Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Having fallen, I can't get up

I stepped off the wagon in honor of CK's birthday. I had wine. I had vodka. I had salami, goat cheese, eggs, cupcakes and Cinghiale (wild boar). One would have thought that it was my birthday what with all the celebrating that I was doing. I left the bar when my eyeballs started to swim but I was drunk from the first sip of wine on that fine Saturday afternoon.

The next day, I woke up and wanted grilled cheese and tater tots. Or french fries. Or pork. I got it into my head to have polenta. So I made polenta with heavy cream, butter and cheese, baked an eggplant and fried up a fennel sausage. All hail the animal products.

Now, I am having a hard time taking the POLAOWN seriously. There was too much backsliding. I got a veggie bahn mi sandwich yesterday. But also got BBQ'd pork rolls out of curiosity. Luckily the pork rolls were terrible. They were made with some weird bland crumbly thing and all of the parts of the pig that are neither fatty and/or delicious. So, again, disappointment with the cheating. The Universe tries to prod me in the right direction.

I have two big containers of fatty dairy polenta in the fridge that I feel obligated to eat. The fridge is actually overflowing with leftovers. I should stop cooking until I eat through what I have. Or perhaps I could give it to the pigeons.

Today, I ate out again. I had a veggie burrito from Dos Toros Taqueria. I said yes to the cheese, no to the sour cream and yes to the guacamole. The burrito was bigger than my foot and it was heavenly. I did not miss the sour cream at all. I sat and gobbled the whole thing down and thought about how delicious it was. Way more delicious than anything that I have been making at home.

I worry that the true temptation is the Dos Toros burrito and not the cupcakes and the Cinghiale. I worry I have inhaled a burrito from the tree of knowledge and am now again cast out of the righteous realm of clean eating. Although it now seems doubtful that I was eating all that clean. I think to really eat clean you need to forgo all animal products.

I only made it 25 days before the out and out cheating began. And I cannot take myself seriously anymore. I don't feel like I am in it anymore. JK wants to get together on Sunday and have an eatfest while the rest of the world is watching the Super Bowl. So I ask myself, "Is it over?" If I can hold out until February 3rd, I will have made the month with a three day exception. We will see if I can.

YT asked whether I would extend the POLAOWN for the days that I cheated. I am trying to think back to how many small cheats I had. If I were doing this right I would either start all over again for another 30-40 days in light of my inability to stick with it. Or I could add 5 or 6 more days to the end of this journey.

I was thinking to devote Feb to trying to improve my sleep habits. I'm off to a pretty weak start. Might have to push that one off to a different month. Other possibilities are to either make a concerted effort to follow through on the things that I start or sit down and actually ponder my future, put a little thought the direction that I would like to go as opposed to the floating of my last five years.

A Match Game

Today, I introduced two people to each other over email.

I never do this. I am too much of a hermit. I am a dead end friend in the world of networking and connectivity.

I like them both a lot. They are each very enjoyable to be around. Smart, outgoing, lively, funny, good-looking. They strike me as being heartfull and loveable people. One is a friend of mine, the other is a dear friend of another friend of mine. Different social circles.

Now that I have done this, it occurs to me that the best case scenario is that they like each other. It also occurs to me that the worst case scenario is not that they dislike/hate each other. Or that they don't click. Those would be disappointing but valuable to each in refining their ideas on what they want from a mate.

No. The worst case scenarios run along the lines of a compelling but unhealthy dynamic or chemistry in which they torture each other but cannot break free of each other.

I also realize that if they actually meet in person and things progress from there, it's anyone's guess as to what happens. So many factors at play. The heart is so volatile. I have my fingers crossed and my eyes closed.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Memories spoiled by neurotics

Over the weekend I had this uneventful, goofy, fun evening with the Fella. Later, on further reflection, I wondered whether there would be other nights like that. They couldn't all be like that. They haven't all been like that. I don't know where it came from.

Would there be others? How many? I tried to project into the future, to extrapolate - to imagine. If we were together for eons at some point would we stop having funny goofy nights like that?

It is highly uncharacteristic for me to try to project into the future about anything, much less a relationship with a man.

It is typical of me to ruminate over a happy memory while feeling a sense of loss and a touch of sadness because that moment is over and there is an uncertainty about to whether there will be other moments in my life like it.

It's the "some is good, more is better" fallacy.

Would that I could separate my ability to count from my ability to experience and remember joy.

In this situation, AT would tell me that as important as it is to have it, it is also important to make sure that you do not spoil your own pleasure.

