PST…WTF?

Let’s do the time warp agaaaaaiinn!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V0SqS2QJdj8

That’s right – I STILL haven’t forgotten I have a blog. You’d think such a thing might slip a girl’s mind after moving across the country, starting two internships and mastering the public transportation system of the entire Bay Area…but nope. Not me. As Monty Python would say, I’m not dead yet.

But, I should probably back up a little bit. If not for you, then for future me who will read this post in five years and wonder what the hell I was doing in May 2012 that would prevent me from updating my blog for over a month.

I graduated from Converse College a year ago almost to the day with a Bachelor’s in English, a minor in music, a shiny tray proclaiming my knack for getting As, and a life plan. I still have all of those…except for that last one. That one fell apart within a matter of weeks.

DSC_0700

Imma sum this up real quicklike, because even though you probably already know all this, it seems like it should be here: I planned (HA) to “work” (for free)  in a restaurant kitchen to get food prep experience necessary for culinary school, which I planned (haHA) to attend the following spring. As in, right now. Well, it sucked and I hated it. Plan B: go to grad school in Italy to become a licensed food nerd. 3 months of prepping for that before I realized….it sucked and I hated it. While I contemplated degree programs here in the US of A, I started an internship with Chefs Collaborative, a national non-profit dedicated to making restaurant kitchens more sustainable. It was awesome and I loved it. A lot. So much, in fact, that I decided to put grad school on the back burner and look into getting a job in the non-profit/sustainability world. I found an internship in Berkeley, CA with the Multinational Exchange for Sustainable Agriculture and it seemed to be the right step. The West Coast is really where the sustainable food movement started (love me some Alice Waters), so it just made sense that I move out there and see what kind of action was going on. [Side note: The East Coast is an amazing place to be for sustainable food too – there’s really a lot happening there, I just needed to not live at home/explore a new part of the country.]

golden gate (2)

So, here I am. Sitting at a borrowed desk in a rented room in North Berkeley, wondering why in the hell I ever thought I could make a plan for my post-grad activities and actually stick to it. Although, in my own defense, all my friends are where they thought they’d be a year later (grad school/South Africa with the Peace Corps…I have really cool friends.).

It’s been a wild and crazy two months. I guess that’s to be expected, though. Here’s what’s happened since my plane touched down.

1. I found someone who would actually pay me to do things. As someone on her sixth unpaid internship, this was a concept more exciting than words can explain. MONEY? FOR ME? YAY.

shock and dismay

A few weeks before the move, my uncle suggested to me that I look into grant writing as a career. I had really never given it much thought before, but it does make a hell of a lotta sense: writing, for better or for worse, is my strongest talent, and I’m pretty determined to find work in the non-profit sector. So as I started looking for paid jobs in the Bay Area, I decided to see if there happened to be any grant writing internships around. Lo and behold, I found ONE grant writing internship (thank you Idealist) with a non-profit called WiserEarth in Sausalito. Three days after I moved into my room, I went into San Francisco to meet their Executive Director for an interview, and she offered it to me on the spot. I was pretty much over-the-moon excited about this. I started the very next Wednesday and haven’t looked back. I was absolutely shocked by how much I’ve loved the grant writing/development work, but I do. It’s been a perfect fit, and I am so relieved that I found this internship! I’ll do a dedicated post on Wiser and why it’s awesome, but in the meantime I highly suggest checking it out if you’ve never heard of it & joining if you’re into anything social justice/sustainability-related. Yes, shameless plugging, but I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t think it was awesome, and it realllllly is.

2. I started working with MESA.

MESA logo1

Now, technically my internship with them started back in February; I’ve been doing a lot of work on their social media presence, which I something about which I learned SO MUCH with the Collaborative. I actually had no idea just how much I knew about the social media world until I went to a class/lecture in SF on driving traffic to your website, and knew more than their social media expert. The majority of the lecture was fascinating (SEO is such an interesting topic, I think), but I was rather disappointed during the discussion of social media when I found myself raising my hand to add information and clarify statements the presenter made. On the bright side though, I left feeling pretty positive about my own grasp of the topic. ANYWAY. I met them face-to-face, I go to the office once a week, I do things.

