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 »
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 »
February 17, 2012 § 24 Comments
I was thinking of calling this butternata, which, to me, makes it sound like it is a sonata of or about butter, which sounds bizarre and wonderful. Don’t you think? But, I didn’t want to mislead anyone. There is no butter involved here – though a generous hand with the olive oil more than makes up for that – except of the ‘nut squash variety.
And, speaking of butternut squash, have I told you about my friend and the bulk squash episode? I probably have already. But, I consider us all old friends here now, which means you’re going to have to listen to my stories, whether or not you’ve already heard them, and laugh and gasp and nod in all of the right places. I can’t wait.
We have a friend who, one fall when he and his wife lived near us, tagged onto our CSA to buy a bulk order of winter squash. And bulk was what he received. I’m not even quite sure how many pounds of squash he ordered, but it was on a magnitude you’d usually associate with a grocer’s. Joel is piping in, “it was probably, like, a hundred pounds. At least.”
December 9, 2011 § 19 Comments
It’s the quality of the light at this time of year, more than just the quantity. There’s something about it. Do you know what I mean? It seeps into my pores, follows me around, tints my day in a very particular way that I can’t quite describe.
When there’s snow on the ground the sun is so amplified during its brief daily visit that you don’t necessarily notice. But, when the ground is brown, littered with twigs and oak leaves, you can feel that the light is almost timid. It sneaks up above the horizon, peaking about with a muted – sometimes pallid – glow. You can tell as soon as it comes up that it’s already contemplating its journey back down, leaving us in darkness again.
I feel as though I barely get my day going and then I’m looking up and it is rapidly becoming dark outside. And, try as I might, even though it may only be 3:30 or 4:00, I can’t really concentrate on getting any more work done.
If I’m working from home, when it gets dark it means it is immediately time to initiate that day’s Cozy Winter Evening, something I feel is essential if one wishes to keep from being overcome by dreariness. For me this involves turning on a couple of our lights that cast a very warm yellow glow, lighting candles is good too, turning on some cheesy music (this is key), and taking a moment to briefly contemplate the tiny Christmas tree that we decorated and now have perched on the dining room table. « Read the rest of this entry »
December 3, 2011 § 7 Comments
Everything I’ve been cooking lately seems to be orange. Have you noticed? If you haven’t noticed, forget that I said anything at all. Orange food? What? I cook the rainbow!
If you have noticed, know that I thought I was going to be breaking out when I dreamed up this beet recipe. I envisioned deep claret purple. But then I rooted in my vegetable crisper drawer and was reminded that I had selected golden (read: orange) beets. Hmph. Well, we’re getting our vitamin A in these parts.
Whatever the color, these beet nubbins turned out to be a spectacular treat. Like candy.
November 13, 2011 § 18 Comments
It’s been a thoroughly draining week, intellectually. Emotionally too, actually. And, the idea of trying to say something remotely intelligible or amusing seems more than a little out of my league, at present.
On the way to trying to become a doctor of philosophy, there are many hurdles you have to clear and people you have to convince. (Including yourself. There’s a lot of convincing of yourself that you can, in fact, do this, in spite of the daunting monolithic-ness of the task at any given moment.) Last week I had another one to fling myself over in defending my dissertation proposal.
I did it. Hurrah! Which puts me, finally, in that category, which I’ve always been somewhat confused by, known as ABD. All but dissertation. I always used to hear that and think, what? All but dissertation? But, isn’t the dissertation kind of the whole thing? Answer, no. Not even remotely.