Monday, January 18, 2010

because I said so

I don't think my mother ever tried that line on me, which is surprising, because I'm pretty sure I always wanted to know WHY I wasn't supposed to do something or was supposed to do something. Granted, I think she tried really hard to explain it to me because somewhere along the long line of my adolescence, we both realized that I would respect her and her rules more if I understood why she felt the need to repress me at every turn.

Why can't I go to a dance club?
Because 14 year olds have no place at a dance club.
But it's meant for teenagers - it's all-ages.
That means there will be people there who are older than you.

Fast forward 5 short years to when I was 19 and there wasn't a darn thing she could do to prevent me from going dancing with my friend. I remember seeing some 14 year old girls at this all-ages club and thinking to myself "Oh my gosh, they have no place here! My mother was right!" Talk about a stunning discovery.

There were a lot of similar discoveries. Enough of them that my sister told me once that telling me about her misadventures was only a step away from telling our mom because I reacted the same way she would. That led to a completely useless attempt to explain to her that it was only because Mom was actually right about it. I'm not entirely sure she ever believed me...not that she pretended to.

So speed through a decade or more and we get to today's events at work, which led to my reminiscent ponderings. I am at least somewhat convinced that the reason I haven't been fired yet, and have actually been promoted a few times, is because when someone in a position of authority over me says "do this," or "don't do that," I obey. Why? Because someone with the power to tell me what to do told me what to do and I figure (silly me) that they have that power for a reason. Apparently, I'm not of the same mind as at least one of my team members.

I say to him "don't do this." He says "Why not?" I explain it to him - multiple times with different wording each time, hoping to penetrate his rock-hard skull, but no dice. I say, "Regardless of this entire conversation, do not do that again. It will get you fired." In my mind, if I were him, that would end the conversation. Nope, not with him. It's exhausting - no wonder I don't have children! Whatever - here's your shovel, holler when you hit the bottom.

Speaking of shovels, yesterday was an icky cold and rainy day, which made it the perfect night to have one of my two soup dinners. I made the Tortilla Chip Soup, but I set a bowl full of tortilla chips in the middle of the table for dipping and scooping, rather than following the recipe instructions. Well, perhaps I'm arguing with my own point, but I know my Mister and if I put a few tortilla chips in a bowl and then covered those chips with soup, resulting in soggy tortilla chips, it would be a sad dinner indeed. So this isn't about insubordination, it's more an effort to adapt the Why.

Why are there tortilla chips at the bottom of the bowl? Probably because the name of the soup is Tortilla Chip Soup and the chips are playing the part of the "crouton" in French Onion Soup. Point taken, but that doesn't change how much Mister would hate to find several soggy sad tortilla chips at the bottom of his soup bowl.
It was really a lot better than I thought it would be, and I was pretty sure it would be great. Halfway through simmering time, I tasted the broth and determined it needed just a little more something. That something (I guessed correctly) was a splash of white wine vinegar. It enhanced the kosher salt I had sprinkled in earlier while embracing the acidity of the tomatoes. It was delicious without the tortilla chips, but I've really grown to love scooping up my dinner with a nice salty [multi-grain] tortilla chip.

Tonight, we had Punjabi Peppers and Tofu. To my great delight, the hearty sprinkling of cumin and accidental dumping of (probably a teaspoon of) coriander balanced out the cardamom so prevalent in my Whole Pantry Garam Masala. I tried really hard to replace it with the McCormick Gourmet Garam Masala but I couldn't find it anywhere. When I do, I'm buying all of them.
Also, I needed three peppers when I headed to Whole Foods last week - one orange, one red, and one green. However, peppers are not exactly in season and I couldn't tolerate the knowledge that if I actually hand-picked those three peppers, I would probably end up paying a little more than $2 apiece for them, so I grabbed one of those tricolored pepper bags where they just give you three peppers. So, the point of this ridiculous story is that if you look at my previous post on this dinner, you'll see red and green peppers, but tonight I made it with a yellow pepper in place of the green. I'm sure that revelation just rocked your world.

In other news, to my great surprise, I had a killer salad from the salad bar at work today. Normally, it's just some sorry looking lettuce (iceberg, of course - nothing but the best), cucumbers if you're lucky, and some indistinguishable mush that's probably supposed to be either tuna or chicken salad, as well as some drying out shredded cheese. Mmmm....heaven in an aluminum buffet. Today, though, I made a happy little plate with mixed greens, baby spinach, broccoli florets, chopped black olives, mandarin oranges, and sunflower seeds. For me, the mark of a good (well-constructed) salad is that it doesn't require dressing. That is why I am completely in love with Wawa's new Build-a-Salad option (thanks for the gift cards, Dad!) and I am pleased as punch to tell you that my pre-lunch salad did not require dressing. Which is good, because I fear those big carafes of goo.

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