I’m a huge fan of innovation. I love the sparks of future that pop up when I do exciting new things…today, I decided to innovate my breakfast with a popular but ‘boring’ grain:
I usually cook Jungle Oats in milk for about 10 minutes, add some honey and butter for flavour and call myself a master chef because it tastes so good.
Today, craving pancakes and learning to cater for different needs (innovation always serves a purpose), I decided to try the gluten free method: Oat flour.
According to the experts out there, oats are nutritionally superior to wheat. Bursting with minerals and other body enhancing supplements, this grain does what wheat does…but better.
Freshly ground in a painstakingly wiped down coffee grinder, the flour was pleasing to toss about, so floury. The sense of accomplishment was undeniable. I literally felt like a productive member of society, grinding my own grain in my little urban farm. My excitement dwindled slightly once I started combining the ingredients. The course texture grated against most of my panic buttons. I knew this mixture would be too heavy to give me the usual fluffiness from wheat pancakes but I soldiered on. The euphoria of a healthy breakfast was in sight and I wasn’t about to let a minor visual disappointment get in the way of my future temporary bliss.
Folding the stiff egg whites into the mixture calmed me down and the butter warmed me up to the reality of oat flour pancakes again. Letting the mixture rest (this is probably when I added waaaay too much Stevia), I scooped up some of the heavenly double cream yoghurt that would balance the tart fruits with my pancakes. Hedonism on a spoon, I promise.
As the last pancake cooked, I wondered about making an entirely new batch, with normal wheat flour and actual sugar. I decided to push forward with my innovation, instead of giving up like I usually do.
As it happens, they were more than edible. The strawberries and other fruits introduced the new, ‘odd’ taste. Layered flavours and textures coated my breakfast experience in a way that I hadn’t expected as I made the pancakes.
This helped me understand a little more about innovation. How to incorporate new ideas into traditional methods and learn to accept unforeseen results as a consequence. In hindsight, I don’t know why I expected the pancakes to turn out the same as they usually do.
If they had, it wouldn’t have been innovation, would it?
Being in this society is a highly stressful activity. More and more, i find myself resorting to food to keep me stable and calm but without enough exercise, its impacting my amazing physique…
When it comes to my emotions, I’m not the best at dissecting and understanding what they mean. Why they seem to pop up at random, drawing me into a web of thoughts that unravel my plans. When I eventually disentangle myself from this trap, my mind is in shambles. The cycle begins again.
I’ve been craving productivity for a while. I struggle to find fulfilment doing the work that I THINK I should be doing. I expect this is because the ‘work’ that I love doing seems selfish. Today, I let myself give in to my ‘selfish’ work…allowing myself the comfort of cooking before the new week begins was worth it.
I’ve never made quiche before. It always seemed like a waste of eggs. I can’t remember the first time I had quiche either. It must have made an impression on me because today, in my panic, I decided that I would validate myself by making this mystical quiche thing.
It was surprisingly easy. Disappointingly so, in fact. Granted, the base didn’t come out as I would have liked but the filling was decent enough. Barring the lack of seasoning, it was a good effort. It is a recipe that I can perfect over time.
Will this become my new comfort food? My new comfort ‘work’?
Being productive (making the quiche) did help me refocus my thoughts. Still, comfort was needed…
Rice and spice
I’m not sure what it is about this combination that helps me find my balance once again. The build up of heat that tingles and glows from within. The countable (but who will..?) grains of rice being crushed between my teeth. It almost feels like the chewing is producing the heat. That some consistent activity is giving rise to some kind of energy.
The stability that I imagine in this state helps me realign myself when times are tumultuous. It could very well be the reminiscing of the Sunday lunches that I was fortunate enough to grow up with. The safety of knowing that some delicious plate of food was there, waiting to welcome the new week.
So to end Sunday off, I indulged in a spicy spinach and rice dish. Loaded with slow cooked tomato and an army of grain, I cherished the moments that led me to my plate.
