It’s been a week of “yes” for me. Saying “yes” to strangers, colleagues, friends and family alike in the form projects, both edible and non, that are now arranged in various degrees of completion around my home. Fabrics and flours and papers are my constant companions. J just tries to keep from getting swept up in the current. Or baked, or sewn into it.
Growing up, ‘granola’ was a bad word in my book. It brought back memories of a health food store in Oak Park, IL that I would rather have forgotten. It was a typical mid-1980’s health food store, with that universal musty carob powder and B vitamins smell. My mother would drag me inside to peruse the rows of bulk dry goods, the canisters with wan-looking yogurt-covered pretzels pressed their waxy faces against the insides of their jars in a way that reminded me of abandoned puppies. And there was a frozen yogurt machine in the corner that dispensed pure disappointment in the form of a soul-crushingly tart and icy ‘alternative soft serve’.
To the eyes of an adult, there clearly was some kind of appeal here, but much like the Iran-Contra affair, this was something my six-year-old self was unable to fathom.
I feel like a lucky explorer today, and I’ll tell you why. It’s because I was flipping thru a new cookbook (a gift from Sis & The Guitar Man) and found a certain recipe, had a light-bulb-moment and made way to the kitchen, a whisk and a good dose of inspiration in hand. A couple days and several recipes later, I was feeling downright smug. “This stuff is so simple, so versatile, so delicious!”, I thought, and did a quick little jig before J could see me (I try to spread out the instances he catches me dancing or singing to myself in the kitchen, it maintains the illusion his wife has some tiny sliver of poise).
Before I get ahead of myself, I should explain what this recipe is for, right? Well, it’s not the Shmoo… its tofu. No, don’t leave yet! Let me finish, I promise its not what you’re thinking. No complex ingredient lists (coagulants? NO!), no special presses…. and no soy. What’s that? You read that right. This is Shan tofu. A chickpea version from Burma that has somehow escaped my notice until now.
There was a time when I mainly jogged in the morning, thinking it was a great way to start my day. There’s crisp new air, chilly dew… you can almost hear the neighborhood cracking its joints with a sleepy stretch and every sound has a tiny echo for a lack of competition.
But then I discovered dusk. Maybe there’s something about working from home that makes it feel so good to close my computer and literally run out the door. Running away from the haze of a day where I am just a name in a directory that ends in “@yourcompany.com”. I remember I’m a person again. My music, my heartbeat and the thump of my legs that have been itching to get out of a seated position… they all bring me back to myself.
So maybe you’re wondering why someone would make their own crackers when you can obviously buy them at practically anywhere that sells things resembling food (grocery stores, gas stations, vending machines!)? Well, obviously fresh things usually taste better. Crackers are just one of those things. Like canned soup vs. homemade. Once you make your own, you start to wonder how those stale little boxes ever made it into your pantry. Plus, it’s ridiculously simple to make your own and then you also know exactly what went into them.
I’m starting the new year off with beans!
After trying about 100 different openings for this post, that is the sentence I landed on. Clearly I was never one for a fashionable entrance. The reason I’m starting out the year with the lovely legumes is simple: beans are tasty, they’re generally thought to be good for you and simple to make. If you’re starting out the year searching for easy, healthy snacks that go along with your resolution, beans are your guys. In this instance, bean spread is your guy, but you get the idea.
I’ve never been great with labels. There have been occasions when I have watched two friends of mine meet each other for the first time, and it’s odd to watch them putting all the pegs into the appropriate holes about each other. Occupation, education, hobbies, diet… and depending on the availability of wine, politics. And sometimes I’ll realize that sitting in on this getting-to-know-you small talk brings out something I didn’t know about a friend. Like that they’re Hobby Paragliders, or Vegans, Ivy-League grads, Republicans. Suddenly I see my friend as a new set of eyes would.