10 29 2021

This week saw the last week at a job and the best last day at a job ever, which confirms my theory about last days, how it must lift up everyone to be relevant. Today was my last day, and, on a Friday going into a weekend with Halloween, this meant Halloween party. But this was no ordinary Halloween party. My team captain qualified it not as a party, as this would imply a congregating of people in tight spaces, not in line with the covid restrictions our office has. So it was called something else that now escapes my mind. To the end of things is best left up to something improvised, not scheduled in advanced but rather whimsical and new, to the newness of things, to the end of a beginning, so it must be a lifting up of everyone, a celebration of things to come and honoring of what once was.

My office at the job I left today is also in a time of transition, as the division just recently received the news that their jobs would be permanently remote. To work from home forever, the meeting which outlined the rollout used a specific term which I cannot now recall, but the rejoicing is something that is so lasting that it has felt wonderful working in the office the past week. Everyone has a glint in their eye, as though it is the eve of a very special day, where tomorrow is something so special they can simply feel it in the air. I am not sure that there are words for this feeling, or maybe in different languages there are terms which express it more succinctly than this. Today was the eve of the last week that this team would ever have to arrive in an office, open doors with badges, and face a morning commute that may be at times gruesome. Coming in this late in a New England Autumn, even for us weathered drivers, the thought of commuting during a blizzard or worse, black ice on pavement, can be treacherous.

Bygones, today was a wonderful last day of work. I dressed up in my homemade Halloween costume and enjoyed talking with my teammates. Everyone either dressed up or wore something festive like cats ears or Halloween themed clothing. We pulled up YouTube on the TV and listened to hours of Halloween music. By the end of the day I had Mama Mia by ABBA stuck on repeat in my head. It was an exciting day for the end of things, and in fact we laughed at the idea of what if this were our last day on earth, and how it would actually be the best day to leave on, in any context. Here’s some of our food stuff:

Muffaletta sandwiches, blueberry strudel, finger cookies with and without blood, dark chocolate peanut butter cups, Halloween candy, homemade chocolate chip cookies
taco station
Dunkin Donuts

The Muffaletta sandwich was something I have never had, and will definitely make for future get togethers, as it travels well and would keep well for leftovers if there’s any left. My favorite way is to toast the sandwich so that the cheese and the olive and caper flavors activate and melt, I can still nearly taste it. I heated up some medium heat Tostitos cheese dip and dabbed the sandwich in the sauce, which is something I will definitely recommend. Here is the recipe: https://www.pillsbury.com/recipes/bourbon-street-muffuletta-braid/d14f5ad5-a503-480f-9856-74d600ce03e8

10 24 2021

The weekend in Portland, Maine, is over, and I’m glad I’m back home. Each weekend morning I had breakfast at Becky’s Diner. This place is best before there are so many people that the line snakes out the door into the parking lot, so arrival time was before 8am both mornings.

This place has everything: Canceaux sauce, a regionally sold, sweet chili sauce, strawberry jam, homemade hash, lobster omelette, and pumpkin pancakes. The pieces of lobster in my omelette were gigantic and I’m still thinking about it after having been home all day.

10 09 2021

This is food from a family lunch a couple weekends ago, where a family friend prepared the chicken. They diced garlic and put it underneath the skin, along with other seasonings, and let it sit for a while. The asparagus, salad, potatoes, and chicken were just right for an end of summer meal: light enough for a warm day but hearty to satiate that natural hunger I often find myself craving as Autumn draws near: root vegetables, oven roasted poultry, and gravies.

9 7 2021

We decided to swing by Highrollers in Portland, Maine, for lunch: lobster roll with yellow mustard, lime mayo, and charred pineapple sauce; a lobby pop, which is a corn dog using lobster meat in place of hot dog; French fries sprinkled with Old Bay with side sauces: curried ketchup, charred pineapple, yellow mustard, red pepper mayo, jalapeño mayo; grass-fed cheeseburger.

