Writing, Baking, and Preparing Quality Meals

 

Each week I try to write a blog. Each blog is a different subject meant to provide either factual information, or bits of wisdom that comes with experience.

That experience is usually based upon action, a movement towards or away from something. This strategy is usually constructed on physical or mental attachment or detachment. Experience is the  involvement in an activity that brings you closer to a goal. That goal can be attaching to a concept of discipline that propels everything to it’s desired conclusion.

In the case of writing, for me, it is broaching a subject that contains what I deem to be interesting content. If I’m excited about the content then I have a better chance to succeed in my desired goal… a writing that makes one think.

Living in a peaceful setting enables me to live in the mode of creativity. Being creative translates to many different mediums. Writing, baking, and preparing quality meals for dear friends are certainly satisfying past-times.

Each different task presents challenges that stimulate the brain and triggers the nuance of discovery. Each discovery is a stepping stone to more advancement in the subjects listed above.

When I write, it is spontaneous. It’s not done with an outline or prior thought process other than the subject headline. From there, it’s off to the races. I never know exactly where the writing will take me, but I know that as I progress through the subject I will tie things together. Then, at the end I hope the message is condensed and speaks to the reader.

As I relate to baking I think of the treats I’ve had during my lifetime and how special some of those treats were. The delicious flavors of a Grand Marnier Souffle, or the richness of a bread pudding, creme brulee, or chocolate lava cake that brings the meal to its desired conclusion… a wonderful, captivating  warmth that spells out “comfort food”.

Each baking process is about following the recipe. No matter how complicated the directions, I must be precise in the measuring and order of execution. The desired affect is a smile and sometimes even laughter that captures the beauty of sweet confections. Of course there are also sorbets for those quitters that have bought into the whole, “Sugar is bad for you”, mantra.

Unlike when I was a kid, baking is sticking to a plan. When I would built a model car as a kid, I could never figure out why I should build the engine? It’s hidden underneath a hood. So, I finished relatively quickly as those thousand engine parts were unnecessary.

It’s interesting how important in baking the nuance of altitude, water, and flour or other binding agents that intertwine to become the finished product. Each is a lesson in chemistry that makes you adjust to your circumstance. As you adjust you learn about the importance of things you never considered as a child.

The smells that permeate the air as you bake or cook become the sensory introduction to the meal or the finishing touch, dessert. I always try to start the hot part of the meal with caramelizing onions. The sweet smell of the onions flamed in a sweet liquor or a madeira always entice the guest to wonder, ” What are those fragrant smells?”

Starting off with a chilled salad featuring different marinated vegetables combined with distinct, contrasting fruits and textures makes the beginning an overture painted on a colorful sensory palate.

The same contrast of flavors and textures is important in designing the entree. Color, height, and temperature is equally salient. If the plates are all cleaned at the end of the meal, you know you’ve succeeded in the desired outcome.

Each creative part of life becomes a plant that is fed with practice, determination, and the satisfaction required to maintain that joy from having others smile at the effort.

Each written piece, baking creation, or savory meal is an exercise in skill that improves with repetition. It is however much more than that. It is the love garnered from providing a phrase or a flavor that will create a memory for as long as forever is.

 

 

 

The Voyage of a Searching Soul

 

Whether its a dream that propels us to lands and people in our imagination, or the reality of planning a voyage to new destinations. Our heart lives for a Uruguayan sunset or the acoustic camouflage of the ocean that drowns out all other sensory distractions.

Our brain lives for the thrill of discovery which is at its height when we experience a place or event for the first time. Being in the mode of discovery opens our universe to the unveiling of new possibilities.

Those new possibilities create that inner smile that radiates through-out our body. This smile in turn  transmits negative ions that increase levels of the mood chemical, serotonin. This “serotonin” helps to alleviate depression, relieves stress, and boosts our energy. What could be better than to be on a voyage that illuminates all that brings a song to our soul?

New places we’ve read about and would love to visit brings cultures into the spotlight of discovery. Music, food, wine, architecture, and literature provide an interaction with those we’ve met along the way. This opens up the corridors of knowledge, bringing history books to life.

