27 October 2010

What is it you can't face?

As the weather gets colder, as fall rehearsals get more intense, as life gets busier, I find myself with fewer evenings free. I hate it. So given the choice between doing something fun, even with people I really like, I'd rather be at home, reading, playing the piano (or banjo), talking with M, decompressing. The introvert in me demands a lot of attention, and doesn't always get it. I'm in the midst of a stretch of meetings, rehearsals, and events that spans 12 out of 14 evenings, and I'm ready for it to be over.

Last night, however, was a worthy exception. I didn't get to stay in. No, off I went (to the suburbs, no less!) for pure Americanish fun: the Sound of Music Sing-Along extravaganza. The movie has been digitally restored, and the print is beautiful, really lovely to look at. I realized that I've been watching a grainy television version of this movie for so many years I didn't realize what stunning cinematography it has. And singing in a theater, with permission, is way too much fun. The twelve (!) in our party had a great time, and I'm quite sure we were the finest choral section in the theater. Thanks to these two, we were also the most holy. Almost.

20 October 2010

Cooking with gas

News flash: I like food. Yawn. Slow news day. You all know that cooking and eating good (and sometimes completely, deliciously bad) food occupy a fair amount of my existence. Always has been, for better or worse. It's how I like to spend my time, interact with others. I've thought even more about food and cooking since meeting M.

Ours is not a relationship based on going out to dinner, as seems to be the case so often when one starts dating. No, almost from the beginning, we cooked. Or more precisely, we canned. Because someone thinks there is no limit to the number of tomatoes that can be planted on a city lot (it could be either of us I live in a condo), and because we met as summer gardens were exploding, we had a LOT of produce to process. Seventeen quarts of tomato sauce, pickles, beets, sauerkraut, on and on and on. A lot of work, but over those hours in the kitchen we learned so much about each other: how we work and think, what food meant to us growing up, how traditions have shaped who we are. And we learned that we're both intuitive cooks, that we can dance around the kitchen without being in each other's way, that we can anticipate what the other needs. Even better, we agreed that sitting down together to eat at the end of our busy days is non-negotiable. That time to cook with and for each other, to reflect on the day, and to plan for the week ahead: we're not trading that time for TV or a meal on the run. It's not always fancy, but it is homemade and creative and usually fairly healthy.

We both have meals we can whip up on the fly, but like you, are always looking to expand weeknight options (besides, we like to experiment with new ingredients). You can't swing a dead organic responsibly-harpooned fish without finding an attractive food blog. My friend Erin now blogs from Australia (and here's hoping she omits her new recipes for braised marsupial), and my young newlywed friends Hannah and Matt are putting their wedding registry to good use in their tiny grad-school kitchen. Even my favorite personal finance blogger wrote about food last week. America is hungry. And obese, but that's another post.

With so many blogs, cooking sites, and food resources at our disposal, I fear the days of sitting and flipping through a cookbook and developing a repertoire may be behind us (my mom and dad are great cooks, and everything they cooked when I was growing up came from the index card recipe file or a half-dozen well-worn books). Friends E & B have found a great solution to culinary ADHD: they're cooking their way through the Moosewood cookbook (yay alfalfa sprouts!). Because imitation is the sincerest form of laziness, M and I are doing something similar. We've started working our way through The Splendid Table's How to Eat Supper. So satisfying to cook simply but in a new way on a Monday evening. We're not giving ourselves a deadline for finishing the book, and we're not going through it in order (I'm way too laidback for that sort of thing). We're simply picking it up when we can't decide what to eat, and choosing something that looks good. I can only hope that every recipe is as delicious as the warm white bean salad that we tried first.

Go to your own bookshelf, pick a cookbook, and decide for yourself how to cook your way through it. And let us all know what you've chosen. Between the 14 of us, we'll all enjoy a better answer to the question: what's for supper?

05 October 2010

In celebration of autumn

Our summer poetry project was a resounding success, yes? How do I measure success, you ask? Simple: I enjoyed. That poem also led me down a path of reading William Stafford's work, and it has become a tertiary mission of this blog to keep his work in front of you. With that, I think another poem is in order. This poem, slightly longer than our summer one (because we have time to sit in front of the fire and read) comments on the seasons changing around us, and as an added bonus mentions Montana, the ultimate imprimatur of good poetry. Memorize so that you know the secret Going40 code for autumn (and how cool to have two Stafford poems at your disposal. You'll be a hit at odd parties.).

Over in Montana

Winter stops by for a visit each year.
Dead leaves cluster around. They know what is
coming. They listen to some silent song.

At a bend in the Missouri, up where

it's clear, teal and mallards lower
their wings and come gliding in.

A cottonwood grove gets ready. Limbs

reach out. They touch and shiver.
These nights are going to get cold.

Stars will sharpen and glitter. They make

their strange signs in a rigid pattern
above hollow trees and burrows and houses--

The great story weaves closer and closer, millions of

touches, wide spaces lying out in the open,
huddles of brush and grass, all the little lives.

from Who Are You Really, Wanderer? (1993)

They shall be called my disciples.