Much like what happens when you go from joy at hearing that someone loves you to agony trying to figure out how much they love you. Some things are better in binary.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Don't let me eat cake, put me to sleep

I had cake. The office threw a little party. I was not going to go. But then changed my mind and went. I walked through the door, tossed the POLAOWN to the wind and made a beeline for the cake. I was on party auto-pilot and I cannot remember if it (the cake) was any good. I was a cake-eating robot vaccuum. I hoovered that plate clean in about 5 minute, hampered only by a minimal effort to make conversation with co-workers.

I have cheated this month. There have been small and large cheats. But with the exception of a slice of pizza and a half cooked baked potato loaded with sour cream and cheese, the really big cheats have not been all that enjoyable. Disappointing, even. They were cheats of convenience or politeness not sinful foodie-foodie pleasure cheats. There has been no Frito Pie. There has been no pilgrimage to Buttermilk Channel.

The full implications of eating cake did not dawn on me until I got back to my desk. It was so easy. *shame* I had chest pains. I do not know if they were due to guilt or my body reacting adversely to the food. *SHAME* It's possible that I am dying.

People have been asking me what I will do once the POLAOWN is over. ML is hoping that I stick to it and go even further. Get really clean and stay clean. I probably should aim to eat healthier and allow myself to cheat on the weekends or a certain number of meals a week. I'll cross that bridge when this comes to a close.

I have enjoyed making messes in the kitchen. I have been thinking a lot about braised meat and pasta. I've been thinking about baked pasta dishes: Ziti, lasagna, stuffed shells. I have thought a lot about the food but not about the wine. Except in the context of realizing that I have not had a social life for fear that I would be a wine swilling robot-vacuum. Braised short ribs, with a first course of ravioli and a nice bottle of red. This, I think is in my future, and I think I know just the place to have this.

I was feeling pretty decent overall. Some days ridiculously so. I would even wake up and consider exercising. A few mornings I did in fact do some sun salutations and sit ups. Tell no one!

But then I had a cup of green tea late in the evening and stayed up until 4am last Thursday. Gah! My sleep schedule has been off ever since. Not able to fall asleep and not able to stay asleep. It has had an enormous not positive effect on my days, my cognition and my mood. It might be that the challenge for next month will be to create a rigorous sleep regimen and try to get 7-8 hrs of sleep a night. Perhaps modifying my routine will reap great rewards. There is apparently more to life than food. There is also sleep.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

A Saturday Oven-side

As a post script to the tofu scrambles - I baked up an acorn squash and put the tofu scramble in the hollow along with some balsamic vinegar, olive oil, pinenuts and rosemary. Rosemary did indeed prove herself to be quite welcome to the party. In fact, I suspect that Rosemary, pine nuts and olive oil would have done just fine even without the scramble. Although the stuffing of food into food is always cool.

I daydream about baking another acorn squash with a cornbread stuffing and perhaps with a tiny bit of chicken sausage crumbled in. This would be an experiment for post-POLAOWN. But I suppose the cornbread part could happen now.

I also tried to bake some potatoes with the thought of topping them with some veggie chili and going all mad with the dairy: sour cream, cheese, and butter. Clearly I have given up on giving up dairy. That being said, I have been eating much less cheese than usual. Baking a potato sounds simple. Prick the skin, wrap in foil, baked until cooked. Unless you are hungry and antsy and insist on opening the open every 5 minutes to check the progress of your potatoes. In that case, it is very hard. The Fella preached patience. I only half listened.

Acorn squash does not mind if you open the oven to take a look. It will proceed calmly and steadily on its baking way. The potato, on the other hand, takes this as an affront to its ability to handle heat and will stubbornly hang on it's raw crunch in protest.

The Fella warned me that semi-baked potatoes smothered in dairy and chili would be plenty of food and that the acorn squash would be too much. He was right. Having that much bulky and filling baked vegetation at one meal induced extreme drowsiness.

After spending the better part of the day in a woozy cotton-y haze, I decided to tackle the bread baking yet again. This time with the guidance of the Fresh Loaf. I ran out of flour two cups into measuring out for the dough. So with my yeast bubbling in water that was 103 degrees (according to the thermometer), I threw on boots and a coat and ran to the grocery. I got bread flour this time to see if it would make a difference.

I had 2 cups of all-purpose and one cup of bread flour. And while kneading, I added bread flour where more flour was needed. Let me tell you, bread flour is a different animal. It's grittier than all-purpose. And for the first time, I had a ball of dough that put up a fight while kneading. People warn you that kneading dough is hard work. In my previous two attempts at bread making, I never understood this. The dough was never that tough to work with and was usually pretty pliable. But with the addition of even just one cup of bread flour I was working up a sweat.

