stomach rumblin, mind a tumblin

I love the feeling of going to the grocery store with not a clue what to get: Stomach rumblin’, mind a tumblin’. Fortunately, most grocery stores are designed in the same way, and I have to give Lord Henry von Supermarket the kudos for smart design.
Most grocery stores will have the produce section first. For someone with no idea what to make for dinner, I think this is ideal. It gives off the nice colors and smells and aura of freshness that get the mind thinking of some good combinations: potatoes and corn, tomato and basil, squash and pepper, onion and garlic, are some traditional ones. But then I usually take that all in and move right to the butcher. Meat is the simplest way to begin designing a dish. I like to think of flavors and meats, marinades and spices. If I’m not in a hurry, I’ll take a gander around the hot food and international food sections to gather up some more flavorful ideas as well. Then back to the butcher.
Last night I wanted something simple, flavorful, and mixable. I’m the type to take a little bit of everything on my plate onto each bite and kick it up with some sauce/condiment/spice before devouring. Here’s what came out:
Center cut boneless pork loin (cut about 3/4 inch thick)
Yellow squash
Sweet potato (California yams)
1. Make a spice rub for the pork. I used cajun blackening spice, fresh ground coarse black pepper, salt, rosemary, thyme, savory spice mix, and a bit more garlic powder. They say not to over-spice your meat? I disagree with that one. The only rules in cooking is to eat or share all that you make and to make sure the kitchen is clean before and after cooking.
2. Rub the spice into the pork, on both sides and edges too.
3. Chunk up the raw yams and boil. You’ll lose some sugars by boiling but you can always add it back in! When potatoes are cooked, drain the hot water, add a big chunk of butter, some brown sugar, and mix. Keep the skin in there, it’s the best part.
4. Chop the squash and cook in a frying pan in butter on med to med-high heat. You’ll get some good brown edges which have the best flavor.
5. Cook the pork. There should be some leftover butter in the pan after removing the squash, but if not, add some butter or a little bit of olive oil and heat it up. Toss the pork in and cook a few minutes on med-high heat. Flip and cook until middle is barely pink / white.
6. Frank’s Red Hot sauce is perfect for this and/or throw some applesauce on your plate too.
I served with a random on-sale cabernet sauvignon called Pepperwood Grove (2006, California). Don’t listen to wine rules, just get what you want. If you don’t want wine, 2% milk hits the spot.
Main advice here is you don’t always have to pre-plan. Try the walk-in approach and let your senses guide you to dinner preparation. Then you won’t be a rumblin’ no more.

a view from above

How can you not love the sky? I just took this picture from seat 15F on my flight to Chicago O’Hare. I always get a window seat when I fly because I need to see what’s out there below me and above us. This one shows some good cumulus puffs with the most awesome contrast of the clear blue sky. For loving science, and despite having multiple science classes devoted to clouds, weather, the atmosphere, and meteorology, clouds will always amaze me beyond the grasps of physical properties for some reason.

Some people are afraid of flying. I can understand why, as turbulence still makes me jittery and the ear-popping is less than comfortable. However, I can’t forgive others for not finding inspiration in flying 30,000 feet up in the air. It’s a world for imagination and reflection, not to mention a natural artistic wonder unique only to that altitude.

Perhaps the most fun parts of flying are the takeoff and approach, or in other words, zoom out and zoom in. It’s neat to see the houses get smaller and smaller as you zoom out. It’s fun to begin to recognize specific neighborhoods, buildings, or characteristics of the land as you zoom in. Swimming pools become stand outs in the summer. Snow truly looks like a blanket in the winter.

I like to think about history when I’m up in the sky. Scientists, astronomers, philosophers, and the rest of the general population never had the luxury to see above the clouds like I can. I wonder if science and discovery would have taken place differently had the Greeks been able to see down on the earth and up into the sky from 30,000 ft up in the air. I wonder if they’d serve grape leaves on their flights?

Either way, that was a good nap. Time to zoom in now.

“Above the cloud with its shadow is the star with its light. Above all things reverence thyself.”
–  Pythagoras

learnin’ the harp

Music and art have defined much of history. Through all the economic ups and downs, regime and boundary changes, social revolutions, technological developments, wars and religious crusades, and astrological and continental discoveries, the love and fascination with music and art have remained consistent.

That being said, I think everyone has a component of his/her personality rooted in music and art. Again, that creative right-brain mentality, even for left-directed minds, still has some influence on everyday thinking and action, even if we don’t realize it. (As a side note here, I’m reading This Is Your Brain On Music by Daniel Levitin where in his introduction, he introduces work that backs up the idea of music being distributed throughout both brain hemispheres.)

For me, I’ve always been intrigued by all types of music and art, the people who create the music and art, and the effects they have on all types of audiences. However, I’ve always been an atrocious musician and artist in terms of instruments and paintbrushes. I’ve tried the guitar, the piano, drums, painted plenty of horrible faces, horizons, and animals, and easily knew that it wouldn’t work as a profession. On the other hand, I could always read music, understand tones, scales, contrasts, textures, themes, and always enjoyed interacting with art and music. Singing was fun, and writing, drawing, and doodling became very fun too. So now, in an effort to continue a connection to art and music, I’m back at a new instrument…

The harmonica! Good supplementary instrument to singing and also good for some drunken blues singing (which you can never get enough of around a campfire). It’s my intention to keep the blogosphere (well the sliver of it that reads The Adsideologist) updated on my progress. I’ve read a beginner book and watched plenty of YouTube and played along plenty of DMB, Dylan, Petty, Blackfoot, Popper, Stones, Boss, and Billy Joel. We’ll see what happens.

I’ll leave you with my end goal song to play: But Anyway – Blues Traveler

on color

Color is an aspect of everyone. Everything you do involves color. Even if you can’t see it, you can always feel it, smell it, hear it, and even think it. Think about the sun and you think blazing hot orange, the soothing heat, glowing sky, radiating warmth, sometimes dry air, sometimes humid and dense air. Think about baseball and you think bold green grass contrasted with light sandy dirt, the bold uniform colors, the red seams gripping your fingers as they are protruding from the ball, the crack of the wooden bat as the white ball contrasts through the blue summer sky. You get the point – and you can do this with any color or object or verb or thought.

The idea is that color is critical in development of a healthy psyche. The education/schooling system (along with the home) need to leverage color to stimulate the mind and ensure children are absorbing what they are being taught, in the environment which surrounds them.

Research in color can go a long way. I found an interesting synopsis of a study done within a School Planning and Management group. It talks about developing positive color schemes within schools at appropriate age groups and within appropriate subject areas. For example, the primary colors that work with young children aren’t so fashionable for the mind of a teenager. Teens want the cool colors of ultramarine, baby blue, orange, etc. The article also talks about using variety in color, using contrasting colors to make an effective presentation, and trying not to over-stimulate the student.

In my opinion, color should be a part of every lesson plan, and engaging the mind in this manner is essential to developing the balance in psyche that leads to a happy and healthy society.

“The purest and most thoughtful minds are those which love color the most.”
– John Ruskin