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sense.of.non. has treated me well over the years.

but its time for a move to make room for a relaunch of sorts
involving
more food, more stories

more, of well, many things.

i am now writing at
commonplacetable.wordpress.com

various depictions of dinner parties, feasts
make one envious that they are not an invited guest.
i put into this category the intimate dinner from Chocolat where chocolate is lavishly poured on everything,
the expensive feast Babbette throws [down] for the pious christians in the movie Babbette’s Feast.


i recently read Supper of the lamb: a culinary refletion by robert farrar capon, an episcopalian priest who has a great love of food.  He writes in a way that transports the reader to feel as though they are actually sitting in his kitchen, drinking sherry at his counter while he meticulously chops an onion.  The onion which he challenges you to spend AN HOUR with to notice its intricacies.

For him (and me as well), eating a good meal begins well before sitting down to the first fork-full.  The onion exercise is one stop on the path to restore the institution of proper cooking, a process that “involves the slowness that we forget we actually have time for.”  A simple meal is the goal, though the preparation is anything but.  And the work poured into each dish is meant for a sit down dinner party versus a cocktail party, in his opinion requires nothing from its guests but their physical presence…But when a [host] sits me down at his/her table, (s)he declares himself willing to let those sitting with him/her into his own life.

Consider the higher distress for which earth has no cure- that major, vaster burning by which the heart looks out astonished as the world and in its loving wakes and breaks at once.  The most splendid dinner, the most exquisite food, the most gratifying company arouse more appetites than they satisfy…we embrace the world in all its glorious solidity, yet it struggles in our very arms, declares itself a pilgrim world, and, through the lattices and windows of its nature, discloses cities more desirable still…we were given appetites, not to consume the world and forget it, but to taste its goodness and hunger to make it great.

Playing it safe is not Divine.  In a world that so regularly winds our clocks and breaks our hearts, that laughs at caution and cries from every corner for extravagation-only outlandish hopes can make themselves at home. 

Capon’s general persuasion is to “cook fancy and just plain eat.”  he lives on the philosophy that it is better to eat a really good (ahem* full of calories) meal and practice fasting than to constantly eat mediocre food.  I love his thoughts regarding breakfast by calling it an unmerciful meal in which “very few people are fit company at that hour…it is a time to be left alone with one’s thoughts.”  the best breakfast consists of good crusty bread, quality cheese and real butter.  this is also meal in and of itself, fit for lunch or dinner.  though simple, it truly is the meal that satisfies.  give me a good glass of wine and i will be wishing to join you in a quaint french town.  this simple recipe for cuban bread, taken from the book, really is quite simple to make.  and the saltiness of it, makes the loaf disappear quickly.

CUBAN BREAD

4 T yeast
1 T salt
2 T sugar
2 c lukewarm water
6 c flour

dissolve yeast, salt & sugar in a coffee cup with some of the water. mix the remaining water and some of the flour in another bowl until you have a batter. stir in the contents of the coffee cup and add flour until you have a manageable dough. knead well, adding flour till you have a fairly stiff dough….keep kneading.
place dough in a greased bowl, cover with a damp cloth, and let rise until doubled. when risen, cut in half. shape into 2 plump, round loaves.
sprinkle some cornmeal on a greased baking sheet and place loaves on the sheet and let them rise for ONLY FIVE minutes. cut a generous cross in the top of each and place them in a COLD oven. set the temperature to 400 and place a large pan of boiling water on the bottom oven rack. bake for 45 minutes for the crustiest homemade bread.

[photo courtesy of madgerly]

oh the silence has been deafening in my own ears. and blinding to my shut eyes. but slowly i am able to look what is staring at me in the future and put down
words, even if just a few at a time (and they may find more air time here).
some occasions are to monumental, too incredible to not put down for recollection and tribute.
like this past weekend. in my beloved seattle. the city that made gray clouds in my soul; however, now has become a place of refuge,
a place i am refilled by relationships that only grow stronger over many miles.