I kneaded the crap out of the dough. Well over the recommended 10 minutes. The Fella witnessed my hysterical (as in not funny) predictions of doom with regard to the bread. When I opened the oven to look at it, things did not look good. It looked like a big pale rock with a thick incredibly hard crust. I do not know what professional bakers do to get that gorgeous browned crust. It will probably take some research to find out. So with much cursing and whingeing, I decided to try a cheat - melted a few pats of butter on the top and threw it back in the oven for a spell. Which probably did nothing but let me feel as if I had at least tried to do something about the situation.

The results were not up to my bread baking fantasies but definitely not as bad as I had feared.

It weighs a ton. It's a fairly flat loaf. The crust is impossibly hard. And on the inside, the crumb is dense but at least has more of a bread consistency and is less biscuit-like. Progress!!! Next time I will try using all bread flour and trying to be more patient with the rises. And I will start the process before 5pm so that the bread is ready before 11pm.

(Jargon for the day: BE told me that the outside of the bread is the crust and the inside is the crumb.)

Besides the uncertain and hysterical cooking, it was an evening warmed by the oven, frantic kneading, hugs of anticipation, and spontaneous dance to songs sprung from the radio in my subconscious. I've done a lot worse on a Saturday night.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Tofu Scramble

It sounds like a dance move. Or a vegetarian themed video game. But it's tofu broken into bits and fried up with stuff. A veg alternative to scrambled eggs, although now having made it for the first time it occurs to me that a lot can be done with a tofu scramble beyond breakfast food.

FS and SM both make really delicious tofu scrambles. I have not watched them make it and cannot replicate it. To try making my own I decided to go to the Post Punk Kitchen for their take on it. I have made a few of the recipes from the old version of the site and been pretty happy with them. To the point where I firmly believe that every bean chili recipe needs to include a sweet potato or two. Cause beans and sweet potatoes are a beautiful match.

The recipe calls for Nutritional Yeast. I have heard a bit about Nutritional Yeast from BE when he was a vegan but have never tried using it myself. It's apparently used for nutrition and for flavor - to impart umami to a dish. They don't carry Nutritional Yeast at the local CVS nor at the regular grocery store near me. I went to the local health food grocer and got a very large tin of it for use in the tofu scramble. If you'd like to try some, give me a call, I've got plenty.

Sometimes I read the recipes that I am following wrong or neglect to copy all necessary information from the recipe to the back of the envelope that I will use in at the counter top. I cooked the minced garlic on low heat in a ton of olive oil for 10 mins. Much longer than recommended. Then added the tofu crumbled up. I cooked on a medium low heat so I did not get anything browned or any crispiness. I will try much higher heat next time. I think it would add to a nice variation of texture and the flavor of browning.

The water and spice combo is a good idea as it helps incorporate the spices better into the tofu. It's possible that you can stop at this point without the nutritional yeast. Maybe explore adding more vegetables with or before the tofu, altering the spice blend.

It might be good to add a bit more water at the point where you are adding the spices and the yeast, 1/4 cup of nutritional yeast flakes is a lot of dry to be adding to a skillet of tofu. It got a good yellow color and sort of a substantial and less watery flavor. I added more salt, of course, but felt that there was still something missing.

So I added a healthy pour balsamic vinegar to my serving of the scramble. Which ended up being what my palate was seeking. It made the scrambles taste brighter and cleaned up the finish on what was a slightly funky aftertaste. However, at that point it ceased to be scrambled egg like.

And now I have leftovers for sandwiches! Or perhaps stuffing for baked acorn squash halves (with extra balsamic vinegar).

I think next time I will add some celery or other vegetables to the endeavor. Mushrooms and what not to add some variety to the texture. I think that my new friend Rosemary could add something very pleasant and fragrant to the party.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Introductions and adjustments

I was introduced to a place called Eataly today. LV put together a farewell outing there. Sadly, folks just convened to have some beer. There was not eating at Eataly today. I am definitely going back. But it looks to be the Disney World of Italian food. I am not sure if it will live up to its looks but I am certainly headed there in February to find out.

LV calls me her Foodie friend. I am not comfortable with this tag. Because I am not much of a cook and I am not a gourmand with a scintillating palate. The preferences of my palate are pretty crude. I think that almost everything needs salt, garlic salt, oyster sauce or Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning.

But I do love to eat and I have lots of opinions about things that I don't know much about. Does that count for anything?

