Saturday, March 22, 2008

A menu

Humans do not eat single organisms in our meals, we eat multiple organisms in what we call “dishes”- the traditional means of serving food. Dishes are in turn separated into several broad categories. Hence the layout of restaurant menus and cookbooks. And therefore, an understanding of human food will have to take into account this holistic approach in addition to my previous reductionist methods.

Here is a selection of some of the entrees I have eaten this year. I have included a few words about my impressions in parenthesis alongside in some cases. I think the creation of a list such as this is another step forward in improving my understanding of food.


Sourdough Pancakes
Steel-cut Oats (very good)
Cold Cereal
Fruit Smoothie (very good)
Apple, Carrot & Raisin Salad (very good)
Toast or Bagel
Eggs (good, especially when free range and served w/ fresh bread)
Raspberry and Strawberry yogurt parfait
Yogurt (always good)


Cranberry Sandwich (cranberries! yum)
Rueben Sandwich (very tasty! Love sauerkraut)
Grilled Cheese
Peanut Butter and Jelly
Tuna Salad Melt
Chicken Parmesan Sandwich
Subway Turkey Sandwich (lots of veggies, usually bought)
Quizno’s Veggie Sub Sandwich (usually bought)


Meatball & Hakusai Miso Soup (very tasty!)
15 Bean Soup (LOVE beans)
Tomato Soup
Split Pea Soup (a hearty lunch)
Home-Made Mushroom Soup
Cabbage Soup
Cream of Turkey Soup
Turkey-Pork Meatball Soup (tasty!)
Chicken Gumbo (lots of veggies, sausage, okra! yum)
Sausage Lentil Soup (lentils! yum)
Vegetable Barley Soup (barley!)
Curried Barley and Mushroom Soup (very tasty!)
Cilantro Chutney (eaten w/ curry) (zingy!)
Corn and Cheddar Cheese Chowder
Vegetable Chowder
Salmon Chowder (salmon!)
Kimchee Hot Pot (kimchee and vegetables! yum)
Salmon Hot Pot (very good)
Udon Soup
Somen (sp?) (cool lunch on hot day)
Miso Soup (classic breakfast)
Potato-Miso Soup
Miso Shifu


Date and Fig Bread (tasty!)
Cranberry Bread
Raspberry Bread (with cocoa!)
Fruitcake (delicious recipe with walnuts)
Banana Coconut Bread
Banana Bread w/ Chocolate Chips
Sourdough Ginger Bread
Sourdough Friendship Bread
Raisin Bread
Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Bread (cinnamon! yum)


Steamed Broccoli and Cauliflower (good)
Broccoli and Cheese
Steamed Chicken w/ Vegetables (tender and tasty)
Daikon & Carrots
Poor Salad (bean sprouts! yum)
Macaroni Salad
Pasta Salad
Lasagna (rich and filling)
Cucumber and Tomato Salad (fresh!)
Couscous w/ roasted peppers (very good!)
Spinach Blue Cheese Salad w/ Dried Tomato Vinaigrette (zingy!)
Salad (with romaine or spinach)
White Rice
Spaghetti Carbonara
Spinach Cheese Pie (classic combo)
Ginger pork (tasty!)
Pork w/ prune (tender and tasty!)
Beef Brisquet w/ Beer (parsnips! yum)
Nikujaya (tasty and filling!)
Iridori (tasty and filling!)
Sausage and Sun Dried Tomatoes (LOVE tomatoes)
Beer Bratwurst (classic with sauerkraut)
Cole Slaw (cabbage! yum)
Vegetable Meatloaf
Pot Roast (slow cooker favorite!)
Chicken Curry
Fried Chicken (tasty!)
Halibut w/ Cheese
Baked Salmon
Sake No Yakizuke (salmon! yum)
Kimchee (yummy!)
Sweet Potato (sautéed!)
Sweet Potato soufflé (hearty!)
Green beans (with black sesame)
Baked Potato (always good)
Mashed Potatoes
Potato Salad (tasty and filling! hot or cold)
Zucchini quiche (tasty!)
Asparagus Tart


Apple Pie
Cherry Pie
Bread Pudding (walnuts! yum)
Chocolate Orange Cheesecake
Orange cake
Sourdough Brownie
Key Lime Pie
Chocolate chip cookie



