You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Singlehood’ category.

Did you know that there are only 24 more shopping days until Christmas?  20 if you are Hanukkah shopping.  Didja? Didja?  Didja?

Oh yes, it is that time of year again.  What am I saying?  Its been “that time of year” since October but the insanity and pressure of “Holiday Shopping” has and will only get worse.  I’ve been grateful for the past 3 years NOT to have cable service because I was spared the incessant jingles, scare tactics and pressure to buy, Buy, BUY!  However, I am noticing something as a childless adult…I’m not feeling the pressure, only the disgust at our completely commercialised western culture.

Want her love?  Remember what kiss begins with or what store to shop in to make the burly football player smile.

Want to make him cheer?  Buy tools or a red metal toolbox.

Want the kids to be happy?  Buy one of a zillion and a half toys.  Better yet, buy lots.

Despite the ABC World News push to have a “Made in America” holiday, ITS STILL ABOUT BUYING!  Now, I am in favor of creating jobs as much as the next person but really, I would rather save my money entirely, have a handmade holiday or give a family gift.

Here is my plan for a revolutionary holiday:

A)  If you feel like you MUST shop:

#1:  Before you shop for anything, purge your closets.  Go thru and clean out the clothes you don’t wear, the toys your kids don’t play with and the ‘things’ that you have around that are just gathering dust.  Give away to your local charity shop.

#2: Make a list of your NEEDS.  Do you/your partner/the kids in your life NEED a new winter coat?  How about boots?  How about underwear or socks?  How about diapers?  How about crayons or paper?  Parents, be honest, wouldn’t you rather your kid have new socks or snow boots that they can actually USE or a beeping, flashing, noisy toy that will drive you batty and run on hellishly expensive batteries?  I thought so.

#3: Make a list of your WANTS.  For me, I REALLY WANT a kitchen aid mixer, like really, really badly.  Mike really, really wants an Xbox with Kinect.  Keep it simple and keep it to the “Really, Really” wants.

#4: Make a list of your likes.  Do you like yarn, non-food or floral scents and the colour blue and red?  How about yellows and greens, fruity smells and hair products?  War games?  Chocolate?  Car toys?  Bicycles?  Horses?  BE SPECIFIC!!!  You can also make a very specific dislikes list but its easier to shop for someone when you know what they really like.

#5: Share those lists with your family.

#6: Buy accordingly.  Needs come first, then wants.  Consider buying only gifts that can be for the whole family instead of person specific.  The mixer will provide hours of kitchen fun and the Xbox hours of playing together.  We both win.

#7: Go volunteer for at least 1 hour for every ‘thing’ you buy.  Trust me, if you have time to battle the stores or search the ‘net for the best deals, you have time to help someone in need.

B)  If you feel crafty:

#1: Make nearly identical gifts for everyone.  I still think that the best year of my giving was when I made stained glass angels for everyone.  Using scraps and leftovers from my Mums projects, I changed the colour of the dresses, made some look left, others look right but made a bunch for family and friends.

#2 Knit/Make slippers.  Everyone needs slippers and wearing them in the house cuts down on the vacuuming.  Win-Win for everyone!

#3 Recycle containers and fill with other goodies.  I know I plan to make snowmen like Kristy did and fill them with mint hot chocolate or russian tea.

#4 Should time run out, give IOU’s!  Adults understand this more than kids so try your best to complete the kids gifts first.

C) Give

#1: Give of your time and skills.  Not only am I advocating volunteering but also giving of yourself to your family.  Offer to babysit the niece/nephew(s) while the parents go out.  Offer to do the laundry while your partner has some alone time.  Offer to make their favourite snack during Sunday football.  Give coupons and follow thru and all will be happy.

#2: Give to your favourite charity.  Heifer International is mine and, like always, I am giving a Knitters Gift Basket to a needy family in honour of my Nana.  What better way to share the holiday season than giving to people who are in true need?

D) Create traditions NOT around gifts.