Last week I formed an opinion about curry powder. The opinion that the generic grocery story brand of curry powder that I have smells and looks like curry but is missing a note that I associate with curry. What I wanted with my curry was fennel. A slightly sweet, licorice-y hint and aroma. That is what I expected from my Potato and Cauliflower curry that was lacking. So I have been taking the leftovers and adding, fennel, fenugreek, ground ginger, cinnamon and cayenne pepper. I haven't gotten the ratios right. Of course, I could also just toss the bargain curry powder and get a new one. But where is the fun in that.

On the internet they exclaim that the way to do it is to grind your own spices for a curry. This seems like an advanced thing to me. I'd need to get a grinder or at least a mortar and pestle. I like the idea of a mortar and pestle it sounds mystical like Merlin grinding herbs and extracts for potions. This is a subject for future meditation.

This week I have been eating Marcona almonds seasoned with olive oil, sea salt and rosemary. Rosemary has now achieved favored herb status and now I need to seek any and every food context that invites Rosemary to the party.

I am still resistant to Marjoram, though. She and I will meet in the school yard in another song.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Long-Ass POLAOWN update

Booze - To date the sum of the alcohol that I have consumed is a sip of MLQ's cocktail at Sacred Chow. It was a delicious and unexpected combination of flavors that made me sad to not be drinking this month.

Bars - Twice I have been to a bar. I did not drink in either case. I did, however, leave early in both cases. I got sleepy.

Hiding things - I had to put the Hoppin' John, the Collards, and the Casserole in the freezer to keep myself from eating them. I also hid the potato chips, the Bugles, and other fatty and sugary snacks in a metal tin. I might have to throw that tin into the freezer. I might have to buy a larger freezer.

Meat - I have had one bite of Salmon. Besides this, no meat has been consumed yet. I think about chicken, grilled, fried, in salad, in sandwiches, baked. And tuna. I think about tuna sandwiches with lots of mayo. I miss the texture. The chewy denseness of eating something that has been eating all that plant matter, converting and accumulating it on your behalf.

Bahn Mi - I had a vegetarian Bahn Mi. It was on white bread. What can you do. The first half of it startled me by tasting like pork. It had that chewy, dense texture. The second half of it, eaten much later, tasted like Seitan. I wonder if this means that in a short span of time I will be insisting that a bagel with scallion tofu spread tastes just like a Big Mac. I might try the bagel thing tomorrow just to see what happens.

White bread - White bread was supposed to be on my do not eat list. But I am revisiting this because white bread is amazing. AMAZING. Like a food miracle.

Pasta - I had squash ravioli because the Fella offered to cook for me and it was a choice between that and mac and cheese. It tasted strange, like candy pasta with herbs and olive oil. The squash filling was super sweet.

Sugar - Sugar is ubiquitous. I had some ginger ale. I put sugar in things that I was cooking. It's probably in the yogurt, the jam, the sauces, the dressings, the juices, the bread, and everything industrially processed that I have eaten this month. I think about cookies a lot. I walked by a place that smelled like cake. Heavenly. I stood on the sidewalk out front just steeping in cake smells.

Carbs in General - I remembered that eating carbs is delicious and filling. And so I have embraced whole wheat bread, Wasa Wheat Crisps and potatoes. The potatoes in particular have balanced out with the other stuff to make me feel less bloaty and squishy. More substantial.

I took a second try at baking bread. In honor of POLAOWN, I tried to bake a whole wheat loaf. It ended up being this enormous yeasty biscuit. It tastes terrible but I keep eating it. The Fella had a slice and said that it reminded him of the bread that they put MRE's from his days in the Marine Corp. I have had this. It like eating a pop-tart, without the frosting, the sweet filling that is soft, bland, and less crumbly. I think he was trying to be supportive. I am going to try to bake more bread this weekend.

Juices - on the recommendation of my cube-mate, I have had a few juice bar drinks. Juice bar juices are not like Naked Juice. Nor are they like the bottled offerings of Welch's or Tropicana. They can be pretty bland. Which puts the whole concept of concentrated juice in an entirely different light. For years, I have regarded juice concentrate as inferior and adulterated. Now I realize that it takes a lot of apples, concentrated into a small volume, to capture the vivid apple flavor in bottled apple juice. It probably helps to know the full range of your options, perhaps pick something from the juice menu. A random fruits and vegetables tossed into a juicer will not guarantee deliciousness. My first juice was had berries and nice things but was ruined by the addition of carrots and watermelon. Despite being watery, watermelon ends up having a very strong taste that will assert itself in a not enjoyable way. The second one was beets, carrots, lemon, celery, orange, ginger and kale - not much better. The third time, I got a smoothie. It had banana, strawberries, and pineapple, crushed ice, and Tropicana orange juice. That one was delicious. I attribute this to the industrial OJ. The Cube-mate has since offered to send me juice and smoothie recipes.

