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Posts Tagged ‘Friends’

I just ate the most delicious omelet sandwich at Dizi.  Fluffy eggs cooked with fresh chive, mayonnaise, tomato, and lettuce on a toasted sesame kaiser roll.  So delicious that it was gone in under 2 minutes, I mean it.  And it wasn’t small.  This is all that’s left, and I’m taking my time in finishing the veg.

I desperately needed this comfort food, and a big breakfast was in order.  I need to get this off my chest, and I figure, soon enough I’d be telling the world anyway.  I’m applying to doctoral programs.  Maybe I already mentioned this on the blog, but I’m not sure.  Due to intense, paralyzing fear, I have begun and abandoned this process about 3 times before within the last 6 years.  However, the fact of the matter is, I belong in academia, and there is no way around it.  I have amazing skills which I apply to many different fields, but eventually, I fall into pits, despondency, melancholy, depression.  Yet, I read.  I read a lot.  I research a lot.  I write a blog in large part to simply spit out my thoughts to anyone who would want to listen.  Being able to contribute to a genuine conversation is such a strong desire of mine, my skin is crawling, I physically crave it

So what has the problem been?  My self-esteem regarding my academic merits is in the crapper.  I am so scared of failing to get into a program that I cannot act.  I have convinced myself that no professor will remember me, that nobody will want to stand up and speak for me.  I’m scared that those who have in the past will be annoyed that I’m asking once again, like the boy who cried wolf.  I’m scared that I won’t be able to adequately communicate what I want to study (because I’m often not certain myself), and I’m scared that whether I do or not, the powers that be will decide it isn’t a subject worthy of attention (Science Fiction), OR, that it’s been studied to death and I just don’t know it.  Rendering me stupid, useless, and a failure all around.

The thing is, I always got wonderful grades.  I loved being in class, and I know that my professors valued my participation.  I’m a member of Phi Beta Kappa for god’s sake.  But when I look at programs where 100 people apply, and 5 people get in, why would I be a good candidate?  Despite a 2-year MFA (a practical course, not a research course), and starting an MA program 5 months ago, I have been out of it for almost a decade.  What are they going to think about that?  What the hell am I doing even trying?  Then I look at my transcripts (I dug them out yesterday), and I’m blown away at the person I once was.  She was a stellar student.  Stellar.  There is no other word for it.  I graduated with a 3.8 and a 3.9 in my major from the University of Chicago, an institution to which as an alumna I have been devoted in my participation and fundraising.  Would that they take me back…

All I’m saying is that, hard as it may be to ask, I need my friends these days.  Deadlines are looming, and as usual, I have procrastinated myself into a panic.

Better get going with my salad.  Vitamins are important.  Gotta order a coffee, too.  Caffeine is certainly in order.  Have a good week, everyone.

 

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The gorgeousness that is sorrel

It looks like spinach but tastes NOTHING like it.  A sour, delicate leaf, perfect in soups and stews as it has a remarkable thickening quality while retaining its vibrant taste.  Spinach cannot compare.  I don’t know why the whole world isn’t cuckoo for sorrel.  In fact, I’m hoping to start a trend here.  People, if you haven’t tried it, take my word for it, you simply must.  Period.  With the scents that were wafting out of the kitchen, we knew we had one legendary meal in the making.

Today, after a rather frustrating morning of heavy work, I boarded the bus to Jerusalem, on a whim.  One of my favorite friends, the lovely queendeb, resides there on the border of Baka and Talpiot (although she only admits to Talpiot). We don’t get together as often as we should, and as two creative food-minded people, we decided on a cooking project.  I brought the sorrel and a bottle of Israeli-Champagne (GHW’s Gamla Brut).  In her quirky kosher kitchen (with her little brother in NYC on video-Skype the entire time), we proceeded in what felt like an adventurous cooking show.  Here’s what became of our evening:

  • olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 small celery root, chopped
  • 1 yam, chopped
  • 500 g chicken wings
  • 1 bunch sorrel, 1/2 chopped, 1/2 left whole
  • handful of cilantro stems, chopped
  • 3-4 small celery stalks with leaves, chopped
  • 1/2 white cabbage, cut into large in-tact wedges
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • zest of 1 lemon, 1/2 finely chopped, 1/2 in strips
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tbs yellow mustard
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 shot Laphroaig Whisky
  • chipotle pepper to taste
  • pepper, garlic powder, chili, etc to taste
  1. In a large soup pot over high heat, drizzle olive oil, then brown the chicken wings.  Remove.
  2. Whisk together the mustard and soy sauce.
  3. With the fat of the chicken left behind, add the onion, garlic, celery root, and yams (in that order – waiting a minute between additions).  Cook at medium heat until sweating/softened.  Add mustard/soy sauce.
  4. Layer the chicken wings evenly over the vegetables.  Then sprinkle the chopped sorrel, chopped celery & celery leaves, and cilantro stems evenly over the chicken.
  5. Sprinkle chipotle pepper over the surface.
  6. Create a layer with the whole sorrel leaves spread flat.  Place the cabbage wedges over the sorrel evenly.
  7. Pour the whisky over the contents of the entire pot.  Allow to cook for a few minutes to let the alcohol evaporate.
  8. Sprinkle all the lemon zest, and pour lemon juice over the contents of the pot.
  9. Without stirring, slowly and carefully pour two glasses of water into the pot.
  10. Bring to a boil, reduce flame to lowest possible, cover and let simmer for 30-60 minutes.  Do not stir, but checking to ensure the bottom layer isn’t burning is fine.  Add pepper, spices, etc at the end, to taste.
  11. Serve over couscous or rice.

The resulting stew-y casserole was pure heaven.  Rich, smoky, sour, spiced.  The smoky qualities of both the Laphroaig and the chipotle pepper, combined with the tartness of the sorrel and the lemon components, were so complementary, it was wild!  All the veg fell apart, becoming almost caramel-like.  The sorrel indeed thickened things up, and oh me, oh my, the lemon zest was a joy in and of itself!  The layering method came about organically, in that we thought it would be interesting to allow the leafier veg to steam in the lovely saucy broth of the layers beneath it.  And what can I say of the chicken?  It fell off the bone.  So tender.  So moist.  So perfect.

The best part was, even though we didn’t know where we’d end up, we always knew we could do it.  Two savvy seasoned cooks with random well-loved ingredients having a ball.  The bubbly went great with the meal, and I’m so glad we drank it.  This meal was a shining beacon in the middle of a drab work week.  So, it’s a yes to letting loose!  A yes to drinking your best wine for no reason but to enjoy it in the here and now!  And a resounding yes to sorrel! To single malt scotches everywhere! To lemon rinds!  To chipotle! L’chaim, l’chaim to life!

And I’ve driven myself into the cheesy corner.  But it really felt like that.  A meal as a celebration.  Even with just a couple lonesome American-Israeli friends.  Especially because.

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