#306 Grad School: Five Weeks
01 November 2016 // Eugene, Oregon
During my undergraduate college days, I signed up for the most eccentric classes I could. Middle Eastern Cooking. Japanese Horror Movies. Leadership and Team Building. Thanks to that I got a bunch of pretty neat experiences and learned some fun things.
Grad school makes it harder to go off the beaten path, but not impossible, and during my two years going for a Masters’ I’ve still wound up studying and gaining some knowledge in some things I never would’ve expected.
When I started, I was surprised to find I’d have to learn another language. I speak about five to some degree, but because I haven’t learned many of them in a classroom setting, I don’t have them on my transcripts. So, on a whim, I signed up to learn Hindi/Urdu. I can’t say I speak very good Hindi, or much at all, but I learned a bit about how to read the script and can utter some really basic phrases.
I’ve also learned a ton about local governance, especially when it comes to public finance and budgets. That’s thanks to my nonprofit classes being taught closely alongside public management classes. If it sounds dry, it kind of is, but I actually feel like I understand local government and things like tax considerations way better. I can also empathize with different opinions way better, and that’s always a good thing.
Also, by teaching a course on Africa twice, I’ve gotten quite familiar with some of the topics we’ve covered. One of these includes life in Mali. As a country, it doesn’t get many visitors, and I don’t envision myself being able to make it there any time soon. Glad I could learn a little bit through the process of teaching.
#307 Cubs Win
02 November 2016 // Eugene, Oregon
So… that… just… happened. Not only did the Cubs break their 108 year old curse, but they also put on the most dramatic game I’ve seen. And I watch a lot of baseball.
I guess this means the apocalypse starts tomorrow, but that game was so much fun, it’ll have been worth it.
Deanna and I don’t have live TV so we went to go and watch at a nearby sports bar, and my what a great decision. I got to befriend several old-guy-pub-dwellers, one of whom called David Ross’ home run a second before it happened. (Not to be outdone, I called the camera panning to Bill Murray a second before that happened). The girls next to me had the best Jason Kipnis specific trash talk. And they’re right… he probably does smell like Axe body spray! We all came as strangers, and left as friends who all never got around to exchanging names.
The Phillies will always be my team, but like any good racism-hating, loveable-loser-lovin’ American, I wanted this year to be the Cubs’ year. (Especially since the Phils’ had a sliver of a percent chance of being any decent). Baseball will feel kinda weird without a mindblowingly win-deprived team, but I’m sure the Cubs fans don’t mind.
#308 Gorgonzola Ravioli
03 November 2016 // Eugene, Oregon
Never has developing a recipe given me as much of a difficult time as this ravioli. What you’re looking at is my third attempt.
This item of my cooking challenge was scheduled for last week when all the ravioli burst while boiling and I settled for frying up an odd mix of squash and cheese and noodles. Then earlier today, the filling soaked through the noodle sheets making them too sticky to shape.
I had to restart a third time and was pretty late to an afternoon class, but finally, I got something I could be pleased with. And Deanna was really pleased and said it was one of her favorites from this year’s challenge.
Sometimes I can get pretty stubborn about working on something until it comes out right. But I did learn a valuable lesson: use flour liberally.
04 November 2016 // Eugene, Oregon
Let’s talk about something a little more pleasant for most people- beer!
I’m in a MBA class on startup planning (Random, I know. Long story.) Our project right now revolves around beer deliveries and we need to do a little market research.
I’m hoping to conduct some interviews so if you’re a beer consumer- I’d love to hit you up with a few questions! No need to be the biggest hop head, but if you are, great! Message or comment or something and I’ll get in touch.
Also, I’m pretty sure Oakshire is taking over as my favorite brewer in town. We’ve got a lot of good ones but their seasonal stuff gets so creative!
#310 McKenzie Beer Festival
05 November 2016 // Eugene, Oregon
I had a chance to go to the McKenzie Craft Beer and Cider Festival. If you saw my post about my startup project… market research! And that meant I got to do a lot of tasting.