Mike and I are really looking forward to having a feast like we did last year:

and watching Christmas specials.  I’ve got to work on Christmas day so nothing fancy for us but really, we don’t need it.

What are your non-commercial holiday ideas?

What’s the single most important thing you accomplished in 2010 and how do you plan to top it in 2011?

At first I thought that this was going to be incredibly easy to write about.

What was the most important thing I accomplished in 2010?

Pshaw…it was losing 60lbs!  <–to–> 

Duh.  I mean, how many other people can say they had done that?  Oh wait…how do I top that?  I can’t lose any more weight.  Well, I can, but it wouldn’t be healthy for me to do so…so how about planning on keeping it off.  Since 95% of people who lose weight gain it back again, being one of those special 5% would be amazing.

 

OK, that was easy.

 

But I forgot about mentioning M.

Mike and Tasha 8-29-10

Entering into a long term relationship with him was huge for me and a major accomplishment of the last year.

 

What about going to visit family in MI for 2 weeks in the summer and meeting my nephew?  That was a big trip in the planning and the making and certainly something that I got to cross off my 101 list.

 

And what about…

 

STOP.

Breath.

Think.

 

Completely inadvertently, the SINGLE MOST important thing that I did in 2010 was “Let Go.”

I let go of the security blanket I was carrying around me that allowed me think that I was “happy” being overweight when it was more of a fleeting thought that if I could make my own self think that I was confident and content with what I looked like then others would see that confidence and not notice the poundage.

I let go of the idea that I was past an old relationship, admitted to myself that life was nowhere near where I thought it should be, realised that I was still mourning the loss of that idea, accepted that I was making a new path all my own and actually DID move on.

I let go of a relationship when I realised that it was more of a band-aid for the both of us and that neither of us were ever going to be what the other wanted.

I let go of control and learned to go with the flow, accepting things for what they were, not what I wanted them to be.

I let go of the “Perfect Plan” I had made for my life when I was in college (!!) and embraced the idea of a new future with new adventures around new corners.

I let go of my singleness and entered into couplehood in a way that was far less awkward that any other budding relationship that I have even been in proving to myself that it was right in a way the others had never been.

I let go of my fears of not being Enough and just Was and that made for a wonderful visit with my family, some of whom I hadn’t seen in 5 years.

I let go of a lifetime of shopping woes, lived in the moment and splurged on some wonderful clothes that look great on me.  We won’t talk about some of those *other* pieces of clothing that end up as lacy piles on the floor…those look good on AND off me.

I let go of the idea that I was stronger as a single person and embraced the power that comes from leaning on and drawing from someone else.

I let go of nearly all of the negative things that were holding me and started reaching for those things that I wanted to embrace on a regular basis.

Balance  Clarity  Connection  Courage  Faith  Fertility 

 

Healing  Hope  Inspiration  Joy  Love  Patience  Peace  Perseverance  Strength

I started to live my life Intentionally.  Back in August I actually let go from inadvertant living and started Intentional Living…focusing on the parts of me that made me, well, me.  What made me happy, sad, angry.  What gave me focus, energy,  or passion.  What excited, inspired or drained me.  How I could use those forces for the good in my life and not spend so much life on the feeling of “getting thru it” parts.  Because in the end, life IS the journey.

How will I top that in 2011?  For starters, the first 8 months of my 2011 is still focusing on Intentional Living.  I still have 12 area of focus to move thru in the next *GASP* 7.5 months (realistically 6.5 because moving and setting up house will take at least that long).  I’m going to continue working on letting go of those things that have a hold on me, most notably, my negative view of my body.  In the end, I want to look at 2011 as my Intentional 16 Months (8/29/10-12/31/11).

And you can bet I’ll be blogging about it here.

 


Balance in my personal life is a bit of a new thing.

For 3 years, its been Sisu and I and thats it.

And now…now there is this other entity to be aware of.

He makes noise, plays music, eats food, uses bathroom time, takes up space on the couch, needs attention, wants to talk and takes up more than half of the bed.

