Saturday, October 9, 2010

Pumpkin Custard

For those of you that read my blog on a regular basis, you know that I am gluten free and that I am not crazy about process foods though I don't follow my convictions 100% of the time.  (Maybe 50%)  I haven't been in a cooking mood lately so I was at the store yesterday looking for gluten free packaged food I could take to work, so I wouldn't be temped to buy cafeteria food, or overpriced food from Au Bon Pain.  I found some lentils in a tomato cream sauce  in a microwaveable pouch.  The package doesn't say it is gluten free, but the ingredients all look good and wheat is not listed as an allergen.  Two ingredients that I didn't recognize, asafetida and fenugreek leaves.  Wikipedia says that asafetida is a spice that is suppose to decrease flatulence.  Fenugreek is an herb in the leaf form and a spice seed form.  Often used in curries.  No preservatives. 

Much of the packaged foods either use noodles or pastas of some sort or use wheat in the processing. Then I saw the Hamburger Helper.  I haven't bought Hamburger Helper since the girls were small, or not so small but anyway not for a long time.  On two of the packages in bold letters were the words GLUTEN FREE.  I strongly believe I should support manufacturers who are making an effort to help me with my dietary needs.  The one I bought was beef fried rice.  They simply took ingredients that are naturally gluten free (beef, rice, vegetables) and did not add any wheat or gluten in the processing.

I made the Hamburger Helper for lunch today thinking I would take the left overs to work tomorrow.  Gluten free or not, it was terrible.  I use to eat this stuff on a regular basis.  I don't think I liked it then either, but it was quick, easy and cheep.  I remember when Rachel first became a vegetarian, I would feed her hamburger helper without the hamburger.  She would also order McDonald's cheeseburgers with out the meat.  She has since graduated to Capuchino Brownies (from Women of Great Taste) laced with cannabis.  (The cannabis is an add in.)  I didn't realize there is a whole process to doing that.  I thought you just tore up the leaves and threw them in.  At least someone is cooking from the book.  But I digress.

So I will nix the Hamburger Helper on the next trip to the store and instead op for my mother's goulash using gluten free pasta.  Right now I am baking a pumpkin pie sans crust.  Let's call it a pumpkin custard.

Monday, October 4, 2010


Yesterday I met an interesting woman named Beatrice.  We met for coffee at Panera with a new friend of mine, Toby.  Beatrice was born in Germany and then immigrated to the United States as a young adult.  She was talking about the differences between the two countries and one thing especially struck me.  She said that in America a great deal of emphasis is placed on family.  In Germany she said, after you grow up you replace your family with friends.  Friends become your primary focus.  I thought that was interesting.  I don't think it is a universal rule here because not everyone is close to their families usually due to dysfunctions, but for the most part I think yes.  I certainly know that is the case for me, both my family of origin and my children.  I have put much less importance on friendship.  The unfortunate part is that my family is scattered across the country and cannot meet my everyday needs of connection.

My father once told me that his biggest regret was not keeping the friends that had come into his life.  When I think about the people who have passed though my life, the ones I remember and the ones I don't, I know exactly what he meant.  Of all the thousands of people I have know, and the many I have counted as friends there are only 3 that I still have contact with and only one on a regular basis.  The problem with not hanging on to friends is that you have to keep making new ones (if you want to have friends.) 

In grade school, middle school and high school, making friends was easy.  College was a little harder for me but still easier than real life.  It turns out that there is a reason for that.  You saw the same people every day and being in consistent close proximity fosters friendships.  It is the same for the work place.  When I think about it, I have had very few friends over my life time that were not in school with me or worked with me.

Part of my problem as and adult with making and keeping friends has been that I was looking for that same connection that I had had in grade school and high school.  The intensity.  The best friend.  As a child and adolescent I talked to my friends on the phone at least once every day and usually more often.  We spent the night together.  We hung out at least several times a week and saw each other everyday at school.  But when you get out of school, life is different.  You have work and family and other obligations and it is easy for things to get in the way.  You may see work friends every day but it is not the same.  They have families and obligations of their own. 

The first time I went to therapy, I was a young woman with young children.  What I discovered rather early on in the therapy was that I was extremely lonely.  My therapist asked me what I had to offer other people and I could not come up with the answer.  She finally had to tell me that in friendships the only thing you have to offer is yourself.  But that, that is enough.  I think I understood that as a child, as an adult I forgot.  As with most of life, remembering what we instinctively knew as children is important  But we also have to make adult changes.  I have had to learn how to accept friendships in what ever form or frequency they take. 

It turns out that when you get older (and I am really talking about women here) you need to replace that one or two best friends with many friends.  One person can no long satisfy all your needs.  There isn't enough time.  Some experts say you need five close friends and some say seven.  But you need more than one.

I have been very lucky this past year in finding a girl friend, Charlotte, that I feel closer to than I have felt to anyone in a very long time.  And because of that friendship I find myself wanting more.  So I went looking.

First, I posted an ad on Craig's list.  I got several responses, met a couple of women but didn't make a connection with either.  And then I found a website called  Shasta, the founder understands how hard it is for women to make quality friendships and she has done something about it.

 Next blog:  Girlfriendcircles and the science behind women friendships.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Ravenswood Artwalk

Ravenswood is both a street in Chicago and a neighborhood.  Officially Ravenswood (according to the realestate chatter) is part of the Lincoln Square area of Chicago.  Mostly residential, there is a corridor along  Ravenswood street that is home to art galleries and studios as well as small industry. The art walk is a yearly event and this year launched the 15th annual Chicago art month.  Unlike the art ffestival I attended earlier in the summer this one is strictly limited to the local artists that have studios in the area.  There were demonstrations and free classes in everything from silk screening to pottery and puppetry.  Because I am not a planner I was never quite in the right place at the right time.  But I enjoy seeing the individual work and talking with the artists.

A friend of mine at work is taking a pottery class and I think it would be fun to do.  One of the artists showed me the different looks of the pottery she makes as it dries and before it is fired and after it is fired before it is glazed and then of coarse the final product.  I especially loved the ceramic tiles and wall decorations. 

One woman had some very unique and pricey jewelry that I would love to have.  Lots of painters and photographers.  The main reason I went to the art walk in the first place was I received an invitation from a woman that I had taken photography classes from.  I get invitations from time to time from her but  have never made an event until today.  To my surprise I was more than just a email address.  She remembered me and even my name.  Lejean teaches art in the school system during the day, teaches photography in the evenings, works for Bella Babies (the company I worked for for a short time) on the weekends, and some how finds time to do her own work.

What I found most compelling about the day was seeing people's need to be express them selves in what every medium they choose.  For many of these people this is their full time jobs, supplemented it with teaching others to express them selves as well.  I don't know if anyone was buying today but it is nice to know that arts continue to flourish even in a terrible economy.