January 31, 2011
Ingredients Happened, ME Newsletter, Vol. 4, Issue 5
Arthur Schwartz and Pablo Picasso have a lot in common. They both taught me to use what is at hand and not get caught up on rigid details. Of course, I’ve know Picasso longer – since the 10th grade when I came across a quote while researching for a paper. “"When I haven't any blue I use red."
Just a few years ago I was inspired by“What to Cook When You Think There's Nothing in the House to Eat” by Arthur Schwartz. The following recipe experience isn't in the book, but it's all about what I had to work with last Saturday without taking my sneezy wheezy self out to the market.
I can never remember if I’m supposed to feed a cold or feed a fever. It didn’t really matter though because after two days of mind-blowing nose-blowing I had decided I was hungry. For some reason sickness sparks my inner gourmet. I want my food to taste good and soothing and special. At 11:30 am, pizza and wings sounded like a good plan until I recalled the elliptical. Hmmm….
Sockeye salmon in the freezer seemed like a good place to start; rice and peas would do nicely as a nice side dish. Dejected dawning reminded me I used the last of the rice on Wednesday, but was certain I was in possession of instant potatoes. My mind slipped into one of those vague recalls from a cooking show combining salmon and instant potatoes to make simple salmon patties! Peering into the pantry I easily located the secret ingredient. Then my wandering eye spied an interesting alternative. A beckoning box of instant sweet potatoes drew me into a fevered creative phase. Coming up: experimental - Sweet Potato Alaskan Salmon Patties with shallots and green pepper!
I launched myself onto the www in search of the simple recipe. There were lots of simple recipes out there… for canned salmon. I’m not fond of canned salmon, and didn’t have any. I did have a can of tuna, but that wasn’t sounding nearly as indulgent. That’s when I went a little colorful and completely marginally outside of the lines. It’s happened before….
Allrecipes.com: Salmon Patties
1 (15 1/2 oz.) can salmon, drained and flaked
1 c. cold mashed potatoes
1 med.-size onion, chopped fine (about 1/2 c.)
1/2 c. dry bread crumbs
3/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 c. vegetable oil
Right off the bat I knew I would be wandering a bit. I wasn’t aiming for completely haywire (which I have admittedly aimed for in the past). I just figured by default I’d be adding some shadowy substitutive depths. Freshly frozen filets instead of canned, sweet instead of regular mashed potatoes, no egg because I didn’t have one, freeze dried shallots instead of onions, and a half cup of already diced frozen green peppers because veggies are always a good addition. I rarely have breadcrumbs, but theorized that if I used less liquid in the potatoes, it’d be all right.
After 30 minutes in the fridge – since the recipe called for cold mashed potatoes, the concoction was still a little wet. Pondering my only loaf of bread, I kind of quickly decided that cinnamon raisin salmon cakes wasn’t the vibe I was looking for. Somewhat practically-minded, I headed for the oyster crackers and glimpsed a half hidden, half-plumped sack of lime/salt tortilla chip remnants, and thought – why not? I often use tortilla chips as a substitute for bread crumbs, since I never seem to have any. I also thought the original recipe was lacking in lemon, which I didn’t have any of anyway. But, lime would work, no? A speedy round of crunching and mixing, and the attractive mess of orange and green and pink and yellow went back into the fridge, again - to chill.
Two hours deep into my gourmet experiment, I ran out of active boost ingredient in the day-time cold medicine, found myself low on self-propelled steam, and even lower on patience. I dosed myself up again, grabbed a handful of casava chips, a gatorade, and a cup of sugar-free hot cocoa. That’s what happens when I don’t eat on time. I completely lose focus and eating becomes a desperate must not a want.
So, I scarfed that quick semi-food fest, and promptly fell asleep. In retrospect, I could have done worse – I could have grabbed marshmallows, saltines and Hershey syrup. It’s happened before.
Finally, at 5:45 pm, I accomplished my fry pan goal, drizzled those crispy puppies with a little lowfat sour cream, and mmm mmm mmm. I could have easily eaten the whole batch. But I didn’t: saved some for Sunday and as it turned out Monday night dinner, as well.