Healthnut restaurants - The Fella and I went to this macrobiotic place and had the blandest food ever. His was actually kinda nice but mine was exceptionally bland. And this was not the sort of place to have a salt shaker at the table. During the course of the meal I started hallucinate that the carrots and onions were actually delicious and everything else was bland "It's a shame about the rest of this meal, the onions and carrots are so flavorful flavor, and suggest potential." The Fella had wisely pre-gamed by snacking on fried chicken at Popeye's. While I was not bowled over by the food, it did seem to put me in a slightly euphoric and goofy mood. It might have been my relief at not having to eat my own cooking.

In my second adventure I went to Sacred Chow with MLQ. And the food was pretty good. I had half a Tempeh Reuben and a bowl of New England Cauliflower Chowder. Both pretty good. Although it wreaked havoc on my system. The waiter told us a little bit about the dangers of gluten for those who are sensitive. I wonder if I am one of them. That or it might have been the cauliflower.

Brown Rice - Brown rice was supposed to be my carb for the month. But I am not having much luck with making it. The recent batch came out like a big pot of paste. It was like oatmeal! At the macrobiotic place the brown rice was very enjoyable and I think short grain. I might try the short grain stuff to see if I like the texture a little better.

I am trying to sprout brown rice. I have had this long-grain brown rice for several years and am amazed that it would sprout at all. Seeds are a wonder. It's sitting in the fridge waiting for me to cook it. Back to my brown rice mental block. Perhaps by the end of the month, I will get the knack of this brown rice thing.

Had I embarked on a set diet or eating strategy, instead of this aimless parade of ad hoc moderation/deprivation I would be putting less mental energy into it.

Mental space that could be devoted to reading, writing, a job search, music, yoga, cleaning, exercise, organizing, improving my sleep habits, well the list goes on and on. I like that the list goes on from things that I actually would do all the way to things that I will probably never do, despite my best intentions.

But no, all I think about is food. With any edible thing that I see, I ask myself, "Do I want to eat this? Should I eat it?"

I am not sure what I am getting out of this besides a thing to focus on besides the quiet desperation of living. I suppose it is also a month-long exercise in mental recasting. Food has been my happiness, my solace, my comfort, my entertainment, my stress reliever. And now food is a question for constant meditation. To eat or not. And to eat what?

For now, I consider that to be plenty.

Monday, January 09, 2012

RSVP to Public TV

I have just watched the first season of Downton Abbey, my what a cliffhanger. With so many of these British costume dramas about the country estates, one would think that there was a limit to my capacity for watching them. But there is not.

While a young woman, I would have been watching the show in pins and needles over Lady Mary. The show would have been all about her quest for happiness or at least satisfaction. But I find that I turn my attention to other amusements.

Dame Maggie Smith is hilarious as Violet.

Mr. Bates is ever so grand.

And Lord Grantham is dreamy.

Isn't he?

PBS is showing Season Two this month and next. Ladies and Gents, it is with much regret that I must decline your Sunday evening invitations for a prior engagement.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Dreaming of Fish

People are rarely interested in each other's dreams. Probably because dreams generally lack the context for the listener that makes them so compelling to the dreamer. They don't make sense. And for the listener the emotion that was experienced by the dreamer is almost impossible to convey. At yet we all want to share the dream that we had last night. We are amazed by the strangeness of our own dreams and unwilling to admit that they hold a fascination only to us. We want to make sense of them and hope that discussion will shed light on what they mean or where they came from. And telling someone about our dream helps reinforce the memory of them and allows us to relive them.

I rarely remember my dreams anymore. When I did it was usually due to an epic struggle between the snooze bar and my desire to lay in bed with my eyes closed for five more minutes. I remember them but not vividly or for very long. They tend to all mush together. There are imaginary places that represent real places where many of my dreams used to take place. As I try to remember one dream, I find that I am remembering a bunch of dreams as happening at the same time or remember them as having happened in the same places concurrently.

Two nights ago, I dreamed about fish. I dreamed that I was in my house and there was a fish bowl and then a fish tank, and then two fish tanks, and then more and more fish tanks, stacked on racks like they are at the pet store. And then there was a fish pond and then another fish pond and then a tub with fish in it. And I was showing all the fish to some people. One of whom, was an elderly gentleman who was my father-in-law. I was trying to persuade him to take some of my fish, to build his own fish pond for them.

