Food Site

I was hanging out with my friend Jesse the other week and he was talking about starting a food blog.  There are so many food blogs.  But his sounded pretty interesting – he has a small apartment kitchen and was only going to use a small amount of pots and pans.  Minimalist cooking.  Well, he got me thinking about my own not-updated food blog.

For a while now, I’ve wanted to make a web-show about cooking called “Effin’ Cheffin.”  The concept is sort of similar to Alton Brown’s Good Eats.  His three main inspirations are Monty Python, Julia Child, and Mr. Wizard.  And Alton Brown does a great thing with Good Eats, so it wouldn’t be anything new, but still would be fun.  My three inspirations would be more like Adult Swim, Alton Brown, and Bill Nye.

I also thought that Grand Rapids could use a decent food blog.  I don’t even know if their is one.  I’ve looked online and found a few mlive articles about restaurants, but they are typically written by John Serba the entertainment dude.  I enjoy Serba’s articles and reviews, but he’s not the best food writer I’ve ever seen.

Grand Rapids has some pretty nice restaurants.  And I’d enjoy just eating at them – but to have an ulterior motive… hmmm.

What strikes me is the sheer nonsense of most restaurant reviews.  Here is a typical review I read about any number of places.  “Two stars.  It was an Italian place and I pretty much hate Italian, so I thought I’d eat here.  I ordered a meatball sub.  The meatballs were meaty and the sauce was red.  It was a sub with meatballs, but it didn’t taste like Subway, so I didn’t like it and there was cheese on it.  Don’t go here!  If you are rude to the waiter, he won’t bring you free drinks!”

Sigh.  If only I were exaggerating.   Anyway, I would like to improve upon these silly reviews somehow.  I’d go with a couple of people so we could each get a different dish – meat, pasta, fish, whatever they might have – and share to sample the food.  Reviews of the service are also important.  There have been some fine meals I have eaten ruined by poor service.  I also like the idea of giving each dish a “reheat” test.

This is all such a silly thing to talk about – but I like to have it written down somewhere.

Fables

Zachary was upset with me today as I made him finish his dinner.  His cruelty?  “I’ll huff and puff and blow your house in!”  And that’s when the thought struck me – I haven’t told him the 3 Little Pigs.  I don’t really care that someone else has, but which version was he told?  I subbed in a 4th grade class a few weeks ago and the kids insisted the pigs weren’t eaten.  Which also gave me pause that they didn’t understand what “folk tale” meant, but I digress.

Obviously, you can tell your kid any version of any tale you would like to but I think we do a grave dis-service by not telling the more gruesome version.  I don’t really care to tell about evil step-sisters slicing their toes off to put on slippers, I suppose.  Cinderella is older than some civilizations, so there’s plenty of wiggle room.  We all know those Brothers Grimm were crazy violent.

My concern is the lesson.  In the 3 Little Pigs you have the pig with the straw house, the pig with the stick house, and the pig with the brick house.  As I heard it, those straw and stick house pigs?  Ham Salad.  Which is gross, because any sort of meat salad is gross.  But the lesson was plain:  If you make poor choices, you will be eaten by a wolf.  I am a more thoughtful, wise person for this helpful folk tale.

Also, this tale ends with the wolf being boiled alive at the hands of the pig in the brick house.  Children learn that Evil ends in sorrow, and that pigs are carnivorous – helpful hints for life.

What lesson do we learn from the other version?  In the other version, the pigs run to their brother’s brick house.  The brick-house pig ends up getting rid of the wolf.  In this pig-friendly version, the wolf usually gets burned in the chimney and escapes, which is just ridiculous.  This version is rife with Poor Life Lessons.

The first lesson learned, and the most blatant, is that if you are a stupid person with little regard for your personal safety, you can rely on your relatives to care for you.  The carnivorous pig lesson is wholly ignored, meaning children will be more likely to embrace a wild boar on sight.  Finally, children are taught not only that it is safe to climb down chimneys, but that they are easily escaped.*

That’s just poor parenting.

And so, my advice today is to be sure that you educate your children with the proper tellings of tales.  Pigs become bacon at the hands/paws of wolves, and that is the whole truth.  While I don’t enjoy the villainizing of wolves, I suppose a sacrifice must be made to some degree.  Just temper the tales with lessons of a lupine nature.

*I realize Santa Claus is all about the chimneys, but one only needs to remind children that he is magic, and they are not.  Children can’t use magic without being sent a letter from Hogwarts.  Problem solved.

