Just Make It A Piece Of Cake

 “The discovery of a new dish confers more happiness on humanity, than the discovery of a new star.”

Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

 I wanted to use this quote to jump into the post and explain whatever I have boiling in my head. Some thing definitely is cooking and it might be something new and unheard off, or something so good that it deserves a new name. It requires you to invent new words to describe the taste and the etiquette influences the culture forever. This meal could be in the oven as we speak, but is it?

 You are capable of making that meal. 

One’s capability is determined by what he or she does and I think it shows by how composed they are in the kitchen. For example a stranger can walk into a room and say, “I am a great cook.”  The people in the room can be convinced that he is telling the truth; to get an accurate judgment or to see if the chef is really great? The people are going to need to taste the chef’s food. It just makes sense. We want proof. But if you are going to be talking, than you better be walking.

On another note the definition of discovery means to find something that already existed. This is correct.  So as a country we celebrate Columbus for discovering America but prior to making the discovery there was already people occupying the land. So if Columbus is being crowned for discovering America than I want to be known for discovering the stove, this tangible machine thing I can use in my kitchen to bring people together and have a meaningful conversation. Yeah I discovered that a few weeks ago and thought I’d share that with you.

Sorry for the minor rant but I’d had to get that off my chest.

There are things cooking up in my head and I have new recipes I’m eager to try. And now that I’m finished with school and I’m off into the real world grocery store and I’m wondering what ingredients will I need? What can I make that I’ve never made before? What do I already have at home? So many choices, than of course there are my older recipes I can always work on. I have the ability to say, “I am a good cook,” although in order to be real or valid with my claim than I must prove it with what I prepare, no excuses.

Bring your best efforts.

Lately I’ve been sticking to the recipes I’m comfortable cooking; I know the outcome because I’ve been doing them for so long. Although I am ready to try new things in this chapter in life and it seems as though I will need to do some food research. I should go into a grocery store and buy an ingredient that is unfamiliar. Take it home and get my Dr. Frankenstein on. Food experiments.

Over the years I’ve grown very fond of Dr. Cornel West and all his powerful words. I use his quotes in the blog and I will continue to only because the things he’s saying is coming from a real place. So I bring up Dr. West because he continually speaks on this concept of people being confused about success and how to deal with the consequences of success. I believe there is a misconception to what success brings and that when you have it that it can trick your perception. And a way to justify success to everyone else is usually money. Being rich is apart of the American dream to a lot of people. I just want a little success. But remember what Biggie said.

Mo Money Mo Problems

So I can agree with Dr. West when he tells people not to thrive toward success but rather toward greatness. And greatness means something different to everyone. It becomes an internal struggle to find out what it means to be great.

We all have choices and paths to take, so what these terms stand for may be different for everyone. We are each traveling on a path and will experience success along the way but the materialistic matter in the world is not related to the measurement of an individual’s greatness.

What is the price of success? What is the price of greatness? At the end of the day it will only be our own definitions that truly signify anything. We all are wrestling with these concepts and sometimes it is not all about greatness in yourself but it is also about being able to recognize greatness in everybody else. Be the astronaut.

Discover a new dish in your kitchen’s universe today. 

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Eat Your Chopped Liver

“I cannot be an optimist but I am a prisoner of hope.”
― Cornel West

With all the celebration happening and engagements to attend, eating a meal at home is not always the case. If I’m in Tucson I usually eat out, but now that I’m home, not working, I am cooking dinner at home more often. But as I was saying sometimes when you have things to do away from home and that means you are eating somewhere else. No big deal, but that doesn’t mean you’ll enjoy the meal?

Go to one of your favorite restaurant and maybe the chef is not bringing his A game that night. Or you go to someone’s birthday party and the menu is nothing you like or want. I mean it happens once in awhile when the food may not be as tasteful. Maybe I’m just picky, but who am I to judge someone else’s cooking? I’m not a food critic but I could be.

It’s so easy to judge and state your opinion about something wrong with what is being served. How the flavors are not to my liking and I prefer it cooked different. Compare it to other enjoyable meals and say, “I like my Grandma’s better.” But there is a part of me that just wants to say, “just shut up and eat your food.”

Not always easy to bite your tongue especially when your expectations are set high and then your not as satisfied. Disappointed maybe because I been spoiled with good food from my grandma this whole time and in life you want to have good food always. And even though I have that option to state my disapproval or even state a compliment, I must also remember everyone else.

People who may not have that option to choose to like their meals, and then there are people who don’t even have a meal at all. People starving all over the world and I’m complaining because the noodles are too soggy and the beans need salt.

This reminds me off a time when we were growing up and our family was having some big picnic. It might have been for a holiday or some special occasion I can’t remember but I do recall that my mom was bringing a cake to the get-together.