Its been 47 hours (?) since my last cup of coffee. As proud as i am of this achievement, my assignment depends on this double espresso..
The smell alone is stimulating enough for my mind to start electrocuting my body awake. Feeling my focus aligning with the goal that needs to be accomplished, i am empowered. This might be because the first time i smelled (real) coffee was in an airport and the thought of reaching for the clouds can now be acted out as i work towards my ideal future, whatever that is.
An hour or so later…
Since i’ve just moved, everything is still in boxes (including all my coffee). Admittedly, that that’s one of the main reasons i haven’t had much coffee lately. Also, my budget has me on the tightest leash so constantly going out for coffee isn’t the best decision to make right now.
Forcing the lack-of-coffee induced laziness back, i hunted for some black magic and found…
two of these little fire-starters from Starbucks (this post is not sponsored by the brand at all…) after some sugary indulgence from the Easter basket.
The combination of the chocolate and the coffee helped me feel like the looming deadline wasn’t too bad. And it wasn’t.
Now, i’m wide awake at 1:10am and wondering why exactly we still celebrate Easter and does the “why” have any bearing on the how? I know for a fact that there are hundreds of people in Cape Town, filling their cups with some sweet intoxication.
*disengage thought before FOMO strikes…
Earlier today, i spent some time at the Waterfront, at a place called Haiku. WOW…
Good food, if a little bit pricey. I’ll remember to work on including my audience in the experience somehow next time, for now, i’m letting myself indulge some of my addictions in manageable ways. That sounds awful but as a mostly-functional adult in this world, i’m actually making progress. There should be a term for coffee infused courage. Since its from Mexico, would it be Mexican courage? I suppose the word courage doesn’t work quite so well there, huh. Focus? Productivity?
Drawing used to be one of my addictions. I stopped for a while. It isn’t easy looking at your work and thinking ‘not good enough’, but with magical Mexican productivity and good music…
I’d been thinking about tackling some ideas I’ve had about being human for a while. After reading this quote, I knew that I had to take some form of action.
“When you get tired, don’t quit; rest”
Tired could mean a whole lot of things but to me, it’s the heart-searing frustration that comes with putting bucketloads of effort into something that means a lot to me but not achieving the milestones needed to go further. Tiredness is not only draining but also humiliating in a way. Tiredness is a reminder that mortality exists.
Anyway, drawing action from thought, I decided to wander outside my bubble and walk up Lion’s Head. I put on a vest (forgetting that it would cool down later in the day), grabbed my notebook and downed an energy drink and a coke, fighting every instinct to turn back as I walked to the bus stop.
The 107 to Camps Bay pulls up and I’m already feeling clammy in the afternoon heat. Of course, the bus is packed with people and the air is infused with an entire mornings worth of recycled breath and evaporated sweat. God forbid someone get the aircon working.
Practicing my calming thoughts I conjure a thought-bubble, — “I am the Universe becoming aware of itself, I am myself becoming aware of the Universe”
It’s a struggle not to switch to — “I am the Universe rolling its eyes at some idiot” as I spend half the ride debating whether to stand up for a girl to have my seat.
Fast forward to me buying a bottle of water at the foot of the trail. Hordes of people are gathering, ready to perform the sacred full moon pilgrimage that had spurred my own decision to do the same. Talk about a self-deprecating feedback loop. I notice the backpacked, spandex clad fitness freaks and my motivation sinks a notch. I feel like a devolved whale as sweats pours out of me, immediately soaked up by the dark vest sporting an image of a bearded man. My notebook is my only comfort as I grip it tightly.
I go over the reasons I decided to challenge myself and I recall walking this way with my mother. The memory of her is encouraging and I stop for a while at the bench we had soaked in the sight of Table Mountain, some weeks back.
Momentarily renewed, my trek continues.
As the trail curves into the sunlight, I feel like a ship sailing head-on into solar winds. My ragged breath is drawing attention from concerned hikers but my headphones drown out the sound of everything but Demi Lovato’s “Cool for the summer” — I was anything but!