Thursday, March 6, 2008

reading lessons

I want to propose something old that has always been with us, and rephrase it again - mostly for my own benefit. The literary tradition of humanity is enormous, but it is a wealth of knowledge that, is still insufficiently tapped, I think. It isn't necessarily the amount of printed or electronic media that is lacking, it is in how it is accessed and used. A few days ago when I read "To Kill and Elephant", "The Iguana", and "This Pen for Hire" an amazing thing happened. It has happened before though at the time I didn't recognize its significance and potential. First of all, it was a humbling experience to read such great works. I was awed by their ability to communicate the reality of their experiences so well. I really felt a sense of mutual understanding, as though they knew me, without us ever meeting. Second, a phenomenon I can perhaps best describe as entrainment occurs. Before I enter the thoughts and lives of these authors via their stories, I am in the world as I live it, and see things as my mental faculties and processes allow me. Like all people, I have "defense mechanisms" for lack of a better term, and more than a few that have been, frankly, used destructively and habitually. It is difficult to stop avoidance and intellectualization. It is very difficult to stop one's brain and redirect from within (external intervention is another matter), but by entering the mind of another person and following their thoughts and decisions when faced with situations that are familiar to me, my thoughts become entrained with their thoughts and it becomes easier to make decisions as they have, if I am willing to do so. It is a form of education. Stories like these model healthy thinking, and by degrees cause one to even think in a like manner.

As I said earlier, this use of stories has always been with us. The human mind evolved in a cultural context of oral traditions, myths, fables, and religious stories. The strength of religion may be due to its social story telling aspects (like a "Bible club"). Telling stories to children is an important part of their early education. And of course, there are stories that model destructive thinking, but these are usually understood to be cautionary tales (if not strictly for entertainment purposes).

What evidence do I have to support my claim that stories can encourage healthy adaptive thinking and behavior and lessen destructive patterns? After reading "This Pen for Hire" I stayed up all night and finished a big project that I had put off for months. Maybe it was coincidence, or maybe the connection I am drawing is real, but not generalizable in the manner I have outlined here. However, I think I can generalize a connection between stories an thought that is capable of affecting behavior. To this end I want to pay closer attention to stories and the real messages that they contain for today. And record these in journal like fashion to commit to memory. Messages in metaphor like "Shoot not the iguana" - removing a beautiful thing from its context and its beauty fades and disappears. Or when Eric Blair shot the elephant, it died a long torturous death that certainly did not have to happen, though once set in motion could not be stopped. And when Abigail pulled all nighters on average twice a week to finish papers and earn (illegal) money, it makes you realize that maybe one all nighter a week isn't as bad, even if you'd rather not have any.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

sharing their stories

It was the right moment. I read some: Isak Dineson's The Iguana, George Orwell's To Kill an Elephant, and Abigail Witherspoon's essay on writing other people's term papers. I knew, in a general sense, how I wanted all my stuff arranged in my room. I decided not to use my aquarium, having thought that no enclosure completely contained separate from the outside environment could properly care for its inhabitants indefinitely. Animals, wild and domestic, need to live outside at least part of the time, that is the only humane way to see them. I decided to work through the night, and I did until 5:30 the next morning, to get it all done. Earlier in the day I had laid out my collection of books and magazines to see what I should store and what should be displayed. After I finished cleaning the den, which had been delayed in its completion for some two months, all that remained was some minor organization (both inside and out) and the purchase of some mattresses for children and guests. I need to build/buy some furniture as well.

The food research has been going well, I have all the information from Feburary and only need to input it into my excel worksheet format. I have also a collection of complex food recipes that I should place in a system to familiarize myself with them more and use as an expandable reference. Spring is on its way in and I need to learn more about local resources for vegetating bare ground. I will also learn about building outdoor storage, tents/sheds and turning my logs into a split rail or log fence of some sort. Eric Sloane may have some books that could describe some details of construction. Then there is also work and taxes to think about. But things are moving forward, and it is always nice to read nonfiction stories like those of Dineson and Orwell, in whom I really feel a kindred spirit, people who, across time, see or have seen things in the same way I have and continue to. It makes the work surprisingly easier.