3. Sausalito is the least accessible place in the Bay Area. True story.

sausalito day 2 (52)

The WiserEarth office is in the beautiful town of Sausalito, just on the other side of the Golden Gate (in fact, it’s where my roommate & I went when we visited Cali last year!). It’s a lovely place to work. It’s an absolute crap place to get to without a car. BUT, my determination to making public transportation work for me came through, and I have the pleasure of a just-under-2-hour commute 3 days a week. Yes, it’s long, but it’s really not as bad as it sounds. When I got the internship, pretty much every single person I talked to said doing it without a car was impossible. Or stupid. Or both. WIMPS. I mean, no, it’s not ideal, but all I do is walk to the BART station [Bay Area Rapid Transit – underground trains], take the train into SF, then take a bus into Sausalito. It’s neither impossible nor stupid. Just…time-consuming. But I’m down with that. The sun is up by 6:30 now, when I get up, and I prep all my meals for the week on Friday & Saturday. It works.

4. I live…here?

IMG_4400

I have experienced more culture shock here than I have with any of the 9 countries I have traveled to. I think a lot of it is because I wasn’t prepared for it, at least not to the extent to which I felt it, because it’s still in the US. Well, that may be true, but it sure as hell doesn’t feel like it to me. I’ve also never really had to deal with much culture shock; I know that sounds dumb/naïve, but I’ve traveled pretty extensively in my 22 years of life and the few times culture shock might have thrown me for a loop, I was so well-prepared for it it just…never hit me. But NOW I get it. Culture shock is a pain.

And if the Bay Area is a different culture, Berkeley is a different planet. Mostly in a good way; I don’t think I have ever seen so much diversity – and tolerance for it – in one place in my entire life. You really get a sense that everyone here is just themselves, and everyone else is okay with that. Now, I’m from not just from the Northeast. And I’m not just from New England. I’m from Boston, the only city in the world that gives NYC  and Paris a run for the snobby-center-of-the-universe attitude. You think you know snobby? HA. Spend 5 minutes in a room with a Harvard professor, and your definition will be shifted for life. The only exception to that test I’ve met is my father, and guess where he’s from? Yep: Bay Area, born and raised. So, I don’t really know what to do with people who actually smile at me with some genuine feeling. Sorry about that, west coast people. I’m working on it.

IMG_4558

I am slowly adjusting to life in the Bay Area bubble. Adjusting to the time change – and making sure I translate everything to PST – was a lot easier than I expected. Adjusting to everything else…well, we all know I’m no good with transitions. Also I hate, hate, hate, HATE being without this every day:

izzy 11-11 (1)

By far, that is my least favorite thing about this move. I miss her so much sometimes, it actually hurts.

Ok, ok, I know you want to hear allll about the amazing foodventures I’ve experienced. Um…sorry. Aside from discovering the tastebud fiesta that is Acme bread and enjoying the ease with which I can buy local food (living in the state that produces 80% of our nation’s food is pretty sweet), I’ve just been trying to keep my feet on the ground and my head in the right place.

I have multiple posts planned (yay!), and I know I say this all the time, but I really, really, realllllly am going to double my efforts to update at least once a week. I know I can fit it in to my schedule but above all, I REALLY need the writing practice. Writing is exactly like music, in that you should do it everyday to keep the muscle strong, and now that I’ve found myself work that heavily relies upon my writing not sucking, I have GOT to get more practice in. Even if it’s just rambling. (But I have quite a few cohesive post ideas with actual topics planned…so please bear with me!)

OH. And I’m moving. Again. To keep it short, the room I’m renting didn’t work out, so come this Friday I’ll be putting all my stuff into the Prius I use with City CarShare and moving into a new place. And then in another 2 months, I get to move again. Joy.

And that, dear readers, is my life on the West Coast. My next post: a day in the life. With pictures and everything.

Advertisements

Blogging 202: The Unexpected

Blogging, I’ve decided, is a funny thing.

I expected – and I still think it was reasonable to do so – to do a lot more of it after graduation. Now, of course, some of that was the very natural “oh I’m done with college so the rest of life should be easy” thing, but I think most of it was more of the “oh. I don’t have a job. I’m an unpaid intern. I will want something meaningful to do at the end of the day.”

You see, I do my best writing at around 2 in the morning. I’m not joking. If I am awake, I will literally start to write posts, either on the computer (rare), with a pen (less rare), or in my head (usually).

What I did not expect was to find myself working 6 – 7 hours every day of the week for no pay ahem, experience, and come home with the sole intention of sitting, eating, and zoning out. Ah, such is life.

