Sunday, November 29, 2009

the sweet smell of failure

I just screwed up big time. SO excited about this Chez Panisse apple tart I was making for tonight's post-Thanksgiving dinner, and everything just went wrong. So very wrong. The tart dough came out way too wet, far past the point of salvation, and I bought the wrong apples for baking (mushy instead of crisp) and so they wouldn't slice well, everything went to pieces, and I am so frustrated with myself.

Please don't think I'm foolish enough to try out new things on guests. Isn't that one of the fundamental rules of life, Thou shall not force one another to eat a first time product of yours (thine? thy?)? However, the last time I did try the apple tart was 2 years ago, when I was way worse at baking than I am now, so what's that all about?

In case you hadn't noticed, failure doesn't sit well with me. I am not one of those people who can laugh it off when things go awry and spontaneously create something magical on the spot. (Secretly I wish I could do this, but living in reality means telling the truth about myself.) I plan and I schedule and I measure; these are the things I do well, but they also leave little, if any, room for trust. And I want to trust, I really do. I want to put my trust in something higher, wider, deeper, taller, greater than myself. For me, this means praying for my soul to know as deeply as it can that there is a Plan, that someday I will get it a little bit more than I do today, that the process is beautiful.

To cheer us all up, some examples of things I've done right this fall:

mushroom, mozzarella, arugula frittata. Dreamy.

The contents of my September lunches. Assorted heirloom tomatoes, cubed mozzarella, basil.

Plain oatmeal cookies for Digsy.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

one of THOSE days

About a minute after sliding the pumpkin muffins into the oven, I realized I had forgotten the baking soda. Dang it.....I was so excited too because I was a baking with pumpkin virgin, and I decided to just go big and roast a for real pumpkin instead of canned and THIS happened. Also burned my finger in the process. Just one of those days. It's time for Glee.

Monday, November 9, 2009

these are a few of my favorite things

All right. I'll just be honest with the 2 of you who read this thing. Life has slowed down a loooooot since I returned home, not necessarily in a bad way, but definitely in a less-than-constantly-blogworthy sort of way. (Although come to think of it, don't I get to dictate what happens here, and can't skilled writers spin the mundane into the fabulous? How do I get to this point? Oh yes, of course. Practice. Write some more. And some more. And then again.)

(In case you're wondering, my mind does go there (there meaning this vein of internal conversation) pretty regularly. I think it has a lot to do with this transitory period of being a twentysomething and questioning myself daily about where I want to be in life and what I want to do in life and what are my life goals anyway? As Joy the Baker would say, holy heck! It's enough to make a girl crazy.)

The other day I was reminiscing about all the crazy things I ate in Asia. (Remembering is a good way to bring my mind back to the way things were.) I started out tame with duck brain and mooncake the size of my head.

By November I was tackling scorpions.

Winter break brought the fish eye episode in Kuala Lumpur (ps I know Kathryn has a photo of me mid-fish eye chew...where is it?!)

East Asia then got too boring, food wise (totally kidding) but we moved on to the wild lands of Central Asia, which brought the sickest thing I've consumed to date. I do not joke or overexaggerate. Fermented horse milk. I know. You're sitting there, completely stunned and kind of sick to your stomach just thinking about it. I'll create you a word picture, since Blogger and I are still at odds with each other and posting pictures is just too much work for it right now (seriously, someone please help me with the tech part).

As I was saying. Our Central Asian friends are cheering us on as we all sat around this large table high in the mountains. All the foreigners got a bowl full of something creamy, white, and intensely sour scented. All the way down the hatch it was pungent, sour, bitter, and still creamy, and I wanted to gag as I considered how long it had been fermenting outside. At the end, a smoky aftertaste, but not like pleasant gouda/sausage smoky. Nasty smoky. Why would this drink even taste smoky? Oh, I'm sorry. I forgot to mention this is the national, and probably regional drink of Central Asia. Why would the national drink taste smoky? Why would aforementioned drink have such widespread appeal? Why on a chilly August mountain night would we be subjected to such torture by our Central Asian hosts?!

This, like all the things mentioned above (minus the fish eye, that was for my BC point), was eaten/drunk in the name of love/being polite guests in new cultures. I don't get that experience anymore, and sadly enough, I miss it. I miss it much more than these Georgia font blog words can express.