Monday, May 11, 2009

it's about time...

...literally--i need to post something, as it's been way too long.
...figuratively--when is it not about time?

oh how some days seem to go by so fast. blink. while others, painfully slow. but as a whole, life is just passing (rather zooming) by. i can't believe it's may! holy crap. it's all a blur of organized chaos. and granted life is good but i don't feel like i've had a moment to really savor it. so i am setting new goals.

goal one: pull over to the side of the road in the morning and dip my toes in the pacific. i love my drive (while i also hate it). perhaps i hate it because i am going to work. i love my work (while i also dislike it at times. not the work itself but the issues, the bureaucracy). i do not take for granted the luxuries i have in that 1) i can see and smell the pacific monday thru friday and 2) that i have a job. but i would like to stop and feel the sand.

goal two: breathe and not become overwhelmed by others' issues. whatever. that's been my mantra these days: whatever. as in take your effin issues and run with them. but not near me. whatever. i guess i could scratch this from my goal list; i've manifested the whatever. accepted it. embraced it. and will continue to do so. love it! i still have tendencies to become overwhelmed. whatever;)

goal three: spend more time reading the books i want. the stack is ever-increasing in size...on the coffee table, on the dresser, next to the tv (a but oxymoronic, i know). i would be so happy if i could carve the time to finish the secret history. time? what's that?

there are more. so many more. but in terms of mental health and clarity, these are the current top three.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


i have been surrounded by constraints, constrictions, restrictions, and restraints lately, from laws, rules, and norms. it's driving me mad. last week i wanted to write this entry when my bra was the mad driver. but i waited, out of time constraints. and i am happy i did. today, such constraints worked in my favor when i observed an "older" woman--who i do believe nursed a child some 10 years ago--freely flapping in the breeze as she galloped along. it reminded me that though maddening, constraints are sometimes necessary. i guess she must feel similar constraints and decided to go against societal the dismay of myself (and any other observer in her vicinity).

the book cover, shown above, is a recent and timely find for the purpose of this entry...and i HIGHY recommend it to all readers.
"BREASTS" by Genichiro Yagyu

Monday, January 19, 2009

new year, new lists

it's been quite a while since i last blogged. perhaps that's a good thing. life has been pretty quiet, and to me, that's a great thing. needless to say, there hasn't been a whole lot to blog about. it's been a bit of a struggle to find things to say these days, and for me, well that's a different thing.

since the start of the year it seems as though my lists of things to do hasn't changed much in terms of goals, agendas, and the like. what i can say has happened has been a re-discovery, in a way, of the city in which i live, making me want to explore and add to my list of things to do, say on a saturday afternoon. so here are two places that i (re)discovered.

re-discovery: the arboretum. i've been twice this week, and i think the unseasonably warm (upper 80s) weather for this time of year pushed me to go back the second time. the initial draw was to see a work by an artist i have really taken an interest in over the past few years, patrick dougherty. i first saw one of his works at another botanical garden up the coast, and have been hooked.

discovery: a delicious place i found to eat called milk. yum yum! i have abandoned most of my allergy-related diet constrictions, including ice cream. though i have remained steadfast in avoiding milk as a beverage and milk-based yogurt. it's appropriate, then, that i 'crashed' at a place called milk. try it out if you're in the neighborhood.

photo of work of patrick dougherty's 'catawampus'

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

meatloaf for a large family gathering: a follow-up to the comedown

my perplexed yet undeniable fascination by the complexities of humankind (read "who i am") is confirmed in the following article from Discovery News. Glad I'm not alone in my thinking...

How Visiting Your Family Warps Your Brain
Jennifer Viegas, Discovery News

Visiting -- or even just viewing photos of family members -- prompts brain activity that affects how you feel about them, your friends, and even yourself, a new study suggests. The study is the first to compare brain activity associated with seeing relatives with that linked to seeing friends and strangers. It suggests our feelings about biological relatives are at least somewhat primal. The findings may help explain everything from why our family can get on our nerves to why people who look like us can spark immediate feelings of trust, "but not lust," said Steven Platek, who co-authored the study with Shelly Kemp. "We like to be around people that look more like us, but we do not find them as sexually attractive," added Platek, editor-in-chief of the journal Frontiers in Evolutionary Neuroscience. "I think it is linked to our subconscious ability to detect facial resemblances so we avoid lusting after those that may be related to us."

For the study, the researchers performed MRI brain scans on test subjects viewing images of biological relatives, friends, strangers, themselves and various morphed images. The scientists found that relatives and self-lookalikes are processed through a self-referential part of the brain. Friends and strangers who look nothing like the viewer, on the other hand, light up entirely different areas of the brain, those linked to making important and risky decisions with respect to the self.
The findings are published in the latest issue of the journal Neuropsychologia.

