had less than an hour before I needed to leave to go to the party I was serving them at). Also a party fav. Please also note that this recipe is a variation on Mark Bittman’s recipe “The Simplest Bean Burgers” in How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, and uses Bittman’s cooking directions almost verbatim. This yielded me six nicely-sized patties, but could easily have made seven or eight bitty burgers or “sliders,” as they’re sometimes called.
July 6, 2010 Leave a comment
So many things are happeniiiiiiiing
Don’t worry, none of them are jobs.
I meant to write a post all last week about the previous weekend, but me being myself, that never happened. So instead of breaking this up the way I probably should (into two posts, this one and one that will post tomorrow or Thursday), I will just condense everything since I feel like doing this right now.
The highlight of the weekend before last was spending all day Saturday in Amsterdam Tavern, a football (admit it, soccer sounds really stupid) bar in St. Louis off of Morganford. Suraj and I got breakfast and some other goodies at the Tower Grove farmers’ market, which I had to keep cold with ice from our table’s buckets of beer for the rest of the afternoon. Everything was fine (lamb patties and bratwurst for him, herbed goat cheese for both of us), but it was a hell of an afternoon, standing on our feet for about five hours (we sat there for a few hours before they took the chairs, while South Korea and Uruguay played) before and during the US v. Ghana match. I’ve been so excited about the 2010 World Cup and have enjoyed the overall atmosphere and game-watching so much that I guess I’ll have to start watching at least Premier League from now on.
Since Amsterdam wasn’t serving food either of us could eat, I picked up lunch (and dinner) from Local Harvest Cafe (across the street from the mutually-owned Local Harvest Grocery). It was the first time we’d eaten there, and I would highly recommend it for a mixed company of herbivores and omnivores alike. Delicious, massive sandwiches, plenty of options and substitutions, baked goods, the works. If you like the Mediterranean Veggie sandwich at Panera/St. Louis Bread Co., Local Harvest’s Mediterranean will knock you out–it is a monster of a sandwich with a glorious amount of fresh and often local veggies, azeefa, and balsamic vinegar. On the day in question, St. Louis Pride’s pet parade was about to start, so Local Harvest was also selling homemade, no-artificial-sweeteners snowcones, too, that were fantastically refreshing.
More flower shop work during the week, including hanging up willow wreaths on the walls and driving out in the middle of nowhere on the outskirts of Springfield to make deliveries.
Suraj was in Canada for this past weekend and was generous enough to donate his Cardinals-Brewers tickets to me for Friday night. My friend Daniel and I ended up going together, as Suraj had instructed me that I might as well never show my face round ‘these parts again if I did not return with Friday night’s giveaway–a Brockabrella. I made sure to leave it for him at the weekend’s end with one of his other birthday gifts. Saturday I decided I was going to finally see if REI had any Vibram FiveFingers that I could try on and pick up groceries while I was out to make party food for Daniel and Jimmy’s housewarming party. The lady working in the shoes section told me that they had, in fact, just received a shipment the day before (these shoes are in high demand and low supply right now, very similar to the Wii a few years ago), and they had a pretty full stock of women’s sizes. You actually measure your food in inches to determine your shoe size because you want them to fit as snugly as possible since they’re meant to be worn without socks. I ended up purchasing a pair of black KSOs after being assured of REI’s 100% lifetime guarantee (“If you wear them every day for a month and decide you hate them, we will fully refund you,” the shoe lady informed me).
The party was fantastic and the pasta I made was a hit, which I didn’t expect at all. Seeing people I knew was fantastic, and it was great to meet so many other wonderful friends of theirs. Expanding St. Louis-area social netwooooooork, yeah
I booked it home Sunday so that I would have enough time to make some vegan bean burgers for a 4th of July party hosted by one of the other members of the writers’ group I attend weekly, which also got devoured. In retrospect, I should have cooked them a little longer and added a little more seasoning, but they did taste delicious. All in all, the weekend was full of culinary affirmation and delightful conversation with deeply interesting people.
