What I Am Liking Wednesday

I’ve decided to broaden the “What I’m Reading Wednesday” posts to just things that I am into right now, rather than limiting myself to articles or other things I’ve read that I have found interesting.
Since it is a New Year, I’d like to start this post off with things that I’ve learned or have “improved my intelligence on” over the most recent past:

  1. Good food starts with good ingredients and takes time. By this I mean the literal, that you need to start with ingredients that are, well, quality. Whether this means that they are fresh, or locally grown (in your backyard or in another’s), sustainable, seasonal, or a combination of those, I believe that the ingredients you cook with need to be, for lack of a better term, real. They need to be something that was generally not altered in anyway; no added sugar or other additives, “unpronounceables”, etc. The “takes time” part of the statement, to me, means that either it took time to grow the ingredients (perhaps you grew your own basil and tomatoes for sauce) or that you took the time to make an ingredient from scratch or even that you took the time to cook at all, rather than buying take-out. That is not to say that I do not enjoy take-out or even having someone else do the cooking for me (either in a house or in restaurant) every once in a while, but just that the general idea of good food taking time and starting with good, quality ingredients. Here are a few recipes that are good examples of this that I have made (and might go into more detail about later on): Crumpets (aka English muffins), Brussels Sprouts salad, Corn and Tomato salad (may not have followed this exact recipe, but did make something similar), and Grilled Swordfish
  2. Practice does not necessarily make perfect, but it can get you pretty close.  I have learned this in several different ways, over many years, and through many experiences, but most recently, I have realized this in the “things I do for fun” category. Take biking, for example; I recently learned how to ride a bike and have only been riding for a few months. However, I know most of you out there probably learned a young age and/or know that this is something that is taught at a young age (and that learning it as an adult can be harder than learning it as a kid). This is where the practice comes in. If I did not ride and put my mind on thinking about how to ride a bike, I would’ve never learned how or have gotten better. The same goes for many other skills that I have acquired lately. I would’ve never gotten better at climbing, or cooking, or baking for that matter. If I did not study and practice these skills, I would never learn how and I would never improve. The main thing that I learned recently though, is that no matter how much you practice, no matter how much you study, you will never be perfect at whatever it is and you can never know everything there is to know about the subject you are studying. You can come close, and certainly people have come so close that they are considered experts in their fields. But, as a chef/professor once said, “if you think that you have nothing else to learn, you might as well just quit”. So while you may call yourself a “perfectionist”, you might want to change your way of thinking just slightly because even though you might strive for perfection, you might not ever get there, and you have to be okay with that.
  3. Looking at something through a different perspective is important. Whether this means simply, taking a different approach to doing something, or more deeply, taking a walk in someone else’s shoes, it is important to examine the potential in any given situation. On the first, more simple understanding of this idea, of taking a different approach to something, I have learned this by way of learning how to (rock) climb. When I first started out, I took the approach of “just do it, don’t think about it”. I think that I mainly took this approach at first because of my fear of heights and I needed to just be comfortable climbing to these heights and being secure if I should fall. This was just in the very beginning. Now that I have gotten over that stage, I have started to take a different approach to learning how to climb. I have more of a strategy and more of an understanding of how to create a strategy of where to go next. I think about what I am doing more and look around for the best option that will help get me in climbing up the wall. (You could also take these lessons in climbing as a figurative way of approaching some other things in life, but that’s a another story for another time, perhaps.) As far as the more complex and deeper, more intimate way of looking at something from a different perspective, I have, and am still learning, to look at the way others might view the situation at hand. I have taken into consideration how my boyfriend might think of a situation, or how he might learn something, or even his approach on learning the same thing that I am trying to learn. (I’m not trying to be vague here, and if you want more information, let me know; I am just trying to keep this post relatively short.) I have learned that seeing things from another’s perspective is important in learning and connecting with the other person. If you want to have a better relationship with someone, whether we are talking romantically, professionally, or whatever, you need to have a basic understanding of their ideas on the subject(s) and see things from their perspective because then you can communicate with them a bit better and have better, more meaningful connections with them.

I think, if you made it this far through the post, you can see that I’ve learned a lot in the past year or so and still have a lot of learning to do. I hope you will join me on my journey and you will learn with me and that we can learn from each other. Also, a little something that might make you smile.