Platek and Kemp also found that the brain ranks everyone socially, with relatives at the head of the line. "I think facial resemblance is ranked right up there in importance with attractiveness," Platek said. Since relatives are processed through areas of the brain linked to self-reference, the study could also help to explain why relatives cause us to take things personally. While we may tolerate a friend's loud laughter or snoring, for example, we may have less patience with a relative because we judge them similarly to how we judge ourselves. "This research is a wonderful example of the fruitfulness of conducting cognitive neuroscience informed by evolutionary theory," said Todd Shackelford, a professor of psychology at Florida Atlantic University. "I am hopeful that other researchers in the cognitive neurosciences will follow Dr. Platek's lead and take full advantage of the predictive power of a Darwinian perspective on the design of the structure of the mind," he told Discovery News. It's likely, he explained, that a face we perceive as "friendly" is one that looks more like us. But how we later feel about that person could be tied to how we feel about ourselves, perhaps explaining the prevalence of arguments during family reunions and holiday gatherings.

meatloaf for a large family gathering (best served with alcohol)

1/2 cup finely chopped onions
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup finely chopped red pepper
1 1/2 cups bread crumbs
2/3 cups cream
2 eggs (beaten)
1 1/4 pounds ground beef
3/4 pounds Italian sausage, casings removed
1/2 teaspoon dried sage
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
mustard glaze, recipe follows


preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit. combine all ingredients in large mixing bowl and mix for about ten minutes. place meatloaf in loaf pan. make mustard glaze.

mustard glaze:
1/2 cup mustard
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon cider vinegar

in a small bowl, mix all the ingredients together. pour over meatloaf.

cook for 1 1/2 hours.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

the comedown

and now i am on vacation.

after almost a week of time with relatives, i am so thankful to have time back for myself. and then i think of all the people who are only by themselves and would love to spend time with relatives. the grass is always greener.

i had a great holiday spending time with loved ones but boy can those loved ones rub raw nerves. is that their purpose in life? to love you so much but continue to nag, suggest, impose guilt, blahblahblah? at what point do parents truly sit back and enjoy what they've created without asserting their parental rights, so to speak? is this everyone's cycle? i keep saying that if everyone was the same--thought the same, acted the same--it sure would be a boring world. it seems funny, then, that parents want children to be themselves but at the same time want them conform to family traditions, share similar opinions and points of view, follow their suggestions, blahblahblah. and as parents age they sure do get more stubborn. and as children age they sure do want the best for their parents. and the stubborness becomes a great challenge.

if anyone has any suggestions on how to become less affected by parents of all ages, i'm all ears.

until then here's a recipe for twice-baked aged goat cheese souffles with mixed greens

1/2 pound aged (firm) goat cheese
4 large eggs
3 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/3 cups whole milk
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
3/4 cup heavy cream

accompaniment: salad greens tossed with vinaigrette


preheat oven to 375°F and butter six 3/4-cup ramekins (3 3/4 by 2 inches). crumble goat cheese and separate eggs. in a saucepan melt butter over moderately low heat and whisk in flour. cook roux, whisking, 3 minutes and whisk in milk. bring mixture to a boil, whisking constantly, and simmer, whisking occasionally, 3 minutes. remove pan from heat and add yolks, mustard, 1 teaspoon thyme, two thirds cheese, and salt and pepper to taste, whisking until cheese is melted. transfer yolk mixture to a large bowl.

in another large bowl with an electric mixer beat whites with a pinch salt until they just hold stiff peaks. stir one fourth whites into yolk mixture to lighten and fold in remaining whites and remaining cheese gently but thoroughly.

divide soufflé mixture among ramekins and arrange in a large baking pan just large enough to hold them. add enough hot water to baking pan to reach halfway up sides of ramekins. bake soufflés in middle of oven until slightly puffed and golden brown, about 20 minutes, and transfer to a rack. let soufflés stand, uncovered, 30 minutes (soufflés will fall slightly).

lightly butter a baking sheet. run a thin knife around edges of soufflés. invert each soufflé onto palm of your hand and carefully put, right side up, onto baking sheet. soufflés may be made up to this point 2 days ahead and chilled, covered.

increase temperature to 425°F.

in a small saucepan bring cream with remaining teaspoon thyme and salt and pepper to taste to a boil. remove pan from heat and keep cream warm, covered. bake soufflés in middle of oven until slightly puffed and heated through, about 5 minutes.

transfer soufflés to plates. Spoon 2 tablespoons cream over each soufflé and arrange salad decoratively alongside.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

here's to the irish

i have been too busy to post lately; but out of the need for blog therapy am doing so. i have also decided to divide my life in half--home and everything else. home life is great! the house-buying thing is moving along, i am madly in love, i am enjoying creativity, etcetcetc. the everything else would include things like finding a way to early retirement, the economy, oh and severe neck pain! now the everything else isn't horrible, but it's not great; and i'll give you the recap...