Running

I am running again.  It’s an activity I did from 7th to 11th grade, opting out of Track my senior year in lieu of a play.  Was it the right decision?  I don’t know, and it doesn’t matter.  But I am running now – following the popular Couch 2 5K program and it is going very well.  It’s been an on/off battle over the past twelve years to keep running.  Something always seemed to come up – or I just wouldn’t do it.

The problem was that I never had to “get” into shape in school.  I did sports all the time and was fairly active, so there was no need to get into shape.  But after college and the sedentary lifestyle I developed, running was a challenge.  I didn’t really know how to get started.  I never bothered to memorize workouts from high school – I just did what the coach told me.  Running was scary, to a small degree.  Why do it?

There were many starts, but they didn’t last very long.  There were times I would be ready to run and change my mind, and do something else.  The concept of running didn’t seem appealing – but it was all part of the bigger picture.  Being healthy.

I’m healthier now that I’m several weeks into the program.  At the end of May I run my first 5k in probably eight years – and I barely “ran” the last one I was in.  Running no longer fills me with dread or worry I won’t be able to do it.  Music helps, but so does the program which has let me move up at my own pace.  Part of me likes to skip – but I try to stay on it.

Now – I still dread running a little.  There are days I would rather not, but I think about how I can now jog (and I don’t jog very quickly) at a decent pace for 28 minutes.  When I started, three minutes was a hardship.  I don’t want to go back.  This is my third time on the program, and what is really nice is knowing that if I fail I can start again and try again and that’s pretty nice.

But mostly, when I tie those shoes I feel ready.  I bought new shoes at the start, my old running shoes finally toast after too many stop/starts, and they feel good.  Running feels good.  I still have a long way to go before I’m doing amazing at it.  My gait is still very uneven, and my jogging is very jog like and labored.  But as I run, my weight drops, which makes it all the easier.  As I run, the days I don’t I feel full of more energy to play with Zachary – and that’s really who I’m running for.

Zachary is two and he has more energy than a nuclear reactor.  When I think about how much play time I could miss out on by not being in shape?  It makes me sad.  He needs his dad to be there for him, so I’m making sure I will be.  In shape.  So we can have adventures.

The Tooth

Here is a short story.  It is pretty terrible.

Jon’s tooth hurt.  It ached.  The ten year old could feel it, felt others could see a bright red painful light shining from it.  And so his mother had brought him amongst the Highlights magazines and wire toys to wait for the dentist.  There were fish in a glass aquarium across from him.  Jon stared at them.  He read an article in Highlights about a fish whose tongue was replaced by a parasite.  Jon thought this was rather gross.

The Dentist was evil.  There are no in-betweens in dentistry.  The men and women who protect our enamel either shine bright with the white glow of oral hygiene, or revel in the sharp, lasting pain they can inflict.  Jon’s dentist was the latter.  He bought dental supplies at the hardware store.  The toothbrushes he handed out were secondhand.  When buying a chair, he had specifically found the lowest ranked by Consumer Reports.

With glee, the Dentist called Joe back.  Pleasantries were exchanged, and the hygienist took X-Rays.  With glee the dentist saw the cavity.  It’s dark black more beautiful than any art.  The drill – he would get to use the drill!

Joe asked if there would be a shot.  “Why no,” the dentist replied.  “You must be able to tell me if I’m drilling too deep!”  But the gas he used had a dark secret – it contained a mild paralysis drug.  Joe would be unable to move, but able to feel the pain.  It was pretty terrible.

The procedure began!  Joe felt his arms fall to his side, his mouth open.  The Dentist’s eyes gleamed with a strange excitement.  The drill whirred near him – the high pitched whine specially selected by the Dentist to irritate the eardrums most effectively.  Oh, horror!  Poor Joe could only lay there as the drill inched closer.

But the cavity held its own secret, buried there by an errant jawbreaker weeks before.  The Dentist’s drill awoke the slumbering parasite within.  He gawked in surprise as a thin worm rose from Joe’s jaws, wrapping around the drill and tossing it aside.  Joe could see none of this, could not even feel the worm escape, but the Dentist stood, terrified as he had terrified those before as the worm, hair thin, wrapped itself around his white coat.  From deep within his stomach, the Dentist could feel a scream begin but it was choked out as his neck was constricted by the gossamer organism.

Oh, his life was coming to an end! the Dentist thought.  His life!  So many teeth to still harm!  So many tears to create!  His consciousness slipped, his vision darkened as he felt the worm sink into his ear canal.

Nothing.

Dr. Smith returned to Joe’s vision.  He had stepped out, and Joe thought he had heard gurgling, but perhaps not.  Dr. Smith’s hands held a needle.  “This will feel like a quick pinch,” he said, giving Joe’s gums a quick shot.  The drill whirred again, but the dentist deftly lowered the painful frequency with a twist of a knob.  Joe’s cavity was filled and he was returned to his mother in the waiting room.

