Tag Archives: cooking

Desired Chronicles from the Kitchen & Other Aspirations

Post-thunderstorm rainbow from the porch.

Post-thunderstorm rainbow from the porch.

I stopped writing.

It wasn’t so much that I was trying to get away or that I was too busy.  Had a lot more to do with being creeped out by who actually reads this and realization that the commentary that’s been running in my head as of late wasn’t appropriate for a public audience.  And since I didn’t know how to filter, I stopped.

But I also know that these posts are the best records I have of the best (and worst) memories.  I know that I’ve gone back to refer to them when something doesn’t make sense months, even years after the fact, and I’ve found that my old words hold a lot of truth in facts and stories that have had the been preserved without the filter of ex-post facto analysis.  Furthermore, I know that if I try writing them just for myself, as in unpublished, I simply won’t.

And so, curled on my bed last week, gripping my stomach over a very poorly prepared dinner, I thought about all my other bad cooking experiences, many of which are chronicled here.

This domestic failure (to clarify–it was really three failures, Monday’s dinner, Tuesday’s dinner, and Wednesday’s leftovers) mattered, and it mattered more than most.  It was the first time that I made a serious attempt at cooking and couldn’t, which was quite offensive because I’ve decided that now is the time to learn to excel in care taking.

In the last year, I’ve committed many Saturdays to grad school research.  I wasn’t usually making plans as much was I was filled to brim with hope and possibility and desperately looking for a direction to set my sails.  Of late, it’s occurred to me that a consequence of my incredible task-orientated behaviors (uhhrrmmm, extreme planning) is a little bit like Mario Kart.  In the game, when you hit the question mark box and get a red mushroom, you launch the power boost strategically, like when you’re neck-and-neck with Bowser and need just a little kick; I have to know where I’m going so I know when to peak, and this has repercussions for just about every area of my life.  It’s also why I plan.

So, I look back to that mid-fall day when I lived at Whaley’s house and stumbled across something intriguing on St. Andrew’s website and the moment it felt like a real possibility.  I remember discussing it in the car with Julie on the way to New London and everything that happened in the weeks afterward.

Come spring, I was pacing my new house with a bubbling idea in my stomach, caught in a frenzied prayer and with twenty fellowship/grant/scholarship tabs open on my Macbook.  They were all for American students pursuing postgraduate research degrees in the UK.  It was like planning classes, career, family, finances, and life purpose in a single simultaneous thought that’s so exciting I have to put it on hold for twenty minutes or so while I walk in circles.  I do this just so I can savor the synergy and excitement enough to focus on what it all means.

It was beautiful moment, but the St. Andrews day is not today, neither is teaching, blogging that is actually read, or publishing anything that is printed on real paper.  For now, those are just dreams, but they are all really just matured iterations of  things I care about and do now.

I’ll peak when the time’s right, and it will be glorious. But,in the meantime, I’m crossing my X’s, saving my dollars, and more importantly, drinking very deeply of the many lessons around me.  I mind the hows, whens, and wheres of communication, authority, and leadership.  I’m assessing the delegation and use of influence, and I like it.

It’s also why I’m learning to cook now.

Now, when I have no one to care for except myself and a roommate who never squabbles if the dishes are left in the sink a little longer than they should be.

Now, when no one will complain if I lose track of time and get home from work a little later than I should and when the relationships in my life are relatively simple and only as time-consuming as I let them be.

Because if I can’t learn to do it now, I’m not sure I ever will.


Simple Act

I’ve become quite familiar with the unordinary.

Define Wesleyan.

That said, I’m pretty sure there’s a reason I get all excited when I meet a Mennonite PK Physics professor.  That said, I rarely notice how I stick out in WesCF (Wesleyan Christian Fellowship).  In fact, I don’t think I would ever notice if other people didn’t point it out or occasionally miss the things that matter a lot to me.

Perhaps my intoxicated hall mate put it most bluntly when upon bursting in my room on a Saturday night freshman year and found a room full of people.  His comment was not, oh you’re all having Bible study (as we clearly were).  It was, “Tori, they’re all Asian.”  Realizing that he was interrupting, he slammed the door, and left. But that moment hasn’t ever left me.

Other people see the difference, although I don’t often see it.