I’m still not sure of which way this lesson should go. Recipes and rules are written for reasons: ease of duplication, clear boundaries and anticipated results. It’s really wonderful when everything goes as planned. Often times, though, it’s just a wonderful when things don’t. Sometimes it just takes changing a few ingredients to make something super special. Sometimes it just takes changing a few ingredients to make garbage. It’s happened before.
January 24, 2011
Elliptical Shock, ME Newsletter, Vol. 4, Issue 4
Apparently GOD wasn’t all that thrilled with last week's current complacency satisfaction announcement. I got looped out of that smooth little elliptical-path realm last Wednesday. My nice quiet job turned into an interesting series of disasters; fast paced pedaling required. Left the office just a few minutes later than normal and arrived at the gym to find no treadmills available. Waited around a bit trying to gauge the near doneness of the usurping exercising folks.
An observant soul noticed my dilemma and commented that I had I been just a few minutes earlier, there would have been three empty machines. Since I already wasn’t all that thrilled, that news didn’t thrill me, either. Neither did the recommended change of work out pace. The elliptical were free, and probably for good reason. I’ve tried those before and found them awkward and prone to showcasing my basic uncoordination talents. But when someone assures me “it’s easy,” I tend to take it to heart.
First lesson, the thing does not have an on button. You are the on button. If you don’t begin fast enough, it thinks you’re still on pause. So I went a little faster. Aha! Success! For about the length of one song and then suddenly I was unrhythmically off kilter again. I slowed down and– even though I was still moving rather laboriously my new mechanical enemy announced in retina burning red LED lights that I had retreated to “pause” mode. That kinda ticked me off, so I sped up, won that argument again, then slowed down because I was feeling the burn a little too much: sped up, slowed down, tried to talk myself through one more song. Success!
So I decided lurching through another song would be ok – but abandoned the flailing arm bars in favor of the steady ones. “Paused!”flashed beratingly on the message board. Really? As far as I could tell I was still moving and ought to get some kind of credit for that. Nope. The next message flashed harsher; “Move Faster!” Faster wasn’t exactly the 6th alphabetical letter beginning of the focal word flowing through my mind. But I’m one of those pit-bull non quitters so I kept moving like a tim burton character.
After the third song I’d accumulated a massive 14 minutes on the as advertised “smooth walk” jerky machine. Going 15 was completely out of the question. I disembarked and sort of happily realized I didn’t have to expend the energy to turn it off because it thought it already was off. That’s when I discovered that MI was having an earthquake. Unusual for sure but everything was trembling and I wasn’t sure if I’d remain standing much longer. Mr Marathon runner on the treadmill next to me asked me if I was ok. Of course I dimple smiled and said, “Yeah, that’s just not my favorite machine.”
I cautiously wobbled the icy path to the parking lot. As I lowered into the Grand Prix (which I suddenly noticed sits way lower that the Buick), it registered that I was probably going to be really sore. And as I leveraged out a few minutes later, I realized “going to be” was already a past-tense and muscle-tense situation. I’ve had this revelation before, but here I go again: Elliptical muscles are not the same as treadmill muscles no matter how high I step or how steep the incline, how hard I swing my arms or air-box or if I keep myself off guard with random paces. No amount of treadmilling is going to have the same effect as using an elliptical. Which mean, yes…. even my exercise has become complacent. I am a bit curious now how much different my shape could be after a few weeks on the elliptical. However my daily life requires regular walking, sitting and rising from seats and getting in and out of cars. So, for the rest of this week, it’s back to treadmill. And next week, maybe, I’ll try the elliptical again. Or maybe not.
Maybe that wasn’t really the point anyway. Maybe the point was that its not ok not to grow. Maybe the intention was to move me out of the ovalish work-workout-home cycle, from the comfortable place that suits me, to change my prayer routine, to exercise faith in a new way, challenge and stretch myself uncomfortably toward the ultimate goal: that being - a well rounded balanced strength, peace with myself, peace with my GOD.
January 17, 2011
Pie Chart/Plans, ME Newsletter, Vol. 4, Issue 3
I love the Sparkspeople nutrition and exercise web feature. It breaks your daily consumption into three different pie charts, which either provide an overall view of where you've been or where you want to go (depending on if you enter data as planning tool or a recap tool.) It's also an accurate indicator of appropriate balance.