Enraptured by a tour of Buckingham Palace, the Louvre Museum, and the Burgundy region of France, we walk across a path tethered by the present, thinking of the past, eventually… to be shared in the future.

Each country we visit has its own magical charm that begs the question, “Have I been here before?” Past lives are open for discussion as familiarity breeds questions we can not answer.

Our propensity to gravitate towards certain foods, wines, and countries draws us closer to the past.  We breath in the smells, sounds, and flavors of cultures we can now speak of from experience. Each experience is a page in a book yet to be written, penned by an author immersed in the soul searching bounty of life.

As countries are brought into focus, I look for the finest to draw from in a short amount of time. I search for the best tours that create a real feel for the city. We find ourselves in the mode of discovery highlighting cultural expletives we must see that represent a grain of sand in the hourglass of life.

In Spain it will be flamenco guitar, tapas, sherry,  the most beautiful Gothic architecture, and world class beaches. Thriving in the  means of exploration I find things I wasn’t even searching for.

I stumbled across a page that listed the  best pizza restaurant in Europe located in Barcelona Spain, called “Sartoria Panatieri”. And on a more sublime note… who could forget one of the most revered artists of all time, Pablo Picasso born in Malaga, Spain.

Each city in every country has a story to tell. Each tale is brought to life through music. That music becomes a style that reflects a large part of the country’s identity. The arts are what draws people to experience different cultures.

And then there are other notes of culture to listen to. The food in every country which represents culture, climate, and products available. Each dish is passed down from generation to generation following the taste and traditions of the people who famously created it.

If you were to talk about how the top ten countries in the world prior to the 20th century related to their contributions to humanity… in almost every case music, food, wine, architecture, and literature would top the list.

Now it is technology and the advances turning luxuries into necessities. But before that it was the communication through the above mentioned arts that drew people to forget the struggles of everyday life.

In Portugal, Fado is a music of the world. Originating in Lisbon, Portugal,  it sings the feeling, heartbreak, and the longing for someone who is no longer in their life. The matches, or the mismatches of life are an infinite theme for inspiration. The mournful tunes and lyrics are often about the sea or life of the poor. Usually this music is infused with a sense of resignation, fate, and despair.

Every country, every state, every community, every person… if they’ve lived a little, writes poetry or sings songs about soulful sadness. It’s a lingering thought just beyond our reach… a perceptible weight on our heart.

The voyage of life is brought to a soulful crescendo when sadness is silenced. We learn to overcome our youthful hormonal surges that seems to create an emptiness inside. Then, with wisdom that comes with soulful searching, and of course age, we replace sadness with love.

The love we have for life’s voyage is a journey that leads us to search for answers about ourselves. Not only ourselves but those we’ve shared special memories with which are etched in the caverns of our mind… for as long as forever is.

Which Direction do I Take?

 

Over the course of our short lives we are offered different choices that lead to a direction affected by circumstance. Each choice is offered because of opportunity or our gut feeling that we need to change.

Many times we come to a crossroad that provides us with what seems to be equal value options. It is only with vetting the options and using our internal guiding system that we have the possibility of the reward we’re looking for.

However, if we are given a false narrative, and we base our decision upon that, chances are the outcome will not be what we’re looking for. That is when we learn one of the most important factors in decision making… trust.

If we believe the person offering us a job is true to their word then we can believe the outcome will be favorable. In many cases we want to believe the word of a friend or even a stranger because that is human nature. Most people look for the best in a person, or a job situation thinking that our circumstance will transform magically due to a physical change in location.

The truth is, if you don’t have the inner strength to handle the obstacles that occur in life, your direction will be affected by weakness and self doubt. Thus, you will be like a spinning top that never lands in a place of contentment.

The happiness your searching for is illusive because you’re not content with your own spirit. I see people think “things” will make them happy. A new car or a myriad of a thousand physical things that cannot make up for the hollowness deep inside their soul.

The happiest people I’ve found are the ones that don’t rely on themselves for inner strength. The happiest people I’ve discovered have a belief system that  revolves around God, or whatever you want to call an entity that we can draw extra support and inner peace from.

With that power that is offered by something greater than ourselves, anything is possible. The direction becomes more focused, clearer, because we realize that we don’t have to posses all the power to make decisions that will affect our future.

