25 September, 2012

being present while cycling

One of the beautiful things about riding a bicycle is that you can't multitask. When I'm in the car, I feel the need to be talking on the phone or looking at something at every stop light. That's not really an option on a bicycle. So instead, I notice things like how the pink morning sky is so bright that for about 47 seconds everything glows neon, and the interesting combination of autumn's mums with the few choice rose bushes that have chosen to continue blooming, and a woman sitting on a balcony, playing with her granddaughter. People say hello when they pass by on foot or bicycle. And when I get to wherever I'm going, I feel like I'm ready to be there because I was really present throughout the journey.

22 September, 2012

first day of fall

Today is the autumn equinox. I enjoyed it with doughnuts and coffee at the farmer's market. A cool breeze announced the new season's arrival, but the sunshine helped to balance out my premature Christmas song reflex (in Houston, 46 F is a perfectly acceptable late December temperature).  Apples, butternut squash, and fava beans made their way into my bag and I can't wait to cook up some savory dishes. Along with autumnal flavors and cozy sweaters, I always find myself craving some good jazz music this time of year, especially Vince Guaraldi. I'm not sure why, it just always happens.

20 September, 2012

book report: THE ROAD

Cormac McCarthy, author of No Country for Old Men and a few other books-turned-movie, has an impressively simple style that conveys so much more emotion than I could have imagined possible. His writing is intensely beautiful and impacting. I have only read one of his novels, The Road. I became so engrossed in it that I won't let myself read another until I have more time to spare. It's funny how I can fall asleep on the second sentence of a textbook, yet an hour can pass of reading a novel like this in which the existence of time seems irrelevant. Actually, I haven't been consumed by a book like that for years; I had forgotten what a delicious experience it can be.

The Road is about a young boy and his father attempting to survive in some sort of post-apocalyptic world. We hardly get any background or explanation for the way things are, but it's clear that that doesn't really matter. What matters is the present state of the world, the relationship between these two people, and each of their relationships with the desolate earth. McCarthy has said that he was inspired by his own son. Here is an excerpt:
He was a long time going to sleep. After a while he turned and looked at the man. His face in the small light streaked with black from the rain like some old world thespian. Can I ask you something? he said.
Yes. Of course.
Are we going to die?
Sometime. Not now...
What would you do if I died?
If you died I would want to die too.
So you could be with me?
Yes. So I could be with you.

03 September, 2012

the fifth season

Since moving up here from Texas, I have delighted in the changing seasons, and written about them quite a bit here. They change the way one experiences the world - looking forward to summer means something new entirely. It's not just time off from school, it's sunshine and greenness and fresh berries. Certainly this made my mother's childhood somewhat different from my own. Here, I savor the heat; back home it was something I tried to avoid. Well, I just want to add onto my other seasonal revelations that I have discovered that perhaps there are more than just four. I'm pretty sure there should be a 5th season: end-of-summer. It's still hot and the sun still hangs in bright blue skies, but when it sets things are a bit more golden, and you might notice a few leaves showing their spines or fading, ever-so-slightly, into yellow. It's a lovely time of year.

Here are a few photos from my end-of-summer. I've had a whopping 10 days off between surgery and medicine clerkships, and they have been glorious. There was yoga on the beach, camping, lazy pancake mornings, plenty of time for our new kitty, and a belated birthday party.

The party menu:
  1. blini bar with crème fraiche, roasted onions, bean spread
  2. heirloom tomato salad
  3. zucchini salad
  4. roasted carrots (recipe below)
  5. summertime shandy/radler/clara [tasty by any name]
  6. corn salad and amazing baked goods from friends!
It was a lovely evening, and I was so happy to be surrounded by so many great friends in my own home. Like I said, I need to cook for people more often.

Finally, a recipe! These roasted carrots are incredibly straight forward, but absolutely delicious. They are one of my favorites to bring to parties because they actually get people to want to put more vegetable on their plate. Even people who don't like carrots.

Roasted Cumin Carrots:

Preheat oven to 400 F
Wash and peel several large carrots. Cut them into french-fry size sticks.
Spread onto a baking sheet in a single layer.
Drizzle with olive oil and rub it around with your hands so that they all are well-coated. Sprinkle with cumin seeds and cinnamon.
Bake for about 40 minutes, until the edges begin to brown and caramelize. It's okay if they start to burn a teeny bit.

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