9 7 2021

There was one last party on the weekend of Labor Day to celebrate my birthday. It had been postponed before due to Hurricane Henri, and now the day happened: a day trip to Portland, Maine! Although I did not each all the food I planned to that day, I came close to it. First meal was mussels in white wine sauce with toasted garlic points, marinated beet salad, lobster and scallop cakes with pesto and orange chili sauce, and avocado chips with chipotle mayo. Dipping those garlic points into white wine sauce was probably my favorite part of the meal.

8 31 2021

The baker I buy fresh bread from each week at the downtown farmers market gave me a pro tip on how to use my sage plant: grilled cheese. So today I had an early lunch: French bread, cheddar, tomato, mayonnaise, sage, and butter. My favorite part was discovering how to melt the cheese and not burn the bread. For an experiment I took one of the cheese slices from the sandwich and melted it in the skillet and got it to melt.

The result: crispy toasted points and a chewy bite. Sage has this deliciousness that mixes so well with the texture of fresh bread. I will continue my technique in melting the cheese effectively so as not to turn the bread too crispy, and I’m looking forward to making grilled cheese, maybe next time with thyme or basil and lime. Who knows?

pro tip: remove seed membrane and pat tomatoes dry – this prevents the sandwich from getting wet and slipping due to the moisture

8 29 2021

popcorn with sesame oil and seaweed
peppadew peppers with honey, mint, and goat cheese

My friend B and I met up over the weekend for lunch and thrifting and this time did not disappoint. My phone died before getting pictures of the entire food setup, which was extravagant. We had French onion soup with avocado mash, mushroom, and garlic on baguette, hummus with beets and pepitas, and Schrute farms beet salad. This meal was a true indulgence and I’m sure I ate more than my fair share of food, with plenty of leftover salad and popcorn.

My favorite part of the meal was the company, first and foremost. We have known each other since high school and I feel lucky to have known a person for as long as we have, as it allows you to be seen through a lifetime’s flaws and successes, which pull away from the idea that a person is entirely unknowable. It is the successful relationships over passage of time that I am so thankful for, as I’m glad I can be kind to people, as I know when a conflict arises, as so inevitably does, they would extend the same mercy to me.

In my knowing her she is as kind and limitlessly unconditionally accepting of me, and I love having someone like that, who might look myopically over at me, as though looking at a painting from a far point across a room, and call it an inspiration.

8 26 2021

In the pursuit of living better and achieving goals, I’ve been using a food relationship management subscription over the past few months. Noom has a sort of continuing education feel with a supportive chat group structure to share lessons and give each other new ideas on how to creatively work with food to challenge or push back on old beliefs and walk into new rituals and ways of seeing the world. A lot of the most important parts of Noom for me has been creating a calorie budget, where I understand the parameters of how many calories I need to eat each day in order to either sustain or lose weight, and following the budget. The most fun I’ve been having lately is with plant-based substitutions for dairy and highly processed carbohydrates. In place of cheese, I use grated zucchini or summer squash on my eggs; instead of half and half I use Califia Farms coconut almond creamer; I use vegan shreds instead of cheddar on my burritos; I boil a cauliflower and mash it up instead of rice. What it does for me is help me use fun tricks to eat less calorically dense foods. Plant-based foods tend to have more water in them, and do not have as many calories as animal-based ones do. For example, heavy cream has 100 calories per 2 Tbsp. Half and Half has 30 calories per 2 Tbsp. Califia Farms coconut almond creamer has 15 calories per 2 Tbsp. That range gives me more options when I want to spend my calories in certain ways.

My strategy is to eat as many low calorically dense foods (see also: cauliflower, asparagus, lettuce, spinach) throughout my day so that I can conserve the higher calorically dense foods (see also: cheeseburger, bread, chips, butter) strategically. I like to plan my day, and I find my calorie budget really helps with planning out foods I’ll eat. Sometimes I have a general idea in mind. Other times I have prepped food for the week and play it by ear on which foods I’m craving. Last weekend I made cauliflower mash, boiled butternut squash, and corn from a local farm stand. I’ve been using these foods interchangeably throughout my week. To be quite candid, I’m nearly sick of eating some of these foods, and I will be glad when this weekend comes so I can food prep some new combination of foods. I picked up beets from a farm stand the other day and so am excited to work with that. I’m not sure if I’ll pickle them or what.

