Sunday, January 31, 2010

Darien: Week 4

Four nights out of 5: check!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Beans: color me white

I wanted to make something with white beans. I found a winter vegetable soup that uses cannellini beans. I used to think beans were beans, especially if they are white. I know better now. Cannellini beans are longer and larger than the typical navy white bean -- and navy beans themselves have several varieties, the most well-known being the great northern. All of these beans are typically referred to as kidney beans.

After I understood what I was after with the cannellini beans, I turned my attention to the pancetta. Sometimes called Italian bacon, pancetta is closer to a fatty prosciutto than to bacon, which is smoked. The fattiness of pancetta make it a good saute choice for flavoring a soup, which is what my recipe called for. First, however, I had to find the pancetta. I called the meat departments of several markets and no one had any. I learned that one could substitute the fatty end of prosciutto, or blanch a bacon that is not too smoked in a pinch. I was disappointed, but was happy to discover that when I went to the market I should have been talking to the deli people and not the butchers.

After those little adventures, everything came together more or less. The best thing about this recipe was being able to put the onion and the garlic in the broth without having to peel them. After simmering for over an hour, they were both removed. The next best thing was the colors. The soup itself was pretty damn tasty, which is the third best thing. I've had it three days running now.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Darien hits her stride: Wk. 3

Check! on "early" to bed 4 nights this week. And check! on to the gym 4 times as well. Now all I need is to get back to that counter from last year's resolution. Hopefully John won't post a picture.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Week 2 check in -- Antonia and Jonathan

Antonia -- yes! And I read David Lynch's book on meditation. Don't worry, I'm not in any danger of becoming a TM-er.

Jonathan ventured up onto the roof, and swept off the absurd amount of leaves that had accumulated.

Darien: Week 2 Check-out

Oh yeah! I did it! In bed by 11:00 four weeknights out of five this week. Still not drinking coffee at work. I think I need to work back to in bed at 10:45, lights out at 11. That is my long term goal for this year.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Too much Resolution...

"We watch a settling cloud of dust, revealing as it clears, a mangled mess of boy and bike. The cheering of the crowd dies slowly down, trailing into a murmur of hushed voices. In the distance a flock of seagulls cry, faint sobs creep from the younger children. In the following few moments, each an eternity long, a wave of tension constricted everyone who witnessed the tragic event. Every eye was riveted to the spot, crouched to pounce on any movement hinting of life. And as quickly as the air fogged with fear did it explode into wild rejoice as the triumphant fist rose through the dust in a victory salute. Never before has such an extreme stunt been attempted in the history of humanity. Assuredly this, folks, will go down in history books as the greatest wipe-out of our time. The leaders of tomorrow are the youth of today, my friends it is truly a dark day."
-Washington Post

Well there is one of the many post clippings, I'm sure all of you heard by now but I will be putting my original new years resolution of exercising twice a week on hold for a couple weeks. in the meanwhile I will be working on the other side of my revolution. -Gabe

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Something is fishy

I realized that I needed to get cracking on my resolution because I would be in Boston the next weekend. I saw a recipe for spaghetti anchovy and garlic pesto. Normally, I would stay away from anchovies, but Gabriel made a Caesar salad recently that was absolutely delicious. I never realized that one could prepare anchovies by essentially dissolving them, leaving all the taste and none of the slime. Gabriel did it by whisking the anchovies into the dressing. My recipe called for sauteing the anchovies in olive oil with garlic. Together with the pesto, it made a nice complement to the pasta.

In addition to the spaghetti, I also roasted green beans by rubbing them with oil and sprinkling with salt. I didn't time things too well and the beans remained in the oven longer than I intended. They dried out and became more like potato chips. Peter and Darien claimed they were delicious, but I would have preferred a more succulent side dish.

