Saturday, February 20, 2010


Just watched the movie Serendipity (2001, with John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale) for the first time. As far as romantic comedies go I'd give it 3 stars as it has (almost) all you'd want in this genre, except of course a satisfying ending. Spoiler alert: Don't keep reading if you haven't seen the movie and want to. Don't know why I even bothered to write that since it has the mother of all predictable endings. You guessed it, they live happily ever after. So the whole premise of the story is that these two people meet, spend a magical evening together, go their separate ways and leave it for fate to decide whether they will ever meet up again.

You see, I think my problem is that on the one hand I really, really want to believe that the events of our lives are meant to be, that fate has a hand in all we do and steers us in the right direction when we begin to stray away. On the other hand, my actual faith in fate does not seem to exist. I've said things like, "it was meant to happen," often enough, but do I really believe it? The truth is that I didn't want Jonathan and Sarah to end up together in the end because it doesn't fit into my reality, into my explanation of how things work in this life. That crap just doesn't happen in real life.

Love doesn't work like that. So how does it work? You ask. Maybe when Jonathan and Sarah met, they really did fall in love, (please refer to the posting "Love at First Sight" for further opinions on this matter) but why oh why does that mean they are "meant" to be together forever? You can love someone a whole whole lot, but that doesn't mean that guy is good for you to be with.

Try and stay with me here. If fate, particularly as it pertains to love, were real than what exactly would be the point of living? If everything was mapped out ahead of time, if that was possible to do, than why do it?

Now to contradict. It is also just as impossible to believe that the events of our lives happen randomly. Could it really be by chance that ____(insert event of your life) happened? What about all those times when you KNOW you got a sign from someone, somewhere, well maybe from Fate herself.

All I've been able to establish thus far is that love does not happen by chance and also that we are not destined to love either. All I can come up with is that love must be something we can't quite understand, like God, or the afterlife, or death. So maybe love is God. Maybe love IS the unexplainable. Dare I continue in this quest to define it?

Love is: infinite, unexplainable

Sunday, February 14, 2010

How to Cook Your Life

Just watched an interesting film my mom recommended to me called How to Cook Your Life. You can download and watch it for free from Netflix. Or buy it here.

It's a documentary starring Zen priest and chef Edwards Espe Brown who translates Zen Buddhism to cooking and life. Sounds dry, I know, but he brings up some beautiful points about the making of food and it was really quite moving. My favorites parts:

- There is a Buddhist saying that goes something like this, "treat your food as if it were your eyes." And he goes on to explain this in terms of the preparation of food and the cleaning and maintaining of your kitchen tools. I challenge you all to try this, treat everything you handle in your kitchen as if it were your own eyes.

- When you cook, just cook. It is a time not for thinking about the school work you need to finish, re-hashing the day's dramas, or worrying about all the chores you have to do. A Zen master once told Chef Brown, "When you wash the rice, wash the rice. When you cut the carrots, cut the carrots. When you stir the soup, stir the soup." Cooking can be your daily meditation.

- Instead of looking at something you are cooking or growing as something you need to master or control, try and ask the food or plant, what can I do to assist you in becoming the best possible food or plant?

We are in such a hurry to eat these days. Yesterday as I was creaming the butter for a double batch of cookies by hand and cursing my not having the good fortune of a Kitchenaid mixer and really wanting to turn on the radio or TV for some distraction from the strenuousness, so I stopped. This time I was just going to cream the butter, to really feel it, experience it. And hey, it wasn't so bad. Actually, the cookies turned out to be the best I've ever made.

Cherry Chocolate Walnut Oatmeal Cookies

This is an adaptation to an oatmeal cookie recipe from Joy of Cooking. These turned out amazing! The combination of walnuts, cherries, and chocolate is magical.

Makes about 36 two inch cookies.

1/2 c butter
1/2 c packed brown sugar
1/2 c white sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 TBL milk
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 c flour
1 c oats
1 c walnuts (small pieces)
1/2 c dried cherries
1/2 - 3/4 c chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350. Cream the butter. Mix with sugar til well blended. Add egg, vanilla, and milk and mix well. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and add to mix, combining thoroughly. Add oats, walnuts, cherries, and chocolate. I did all this with just a fork and a bowl, but feel free to use a mixer! Spoon cookies onto well greased baking sheets about 2 inches apart. Bake for 10-13 minutes at 350.

Additions / Subs: nearly any nut for walnuts, coconut, cranberries or raisins for cherries.

Notes: Next time I make this recipe I will add more oats (1/2 c) because I like the texture and it will lessen the sweetness. Hubs didn't think they were too sweet, so I would try the above recipe first.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Very Superstitious

I've never been superstitious, in fact I found it fun to defy superstitions just to see what would happen. Well that was before I hung out with kids with autism. The behaviors they exhibit can be unexplained, random, and downright spooky. It scares me when nothing I can see or think of has sparked a full out on the ground, screaming and hitting self tantrum. And there is very little I can do when my little guy reaches this level except keep him safe as possible. The most frustrating part is that he cannot tell me what's going on as he's basically non-verbal.

They say people with autism have heightened senses, they can hear, taste, see, and feel things typical people cannot. Which is in someways miraculous, but in other ways frightening and overstimulating. So I can only guess that these tantrums are caused by some level of over-stimulation that my senses aren't able to experience. My guesses have turned into rituals and my rituals have turned into hard and fast superstitions.

For example I do not wear perfume to school anymore because I became convinced the smell was causing self injurious behavior. Also I'm sure to bring a lunch with me and eat during the same time each day because I swear that him seeing me break this routine was a source for major tantrums a couple times.

I'm realizing as I type this that a lot of my so-called superstitions surround routines. People with autism tend to be obsessed with routines, insisting that everything, from brushing teeth to waiting in the lunch line, have a specific method. I suppose it is a way to create predictability in a world of chaos. Have I peeked through a window into this world by insisting on my own routines to prevent chaos? Maybe it's not superstition after all, just a bit of autism.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Only for Me Pasta

I make this dish whenever I'm cooking just for myself. I don't know why, but when I'm cooking just for me, it always turns out better. This recipe is a single serving, but it can easily be doubled, quadrupled, or made to whatever size you wish. As with all my recipes, this is just a base, while it is delicious as described below, have fun with additions and substitutions.

1 serving cooked pasta (usually 8 oz)
3-4 TBL olive oil
1 clove garlic
1/4 tsp chili pepper flakes
1 chopped tomato
5 kalamata olives - halved
3-5 torn basil leaves OR sprig of torn Italian parsley OR both
salt and pepper to taste
1 TBL grated parmesan

Heat olive oil in pan over medium heat. Add garlic, sautee till aromatic, about 1 or 2 minutes. Add pepper, olives, and tomato, sautee for another minute or so, until heated through. Add pasta, herbs, and salt & pepper stirring to coat pasta thoroughly. Put on a plate and add cheese, enjoy your dinner for one.

Additions: chicken, shrimp, spinach, mushrooms, onions, lemon juice, roasted red peppers...

Subs: any herbs you like for basil and parsley, feta for pamesan


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