i awoke thanksgiving morning to neck pain. thanksgiving was great--the food, the company, and relatively little stress. just a quick side note: just noticed relative and stress together. perhaps it should read: thanksgiving was great--the food, the company, and little relative stress. moving on... the neck pain persisted through the weekend. upon returning to work, the pain intensified (i was much more active at work than at home in my sedentary, turkey-induced comfort food lifestyle i enjoyed the four days prior). so the next day i went to the acupuncturist and the GP, and then went and got a deep tissue massage. excrutiatingly painful but in a hurts-so-good way. the asshole GP told me i slept funny and the pain would go away in a couple of days. but it didn't. so i went for another deep tissue, drank a lot of jameson, and rested the following weekend. i have experienced some relief but it is about the same as the first day it started. needless to say i called my GP's office again. first to express what a jerk he was and second to ask what i should do. so i went back to see the director of sports medicine who, upon assessing me, said i am really "locked up", have intense muscle spasms, need to start physical therapy, take flexiril, and continue with the deep tissue massages. and then asked me if i have been doing anything differently or have been stressed. nothing different; but stressed? sure. who isn't these days? my sad-enough-as-it-was-retirement-account has tanked while i am about to embark on the biggest purchase of my life. all the while trying not to think about the pain in my neck thus bringing on more stress and driving me to drink more jameson to sleep well at night. perhaps if i relaxed a bit more and channeled the other half's omnipresent optimism i wouldn't need blog therapy. or jameson. but then that's not very fun.

and so, in honor of the irish whiskey and it's relatively bearable hangovers, i offer the following recipe for beef and guinness stew:


2 pounds stewing beef
3 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons flour
salt and freshly ground black pepper
pinch of cayenne
2 large onions, coarsely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 tablespoons tomato puree, dissolved in 4 tablespoons water
1 1/4 cups guinness
2 cups largely diced carrots
sprig of fresh thyme
chopped parsley, for garnish


trim the meat of any fat or gristle, and cut into 2-inch cubes. toss beef with 1 tablespoon of the oil. in a small bowl, season the flour with salt, pepper and cayenne. toss meat with seasoned flour. heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over high heat. brown the meat on all sides. reduce the heat, add the onions, crushed garlic and tomato puree to the skillet, cover, and cook gently for 5 minutes. transfer the contents of the skillet to a casserole and pour half of the guinness into the skillet. bring guinness to a boil and stir to dissolve the caramelized meat juices on the pan. pour over the meat, along with the remaining guinness. add the carrots and thyme. stir and adjust seasonings. cover the casserole and simmer over low heat, or in a 300 degree F oven until the meat is tender, 2 to 3 hours. garnish the beef with parsley, and serve alongside boiled potatoes and a pint...or jameson.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

looking to be underwhelmed for a little while

how is it mid-november already? where has the year gone? what's happened to my ever-growing list of goals? well, i am working on buying a house (though not a solo endeavor) while working on artwork while teaching while not going to yoga while feeling a bit overwhelmed. okay, a lot overwhelmed. but i am figuring it all out. figuring that if i went to yoga more perhaps i wouldn't feel so overwhelmed. figuring that these things i am working on are some of my goals, granted the self-serving ones. maybe not teaching but that provides me income to materialize the house, the art, and the yoga that i am not going to. argh! i am finding humor in it all as i write this. blog therapy. i'll just add to my to-do list: re-read this entry the next time i am feeling overwhelmed. until then, here's a recipe that will not overwhelm the cook because it is as easy as pie. wait. easier. and it goes well with the current resurgence of summer heat.

lemon-infused linguine with sauteed scallops

serves 2
large scallops (4-5 per person)
zest of 2 lemons. reserve lemons
1/4 c. really good extra virgin olive oil plus 2 tblspns
1/2 lb. linguine
1 c. arugula

1. put large pot of water (for linguine) to boil
2. place linguine in boiling water. cook until al dente. about 11 minutes
3. rinse, pat dry scallops. season with salt and pepper
4. heat sautee pan with 2 tblspns olive oil over medium-high heat
5. combine lemon zest and olive oil in small bowl. set aside.
6. place scallops in sautee pan. cook for 2 minutes or until golden brown. turn and repeat.
7. drain linguine, return to cooking pot, and add arugula. stir to wilt arugula.
8. strain zest from olive oil through sieve, reserving olive oil.
9. divide linguine in two large bowls, top with scallops, drizzle lemon oil.
10. squeeze lemon juice to taste.