Catching up (again) with two boxes on which to report. Frankly, I delayed posting on the penultimate box because I had neither a culinary, literary, nor emotional trope to conjoin the produce with the workings of my head. I’m in the same boat with the latest box, but at this point I’m burning daylight (how’s that for mixing metaphors?), so I’ll just take some good advice from Yoda.
What follows are random thoughts and random cooking projects with no distinct connection to one another. They are, in essence, small plates from my brain and my kitchen. And as with most tapas, I fear they are, both individually and collectively, profoundly unsatisfying. Maybe a glass or three of sherry would help.
First the food.
The second-to-the-last box:
Here’s what happened:
Also, during this time, The Unit had a birthday, so although this tiny plum galette has no relation to the box, I’m posting because I am hideously proud of this pastry.
The more recent box resembled a box of crayons in its vividness.
And then this happened:
A duo of pizzas for my gym family:
The carrots and celery started to wilt, so I quickly diced everything up finely and sauteed with an onion to make a mirepoix. I blended it into a paste and froze into cubes. I’ll use these in the coming months to add long-cooked flavor to soups and sauces. They’re extremely ugly, though.
This celery boasted copious leaves which I felt bad about discarding, so I dried the leaves and then ground them with sea salt to create the most gorgeous celery salt. If you need any for hot dogs or Bloody Marys, hit me up.
We drank some lovely bottles, including five gems from California, an obscure Greek wine, and a spunky Gewurztraminer.
And now, my head.
I’ve been…well, I wouldn’t exactly call it meditating, but something between pondering and meditating…cerebrating, maybe? (And this makes me really wish Kool & The Gang would reunite and record a tune called “Cerebrate.” Can’t you just hear it? “Cerebrate weird times, come on! / There’s some thinkin’ goin’ on right here / A rumination that’s sure to bring some tears / So bring your weird times and your daydreams, too / We gonna cerebrate your puzzle with you.” What? Too much?)
Anyway, I’ve been cerebrating about failure a lot lately: about the pain and shame associated with falling short, repeatedly and chronically, with the goals that I’ve set for myself. And, it would make sense to feel less shame about hitting the skids with small goals (e.g., tackling sourdough bread) but certainly that’s not the case. In truth, each crappy loaf of bread bothers me more than the crappy—and only—novel I wrote ten years ago.
Further, it seems like everything I read these days tells me to quit being such a whiner and suck it up, Buttercup.
Like this, from The Undefeated Mind:
(We should) stop hoping for easy lives and instead focus on the cultivating the inner strength we need to enjoy the difficult lives we all have.
Or, from Thomas Merton’s The Seven Storey Mountain:
Indeed, the truth that many people never understand, until it is too late, is that the more you try to avoid suffering, the more you suffer, because smaller and more insignificant things begin to torture you, in proportion to your fear of being hurt. The one who does the most to avoid suffering is, in the end, the one who suffers most: and his suffering comes to him from things so little and trivial that one can say that it is no longer objective at all.
And from James Uden’s beautiful new book on Juvenal, The Invisible Satirist:
There is no praise of a life in accordance with nature; no promise of freedom from social pressures and restraints by adopting the Cynic lifestyle; no sense of communion with other humans beyond national or ethnic borders. There is only the ability to endure the inevitable sorrows and hardships of modern life….
Which led me to recall this excellent passage from Rob Sheffield’s Turn Around Bright Eyes:
Maybe I’m not listening to enough Morrissey, but—switching gears—I’ve been listening a lot of Elvis Costello lately. I saw Costello at the Newport Folk Festival this year; he was wonderful, and that’s not (entirely) abject, slackjaw love talking. I’ve been known to dis his less-than-stellar work (North, anyone?) when called for. However, when I go on a Costello bender, it’s all-out. I’m pretty much, like, “We must follow this bizarre white rabbit and see where we end up.” This time, I landed on 1981’s Trust, a wildly eclectic collection of arguably mixed-quality songs.
This song, “New Lace Sleeves,” is one of the very, very good ones. Generally, I am drawn to Costello for his lyrics (honestly: who’s better?), but this one drew me in with Bruce Thomas’s insistent start-stop bass hook. Then, Pete Thomas’s slightly arrhythmic drum line and Steve Nieve’s playful (and occasionally dissonant) keyboard trills transfixed me. And this is all before I even listened to Costello’s high-tension croon and positively poetic musings about class warfare and morning-after-hookup awkwardness:
The salty lips of the socialite sisters
With their continental fingers that have
Never seen working blisters
Oh I know they’ve got their problems
I wish I was one of them
Wow. That’s some good writing.