"Carp are so pretty and they can grow to such impressive sizes," I said, pointing to the orange and yellow carp now crowded and churning in one of the ponds. I saw goldfish and a tiny tetra who when grabbing onto a gum ball would expand to 20 times his original size. I had fish leaping up out of the water. A few lept onto my leg and were flopping their way up my body, I had to pick them off and put them back in the water. I had so many fish. I needed to give them away. I did not want to kill them, they all deserved to flourish. They needed new homes, room to expand. But people were not taking my fish, they were leaving more fish for me to collect. Fish in tanks and ponds all over my house. I considered scooping up the fish eggs from the tanks so that they would not be eaten.

So what does it mean? No idea.

The Fella suggested that it might mean that there are creative inspirations in my life that have been dammed up and are about to burst forward.

CK has suggested that I am subconsciously feeling really ovewhelmed.

According to dreamforth.com:
To see an aquarium in your dream indicates that you are aware of certain feelings that you possess but haven't been able to deal with. This may include needs, wants, and fantasies related to sex. Alternately, it may imply that you are at a stagnant point in your life and are confused as to which path to follow. It may also suggest that you are overly stressed and need to slow down, take a deep breath, and try to focus.

To dream of a carp suggests that you should be more humble and respectful of others. If you are too selfish and conceited, this can affect your personal relationships.

To dream about goldfish predicts that you will come into prosperity and many wonderful and thrilling escapades.

To dream that you see fish in clear water streams indicates that you will find approval from the wealthy and the distinguished.

For young women to dream of fish suggests that she will find a charming, good-looking mate. If the fish is swimming, then this could indicate conception. Some women will dream of fish swimming when they become pregnant.

To dream about a flying fish suggests that you feel unencumbered by your emotions and that you are unrestrained.

To dream about fish eggs suggests that there is some notion that has risen up from your subconscious.

So perhaps, I am repressing something, perhaps a desire to have children and I feel that my life is stagnant place. I have been too selfish and conceited but I am going to have wealth and adventure and things are rising up from my subconscious despite my efforts to repress them.

According to dreammoods.com
If you are watching the fish in the fish tank, then you may feel that your life is going nowhere or that you are going in circles with your life.

To see fish swimming in your dream signifies insights from your unconscious mind. Thus to catch a fish represents insights which have been brought to the surface. Alternatively, a fish swimming in your dream may symbolize conception. Some women dream of swimming fish when they get pregnant. "

To see a clear, well-stocked fishpond foretells of profitable enterprises and great pleasures.

To see a goldfish in your dream signifies, wealth, success, and pleasant adventures. Alternatively, goldfish represents some important emotional matter or valuable insight.

To see a carp in your dream indicates that you need to put aside your pride and ego and not let it get in the way of friendships and relationships. Alternatively, the carp is symbolic of patience, perseverance, determination, tenacity, courage and success.

To see a betta fish in your dream indicates that thoughts from your unconscious is close to emerging to the surface. You are ready to confront your repressed thoughts. If there are two betta fish in your dream, then it signifies conflicting issues that you are dealing with.

To see a flying fish in your dream indicates that you are feeling emotionally free and uninhibited.

To see fish eggs in your dream represent an idea that has emerged from your unconscious.

Consider the common phrases "like a cold fish", "fish out of water" or something that is "fishy" about a situation. It may also imply a slippery or elusive situation.

This site has almost identical interpretations to the other one. Again with the stagnation in my life. I have suppressed insights from my subconscious mind. They are leaping out of the tanks onto me, trying to get my attention and I am throwing them back in the tanks in denial. It's possible that prosperity and adventure are in my future or a significant emotional matter or insight. And I either need to put my ego in check or have patience, perseverance, determination, tenacity and courage.

According to dreamdoctor.com
Fish in dreams are fertility symbols, because they are small, primitive creatures that live in water, not unlike an embryo in the womb. Dreams of fish are not precognitive. It doesn't mean that you or someone you know is going to have a baby... only that babies are on your mind.

Dreams of fish in aquariums that are low or running out of water symbolize fears that time may be running out to conceive. Dreams of jellyfish and stingrays reflect concerns of getting “stung” emotionally in waking life. Dreams of fish attacking may symbolize concerns about reproductive health.

An aquarium or fish tank in a dream is a fertility symbol, made evident by the fact that pregnant women carry around an internal “tank” of embryonic fluid to sustain their little “fish.”

This one is all about the babies and my biological clock.

Ok, so at the end of this dream based tarot card reading session, all of this is plausible and probably all true. All pretty typical of the conscious and subconscious thoughts of a single, childless woman in her 40's. And I certainly have felt stuck for several years. I disagree with the pride and ego part of it all but who knows. Perhaps that is an issue that I have been unwilling to face about myself as well.

