Monday, November 30, 2009


Tempered: a. having the elements mixed in satisfying proportions; b. qualified, lessened, or diluted by the mixture or influence of an additional ingredient – Merriam-Webster dictionary

In cooking tempering can ensure an airy, creamy dessert or a fabulously rich carbonara sauce, which without this technique would leave lumpy chewiness – not so fabulous. The technique is simple, really. You have two mixtures – an oil based sauce and egg yolks, for example – that you want to combine. If you poured the yolks into the hot oil, you’d get greasy scrambled eggs. But, if you work slowly, pouring a small amount of sauce into the yolks and mix them together, the eggs are prepared for the heat and won’t curdle when you add the mixture to the pan. Then gently heat to transform the mixture into a creamy pasta sauce. Chefs describe tempering as “sacrificing” a bit of one creation to guarantee that the end result is amazing. I call it a fantastic magic trick to deliciousness.

It takes a bit of patience, I suppose, and a little finesse, but it is definitely worth it. It might be easier to dump a raw ingredient into a hot pan, but that is a recipe for disaster, literally. But so often, we do that. Knowing full well that if we say those words at this moment, the only thing that will result is tears and screaming and hurt, we say them anyway. If we make this move right now, heartache will surely follow. Mix the elements in satisfying proportions.

On the other hand, sometimes it’s best to put raw ingredients into a smoking hot oiled pan – and mix quickly – stir-fry, for example. If you let the meat and vegetables steam slowly, you again get oily chewiness – not so satisfying. Sometimes it is best to just go for it, aim for the moon – what’s that they say about stars? Because if you let things linger, if you pause, if you temper your desires, you can miss out. Diluted, lessened, qualified.

There are a couple of differences here – 1) the stir-fry situation is smoking hot, the tempered situation is simply heated 2) the tempered situation is delicate, the stir-fry situation is hardy. It’s to do with passion, you see? Letting things get away from you can be ruinous, or flavorful. The secret is to know what you’re working with and to be aware of your heat source.

In the end, in either situation, just remember that chewy is not good. And if it gets to that point, let it go and start over.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Why Georgia

I can’t say that I ever had dreams about being in my twenties. I’m not sure what I thought it would be, where I thought I’d be. I’m pretty sure though, that it wasn’t here. Quarter-life crisis, thank you John Mayer for putting it into words, words that may be typically generational but nonetheless resonating.

The only thing that makes this life crisis so tragic is that we lack the funds for a Corvette and it’s not so impressive to start dating a 20-something. And so that “what do I do now” feeling seems to have no outlet.

We get by in jobs that we don’t want forever. We make do with what life has given us as of yet and sip the cocktails we make of the lemons we squeeze so tightly. We hold onto dreams of our childhoods, or remake them into something realistic. Or try to satisfy the dissonance between what we wanted and newly discovered desires.

And, if you’re me, you make plans. Because, even though NONE of your previous plans turned out how you thought they would, you can’t stop yet. You’re still too young to stop trying and hoping and dreaming. We still have three-quarters of our lives left – really?? What can that be like? How many times will we feel old in our lifetime? I suppose it’s all relative.

Despite that we feel overwhelmed by this moment, there is so much more to do. Experience. Love, stomach-aching laughter, stolen moments, pain, life altering people, twists, an unimaginable life. We aren’t really old. We’ve only just begun. In fact, in twenty years, we still won’t be old. We still won’t know what our lives will offer – that is apparent if only we look at our parents, who still are getting married, divorced, going to school, changing jobs, having their lives rocked by people and experiences in their lives . . . ok, maybe that’s not hopeful!

But, my point is, this crisis is like any other. Hold on tight, engage the fight-or-flight response, and push through however you can. Emerge. That is all you can hope for, I’m pretty sure. And prepare for the next crisis – they say bottled water is key, especially when hot flashes become a factor.

“It might be a quarter life crisis, or just a stirring in my soul. Either way I wonder sometimes, about the outcome of a still verdictless life.” – thanks John