October 21, 2011

Words which should never be uttered in the same sentence

I shuddered when I read these two words together: "seafood chili". Never. This is just not going to end well for anyone.

Don't do it.


Posted by Random Penseur at 07:33 AM | Comments (73) | TrackBack

October 20, 2011

Time passes differently

When you were a child, for instance, it seemed that school days in June, when the weather had turned warm, moved more slowly than school days in January when it still got dark so early in the north-east. When you were a child, time seemed an infinite resource, replenished unstintingly from a never ending flowing river. Days followed on days and you thought, if you thought about it all, that it would never end. I'm sure that's what my college roommate, D, thought, too.

Then he was rushed into emergency surgery to take a tumor out of his brain, a stage IV glioblastoma, the worst kind. He and his wife were very brave as they made the rounds of Sloan Kettering and Duke to see if D was eligible for trials. I'm sure, even with this jolt of mortality, that they still envisioned an ending time that they could not put a date to, even if it was now longer infinite in comprehension of scope anymore. They were full of brave words about how young D is, how he is in great health, that he could and would beat this, that he would be able to dance at this daughter's wedding one day.

Now, not quite a year has passed since I last saw them. Now, in the space of 2 months since D's last MRI, the tumor has grown back so quickly that it is as large as the tumor that they took out not quite a year ago.

Recurrence. Now, all the choices (assuming they really ever had any choices to begin with) are bad and all the choices come with easily comprehensible expiration dates. When the average projected survival rates are 14-36 weeks post second surgery, then your time is now longer infinite. Now you can grasp an end, if you will. Your mind can comprehend the conclusion date, even if it is more of a range than a date certain.

So the question is, how is it that time which once passed so slowly is now passing so quickly? Time which stretched out into infinity is now quite finite.

There is no dying with dignity here. There is simply tremendous sadness that time has become so circumscribed. I am put in mind of Houseman's poem, To an Athlete Dying Young:

To An Athlete Dying Young

THE time you won your town the race
We chaired you through the market-place;
Man and boy stood cheering by,
And home we brought you shoulder-high.

To-day, the road all runners come, 5
Shoulder-high we bring you home,
And set you at your threshold down,
Townsman of a stiller town.

Smart lad, to slip betimes away
From fields where glory does not stay, 10
And early though the laurel grows
It withers quicker than the rose.

Eyes the shady night has shut
Cannot see the record cut,
And silence sounds no worse than cheers 15
After earth has stopped the ears:

Now you will not swell the rout
Of lads that wore their honours out,
Runners whom renown outran
And the name died before the man. 20

So set, before its echoes fade,
The fleet foot on the sill of shade,
And hold to the low lintel up
The still-defended challenge-cup.

And round that early-laurelled head 25
Will flock to gaze the strengthless dead,
And find unwithered on its curls
The garland briefer than a girl's.

Posted by Random Penseur at 08:48 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Not usually my thing to post a recipe, but. . .

This looked really good:

Spiced Dark Chocolate & Pumpkin Seed Bark with Sea Salt

Makes about 12 ounces

If you don't have a double boiler, a heat-proof bowl set over a pot of simmering water will work just as well. The chocolate can also be microwaved at 30 second intervals, checking and stirring after each, until completely melted. Experiment with the ingredients and quantities to suit your tastes...such as adding dried fruit, assorted roasted nuts, or using a combination of semi-sweet and dark chocolate. The spices give the chocolate a subtle heat, nothing too spicy. If you'd like it on the spicier side, add a bit more ground chipotle. Pumpkin pie spice can be found in most supermarkets, but if you're unable to find some, I've included a recipe to make you own at home below.

3 {3 1/2 ounce} bars good quality dark chocolate {70% cacao or higher}

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice {optional recipe below}

1/8 teaspoon ground red chipotle

1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons roasted & salted hulled pumpkin seeds {plus more for decorating}

1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Break the chocolate into small pieces. Melt 3/4 of the chocolate in a double boiler over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Once melted remove from heat and add the remaining chocolate; stirring until melted. Add the dried spices and stir to thoroughly combine. Stir in a 1/2 cup of the pumpkin seeds.

Using a silicone spatula scrape the mixture out onto the parchment paper. Spread out evenly into a rectangle, as thin or as thick as you desire. Sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds over the top. Let the bark rest for 5 minutes to cool slightly, then sprinkle the sea salt evenly over the top.

Refrigerate for 45 minutes, or until firm. Break the bark into pieces and enjoy!

To make ahead: The bark can be made several days in advance and stored in an airtight container. Keep refrigerated, or store in a cool spot.

Make your own Pumpkin Pie Spice {optional}: In a small container combine 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg and 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice. Yield: 2 teaspoons - Save the remaining spice blend for another use by storing it in an airtight container for up to 3 months.

I've forwarded it to my in-house pastry chef (my wife) and requested that she give it some consideration. I will report back if I am lucky enough to be in a position to do so.

Posted by Random Penseur at 08:27 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

October 19, 2011

Dusty in here

So, this feels a bit weird. It has been about 2 years since I shook the dust off my blog and tried to write. I feel like maybe enough time has passed and maybe I cannot quite deny the compulsion to give this means of expression another shot. I think I burned out before. And then I needed my blog when I had my surgery 2 years ago. So, now, I need an outlet again. Facebook just doesn't do it for me, especially when I know that some of my readers/friends are minors. I feel I have to be very careful not to express myself too exuberantly. So, I'm back, I think. I wonder, before I really start writing, is anyone still reading?

Posted by Random Penseur at 11:46 AM | Comments (19) | TrackBack