And its weird.

Because I sometimes want it quiet, would rather listen to a podcast than music, make my ‘weird’ food, need to pee when he is in the shower, stretch out on the couch, knit/spin/read for hours, be in my own world and sprawl in bed.

But…you know what?

He knows and is learning when I need quiet, is more than willing to listen (or tune out) knitting podcasts, has eaten everything I have made and raved about the resulting experiments, pees when I am in the shower (but waits to flush), snuggles with me on the couch after lunch in what has become one of my favourite daily moments, thinks its pretty darn neat that I spin and knit and brags to his visiting friends about how cool it is, can sit just as comfortably in silence with me as anything else we do and is more than happy to have me encroach on ‘his’ side of the bed.

I am liking this new balance.

Especially the part where he raves to his friends about the coolness that is his girl who can make her own yarn.  That bit makes me smile really big and kiss him once the friend has gone.

Then…

Now…

Ok, so the second photo doesnt show the house but I think that the snow is the important part here.  Well, that and the fact that one year ago today I was flying into Nelson Lagoon with Eric, my pilot, and thinking, “What the hell have I gotten myself into now”.  That thought hasnt changed much over the past 12 months.  6 months ago I would have sworn that I would be broadcasting from a new position in the near future because this (work, village, friends) just wasn’t working for me.   Today, while I am positive that Nelson Lagoon is not going to be my ‘forever’ home, I would tell anyone that I am happy, healthy and much the stronger for the past 12 months.

I came limping to Nelson Lagoon, still nursing a damaged heart and sense of self from 9 months previous, thinking that, in some way, being here in this village, I would go back to being the same person I was 12 months before in another small village.  I was living out an intention from a previous life; being the person I had intended to be without the person I had intended to be with.  The pathway to hell is paved with good intentions and such was my experience.  I put myself through a very personal hell, one that I didn’t fully realise I was creating for myself until much later.  Hindsight is always 20/20 though and I shan’t continue to flagellate myself over my personal blindness and I will not play Atlas to a world that only exists in “might have been”.  That was then.

This is now.

No, life isn’t perfect.  Yes, I am still lonely, admittedly very lonely, at times.  And then there are moments when I realise that I am so very content where I am and who I am with that it makes me smile and want to tell the world of my contentedness.  Moments like dinners over this past week.  While M is out of town to a conference in Anchorage, I have had the luck to share my clinic with a PA named J.  J is a wonderful man who has a wealth of knowledge and is always willing to share, help and support.  I had worked with him in Sand Point last April (actually, I almost passed out when assisting him with an abscess drainage but saved face by knowing enough to sit and breath until the black spots faded in front of my eyes and vision returned) and I was thrilled to know he would be coming out to fill in while M was away.  I also knew that J was a wiz in the kitchen so I was hoping to share a few meals too.  Nearly a week into his two here and already I will be happy to have my kitchen back to myself.  Not that he isnt a great cook, fun and funny work and dinner companion because he is all that and more, I can’t begin tell you what a joy it has been to have an rational, educated conversation with someone over the dinner table, but it is my kitchen I miss.  Oddly, it is not the act of having to cook for myself again, it is the Responsibility of feeding myself that I miss.  I cannot begin to fathom why this is the case considering that I manage breakfast and lunch just fine and it is a novelty to have dinner prepared for me, especially one from a cook who is far more skilled than I and with such variety in flavour, made with fresh and fine ingredients.  And I won’t tell him that I want to cook again either because then I would be deprived of a chance to a) NOT cook dinner and b) be spoilt with a meal.   I never would have suspected myself of putting such stock in the simple Responsibility of cooking but I am letting it go until I have to resume the task again on the 9th.  I remind myself that it is a grand thing to sit back and knit while succulent meals are prepared and I should savor this time, and the meals, because they will quickly be gone.  I then go back to enjoying conversation with someone who pushes me mentally, not the mention the physical push/pull he has been giving me when running together in the afternoons, and remember that he will too soon be off to another village and I will have to be content once again with my solitude.  Still content, I treasure this time with another quick mind like a small gift, it is the simpleness of the sharing of his time and skills that gives me such joy.