In the pie chart of my life, the together part is the smallest slice of the continuum. It was the best part, the most significant part, the part I learned the most from, the part that saved me. But now is now and as the years add on, the together field grows smaller by percentages. Having to consciously swing the pendulum back to the present, pull away from missing the brief bliss, and bring myself back to the regular world is not insurmountable. It is however, painful and sad and depressing, and not taken lightly. I’m preparing for it now, envisioning the transition, hoping that in 9 months I’ll have developed a plan, or devised a better way of acknowledging it, or at least somehow taken the edge off that alone/together percentage game.
In a recent conversation someone asked me a casual question that left me speechless. "What are your goals? What are you hoping to accomplish?” It took me a few silent blinks to gaped-ly realize - I don’t have any. My lips moved but nothing came out. I just couldn’t answer that question. I’ve got this big blank page that I am in position to color as I will, and I don’t know where to start. I’ve been living with my minute daily goals, and some vague weekly goals, for such a long time now I can no longer see the big picture, and I no longer want to anyway. I'm happy in perpetuation; in the way I've managed to settle into having traded one routine for another.
It's not bleakness. It might be patience. It might be I'm believing - without trying. It might be that I finally live in this trust: "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11
Take note of this: HE has plans for us. Not a single plan, but plural plans. I choose to believe we each have more than one purpose to search for; to seek. I gratefully acknowledge the one I have served so far. I am still recovering from that. I believe with all my heart, I know in my soul: I will without a doubt find myself within another purpose someday. But for now - I am thankful for this break. Thankful for the chance to recover, the patience to perpetuate, to live in comfortableness with peace. To know I have been and am blessed beyond whatever I might have imagined.
January 16, 2011
Facebook Gems December 2010
12/5 having a super Sunday afternoon ignoring the snow - Carmel Vanilla Keurig coffee, click a little, clean a little, click a little, cook a little, click a little, coffee some more, click some more...
12/7 well, shoot.. I actually like it when people tell me to “google it” that because I ponder aloud like an absent minded professor asking ridiculous questions which most folks are at a loss to answer... so they remind me where to go. And "google it" is such a nice way of telling me to figure it out without their help.
12:11: Finished prepping for Girl's Night In: roasted-garlic four-cheese pizza, crockpot of mulled merlot, chocolate brownie ice cream (Weight Watcher's of course), a masseuse that makes house-calls, and netflix. What's not to love @ MI winters?
12/12: Three cups of coffee and seven dozen snickerdoodles into my last available baking Sunday... next up - double chocolate mint cookies....
12/16: think i liked it better when i was too busy to think, and too exhausted to care
12/24: Presents - check. PJ's - check. Full tank of gas - check. Road tunes - check, check, check. Checkin' out for a bit - y'all be careful on the roads today, tonight, tomorrow. Joy to the World and all of you
12/26: from a friend: The Five Reiki Principles : I - Just for today, I will not be angry. II - Just for today, I will not worry. III - Just for today, I will be grateful. IV - Just for today, I will do my work honestly. V- Just for today, I will be kind to every living thing.
12/26: "GOD is great, but sometimes life ain't good. And when I pray, it doesn't always turn out like I think it should. But I do it anyway." From the broken to GOD's ears...
12/27: is staring woefully at the lean cuisine on her table - smelling full well that there's a beautiful bison roast in the crockpot that won't be available 'til morning. Alright then, I can bring myself to suffer through this pseudo-meal happily looking forward to a lovely Michigan Roast lunch tomorrow...
12/28: s'pose you did poach eggs in that Loko stuff? nah, that'd be crazy... prob'ly end up more like a flambee.