Finally, I let myself stop for a while. For the first time, dragging my eyes away from the ground directly ahead of me and looking out at the vista that made those harrowing first steps worth it.
Having never gone past this point, I felt like an adventurer. A Lone Ranger, smiting the allure of angelic calls to give up and walk back down to the safety of the inner city comforts. The wilderness was now mine to behold!
My body began to adjust itself as I forced it to continue. The strain on my upper body lessened as my legs took on their share of the burden. This left me with a surprising ability to look around me as I walked, unhindered by my supposition that I had to watch the ground for any sign of it needing a hug from me.
I’m not saying it got easier, far from it. It did however, become multidimensional. The air seemed to freshen up and the light danced off buildings down below while insects and flowers silently observed the parade of humans.
The further I walked, the more concerned I got that I wasn’t dressed for the full experience. A breeze had picked up and, of course, my anxiety bade that I forget to enjoy it and focus on my impending death by hypothermia. Nonetheless, I kept walking, enjoying the caffeinated thrill and the power that came with it. No way I was going to waste it!
After some scrambles, slips and mad dives for the handholds, I decided rest. I knew that despite my desire to go further, my baggy shorts and inexperience would lessen the fun for myself and anyone behind me who wanted to dash ahead in time for the apparent party up ahead.
This was where I would turn back, until another time.
I drank most of the water I had with the hope that the bottle wouldn’t weigh me down as I stumbled back. More and more people were heading up and I perfected a balancing act as they squeezed past me. Those moments will forever be embedded in my mind. Gazing down at the steep drop on one side and anxiously avoiding being touched by other sweaty people on the other side, I was caught between a whole lot of air and an awkward, apology filled conversation.
One more contemplation of the city below me and I would be dashing down.
I already knew which pizzas I was going to order for supper and they helped me forget the stench of sweat that had decided to stick to me.
Resisting the urge to take an Uber home, I allowed myself my humanity and braved the bus. My damp clothes reminded me that I was present and my aching legs thanked me as I sat down gingerly at the back by one of two slightly open windows.
After my decontamination process, stepping back into my sterile environment, I wolfed the pizzas, thanked myself for the outing, knowing that all the calories I’d burned were being replaced.
But who was counting? I had learned that it’s all about the view and the effort. And those pizzas looked amazing and finishing them was effortless.
Sifting through my earliest memories of time spent with my mother, I found this little gem and the life lessons reflected to me. A lesson of love, given freely to two little gremlins with apparent personality disorders (at the time)…
It’s a typical Monday morning in the 90’s. My eight year old twin and I had come to the conclusion that we weren’t going to school that day. It didn’t really matter what we did, we just weren’t in the mood for that prison camp. Our mother, already late for work and panicking about our decision, made up her mind to take us to work and deal with the situation from there. To this day, I respect the single mothers who, despite the consequences, still take their children to work to make sure they’re safe. Oblivious to our mother’s predicament, my brother and I were ecstatic. We were going on an excursion to town. How exciting!
Leaving the house and shutting the gate behind us, the lock snapped closed, signalling the end of the security of home. We were on the open road, ready for adventure. We stepped onto that road and I remembered that we still had to make our way to the bus stop, just over a kilometre away. The lengthy stretch ahead seemed to mock my resolution to skip being driven to school by my grandfather earlier that morning. My mother’s curt voice snapped me out of developing tantrum and her perfume reminded me that while I was with her, I was safe. I was getting what I wanted, I was spending time with my mother.
After what felt like hours in the desert sun (actually 5 minutes in the shade of a tree-lined suburban road), a car hooted loudly behind us and our mother herded us off the road as it sped by. Watching the tail lights shrinking in the distance, a wave of frustration and anger overwhelmed me as I wondered why I had to mutilate my poor feet and tire my legs walking when others had cars. Not wanting to upset my mother (and achieving exactly that), I took my frustrations out on my brother. The tedium of the walk had bored me enough to forget that I was supposed to be having fun. Paying no attention to us, my mother kept her hurried pace and soon, we realised that we were being left behind. Setting aside our differences for the moment, we united to make sure that we weren’t forgotten. We believed her when she said “I’ll leave you here in the middle of the road.”…when we finally made it to the bus stop, my brother remembered that he had a bone to pick with me (and the world), so he continued the saga…but that’s not my story to tell.