Dr. Smith waved at Joe as the boy walked out.  “Don’t forget to floss,” he said, and smiled.

Yesterday Was 5/1/11

I’m in need of my own catharsis.  It’s been a long day for me, as I wrestle with resume formats and stress and real world things, with the radio constantly on in the background.  I know what I need is some words from my fingertips.  Flow, words, flow.

On September 11, 2001 I had just started my sophomore year of college.  I lived in the dorms in a suite style room with dudes I spent much of college with, as well as my girlfriend at the time.  I don’t remember much that morning, just my suite-mate asking me if I’d heard the news, that a plane had hit the twin towers.  This was only seconds before the second plane hit – which we saw on TV.  At the time, I didn’t really comprehend what was going on – it was too big.

I remember snippets of the day.  Not everything.  Class may have been cancelled, but I recall it being held, which I still think was a good thing.  Tragedy is better dealt with through some sort of distraction.  There wasn’t much we could do in Marquette but give up our thoughts.  I remember feeling angry at how many people were allowing the event to affect them so much – wasn’t that what the terrorists wanted?  Wasn’t it letting them win if we cancelled classes and let our lives stop?  Those were my thoughts at the time.  I didn’t know what to do – looking back I realize I was as scared as everyone else.

But I do recall not being as surprised.  The folks I met and saw who literally had no idea that people didn’t like the US?  That people would hate someone simply for being American?  That wasn’t surprising – I didn’t like the fact, but it was a fact.  But I couldn’t articulate my thoughts well enough, so I spent a lot of time ignoring the event.  It was too big.  I was too young, even in college, to truly understand the scope of what was happening.

I was one of those folks furious at the Iraq invasion – having believed early on that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11 and mad we weren’t focussed on capturing bin Laden.  I was far more vocal about this.  Over the past ten years I have played plenty a part in the Political Left – it should come as no surprise I am somewhat liberal minded.  But as far as 9/11, I processed it in my own way and let it it sit in the back of my mind.  It’s how it happened.

Last night I was ready to close my TweetDeck and play video games when I caught a tweet about bin Laden.  I don’t recall exactly, but I checked CNN and checked a few links and began part of the retweeting and replying that played a huge role in the news breaking last night.  Note, my own tweets weren’t anything that helped, but Twitter played a huge role.

Anyway, the news hit me strongly.  I had been very aloof about 9/11, very unassuming – almost hipster-like in my disregard for a monumental event.  I thought I had it all figured out.  Apparently, my own feelings can be confusing to even  myself.  A sense of calm satisfaction gripped me at the news.  I felt like our nation had been bleeding since the towers fell, and this was the bandage we needed to heal.  Oh yes, there is far more to be done, but the catharsis I felt must be nothing compared to those who knew and/or loved the victims of the attacks.  I watched the celebrations with somewhat a less naivety than when I was in college.  I understood those people happiness, though I didn’t share it.

I feel better, I guess.  I feel like America’s never really found itself after 9/11 and this is a huge clue as to who we are again.  I feel like a lot of people who really deserved it got a few moments of relief, and I can’t begrudge them if they are happy for it.  I feel satisfied, proud of the President for making the type of decision we force our presidents to make, and I feel happy that a chapter in our nation’s history has ended – even if the next chapter could be very similar.

Happy I am not.  I can’t smile and cheer about the death of someone, no matter how evil.  In fact, the thought he was evil, as we think of it, is sorrowful.  A rabid dog needing to be put down, I suppose.  That’s how Jim Wright puts it, and it’s a good metaphor.   But I do feel content, and I do feel safer – though we probably shouldn’t.  But I do.  And for a long few hours last night, Americans got to experience some news that I think made us all feel better as Americans.

To end, here are the two quotes that sum up my feelings best:

” I’ve never wished a man dead, but I have read some obituaries with great pleasure” – Mark Twain (though, I wouldn’t call it pleasure, either).

‎”I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr

MLK’s words speak best of how I feel.  In a mansion in Pakistan, I think we’ve managed to light a candle for the world to look at, but that candle’s wax?  Best not to think of it.  I would never want another man dead.  I know this about me.  But like Jim Wright describes over at Stone Kettle, there are people who do what needs doing.  There is a man dead.  It is not my place to say if he deserved death or not, not my place by any stretch.  If I think on it, I would have preferred capture and trial, but the outcome would be the same.  A man is dead.  And it may not be kind or nice, but I think the world is better for it.

