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

Staying Home, No. 1

Staying Home, No. 1

This world is full of uncertainties. I know this, I always have, but within this past week, it has become an abrupt reality to me how quickly things can change in a short timeline. Things that I thought I had control over and now I don’t. The past several days have been hard, honestly, and I’ve been struggling to find words.

So far, the hardest part has been realizing that some of the hugs I gave to the people I care about were going to be the last ones for a while. Also, navigating the uncertainties of where this is all going to lead, the confusing information that keeps changing day-to-day, and wondering how long will it be before society returns to “normal.” But I’m sure you feel the same way. And I hope whoever is reading this is doing their best to stay well and healthy, however possible.

Today marks one week for me that I haven’t left my house. Since last Thursday, I have worked from home (which I’m very thankful to have to that opportunity) and I haven’t been out except for a few walks around my neighborhood. For the following two weeks, my family has decided to stay self-quarantined in our house for the safety of everyone.

Some of my favorite blogs are writing posts multiple times a week about what they’re doing during these odd times. They inspired me to do the same. So for the next two weeks, I will try to write a post a few times a week, featuring the food that I’m cooking, uplifting articles/books I’m reading, music I’m listening to, silly things that I find my pup doing, resources I find, etc. Basically, I wan’t to capture what it means to stay home and settling into this one place.

I might just be talking into the abyss of the internet, getting lost in the noise of everything going on right now. But honestly, I’m always worried about that when I write on this blog. It’s a hurdle I have to jump over every time I start writing and hit the publish button. And since I’ll be in my house for quite a while though, I thought I might as well start up a conversation, offering you to comment and tell me how you’re doing as well. Now more than ever is a time where the internet can a source of connection while being distant.

I hope these little posts can serve a purpose, to offer a small space of distraction and connectedness between ourselves while staying inside. As a writer with this little platform, it’s all that I can think of to do. Comment and share the things you’re doing too, I’d love to hear from you!

A note on wellness

I love essentail oils, so I thought that I would share a few that I’ve been useing these last few days.

Lemongrass — this essential oil has been my favorite for the past week. It’s bright, uplifting, and when diffused it makes my room smell fresh. Plus, it’s benefits are numerous: it’s detoxifying, reduces stress and inflammation, has antioxidant effects, fights the flu or colds, among so many other things.

Thieves — This is a blend of essential oils, consisting of clove, lemon, cinnamon bark, eucalyptus radiata, and rosemary. We made this concoction in a spray bottle so we can mist it into the air and spray it on our couch and beds. Not only is does this blend have such a comfoting and warm aroma, but it has so many benifits. Some of which are: boosting the immune system, having antimicrobial activity, fighting nasel and sinus congestion, promoting respiratory and cardiovascular health, energizing or uplifting mood

What’s on my plate

Being at home has been given me some opportunity to cook and be a little creative with what I put on my plate.

This morning was simple, I made myself eggs, clementines, and blueberries (for which my dog sat and begged from me the whole time I was eating.)

I’ve also been working on my latte art skills, where I’ve seen little to no improvement.

A little something related to the news

There has been so much misinformation going around on social media concerning the virus. Every morning, I’ve been trying to listen to the press conferences with the government officials to get my information and updates about where this whole world is going. This morning, I was listening to the Governor of New York’s press conference. Honestly, I was shocked how uplifting and relatively positive he was throughout the whole conference. Also, he took the initiative to say something I think is so relative: “Words Matter, at this point. Words matter.” (49:20)

As a writer, I closely connected with this, but it is so true for everyone at any time. In a time where there is information overload, a lot of us are quantized at home with the internet being our only source connection, the words we use are vital. “I believe communication is important and words are important. Say what you mean…” Along with this statement, he went through and started to define what the words “quarantine,” “isolation,” “shelter-in-place,”‘ and “modified shelter-in-place” (44:03) and how we need to watch the language that we use. I don’t live in New York, but the midwest has closely followed behind some of what the bigger cities are doing. Not only did this ease some of my worries I’ve had lately, but it made me hopeful for the coming weeks. 

Something to listen to

To end today’s little post, here is a playlist I made for the next couple of weeks. I’ll be adding to it every so often when I find songs that are fitting.

I hope throughout these few next days we can all find peace and wellness in our homes. If you have to go out, take safe precaustions and wash your hands. If you are sick, stay strong. We will all get through this together.

Joseph, The Vogue, Feb. 16, 2020

Joseph, The Vogue, Feb. 16, 2020

Have you ever been in a relatively small space where everyone knows your favorite songs? The wooden floor shakes to the rhythm of the drums and the guitar coming through the speakers just a little too loudly—everyone’s feet pounding in unison. The heat of the room is bearable. Everyone scoots in a little closer to each other to hear the songs that you normally listen over speakers, either on your drive home form work or while you’re curling your hair in the bathroom. These songs lift the crowd up into the atmosphere, beyond the disco ball and stage lights, somewhere beyond the known. Music can do that to you. 

There is something about how you can close your eyes and get lost in the music. To really experience the side effects of the live guitar, base, drums, piano, and harmony of voices, they take you to some place out of the crowed room and into whatever that song means for you. 

I saw the band Joesph in concert at The Vogue this past Sunday. A Sunday night concert was interesting, but I don’t regret it a bit. I powered through the next morning at work with lots of coffee and a little help from Advil. I didn’t mind the ringing in my ears or the fact I wasn’t able to concentrate much on anything because I was still reminiscing the night before. 

Joseph is from portalnd, OR and is the creation of Natalie, Allie, and Meegan. Each in themselves, they are awesome people and such great performers.  

Opening for Jospeh was Deep Sea Diver. I always love how I go to concerts not knowing much about the opener but by the end, they easily become one of my favorites. The solo by lead guitarist Jessica Dobson, was absolutely amazing. I can’t wait to see them when they come back to Indy, touring their new album which will be released later this year. 

A few videos from the concert: