Monday, June 28, 2010

obsessing about the new

I am going through another wave of obsessing about the new. For those who don't know me well, this is a period where I start wanting a new job, or a new house or a new car or a new career goal. Every few years I go through this. Sometimes it leads to a new house or a new job or a new car. I really can't do any of those things right now, and I know it.

I want to stay at my current job, so that we can pay for college for our son. I want to stay in the house I am in because really, I love it, and the neighborhood it's in. I would love a new car, but I really don't need a car payment.

At the same time, while I KNOW all this to be true, I am obsessively looking at ads for mountain cabins, visiting car websites and reading reviews, looking at want ads, and position vacancies. Because knowing I can't or more truthfully, shouldn't, doesn't mean that I want to shake things up any less. In fact, it makes it worse.

It really isn't about "new" and it isn't about dissatisfaction. It's about choices making other choices unavailable. It's about that innate thing I have that makes me push back when pushed. That makes me say NO, even when I want to say YES, just because I am being pushed to say YES. It's a universal "you're not the boss of me". You can't make me, even if it's "you can't make me" do what I want to do. Senseless, but there it is.

Just because you understand what makes you do what you do, just because you recognize your own patterns, or can see your own flaws, doesn't mean you can change them.

Saturday, June 19, 2010



just a really satisfying summer meal/sandwich.

thin sliced smoked ham (3 slices per sub)
roast pork loin (great way to use leftover roast pork, 3 thin slices per sub)
bread and butter sandwich slice pickles (2-3 per sub)
jarlsberg or other good swiss cheese, sliced (1.5 slices per sub)
dijon mustard
sub rolls (1 per serving)


split the sub rolls and spread open
butter one side and spread dijon mustard on the other
starting from the mustard side, place 3 slices of ham, then 1 1/2 slices of swiss, then bread and butter pickles, then 3 thin slices of roast pork. close up the sandwich. (and yes, the order really does matter, but I don't know why)

Heat a large frying pan over medium heat,

add 1-2 tsp of butter
place the subs in the pan
Place a very heavy pan on top of the subs (or a tinfoil wrapped brick or two -- poor man's panini press)
cook 2-3 minutes per side, or until crisp and brown and the cheese has melted

you can also use a pannini press instead (it's easier, but not nearly as interesting as coming up with your own weights)

serve with sweet potato fries, vinegar-based slaw or black beans and rice with sauteed greens

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


I really try to accept myself as I am. I really do. I have resisted the stray urges to enhance, fix, fake, color, reduce. But I am struggling mightily in the last few weeks. I have... a potbelly. I have been fatter than I am now. I have been more out of shape. And through all of those phases, I have never, EVER, had a belly. And now I do. A noticeable, round, tummy bulge.

I suspect age and genetics rearing their ugly heads in this. Instead of gaining weight in my ass, or my thighs, the places I have always gracefully carried my extra poundage, I am watching this round little tummy thing happening. And I hate it. I find it embarrassing, disturbing, as if my body is publicly betraying me. And I am not sure how to counter it. I have relatives who have taken on this shape, at about my age. What if this is just what my body is programmed to do.

I think I am about to become addicted to situps and crunches. Maybe that will help. But what if it doesn't? What if I end up a barrel-shaped Italian peasant woman? what then?

Sunday, June 13, 2010

farmer's market breakfast

This time of year is wonderful, if you like to cook. There are just so many wonderful fruits and vegetables available. This morning's breakfast comes courtesy of the farmer's market.


fresh apricots

multigrain ciabatta
low fat whipped cream cheese
yellow squash
1 egg + 1 egg white
olive oil
pinch of rosemary

cut fresh apricots into quarters and set aside

split the ciabatta and spread one side with whipped cream cheese

heat tbsp of olive oil in pan
add thin sliced zucchini and yellow squash (less than 1/2 cup total)
add very thin sliced onion
saute until soft
add pinch of rosemary, salt and pepper
beat egg and egg white together, then add to pan
cook (scramble or omelet, makes no difference) just until egg sets
place on roll, serve with apricots on the side

Thursday, June 10, 2010

why I hate BP

I try not to waste time or effort in hating anything or anyone. But I feel an uncharacteristic emotion when I watch footage of the Gulf Oil Spill -- hate. Absolute venom for those responsible for what I can only view as a desecration. I don't use the word lightly. I am an unbeliever, an atheist, for lack of a better word. I don't believe in God. I don't believe in worship or prayer. But I do love the earth and all it's myriad living things, in a deeply profoundly spiritual way. The Earth is my religion.

