Food for thought

I am not a food blogger, nor am I a professional chef, nor have I been to culinary school (although these past few months I’ve been thinking about it, more on that in a minute). Despite all those truths, I’m not going to let perfection be the enemy of something good. So here are just some thoughts about food, because it’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot and I finally feel like have something to say about it. This will be my first imperfect step to writing something different, something new. Whatever this something is, it is a first draft that I know will continuously evolve and change with time. 

I’ve always had a love for baking in the kitchen. When I was in school, I baked for my county fair’s open class baking competition, just for the fun of it. I chose open class because the competition was looser than 4-H and I didn’t get to hear the judges’ comments, I only got to see the outcome—the pretty ribbon placement when I went into the only air-conditioned building the first day of the mid-July fair. (Many 4-H jugeds are harsh when it comes to critiquing work. Even though I did so many other projects in 4-H, I heard judges were even harsher when it came to food. I didn’t want to hear their comments on how I could’ve made my batch of chocolate chip cookies more even-colored on the bottom. Baking was purely for fun and enjoyment. I was determined to let it be only that.) When I was in level one French as a sophomore in college, I made my classmates chocolate French moose for our final class. We had to create a presentation in French and mine was on French cuisine. I decided to make the moose at the last minute. The night before my speech I stayed up until midnight, not practicing how to pronounce the French words correctly, but baking moose. (And I think it paid off. My presentation wasn’t the best but I got an A.) Within these past few months, I’ve baked to relieve stress and tension. Baking has almost been a way of meditation for me. Watching the dry ingredients mix in with the wet ingredients when making cakes or cookies or loaves of bread is mesmerizing. Learning skills and reading new recipe books is an escape from reality while still being present enough to be doing something practical—preparing food so you don’t starve. It’s been a way to bring the stressful things into perspective and bring my loved ones together by the warmth of food. 

When we were all told to stay home in March, one of the first things I thought to myself was “maybe this will give me more time to cook and bake.” Although my love for baking and cooking has always been apart of my natural human rhythm, only lately have I had the realization that food is close to my heart and I can explore that concept and further hone my skills. Maybe professionally, but maybe just as a self-taught baker who loves to cook for her family. And I could write about it. I was quarantined for over 50 days and through that time I discovered and acknowledged a lot of things, but this little nugget was one of them. 

It was my Plus 1 who brought it to my attention that I’ve been cooking a lot recently, and maybe I could pursue it further. I was sitting with him in my yard. We were trying to do yoga but as we sat, Sukhasana on our mates, letting Yoga with Adrienne continue without us, we faced each other and started talking about life. He wants to go back to school, and I think he totally should. Whatever path he chooses to take career-wise, if it leads to first going back for more schooling, he should hop on the train and go for it whenever he feels the time is right. I said that I’m still trying to carve out a place too, figuring out what I want to do with myself a year out of college. I remember saying that if I had to go back to school, I would pick culinary school, slightly joking since I’ve also said that I will never, ever, in my wildest dream go back to school again. And then he said: “Why not? You really could go back to culinary school. Or at least look into it. You love to cook, why not pursue it more?” But it was from that point that I looked into his face and realized that I could do something like this, even without a formal education, I could start now with the skill set I have. I’ve thought about it a lot since then, and by no means am I jumping into anything, maybe self-teaching is the way to go for me. But until now, I never thought the topic of cooking and food as something that I could bring to the table in my work. 

I’ve struggled with what to write on this blog for some time now. Honestly, I’ve struggled to write since college. I don’t know whether it’s a craving for perfection, lack of motivation or inspiration, or just being in that post-college funk where I’ve been given the education of how to write mixed with the freedom of writing anything I want without a professor guiding me with assignments for the very first time and I don’t know what to do with myself. This world is big and scary and a lot to take in all at once, then finding a place in it all, it seems almost impossible. But food, I think I could write about food. Putting the perfectionism aside, letting this evolve as it would on its own, taking inspiration from the food writers I love to read and then letting my creation changing into something of its own, into my voice that will speak out into this little corner of the internet. 

I’m letting this shape itself as I go, you’ll more than likely find stories of food, because food always brings people together and when people are together, stories happen. It’s just a given. Maybe at some point, you’ll find my recipes here, but for now, you’ll probably find links to other recipes that I’ve learned to cook from books and websites I’ve tapped into. You probably won’t find food reviews, lavish articles on technique, glossy-magazine foodie photos, or the inside scoop on what is the hottest dish during this season, because there are other platforms out there for those things. I’m not perfect or all knowledgeable about this subject, I’m learning as I go as much as you or anyone else is. I’m also keeping this space as pure enjoyment, not space for judges to come in and tell me how I could’ve made my batch of chocolate chip cookies more even-colored on the bottom, at least not just yet.

I know one thing for sure, that I will stay true to myself, my stories, the food that is connecting me to the people around me, the people I love.