The morning before we head out to the gathering, were getting ready of course running late. My Mom tells my brother and I to load up the car with whatever were bringing. We pack the car with the cake along other items for the picnic. So occupied on other things in the house we rush back inside.

At the time we were living in Sells and our neighbors had these dogs that always hung around the premises.  Rez dogs.

When we are actually ready to leave the house, we go outside and I hear my Mom screaming. I see all these dogs running away from my mom’s car in a rush. In a hurry not paying attention I’ve must have left the trunk door open and that was pretty much an open invitation for the neighbors’ dogs. They ate the entire cake.

There was probably a decent size slice left but my Mom was so mad that she just told me to throw it away. We leave our house without a cake and it was like we each held a piece of the blame. I don’t remember how old I was but it was a minor mistake that just started off the day wrong.

I really don’t remember how the picnic went. I’m pretty sure it went well. The reason why I bring up this moment is that even though our cake was demolished that didn’t necessarily mean our meal was ruined.

I guess what I’m saying is that a meal can be great because the tastes are satisfying and there is plenty to go around. But a meal can also be great only based off of who you’re sharing that meal with, family, friends, or a significant other. Taste is crucial but not always the case if you’re lucky enough to enjoy the company at the dinner table. The taste of the food matters, although so do the stories, the tales behind the food and how they came to be. Food and gossip are like best friends. Food for thought while I’m digesting.

Nobody had cake that day. Well the dogs did. But it didn’t ruin anything in the long run and it was definitely something we always talk about and bring up. I look back on that moment and think even though we didn’t have dessert that day, we still got full of off something. The story of the Rez dogs eating our carrot cake is a snack that I will carry forever.

We didn’t eat cake but the taste of that memory will always be delightful.

I mean that is why I wanted to share this story; it was because I still had a successful meal. It wasn’t ruined because I still had family there and their laughter made up for the sweetness. Not having cake was still important because we laughed about it at the table and that connection was still there. The mystery of the flavors is almost more satisfying than how it actually tasted.

From time to time taste can be secondary to what is important when it comes to food and what really matters is how close the food is bringing people together.

The food could be terrible but I’m still fortunate to have a meal and even more blessed to have people to share it with. The thing that is keeping me alive may not always taste good. But who defines good anyway?

I can already see my food critic career burning.

Be thankful that you get to eat because it might not always taste well; sounds like a good mantra to end on. Peace.

Edible Fireworks

“The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.”

Socrates

Leaving club cloud nine because it’s last call and I need to get some rest; it feels good to be done with school and to have something accomplished or under my belt. The big commencement was on Friday and it surpassed my expectations only leaving me feeling exhausted from all the possibilities now in front of me. All the words of encouragement have filled my head and I just need to sleep on all of this. As much as we love to celebrate the party does end you something new must begin. The door closes but another one opens type of deal. I just hope I’m not forgetting anything to do before I close this door.

I guess even though some things end and you have to deal with this closure, there is still this feeling of beginning or renewal. I’m finished with school but now I’m entering the real world and I still feel like a student. The world is my school and the semester is already starting, with all this new confidence I’m holding, things are more vivid than ever. But I now see that there is something to lose in the grand scheme of things and if I don’t take advantage of the time I have in life now, I might miss out on doing things I wanted to do before it’s too late. Make the best moments in these transitions because they will haunt you forever.

Graduation week was highly anticipated but when it was actually occurring it felt like I was just walking in unending hallways never actually taking the time to smell the roses. I had all these things planned for when I completed school that I just forgot about. Not enough time for everything I had planned out, but maybe they weren’t as important as I thought they would be.

They have this gas station-convenient store just off of campus near by where I would catch the city bus. I always went in to get breakfast in the mornings and buy a cold drink after a long day. I also would go in to buy gum or to break a twenty so I could have the correct amount of change for the bus. It was a place I stopped at least once or twice a week. On the counter of the register there was this glass case of cigars. Every time I would go in there I would see these cigars and I always thought to myself. When I’m done with everything I am going to come in this store and buy one of these cigars. Have a cigar for my achievement.

Never got around to buying that celebratory cigar for myself. I wanted to celebrate with that a cigar I had my eye on all semester but things just don’t always work out the way you think they are. I was just happy to be finished.

I wasn’t nervous about graduation itself, I was more worried about making it to graduation on time. So many people for the big event and I just wanted to be sure that I’m following through on my end of the deal. Being on time and even better to be early so you can scope out the venue and see what is on the table. Did not want to show up late for my own graduation; wanted to just walk into it on-time. Like gravy.