I really, really don’t care that I’m the only white kid in WesCF.  I care that there are hundreds of white (and black, brown, purple, orange, whatever) kids here who don’t know Christ.  And I also care when people who don’t know my midwestern culture overlook important things without even knowing it.  This was never highlighted so clearly as on Easter Sunday when people just didn’t get how much it hurt me not to be able to really celebrate.

Tomorrow, all the Wesleyan kids who go to Wellspring are hosting several of the leaders and our friends from the church.  This lunch has literally been three years in the making and has taken a lot for us to pull off.

Going to the store was an experience in and of itself, because we had to buy a bunch of stuff I’ve never gotten at the grocery store before.  I had no idea where to find chives or what a mango actually looks like (I’ve only had mango flavored stuff).  Abraham teased me a little, and all in good nature, but it made me keenly aware that it was one of those little moments where there is some kind of disconnect.

This evening, I had to cook in a full, dirty kitchen in Lighthouse, instead of my own house.  I had 48 pieces of chicken that needed defrosted, de-skinned, and double-coated in the frying mix.  My friends were also in the kitchen, talking quietly while chopping up the stuff that I couldn’t find at the store, and flipping back and forth between English and Chinese.

After awhile, one of the guys, a nice guy and a leader, but not one that I’ve worked with much, came up and told me my chicken looked cool and that rolling it around in the flour batter looked fun.  Then he jumped in beside me and marveled at its simplicity.

In that simple act, and I know that he has no idea how much it meant to me, he washed away all the uncomfortability in the room.

(p.s. 16 lbs of chicken took up every inch of the oven racks.  45 minutes in, the sizzling was the loudest noise in the kitchen.  I’d have taken a photo, but I left my camera at home.)

Not Quite Heloise

Methodology of cooking for 1?  Put it all in the microwave together. *note: this rarely works out well.

No A/C?  Windows stuck?  Jump on the windowsill and throw your weight into it.  Try to move the window with your sticky, sweaty knees. *note: only do this if you don’t have back problems.

I really should have kept a list of all the nasty foods I’ve eaten together in the last 2 years.  Once I made pancakes look like oatmeal, and I was so hungry I finished what I had and made more.  Another time, I burned ramen (in my defense, the only reason it was burnt was because I actually used a stove.  Usually, ramen goes in the microwave for 60 seconds).  Last week, I dumped tomato juice on hamburger and linguine and called it a gourmet meal.

Today, I had a true success(ish), so I thought I’d share.  I was so excited.  It actually looked good, although in the name of honesty, it didn’t taste nearly as good as it looked.

8 Layer Taco Salad

Nevertheless, I still have learned several important lessons from my kitchen and housekeeping mishaps and successes, and am here to share them with you today.  (Because I know you all should be taking housekeeping advice from a young, single college student trying to make it on her own in the city.)

1) Frozen peas are divine.  They easily replace chips as a snack food.

2) Tacos can be prepared in at least a dozen edible ways. (see above photo for method 10)

3) A homemade strawberry smoothie will always make a bad meal go down okay.

4) You really should use laundry soap, but in the event that you have absolutely no more clean clothes, you can just put them all in the machine (important note: I’m not gross.  I’ve only done this once, but was amazed at how well it worked out.)

5) Some people put towels under their door to keep out the light.  An equally valid reason for stuffing a towel under your door is fear of cockroaches.

6) No matter how much you try, living on ramen is really not appropriate.

7) Cooking can actually be quite enjoyable if you are hungry and the alternative is ramen (again)

8 ) Radiators do not emit gas.  They only have water in them, so do not call physical plant thinking you are reporting a fire.  There is also no need to dream of a Jane Eyre like fire in your room.

** corollary to #8: If you just used a gas stove the hallway might smell like smoke.  Do not be alarmed.

9) Feel free to ignore standard meal hours, because you are cooking for one and you can.  Just eat healthy.  Eat when you are hungry, even if that means you eat breakfast at noon, lunch at 4pm, and dinner at midnight.

10) There are certain food items that are okay after their expiration dates.  Milk is never one of them.

I know I’m not the best homemaker (yet), but I laugh because getting frustrated isn’t effective.  So why not smile at my mishaps?