Around here

I am amazed by the cuteness of life at the farm. Kittens and baby lambs are everywhere and make me happy.

I also think that this goat is really funny.

Pancakes for lunch… Why not?
These buttermilk pancakes I made were a hit!

Simplicity of the farm life is sweet.

xoxo
-P

Farmhouse welcome

I made my way up to Kentucky after spending a wonderful birthday weekend with friends in Nashville. I’d always kind of wondered what was in Kentucky, but there are tons of rolling hills, green and lush pastures, and a southern charm and simplicity that I’m really digging.

I’m spending the foreseeable future living in the quaint home and farm of the Apple family. When I arrived, Debbie welcomed me to the farm and we were immediately off chatting about farmer’s markets, business, potential goods, and life. After making myself at home, we headed out to the garden and I got a first glimpse of serenity. Laundry hanging out in the breeze, raised garden beds overflowing with produce, and rolling hills and greenery stared back at me in the distance. I even managed to befriend several barn cats lingering around the premises.

After staring around awe-struck by the beauty of the farm, I had Debbie show me around the vegetable garden. From there, I was off picking ingredients for the evening supper. I ended up practicing my tart-making skills (which should come in handy soon), by making a spring-vegetable tart that incorporated leftover asparagus, green beans, and Swiss chard. In addition, I was able to use eggs and cream that were acquired on the farm. The tart turned out to be delicious, I think I will experiment by making other savory tarts and sweet ones as well!

xoxo
-P

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Holiday in Nashville

For my birthday weekend I headed down to Nashville to check out the city, and hang with the Greesons! The Greesons are quite possibly the easiest people to relate to and are incredibly hospitable, they also have the cutest little girl!

We ended up walking around the nearby parks and noshing at various restaurants around town Mexican and Brunch food, and also had delicious ice cream at Jeni’s (if you head to Nashville, you must try that place out!)

On Sunday, I met up with an old friend from my UT-Austin days who happens to now be a professor at the Vanderbilt medical school (I’m super proud of you Carlos!). It was surreal catching up with him, hearing his experiences as a professor post-everything (grad school, post-docs, divorce, motorcycle accident, applications, etc.). We discussed future life plans and concluded that life is too short to be doing stuff you aren’t passionate about.

All in all it was a fabulous birthday that happened to coincide with Father’s Day. I love you dad.

Happy Father’s Day!

xoxo
-P

 

Sweet tidings

Being that today was my last full day spent in Bloomington, I had a lot of stuff to catch up on; cleaning the house, packing up things to take for the summer, and wrapping up projects around town. You may recall some of the pottery I had taken up earlier last month…I managed to finish up those projects and pick up my glazed pots before heading out of town. They turned out surprisingly well.

Prior to glazing the pots, I had the pots bisque fired. I actually quite appreciate the look of clean clay.

In the evening, some friends hosted a good-bye potluck. I ate for dessert.

And now, for some new adventures!

xoxo
-P

Time to face the strange

After being in Minnesota for the past several days, I am happy to return back to Indianapolis. I must say, leaving Indiana and going to the conference was good for my soul. I’m happy to have reconnected with old friends and it is interesting to see where everyone has ended up.

Reflecting a bit, it is odd to think that the things I once wanted so much; the fancy career, and the big science, are things I really don’t want. I want a steady life, a life that is simple and full of community. I want a family. I want familiarity. I want tradition. I want a break.

And on this break, I will experience the true ‘real world’. The real world that produces real things; the things that truly matter all the way from food that sustains the body to love that enriches the soul. So, this weekend, I am packing up and moving to the farm. Yay!

So long Minneapolis!

xoxo
-P

Minneapolis

I’ve been in Minneapolis for the last few days attending a conference and having a few informal-style interviews. All-in-all, the conference has been fairly productive. I’ve gotten to catch up with old friends within the mass spec community who are at other institutions and I’ve gotten some promising leads on job options/opportunities. It is a good thing that tomorrow is the last day of the conference because I’m pretty zonked. The days are filled with poster sessions, lectures, interviews, and meetings and the evening is filled with trying to make connections at the hospitality suites.

Today, I decided to skip the general ASMS meeting and instead stopped by the local coop that a friend suggested, picked up a tempeh sandwich, and headed to Loring park to enjoy the cool summer breeze, the Minneapolis skyline, and the greenery around me.

After eating, I ended up crossing the bridge over to the Minneapolis sculpture garden and had to pause to look at the view. Minneapolis reminds me a bit of Austin.

And finally, I just had to take the requisite tourist photo in front of an iconic ‘thing.’ The ‘thing’ in the case of Minneapolis happens to be a statue of a 5,800 pound spoon and a 1,200 pound cherry.

There you go.

Weather permitting, I should be back in Indiana tomorrow night.

xoxo
-P

Stuffed Grape Leaves

I’ve managed to befriend a darling pair, the Sabbaughs, who I met at my local gym where I do workouts a few nights per week. Not only do they make the workouts more bearable/enjoyable, but I also know the Sabbaughs through mutual friends.