After a pretty fun night, here were my favorite three beers/ciders.
Old Craig Ale by Ordnance Brewing – This beer definitely had an old vintage- tobacco-and-leather sort of quality, but in a good way! (I guess those typically don’t sound like good beverage flavors) Lots of spices and brown sugar left this tasting a lot like winter candy.
Nut Crusher Peanut Butter Porter by Wild Ride Brewing – If you like the taste of roast peanuts or peanut butter, this would be a great beer. They come on STRONG. But in a good way. And the brewery rep gave me a little garnish of a Reese’s cup to go with it.
Doc Fields Banana Mango Cider – I was suspicious over this this cider, I thought it might be a little too much like a fermented Jamba Juice. Turns out it was a pretty good cider and I’d love another taste.
#311 Finnish Salmon Pie
06 November 2016 // Eugene, Oregon
One of my big dreams is to regularly have dinners where people from totally different backgrounds can get together. I want a big table, good conversations, and of course the food needs to be up for the occasion.
Here’s one thing I’ll have to bring to the table- a new puff pastry technique. Most recipes call for folding butter into the dough over and over. A freezer and cheese grater can end up saving so much time.
I put the new puff pastry to the test and looked to Finland for some inspiration. This pie was filled with chunks of cooked salmon, capers, onion, and sauce. It may be one of my favorites from this past year.
#312 Grad School: Four Weeks
07 November 2016 // Eugene, Oregon
Another week in the bags and another step closer to the finish line. Just some paperwork and a couple assignments left to go. Then what? We’ll find out soon.
No surprise, this has been a terse week around campus. Some are quick to say that today’s student lives in a cocoon of hyper sensitivity- and at times I get why people would think that. But lots of students feel unsafe- and for good reason. We’ve had random people and even a professor (?!) around in blackface. Ugh! That’s really not okay.
I’m often impatient with the end of grad school but this week I’ll thankful for my role as a TA that has allowed me to speak and share some things I’ve seen and experienced that I find helpful in an unpredictable and tense world. And I love reminding anyone that a lot of times the best thing they can do is focus on what changes there are to be made right in front of them, and to give it everything.
#313 Election 2016
08 November 2016 // Eugene, Oregon
I screwed up my mail-in ballot… I left every single chad hanging (and it was a bubble sheet)! So I swung by the community center to set things right.
If you ask me, a lot of these decisions felt pretty obvious to me. But not everyone else feels the same way, so that’s why we have elections.
Voting is important. It’s very important. It’s one of those things that you totally take for granted if you’ve never experienced what happens in places without free and fair elections. It’s also a privilege that was hard earned.
So yeah, hooray for voting. I’m glad I cast my ballot today. It’s a big decision!
That said, it’s also one of millions of decisions you’ll make that shape the world we live in.
All of the people who have influenced me the most didn’t do it with their voting record. Who is in need of care and attention today that you have a chance to help? Who needs a well timed word of encouragement? Which friend is fundraising for something noble that you should perhaps pay attention to? Some of those decisions will have a much bigger impact than anything you or I bubbled in today, and I think these things are worthy of at least as much deliberation and energy.
#314 It’s Quiet Uptown
09 November 2016 // Eugene, Oregon
Perhaps the reason why the election results were so surprising to a lot of people was that we forgot how much of a bubble most of us live in. No matter what results you were hoping for, roughly half the country feels differently.
The type of setting we grow up in, the sort of people we’re around, and all that have a huge impact on what lens through which we see the world. That’s not to say I don’t believe there’s usually a better choice and a worse choice at the end of the day. But it’s another thing to turn my conviction into an assumption that the country falls neatly into two halves of good guys and bad guys.
See, some of the best people I’ve ever met voted for things and people that make absolutely no sense to me. People who taught me everything I know about generosity voted for things I think contribute to inequality. People who taught me how to respect other people voted for candidates with a reputation for crudeness. And if you know enough people, you’ll know someone that this applies to. If not? Well, then that bubble is probably in effect.
