First of all is anyone else watching Wild, Wild Country on Netflix? It's insaaaane. I'm obsessed with it so far, we are halfway in (TLDR it's a docu-series about a cult in Oregon in the early eighties). I already went and devoured all the things I could read about it so I know all the spoilers, but I'm still reeeally looking forward to when we can carve out time to watch the final three episodes!
Should I be worried about being subliminally messaged to become a Rajneeshee? After all, this evening I found myself wearing a... maroon shirt while cooking... dark red beets and orange carrots... coincidence? If you have no idea what I'm talking about, please go watch this documentary. It's fascinating. I have so many questions.
Speaking of the maroon shirt, it's actually the pomegranate tank top I purchased from Kotn late last year. After work today I did a lightning closet purge-confirm — when I pull out the bags of things I've categorized as Mend, Sell, Donate, Recycle. I went through and did a piece by piece analysis to confirm the items were in the right categories because this weekend I'm hoping to take care of the things that need to move on.
In the Mend bag was this tank top, which I haven't actually worn yet because the straps were comically long on my frame. I took it and another old stretched out tank top to finally sit down and mend the straps. Except I didn't sit down, I kind of crouched because the sewing machine is in the loft and there aren't any chairs up there at the moment and lord knows I wasn't about to haul a chair up the alternating tread spiral stair. Woof.
As a sidebar, we recently got a roomba (file under Things I Bought) so while I was mending these items, the roomba was doing its work downstairs. It chugged along for over an hour, and I had to empty it's dustbin three (three! we are filthy, don't judge!) times. It kept working as I started preparing dinner. I'm so pleased with how it's working so far, only some minor hiccups. This could be the beginning of something good. My floors have never been this clean after I sweep or vacuum. I was actually charmed by how after it had completed it's full sweep of the floorplan, it methodically went around the edges of the entire house AND around each and every table leg before going back to its dock.
So back to the tank top though. I really like it! It feels a little 90s with the square neckline. The color is gorgeous, it really is like a pomegranate or a rich garnet. Before I took the shoulders up, I noticed the seam on the top of one of them was actually already pulling apart, which doesn't bode well for the construction. But the other tank top and turtleneck I bought from Kotn haven't shown any construction issues, so maybe it's a fluke. Overall it feels well-made.
I'm wearing a M, which is still fitted on me, but not stretched skin-tight. Originally I'd ordered the tanks in S, but they were comically small. Customer support was more than helpful because in the same order they'd also mistakenly sent the wrong shirt. I decided I wanted to swap that shirt for a different one from what I ordered anyway though, one that was a little more expensive, but they didn't charge me for the difference. That was nice.
This evening as I was standing over the skillet in this maroon shirt, stirring the maroon and orange food, I thought about how dressing is like cooking. The things I look for in both are:
- color, and
You could probably say flavor too!
I thought about how building this meal was a lot like building an outfit, how you choose certain shapes and sizes and colors and how one thing might enhance another thing, whether it's flavors or style. What sounds attractive to you may change from day to day, hour to hour perhaps, but in general, you know what you like.
In an effort to make making dinner less painful, I'm trying to build a mental recipe book, except all the recipes are just formulas. Think of it like: you can't always replicate the exact outfit you've seen and admired on Pinterest, but you can take inspiration and style something from your own closet in a similar way.
So in cooking, sure I'll do recipes now and then, but most often I'll just put things together on the fly with this basic formula: some kind of grain, some kind of green, some mixture of fruits and vegetables, and whatever extras and spices. But there's one other key element. For a long time I didn't know what was missing, but now I've learned: the dressing. So, some kind of dressing — which is actually just some further combination of oil, acid, and spice.
Think of the whole thing like a salad of sorts, even though maybe you're roasting or sauteeing everything. Hot salad. Haha that sounds gross, but I swear it's not. Just insert whatever you have around into each of those categories, while considering things like: how will these beets taste with these carrots? Maybe I can throw in these cauliflower bits? Yeah, that sounds good. Ooo blueberries would add some nice sweetness here.
Like with building an outfit, it will be easier to do creative and functional things when you have good building blocks — the basics.
In January we added some shelves to the back of our pantry door and they've changed how we keep the pantry stocked in such a way as to make cooking more predictable and painless. We keep multiples of containers of broth, cans of beans, stuff like that. Basically, with the extra room we can now keep non-perishables in bulk, so whenever you're like, shit, we have to throw together these greens and veggies before they go bad — no problem, we'll just throw it all on top of this farro and call it done.
One thing I'll always remember my mom saying was that she thought I was a good cook. In the year before she died, while she was sick, I lived at home for four months while I looked for a condo to buy. I'd often make meals to share with my family, maybe while we watched an episode of Lost. My mom couldn't leave the house while she was sick, so she watched all six seasons of Lost in 17 days. I'd come home from work, she'd catch me up on what happened that day, and we'd binge another episode.
She told me very directly one time, that she really enjoyed when I cooked, that I was good at it. I remember feeling very happy that I had done a thing that she noticed, something that pleased her enough to tell me so, to encourage me.
I think about it when I cook now, adding together ingredients on the fly. I think about how I wish I could still be sharing meals with her. I wonder what she would think about Wild, Wild Country. Did she remember hearing about it when it was happening?
I wonder if she would read this blog? Would she comment on how the color of my shirt matched my food matched my TV show?
I sit at my desk now, eating my greens and grains and beets and carrots, writing.