I’d been pestering Sandy to teach me how to make some of her delicious traditional Middle Eastern foods (in particular, baklava; I can never get the phyllo dough to cooperate!) after I got a taste of her wonderful cooking at the holiday party last year. I’ll have to wait until the fall/winter in order to learn how to make baklava since it is mostly consumed during the holiday season, but I was fortunate to learn how to make stuffed grape leaves. There is a very particular way one must go about wrapping the leaves, and depending on the leaf size and the way the leaf was obtained and preserved, the whole process can be rather tedious and time consuming. Nevertheless, the result is totally worth the time and effort!

Here is the recipe (that she slightly modified), from Sandy’s recipe book:

We followed the recipe with some slight modifications. We did not blanch the grape leaves. We also tried a grape leaves obtained from a variety of sources; naturally picked and frozen, from a jar, and vacuum packed. By far, the leaves I enjoyed working with the most were the ones that had been naturally obtained and frozen.

Once the stems of the leaves were picked off, and the stuffing was made, we got started on rolling the leaves.

All in all, Sandy and I spent about 1.5 hours wrapping the leaves; this isn’t a trivial time commitment. After we were finished packing the leaves, we tightly arranged the stuffed leaves into a pan and placed a plate on top so that the leaves would not rise and float around.

We let the leaves sit in boiling water for about 45 minutes. When they were done, we could barely wait for them to cool before having a taste; I may have burned the roof of my mouth in the process 😉

It was a neat technique to pick up, hopefully I can learn how to handle pesky phyllo dough next.

I’m currently at the airport and now off to board my flight to Minneapolis. Wish me luck!

xoxo
-P

No man is an island

I’ve been reading Thomas Merton’s book No Man is an Island. Everything in this book resonates with my soul. I love the following quote from the book,

“It is therefore of supreme importance that we consent to live not for ourselves but for others. When we so this we will be able first of all to face and accept our own limitations. As long as we secretly adore ourselves, our own deficiencies will remain to torture us with an apparent defilement. But if we live for others, we will gradually discover that no expects us to be “as gods”. We will see that we are human, like everyone else, that we all have weaknesses and deficiencies, and that these limitations of ours play a most important part in all our lives. It is because of them that we need others and others need us. We are not all weak in the same spots, and so we supplement and complete one another, each one making up in himself for the lack in another.”

Ironically, it has been a little over 4  years (around the time I decided on a grad-school) since I wrote this post entitled I’m like an island. It is strange indeed to see how much and yet how little has changed. I’ve never wanted a transient self-sustaining life, I’ve merely developed this lifestyle as a mere result of societal norms. Now I am finding myself back at square one, with the exact same thoughts plaguing me now as they did then. Something must change.

and so, as Merton adequately expresses in his book,

“Everything in modern city life is calculated to keep man from entering into himself and thinking about spiritual things. Even with the best of intentions a spiritual man finds himself exhausted and deadened and debased by the constant noise of machines and loudspeakers, the dead air and the glaring lights of offices and shops, the everlasting suggestion of advertising and propaganda.
The whole mechanism of modern life is geared for a flight from God and from the spirit into the wilderness of neurosis.”

I have decided it is time for me to take a break. A break from the rumble of vacuum pumps, the pollution of fluorescent lights, the egotism of academia, and the cries of debauchery.

Therefore, in a little less than a couple of weeks, I’m going to spend the summer living in nature, on a farm in Kentucky, River Cottage Farm to be exact. I hope to spend the summer having a bit of a sabbatical; I’ve finally recognized that I am burned out on science and that I deserve a much needed break. I hope to spend the summer doing a bit of soul searching, listening to the voice inside of my head, necessarily applying for jobs (but being pickier than I have been about it), and aim to develop a sense of community. I no longer seek the island life.

I know, it seems like a total aberration for me, a complete 180. I figure it will take a few months to up to a year for me to find a fulfilling job, and keeping my mind, heart, and soul occupied in nature and serving others will uplift my spirit during this time of uncertainty. Also, hanging out with cows, sheep, goats, and the like ought to provide me with a myriad of interesting stories to tell later on in life. I’m really excited about this new direction!

xoxo
-P

Memorial day 2013

Today is a federal holiday, and I did not go to school and it felt so good. It felt so good to just relax, be at peace, and spend time in the company of friends, who have their priorities straight.

The weather was perfect, the flowers around us were in full bloom, the air was fresh, and all the simple pleasures in life finally engaged the entirety of my senses.

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xoxo
-P

What’s cooking Wednesday: Spinach-pesto sauce on fettuccine

Last weekend, I stumbled upon a new booth at the farmer’s market. The lady makes and sells home-made pasta made with organic flours and ingredients. I picked up a package of spinach-whole-wheat fettuccine.

To keep things light, I experimented by adding a homemade spinach-pesto sauce that I made by pureeing a pound of spinach, a bunch of fresh basil, half an onion, a few cloves of garlic, lemon juice, and black walnuts that I also picked up at the market. It was super flavorful and I was impressed by my inability to detect a bitterness from the spinach.

I finished by adding some freshly chopped tomatoes to the sauce while heating

And then garnished with black walnuts!

xoxo
-P