Missing the Midwest

Today I find myself strangely homesick for the Midwest. Summertime was always my favorite time in Cleveland. I miss catching fireflies and taking walks through our tree-lined neighborhood streets. “Home” has become a very difficult concept for me lately. Sometimes I kind of feel like I’m playing a game of Twister when it comes to my definition of home. Right foot Nashville. Left hand Cleveland. Left foot College Station. I am a tangled mess of emotions and attachments, trying to balance over circles on a mat. I guess maybe that’s what most people feel like in their twenties. After a while you begin to forget where the people in your life all came from. One place blends into another, and memories fuse together so we become no longer aware of where the past ends and the present begins.

Random Thoughts of Varying Gravity

This blog needs more color.

There are few things that make me feel more peaceful than watching my cats sleep.

If Matt reads this, he’s going to make fun of me about that last thing.

Joanna Newsom is amazing.

So is Ben Folds…

My handwriting is so much better in fine tip markers.

It’s almost impossible for me to resist dessert.

This list makes me think of this.

When I really need to find God, I look for signs of His presence in nature.

When God really needs to find me, He shows signs of His presence to me in nature.

My mom and dad are my ultimate heroes.

Saffron Risotto with Grilled Portabella

Last night I experimented in the kitchen a bit to put together a dinner a little more fancy than normal. Doesn’t every Tuesday need a little panache?

The dish I made was inspired by a local Italian restaurant: grilled portabella mushroom filled with mozzarella, cheddar and homemade caponata atop a bed of saffron risotto (I’ve apparently been on a risotto kick lately) and served with a balsamic reduction.

(Side note: Saffron, which comes from a type of crocus, is the world’s most expensive spice by weight. Did you know a pound of dry saffron requires 50,000–75,000 flowers? That’s a lot of flowers…)

There were a lot of firsts for me when I made this. I had never made a caponata, nor had I ever made a balsamic reduction. For the caponata, I pickled the eggplant, which was also a first. I was worried the caponata would be too vinegary (that’s a word right? vinegary?). It turned out to be quite tasty and fresh. I used three colors of bell pepper, parsley, celery and diced tomatoes. It might not be a traditional caponata, though, because I didn’t use any capers or olives. Are those defining elements for a caponata? The risotto was creamy and subtle, and the caponata-filled mushrooms were tender and tart. The balsamic reduction provided a sweet accent. It turned out to be a lovely dish, and kind of like me, it was a little high-maintenance but well worth the trouble.

Solstice

Today I have another animal story. Once again (and I apologize for not knowing the outcome), I’m not sure if this story will have a happy ending.

I was walking to my car at an A&M parking lot today when I saw a girl hovering over something in the dirt beneath a tree. Under her gaze was a baby bird, holding on for dear life after falling from its nest. The bird had feathers, but it didn’t appear quite ready for flight. The mother bird sat on the tree limb above squawking for her baby. It was really heart breaking to watch.

The girl and I wondered about what we should do. Red ants were starting to attack the little bird. I had a newspaper so we put it in front of the bird and he scooted onto it. We called the vet school on campus, and they were willing to take the bird. My new animal-loving friend put the bird, newspaper and all, in her car and drove him to safety.

I don’t know if the little bird will survive. Watching him suffer was painful, but I pray he is safe now.

On this first day of summer, I can only think about new transitions. I think about the time I left the nest, the safe protection of my parents’ wings, to venture out into the real world. They could only watch and have faith that I would fly and not fall. This bird left very much by accident, but perhaps because of the kindness of strangers he will survive and thrive. This is all we can hope for: that the kindness of others will keep us safe and strong throughout our lives as we transition from season to season.

A Vegetarian in Texas

I’m kind of an oxymoron these days. Everything is bigger out here, including the meat. And I’ve found myself in some especially carnivorous situations lately. I recently went to a restaurant in College Station where the SMALL sirloin was 16 ounces. When is a one-pound slab of beef small? The business cards by the register read: “All Beef. No bull.”

Antlers on the wall are commonplace here. And when I found myself at a barbecue place this weekend, I snapped a quick shot of one of the cashiers.

In case you can’t read his shirt it says: “I didn’t claw my way up to the top of the food chain to eat vegetables.” Needless to say, the only thing I could eat at this place was the banana pudding (and that probably had lard in it…)

Either way, Texas has been a lesson in adaptability. The vegetarian thing is one minor manifestation of that. I’ve learned a lot about myself here, including the fact that I’m okay being the girl who brings a veggie sandwich to a BBQ joint.