EDIT:  As you probably know, the above quotes aren’t real quotes.  The first sentence in the MLK quote was added by a tweeter, but the rest is true.  The Twain quote is just wrong.  But I still think the words still carry weight.

Yesterday Was 5/1/11

I’m in need of my own catharsis.  It’s been a long day for me, as I wrestle with resume formats and stress and real world things, with the radio constantly on in the background.  I know what I need is some words from my fingertips.  Flow, words, flow.

On September 11, 2001 I had just started my sophomore year of college.  I lived in the dorms in a suite style room with dudes I spent much of college with, as well as my girlfriend at the time.  I don’t remember much that morning, just my suite-mate asking me if I’d heard the news, that a plane had hit the twin towers.  This was only seconds before the second plane hit – which we saw on TV.  At the time, I didn’t really comprehend what was going on – it was too big.

I remember snippets of the day.  Not everything.  Class may have been cancelled, but I recall it being held, which I still think was a good thing.  Tragedy is better dealt with through some sort of distraction.  There wasn’t much we could do in Marquette but give up our thoughts.  I remember feeling angry at how many people were allowing the event to affect them so much – wasn’t that what the terrorists wanted?  Wasn’t it letting them win if we cancelled classes and let our lives stop?  Those were my thoughts at the time.  I didn’t know what to do – looking back I realize I was as scared as everyone else.

But I do recall not being as surprised.  The folks I met and saw who literally had no idea that people didn’t like the US?  That people would hate someone simply for being American?  That wasn’t surprising – I didn’t like the fact, but it was a fact.  But I couldn’t articulate my thoughts well enough, so I spent a lot of time ignoring the event.  It was too big.  I was too young, even in college, to truly understand the scope of what was happening.

I was one of those folks furious at the Iraq invasion – having believed early on that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11 and mad we weren’t focussed on capturing bin Laden.  I was far more vocal about this.  Over the past ten years I have played plenty a part in the Political Left – it should come as no surprise I am somewhat liberal minded.  But as far as 9/11, I processed it in my own way and let it it sit in the back of my mind.  It’s how it happened.

Last night I was ready to close my TweetDeck and play video games when I caught a tweet about bin Laden.  I don’t recall exactly, but I checked CNN and checked a few links and began part of the retweeting and replying that played a huge role in the news breaking last night.  Note, my own tweets weren’t anything that helped, but Twitter played a huge role.

Anyway, the news hit me strongly.  I had been very aloof about 9/11, very unassuming – almost hipster-like in my disregard for a monumental event.  I thought I had it all figured out.  Apparently, my own feelings can be confusing to even  myself.  A sense of calm satisfaction gripped me at the news.  I felt like our nation had been bleeding since the towers fell, and this was the bandage we needed to heal.  Oh yes, there is far more to be done, but the catharsis I felt must be nothing compared to those who knew and/or loved the victims of the attacks.  I watched the celebrations with somewhat a less naivety than when I was in college.  I understood those people happiness, though I didn’t share it.

I feel better, I guess.  I feel like America’s never really found itself after 9/11 and this is a huge clue as to who we are again.  I feel like a lot of people who really deserved it got a few moments of relief, and I can’t begrudge them if they are happy for it.  I feel satisfied, proud of the President for making the type of decision we force our presidents to make, and I feel happy that a chapter in our nation’s history has ended – even if the next chapter could be very similar.

Happy I am not.  I can’t smile and cheer about the death of someone, no matter how evil.  In fact, the thought he was evil, as we think of it, is sorrowful.  A rabid dog needing to be put down, I suppose.  That’s how Jim Wright puts it, and it’s a good metaphor.   But I do feel content, and I do feel safer – though we probably shouldn’t.  But I do.  And for a long few hours last night, Americans got to experience some news that I think made us all feel better as Americans.

To end, here are the two quotes that sum up my feelings best:

” I’ve never wished a man dead, but I have read some obituaries with great pleasure” – Mark Twain (though, I wouldn’t call it pleasure, either).

‎”I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr

MLK’s words speak best of how I feel.  In a mansion in Pakistan, I think we’ve managed to light a candle for the world to look at, but that candle’s wax?  Best not to think of it.  I would never want another man dead.  I know this about me.  But like Jim Wright describes over at Stone Kettle, there are people who do what needs doing.  There is a man dead.  It is not my place to say if he deserved death or not, not my place by any stretch.  If I think on it, I would have preferred capture and trial, but the outcome would be the same.  A man is dead.  And it may not be kind or nice, but I think the world is better for it.

EDIT:  As you probably know, the above quotes aren’t real quotes.  The first sentence in the MLK quote was added by a tweeter, but the rest is true.  The Twain quote is just wrong.  But I still think the words still carry weight.