To boost flavor I’ll start out eggs or a burrito base with sautéed white onion and garlic and sprinkle fresh herbs on top. Thyme and basil are two favorites. I have a sage plant but not sure how to prepare the leaves. Do I dry them or just let them be fresh and cook with them? I dunno! I’ve been thinking about taking string and wrapping a sage smudge for the end of the summer. In keeping with new tradition, it would be amazing to burn that smudge through a space and have it cleanse the palate for future seasons. Sage burning is something I have seen used for clearing blocked places, summoning old ancients, and meditation.

*Update** I enjoyed sage sautéed into cauliflower topped with salmon and didn’t think I’d like it as much as I did. Sage has this flavor when I close my eyes that mimics meat, but it brought out a flavor when combined with cauliflower and seafood that was lovely. If I can work sage in with vegan chorizo or tofu I’ll probably try that next.

salmon, thyme, mint, carrot, iceberg, red-skinned potato, hard boiled egg, chive
marscapone and marmalade tart, kiwi, blueberry, white nectarine, starfruit, passion fruit, lime

8 24 2021

If a time were ever so set in stone as my favorite time of all time, it’s in the 1990s and my best age is 17. I’m in love for the first time, have friends who finally get me, and truly feel like a golden boy, or girl, or whatever that turn of phrase may be. Stay golden, pony boy? I’m pretty sure that applies here.

Either way, over the weekend I had a get together with some of the girls from high school and I had the best time. We didn’t have an all day event or even a sleepover, which is probably what my younger self would have been able to tolerate, neigh first choice, but our afternoon lunch was plenty for my current self.

If I am able to convey the importance of the origin story, it is this: my oldest friends share the ultimate gift, which is those origin stories of my younger self. The meaning is that you were both there when it happened, and that is what binds you to them. That is what makes life so meaningful. I had waited so long to meet up with these girls and I’m not exactly sure why. I learn in sometimes the hardest way that avoidance no longer works for me as an effective approach, but rather now more and more these days that life is for the living and that includes me and everyone in it. So I try and recall some of those oldest friends from my youngest times in life and reconcile the shortcomings or downfalls, if possible. Getting to the place where you can all enjoy BBQ and watch their children play in probably the finest time to be alive, your current self will thank you.

I am not quite sure whether it’s these turns of phrase or just the recent reminiscence of olden days gone by, but I’m recalling now some of the required reading I had in high school: The Once and Future King. Its title captures an idea of this moment. Reading the book is an entirely different matter, as I am sure I only recall sad remnants of the way actually reading it in high school made me feel, but through this experience and by the appearance of the feelings it expresses to me, I am the once and future king, and I have found my people again.

I brought a cooler, 20 lbs. of ice, grapefruit and black cherry flavored zero calorie seltzer, hamburgers, hot dogs, and buns. I also brought a mint pea pecorino salad which stayed in the cooler and corn on the cob, but we didn’t even need that food. We had so much to talk about and share with each other. I so enjoyed listening to the old stories of times gone by and relating with those young girls now. It’s better than talking to our old selves, as we have so many new stories to share, dating stories, figurative war wounds, new relationships, actual careers. In the only way I have been able to maintain any sense of order, I tend to talk how I think, which is a stream of consciousness style, so it’s no surprise that I got pretty long winded when making a toast. I kept dragging on about something about divesting from Facebook, but ended up saying, to all the people in the room and in this house, we’re the cool people. To the coolest people ever! Which is not my best work, but it did for the occasion.

veggie plate featuring local farm stand tomatoes
chicken thighs with rice, green onion, and ginger marmalade
red-skinned potatoes, chive, hard boiled egg, no mayo
peach bergamot iced tea with mint and peach garnish cut with grapefruit flavored calorie-free seltzer