But the dream was more fun as a comical scene where I contended with lots and lots of fishes. In my dream it was a bit like the fish tank version of this:

Thursday, January 05, 2012

My subway fear realized

In my rush to get up the steps I tripped on the top one and fell. Yes, I smacked right on my hands right onto the subway floor. Fortunately, I suffered no injuries and did not land in a spot that was wet, muddy, sticky or gummy.


Hari Kondabolu on Ethnicity

A translation of the where are you from question.

Day Two

Eating lots of fruits and vegetables makes me feel squishy. In time, I imagine that this will pass or it will also make me feel smug. Smug and squishy. Pleased to meet me

The Quotable Aldous Huxley

I was trying to remember a line from "A Brave New World" yesterday and was scrolling through Aldous Huxley quotes. The dude is pretty quotable. He is now on my list of authors to read. What else in his body of work I should pick up?

The quote I was looking for was:
“I ate civilization. It poisoned me; I was defiled. And then," he added in a lower tone, "I ate my own wickedness.”
― Aldous Huxley, Brave New World

It took some doing to find it. There were many other quotes of note to peruse in the first two pages. There were seven pages of quotes. I will have to stay up too late another night to read them all.

A few that struck me:
“Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.”
― Aldous Huxley, Complete Essays 2, 1926-29

“Happiness is not achieved by the conscious pursuit of happiness; it is generally the by-product of other activities.”
― Aldous Huxley

“It is a bit embarrassing to have been concerned with the human problem all one's life and find at the end that one has no more to offer by way of advice than 'Try to be a little kinder.”
― Aldous Huxley, Moksha: Writings on Psychedelics & the Visionary Experience

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

My Excuses

My excuses for falling off the POLAOWN wagon almost as quickly as I hopped on go something like this:

Firstly, there are leftovers. JK and I went to the Meatball Shop for a farewell to bad foods. I ordered everything. A meatball hero with beef meatballs, spicy meat sauce and provelone cheese. I also had the Kale (which was AMAZING) and the mashed potatoes (also very good). And as a starter while I waited - a rootbeer float.

Their polenta is fabulous, creamy and smooth with just enough corn meal texture. If ever I go back there I will definitely get it.

I came home with half a meatball sandwich and some mashed potatoes. I also had a container of disappointing leftover mac and cheese. I had hoped that the restaurant in question would have good mac and cheese but instead, they served Stouffer's mac and cheese with the mushy fat noodles and the processed orangey cheese. But there was so much of it that there was plenty to take home.  Note to self - do not order mac and cheese at a place known for their wings.

Secondly, I kept reading the Beans book. By NYE I was up to the chapter on Black Eyed Peas. Despite the fact that I am not from the South and I do not know a thing about soul food. I got it in my head that what I needed to do was make Hoppin' John and Collard Greens to usher in the New Year.

I bought smoked ham hocks because I liked the romance of getting them. I bought a bundle of collard greens and several cans of black eye peas. I still don't know a thing about soul food but near as I can tell, the ham hock will take an hour to give up it's smokey, salty, porky goodness.  That is an hour of quality time with the hock before anything else gets cooked.

So I chopped up two onions, minced several cloves of garlic, tossed them in a pot of water with two ham hocks and some thyme, brought that to a boil, then a simmer for an hour.

Then split the water between two pots: a pot for collards and a ham hock and a pot beans and a ham hock.

I covered and cooked the heck out of the collards, pulled out the ham hock, added back the tablespoon worth of meat that was on it and added some sliced turnips and cooked the heck out of that. Added tons of salt, pepper and garlic powder. Next time I would probably go with cubed turnip pieces, lots more collards and maybe a ham broth alternative.

After it seemed like the beans were starting to warm up and maybe pick up a little smokiness, I pulled out the ham hock, added back the slivers of meat and threw in two cups of rice. Too much rice!!! It ended up making more of hammy rice porridge with beans.

So I have a fridge full of greens, beans and rice steeped in smoky fatty ham broth. the second excuse could be lumped with the first.  Except that for the superstitious hopes that the meal offers towards a prosperous New Year.

After work today, I headed to Trader Joe's.  The Trader Joe's in Chelsea was a mob scene. They were totally out of onions and almost out of bread. The line for check out snaked back and forth through the store. They stopped letting people in the store. At which point, a line of grocery shoppers started to form on the sidewalk. People all bundled up and shivering in the cold. You would have thought that Louboutin was having the mother of all sample sales. Surely these people were not waiting in line for Joe's O's.

When I finally got to check out, I felt foolish watching the cashier scan my tofu and fruits and vegetables. What if I was deluding myself and all of this food was destined to end up in the trash uneaten, not even composting. What if I am. How sad that would be.

