But first, a necessary tangent on blogging, with which to frame this whole entry:
So, why do I keep a blog? It's time consuming, it doesn't make me any money; my self-imposed Cup o' Joe Monday entries cost me a few extra bucks and often some hassle/schedule-shuffling on Mondays. But...
(1) I enjoy blogging. It's a fun, relaxing creative endeavor, and unlike similar ones like scrapbooking or collaging, there is an immediate and easy way to share it with people in my life.
(2) It keeps me connected with people I love who are far away - which, at this point, is most of them. Some internet technology is scary (the Farmville application on Facebook, for example), but I genuinely think blogging is a fantastic innovation. Not that online journals should ever replace real, direct interaction and catching-up (I owe quite a few of you, especially some who've commented on recent entries, a call or letter or email...I will catch up soon, I promise!), but for the purpose they serve, I think they're great.
(3) It keeps me writing. Any self-discipline is good for the kind of writer I am (the one that, since the days of elementary and middle school when every free waking moment was devoted to reading or writing, needs some discipline to make it happen) is good.
(4) It keeps me out and about, making the most of Seattle and my life, if for nothing else than thinking of it all in terms of being able to write about it later. Mile 22 on Sunday? Oh God, please don't let me have to write a blog entry about failing to cross the finish line of my first marathon. And so I kept running. Perhaps that's a good thing to aim for in life, then: a life worth writing about.
It's that last one that's been especially important in my new kitchen. Somehow, the notion of getting to blog about things I cook is inherently inspiring - and just recently I realized how many times I've taken pictures of food-things with the idea that I'd blog about them, and then didn't. So here, finally, are a few brief anecdotes on my recent cooking adventures:
Butternut Squash Soup with fresh ginger, coconut milk, and pecans
The above picture is a Big Deal. Here's why: I love butternut squash soup. It's my favorite soup, in fact. But I have been known to screw up a butternut squash or two in the past, so normally I just buy the things, put them on prominent display, and drop serious hints to whatever cooking-savvy housemates I have about my love for B.N.S. soup. Apparently, without housemates, that tactic is highly ineffective. So this was my first successful bowl. It was a bit watery, but still not bad for an inaugural effort.
(I also, with Alan's assistance, did a big batch of curried butternut squash cubes with chickpeas and a yogurt/cilantro sauce for a work-related holiday party/end-of-the-year meeting a couple weeks ago...no pictures, but it was quite tasty, too. Yes, by and by, I am conquering the butternut squash.)
Loaf of vegan banana bread
I frequently buy bananas, with big dreams of how healthy all that potassium consumption will make me. I then frequently fail to eat them before they go bad. The solution? Loaf pans, a bit of flour, and an oven. This stuff is awesomely moist and delicious.
Improvising, I pulled a shelf out of my refrigerator to compensate for my lack of a wire drying rack for yummy cookies. I took these to work to share, and despite the usual vegan-resistance ("Pssh, I don't eat cookies unless there's steak inside of them"), people liked them. Folks started coming up from other floors to try them, which I took as a good sign.
I did not grow up cooking, really. In pre-college days, my cooking skills topped out at scrambled eggs, which I learned to do about halfway through high school. College brought about the beginnings of my attempt to teach myself to cook, often with disastrous results (we all remember my first EasyMac attempt in the microwave in Dascomb over winter term freshman year? I'm not kidding...) Joining Harkness food co-op the second semester of my sophomore year helped, as I went experimentally vegan and thus was more or less forced to learn to cook things, or else have virtually nothing to eat.
Now that I'm really on my own - having no meal plan to fall back on, no excuse of a gross and unkempt shared kitchen,
(If you're just skimming this entry and looking at pictures/captions, PLEASE take note that this is NOT my current kitchen.)
...and no shortage of proper utensils and cookware on which to blame a lack of cooking - I am beginning to work on cultivating good, adult habits. These also include: not ever going to bed or leaving the house with dirty dishes in the sink, not letting trash or recycling pile up, keeping meticulous financial records, conserving electricity whenever possible, keeping my kitty cat healthy, getting enough sleep, and so forth.
But anyway...in the same way that my blog has inspired me to explore new coffeeshops/make the most of Seattle/cook things, I am hoping it can help me devote more time to reading than I have. I've found myself jealous lately of friends and coworkers who are reading all kinds of fabulous, interesting books - and simultaneously telling myself, It's okay, someday you'll have time to read again, too - which is a lie. I think I'm at that point where I'll be telling myself that forever, until I really force myself to make the time. So I'm enlisting the help of my blog on this one, too, and from now on out, am promising to read a book a week and write about it here. Stay tuned :)