Overall, the dinner was good, but too salty. I found out later one can leech the salt out of anchovies by soaking them in cold water. I'll file this one away for future reference.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Week One Check Out-Darien

 When I sleep, I CHECK OUT! I am very proud of my progress this week. I got to bed on time 3 nights, and was close on night 4. I think that's a great start to my New Year--and I will only get better at this! As far as results ... I yawned a lot at work. What's with that? Is that due to sleeping more, or due to work? However, I didn't drink any coffee while at work. Possibly portentous.

Week 1 check in -- Antonia

Success! 1/2 hour twice this week. My goal this week is to continue the 1/2 hour segments. This is much more different than the meditation I am used to with my yoga classes -- maybe 3 to 5 minutes at a stretch.

I'm using a book downloaded (for free!) from Mindfulness of Breathing & Four Elements Meditation, by Venerable Pa-Auk Sayadaw. At this stage in learning how to meditate, I'm trying to focus my awareness on the breath as it enters and leaves the body at my nostrils. That's it. Don't think about if you are breathing deeply or shallowly! Don't think about the lungs! A helpful tip:
As you pay attention to the concept of the breath in this way, and if you have practiced this meditaion in a previous life and have develped some paramis, you will easily be able to concentrate on the in-and out breath.
I must not have practiced this meditation in a previous life, because it was very difficult to not think about, oh, everything but the in-and-out breath. Grocery lists, work tasks, did I pill the cat in the morning? So I followed the advice to count my breaths. The Venerable Pa-Auk Sayadaw has some advice:
You should count up to at least five, and not count up to more than ten. But we encourage you to count to eight, because it reminds you of the Noble Eightfold Path, which you are trying to develop. So you should count, as you like, up to any number between five and ten, and should determine in your mind that during that time you will not let your mind drift or go somewhere else.
OK. Eight it is. The Venerable Pa-Auk Sayadaw will let me go on to the second stage once I can concentrate on the in-and-out of my breath for 1/2 hour.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Resolute and steadfast

For several years, Darien and I have exchanged resolutions -- she picks one for me, and I pick one for her. New Wine was my documentation of the 2009 resolution.

This year, the rest of the family wanted to participate. At our Christmas dinner (which others of you know as New Year's), we discussed which resolutions we wanted everyone to try and observe in 2010. At first we were going to consult each other without the person who had to observe the resolution being present, but then decided it would be better if we just did it all in one big group.

The rules are simple. The resolution has to be something that will actually help the person, and it had to be something that was doable under ordinary circumstances. Our purpose is to see results, not to torture. For these reasons, we didn't include such difficult to achieve things as stopping smoking or losing thirty pounds. We also tried to come up with things that can be measured.

We are going to use this blog to check in periodically and let the others know how we are doing. Good luck to us all!

John: to do more cooking by preparing at least one full meal every two weeks. (And Darien must do the dishes.)

Darien: to get to bed by 11 pm on four out of five weeknights, with lights out by 11:15. I get a gold star on nights that I get to bed by 10:45, or if I achieve the awesome task of getting to bed on time five nights in a row! The result we hope for is a kinder, more patient, and less irritable Berserker.

Antonia: This year, I am going to learn how to meditate -- breath centered meditation. This will help me with my singing, and will hopefully help me to chill the fuck out (thanks, Gabe!). My goal is either levitation, or an hour a week, whichever comes first.

Jonathan:  Every two weeks I resolve to learn a new skill/trick/fact necessary to becoming a person somewhat resembling a responsible Homeowner/Car Owner/ semi-adult-like person.

Peter:  I will read two chapters a week from a non-school book.

Gabriel: My resolution is to exercise twice a week for the first part of the year and beef up to three days a week by the second half of the year. Other goals include eating more regularly and preparing more food at home and keeping track of what I eat. We have success for the first week: took the dog biking on Tuesday, and Thursday we both sustained 30 minutes elevated heart. w00t.
Rachel: I will be taking on a new project each month to study a different aspect of cosmetology to better help me understand my profession. My goal is to better understand both the roots and breaking new styles of the business.