Tasty Mind Morsels

Nibbles and Bits for your Mind/Body/Soul Palate

November 7, 2011 November 8, 2011

I need to apologize (to myself and to you!) for not publishing in a while. I have had an unbelievably busy week.

My life, as it is now, reminds me a bit of that carnival game, Whac-A-Mole: I need to move fast – as little tasks/opportunities keep popping up that need “whacking” off my to-do list. Only…my game is just going on in perpetuity, but methinks my prizes will be better than plastic pocket games, day-glo yo-yo’s and over-sized stuffed animals!

Needless to say, several things over the course of six days have brought smiles and laughter into my life…but here are three highlights:

1.) The Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra bringing “Play Me, I’m Yours” to Los Angeles.

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I vaguely remember hearing about this project a few years ago, in 2008, when it began in Birmingham, UK. Since then, this project has gone on the road to numerous cities around the world: Sao Paulo, Sydney, London, Barcelona, New York, Cincinnati, Austin, Geneva…to name a few. In April 2012, “Play Me, I’m Yours” will be in Los Angeles, installed by the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra in honor of its music director’s 15th anniversary with the chamber orchestra.

“…the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra will install thirty decorated pianos throughout Los Angeles County, transforming standard public spaces into exciting performance venues.” (http://www.laco.org/pianos/)

Memories of piano lessons when I was in grade school crawl back into my conscious. I recall learning all Suzuki books 1 and 2 and “More Than Words.”
Can I sit at one of these arted-up instruments and showcase my meager piano talent to the city? Heck yes, I can.

And heck yes, I shall.

2.) Smiles in the most unlikely of situations, at the most unlikely of times.

I am a commuter. I consider myself lucky to only have a twenty-minute commute down Olympic Boulevard from my home to my office in downtown Los Angeles. Once upon a time, I listened devoutly to Democracy Now! and Uprising, Pacifica-Radio on the way to work. The ideal then, as a citizen of this planet, was that it was my obligation to keep current on worldly events…and the only time I really had to dedicate to this task was in my car on my way to work.

But I noticed something when I did this: My commutes were cluttered with unnecessary anxiety and sadness (my emotional response to reports of cataclysmic natural disasters, oil spills, war, rebellion, corporate coups and general, day-to-day, world chaos). A commute in Los Angeles morning traffic is stressful enough…arriving to work on edge became a standard and needed to end.

So I made a conscious effort to turn on positive music (I created an iPod playlist called “In The Morning” and filled it with music that sent positive messages…minor keys were not allowed.), and turn off the radio and silence my mind. Sorry KPFK…I will probably miss your November pledge drive this year!

Being in a positive state of mind while driving to work has kept me from yelling at those who cut me off – “He cut me off? He must be in a major hurry. It’s all good.” – or those who drive painfully slow – “She must not know where she is. I’ll just switch lanes. No problemo.” And being in this positive state of mind – at least on my way to work – has allowed me the opportunity to see the positive, heartening things around me. (YES, even on a dingy, L.A. road in complete gridlock.)

The other morning, while at an impossibly long, red light in Korea town, I was looking around. I do not usually see anything of interest at this particular intersection, but that morning I saw TWO things that just made my face (and heart) smile:

1.) The man in the car next to mine was playing air and steering wheel drums with actual drumsticks. I wish I could have snapped a picture because his look was amazing; He had a giant afro and was wearing a band uniform. This delighted me to no end, as I used to be a marching band nerd (with my fiddle) in high school. Seeing him “doing his thing” made me happy.

2.) In Los Angeles, we have people (not hired by the city) who go through the trash every day/night to try to find recyclables for cash. Often, these individuals have shopping carts loaded with giant trash bags filled with glass, aluminum and plastic bottles and cans. Typically, each individual will have one or two bags by the end of a recycling run…but…

Back at the red light the other morning – I spied one of the most awesome,  heart-warming, giggle-inducing sights I have seen on the streets of L.A. A “recycler” in his 50’s or 60’s was standing on the sidewalk,  hand on shopping cart. His hair was short and silver; he, short and slight  in stature. Bundled up in his winter coat, he surveyed his recycling spoils…not unlike a satisfied child on Christmas morning.

It was the smile on his face that slowly grew larger as he eyed not only two giant, FULL bags inside his cart, but the three even larger, MORE FULL bags hanging off of its side, that caught my attention. I watched as he gradually recognized that he had indeed hit THE mother load of recyclables at some point prior to that moment…and he began running with the cart. He bolted a few steps before he jumped on to the cart and cruised down the block, a smile glued to his face.

This moment, my friends, was pure joy wrapped up in a blanket of elation. It lasted only a few seconds, but it had me smiling through the last two miles of my commute. 

3.) Throwing Vegan dinner parties!

Heck…throwing ANY dinner party is a hoot. I, in particular, love hosting vegan dinner parties as an excuse to cook the larger, more time-intensive vegan recipes that I come across. This past Saturday, I invited four friends to enjoy a full vegan menu (to which, everyone contributed):

  • Sweet, raw kale salad with tomato, dried cranberry and sprouted pumpkin seeds.
  • Roasted beet salad with toasted hazelnuts and pickled onions.
  • Vegan pumpkin ravioli sautéed with sage, cayenne pepper and toasted  hazelnut.
  • Vegan Apple Crumble for dessert.
  • A heckuva lot of wine!

If you have any interest in one of these recipes, let me know and I can add it to this post! 

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4 Responses to “November 7, 2011”

  1. Erik Runnels Says:

    Hey Kris, what’s Kale? If it’s not like octopus snot or something I want that salad recipe. 🙂 Ooo. And the pumpkin ravioli (even though I’m trying to cut out carbs as much as possible … still, special occasions and all that 🙂

    p.s. hmmmm. I wonder why I looooove dinner parties too! I mean, is it a Runnels thing?

    • Amatistrad Says:

      Kale is a leafy green very similar to collard greens. To eat kale, one needs to cook it or – as I did in my kale salad recipe – “massage” it with olive oil, pepper, salt and lemon juice (this breaks down the coarseness of the vegetable so that it is more easily digestible). Kale is very high in beta carotene, vitamin K, vitamin C, and reasonably rich in calcium. It is also a source of indole-3-carbinol, a chemical which boosts DNA repair in cells and appears to block the growth of cancer cells.

      I crave this vegetable at LEAST once a week. 😉

      The pumpkin ravioli was made from scratch by my friend, Camille. I’ll ask her for her recipe. I remember it took her all day to make enough for 6 people, and involved steaming then sauteing the pasta. Very tasty, though! You’ll definitely want to save this labor-intensive recipe for a special occasion 😉

      re: the p.s.? I have NO idea…maybe it is because we had so many people around the table growing up…large family and all?

  2. Hey lady. Lovely blog. The ravioli was easy to prep but annoying to assemble.
    In future, I’ll make my own pasta (or just make this sucker into lasagna instead).
    The filling was cooked pumpkin, garlic, shallots, salt & pepper, cayenne, and a sort of pesto of toasted hazelnuts, sage and olive oil that I did in the food processor.

    I got fresh pasta sheets from Whole Foods, and assembled them with water as it said on the package. They were delicate little guys! My husband found a tip online to use egg whites instead, but then… yeah… not vegan.

    So they fell apart when I tried to boil them. Instead I steamed them and then sauteed them with olive oil, garlic, salt & pepper, sage and hazelnuts.

    • Amatistrad Says:

      Thank you! I have been lagging on updates. I need to write one tonight or tomorrow!
      And that ravioli – although annoying to assemble – was DELICIOUS! I think there were only 3 or 4 leftover out of a heaping plate of yum.


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