Although time is a very greasy thing and it can slip through your fingers very easily if your not paying attention to how you use it. I was staying in Tucson the night of the graduation and it was near the time I was planning to leave the hotel to the stadium. I get a phone call from one of my old friends, telling me he’s waiting for me down stairs. He’s got a gift for me.

I know I needed to be across town but this is my friend “Jay.” We go back since middle school, and after all these years we still talk. Not on an everyday basis but I know I got his support when he’s nowhere in sight. Even though we’re not on the same wavelength, I can still depend on the guy. So I meet him down stairs and we go for a ride. I still have a little time before the big showdown.

Jay and I haven’t sat down and hung out in a long time. It was a peaceful moment away from the chaos of graduation, and seeing someone familiar really reminded me of the beginning. I mean I’ve met so many new people that I haven’t known that long but it’s nice to see a face you recognize after all the years have gone by. We pull up to a park and he opens the glove compartment. He hands me a cigar and says “congratulations.” Of course he has one from himself and we light our cigars and enjoy.

I have all these expectations in life but the things I want may not come the way I thought them. This celebratory smoke session was what I needed. It’s like even though I have to make life-changing decisions on top of the things I’m doing for school, it is good to have people in your life that remind you to have fun and relax. We catch up on current events and trade stories about the world. He drops me back off at the hotel.

That celebratory cigar was the “icing on the cake.” for the entire week.

I had no plans to meet up with Jay and even if I did, it wouldn’t have been the same. So I leave the hotel and start making my way towards the football field. There are several ways to get to campus and I wanted to take my usual route. I go up 22nd like I do normally and there is a long line of cars.  All the way to the front of all those cars just parked, is a train frozen.

The train is not moving and I turn around right away, I couldn’t afford to wait. I end up in some neighborhood and get lost for brief seconds. Cops are directing traffic all over and by whatever route I took, takes me downtown. Getting closer to campus I know I will make it on time. Pay attention to the minor details and make adjustments as you go, but never stick to the plan. The recipe is a reference but that doesn’t mean that you need to follow the exact measurements and ingredients listed.

Spice things up and don’t forget to clean up your mess.

Sweet Tooth

The summer is mine and it feels like a summer I haven’t felt in a long time. Of course being in southern Arizona you can expect the heat but I’m not complaining. Bring the heat. I’m ready for the summer but I’m also ready for whatever life throws at me too.

I think summer is my favorite season. I have been in school for so long and I think summer means something different. Only because when I was in school and it was close to summer time, that meant there was a break coming. This summer break is a monumental one because I’m getting off the academic calendar. I don’t have any classes in the fall. I am done for now. So this summer is one that could last forever if I let it.

So fast your life can change and I am the only  one responsible for the transition. I know I owe everything to my family and people for their support over the years. But everything that’s changing is my own doings. I’m to blame for this all happening. But their support pushed me to finish and now that I am at the end of a road, I’m exhausted of course but I’m just thinking to myself “now what?” I say those two words at ease almost like I have a manual or a checklist of some sort that I could refer to as a map. Unfortunately I don’t have a gps-life-map however I do have an idea or rough draft of how I want things to be. It might be blurry at the moment but I sure do like the feeling of being lost. It’s exciting not to know. You know?

Although I will miss my old schedule and it kept my life in some kind of order all those crazy years. It’s a give and take situation, I think. Now that my summer has opened up and I no longer have classes, I also need to find something to do with my time and on top of that it needs to challenge me.

This semester was unlike any I’ve ever had. Maybe because it was my last one before I actually graduated but I have many stories that came out of it. Met so many new people that I hope to stay in contact with and hopefully continue those conversations we started but never finished. I definitely traveled more miles in the semester than any other, that’s for sure. Up early on the road. Mondays and Wednesdays were always up in the air. Either I had a ride or I stayed in town. Borrowed relatives’ cars. Friends dropping me off somewhere, getting picked up by the jack in the box next to campus. Riding the city-bus to catch the shuttle. Meeting the best strangers on the ride back home. None of my other semesters were as dramatic as this one.

It reminds me, that things should never get easy, and in life you have choices. The outcome of the choices might not always look like what’s being offered. It may look totally different. It might even be ten times better. The options are endless. But here’s the catch. In order to get the full experience you will need to do something great. Not anything that will make you rich or give you a lots of friends. I’m talking about something that could change the world. If executed correct with charisma and devotion I think it is possible that an individual’s choice can make a difference for the better. But it is not that easy. Because like me or anyone else willing to admit, things in life are hard. People are struggling all over the world. Nonetheless everyone has that option to be great and everyone has that option to try. And everyday shouldn’t get easier because in order to be great you need to be always taking on a new challenge, bigger than before. Everyday.

Always room for improvement.

The summer is a jar of honey and I am “as hungry as a bear.”