To release that stress from being totally responsible for our direction, we give ourselves a greater chance for the success we’re looking for. In many cases it goes against our human nature to surrender to something beyond our field of vision.

It’s funny that when we learn to surrender… we become stronger. To believe in a “transcendent” force means believing in something beyond the physical universe, independent of it and outside of space and time.

The times I’ve only relied on myself for direction, I’ve encountered obstacles that were placed there by my own inability to understand the greater picture. Almost every time it was one step forward and two steps back. This learning curve that leads to hurdling obstacles did not have to be.

When I was younger I thought that moving to a new place would erase what was holding me back. That thought process was just delaying the inevitable collapse. Of course we do learn more from our mistakes than our victories.

The mistakes we make (providing we don’t make them again) leads to a term that comes with age, “wisdom.” This wisdom can be traced to poor decisions that eventually led to self reflection. It is very important that through this process you don’t lose the gift of belief in your own abilities.

In our lifetime we will have great supporters for the road we choose, that’s called “family”. Then there are the friends we will have for a lifetime that believe in you, sometimes above the belief you have in yourself.

Those friends are rare indeed. They will be battle tested with the vicissitudes of relationships that are complicated but well worth the journey together. Each friend like that is a rare jewel. Giving support for years to those you love and care about is such a gift to those whom receive it and those that give it.

Directions in life are paths woven in soul searching expeditions that are framed in optimism. Each journey down that path excavates the wisdom we all search for to make a decision that will lead to a happy and healthy life.

Each decade provides different expectations. Responsibilities, and growing friend and family circles leads us to different nuances centered around others. Eventually when we live our lives and look back into the “Days of Future Past” we understand one important and simple lesson.

The greatest thing in life is to love and be loved in return.

 

Happy New Year 2024

learn about yourself experience life

Every year becomes a notch in the calendar of life. Most people step into the new year with a resolve to become better in their personal and professional lives.

When we are younger it’s about new jobs, better income, perhaps hobbies/travel, and most certainly personal growth for those evolved enough to realize how important that is. The ticking clock of our expiration date isn’t thought about except for landmark ages where our friends remind us of just how old we are. That starts at age 30 and continues until 60.

After 60 (if you are a male)  you are addressed as sir or some variation to let you know that you are now “elderly”. Even your friends start telling you how good you look, “Compared to what?”

If you are blessed enough to have made some good decisions along the way, you can craft your own direction and life to perpetuate the happiness we all deserve.

This year of 2024 is a tale of two thoughts. On the one hand I am so very thankful for Nancy, my daughter, my friends, my health, our home in Idaho and the vision to travel and explore the world I’ve only read about.

Of course health is the most important. Without good health we are stifled in our ability to fulfill new and exciting chapters in our life. If you’ve experienced health issues and have recovered you realize how precious life is.

Now, time becomes a race against the aging clock. To experience the fruits of our labor and expand on the wonderful relationships we’ve cultivated through-out our lives. We must live in the moment always confident that the future is bright, the past is a memory, and the present is a gift.

2024 will be another trip to other parts of the world. Spain, Portugal, Madeira, and other places yet to be explored. This, while improving our home environment with beauty and creativity, breathing excitement into our visual wonderland.

The above thoughts are the best part of what is coming for Nancy and I in 2024. The flip side is to see what is becoming of the country we once loved so much.

With all  of the “Woke” hyperbole, gender confusion, mask mandates, more government over-reach, our personal freedoms being erased by greedy politicians, more “fake news”,  and the left wing control of most of the messaging… 2024 could become our Waterloo.

Children are now taught in our schools to hate our country. Our country’s history is now being used against us as a tool to erase all that which came before us. Teachers are now apologists attempting to cast hateful rhetoric about our history by suggesting those historical statues and events promoted systemic racism and other negative connotations.

History shouldn’t be erased to comfort those that don’t understand the benefits of learning from our past. While there is admittedly past and even present figures, historical events and symbols we should not blindly support… there is the pride we should feel in a country that far outdistances the rest of the world in humanitarian aid, technology, and more freedoms that have yet to be compromised.