The lessons from Gremlin Avenue were always there but only with years of hindsight am I able to begin comprehending their relevance to my life today. My mother’s optimism in taking us to work, knowing her decision would be frowned upon, is what revealed her heroism to my brother and I. My mother’s commitment to her responsibilities as a parent and to her contract at work forced her to make grim sacrifices but she persevered, just like we did with our short legs on Gremlin Avenue. “Keep moving forward”, a phrase introduced to me years later but demonstrated long before I understood the concept.
My mother’s humble reaction to the neighbours passing us taught me that I had no right to begrudge people for having something that I didn’t. On this planet, I’m only entitled to her love (considering my mood swings, even that’s pushing it). My mother forgave our selfishness, our inability to grasp the consequences of our actions quelled her anger and as she proudly introduced is to her colleagues who fawned over us, my brother and I turned into cupid’s little helpers. Of course, she was also making arrangements to get us the hell out of there before we got bored and revealed the reason we were known as gremlins at home.
The long walk to work was worth all the blood (not my story to tell…), sweat and tears.
By the time I figured out what that phrase meant, it had already passed its shelf life. An idealist at heart with bucket loads of naïveté, I expected to go out into the world and save it from itself. Initially, I misinterpreted the phrase to mean “love the outcome of what you do” and I give credence to the fact that for most people who do what they do for the money, this is exactly right.
For a mind bordering on solipsism, money and fame become repulsive but also an undeniable part of reality. As disillusionment takes its toll, one wonders where the fallacy ends and it never seems to. For a world that can’t be saved by an individual, what is an individual to do? Be an unwavering individual.
With billions of minds on this planet, each seemingly in competition for a few “good” jobs here and there (thanks globalization). What do I have to offer that I know would be a win-win situation for an organisation and I? My mind went over my hobbies and interests (I did try to find a job that would allow me to sleep in the early hours of the morning and wake up late evening but I didn’t really want to be a DJ). It seemed clear and obvious after that. I would have to become a writer.
Shortening a long story, I found myself in an interview for a writing internship in an organisation that seems to be doing exactly the kind of work I myself would like to do. What were the odds? This is where the happily ever after is supposed to come in, the screen fades to black and we walk out of the cinema. But there I was, with the internship that I wanted. What now? I spent a week trying to calculate all the consequences of all my possible decisions and fussed about my deliverables. I focused on everything my mind could lay its tentacles on and because of this, I missed the details. I froze, petrified in light of getting what I wanted. The thaw might be slow but I know it will be steady.
Writing will be my first consciously developed addiction.
And so, my first fable…
The Top of the food chain
Sometimes, when the moon is full and the stars are twinkling, all the different animals in the ocean are allowed to talk to each other. They sing and they dance, sharing stories of the different reefs and gyres.
One night, however, while the animals were socialising, a great net appeared from the surface of the ocean and scooped up all the little tuna, some turtles, dolphins and other sea creatures before closing up and rising back to the surface slowly. The animals screamed and cried. They tried everything to get out of the net but none of them had teeth sharp enough to cut through the net.
Meanderingly, Shark swam up to see what all the commotion was about. The animals begged Shark to bite the net for them but he laughed as he swam away.
“I’m at the top of the food chain” Shark thought to himself. “Why would I waste my time helping the animals?”
Many moons later, after all the animals had observed and timed the appearance of the net that had taken their friends and family, they began to gather again and share their stories at a safe depth. One night, they saw Shark swimming close to where the net was scheduled to appear and they tried to warn him. Shark prided himself as being the most fearsome fish in the ocean so he ignored them and promptly got scooped up by the great net.