Cold Potato

The previous post I mentioned this moment I had with my uncle when he suggested that I started peeling the potatoes when I was just a small kid. It was in that moment that my uncle’s words really woke me up and gave me courage and the will to grow. After sharing that with the blog it got me in the mood to make potatoes for breakfast that weekend.

I’m not a big fan of cooking potatoes; they are not easy to handle. Besides peeling and cutting them, you need to wash them and grease the pan. Whatever cooking oil is available, I’m not picky. But sometimes I put too much cooking oil and the potatoes can get too greasy. Although if you don’t use enough the potatoes can start to stick to the pan and it can get messy. If you cook them too long they can get mushy. I don’t want the potatoes to be still raw. It is just an ingredient I have yet to master and conquer.

I’ve been getting thing wrapped up with the semester and I can’t wait to be just done and not worry about nothing with school, just be away somewhere. A mental vacation from this hectic university world is what I need. Forever grateful for the experience but I need to just step away momentarily. Put a fork in me.

I just want to be the “couch potato” and I know that is not the case. As much I would like to just live on the couch and pretend that I’m on some leather island. I have things cooking all over that I must tend to. There are summer jobs that I need to be applying to and people I need to get in touch with about future opportunities. There are so many things that come before the couch potato stage and if I want to actually get something done then I should probably not spend too much time on that island. No matter how tropical things are.

Coming on to new territory and dealing with something new and tedious can make you feel more comfortable on a couch rather than getting out in the world and doing something productive. As much as I want to be a couch potato right now I got more important distractions outside of this comfort zone. I am in a space that I have never been before. As I get older and I’m getting to these different stages in life where I need to think about my decisions and place in this world. My next move in life. Bittersweet always.

I have accomplished something that seemed impossible at one point in my life. I had every intention to finish my bachelor’s degree but I thought it would take a lot longer and I would have more time to think and adjust. But now that I’m finishing up and getting ready for graduation; things are just getting too real. Time out.

I have to laugh because even though I’m walking on top of the world and I have this huge goal accomplished; it’s in the bag and I can see all the work I’ve done over the years accumulating into something. But I still have a ways to go before I get to where I really want to be. Only because I haven’t thought about it too much in great detail and just have doodles of what it looks like. I do have a goal to write a book of poetry maybe travel and I know these milestones are in my future but I need to be doing something in the mean time. Let me think of something to write a book about. I need new material now.

No matter how many goals I finish and reach there are still things that I will want to get done. More to conqueror and explore. Learning always and there is more to go after the next day or the next goal. Once you realize there are other things to chase in the world and more to gain then it is like back to square one all over. And I think the key to it is to think of it as solving a puzzle. Putting it together. Then right after completing it, destroying it and start from scratch. If this analogy isn’t doing it for you; then think of it as a meal or recipe.

We all need to eat. If you do the same recipe over and over again I believe the meal or dish will become better. Better in the aspect of the cook’s comforts making the dish and even the taste of the recipe. Now recipes are not all the same. Some are more difficult than others. But when you master any recipe or dish and justifying this skill level is simple. Did it feed anybody? Did you enjoy the meal?

Now let me throw this at you. So you master this recipe and you’ve reached this high point in success and the opportunity to learn and master a different recipe comes your way. A recipe that is unfamiliar and may even seem impossible at that moment; the opportunity is only yours for the taking. The original recipe will always be there and will help you feel confident taking on this new recipe. Also accepting the new hardships and challenges that go along with mastering the new recipe. There are choices a chef or cook has to make in order to experiencing success with a meal. If you were in this position, what would you do?

I think the puzzle analogy was more like a day-to-day thing. In a strange way if you look at, everyday is a puzzle. Maybe not the same puzzle but it something you must complete everyday to stay consistent or maybe you just really like working on puzzles. It seems that puzzles just make it more confusing to what I’m saying. Food for thought.

My potatoes came out actually pretty good that weekend. No complaints after. My brother was working early that weekend and E-girl was with us at home. She’s getting bigger and starting to ask if she can help with just everything she sees you doing. She says, “I wanna help you,” and the tables have truly turned. Instead of the uncle telling the nephew what he should do; it is the niece asking the uncle what she can do to help. The generations have changed the way things work. She is just a delight to be around but difficult to manage if she doesn’t get her way. Cooking potatoes maybe not the first thing I’ll teach her. But she will eventually need to start somewhere. Maybe not cooking right away but if she does want to help, I have to make that happen. Washing dishes is where we will start her and we won’t do anything else until we mastered that art.

I always say I’m the fun uncle and yes I am to a certain degree. I’m only fun if those dishes are did honey. We have the best time eating when E-girl is at the table.

She cooks the entertainment and brings plenty.