While I am still the “new” health aide there are subtle undercurrents to village life that I can feel pulling.  I hear things that I would not have registered, see further into situations, know more by knowing better, taste the winds of unrest or change and it is my touch and presence that villagers ask for instead of the better educated and more highly trained hands of the foreign mid-level practitioner.

And that has made all the difference to my life here…One Year Later.

“When you have their full attention in your grip, their hearts and minds will follow.” (Rather: When you have them by the testicles, you have their heart and head) -Small Gods by Terry Pratchett

My most interesting Latin* title was a hard one to choose.  I was torn between this and “Best come-back in my life”.  Nowhere near Easter-y but, please, do read on.

As the only single woman in town between the age of 18 and 56, I get hit on a lot.  Because the phrase ‘Semper Fidelis’** is known only as the motto of the US Marine Corps and by 3 couples, this means that blatant pick-up lines don’t just come from the 4 single men in town but from nearly any front.  Some are simple one-liners with a purely innocent or teasing note while others are more hopeful but still very subtle.

And then there is ‘Z’.

‘Z’ is 42 and about as subtle as a 2×4 upside the head and has just about as much tact as said 2×4.  He is blatant, overt, tenacious, incessant, transparent and very, very public about his intentions and desires.  In short, quite a plague on my sanity.  Like any girl, I am totally flattered when a man makes a comment about how nice I look today or favorably compares my beauty to the gorgeous day we are having but there is a distinct line when honest flattery or straight out BS (really?  You think I’m more pretty than the day? I call BS.) becomes completely unbelievable and nonsense.

One comment=flattery.  Two comments=lovely.  Three comments= Um, OK. Are you stopping now?  Four comments= You are completely full of shite and wasting my time on earth.

‘Z’ never stops at 4.  In fact, he generally doesnt stop at all and even ends the meeting with things like, “Ok, Marry you later” or “Love you too” or, my personal favorite, “See you in bed”.  Everything is a double (or triple or quadruple or…) entendre with him and it only gets worse as the conversation goes on.  Any other time and place I would play my favourite game of “Avoid the Jerk” but when there are only 55 people in town and he happens to live next door and I happen to work in a public office, well, lets just say that avoiding anyone is impossible unless I want to always be inside my house and while quite a solitary person, I am no hermit.  Crabby sometimes, but no hermit 🙂

‘Z’ recently came back into town after spending a few months elsewhere and one of the first things that he did was come to visit me at work.  I had been telling M for days that I wasn’t looking forward to him coming back (his mother was positive that I wanted to know this and would be at the airport to greet him.  I stayed far, far away.) and had told her too about the come-ons.  She thought I was exaggerating until that afternoon when ‘Z’ stopped by and opened fire.

For almost 20 minutes she sat in the lobby (I made her go out first) and watched while I stood behind a recliner (to have something to dig my nails into as I was unfailingly polite) and deflected his innuendos, insinuations and allusions to an extremely intimate relationship between us that he wanted to create.  M was filled with nervous laughter and finally saw that I wasnt joking or exaggerating.  While outwardly I was professional, inwardly I was screaming things like, “Do you have any idea how UN-attractive this makes you?”, “Oh HELL No”, and “Please go away, you are embarrassing yourself”.  In the past I have had chances to tell a person that I was finding their comments toward me extremely unwanted and unwelcome but a small town is not the place to do it again.  Being the outsider myself and him being direct family to 10 other people (and indirect to the others) would strongly sway public opinion.  Well, this and the fact that he was with my boss for roughly 2 years and that there are still strong feelings flying.  All of these things made me bite my tongue and bide my time.  I am a strong believer in the adage about giving a man enough rope and he will hang himself***, so I just let ‘Z’ keep going and waited for the drop.  He didn’t fail me.