on my second return since my departure, i must brag that i was flown back by the contribution of many friends,
who paid for not only a round trip plane ticket, but for a delectable brunch made by yours truly. though this weekend was the result of a scheme to see me more, to bring a [random] yet expectant group together,
it also was the culmination of what i am putting into practice, slowly, for the next phase of my life.
a surprise to really no one but myself; it revolves around an abundant table of well-prepared food and enticing dinner companions.


my confidence is growing and expanding. how can it not when 18 people, with generous pockets and a thesaurus of praises,
heap unending compliments, showing their support, yet also their ability to receive.  (easier, of course, with full bellies and wooed taste buds.)

what is next?  as i wrote my adviser earlier this week (receiving an extremely supportive, excited response): one of the difficult personal challenges i have faced is how to incorporate myself as a creative person into social services.  the reality is, i have always been passionate about food- from growing produce, to preparing a meal, to sitting down with people while eating a simple, delicious meal- and how something so seemingly simple is in reality the basic way we build relationships.  and somehow this fits into my thesis project and moreover, plans i am creating to incorporate that which is my passion, into my future. 

those of you who have been eating at my table for years or for brief stints in your life, i’m sure,
are finding no surprise in this change of events.

SHAKSHUKA.
{adapted from smitten kitchen and sunday suppers}

1 onion chopped
2-3 jalapenos chopped finely
4 cloves of garlic
1 cup crushed tomatoes
2 cups fresh tomatoes chopped
1 t cumin
1 T paprika (smoked paprika will blow you away)
6 eggs
parsley
4 links good, fresh raw chorizo

Heat olive oil in iron skillet (or dutch oven or whatever is available) on med-hi. Add onions and jalapenos and saute until lightly browned. Add garlic and saute for 1-2 more minutes. Add in cumin and paprika. Add 1/2 cup water and all tomatoes. Turn to med-low and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Meanwhile, begin frying chorizo links over med-high heat in a cast iron skillet until firm, but not fully cooked.  Take off heat and with a sharp knife, slice pieces on the diagonal.  If the meat is cooked enough, it will hold its shape.  Return slices to the cast iron skillet and fry until fully cooked.

At this point the simmering tomatoes should be ready.  Right before serving, crack 6 eggs on top and cover with a lid. The eggs will poach in the tomato sauce and be done in 5 minutes (based on preference of egg doneness). Top with fresh parsley. It can be served with pita but I prefer good, fresh, crusty, rustic wheat bread. Additional yummy toppings include feta.

{photos courtesy of nathania. kitchen courtesy of the parzyboks}

From Blossoms

From blossoms comes
this brown paper bag of peaches
we bought from the boy
at the bend in the road where we turned toward
signs painted Peaches.

From laden boughs, from hands,
from sweet fellowship in the bins,
comes nectar at the roadside, succulent
peaches we devour, dusty skin and all,
comes the familiar dust of summer, dust we eat.

O, to take what we love inside,
to carry within us an orchard, to eat
not only the skin, but the shade,
not only the sugar, but the days, to hold
the fruit in our hands, adore it, then bite into
the round jubilance of peach.

There are days we live
as if death were nowhere
in the background; from joy
to joy to joy, from wing to wing,
from blossom to blossom to
impossible blossom, to sweet impossible blossom.

– Li-Young Lee

last year i tried to:

i will take one dance class (did not)
i will read two books a month. (almost)
i will make three wildly inappropriate decisions (i made 2)
i will hand write four letters a month (maybe 2)
i will complete five sewing projects  (almost done with #5)
i will have coffee with six strangers (did once)
i will practice self discipline seven times a week (probably not)
i will allot myself eight hours of sleep each night (not consistently)
i will complete nine credit hours of grad school (6 done, working on the next 6)
i will run ten miles in one stretch (5…keep trucking)

i’ve not really been able to put down what i want for 2011.  on new year’s, i toasted to becoming a lincolnite, which is pretty huge.  not really sure what that means but i envision, having random acquaintances, selling preserves at the farmer’s markets, local business’ knowing my name, having and going to dinner parties, participating in some art/creative collaborations, knowing other bikers.

other things i do know i want to do:

. go through the artist’s way again
. make reading the book of common prayer a habit

. take boxing lessons
. find a community development project to join
. keep running
. go to new orleans
. learn how to become a french cook/baker

i feel as if 2011 crept in while i was figuring out settlements. i think bit by bit i will be able to take hold of the reins and whip into action, what potentially could be a smashing year. as i close out this decade and begin a new one.

