Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Waiting Game

The Waiting Game

You fill up the parchment and seal it with a stamp
The bottle is cast into the ocean like abyss.
Has it been recieved?
Everything is there, or so you hope.
Purpose, dreams, history, future complete the content.
The anxiety can take your breath away.
Yearning for any response you covet affirmation
It is nothing more than your future
Your love, your passion.
Checking the mail again does not produce results.
Think about something else...
Yeah right!!
I should have said this,
Explained that,
Mentioned the other thing.
When will you hear back?
Will it be the response you are looking for?
What now?
Check the mail again.
You must have said the wrong thing.
There is someone else
Someone better.
Can I just have a response?

Friday, November 20, 2009

New Moon Birthday Cake

I love birthdays. It is the one day out of the year that we get to celebrate you! The day you were birthed is such an amazing day because it was your entrance into the world. Sure you might share the day with some other people that you know, but it is still a celebration of you. Today is the day that my wife was born. Knowing that she loves to read and is a huge fan of the Twilight series, I decided to make her a replica cake of the New Moon book.

Here is the cover:

Here is the cake that I made. I found it great that this chapter was named "Cult." I have not read any of the books, but I have seen the first movie and know all the hype that surrounds these books. I am not about to give my opinion on the books in this blog, but I do think that they are great for improving book consumption in a technologically addicted age.

The gum paste orchid did not turn out exactly the way that I wanted it to, but you get the idea.

A large part of the fun in making cakes for people is that they are one of a kind. My mom always made us wonderful cakes when we were growing up and we thought that we were the coolest kids on the block. Cakes are able to not only convey a message about the person they are for, but also can bring so much joy and delight to a party. A great cake is one that not only looks great, but that tastes even better. The red velvet that is hidden under this cream cheese frosting is, well, to die for! (Pun intended for this book!)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Food Phobias

On Monday I decided to make some guacamole for lunch. As I was dicing up the green goodness of the ripe hass avocados a wave of sadness swept over me. How many years of my life did I have to live without guac simply because I was afraid of the bright colored dip? The first time that I encountered this yummy Mexican treat was in Juarez Mexico during the summer of 2003. There is no real explanation for while I had such an aversion to quac, but I think that I was simply afraid of the color. Who eats things that are that color? The first taste was a trace of the dip on a chip. I was shocked at the creamy goodness that delighted my taste buds. It was salty, creamy, a bit spicy, and fantastic all over the place. From the first bite I was hooked and have lived the rest of my life regretting my decisions to give into my phobia of oddly colored food.

The other major food that I have discriminated against throughout my life as a result of my fungus phobia is mushrooms. I was the kid who would mine for the itty bitty pieces of mushroom in any dish and discard them as if they were land minds awaiting the destruction of my palate. Beef stroganhof? NEVER! As I have matured in my late twenties I have discovered what a treat these multifaceted decomposers are. They come in so many shapes and sizes that make the culinary possibilities endless. I will eat them on about anything now. I like them raw sliced paper thin, or simply quartered and sauteed in some olive oil. These little gems can take any ordinary dish and elevated it in a few quick and easy steps, not to mention the fact that they pack an amazing punch of vitamin D. This vitamin that we so often associate with the sun abounds within the walls of mushrooms. Mushrooms are the second most potent food for this essential vitamin. So skip that 15 minutes in the sun and eat some more shrooms!

I have had other food phobias as well that I have overcome and am disappointed about how much I missed out on throughout my life. Chilli beans, cheesecake, blue cheese, Gorgonzola cheese, asparagus, squash, the list could keep going. The point of this epiphany is that I know there are food phobias that are hindering your culinary experiences. Sure there are going to be things that you do not enjoy even after trying them, but you have to at least try. Not all of the things that you eat will be your favorite, just as not every book you read will be one that resonates with you. The point is to look beyond your phobias and embrace the delights that await you on the other side of your pearly whites. Try something new and you never know, you might just have a new favorite food.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Culinary Creativity.

Culinary creativity is something that I have always been interested in, since that fateful day in the early 1990's when I decided to add peppermint extract to a $17.00 batch of cookies. I thought it would provide a nice aroma for the cookies, but thought nothing of what it would do to the taste. The cookies were destroyed and I was forced to eat them, with a friend, until they were gone. This past Labor Day, while at my dad's house, I had an idea for a peach dessert. These sliced and sauteed gems were fruit bliss. As I was looking for something sweet in the kitchen yesterday I decided to try the same technique I had implored on the peaches to some Minnesota apples. So this is what I did...

Sliced the apple into seven even slices horizontally with the stem. I then cut out the core that remained in each section. Each slice was dusted with some cinnamon and sugar before being placed onto the hot cast iron that had been brushed with butter.

Once the sugars had began to brown and the apples began to soften I flipped the slices over. As the apples neared the end of their time on the skillet I dump a splash of cider into the pan to soften the apples just a bit more. Once they were evenly browned and nearly soft I removed the slices to a plate and went onto the granola.

I added some more butter to the pan along with some walnuts, old fashioned oats, and brown sugar. I added some cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt to the mix and sauteed it atop the stove for a few minutes until it began to brown. I again added a splash of cider to the pan to loosen up some of the bits off of the cast iron and provide a bit more flavor to the granola.

