January 22, 2013 § 22 Comments
Right at this moment, it is 20 below zero outside. The windchill is -43F, and the high today is a balmy -4.
In other words, it is January in Minnesota. And while this kind of weather does make you vaguely wonder how life can exist here, it is also pretty great – after the thaw we had two weeks ago – to feel like we’re getting a spot of normal weather.
In case you don’t live in such a frigid place, here are some things to know about this type of weather:
Yes, there is still a palpable difference between temperatures when you get lower than 32F. Sure, it all feels freezing, but not at all the same level of freezing. 5 degrees above feels downright vernal after a spell of -15. When it’s around 10 or 15 below, salt actually stops working to melt ice. It’s kind of funny. When it gets really, really cold you can toss a cupful of water up in the air, and it will freeze before it makes it back down to the earth.
The best way to respond is to go outside in spite of the cold, just be sure all of your skin is covered and that everything you’re wearing is thick and wooly. Then, make some type of remark to everyone you meet about how arctic explorers would be overjoyed to have such a pleasantly warm day.
On a related note, you must learn to recognize everyone by their hats and puffy coats because you can’t really see faces. You need boots that are in a whole different league, preferably made of moose skin. The long fur coats you inherited from your grandmother stop looking like a politically incorrect bit of fashion history and instead look like an extremely reasonable and adaptive way of dressing. « Read the rest of this entry »
January 17, 2013 § 14 Comments
A cocktail seems only appropriate given I still have dried whiskey grain schmutz on my shoes (epic pump disaster people, epic!) and smell like a fermenting tank from our five days of working out at the Bainbridge Distillery.
Coincidentally, or perhaps not so very coincidentally, this particular cocktail came out of our last trip to Seattle.
January 2, 2013 § 35 Comments
Happy, happy New Year to you all! Did you ring in the New Year in style?
I know we did. Much more stylishly than we really are, in fact. But if the holidays aren’t a time to up your style game, when is, right?
Perhaps it’s the crash after the high of holiday activity, perhaps it’s that the New Year always makes me nearly as nostalgic as October does, but I’m now left feeling quietly morose. “Another year,” a voice somewhere inside of me sighs, “another year, and I still don’t understand.”
So I’m sitting in our living room now, which feels dark as the Christmas twinkle lights have all been put back into boxes, wondering to myself, ‘understand what? What do I so yearn to understand?’
The answer, I’m sorry to say, is anything and everything, as far as I can tell. The answer is Life.
Day by day life happens, intermittently glorious and terrible, and I don’t understand any of it. At all. Not a bit.
I’m suddenly remembering a quote my mother told to me earlier this year (I’m not entirely sure of its origin), “this thing of which we speak cannot be found by seeking. But only seekers will find it.”
I don’t entirely understand the quote either, but it speaks to me about life and meaning on a level separate from understanding. I feel somehow like that’s it. Like maybe trying to understand won’t get you anywhere. Life just is, it isn’t an entity to be dissected and understood. You have to get out of your own way, but at the same time seek and make that daily effort to get out of your own way. « Read the rest of this entry »
November 28, 2012 § 18 Comments
Fair ladies, kind gentlemen! I bring you: more broccoli!
Yes. More broccoli. Consider it another delicious stepping stone on the cruciferal march toward that cauliflower with harissa cream that I mentioned, and I swear I am working on, and it will appear any day now.
As a reward for your patience (or a way of buying it, perhaps?) though, this gratin is none too shabby, at least that much I can promise.
But first and foremost, for those of you who had Thanksgiving last week, how did it go? Are you still stuffed? Ours was quite the gathering, the most rollicking Thanksgiving I’ve been to in years, perhaps ever.
We were not only my family but also Joel’s, and on top of that not one but precisely six Norwegian students, here in Minnesota studying at various universities and connected to my mother in various ways.
The turkey was gargantuan, the gravy flowing, the Brussels sprouts piled high, and the pies numerous and flaky. The conversation was sparkling. Also, loud. Norwegian Americans may be reticent, but Norwegian Norwegians generally aren’t. Nor is my family. Plus, my grandmother was in the midst of everything exhibiting her talent for handwriting interpretation (mine = hard to read) and discussing Project Runway. Always a kick. « Read the rest of this entry »
November 21, 2012 § 15 Comments
I’m going to make this one quick because, let’s face it, I don’t have much spare time today, and you don’t either. Too much crimping of pie edges, dry brining of turkeys, simmering of cranberries, and such and so to be done.
Or, if we’re completely honest, spilling of half bowls of pie dough on the floor, forgetting to take out the turkey, and smoldering of forgotten pots of cranberries. I am thankful for (among the many more standard things that I am deeply grateful for) brooms, basting with butter (a highly worthy alternative to brining), and smoke detectors. Though perhaps not in that order.
I am also thankful for this soup because it is the solution to the ‘what shall we eat the night before Thanksgiving?’ dilemma. (Or if you are in another country, it’s the solution to almost any other dilemma you can come up with.)
I love this recipe in part because the way Merrill – one of the cofounders of Food52 – came up with it is the same way I come up with ever so many dinners. She saw the words “broccoli soup with Parmesan and lemon” written on a coffee shop signboard. She thought to herself, “da@* that sounds good” (it’s the holidays, so I’m being careful with my naughty words, see?), and proceeded to try to make her own version.
I have done the same many a time. Also, the exact same thought ran through my own head when I saw the words “broccoli soup with Parmesan and lemon,” so I knew I had to make it tout de suite. « Read the rest of this entry »
October 30, 2012 § 21 Comments
Well, sheesh. What can you say really? I must admit, I’ve been saying for the past several years that one of these days a hurricane was going to swamp New York, and then we’d finally really have to take the weather seriously and get over the idea that we’re somehow in control. But, gosh, I never ever ever ever ever ever ever (ever ever ever ever) wanted to actually be right.
