16 October 2007

Five Fine Questions

A few months ago, a blogging friend had the most unusual meme posted on his blog. It was an interview of sorts, and it intrigued me a great deal. The way is works is you leave a comment on the interviewee's (in this case, my) blog, and they come up with five questions which you then answer. So instead of getting tagged with a meme that you may or may not want to do, you volunteer for this one.

I volunteered. But John has a life outside of the computer, unlike me, so some time went by before he was able to get the questions to me. And in the intervening week, I've actually had a life outside of the computer; among some personal drama, I also had.....drumroll, please....a JOB INTERVIEW! Since we don't talk about work or potential work on this blog, I'd feel more comfortable if we moved on, wouldn't you? Thought so.

Here are John's five questions and and my answers.

1. You are a self-described hemorrhaging heart liberal. I am a hand-over-my-heart conservative. Why should people like us "waste time" talking to each other?

Because you can't shake hands with a clenched fist. We may never convince one another to change our personal point of view, even though we passionately hope to, but we can't fix a single problem by shouting at one another. Sane, respectful, rational, polite dialog never hurt anyone that I've ever heard of. And there's a lot to fix; we're agreed on that. Healthcare, Education, Poverty, the HIV crisis, the gaping holes in the deficit and the ozone layer...methodology and philosophy may differ, even be vehemently opposed to one another, but you have to start somewhere. A conversation is a good place to begin.

2. You have been convicted of a crime (hypothetically, of course!) and your judge passes the following sentence on you for your crime..."You can only eat one meal, watch one movie, read one book, and listen to one album for the rest of your life." What are your choices and why?

Ouch! Depriving me of musical and reading choices is like taking my oxygen away. Alright, begin at the beginning; one meal.

Pasta, with a tomato-basil-garlic sauce, and a glass of Syrah or Shiraz. I'd gain a ton from the carbs, but I could eat pasta 7 days a week and not get tired of it.

One movie; The Shawshank Redemption. Morgan Freeman's monologue at the end makes me weep every time I watch it. It is about hope.

One book; as I type this, I'm looking over the edge of my loft at my library below and the hundreds of books shelved there. Pick one? ONE? I think I could sooner choose one limb to lose. I'm sure most people pick something serious, some weighty tome, scholarly and pedantic in tone; I don't think I could. Although I'm tempted to say an unabridged dictionary, for the love of learning new words. The questions I'm struggling with here are: something I've read already and know and love, or something I haven't read and want to? Fiction or non-fiction? In English or Swedish or German? Argh! Much too difficult to answer for someone who has loved to read since her earliest memories!

Steven King's The Stand because it is very long and being a horror novel would take me a long, long, long time to read with my overactive imagination.

One album; again, very, very difficult. I have over 1200 songs stored in iTunes, and that isn't all of my music collection by a long shot. I listen to everything from opera to hip-hop, alt country to jazz standards. There isn't much music that I don't like. I think I'd choose Miles Davis's, Kind of Blue, because it was my first exposure to jazz, a memory I hold dear, and because every time I listen to it, I hear something new.

3. You spent some time in Sweden as an exchange student. What are the lingering life-lessons you carry from this experience?

Funny you should ask, I was also asked this question in that job interview.

The biggest lesson was that I can do anything. I forget that lesson from time to time, but I figured out at 16 years old that if I could learn a completely new language in 3 months then there probably wasn't much I couldn't do, if I was determined enough. Another lesson was that families, the world over, are far more similar than they are different. Our similarities have the potential to bring us closer together, to solve conflict. That's what the exchange program is about, really, is fostering peace. I learned that I could get up in front of an audience of any size and not die of terror on the spot; I've used that a lot over the years. Many people fear public speaking. I not only love it, I'm good at it. I learned to treasure time alone and solitude; some of my meditation practice takes me back to sitting on the shore of Lake Malaren in my hometown in Sweden, watching the waves, listening to and feeling the wind. The link shows a map of my Swedish hometown; look at the right side of town and a spot on the lake that says Skillingeud; that's where I went when I wanted some solitary time. I would also be freezing my rear end off most of the time, frankly! Which brings me to my last two life lessons....how to dress in layers to keep warm and that saunas are a woooonderful thing.

4. Name 5 simple things that bring joy to your day.
Every day or any day? I'm going with any day.
1. Sunshine, because we see so little of it here in Oh-hia-ia.
2. Laughing with my sisters so much that my abs hurt. The three of us need to be together for that one, but it is a joy.
3. My DH snoring loud enough to shake the roof. No, really. If he's snoring, that means that he's here, with me, and if the noise bothers me, I use earplugs. I'm lucky to have him , and even when the snoring bugs me, it reminds me that he's always there, solid, dependable, a source of strength for me that has never run out.
4. Deep breaths of crisp, cool air. I don't know if anyone who does not have asthma can appreciate this in the same way that an asthmatic can. Usually a sharp inhalation of cold air brings on an attack, so when it doesn't, that's a great thing.
5. My friends and family, without whom I would not be the imperfect person I am.

And now I've got John Denver singing "Sunshine on my shoulders" stuck in my head.