Pictured above is the remains of Alison Roman’s coconut braised chicken with chickpea and lime, you can find the recipe in her book, Nothing Fancy.

Staying Home, No. 3

I’ve been going on long walks every evening this past week, coffee or tea in hand. They have been my therapy. When you step away from the constant news stream, you see how life is still going on. The planet is still revolving, the trees are still blooming, storms are still brewing, you are still breathing. Life has not been canceled or postponed.

Staying Home, No. 2

Staying Home, No. 2

Day 15 of staying home.

I felt the quieting and slowing down of the whole world a week ago when I went on a small drive. I was so curious to see what the suburb of Indy looked like. It was shocking to me because, for being rush hour on a Thursday, there were hardly any cars on the road. Instead, as I drove through town, people’s cars were in their driveways and apartment parking lots. The mall was stark, most restaurant lights were off, the only stores that you could see people gathering at were the grocery stores. I live in a suburb, only 20 minutes away from Indianapolis, and I’ve never seen it like this before. Never.

The midwest hasn’t been as bad as some other states. Even still, watching the country slow down to a craw is surreal. I don’t quite have the words for it yet.

The world is going to change in major ways. But taking the magnifying glass and zooming in a little bit, I can see so many things already changing just within this little house of mine. I’ve gone through waves of emotions within the last two weeks. Some days I’m great, others I can feel the cabin fever setting in. I’m trying to settle down in this space I’ve created, allowing myself all the feelings that come with living through moments like this one. Every generation goes through something (or multiple things,) and right now, we happen to be hunkering down in our homes. It’s not as bad as it could be. 

Forcing myself to slow down has been an interesting endeavor. I started off quarantine by getting up at the crack of dawn, cleaning daily, always keeping my hands busy with some type of work. However, I went through moments last week where I was going crazy because of the monotony of home, the internet wasn’t working, or all the warm water was gone by the time I took a shower. Since then, I’ve had days where I’ve slept in, let a few dishes stay in the sink, and the occasional not changing out of my PJs until 2pm. 

I’ve tried so hard not to let the worry of the unknown sink in, instead, being more present with each moment. I’ve worked on being here, and not in the past or way into the future. Slowing down to a point where I made brownies yesterday and had my full attention on the liquids mixing together with the dry ingredients—the eggs and milk combining with the flour, becoming one. The mixture bubbling slightly in the oven. Again, during my morning coffee, I had my full attention on the smell of it. The sound of it brewing, The time it takes for the hot water to drip through grounds and the black liquid to be poured into my coffee cup. My feet on the ground while I wait, one second after another lining up behind me, forming a life lived.

Trying to rest in the stillness, I’ve noticed so many feelings bubbling up from the surface. I let the emotions come. It’s exhausting but it’s crucial I think, for learning, growing, and allowing myself to be changed by this experience. 

So far, staying home has showed me what patience looks like. What living in the moment, right here, feels like. What really matters, and understanding that not every moment is guaranteed to happen again. When you kiss that someone of yours, or see them walking down the hallway and out the door, go after them. Sink yourself into that kiss. Allow yourself that much, that moment until you’re really there. Because it’s true when they say you’ll never get a moment like that again, or they can be very few and far between.

I’m thankful that the last few days have been so nice outside. I’ve taken the opportunity to go on several walks a day and I even got out my bike one to take a cruise around the neighborhood. There have been so many people out, at least where I live (and they all have been keeping their 6 feet distance). Kids have been playing in their yards, I haven’t seen kids play out in their yards for ages. It’s nice to wave at neighbors and occasionally see a familiar face on my walks. 

However, even though I’ve seen so many people out through my streets, I’ve been curious about what downtown Indy looks like. Most of the businesses are closed or their staff is working from home. I haven’t driven downtown in what feels like ages, but I found this video that was taken not too long ago and it shows what the streets of Indy are looking like. It’s mesmerizing and so quiet. Take a look

Before I end blog post no. 2 of Staying Home, I wanted to give a few shoutouts to local business I’m loving right now:

I won a giveaway for this amazing Indy Flag from Luna Mercantile Co. a few weeks ago. Based in Bloomington, IN, their flags are uniquely hand-painted. The ones currently in stock include a Brooklyn Pennant, an Indy Classic, and a Dayton, OH Spearhead flag. They also offer custom designs. I love hanging my Indy flag right above my desk. If you’re interested in that sort of thing and want to support a local business, you should go check them out. 

I also want to mention these candlesticks that I got from Humboldt House. Their shop is in Chicago, Ill., so not Indianapolis local, but I love their selection of tapered beeswax candles as well as their unique home decor. I’m not sure if they are currently shipping, due to the way the world is, but I would definitely go check them out.

How have you been while staying at home? I hope you’re staying healthy, safe, and well. 

xoxo

What gives you hope?

What gives you hope?