This week: more werk, St. Louis to commemorate Suraj’s birthday on the weekend. More to come on my opinion of the FiveFingers shoes. I’ll post my tweaked recipes sometime this week also, for those of you who are interested. AND PAVEMENT IS ONLY TWO WEEKS AWAY
June 20, 2010 Leave a comment
I like to cook, and since cooking is something I do like to spend some time on while I am unemployed, I feel like the things I prepare should be shared here. That said, here are some recipes that tend to be my go-to for quick dinner after a long day. The first is one that I believe should be credited to Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, although Mark Bittman can essentially tell you what to do in less-ingredient-specific terms.
A good inclusion: shichimi togarashi, which Mark Bittman definitely has a recipe for.
Now for my custom recipe.
Fried tempeh bits with amaranth:
June 17, 2010 Leave a comment
I’ve had to go to bed early (10:30p, no joke) for work recently, so I haven’t had much time to sit down and write about what’s going on.
Went to St. Louis last weekend for Suraj’s parents’ annual puja at their house. As is my habit, I went to the Tower Grove Farmer’s Market Saturday morning while Suraj was helping his parents to get ready. My boss at the flower shop asked if we (me and the designer) if we would take home some merchandise to get kids to test it out so we could take pictures of them. I’m not sure she realized how awkward that had the potential to be (“Hi, can I take pictures of your children? I work at a flower shop”), but dedicated employee that I am, I brought the merchandise to the market to provide parents with far too much information about the shop and ask if maybe please if you’re okay with it can I please take some photos that we may potentially use for advertising of your kid riding this bike around please? Surprisingly, I was moderately successful (moderately I think only because I had a limited amount of time before I had to head back to meet up with Suraj and go pick up the food for the puja). I also picked up some bulgur wheat at the market and a mocha macaroon <3.
The puja went well, and Suraj’s mom gave me more awesome clothes she was getting rid off. We capped (or topkilled, if you prefer) the night with some O’Fallon Gold and hit the hay since we were both pretty tired.
But Sunday! Sunday, we decided to get brunch buffet at St. Louis’s Shangri-La Diner, which hands-down the best homestyle diner food I’ve ever eaten. Of course, the best part is that it’s all vegetarian/vegan. Suraj took me to dinner there several weeks ago, which entailed veg meatloaf (seitan) and vegan gyros, homemade strawberry limeade (much better than the shit you get at Sonic), and chilled strawberry soup. The buffet this week consisted of veg hash browns, scrambled eggs with cheddar and veg facon, tofu and seitan scramble, fresh fruit, and homemade berry compote with fresh brioche bread french toast.
Working at the flower shop has been extremely busy this week between a large order for an event out at the Crowne Plaza on Wednesday morning and the USTA meet at the convention center all week. In the down time between people buying things from our booth, I’m either reading or making origami, and have found kids utterly fascinated by the latter.
In going to the gym after work yesterday evening, I also found out that I can easily read on an exercise bike. It was nice to spend an uninterrupted hour reading, so Dune has officially been completed. An interesting and enjoyable sci-fi classic, although I had several issues with Herbert’s prose and a couple of judgment calls/assertions throughout. Also a terrible fucking way to end a book. I’m still reading Snow and picked up The Omnivore’s Dilemma again seriously. It helps me to be reading about three books at one time–one literary, one intensely captivating, and one nonfiction. That way, when the literary one gets too intense/depressing (and let’s be real, all literary fiction is depressing), I can switch to the captivating “trashy” one (arguably, Dune is not very trashy unless you talk to a literary scholar), and when I need a break from both to satisfy my need to learn something new by reading the nonfiction. I might post a poll or something on here so someone else can decide what I should read next–I have too many books and often get overwhelmed by what to start.
Two more days of work this week. I’d like to tweak the energy bar recipe I use to include some dried cranberries, but we’ll see if I even have the energy to start.