It’s not so much that I feel “guilty” for not blogging as often as I’d like; it’s more frustration. Frustration that I don’t make myself do it when I know I really want to, that it takes more energy than I’m willing to admit, that it’s something I feel like I’ve promised myself to do and failed.

All that said, I do have a plan or 2 up my sleeve that will help. I often feel a little overwhelmed with ideas, because there’s just so much to talk about when it comes to food! – but I have a system in place. And hopefully, it won’t involve me posting 10 minutes before I have to sprint to my car to get to “work” semi-on-time.

For now, how about a few adorable dog pictures to start off your week?

IMG_4196

Help! I’m stuck in the couch and…eh, never mind. I’m pretty comfortable.

IMG_4197

You have another cookie for me? Maybe?!?!?!?!?

IMG_4199

…maybe?

Have a lovely Monday!

Dog Days

If you’ve been reading along recently, you know that about a month and a half ago, my family and I lost a beloved member of our clan.

last days (3)

Her name was Tippy. She was eleven and half years old, and as you can see, enjoyed the remainder of cottage cheese cartons until the last day. She had been with us from the age of 3 1/2 months, and we enjoyed every single minute of her companionship and unconditional, unforgetting, always forgiving love.

 

When I was 8 or 9, the four of us were standing in the waiting section of a busy Legal Seafoods restaurant, chatting as a table was set up for us. While my little brother grumbled about how bad fish smelled and how cruel it was to subject him to something he so abhorred, I was pitching my latest (and best) idea to the parents: we needed a dog.

Yes, needed. They were fun and cute and loveable and I wanted one. We had cats when I was a baby, but after I developed asthma and watched the symptoms all but disappear when the last feline left, it didn’t make sense to continue that trend. Besides, the last cat we had scratched the crap out of my arm, and we pretty much settled with glaring at each other whenever we were in the other’s line of sight after that. Which was not often.

So, just before the waitress came back to guide us to our seats, my father said the words all parents should be wary of:

Ok, when you turn 10, we can get a dog.

Yep, that shut me up. I contented my self with a big bowl of lobster bisque and the knowledge that I only needed to wait a short 2 years before a cuddly bundle of love was all mine.

 

And those years were indeed short. I turned 10 in December of 1999. We made the drive to the kennel in western Mass. in March of 2000. In between then, we found a kennel that had a new litter of soft-coated wheaten terrier puppies. Our 2 requirements were met: they didn’t shed (hair, not fur), and they were available. It was done.

I sincerely doubt I will every be able to forget choosing what was to become a constant presence in our family’s daily life. We walked into a room with a linoleum-tiled floor where a brood of llahsa aspso puppies were skittering around in a blur of long hair. Then the wheaten puppies were brought out. Like all normal puppies, they were thrilled to meet new people and escape from their confinement. Well, all of them – except one.

While my brother and I were overwhelmed at the rush of hair and paws that came at us like a black-tipped tidal wave, a single little girl darted straight for the table and cowered under it. If there was a bubble over her head, I’m pretty sure it would have been an image of her melting into the wall. It only took one look exchanged between my mother and I to know: this was our dog.

As we tried to coax her out from under the table, my dad and brother delighted themselves with the other, well-adjusted puppies. They found one too – calm in your arms, full of energy when on the floor, sweet and friendly. But as you can imagine, the conversation went a little something like this:

Me: Oh Mom, we can’t leave her here, all the other puppies will just keep beating on her!

Mom: We have to save her. I can’t leave her behind.

*parental glances exchanged*

Dad: But did you see this one? She’s so friendly, and…normal.

Mom: Well, we either leave with this one, or both of them. How much did you intend to spend on dogs today?

And that was the end of that. A few excited squeals and one very heavy check later, we were coaxing the most frightened, cowed little thing you ever saw into the backseat of the Subaru between my brother and me. The name discussion began.

Wheaten puppies are born with black “tips” on their hair that they eventually grow out:

[Photo credit] [^^Not Tippy – all her baby pictures were taken on *gasp* film cameras. Remember those? Yeah, me neither.]

My mother’s first thought was Paintbrush. I didn’t even try to hide my disgust at that brainstorm – and Tippy was the next word out of my mouth. It was done.

 cutest.ever.