I got home had three pieces of fruit and could not resist the lure of my leftovers. But rather than just reheat and eat them, I got the notion to make a casserole because I am foolish.  Some part of me was convinced that making it a more labor intensive activity would make it okay to eat this junk.  Whilst I am from the Midwest, I did not grow up in the hotdish part of the region. And I certainly do not come from a casserole family. I could not shake the notion that cauliflower and mac and cheese are a good match. Probably because of a similarity in coloring.

Steamed up half a head of cauliflower florets, tossed them with butter, garlic salt and black pepper. Chopped up the Meatball and mixed it with the soft part of the whole grain bread. Threw the whole grain crust into the oven the crisp up. Mixed the mashed potatoes with a good helping of collard green juice, some milk and the stouffer's mac and cheese and heated that on the stove. Mixed it with the cauliflower and the bread meatball mix and some grated cheese. Topped it with more grated cheese, the crumbled whole grain crust and some breadcrumbs. And baked it until smells started coming from the oven.

The results were not pretty. And let's put it this way, you have to be careful how many different styles of food that you mix together in a baking dish. If you are not careful it will start smelling like what comes back up after a long night of drinking.  I blame the tomato sauce blended with ham broth.  I am grateful that botulism has not killed me. Knock on wood.  Perhaps in February I will properly explore the mysteries of hot dish.  In particular, I have always wondered about the recipes that call for tater tots or cornflakes as the topping.

But in a day or two that unpretty casserole will be gone and the grand POLAOWN will begin.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Day One

Happy New Year!

Yes, I know that it is the third day of the New Year. But it is the first day of my month long attempt at detox.

I am sorry to report that I have already failed. It's possible that Day Two will be my actual Day One.

Of what? I am not sure what to call it. I am alternately calling it a Detox and fake Lent. I hesitate to call it anything like Lent. The observance of Lent is a serious part of the religious practice of Christian people. Perhaps in my case it is more correctly referred to as a period of Lifestyle Austerity or Winter Nesting (POLAOWN).

It started with a book. "Beans: A History" by Ken Albala. I keep grumbling as I read it that beans are not all that exciting. Yet somehow they are just compelling enough that I keep reading.

In the section on Fava Beans, Ken Albala writes:
"...by the time of the Council of Nicea in 325, a period of forty days or Quadragesima, preceding Easter, was set aside for prayer and self-denial."

This idea resonated with me as something that I needed. Not being a religious woman, what am I looking for? What is this need that some buffet style secular version of Quaragesima (POLAOWN) would satisfy?

I am in a phase of my life where I feel like there has just been too much of everything. Which for Mae West was wonderful. But for me has just been too much. Too much booze, too much food, too much work, too much stress, too much running about, not enough sleep, not enough downtime, not enough understanding.  There has been a definite diminishing return on the too much side and and the sense that the too much end is not compensating for the deficiencies.  It is possible that a POLAOWN is not the answer.  The answer could be meditation or going to more ska shows or giving and receiving more hugs or burning incense and ringing bells while chanting.  Those may be challenges for upcoming months.

Added to this is the inspiration of JK's resolution to give up white foods and alcohol. By white foods she means give up refined sugar, white rice, white flour, perhaps dairy for a month.

So I have been formulating this plan in my head to:

1. Give up alcohol
2. Give up meat (if I can't take it, red meat)
3. Eat whole grain products
4. Eat more fruits and veggies
5. Eat brown rice
6. Give up fried foods

I get hungry just thinking about this. I had pondered giving up dairy and eggs and trying to go vegan. But it's hard to imagine life without cheese and all the glorious things that the marvelous egg can offer.

I worry that this pledge will mean that I will have no social life at all. Or at least, even less of one than I currently have. I worry that this pledge will lead to misery as I have gotten to the point where I associate happiness with unhealthy eating. JK and I have based our relationship on a shared passion for eating deep fried things. But I feel that it is not sustainable. I cannot fit into a substantial part of my wardrobe and I am experiencing food related bodily discomforts.

As for the prayer - well I'll have to work that out during the course of this.

My arbitrarily selected dates are January 3rd through February 8th.

There will be an exception for CK's birthday and then it's back on the wagon until February 9th.  From there, I don't know.  This is all I can see.

My parents upon hearing of this plan applauded it, asked why I was not doing it for an entire year, and then felt entirely justified in overfeeding me during my entire visit home. It would be fine because when I got back to Brooklyn, I would be eating right.

This is the plan. How have I already derailed myself? I have my excuses.  My excuses have that "For want of a nail ..." feel to them. Essentially, I stand in my own way.  I should have donated or tossed out all offending foods from my fridge. Or put them all in the Freezer to be opened in February.