Reader question: What have you learned lately?

Happy Halloween! {Foodie Pen Pal Reveal}

I cannot believe it is the end of October already! This month flew by for me! I have catching up to do, and I will DEFINITELY do an October wrap-up post to cover what I missed; so sorry for not posting almost anything all month long.

So, this month, for the foodie pen pals, Monica, who lives in Florida, sent me a package full of local favorites. This includes the Plantain chips and garlic dipping sauce, yellow rice, popcorn, a chia drink, and Maria’s cookies and locally made honey. She also sent a pumpkin bread and some candy and lollipops over for the fall holiday season.

If you would like to join or know more about Foodie Pen Pals, visit Lindsay’s website; to find out what I sent, go to My Outside Voice.

Hope you all have a safe and fun Halloween!

What I’m Reading Wednesday

I know that it has been, like, FOREVER since I wrote one of these posts, so I will try my best to catch-up on all that I’ve been reading lately.

First up (and if you see when this was written, you will see just how long it really has been) a note about remembering to indulge a bit every once in awhile. Just make it a good one.

An article about what makes a (food) trend a trend. Also, Americans (& Canadians) make some sake.

There are many ways of photo-sharing on the Internet these days, but what about the photos of you that you’ll never see?

And, because it’s Halloween, and I figure I should have something topical on here: a candy hierarchy. And, candy for an adult palate, because, you know, you can’t have bourbon in caramels for the kids.

Some recipes I have made and will talk more about in the near(ish) future: S’more Brownies & Addictive Brussels Sprouts Salad

Happy Halloween! I hope all are safe (from Sandy and other chaos) this year!

Photo Friday!

(As I have sat on my butt on my day off not made time to edit these photos, I apologize for what could be a post full of blurry photos for a short post, but I did not want to miss another week.) Enjoy the week in review! :)

First up, I made an apple tarte tartin for the first time.

It was made for this literal house party, consisting of only people who currently live in, have previously lived in, and frequently visit this house. (Ahem, that last part is there to include yours truly.)

Finished product. Half was finished at the party, half was finished at dinner that night.

Plum cake that was Mike’s contribution to dinner that night. This was the second time I had seen him make it and the second time I was not allowed to see or really know what was in the recipe or even stir any of the ingredients. I guess every relationship needs some secrets. ;)

The dinner that I keep speaking of was Rosh Hashanah dinner that I hinted at last time.

As an attempt to visit and know more about the city we call home, Mike and I decided to make it a habit to have brunch at a new neighborhood every weekend ’til we hit them all. This week was Hayes Valley.

I have become obsessed with the “latte art” or, since I only have hot chocolates, “steamed milk art”. This is from the same Blue Bottle cup from above.

My first time at Absinthe for brunch. I got the two eggs any style (mine will always be scrambled unless I can get over my fear dislike of runny yolks), with toast, sausage (house-made), and “the best potatoes” as quoted by Mike before we even got there. Notice there are three potatoes? I ate only one. MAYBE one and a half. Someone learned the “reach over to the other person’s plate” trick from my family (read: dad) a little too quickly for my taste. (Especially since this is before Mike met him!) I did get to try his duck hash, which was pretty good, too. :)

Lastly, a picture of the parts from the Lost Crates package from Joy the Baker last month. Cup 4 Cup gluten-free flour, and some vanilla beans and extract from Beanilla. Once I figure out what to make with all of that, I will post the recipe.

Foodie Pen Pal Reveal

This month, I received my foodie pen pal package from Cat. In her note to me, she wrote that the maple syrup she sent me is from her family farm! She lives in Neversink, NY, which, according to Google Maps, is upstate somewhere. Looks like it is about 60 miles away (Northwest-ish) from Poughkeepsie, NY, for those who know upstate NY. Anyway, that was a nice personal touch to this month’s box. There was also Organic Fruit Lollipops, an apple pie Lara Bar, a Nature Valley fruit and nut bar, and Bella-Famigia Bruscetta to be spread on the Medford Farms Crackers. I like to have the box of sweets and savory items; I can’t wait to try everything! Thanks, Cat!

You’ll have to go to Kristi’s blog to find out what I sent.