The Top Cities My Friends Live In:
The top ten cities where my Facebook friends are located:
1.: Adrian - 13 friends live here
2.: Ann Arbor - 11 friends live here
3.: Tecumseh - 7 friends live here
4.: New York - 6 friends live here
5.: Nashville - 5 friends live here
6.: Detroit - 2 friends live here
7.: Brookfield - 2 friends live here
8.: Clinton - 2 friends live here
9.: Atlanta - 2 friends live here
10.: Hartland - 2 friends live here
12/31: Beginning in Jan 2011, the gov't wants to FINE the last 221 families STILL living in FEMA trailers as their homes are being repaired by volunteers using their own vacation time, and personal funds. I've worked on six homes with my own two hands. I plan to go again, but right now I'm only inclined to be using one finger on each hand and at the moment they are both aimed at gov't politicians and FEMA.
12/31: Was assembling the laptop table I bought today however had to put a halt to that because it's missing pieces- how unusual, right? Alternate plan: I'll be rockin' my own party of one with some home boiled crab, taters and a touch of moscato ... no tellin' what'll happen after that .... zzzzzz.
January 11, 2011
Scrabble Status, ME Newsletter, Vol. 4, Issue 2
Been attempting to accomplish something since late September ’10. It was a big deal to me, and lately became a very big deal for me. It took a lot of tears to get to this point, but on Saturday 1/8, I made a change to my facebook relationship status: from widowed to single. And then quickly distracted myself from the imagined implications of that one word achievement by trying to figure out the facebook Scrabble application with friends.
With three of us in the same room, vying for the same direct satellite connection, the main frustrations stemmed from having to wait: waiting our turn, waiting on messages, and getting information out of order, before or after each other. When it was my turn, player 3 would get the answer first. When it was player 1’s turn, I would get the answer first.
We’d impatiently ask each other, “Did you get it? What is it? What is it?” And even if someone told me, I still couldn’t react to it properly until the answer showed up on my screen. At best I had a vague idea of other letters I could build off of, but no idea if the projection of how I might use my tiles was even viable.
Waiting for GOD’s a lot like that. Sometimes it seems like others get their answers in a more timely manner. Once I saw the answer in context to my own play board, I was able to make better placement decisions, find alternate and more profitable positions. So, I stopped paying attention to what was coming and calculated by what I had to work with in front of me on the board.
For the most part, this monumental decision went unnoticed. No backlash. No support. GOD is like that, too. In the same room with us with hit or miss connectivity based on individual reception or receptivity.
So maybe that’s what the status change was all about: being more receptive, squelching my impatience, acknowledging what I have to work with, and moving the pieces into the best possible usability for myself… and maybe for the inclusion of some others.
January 04, 2011
Resolve, ME Newsletter, Vol. 4, Issue 1
If it seems like I’ve been avoiding the whole end-of-the year, end-of-the decade, re-resolution thing, it’s because I have been. It’s not that I’m without resolve. I’ve got plenty of that. What I don’t have is a clear direction; just a lot of wishy-washy chore-type goals, and some general fitness continuations. One extra day a week at the gym. Transcribe 30 years of pen and paper writings onto computer; burn to disc or thumb-drive. Restore itunes library to original grandeur before I lost that computer, and burn to backup disc. Forgo frozen meals and cook from scratch more often, healthier. Read all of the unread book in my possession so that sometime within this year I can justify purchasing an electronic reader. Yep, lots of goals, and none of the usual rah-rah “fix everything” attitude.
Why we buy so deeply into the traditional New Years hoopla? Why do we run off to the gym, start brown-bagging it for healthy eating, decide to quit a vice? Is it about the impression that we are taking care of ourselves? That our lives are so well under control that we have oodles of time to devote to exercise and diet program plotting? Or are those the quickest easiest resolutions we can come up with. I'm not knocking the fit-mania this time of year brings with it. I'm just asking: what are our real resolutions? The ones we don't share, ever? No, you don't have to share them now, or ever. In fact, maybe it’s better that they are privately yours. I'm thinking in terms of a self honesty issue. Can I really admit to myself what I want and then do what it takes to get it, or get there?
I have one very small resolution; it’s tied to my deepest desire. It’s small and a bit simple, with major implications. I’ve toyed with, seriously considered, denied and come back to this one little point again and again. It will make a difference in my life. I’ve given it to GOD, but I’m still working up to putting it in writing. Still working on the bravery required, knowing that other people will see it... well, that’s scary. I'm not sure I'm ready for the probable back-lash.... or the possible whole-hearted support that may follow.