One of the best interactions I’ve seen on Facebook was just that. Dad voted red. Daughter voted blue. Daughter was sad, and Dad acknowledged that this was okay. They grew up seeing different things in different times in different places– it was simple, but beautiful.
You don’t have to agree with everything I believe in. I don’t agree with all of your opinions. I’ll probably disagree with a few of them strongly. But I won’t assume the worst of you. I won’t defriend you. We’ll still have a lot to learn from each other.
It’s eerily quiet outside my window. I’m in a young urban area in a very blue state, so of course there’s an atmosphere of disappointment. But it’s also a gorgeous, crisp sunny day in November… and we don’t get too many of those. Disappointing day? Beautiful day? Perhaps both? There’s more than one way to see things and blessed are the eyes that can find both.
#315 Chestnut Bisque
10 November 2016 // Eugene, Oregon
Man, chestnuts are the worst! They taste great and can lend themselves to all sorts of recipes in a way that no other nut can. But they are an absolute pain to get out of their shells to work with. Almost at the end of my yearlong cooking challenge and I managed to score my first injury by scoring a fingertip.
Because of that, I will think long and hard about working with chestnuts in the future, but I will say that they made for a pretty unique bisque.
The flavor of this soup was spot on. Rich and creamy and earthy like a good nut-based soup should be. The texture wasn’t as excellent, with the results coming out a little chunkier than I would’ve liked. Still, it made for a good enough and hard earned winter meal.
#316 Anacortes Ferry
11 November 2016 // Anacortes, Washington
Seemed like a good weekend for some perspective on how meager human accomplishments look next to creation, so I hopped on a ferry headed for one place I’ve always wanted to go.
Orcas Island is just a little off the Puget Sound, accessible only by ferry or personal jet, and boasts all of the natural beauty you might expect from a northwestern island. It’s got a pretty tight community of island dwellers too.
Looking forward to getting cozy on this floating patch of dirt that whales seem to love. I feel like I’ll have a good understanding of why after this weekend.
#317 Orcas Island
12 November 2016 // Orcas Island, Washington
“And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should… with all its sham, drudgergy and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.”
–Max Ehrmann, Disiderata
There’s a lot of stuff to be upset about, and I recognize how legitimate those things are. But I think the sort of rebellion we need is a counterintuitive one. In a contentious, divided world, joy and peace are rebellious. Beauty is subversive when put up next to brutality. I think it’s a better time than ever to be anchored in a joy that can’t be taken, a community of infectious acceptance, and a stubborn memory of the people we were meant to be.
These are crazy days, my friends. But they’re still extremely beautiful ones. To paraphrase Calvin and Hobbes, if we got out to look at the stars more often, we wouldn’t argue about half the stuff that we get worked up over.
#318 Outlook Inn
13 November 2016 // Orcas Island, Washington
While spending the weekend at Orcas, we got in a night at this sweet little inn. It felt like we weren’t in the inn itself for very long but that’s cause we got some real good sleep that night we were there.
The room itself was only a small part of what I really liked about this place. They had a fenced lawn across the street with such an excellent view of the islands.
And their restaurant. Awesome French onion soup and blue marlin carpaccio. Best of all they have some shared tables where they’ll sit you down at a table alongside strangers, and you’ll be able to leave with new friends- or at least some memorable encounters. We enjoyed the company of a couple older seniors out on a date. They shared stories of his late wife and her ex-husband. At times sad but also moving to see two hopeful people not willing to throw in the towel just yet.
#319 The Holy or The Broken
24 November 2016 // Eugene, Oregon
“I say all the perfect and broken hallelujahs have an equal value. It’s a desire to affirm my faith in life, not in some formal religious way, but with enthusiasm, with emotion.”
Big thanks to my friend Hamaila for gifting me this book after hearing I was fascinated by Malcolm Gladwell’s Revisionist History podcast episode on the rise of ‘Hallelujah.’ That song has a story unlike any other modern anthem. I don’t read much music writing, but Alan Light kept its exploration fascinating.
