Warm potato salad with artichokes and herb dressing

April 19, 2013 § 25 Comments

potato artichoke salad 1

I’ve started thinking a lot about love lately.  To be more specific, I’ve thinking about love in the face of an uncertain, sometimes scary world.

That sounds dour, doesn’t it.  I can’t help it for the moment.  Adjusting to this new idea and identity of becoming a parent coupled with feeling that uncertainty acutely, especially because of the madness of the weather and current events and all that stuff, it leaves me really wondering how I’ll do.  I struggle with love, you see, because I can be, well, an anxious person sometimes.  I’ve been strongly affected by watching loss and sadness ever since I was very small, and somewhere along the way I just stopped trusting that there was benevolence in the universe.

And when you don’t trust, you armor yourself, guarding yourself against strong attachments because of the fear that something will happen, and you’ll be left bereft.  But then (thankfully!) there are people in my life who mean so much to me, Joel, my family and community, Squid (so she’s a fur person not a person-person, but she counts), that my love for them handily bursts through any shields I have raised to try to protect myself.  This is wonderful, but it’s also frightening.

I’m sure that baby, when he or she comes, will be the same.  Except better/worse.  I mean, let’s face it, I love our darn dog so insanely much I feel like I would be destroyed if something happened to her.  How the heck am I going to handle the amount of love that comes with having a baby????

Squid on couch

This little one makes my day

Because the world is uncertain, and mostly out of our control.  We can set up all the plans and safeguards we can imagine, but we still can’t protect ourselves or others from absolutely everything.  And dwelling on that sort of thing, my friends, is how you make yourself anxious (you know, in case you were wondering).

In the past 5 or so years, after I had noticed myself stuck in this sort of pattern of thinking, I started trying to work on it.  Meditate or pray, I’ve been told.  Journal.  Develop the habit of thinking of yourself as lovable; this allows you to love others.  Make note of things that you are grateful for, new things every day. « Read the rest of this entry »

Fingerling potato salad with chard and bacon

June 23, 2011 § 21 Comments

Duluth, Minnesota, my hometown, and where I was last week, is a very cool city.  (Both figuratively and literally – given that even in mid-June the high temperature during the middle of the day most days last week was 52F and in the winter it can easily be 40 below.  You can actually get t-shirts that say, “Duluth is a cool town.”  I can’t decide whether they’re dorky or cute.)

It’s small but it has some splashy things going on in the art and music world.  There’s tons of untamed outdoor space – you can barely walk without stumbling into the woods (I think that’s a good thing).  People there seem to be on the forefront of the barefoot running movement.  The town is participating in the ‘One book, One community” campaign, a movement (started by the Chicago Public Library system if I remember correctly) that aims to bring communities together in dialogue by sharing the experience of reading the same book.

And, now Duluth has also started participating in “One vegetable: one community,” trying to get everyone to eat more kale this year.

I think this is hilarious.  And distinctly awesome.

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Roasted potato and radish salad

September 27, 2010 § 5 Comments

I’ve been thinking about the idea of sabbaticals, or Sabbath (it only occurred to me last week that they have the same root!), a lot lately.  I recently had the opportunity to take a few months off from my doctoral work, and the time away proved to be a time of both physical and mental rejuvenation.  A lot of growth and exploration.  So often we treat a sabbatical as something you have to earn through lots of achievement and performance.  Our society tells us you deserve a rest only after you work, work, work.  But, I’m coming to realize it’s the other way around, really.  That a sabbatical is a time of separating yourself from that sense of needing to produce something, and allows you to come back to your most fundamental self that doesn’t need to perform.  It is a quiet place to start from, where you stock up on the energy and strength you need  in order to create and do your work.

I’m working with a wonderfully insightful and profoundly thoughtful couple to learn more about my sense of vocation and my work style, and they have asked me to think about the ways in which I create that space, take little sabbaticals, monthly, weekly, and daily.  In general I’m terrible at it.  I always let the little ‘to do’s’ interfere.  Or I get all reactive and testy about the idea of having something that I have to fit in and do everyday (whether it’s journaling, or meditating, or what have you), even while I long for it and love ritual.  But, I’ve realized that sitting down to meals, especially with loved ones is very much a Sabbath moment for me, one which I take three times a day.

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Warm sweet and plain potato salad with brown butter dressing

June 1, 2010 § Leave a comment

We’re in a state of happy, contented, total exhaustion in these parts.  A string of days packed with hosting showers, brunches, general shenanigans, and then a big, beautiful tear-jerking wedding for your childhood best friend followed by eating, drinking, and dancing into the very wee hours of the morning will do that to you, it turns out.  It’s enough to make you completely forget Memorial day, except in a moment of passing thankfulness that you had the day off.  I know Memorial day is kind of a national mandate to grill things, and make every type of mayonnaise-dressed salad known to man.  But, in this neighborhood we all ignored that mandate.  The day was instead spent alternating between lounging cat-like (or maybe just catatonic) in the sun on the newly’s front porch, and giving bear hugs, choked up goodbyes, and bon voyages to all the friends we won’t be seeing again…until the next wedding.  So, sorry Memorial day, we didn’t mean to ignore you, but there’s only so much a human being can physically celebrate in one weekend.

However, I have been playing around with potato salads on my own time.  I don’t really like potato salad, and I’ve been trying to create one that does it for me.  This one is kind of fun.  Probably I like it in large part because I used sweet potatoes instead of regular potatoes.  (Actually, I’m on the verge of giving up and just using sweet potatoes for everything because they are, quite simply, the bomb in the tuber world).  But, I’m also pleased with my decision to follow my brown butter obsession yet another step, incorporating it into the dressing.  I figured, if what you need in a dressing is a fat and an acid, why the heck not use butter?!  And if I’m going to use butter, why the heck not brown it?!  The result is a dressing that’s rich and nutty, with a pleasant and slightly sweet tang from the apple cider vinegar.  The shallots give it an onion bite.  And the thyme, well that’s just my go to herb, especially in something that’s buttery or creamy.  It spruces up the potatoes right nicely.  So here’s a potato salad, a day late and a dollar short…but maybe somebody can lend me a dollar. « Read the rest of this entry »

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