By the end of the encounter, because such a thing can hardly be called a conversation, I was tired, annoyed and ready for him to go.  Through it all, I had thought of lots of good one liners that I WISH I had thought of just a few seconds earlier so that I could have been spared blushes.  He wasn’t getting my not-so-subtle comments that I wasnt interested in doing anything, from going on a snowmobile to having multiple children, with him.  I was ready for a quick killing thrust, preferably from me, to end it all.  Just before he left, he asked about my training and offered to be a guinea pig.  “Any time you need a patient, I would be happy to play doctor with you”, complete with raised eyebrows, winks and nods.  M said that the only thing that I needed to practice was sutures but we would both be happier if he didn’t need any.  “Sure, I would be happy to let you play with me. (Entendre totally obvious) I’d let you cut off my arm and sew it back on if you want to.”

“Oh Z,” I purred, smiling while walking out from behind the chair to stand before him with my arms crossed, “there is only one part of your anatomy that I am interested in cutting off and it’s about 3 feet below your arm.”

Silence.

It took him a little while to get it.  I couldnt look at M, who was trying hard not to die laughing, while holding the same quiet smile always on my lips because I knew if I looked at her I would lose it too.  He laughed a little, bade us good bye and left with the parting shot of “Love you later” directed at me but without its usual zeal.

It didnt matter that he had the last word, I had uttered the single best come-back in my life.   Final score of the match, decided in the last seconds of the game? Z=0, SG=Everything.  A very sweet victory indeed.

BTW:  ‘Z’ isn’t his letter and is, in fact, at the other end of the spectrum.

*My favourite phrases are: “Fac et Excusa” (do and then justify) and “Nil Illegitimo caborundum” (Don’t let the bastards grind you down).  This latter being another that I first encountered via Discworld and both have been thought of for tattoo #2.  I’m leaning more towards the latter.  Its more of a mantra than anything and is quite fitting.

**Always Faithful

***Did you know, grammatically, people are not ‘hung’ but are ‘hanged’?  This always sounded a bit odd to me but as my conversations in polite company nor my writings focus on the macabre or ways of putting people to death, it rarely enters my mind.  Except now.

Being a singleton who likes to spend a good deal of her time in the kitchen is, quite frankly, a problem.

Its not a weighty* issue though I will address that in the near future.  This is more of a consumption concern and while this too could refer to a well rounded issue**, its not where I am going.

No, I am delving into the major problem that 99.9% of the best reviewed cookbooks; the old standards, tried and true, splattered and well thumbed cookbooks that have been loved for generations,  focus on feeding a family of 4.  Most of the time they even include enough for leftovers or have terrifying numbers next to them.  Worse than 4 is 6.  8 is enough to make me groan and heaven help me when I see 12.  I don’t touch those ’12’ recipes with a 10′ pole.  Those numbers refer to servings and sadly, have very little to do with sane portion sizes either so it is easy to double those numbers with the use of a measuring cup, spoon or a scale.  I have a large-ish chest freezer (hey, when you have to order all your frozen (and all other groceries) for a 9 month period of time, you need such things) and while its moving closer towards emptying, the idea of making even one meal a week that would feed 4-6 people would mean that it would NEVER be empty and I would always be eating leftovers.  Not that I have anything against leftovers.  In fact, I usually make a large pot of soup on Saturday and then eat it for lunch or dinner through the week, adding little bits every day because soup/stew is always better as flavors meld.  Pease Porridge hot, Pease Porridge cold, Pease Porridge in the pot, 9 days old and all that.  Don’t worry, I always put it in the fridge right after dinner,  always bring it to a boil before eating and it never lasts 9 days.  Its usually a stretch to have any left by Friday lunch and by that point, I am so ready for a fresh start that its a joy to add that handful of noodles or rice that signal the end of the batch (anyone who has ever had re-heated noodle/rice soup knows about the sticky, icky mass that it can be).  No, I really like leftovers but I like cooking more and the heating of dinner, even a good one, 3 times to the cooking of it once just isn’t my idea of a good time in the kitchen.  A good time is playing with pots and pans and oven, chopping, mixing, shredding, braising, baking, broiling and seasoning to taste.  The hard part comes with learning how to do it on a small scale.