To finish off this dessert I stacked three of the slices on the plate and filled the center with the granola mixture. I then added the top four slices and filled it with yogurt and granola. This flavor bomb was finished off with a dusting of cinnamon and enjoyed with a fork and a knife! What a treat on a cool fall day!

Give it a try!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Parental Double Standard

This past weekend was the "gun" deer opener here in Minnesota. Although I did not go hunting myself, I know a number of people who loaded their camo, doe urine, ammo, and various firearms into their manly vehicles and headed out to their favorite hunting spots. I was not one of these men, but in fact had the privilege of staying at home with my two wonderful children so that my wife could have a weekend away at a mothers retreat. As I was outside with my kids I was questioned about, "how things were going with Nikki being gone?" This was not the first time that I have been at home multiple days with the kids and will certainly not be the last. However, it did motivate me to write this post to all those men who are unwilling to stay at home with their kids alone or simply see it as their God given rite to simply leave on a man trip while their wives stay at home time and time again.

I am aware of the number of stay at home dads there are today, but this number pales in comparison to the number of stay at home moms. Men are equally as capable and need to be equally as responsible for the rearing of their children. The break that men can give their wives through time away cannot only act as a refreshing boost to their parenting, but can pay dividends to your future plans for your next "man trip." Since when is the wife/mother to be handcuffed to the home or the children? We all need breaks from our children and our day to day duties. Staying at home with your kids for a weekend or even a week may provided you with some extra stress, but will also provide you with countless memories. The joy found through time that I spend one-on-one with my kids is something that I cannot purchase in any store or find in a tree stand. So fellas, ask your wife when she would like to find a weekend away and help her make it happen. Clear your calendar and fill it up with daddy time. Forget about the game you might miss or the poker game that might go on without you. Enjoy those kids and bless your wife with an escape that does not require your in-laws watching the kids. (That is a different post all together.) You will not regret it and you will survive it!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Farewell Milwaukee has arrived

Last night I had the pleasure of taking in the Farewell Milwaukee show down at the Fineline in Minneapolis. This five member band brings raw emotion and passion to the stage as they seek to do more than simply entertain those in attendance. Their smooth and relaxed folky sound draws you in and their rockish tunes keep you wanting more. Although the band harkens the name of a Wisconsin city, this group of bearded men's heart is here in Minneapolis. Having started playing together as a worship band, the bond these guys share is clear through their music and interaction with one another. Even with some sound difficulties the band brought it last night to the excited Fineline crowd last night. With the recent release of their debut album, the radio waves will certainly be full of the addictive sounds of Farewell Milwaukee in no time. If you have been looking for some new music that you can connect with and will entertain while moving you, Farewell Milwaukee is the up and coming band that you have been looking for. You can listen to these guys while drinking a cup of coffee in the morning, a glass of wine in the evening, or while at your next house party. Trust me, once you listen to one of their tracks on their website you will be hooked.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Running Refuge

I just finished reading an article in my most recent Runners World on a woman who found solace in running after losing a dear family member. She described the pain she felt while running through her grief, and the joy that she found in embracing that physical pain. When we feel anything, we know we are still alive. This article brought back a lot of emotions for me and even caused a few tears to roll down my cheeks. You see the night of my wife's grandfather's death I ran. I did not have a grandfather growing up and Grandpa Bob had become the grandpa I always wanted. I had always found refuge in my running and cannot count the number of times that I have been overcome by one emotion or another while logging some miles. Tears, laughter, anger, and confusion all have joined me along my running journey.

That dark, cool, wet night in August I was exhausted both mentally and physically. I thought I didn't have another tear in my body to shed. Vacation was awaiting me with the rising of the sun, but that night I had to run. I had to get out and move. I had to enter into the solace of a run where the movement of my body can bring some resemblance of focus. Silence surrounded me as I moved quietly along the lake. Crunch, skid...crunch, skid...crunch, skid went each of my footfalls on the gravel that lined the old highway. As I turned the corner and headed for the library I felt like I could have just kept running. I could have ran through the night and into my vacation. Grandpa Bob and I were together along that dimly lit street talking about the garden, fishing, hunting, the times we have spent together, the battle that just took his physical life. My breathing was relaxed and an afterthought as I was focused on something more important. The heartrate monitor was left at home with a sleeping wife and two sleeping children. This was not about training for Chicago, meeting my weekly mileage or staying in a target heart rate zone. This was about him. This was about us. This was about how much I was going to miss him. Although I wanted to extend my run as far as my legs would take me; I knew that I had to end it. I could not live in this run, but could hold firmly to future meetings along the road. People, memories, emotions await you along your runs. Although you can never predict where they may join you along the way, I can guarantee that they are out there. Running is about more than simply burning calories or achieving goals. It is about life, love, passion, and solace. We live to run because we run to live.

I would love to hear a story that you might have about a walk, run, bike ride, or just a stroll in which you were able to tap into some deep seeded emotions. The burning in our lungs and the ache of our legs assure us that we are alive and must recognize the blessing that is on this day. Run on!