Tippy was, to put it gently, a neurotic mess. But she was our neurotic mess. After the first initial weeks of trying to find the best chair to hide under (our dining rooms chairs, much to her dismay, had bars crossed between the legs), she discovered the limitless joy of eating entire plates of brownies or chicken while we weren’t looking and tearing every last bit of stuffing from the living room couch. She was undeniably my mother’s dog and literally followed her around the house until the last day, but we were her family, and she knew it. Even when I would return after months of college, she would still run to the car to greet me. And it took about eleven years, but eventually she learned to completely relax when Dad put her on his lap.

last days (5)

After her eleventh birthday, she started to age – and fast. For six months, she wasn’t be able to keep down anything she ate for entire weeks. I even flew home for spring break when I was afraid I’d never see her again. I remember looking at her tired face and feeling every bone in her skinny body, realizing that this was what mothers mean when they talk about the pain and frustration of not being able to “fix” a sick child. She rallied several times over the next three months, but never for as long as the last time. On that day in the middle of July when we watched her change positions every thirty seconds because she was so bony she could no longer get comfortable, and then throw up the entire contents of her stomach – including water – on the back patio, we looked at each other and had to ask what the hell we were doing. We made what felt to me like a very fast decision, but it was the right one. I made every effort in my body to keep it together, but once we were all in that room, watching her hobble from one person to the next, I completely lost it. And all I could think of was to try to hide it from her, because every time I ever cried with Tippy, she would lick my tears away, and I just couldn’t have handled that.

all in the eyes (2)

I cried for three days straight. It felt like a huge hole had been gauged out of me without thought or care. We even went to a couple humane societies, but had no luck. For a family that can only have non-shedding dogs, adoption is an incredibly difficult and often impossible search.

 

I wouldn’t tell you a long story (that has no apparent connection to food)on a long weekend  if it didn’t have a happy ending. This is ours.

 

Two weeks passed, and it became increasingly clear to me that we needed another dog. It may have looked too fast to others, but my gut instinct was that in order to start moving on, we had to fill the void that was the absence of a dog. I just didn’t see how we could fully heal when there was still such a huge, gaping hole in our daily lives. And I knew that we were not the type of family that would psychologically “replace” Tippy – we just needed that presence again.

We found a breeder that specialized in non-shedding mixed breeds about an hour away where a friend had adopted her wonderful cockapoo, Gus. My mom, brother and I decided to go up and ask to see their female Cavachons because I had all but fallen in love with the pictures on her website. And one day later, we were the proud owners of a creature who I’m sure must be what Webster had in mind when he included ‘adorable’ in his dictionary:

sleepy izzy (4)

My brother chose her, but my mom and I have both confessed that she was our instinctive first choice. Because when she was brought out with her sister, the other sat on her head. Some things really never change.

 

Izzy is truly a horse of a different color. Though she sleeps with Mom & Dad and definitely has grand designs in her head of tearing up a couch (it would help if she were bigger than one of the pillows on it), that seems to be where the similarities end. Where Tippy usually had to be introduced with : “This is Tippy. She doesn’t really like other people. Just don’t make eye contact and she’ll be fine.”, Izzy needs no introduction, usually because she is already jumping up on your leg and hoping to introduce herself. She actually asks to sit on your lap, and would only hide under a chair in order to better chew on the legs. Or your shoes.

 

I knew we had made the right decision when all of a sudden I would think of Tippy and smile instead of bursting into inconsolable tears. And I miss her every single day. I miss her constant forlorn expression, her little “conversations” when we had something she would’ve liked a bite of too, and the way she’d roll onto her back into “Snoopy position” when she was really asleep.

easy livin

IMG_0001

tipster maggio 11 (3)

(There’s a face in there somewhere!)

 

I also love Izzy more every day. I love how she runs around the lawn like a whirling dervish on acid, insists on attaching herself to my shoe laces while they’re still on my feet, and wag her tail relentlessly when one of us reenters the room. And I love that she had sat on my lap snoozing during the entire time I’ve been writing this post. I really don’t think words can adequately express the joy that this itty bitty dog has brought back to our house.

bug in a rug (1)

bug in a rug (2)

bug in a rug (10)

 

I felt like this was a story that needed telling because I can’t tell you how many other families I have heard about that have recently lost a beloved dog, and I just know that this story sounds similar to that of so many other families.

And the moral of this story? The love and happiness a dog gives are worth every single ripped cushion, eaten shoe, Clorox wipe and carpet stain. And I’m still saying that after going through a bottle of Resolve and most of a container of those very useful wipes in the past 4 weeks.