So what is a singleton or even a couple to do?  Cooking for 1 or 2 is really a skill, one that comes easiest if a person is A) willing to be creative, B) knows what flavours they like C) uses smaller pots and pans, D) doesnt think that cooking on a small scale is a waste of time and E) has a few good references to help along the way.  Lets take this alphabetically, shall we?

A)  Creativity.  If you want to try cooking that lobster, as long as you arn’t allergic to or have religious injunctions against eating of shellfish, GO AHEAD!  Its much cheaper to create a lobster dinner for 1 than for 4.  Want to try philo wrapped chicken?  Cinnamon in chocolate cookies?  A new spice?  Chicken gizzards?  DO IT!  You are the master/mistress of your own kitchen and there is nothing that you cant try.  Its only your taste buds that need to be appeased and really, a mistake over dinner for 1 or 2 is no where near as dramatic as a dinner fail for your family.  Besides, there is always peanut butter and jelly.  Be Fearless.  After all, its just food.  Unless you are trying your hand at puffer fish sushi or are adding arsenic to taste as called for in Lord Downey’s Mint Humbugs.  Then you can be scared.

B) What you like.  You know what you like and what you don’t.  What tastes go together and what doesnt is very much a personal variable and in cooking for 1 or 2, this is a good thing.  In the case of the couple, you know what you both like and its easy to just make one or two small changes in a meal to then have something totally different.  For me, garlic, lemon juice, coarse sea salt, a pepper mill (filled, of course) and basil pesto are staples.  I know that I can use these things, alone or in concert, with ANYTHING I enjoy eating and come up with a brilliant meal.  There are more days that I would like to admit where they are the only things that I use and I could honestly find them all blindfolded because they are so readily to hand.  My point is, if you know the spices and flavors you like, it is very hard to make a meal of any size that isnt to taste.  If you cook large, family sized dishes of pesto pasta with grilled chicken, you can make a small one because you know what it is supposed to taste like and how you like it.

C) Smaller for smaller.  This is quite a “duh” statement but because of its simplicity, it must be stated.  If you use large pots and pans you will make larger meals.  It never fails.  There is something ingrained in the mind of anyone who has cooked for more than themselves and a partner that makes us all look into a pan with more than enough for 1 and a bit leftover and say, “Oh, I need to add more of X”.  No matter what you are making, no matter how often you try, it is nearly an impossible habit to break while using large pots and pans and if you are one of the few who can cook for one in big pans, please let me know so I can venerate you.  The simple matter is that if you switch to using a smaller fry pan, a smaller pot for soup or veggies, use small loaf pans or 6 muffin tins, you will instinctively make less.  You have no idea how many huge pots of soup went into the freezer after a weekday dinner where I used the big pot.  When I switched to the smaller one, it was amazing!  I could actually eat it all in a few days and not get sick of it!  Wonder of wonders*****

D) Making a mess.  Another hurdle of singles cooking is breaking the mindset of making “all that mess just for me”.  I really think that this is why microwave dinners and take-away are most often associated with singles.  Its not a mess, its DINNER and really, if you think its messy to cook for one, try it on a large scale.  The peel from one potato is nothing compared with 20.  Sure you have to wash the cutting board whether you cut one or 5 but what does that matter?  Its faster to chop one of anything anyway so then you are left with plenty of time for the washing while pots/pans burble away on the range.  If you feel so very strongly about not wanting to make a mess for only one or two things, why not prep a bunch at a time?  Since I have to buy in bulk, it is very hard to get onsey-twosey of anything and it mostly comes to me frozen solid so my only way of dealing is to thaw in the fridge and then do the weeks prep work while one part becomes that nights dinner.  Example?  Chicken thighs come in 4’s.  I thaw, usually leave 2 whole for oven roasting, de-bone one and leave it as whole as possible and cut the other into strips.  The two to be roasted will become anything from Shake N Baked to 2 separate marinades and then baked that night.  One for dinner, one for lunch or dinner the next night.  4 days later, all the chicken is gone.  For me, this method is a titch more difficult with larger cuts of anything but thats why I only have roast over at other peoples houses.  I dislike thawing and re-freezing anything and for me to cook less than a whole 5lbs of pork/beef roast it would be a requirement.  While freezing cooked roast is always an option, I have not had the gnawing****** desire to roast anything larger than a Cornish Game Hen and I figure that I’ll cross that epicurean bridge when I come to it.  Many people do cook larger pieces, cut leftovers how they want to eat them later and freeze so it is a very viable option.  Think of the “mess” this way: You always get it your way.  No explanations needed, deletions and substitutions are always allowed and you know exactly what it looked like before it became dinner.  And this always makes washing a board and knife OK in my book.

E) And speaking of books…I will admit that I rarely follow a recipe to the letter.  More of guidelines rather than rules in my book with only one exception: Baking.  In my mind, the one book every single or couple cook needs is Small-Batch Baking by Debby Maugans Nakos.  This amazing book gives perfect instruction for making small cakes, one or two muffins, 4 cookies, small loaves of sweet bread, batches of icing for one cake and the list goes on and on.  Everything that I have tried has been scrumptious, flavorful and, best yet, the perfect size.  There is something to be said about making a huge batch of cookies but I would rather leave that endeavor to Christmas time and enjoy just one or two right now most of the time.  I made her almond pound cake while writing this post and it is calling to me from the stove-top.  There.  Better now that it has less of a voice to call with and is muffled behind plastic.

The other book that I use weekly is Going Solo in the Kitchen by Jane Doerfer.  This book has been with me since early 2007 and it has one claim to fame that had me from the first:  After nearly every recipe she gives uses for leftovers and /or variations on the theme.  Simple, quick meals that still can be elegant and reminds the single/couple cook that there are many special ingredients that are closer to fiscal reach when you are cooking for one or two versus four (like the lobster from A).

These books are my well-thumbed, splattered and dog-eared cooking tomes that have not only served me well as a single but also when cooking for a family of 6.  Its easier to increase a recipe than to divide it and I can see both of these being with me into whatever my future holds, be it meals for my 1 or, heaven forbid, 12.

*I truly hope you laughed at that pun.  I so rarely get to use them in daily conversations it means that you, my dear readers, bear the brunt of my witticisms.

**  Sorry, I had to continue the thread***.

***This is what comes from an unravelling mind****

****Does this mean my mind is frogging?

*****Miracle of miracles.  Sometimes you just have to break into song.  No apologies.

******More eating puns…

Cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cardamom…black pepper?  Cumin?

Together?

Really?

Yup, and its called Garam Masala.  The particular blend that I bought is from The Spice Hunter (www.spicehunter.com) and is salt-free (Just a FYI, it didn’t really matter to me).   You can find recipes all over the ‘Net to make your own from whole spices that you toast and grind yourself but this was perfect for me.  What drew me to this blend of spices?  The fact that I hadn’t ever used it, wanted something different to add to my spice cupboard and finally, that I have never met an Indian dish I didn’t like so, I reasoned to myself, I will enjoy this too.  Perfectly reasonable.

Heres the hitch: I didn’t read the ingredients list.  I had no idea that Garam Masala wasn’t just a specific name for a curry blend; honestly what I was expecting.  I knew there was something different about it, I just had no idea what.

Last night I was planning an experiment for dinner.  One of my joys of being single is the creativity allowed to me.  I don’t have to think about what anyone else would eat, just me.  My creation? I really don’t know how to describe it.  Originally, I wanted to make Dutch Meatballs but I didn’t have half of the ingredients.  Still inspired by the cooking technique of creating meatballs, browning in butter and then adding broth and simmering to be served with mash and veg and half wanting to do a twist on spaghetti and meatballs so I could use the other half of the spaghetti squash I had on Saturday, I got creative.  No chef would have ever tried this blend but it just hit my little spot this evening.