And BP has done an unspeakable thing to my planet. It may be 40 years, 50 years, before the Gulf can recover, if it can recover. Rationally I know this is not just BP's fault. It is the fault of regulators, of employees, of management, of our own insatiable desire for cheap and plentiful gasoline. I know that. Really. But I don't FEEL it.

What I feel is rage. I actually understood the guy who urged everyone to go pee on BP gas stations. I think it's petty, but I understood. I want BP to pay, to suffer, like my beautiful and beloved Gulf is suffering. I want them bankrupt, the CEO fired, criminal charges filed. I really do.

This isn't the kind of person I want to be. And these are not the emotions I want to feel. I just can't seem to summon up kindness, or empathy or understanding right now. Maybe in a few months. But not now.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

a perfect meal

I have cooked a lot of meals. Once in a while, I feel like I have gotten it as good as it's going to get. Tonight was one of those.

The menu: vidalia onion tart, oven roasted asparagus, sliced tomatoes from the farmer's market.


1 pound fresh asparagus, bottom inch of spears removed
tbsp olive oil

4 large vidalia onions
tbsp olive oil
4-6 oz of gruyere cheese
1 pillsbury refrigerated pie crust
1/2 tsp of rosemary

2-3 fresh tomatoes, cut into wedges, sprinkled with salt and pepper

in an ovenproof pan, place asparagus. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast 30-45 minutes in a 350 degree oven (longer if you like more tender)

while the asparagus is roasting, saute 4 large vidalia onions in a tbsp of olive oil. Cook the onions until soft, but not browned. Add a pinch of rosemary, salt and pepper and cook another minute

grate 4-6oz of gruyere cheese
place a pillsbury refrigerated pie crust on a cookie sheet. sprinkle a third of the cheese on the crust, keeping about 1/2 inch of outer edge of crust cheese free.
top with the sauteed onions.
top with remaining cheese.
fold the outer edges of the crust up and over,pinching lightly to hold in place, to make a rustic tart
Bake for 30-45 minutes until crust is lightly browned.

serve with asparagus, sliced fresh tomatoes.

Monday, June 07, 2010

time slips into the future

This week has been a reminder of the steady passage of time. I have a reunion looming -- my 30th high school reunion is in July. Our son is finishing 10th grade, a school year that went by in the blink of an eye. I registered him for driver's ed classes. A dear friend's mom passed away. Co-workers left for other jobs. I registered myself for my last graduate class in the Fall.

Time slips by so quickly. I see flickers of my own mortality in that realization. Contrary to the avowals of my younger self, I really am going to go someday.While I hope that someday is very far in the future, I cannot deny that there is an end to all things. What will people say about my life? Will I look back with regret, or satisfaction? Will my being here have mattered in any real fashion?

I wonder.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

time for an old idea

It's time for an old idea to gain traction again. It's time we considered shunning, or social exile, as a way of expressing our extreme disapproval with a person's behavior. A person sells drugs on your corner? Shun him. His family, his friends, his neighbors, should all refuse to have anything to do with him until he mends his ways. We could clean up our neighborhoods pretty quickly. Everyone wants approval from someone -- from a friend, from a mom or grandmom, from a neighbor. What happens when they don't get it? What happens when you are excluded from everything? When people around you won't look at you, won't say hello, ignore you like you aren't even there?

I'm not expecting shame from the perpetrators. I think many are incapable of feeling it or acting on it. I do expect that even a hardened criminal can't live without social contact, without anyone at all.