And speaking of unlikely works of art, Leonard Cohen was such an artistic anomaly. I love that a huge part of his story was how late into his career he was when he hit his stride. Sad that we lost him next week.
Oh and for the record, Hallelujah isn’t even my favorite Leonard song. Dance Me To The End Of Love will always hold that honor.
#320 Pancit Molo
25 November 2016 // Eugene, Oregon
When we went to the Philippines a couple years ago, there was one dish that Deanna especially fell in love with– pancit molo.
It’s a regional favorite where my family’s from, and it’s a pretty simple wonton soup in a pork or chicken broth with basic sauteed vegetables. And if you do it just right, it’s one amazing piece of Filipino comfort food.
I timed this particular item of my cooking challenge just right for the winter months. Not too shabby for my first time taking a stab at this dish and I know where to go from here for even better results.
#321 Grad School: Three Weeks
26 November 2016 // Eugene, Oregon
The thing I’m looking forward to the most about being done with my program isn’t the absence of school, it’ll be the opportunity to build something.
The ability to commit to something for a long time without my schedule changing itself every few months is something that’s eluded me the past few years. Now I’m looking forward to dinners that become traditions, becoming a part of things around whatever community we end up in, and forming some more bonds.
Now seems like a good and important time to be building community up and getting connected. I’m ready to dig in.
#322 Blood, Bones, and Butter
27 November 2016 // Eugene, Oregon
“It’s promising and seductive, that huge Italian family, sitting around the dinner table, surrounded by olive trees. But it’s not my family and I am not their family, and no amount of birthing sons, and cooking dinner and raking leaves or planting the gardens or paying for the plane tickets is going to change that. If I don’t come back in eleven months, I will not be missed, and no one will write me or call me to acknowledge my absence. Which is not an accusation, just a small truth about clan and bloodline.”
After so many of my favorite food podcasts mentioned this book as one of their favorite books on the subject, I was convinced to give it a try.
This book isn’t just about food, but about a career in food, dining, and the paths life takes you down, sometimes without exactly intending to. I read a lot of books by people who were driven by a very concrete goal so it was refreshing to hear from someone who took a more common path- a mix of following passions, doing one thing until it leads somewhere else, and unlikely encounters.
Plus there are moments where she describes her grad school experience and it sounds so similar to my own. Started out as a perfect fit that was slowly outgrew, leading her to discovering other passions.
#323 Making Kahlua
28 November 2016 // Eugene, Oregon
Weekend at home project- making some Kahlua.
Looks okay so far, so now we wait a few weeks for our results.
#324 Foodspotting No. 1 & 39 – Adobo & Lumpia
29 November 2016 // Springfield, Oregon
Holla at ya 🇵🇭. Food week continues with some more Foodspotting.
Adobo and lumpia were two of the easiest items in the Foodspotting Field Guide to find. Well, especially if you’re me. I wasn’t sure if making my own adobo earlier this year would count so I decided it wouldn’t so we’d have an excuse to visit Maynila for dinner.
#325 Tillamook Mac & Cheese
20 November 2016 // Eugene, Oregon
So this is the thing with mac and cheese- I’ve had some really fancy mac and cheese from so many different high end places, and yet it never quite lives up to the gooey, salty, creamy goodness of that instant boxed stuff I used to eat after school.
Let’s face it, I love any melts cheesy product, and sometimes the fake stuff is just better.
But I believe real cheese can still make for a good mac and cheese and so I went with packs of Tillamook being added to a bechamel like sauce to get it all creamy and such. Turned out pretty good, but that might also be because I added a whole head of garlic.
#326 Grad School: Two Weeks
21 November 2016 // Eugene, Oregon
So close to the end! And to make things even better, this week barely counts since I’ll be in California staring Tuesday night.
So that’s one thing making me happy. What else?
