Monthly Archives: May 2010

Our Day with K and Kids

Today, I got to see K! I haven’t seen her in several years, and I am happy she moved back to town! She blogs over at http://familysizedfun.blogspot.com/. This was also the first time meeting her children! They are sooo precious.

We went to Loch Haven Park for the Kids Fringe part of the Orlando Fringe Festival. They had music and dancing and storytelling and improv and arts and crafts for the kids. It was fun, even though it was hot!

Before I write more, let me be a good father and post a picture of my handsome son, Alexander. He is piratical.

I met K several years ago via Myspace. I don’t remember the details, but I liked what she wrote. We bonded over the book Blue Like Jazz, if I recall. And then it turned out that we went to the same church, though at different times, because then I was living in a different town. Eventually I moved back and went back to that church and officially met K in person. We began hanging out downtown, usually on Sunday nights at a bar called Matador.

She knew cool people, because she’s a cool person herself. She was a good friend, and I don’t know if she knows how much I appreciated her friendship at the time. My divorce had just been finalized and things were in turmoil. I was insecure and my world felt very small, and K helped open that world up a little bit and helped me see things beyond.

Eventually, K moved away, and things changed. She got married (but I got to meet Boom Boom before and he’s a great guy). We stayed in touch a little over the next few years, but didn’t talk a lot. And then there came Twitter, and now she’s moved back to town, and the world seems a little more open than it had.

So today at the Fringe, I had so much fun, just enjoying the company of a long-time friend, and enjoying her amazing kids, who are incredibly photogenic. When Alexander was young, I took pictures all the time. As he’s gotten older, I take many less, and when I do take pictures, he’s often not willing to be in them, so it’s fun being able to take pictures of cute kids that will allow you to do it.

RAWR!

Such a face!

Alas, poor Ice Cream. I knew him…

Storytellin’

Mosquito says “bzzzzzzz”

This is just the cutest thing.

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Lime Fried Tofu

@runaway_tweets was intrigued by my fried tofu, so I said I’d try to quick-blog it.

Yesterday in Target, I picked up a pack of Nasoya super firm cubed tofu. Even super firm, I find the consistency of tofu a bit off-putting, so I’ve been experimenting ways to alter the texture. I’ve done something similar with a block of tofu that I’ve sliced and baked, then cubed and fried as well.

So I drained the tofu as well as I could. You want to get as much water out as possible so it will soak the marinade. I then put it in a Ziploc bag and added Newman’s Own Light Lime vinaigrette. I’ve really been enjoying this salad dressing. It’s yummy. I put just enough salad dressing to cover all the cubes evenly so they had a chance to marinade like you’d expect. I let it sit in the fridge overnight – really like 18 hours.

I got a large non-stick skillet and put just a bit of oil on the stove and let it get hot. I emptied out the tofu into a bowl, and then using a slotted spoon, put the tofu cubes in a single layer in the hot oil. I let them sizzle for a bit and slowly would spoon the remaining marinade into the oil and let it cook off. I didn’t want too much liquid, because I didn’t want to steam it. Once one large spoonful reduced, I’d put another in and continue until the dressing was all incorporated, but just the flavors and oil – the rest cooks off. I’d toss the tofu every so often so it’d cook on all sides.

At some point, you see a change in the consistency of the tofu where all the sides begin to carmelize, and then it’s done. I took out the tofu and let the excess oil drain on paper towels.

It’s a little sweeter than I’d have wanted because of the salad dressing reduction, but that’s where the flavor is too. There may be some things I can do to make it more savory, but all in all it’s successful. The texture is good – not quite to chicken texture, and still not as good as the baked tofu they serve at Pei Wei. But I’m just an amateur. I ate a little just to try, but put the rest in the fridge. I’ll probably serve it in spinach salad tonight.

Fair warning – not everyone likes this salad dressing. At the 12:01am blog, they describe it as smelling and tasting like Lemon Lime Gatorade. I’ve done a similar preparation with barbecue sauce for my son (careful not to burn with all the sugars in it!), but he didn’t like it anyway. I liked that, too.

Good luck! And let me know if you have any better methods for changing up the texture of tofu.

The Illusion of Happiness

These questions were posed over at Charmingly Chandler: “Can happiness and sorrow coexist?  Or if you feel sorrow about something, does that mean that you aren’t allowed any happiness?”

I’ve given questions of happiness a lot of thought and have come up with an opinion that is probably a little controversial.

Happiness is an illusion.

That doesn’t mean that happiness is doesn’t exist, though.

Have you seen a zoetrope? It’s an early form of animation, made up of small still images that, when spun, form the illusion of motion.

I think happiness is just like this, made up of small moments of joy that, when viewed as a whole, form the illusion of happiness. The more of these moments you experience, the better this illusion is.

In between these moments of happiness, there will be pain. There will be sorrow. This is the fabric of life. Imagine that you are weaving a tapestry. To make an image in the fabric, you must use different color weft threads, woven in patterns in, around, and through the warp threads, which are under pressure. We might make mistakes and miss a thread, or use a wrong color, but if we keep going, the image will still turn out okay. If we stop each time to fix every little mistake, the tapestry will never be complete and we’ll be left with a mess of tangled thread and a stressed loom.

We, too, are always under pressure as we strive to weave ourselves into this Idea of happiness that doesn’t exist. I don’t think this is a new thought. Plato had the Allegory of the Cave in The Republic. In it, there are people, prisoners maybe, in a cave who cannot see the entrance, but see the shadows of the outside world cast on the wall. For someone born in that cave, their concept of reality is only insubstantial shadows – representations of the actual things outside the cave.

From Wikipedia:
“physical objects and physical events are “shadows” of their ideal or perfect forms, and exist only to the extent that they instantiate the perfect versions of themselves. Just as shadows are temporary, inconsequential epiphenomena produced by physical objects, “physical objects are themselves fleeting phenomena caused by more substantial causes, the ideals of which they are mere instances. For example, Socrates thinks that perfect justice exists (although it is not clear where) and his own trial would be a cheap copy of it.”

Happiness is no different. “Perfect happiness” exists as a concept, but our attempt to attain it just results in a cheap copy of it. This leads us to dissatisfaction. We want to achieve perfect happiness, but never will.

I have been told that this is a depressing thought, but I don’t think it is. I think it is liberating. By realizing that perfect happiness is not possible, we won’t be disappointed when we don’t have it. Instead, we can enjoy the little moments (and the big moments) of joy… smiles… pleasure… excitement… magic… and all the things that we enjoy in our lives, knowing that by savoring these things we are building a tapestry that forms the illusion of happiness and collecting the images that, when spun together, form the illusion of happiness.

This doesn’t mean we should stop striving for perfect happiness. As Ed McMahon said, “Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars.” The concept of happiness is there for a reason: it gives us something to strive for. It’s not the destination that matters, but the journey, and on that journey, you have to stop and smell the roses.