January has stretched its days out far and wide. The new year feels like ages ago. None the less, when I look over the last few weeks, I have been been able to find hope in goodness. Here are just a few good things that have graced this month for me: Gloriously painted skies, coffee get-togethers with friends despite busy schedules, late nights baking even when the following morning is an early one, books that hold sacred words, museum visits, a Friday night swing dancing, picking up family who arrived safely from the airport. 

“What gives you hope?” A new friend asked me this over lattes and it’s been hovering in my mind since. I’ve been asking myself, what does give me hope? Growing up is not always a straight line.  What holds our hearts close to truth and joy? What holds us up when everything seems to be drowning around us? What keeps us alive when we are the ones who are drowning? I think every person, at every corner of the world, no matter what they are going through, is deserving of a little hope, even when all is lost. 

For me, the inevitable place where I find hope is Christ. When I look at this world, even though the tragedy (that I am blessed to not be directly affected by currently), I see his figure prints on everything. It gives me hope to live fully, embracing even pain knocks on the door because there is hope in eternity. But regardless of whether or not you are religious, there are many things around to find hope in.

My friend, the same one who to asked me the question, said she “finds hope when people love each other well”. I totally agree with this. It’s uplifting and wholesome when you see people care for each other, to show up for one another when life can just be so busy and demanding of our attention 

My boss told me once, “when something good happens, celebrate. Celebrate well. The good times will help you get through the hard times.” She told me this after a weekend when she celebrated her nephew’s engagement, but while she was also in a period of extreme challenge for her and her family. 

There is also hope to find in creation. In her book, Walking on Water, Madeleine L’Engle said, “We can either fall apart in terror of chaos or rejoice in the unity of the created universe.” There is so much chaos around us, but looking deeper into the chaos to discover the cosmos, where beauty is, that what makes life worth living. L’Engle says, “but unless we are creators, we are not fully alive.” 

Although each person finds hope in their own way and in their own time, it’s always there, waiting to be found. It is hanging in the air like a star, its hiding around the corner. Keep a lookout for it’s glistening and shimmer. Even among some of the heavy events that have happened within this past month, hope is still there to have and to hold. 

Life is so fragile, so precious. I’m thankful to be here writing this today. I was looking through my camera roll today to ground me in what is good, what is whole. These photos are some of the ones I found. They make me smile and feel grateful for this life. Sunsets are painted in the sky despite whether or not I take the time to look at them, despite what I did or did not do during the day. Just that fact makes me feel my own aliveness and makes me feel grateful for every breath I am taking. Everything is such a gift. 

Let us love each other well, let us celebrate when good times come, let us create cosmos from chaos. 

Where do you find hope? 

So this is twenty three

This past week was my golden birthday — I turned twenty-three on the twenty-third. 

I spent the day with my mom because, low and behold, it was her birthday too. We have always spent our birthday together. It’s been that way for the past twenty-two years and, even with a job and a full to-do list, this year was no different.

For our day, we went out to brunch at a local restaurant named Milktooth, which was dubbed one of the top 207 restaurants to eat at around the globe according to Conde Nast. I’d heard about the restaurant so often while I was an intern at Indianapolis Monthly this past spring, so I was so happy to finally try out their menu.

Both my mom, my brother, and I ended up ordering the same thing: Brochedi Donuts with bacon and eggs. Needless to say, it was delicious.

While driving this afternoon, I thought about how twenty-two was a good year. It was a year of learning, of surviving my last year of college, of figuring out what it was I wanted and didn’t want. A year of healing and finding patience in the unknown. Thinking about this next year, I can’t tell you where I’ll be or what I’ll be doing or how I will get to wherever ‘there’ is. I think that’s okay sometimes, not knowing your next step but trusting your gut, where the universe unfolds and leads you.

So far, twenty-three has looked like adding more business professional clothes to my wardrobe, going on a cleanse, and writing. Lots of writing.

Regardless of what I know or don’t know about this upcoming year, there are a few intentions that I know I want to move through. Here are a few:

  • Listen: to myself, to God’s soft whisper, to the voice of my mom and brother, to my friends, and my body. 
  • Read full books, finish them, stick with them, contemplate over them. Not rushing myself, but taking it slow. 
  • Focus on creating vs consuming. Scrolling through Instagram or Facebook, passively streaming a show, getting lost down the rabbit hole of YouTube. I spend way to much time with these consuming activities. It’s time to turn the table and start creating instead of constantly consuming media. 
  • Be mindful: about what I eat, about the quality of my breath, about listening to people, about each moment I find myself in, about what I’m working on and what I’m creating. 
  • Prioritize my health and the food I eat. Cook at home and bring lunches to work. Continuing my yoga practices. Be aware of what I eat and put on my skin. College was a good ride but I focused more on grades while my health was neglected. It’s time to change that. 
  • Have a heart of gratitude. 

No matter where I end up or what I do, I know that this next year is going to be a good one. A one of thriving, learning, seeking… and maybe hitting up Milktooth again.

Here’s to twenty-three.