2011, i gladly welcome you.

i can’t stop listening to this new found gem.  it’s made my top album of 2010.  maybe i should be more savvy and reflect my pitchfork influenced tastes, but really, i want to indulge in my rediscovered love of hip hop.

i am writing to you from my new local coffee shop.  i am {pleasantly} astounded to find coffee that battles the goodness of zoka or herkimer’s.  hello cultiva, we will become good friends in the following year.

i won’t apologize incessantly for the quietness or lack of words.  they were bouncing around in unknown chaos, too frail to be spoken, as any life given to them would have blown them off the shelf, into unknown crevices.

since departing seattle, i have gone through a season of rest. a season of harvest. a season of unknown.  choosing to leave without a clear plan in place may come across as irresponsible; however, i find it more in tune with my restless nature.  in searching for a place to be a part of, to call home, ironically has been found in the surprising discovery that nebraska was calling me back for more than a mere sabbatical.

i still am faced with the reality that this is still becoming ‘home.’  which means i still have lonely waves that easily catch me off guard and whisper doubts that momentarily cause me to question, if truly setting up shop in my home state is a smart move…

i am often asked if i miss seattle.  and in a way i do.  i miss the mountains, mild winters, pcc, kexp, cafe presse and portalis, my familiar routine and of course, a hoard of people.  and as i cultivate my space here, i want them in it. bits of them are represented but it does not make up for their actual presence.  and in coming up with my “new normal,” i am fully aware of hollow places that will eventually be filled with other things but for now, remains empty, padded with missingness.

but i don’t miss the darkness that was often present in my body throughout the duration of my seattle residence.  it was not directly from the city or its people, but from the inward struggle and brokenness i was wading through.  and i can gladly say that season has passed {for now} and made way for other things, but that season was necessary in all of it’s colors.

i have chosen lincoln because of a lovely group of people who believe in community the way i do.  it is not a busy city but it offers many gems which i will highlight another time.  it allows for a simple life.  it allows for the stories woven in my soul to find their words on paper to be spoken again.  it allows for a season of creation.  and after so many seasons of bitterness, darkness and restoration, the opportunity to create is beyond comforting; it is my chance to reclaim what has been forgotten.

too beautiful too not post.

JR- the 2011 TED prize winner.

since i last posted, i….

slept in a small cottage in quicksburg, va
walked and walked the streets of washington d.c.
contemplated moving there.
was invaded by pencil skirts.
went to my uncle’s funeral.
drove a tractor for hours. and peed behind the tires.
read the entire hunger games series
watched nebraska football. obsessively.
watched 3000 birds flock in the trees, readying for migration.
interviewed for a job in lincoln, ne.
made eggplant pasta sauce.
and
wandered
wondered
pondered

this is my silence.

living in seattle without a car, walking was an integral part of my daily routine, done without second thought about getting from point a to point b and perhaps even point c.  walking here in nebraska on the farm, is reserved time and reserved time becomes time for my crowded, muzzled mind.

i walk the section, one mile each direction, three miles are gravel roads, all four miles are surrounded by cornfields.  i”ve discovered an apple tree in the ditch on mile 2; however, the apples are now out of reach so i am snacking on stolen lincoln pears off the neighbor’s tree (neighbor is .25 miles away).

it’s a beautiful walk.  i have no where else to be but there, walking, part of my daily sanity.  the other night i began my walk at 8 pm while the sun began it’s daily set and the sky was clear all minus a small, stretched, billowing cloud hanging low in the southeast, flashing pink as if someone was plugging and unplugging it.  the scenery may look the same day in and day out, there is no entertainment in people watching but how often can you witness a miniature electric storm in such a small cloud?  i was amused as the cloud continued it’s punk show while the rest of the sky turned into a mass of congested stars.

in three days, i will be returning to the city…the quiet will be replaced…walking will become a necessity…it has been good to be home.  but there is now a time for something,
well, something else.

what i’m currently listening to: