I enjoy collecting cookbooks, especially those that are part travelougue and culture commentary. My latest addition, “The Flavor Thesaurus” by Niki Segnit is though more akin to a painter’s wheel reference and may be more on my bedside reading table versus my kitchen. Instead of a step by step guide to kitchen cookery, ingredients are broken down into flavor profiles. An example would be of Earthy being mushrooms, eggplant, Cumin, beets, potato and celery. I have combined mushrooms and eggs but hadn’t considered mushrooms with apricots. There are suggestions of recipes but little instruction. This is the way my Grandmother often cooked, pulling things out of the pantry and refrigerator and measuring by eye and hand. This is more a meditation of intuitive cooking versus a how to guide. I found for instance, my beloved avocado, under the green and grassy profile. Some combinations then suggested I had already tried- avocado with bacon, with blue cheese, with chili or tomatoes. But how about avocado with coffee? I am looking forward to the experiments this book evokes.
I haven’t been as grateful lately as I should be. I think this is partly due to watching too much television, too much bad news, and too much negativity from social media. So I’ve cut back, way back despite a nagging guilty feeling that I could be missing out on something important. But then I read a book called “Stillness is the Key”. It isn’t a great read but as I plodded along it began to make a lot of sense. News used to be more thoughtful. Journalists took the time to research and craft a well rounded story, and then at the end of the actual news, perhaps an opinion piece would be given with the caveat that it was indeed an opinion and not necessarily well rounded. I think that is greatly missing these days. It seems everyone has a opinion and if I don’t agree completely then I am shamed, labeled and made to feel less than I should. There is very little civil discourse or agreement to meet in the middle, to come to a compromise. To be able to understand the other side’s viewpoint is a sadly missing component of nearly all media. And that has an effect on everything- our ability to think critically, to feel valued in our own abilities, to be able to contribute. Anger and guilt seems to be nasty feedback loop that many operate on. In the book, the author gives advice on how to be more selective and less reactive via examples of leaders, celebrities and other known people. One of the more thought provoking examples was President JFK and the way he moderated his own behavior during the crisis with Cuba and Russia. His notebooks full of doodles and deliberate writing show that he slowed down his reactive and engaged more meditatively in thinking about how to help Russia back down and save face.
I think it’s easy to stop seeing the bright side of things. Too easy to forget to see things are less dark than some would have us think. People want to feel safe, to be able to feed themselves, their families, to feel basically secure for the most part and happy. And the majority of those I know, are just that no matter how much doom and gloom crawls across the screens. So today my gratitude centers on the just this and movement away from anxiety and worry about what if.
Right now in this moment. I have a solid home, a loving partner, food in the pantry, and my health. I am able to enjoy a great cup of coffee, sitting on a comfortable couch with my feet up surrounded by my pets. I can look out the window and see the sunrise pinking the sky and the branches of the live oak tree. I can see a squirrel chattering at the dog, and some birds flitting around. There is a hummingbird checking out the feeder. I am in no rush to start having to address a to do list, but even the to do list should be something I can feel good about- I can do those things or I can set them aside if needed.
I hope today brings some joy to you, some quietude and peace, some feeling of a job well done and a whole lot less worry than yesterday.