When organizations such as “Black Lives Matter” identify with a racist agenda promoting one color over all others the time to stand up and be counted is now. If I said “White Lives Matter” I would be canceled in a heart beat… the hypocrisy is palatable.

Once again the double standard for those that are offended by everything, except their own systemic guilt for all that has transpired before them is a destructive force gaining incredible momentum.

This momentum is perpetuated by our educational system. From elementary school through college the teaching narrative of gender confusion, entitlement ideals, and socialist propaganda is simply brain washing. This is exacerbated by a left wing media that takes that agenda and spins it for their own destructive narrative to further divide us.

The owners of this mind control are the spinners of the web for their own economic benefit. From mask mandates, climate disinformation, and all the other laws going into affect to “protect us”. This is a sad commentary for those that still possess the ability for critical thinking.

2024 is poised to be the most important election year in our history. We either continue down this path of self destruction, which will wipe out our constitution, or we stand up for what this country used to stand for, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

 

Waterfalls and the Magic of Solitude

magic in nature bidwell park chico pazaz bakeware
Magic in Nature – Bidwell Park

As water falls into pools of quiet deep thought the answers we seek are the illusions of wisdom we hold close to our heart. The walks along paths through forests and glens appear to captivate the senses in a way that frees the best part of whom we are and how we see the world.

Everything seems so simple as sung by those that have felt the deepest expressions of musical sonnets. And yet, we find within our souls the wonder that is life and its nuances that carry us to our next adventure. Our experiences/adventures take us in many cases to uncharted territories that expand our horizones and deepen the layers of interspection.

The simplicity of staring in a vacuous manner at the beauty before us frees us from the complexity of dissecting the picture that unfolds within our spacial consciousness. To see the efortless scene changing within the framework of a picture is both inspiring and bewitching. Our base line ebbs and flows to the samba of movement provided by wind, water, sunlight, insects, birds, deer, and all those wonderful expressions of nature we will never see but only feel somewhere as a sixth sense.

For me it is the sunsets and the projection of different colors… the way light dances across the horizon that is most entrancing. And then there is the prospect of an unparalleled visionary involvment that combines the sensory with the sublime where imagination grips a beautiful memory that erupts over the embers of a thought we will never forget.

To become stress free within the body of nature and therefore experience it to our fullest requires the untethering of those obstacles that hold us to the constraints of the greatest hindrance we will ever know… the six inches between our ears.

This Blog is sponsored by PAZAZ. The Magic of Cooking and the Kitchen tools for the discerning chef that make this an unparalleled cooking experience. Please go to www.pazazshop.com to purhcase these AMAZING Kitchen tools.

Living in Orofino is a Dream

Sometimes we make a plan, and sometimes the plan makes you. In this case there was a short list of criteria that took an idea and sent it to the next level of consciousness.

Simple: Look for a place that has a great water source and can offer the luxury of a view to look out to a river, lake, stream, or creek . Find a place that has like minded people that care more about their family and friends than they care about the things they have.

Finaly, this place has to be semi-remote. Close enough to a fire station and hospital so that any emergency can be taken care of relatively quickly. One last caveat; Far enough away that your neighbors can barely be seen.

I eliminated Oregon and Washington because of expense and politics. I gravitated towards Idaho because of the affordability, the wonderful people, and the political climate which is more aligned with my own beliefs.

Idaho is what Marin County California  (where I grew up) used to be. Nobody cared what you had, only who you were (your word was your contract), and how hard you worked. So, having never been to Idaho before I researched the best path to lead to a successful viewing of the state I targeted to be part of my retirement haven.

First there was the flight, “Where do I fly to?” I’d never been to Spokane Washington before but I realized this would be the most affordable flight. I’d have to rent a truck (needed four wheel drive just in case) and then plot a path to a centralized location in the panhandle. I picked the panhandle because I wasn’t interested in the over-run Boise area and other areas were simply either too cold or too expensive.

I picked a B&B (The Laird House) in a small town just north of Moscow Idaho and south of Coeur d’Alene. This seemed a centralized place that could act as my base for exploration. Loved this little B&B.