5. You enjoy cooking. My Beloved and I are coming over. What's for supper? (Spare no details. Make our mouths water.)

And what an interesting dinner that would be!

The true question here is do I start with dessert and work my way backwards or begin with the traditional first course and work my way forward? I had to look up the proper courses per Emily Post; but since I think a entree and roast course are both redundant and far too much food, I've trimmed it down to fewer courses than a formal dinner. Working (mostly) within my abilities, here we go!

1. Hors d’oeuvre~small rounds of fresh French bread, soaked with olive oil and covered with a blend of feta cheese, garlic, and spices, (oregano, salt, pepper, parsley) broiled in the oven until the bread is crispy and the feta is soft. Very messy to eat, as the olive oil runs all over everywhere, but worth the mess.

2. Soup~my host mother's soup, for which I have no English name. She calls it juha, but that's a phonetic spelling of a Croatian word that I know is just 'soup.' It is a clear broth, made from soup bones in a pressure cooker, and is simplicity itself. Seasoned only with salt and a very small amount of pepper. Tiny, tiny, tiny pasta is added for some bulk. Although I said I was working within my own abilities, I have yet to be able to re-create the exact flavor of her soup here in the States. I suspect this is due to the difference in the way cattle and chicken are raised (more organically) there.

3. Entrée~an Emeril Lagasse recipe that I've stolen and adapted over the years; beer-brined chicken. A whole chicken is submerged for 24 hours in a brine made of lots of salt, a little bit of water, and a whole lot of Guinness. Other beers or ales also work, but the Guinness just adds something unquantifiable to it. Plus some other secret seasonings. When it comes out of the brine, the cavity of the chicken gets a stick of butter and a whole head of garlic stuffed inside, and it is roasted. The most moist and flavorful thing you've ever had. Served with small new potatoes every color of the spectrum (purple ones from Prince Edward Island are pretty) and fresh green beans that have been steamed just until they're hot, still crisp.

4. Fish~Basa, a Vietnamese fish, steamed in packets made of parchment paper, seasoned with sesame oil, dill, salt, pepper, a hint of lemon juice and lemon zest. Served with crisp edamame.

5. Salad~one of my Kitchen Sink salads. Called so because everything but the kitchen sink is in it! Baby greens, all sorts of wonderful lettuces as the base. Sweet and spicy, things like arugula, endive, Boston lettuce, you get the idea. To that I add shredded carrots, diced celery, English cucumbers that have been halved, seeded, and chopped in to chunks, toasted almond slivers, dried cherries, golden raisins, small grape tomatoes. The salad is served naked, with no dressing on it to allow each diner to add the amount of dressing that they like. I make a vinegarette from scratch, using fresh squeezed lemon juice, lemon zest, fresh cilantro, sea salt, fresh ground black pepper, sesame oil and olive oil.

6. Dessert & Coffee~knowing that you are a coffee lover, I would have to serve coffee that my parents brought back from Nicaragua when they visited several years ago. I have no idea what it was called, where it was grown, or how the beans were roasted, but it was the best coffee I've ever tasted. Or a true Hawaiian Kona, not the 'Kona Blend' you find in the stores.
Dessert would have to depend on the season; in the depths of winter, a decadent chocolate delight, rich moist chocolate cake layers with dark chocolate ganache between the layers, frosted with chocolate mousse and garnished with sliced strawberries and white chocolate shavings. I think I gained ten pounds typing that sentence!! In the spring, a lighter cake, butter cake, which isn't chocolate, with raspberry filling, and a honey buttercream frosting, decorated with vines piped in a buttercream tinted green. In the summer, a chocolate angel food cake, lighter than air, with the addition of a swirl of chocolate sauce to grace each plate. Fresh strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries served on the side with whipped creme. In the fall, apple dumplings made from Honeycrisp apples, which ErinCee will tell you are the best, most wonderful fall apples. Apple dumplings, for those not in the know, are made rather simply; a pate sucre (sweet dough) is wrapped around a peeled and cored apple. Just before sealing the square of pastry around the apple, a bit of cinnamon, a tiny bit of nutmeg, and a dab of butter is placed inside. They're then baked in a glass dish containing a simple syrup (sugar and water, boiled together) to which cinnamon, nutmeg, and butter has been added. Apple dumplings are traditionally served with ice cream; I like mine without, but for those who like the al a mode version (including my DH) a homemade vanilla gelato, far richer than any ordinary ice cream. Gelato has many, many eggs in it, is a colossal pain in the ass to make, and worth every second of the effort. I'd make it with whole vanilla beans so that the tiny specks of vanilla seeds could be seen.

Anyone who left the table hungry would have to do the dishes.

If you would like to be interviewed follow the instructions below!

1. Leave me a comment saying “Interview me.”
2. I will respond by emailing you five questions. I get to pick the questions.
3. You will update your blog with a post containing your answers to the questions.
4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.


Dawna said...

Oooo ooo ooo interview me! I'll respond via my MySpace blog.

Dawna said...

I just re-read that and now I'd KILL for one of those apple dumplings a la mode.... oh good god that sounds yummy.

Anonymous said...

Interview Me...

Lucy Arin said...

I'll work on that and send you questions soon.

and yes, apple dumplings...mmmmmm