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

8 8 2021

The thing I love about not having a thing for such a long time is that space that is new for its invention. My mom’s friend invited us to dinner on Friday after a swim and a kayak. We enjoyed an evening on her screened in porch in a peaceful setting, a pink dogwood tree whose petals have been cream colored for several years, along with a creamy sunset that dissolved our faces into impressionist Monets long after dusk. A feeling of being somewhere familiar, among friends, after for so long having been alone, that place is here for everyone to enjoy.

Here are some of my favorite things: skin-on, bone in chicken thighs seasoned with Penzey’s shallot pepper. This seasoning has everything: rosemary, salt, and something indescribable that I will refer to for the moment as the third heat, as proclaimed by Tracy Jordan, the fictional character based loosely on Tracy Morgan played by himself on TV show 30 Rock. In the context of the show, the third heat was a term the actor used to describe himself, the affable and often understood in its celebrity paradigm Tracy Jordan, played by Tracy Morgan, an actor portraying a parody of himself.

There is something about the idea of direct experience and its capacity for understanding through first hand vs. second hand knowledge that touches on the idea of tasting good food. The idea that parody is an allegory for second hand knowledge of something in itself is inauthentic as I was not there the first time it happened to participate actively in its rendering, or maybe I have been there many, many times in the past but it’s suddenly new for me again. How in a sunset when our appearance distorts into nothing as we look at each other after the sky falls, the perception is imperfect. The perception is still imperfect but I see something, and that is a new appreciation for familiar things.

8 1 2021

Welp, this month has a special place in my heart as it’s my birthday month. Though I’m entitled to celebrate the entire month, I don’t limit my gifts to this month. David Sedaris will be appearing at a local theater next month which I have gladly accepted as a late birthday present. Sedaris is one of my favorite authors. When cassette tape players were still in cars, I used to listen to Me Talk Pretty One Day for my 1 hour work commute. There is something lovely about authors who have sonorous voices. It’s not that he could read a phone book and I’d swoon, it is him, his lived experience as read aloud by the author that is a true delight.

Adjacent to my love of good books and birthday months are the occasions I get to eat food with the people in my life. In this picture is asparagus sautéed in two batches: one in rosemary and garlic, and the other in saffron and garlic. I’m not quite sure how to work with saffron, as it came nearly hermetically sealed and I was not sure I tasted its flavor once cooked in with food.

I’m not sure I would refer to it as a spice, and as an herb, I would assume it presents its own flavor without too much unboxing, but the instructions read: for soups, place in boiling water. What is the implication of that very specific guidance? Does its flavoring stay dormant until unlocked by a pre-determined chemical equation? Is saffron then free to be itself, or am I painting saffron in too tight a box, not unlike the tiny, glass tube from whence it came?

That is – a bottle inside a bottle inside which is saffron, that unknowable yet delectable thing. I have had saffron before as prepared in fancy restaurants, and usually it was prepared with scallops sautéed in butter. Although I deeply enjoy its flavor, I was musing the other day on how I would describe the flavor saffron, and I wouldn’t be able to compare it to anything but itself. Saffron is saffron, but isn’t that part of the problem when I couldn’t even taste it in the asparagus?

As pictured from right to left are salad with avocado, tomatoes, cucumbers, and mozzarella balls; fruit salad with passion fruit, mango, blueberries, nectarine, dragon fruit, and kiwi; potato salad with paprika; smoked peppers and onions; smoked meats: kielbasa, cheeseburgers, and Italian sausage.

Not pictured in this photo were chocolate brownies made from protein rich muffin mix, a move I felt was risky as in turning any food instantly into the perfect other food, may not end up to perfect execution unless you tweak the recipe. To quote the one person who sampled the brownies, in a word, dry. I’ll probably work the leftover brownies into a trifle bowl with interspersed layers of chocolate and vanilla sugar-free instant pudding to moisten it up. I’ve found a way to use almond milk whereby you use 1/3 less almond milk or otherwise when whisking in the almond milk, add it spoonful by spoonful until it’s a good consistency.