I hope all of you dear people on the East Coast are doing alright.
I was on pins and needles all yesterday, all night, all this morning, texting, and emailing, and waiting to hear news from my brother and friends in New York, my good friends in Boston, Joel’s aunt and uncle in New Jersey. I sure wish something could actually be accomplished through waiting and worrying! Thankfully, it sounds like so far everyone, though without power, is generally unscathed.
I guess that right there is a little piece of grace in the midst of another big old mess. I try to hold on to the hope that there’s always something to be thankful for, and believe there actually is, even though I’m sure that hope feels like it’s slipped away a bit through their fingers for some people. « Read the rest of this entry »
October 19, 2012 § 28 Comments
A few summers ago, I did an internship at the photography studio at Stonewall Kitchen up in Maine. I was just starting to really dig into my PhD work, and the pressure I was putting on myself because of it had started giving me panic attacks and making me sick. Things weren’t going at all as I’d planned, so I decided to take some time off to recover and learn better how to deal with, well, myself really.
At that point I had just barely picked up a camera and started aiming it at foodstuffs. I hated every photograph I took, but I adored the process of taking the food photos, so when a friend connected me with her friend who was the photographer for Stonewall, and she offered me a summer internship, I jumped at it. It was like being in college again. A weird summer internship! Barely getting paid! Exploring new pursuits, things I enjoy, rediscovering myself, yippee!
I learned all about f-stops and shutter speed and ISO numbers that summer. I learned a lot about what I liked and didn’t like in food styling and lighting, and I gained the confidence to start experimenting. I learned that I totally loved spending the whole day in a photo studio, even if I was holding light bounces and washing dishes most of the time.
I also learned that I did have the mental fortitude to stick with things that are tough, things that I suck at, and improve little by little. Even though I kind of wanted to stay in the photo studio forever, it helped me feel like I could stand up for the research I wanted to do and ideas that I had, and I would finish my PhD. (Um, though that part is still technically TBD. IthinkIcanIthinkIcanIthinkIcan…Give me a few more months.) « Read the rest of this entry »
October 12, 2012 § 13 Comments
Well dear friends, the distillery, which after a flurry of ad hoc focus group testing with friends who are roughly in our target market and/or have clever things to say about names is now officially named Vikre Distillery, now has a Facebook page. As of yesterday! And you know, if that doesn’t make something real, then what does, really?
In the non-Facebook version of life, also known as reality, the distillery is still very much in the process of becoming extant. But, we’re making a lot of progress and have found all sorts of amazing help, willing ears, editors, math-checkers, connection-makers. Though so far, the number of people who have offered their services as first line taste testers outstrips the numbers of any of these categories by far. Leaves’em in the dust. No contest. (Gee, I wonder why.)
By day, I find myself bopping between meetings and then back to focused data coding. By night I continue to stare pensively at data with a furrowed brow breaking only to fill mason jar upon mason jar with vodka and herbs, trying to come up with our ideal gin blend and aquavit flavor profile, etc. etc.
Joel crunches and recrunches numbers, and perfects powerpoints, and pamphlets, and makes a lot of phone calls. I’m glad I’m not doing that part. I have a weird irrational quasi-fear of calling people.
Some days are awful and I throw up my hands, convinced this was the worst idea in the known history of mankind (worst, no exaggeration) and that it will all be a miserable failure. Other days are bright and happy, full of hope and new connections and small successes and a sense that we can make things happen. These things go like that.
Anyhow, progress, progress, progress. Each little step, on any sort of day, is progress. « Read the rest of this entry »
October 8, 2012 § 28 Comments
Is it quite terrible that one of the things I liked best about Boston was the length of the corduroy jacket season? It stretched on seemingly into perpetuity, that in-between temperature season where you can throw a corduroy jacket over your t-shirt or over your wooly sweater and be happy.
I really love wearing my corduroy jacket, you see.
This makes me sound so frivolous, doesn’t it?! It is frivolous. Forgive me, I’m a flake! At least where corduroy is involved. And boots too, but let’s stick with corduroy for the moment. The point is, here I wore my corduroy jacket for perhaps two days, and then the season was over.
It snowed a little bit both days this weekend. In some places, actually, it snowed a lot! I absolutely love snow, and I say bring it on. The temperature is hovering right around freezing, the smell of leaves and an edge of snow are trapped, suspended in the chill, dry air. It smells like I remember Halloween weather always smelling. The ground is coated with crackling leaves, maple, birch, and aspen, and in many ways, this is actually my very favorite kind of weather. I keep being overcome by a delirious happiness when I step outside and feel that air and smell that smell. Except, gosh I’d like to be able to wear my corduroy jacket for a little bit longer.
I’d also like to have cake and eat it too while acquiring grass in a similar shade of green as that on the other side, if it’s not too much trouble, thank you. « Read the rest of this entry »
September 25, 2012 § 26 Comments
My mother, it appears, is on a mission to get Joel – and me as well, really – thoroughly acquainted with the many wonderful places, resources, and activities available in our new stomping grounds. We are accepting this mission with enthusiasm. Two thumbs up for exploring the area! Especially when it means, as it did this last weekend, going on a tour of some local farmer’s markets, farms, and the charming little town of Bayfield, Wisconsin.
My mom picked us up early Saturday morning in her zippy silver Honda. It wasn’t exactly still dark, but it was early for most people’s version of a Saturday morning, and there was a frigid nip in the air. We donned hats, and mittens, and puffy coats and piled into the car with Squid in tow. We met up with a couple of friends at the bottom of the hill (have I mentioned Duluth is built on a hill? – like San Francisco in extra-miniature), and off we went! « Read the rest of this entry »