1lb ground beef, straight from fridge

1T Garam Masala blend

¾ c cooked brown rice

1 med egg

1T Sea Salt (Mine is a VERY coarse salt, add yours to taste)

½ to ¾ c water

3T Evaporated Milk

Garam Masala to taste

I beat the egg and GM together, added the rice and salt, mix then add the ground beef.  Mix well but carefully, you don’t want the heat from your hands to melt the fat in the beef.  Form into balls.  I made 20 small ones but fewer, large ones would be OK too.  If the mixture gets warm and melty, put into freezer for a few moments while you are prepping the rest of dinner.  In a large fry pan, add a few tablespoons of oil (mine was a blend of EVOO and Canola) and heat to near smoking.  Add meatballs leaving enough room to shake and move meatballs about and brown them evenly.  Drain any excess oil.  Turn heat down to simmer, add water, milk and GM to taste.  More water, milk and GM can be added if you want lots of “gravy”.  Cover and let simmer for 2-25 minutes, depending on how large your meatballs are and how long they need to cook through.  Mine simmered less than 5 minutes.

Remove meatballs from pan, taste sauce/gravy, adjust seasonings to taste and reduce sauce to desired thickness.

In the inspiring recipe, the writer said to serve with mash but since I had the spaghetti squash to finish, I heated that in the micro (a rare thing for me to do, I have this ‘thing’ lately about using a microwave for heating foods), scraped the veggie spaghetti from the rind into my bowl and seasoned with a bit of my trusty Lemon Pepper.  Stick with me here.  I know there must be some “Ew”s chorusing out there at the idea of lemon with anything milky, meaty and spiced with what most people associate ‘sweet’ spices, but when I tasted the sauce/gravy, something in me said it would be yummy with just a hint of lemon.  By this time, as my sauce/gravy had reduced to my liking, I topped the squash with 5 meatballs and poured the sauce on top.

At this point, any worth her salt food blogger would have a photo for you of the completed dish.  Actually, s/he would have pictures along the way too but since this is not normally a food blog, I won’t worry that I didn’t take any.  At first I didn’t because that would require another set of hands.  Those would be taking the pictures while mine were searching the cupboard, whisking the egg and GM, greasy with raw meat, shaking the skillet, turning the meatballs, scraping the squash or pouring the sauce.  I think the only one that I would have easily done on my own would have been the decorative shot at the end with an artful piece of parsley on the side of the steaming dish.  But I’m out of parsley, so that ones out too.  Besides, it all smelled so good that I was hard pressed not to eat it all before I sat at the table.

And that’s a good thing.  It would have been peanut butter for me if my creation had been less than edible and unsalvageable which has happened only once (knock on wood) thus far.  Even Sisu didn’t like it.  An Epic Fail so massive that I cannot, for the life of me, remember what it was or what I did, only that it was a long time at the stove and was so horrid that I’ve blocked it totally from my memory.

Back to my dinner…the squash with the hint of lemon really set off the meat and creamy-ness of the sauce and the spices blended with the brightness of the lemon beautifully.  If I were to serve it to company and make it a bit less hodge-podge or clean-the-fridge-like, I would serve over egg noodles or mashed potatoes, make a great deal more gravy and serve with carrots or green beans so that the lemon pepper can make an appearance.   So very yummy.  Enough so that Thursday will be the command performance of 5 more meatballs (the other 10 are in baggies and in the freezer for later days) and I was already planning cauliflower for a veg, another that is good with lemon pepper and very yum with cream sauce, and mash.  The Garam Masala shan’t be forgotten in the cupboard.  I can’t wait to play with this amazing blend of spices more in the future.

Coming soon: Detesting Daylight Savings