Unfortunately, because Shark was the only one caught, the net was so light that it rose back to the surface before any of the other fish could help him. In that moment, Shark knew that despite his sharp teeth and his ability to scare other animals, he was not at the top of the food chain.
There are few things in life that stay with you long enough to leave a lasting impression on you. There are even fewer things in life that stay with you forever, even when you don’t want them to (no, this is not another post about millennials living with their parents). Looking back at my childhood, sifting through the encrypted memories to find the root causes of my adulthood failures, I’ve found maize to have the most regular appearance in the background of the rest of the drama of my life. The harried breakfasts that consisted of porridge doused in milk and sugar, laced with margarine. The tearful suppers when I didn’t want to eat tomato skins because they looked sharp enough to slide into my throat lining but I learned how to hide them inside my rolled up pap and it was an added benefit to learn how to swallow without chewing (food inhalation is a skill). After years of having pap for breakfast lunch and supper, I inevitably rejected this staple when my inner rebellion began. Anything corn was banished from my life with any flimsy excuse I could come up with. I even made new friends who didn’t like pap.
Now, as I rediscover corn and appreciate its nutritional value, rivalled only by its long history next to the human species and in my personal life; “something old” becomes something ageless.
After watching a few documentaries and learning about humans killing the planet, I decided to take responsibility for all the animals that my choices had killed. I decided to end my passive killing spree by converting to Vegetarianism. In the first couple of months, my head was a giant panic button. Whenever the thought of food came up (every 21 seconds), I would contemplate my decision to abandon all the protein in the world. Thankfully, my carnivorous ignorance came to an end gradually and I discerned a whole new world of food. From legumes to other, more exotic sources of protein that we don’t have time to expand on right now. Still, being a veggie didn’t manage to reopen my eyes to the magic of corn but this “something new” did manage to pave the way a more accepting palate.
A meal is more than just a plate of food. A meal is an experience that your subconscious will remember long after your teeth have fallen out and you need an assisted living facility when all you can eat is liquid butternut. Childhood meals leave the longest lasting impressions and one of my suppressed memories (meals) is pap and mince. Pap, cooked until it collects into one big white, grainy mound on your plate. Mince, made into a thick brown gravy and if you’re feeling exploratory, mixed vegetables add a healthy dimension.
Now, as you may have guessed, I haven’t been able to realign my inner childhood memory with this meal because I’m a vegetarian BUT, some weeks ago, someone I trust suggested that I try soya mince. The boxed kind from Pick n Pay. I have to emphasise the trust because if anyone else had suggested it, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. Generally, I’m not a fan of anything that TRIES to be meat. I’ve had a few scares since becoming a vegetarian and you don’t want to sit through a meal wondering if you’re eating something that had a life, a family. However, after experimenting with different ways of cooking the soya mince, I finally found the right combination of flavours and textures to light up those forgotten regions of my brain that can only be turned on by my food experiences. So, even though soya mince may have “borrowed” its name and texture from mince, it still tastes *beep* good.
Do you ever have those days when no one gets you? When you try and share your thoughts with the world and the world turns its back on you? When I have those days (more often than you’d realize, what with my outgoing personality and easy glamour…), I turn to food. Good, home cooked, comfort food. For a long time, that food has been exclusively pasta, rice or bread. Unfortunately, the effects of their comfort wears off quickly and I’m forced to cook something else, with even more starch. Until now. Having pap, with all the memories attached and the starchy goodness that has blessed so many generations before me, I feel at peace with the world for much longer. Having pap is an intimate affair for me, see, I eat it with my hands and this comes naturally to me. Engaging with my food is as important as preparing it. In short, whenever I’m feeling “something blue”, I know that I can turn to corn. As I open my bag of tortilla chips and prepare my oven for the nachos, I soak my pap pot in hot water and wonder where my depression went…
Upon accepting that my stomach is betrothed to corn, I have gained a new excitement about food which I never thought possible. As I look to the future, a long life awaits those two and they have my full blessing.