The good and bad part of regionally and seasonally available foods are its availability when in season and its proximity to your direct experience. Corn on the cob and cherries and passion fruit are in season, but unfortunately when the season wanes or the stock is in short supply, these foods become more and more rare, until they simply do not exist. A day before the weekend, I went to my local grocery store, where a week before they had a passion fruit, I did not see any on the shelves. A kind produce person asked me what I was looking for and she checked stock in the back, but came up empty handed. I thanked her for checking and moved on, but did end up going to a different grocery store the next day to see if they had any passion fruit, and they didn’t either. I may need to wait until next season until it comes around again. Until then, there are always new and different foods to try.

7 18 2021

The start to my weekend I hosted a get together with a friend and my bf’s older brother at someone else’s place, a revamped mill building with high ceilings and exposed beams. It was a dream to be in a beautiful new place and enjoy dinner with people I love.

B and I ordered Thai food and I tried Tom ka soup for the first time: lemongrass, basil, chicken in a coconut broth. By the time Sunday evening came, the soup was gone; I’ll definitely make it part of future meals.

I’ve been working within the idea of eating foods low in caloric density: spinach, lettuce, cauliflower, broccoli. This is not too different than the vegetables I’d choose when eating keto, though for the past three weeks I’ve moved from 70% fat, 15% protein, 15% carb model and back to a more traditional way of eating: 45–65% of daily calories from carbs, 20–35% from fats, and 10–35% from protein.

I’m feeling hopeful that I’ll be able to continue losing weight. So far the ideas that the Noom program have taught me include calorie logging, which helps me to identify how much I eat and food patterns so I know the foods I can allocate my calories for and which foods to replace with healthier alternatives. For example, my favorite new breakfast is 2 scrambled eggs with grated summer squash salsa, and sliced grape tomatoes. For a while, I had been having scrambled eggs with cheese. Even though I’m eating carbs, I’m replacing a lot of the heavy dairy for plant-based alternatives. I went from heavy cream (100 calories/2Tbsp) to half and half (40 calories/2 Tbsp) or Califia farms Better Half (15 calories/2 Tbsp), made with coconut and almond milk. I picked up a non-dairy whipped cream made from coconut cream.

Aside from just replacing foods with others, I have learned the idea of losing the labels, which means nothing is good or bad, as a function of its nutrition or your relationship with it, but rather it is a delicious food that you love and can enjoy for future use in moderation. For me that food is Cool Ranch Doritos. I enjoy getting the biggest bag you can buy. There is something about that food that is pure magic, if magic were an insatiable hunger that requires I lick my fingers clean and save none for next time. I’d lean my head back to inhale the last of the crumbs. For that reason, I haven’t had any in the house for over ten years, but the plan is to incorporate that food back into rotation – not every day, but every now and then. It’s a bit daunting but I’m looking forward to a time when I can eat without emptying a bag in an afternoon. And maybe I’ll get a smaller size.

Today I had my first apple, not ever, but since being off keto, so first apple in over a year.

Fuji apple and Colby jack cheese

7 11 2021

Red velvet waffles do not taste so different from plain waffles, other than what I think of when I bite into one. That image, of red velvet cake, paired with the flavor and texture of a waffle, remain one of the loud remembrances of the carb-loving section of my brain that harkens back to a time and place where I could eat with seeming abandon any carb any time the farthest distance from impunity.

7 11 2021

For the Fourth of July, I visited some friends who charcoal grill all the meats, and this time was no exception. There is something better to the flavor of meats cooked this way, perhaps in the essence of its smoke, or at least in that its preparation by other people. I brought the watermelon, and with the leftover mustard from my burger combined with the melon it wasn’t too bad, but I’ll probably only sop fruit in condiments when there’s something left in the corner of my mouth to mop them up with.