That Ducks win versus Utah was so, so satisfying. Nobody saw it coming, even after it already came. Our season has been a ship that has been long sunk, but getting the win against a pretty good Utah team was just perfect. Our loss to them last year, in my mind, was the start of dark days for Ducks fans.
Oh, and a couple of my good friends gave birth to their son tonight. Welcome to the world, Mathis! See you when I get back.
#327 Gateway to Cali
22 November 2016 // Medford, Oregon
Passing through the In N Out in Medford means one surefire thing… we’re going to (or coming from) Cali.
Thankful that this pit stop is right off the freeway.
#328 Road to Thanksgiving
23 November 2016 // Kettleman City, California
We can act like we didn’t spend most of the drive taking selfies with Beignet. Or we can own it.
Thankful this one is a road tripper.
#329 Thanksgiving 16
24 November 2016 // Bakersfield, California
Hope your day was as fun and tasty as ours.
Here’s to a much needed weekend of hanging out with family and not doing much else. The next two weeks are gonna be such a power sprint that some time off like this is exactly the right thing.
25 November 2016 // Bakersfield, California
There’s a first time for everything.
This is my first time eating at a restaurant with both a B safety rating and a James Beard award.
#331 California 99
26 November 2016 // Delhi, California
“The future is built with the present moment and how we take care of it. If you are fearful, the future will be fearful. If you are uncooperative, the future will be divisive. This is very important.
The future is not something that will come to us; the future is built by us, by how we speak and what we do in the present moment.
Community practice is crucial at this time. It’s crucial not to be alone in front of the computer, reading media. That makes the world dark for you. Find flesh. There are still wonderful things happening.”
#332 Passing Shasta
27 November 2016 // Lake Shasta, California
“Scratch the surface of any cynic, and you will find a wounded idealist underneath. Because of previous pain or disappointment, cynics make their conclusions about life before the questions have even been asked. This means that beyond just seeing what is wrong with the world, cynics lack the courage to do something about it. The dynamic beneath cynicism is a fear of accepting responsibility.”
Be responsible to your convictions. They won’t always win debates. They won’t always pay the bills. They won’t always prevail in times of conflict. But if they’re convictions worth keeping, make sure they don’t lose you. Hope is a conviction. Joy is a conviction. Don’t give them up.
#333 Shoe Dog
28 November 2016 // Eugene, Oregon
“I thought if that phrase, it’s just business. It’s never just business. It never will be. If it becomes just business, that will mean that business is very bad.”
Thanks to the UO business school, I got a signed copy of Shoe Dog. I was told to study up on it, so I took to reading and found I enjoyed this book a whole heck of a lot more than I expected to.
This book had a lot of heart, and that’s something I really wasn’t expecting. After all, Nike is pretty much your archetype of a mega-corporation and I didn’t know a whole lot about Phil Knight other than the fact that his name is all over Eugene.
Hearing the stories of their early years, testing out models on the UO track team, having to take on legal challenges from the US government and Japan, and figuring out how to build a team that works kept this on the side of being a good story.
In the end it’s a book about following a Crazy Idea- watch it reveal itself as a calling and pursuing it through disappointment and fatigue.
#334 Office Hours
29 November 2016 // Eugene, Oregon
This week has been utterly ridiculous- in the past 48 hours I’ve had to present the City of Albany with a proposed budget, pitch a startup business idea, and knock out a 15 page paper.
Thankfully, I get a weekend to turn things down a notch before one last week of this finish line sprint. My first true day out of grad school is gonna be such a napfest.
30 November 2016 // Eugene, Oregon
Important beliefs I have about bolognese:
• It should be creamy. Use milk.
• It seems intuitive to add red wine, but go with white.
• Grating your carrots makes for a better texture than dicing.
• A little bit of ground sausage and diced bacon goes a long way.
Seems like an oddly late point in the year to have bolognese be an item on my cooking challenge. I’ve already made lasagna with bolognese as part of the challenge, and I’ve made bolognese a lot in general this year. Oh well. It’s been my busiest stretch of grad school, so it doesn’t hurt to have something I can prep from muscle memory.