August 6, 2011 § 13 Comments
If you are like me, you have been existing for years in a sorry state of existence in which the only vegetable mixed into a tzatziki sauce is the cucumber (which isn’t even technically a vegetable, oh, and I suppose garlic is, but anyway, we’re not going to go there). No more! This limited viewpoint is about to come to an end. Come with me into a brave new world, and allow me to introduce you to beet tzatziki, a delightful gem of a spread/dip/salad/midnight snack…
Backing up just a bit, I, oddly enough, have my recent packed schedule of research focus groups to thank for this discovery. You see, I have somehow become one of my department’s experts in focus group moderating. I don’t even quite know how it came about, I just know that now I not only do my own focus groups, I help out with those of other research projects as well.
I seem to have an affinity for it, especially focus groups with kids. (The secret? I find if you just stare at people expectantly for long enough, they’ll get uncomfortable and start talking. No, but, actually, I think the most important thing is being genuinely interested in what people have to say. It comes across.)
March 6, 2011 § 6 Comments
Well, now that you know how I felt about cauliflower when I was little, you know how I felt about most vegetables. It’s hard to believe that the farm-share buying, garden planting, vegetable fiend I am now actually grew out of that prissy little girl whose heart grew faint and lip trembled at the thought of eating leaf and root matter of any sort. I had a very few exceptions to my no vegetables rule. A few vegetables that were inoffensive enough I would deign to consider them foodstuffs. I liked cucumbers. In fact, cucumber and mayonnaise sandwiches were one of my favorite summer dinners (this was my escape hatch when all the grown ups were eating their open faced shrimp sandwiches). I would eat carrots if they were shredded and mixed with ranch dressing, and I would eat peas if they were cooked and drowned in my mother’s magnificent gravy. That was about my limit. So, peas and carrots it frequently was.
However, in spite of the lore around peas and carrots (I’ve heard that an old joke/admonishment in many families was to tell the children to “eat every carrot and pea on your plate,” hehe) we never actually ate them together. It was either peas or carrots. Not peas and carrots. I knew, in a sense, that they were supposed to go together. Two of my best friends and I even dressed up as peas and a carrot for Halloween once! But still, never did the twain meet on my dinner plate. Up until a couple of days ago that is. In my mind’s peripatetic wanderings last week I stopped to rest awhile upon this idea and decided that it was finally time to eat peas and carrots together. But, I didn’t manage to stop there. No sooner had I settle on it, I had quickly moved on from the idea of just eating plain old peas and carrots and started thinking of pot pie. And then I started thinking of hand pies. « Read the rest of this entry »
July 12, 2010 § 5 Comments
Some friends and I have a “band” that we started last year, known as The Muddy Gospel Band (we have also considered calling ourselves The Iran Contra-dance Affair, but I’m not sure that’s actually funny to anyone else). Those quotation marks around “band” are key to understanding our level of professionalism and talent. (Though we did do a single recording session last year, orchestrated by a sound technician who also happened to be a finalist in the International Beard and Mustache Competition, natural category.) I mean, I don’t want to shortchange us, we’re all decent to excellent musicians and singers, but our method of practicing is approximately this: randomly get together every couple of months, share supper, then grab some beers and sing your way through old gospel songbooks, Gillian Welch’s, and Dave Rawlings’ albums, finally end with some quality Bob Dylan.
Our four part harmony is not spot on; we crowd around a computer screen to read what the lyrics to the song we’re singing are; our mandolin player only knows 4 chords (er, that would be me); but the experience is always transcendent. The stress, the anxiety, the conflict that seem to come with the territory of participating in this wonky world of ours, become transparent, wispy, insubstantial. They float away like dandelion puffs on the breeze of our voices. Every day, when I listen to the news or browse headlines online, I’m bewildered and saddened by our collective insanity and apparently bizarre priorities. Each time I share a meal or sing with friends, I rediscover some things that are true and good, and find a new little foothold to balance on. Our Muddy Gospel practices have both, accompanied by lots of good old-fashioned belly-laughs. “I don’t know what tomorrow brings. It’s alive with possibility. All I know is I feel better when I sing. Burdens are lifted from me…” (that’s from “Method Acting” by Dave Rawlings – seriously awesome song) « Read the rest of this entry »