 

sleeping cutie (8)

 

Summer might be rolling to a close, but the dog days – they aren’t going anywhere.

 

Tippy’s Favorite Table Scraps: Lemon-BBQ Marinade

This is a pretty old go-to recipe in our house. One of my friends in elementary school would specifically ask if to stay for dinner if we were having Lemon BBQ Chicken. It is, of course, fantastic with grilled chicken, but a light fish holds it very well too.

Makes enough marinade for about 8 pieces of chicken

  • 1/2 c. lemon juice
  • 1 c. canola oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 T salt
  • 2 t dried basil
  • 2 t onion powder
  • 1 t paprika
  • 1/2 t dried thyme

Whisk it all together or shake it all together in a large jar. Put in a ziploc bag with the meat and let it marinate for a good two hours (or more) before cooking.

And don’t even bother trying to ward off hungry canines.

A Different Kitchen

IMG_3886

In case you’re just catching up – I know I am – here’s what’s happening with me:

  • I am home in Boston with a new puppy and a lot of new prospects [none of which, I should mention, are paid, but they are all very interesting and right now that’s plenty].
  • I am looking at a Master’s degree in gastronomy instead of culinary school.
  • I am guest blogging on this blog about my local farmers market with recipes to put all those yummy veggies to good use.
  • And NOW I am interning at Healthy Habits Kitchen!

Today was my first official day as an intern at HHK and let me just say, I could get used to it. It’s a really cool company that prepares healthy dishes for the busy parent to buy and throw together in 5 minutes. Basically, we (I can say we!) portion out the components of a dish and pack it all together so all the customer has to do is cook the rice or pasta and heat up & mix the rest together. They (we?) also do farmers markets and have quite a few corporate relationships.

It’s essentially a food prep internship and I spent the day chopping steak tips for farmers market samples, prepping the asian pineapple sauce that goes with brown rice, and things like chopping, bagging, and labeling. Quite happily, might I add. I’m one of those people who actually enjoy administrative tasks and I’ve always liked chopping for its zen-ness. also going to get the chance to work in recipe development because the owner wants to expand her dessert offerings, which I am wicked excited about. And, it’s a lovely, airy kitchen despite the lack of windows and everyone has been really nice – they have interns a lot, so they’re used to training newbies, which was a HUGE relief to me.

And thus far, it is nothing like my last food prep nightmare experience. Where the restaurant had bags of onions and potatoes haphazardly stacked amidst mismatched bowls and half-broken spatulas, this kitchen has shiny metal racks with perfectly stacked bowls and a separate tray for each measuring spoon – and the produce has its own side of the refrigerator. Where I had to ask 5 different people what to do next after finishing a task, now I walk in and have an index card with a to-do list written out and my name at the top. There is an industrial dishwasher and color-coded cutting boards. Oh yes, I could get used to this.

I am gearing up for what could potentially be just as crazy a fall as any semester in college. Between raising the puppy, at least one and hopefully two internships, 2 blogs and another potential writing job, I should feel perfectly normal. And I’m still facing big decisions about my future education, the progress of which you lucky devils will get to read all about 😉

This summer has been transition after awkward transition, and unfortunately this blog has reflected that. One of my goals this fall is to really solidify the purpose of this blog and dig into the nerdy side of food that I am so obsessed with, including cookbooks and issues like sustainability, but still holding on to things like my weekly recipe challenges and photos. I’m saving for a fancy schmancy camera (because grad school will be so cheap….denial? who?) because I know how much of an impact it can have on the quality of a food blog. And I’m just going to stick with it.

Now that I’ve rambled your eyes off…

If you’ll excuse me, I have a dog to exhaust before bed.

IMG_3926

Yes, that is toilet paper. We’ll see who exhausts who first.

IMG_3927

You’ll have to excuse me…

…but I have a really good excuse for not updating this weekend. Her name is Izzy.

sleepy izzy (4)

Short for Isadora. Obviously.

sleepy izzy (1)

She is a Cavachon – Cavalier King Charles Spaniel-Bichon Frise mix. She is 8 weeks old and weighs less than my 2 lb hand weights.

izzy to scale

She has made me happier than I’ve been in a long, long time.

izzy's first spot

I’m in love.

izzy's first spot (1)

But wouldn’t you be too?