Prior to coming to the B&B I set up appointments with three realtors that covered three different parts of the panhandle. There was the Sandpoint/Coeur’d Alene area, the Potlatch area, and finally the Lewiston area. Of course none of these places I’d been to and never (in my wildest dreams) did I expect to view the beauty I eventualy encountered on my sojurn into the unknown.

Potlatch is a very small town on the edge of the Palouse region of Idaho, originally built to house the employees of the worlds largest white pine sawmill. In its almost eighty-year lifespan the mill produced millions of board feet of lumber. Not knowing any of that I left the guidance to a local realtor as we explored such small towns as Princeton, Cora, Hampton, and Chambers.

I remember vividly the pouring rain as we traveled to properties for sale that fell well short of my expectations. We went to places that were difficult to find and even more difficult to get out of. We almost became stuck in the mud on several occassions but soldiered on through the monsoon like conditions. It became clear that this part of Idaho was a little to rustic in its constitution and too far from medical, fire, and commercial conveniences.

This led me to the next part of the journey, Sandpoint Idaho. Once again I knew virtually nothing about Sandpoint Idaho except that I had read that it had been  voted “the most beautiful town in America” in 2012 by USA Today. 52 miles north of Coeur d’Alene  I was amazed at the entry point to Sandpoint (a 2 mile bridge over the largest lake in Idaho, Lake Pend Oreille). The beauty was captivating and led to a well planed community that blended hand-crafted artistic license with old fashion family owned retail businesses. The pubs, and the Cedar Street Bridge Public Market which is a collection of boutique shops a restaurant and a wonderful view of the Sandpoint Harbor added to the town’s flavor and composition.

I was really looking foward to seeing the area. We visited land for sale in Sandpoint, Bonners Ferry, and Priest River which eventually made one thing perfectly clear. It wasn’t going to be easy to find land that looked out to a water feature. The closest I came (with several visits to the area) spanning the course of 4-6 months was in Priest River. First I found the most spectacular property (9 acres) that had panoramic views up and down of the Priest River. I loved it until I noticed a cellphone tower on the property that could potentially lead to health issues.

Another property in the same area was not quite so spectacular (5 acres) but had a mini version of the view we had just witnessed. I made an offer on that property (in a gated community) but was perplexed to hear the agent hadn’t informed me that the property was already in escrow. I realized after taking a jaunt around Sagle (the last town I would visit in this area) that this area was not going to afford me the type of experience I was looking for (within my budget).

I felt that somewhere in this state there was a place for Nancy and I that would provide us with the criteria I set forth on this mission. Finally, my last expedition would lead me to the place we now call home.

After returning to Potlatch to rest I ventured out the next day to meet the last realtor on the list, Russ Martin. Russ is a character exactly like you’d expect as a guide to both entertain and inform you about the history of the area. Russ grew up in the area of Lewiston/Orofino and provided some very colorful accounts of the locals, the hunting and fishing, and the wonderful history that is indigenous to this part of Idaho.

We traveled to places for sale that were weird, beautiful but remote, and then came upon what would become our property in Orofino. There were many trips to this area and many unusual experiences with sellers but the property we would eventually settle upon checked all the boxes: Fire station – 5 miles away, Hospital – 8 miles away, and the town of Orofino offered the conveniences we were looking for with Lewiston (and many more conveniences) only 45 minutes from Orofino with a population of 31,000.

The process to acquire the property at Tie Creek was relatively painless. However, it took three different mortgage brokers, a pandemic, supply chain issues, and a heart attack before our dream home would be a reality. Now we have a beautiful home in an area that’s like a park (bald eagles, elk, bear, deer, wild turkey’s, and even a cougar).

Whoever said the journey is the reward is an idiot… the reward is the reward.

This blog is sponsored by PAZAZ (Kitchen tools for the discerning chef). Please go to www.pazazshop.com to purchase these AMAZING kitchen tools.

About

PAZAZ TM is more than a brand… it’s a lifestyle.

The “Magic of Cooking” implies the creation of something special in the kitchen, a transcendent experience by which all other experiences are judged. 
Music and Cooking are very similar. Both require passion, attention to detail, and a love that transcends the musical score or the recipe.  As you are the conductor of your life, we take very seriously our responsibility to give you the greatest kitchen equipment to help create your culinary experience.