The Hollow Men

:::this is the way the world ends:::

Category: Food

Happy Thanksgiving

I hope you all have a great one. Sorry you’re not all arriving up here in the cold and snow this evening for a night of Asian food before we have the usual feast on Thanksgiving Day. Tradition looms large in memory.

Thanksgiving

Oh the long tradition. Much regret we are not gathering together. Many good wishes and gratitude to all of you on this Thanksgiving. A lot to be thankful for this year. A raised glass to you.

Thirty-Three

I have been contemplating this place and time in life–being 33. It is an interesting but hard to define stage. I have particularly been trying to explore the concept of the Jesus Year, as Jesus was supposedly 33 for the bulk of his ministry, betrayal, and death. The concept is that by the age of 33, you should have done something big–perhaps not have saved us all from sin and hell, mind you, but something large in terms of a contribution. Do we die a metaphorical death in this year? And if so, what is on the other side? What does it mean to contribute something, and something big or important, by this age? I’ve been trying to think through this a bit, and write about it in some way as a project.

What does the Jesus Year hold for you, and what do you make of this idea generally, and in terms of your own lives?

For me, I’m interested in finding larger struggles beyond myself, and maybe that’s ultimately what one can do that lives up to, in part, the example of Jesus. And yet. Here, this year, I’ve been given everything–a good life, companionship, good work, and even a more flexible schedule so that I can teach this fall (something I’ve wanted for a long time) and so that I can write (something I’ve always wanted). Why does this still seem like it falls short? Why are my struggles still primarily with myself? Is this part of the experience of being 33, as a sort of crossroads year? A year in which I know many of my peers are far more successful in terms of what the culture says is successful? Why is it that I still can’t eat right, exercise right, balance my life? Maybe the Jesus Year is the year we are supposed to compare ourselves to Jesus, yes, but really what we do is compare ourselves to everyone else?

But more generally, does this stage of life have any common or universal traits among the culture at large? Are most people already married? already married and divorced? having children? getting higher promotions? running for office? changing jobs? moving? taking up some cause?

I thought you would all be interested in this, seeing as, for a little while longer, at least, we’re all 33, our high school and college classmates are, most of them, 33, and I suspect several of our friends, cousins, and others around us are 33. And we haven’t had a larger question posed lately, so it seems like a good time. Any thoughts?

Nuts for _____

pistachio

Okay, I just got a call from the allergy clinic a couple of days ago.  I’ve been given the all-clear for my cashew and pistachio allergies!  They said that no observable allergies showed up in a blood test I took a few days previous.  So, I can begin to reintroduce the pistachios and cashews back into my diet slowly.  I wasn’t aware that this happened, but they seemed confident I was fine to eat them again.  I wonder if I just ate too many nuts over the holidays a couple of years ago. 

All I’ll say is, it’s nice not to have a potentially life-threatening allergy again.

YouTube Friday

If you’re like most Hollow Men I know, you’re worried that you don’t exercise enough, don’t eat well and don’t have enough time to be creative.

This man can help.

Nine Approaches to a More Ecological or Cultural Way of Eating

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I read this (below) at the end of an article, “Unhappy Meals,” in The New York Times Magazine, January 28, 2007. It is by Michael Pollan, whose most recent book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, was chosen by the editors of The New York Times Book Review as one of the 10 best books of 2006.

This is just the very end of a much longer piece, but these are worth sharing and considering. Two things that struck me, as far as HM discussions have gone:

1. Peters had mentioned wanting to go back to caveman ways in terms of diet and exercise, etc. J. E. disagreed with that, saying we should take advantage of what we know now–because we don’t live (thankfully) like cavemen anymore. Pollan suggests eating foods that our great-great grandmothers would recognize as food. That seems an interesting rule of thumb. I have to admit, in my own case, my great-great grandmother would not recognize a vegetarian diet for the most part, especially the soy products that I eat fairly frequently now.

2. Ned had brought up not wanting to go to the farmer’s market or local food co-op because it’s too expensive. Fair enough: it is more expensive. Pollan responds interestingly, I think, on that point below, and makes the case that it’s worth the extra cost. Pay more; eat less. Unfortunately, for myself, I’m probably paying more and eating more. And that’s certainly the case when we go out to eat, rather than cook at home.

Some more thoughts on our continuing conversation about food and health. Here’s to all of you, from the very, very cold northlands. We have been below zero degrees for the last four days.

–Shotts

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We Are What We Eat: Conversation Continued

I would say the most continuous discussion on this site has involved food, health, vegetarianism, fasting, etc. Kind of intriguing, so I thought I would add this to that conversation. In the January 22, 2007 issue of The New Yorker, there is an article by Steven Shapin about the history of vegetarianism. Here are a few interesting if not startling items:

“A recent report by the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization reckons that at least eighteen percent of the global-warming effect comes from livestock, more than is caused by all the world’s transportation systems. It has been estimated that forty percent of global grain output is used to feed animals rather than people, and that half of this grain would be sufficient to eliminate world hunger if–and it’s not a small if–the political will could be found to insure equitable distribution.”

That’s just a bit of the article, so I don’t want to say this characterizes the whole piece, which also stresses some of the importance of eating locally, including local, free range meats. So it’s not necessarily a polemic on the virtues of vegetarianism, but I have to say the sentences quoted above stood out significantly, to me. I thought they were worth sharing, as we continue thinking about vegetarianism and our individual and collective global footprint.

Here’s to good eating–

–Shotts

I Like Lentils

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Liz and I have trouble taking the time to feed ourselves properly — especially for supper. But tonight we had one of our favorite meals. This recipe is very good and very simple.

Lentil Soup

16 oz. (2 1/2 cups) dry lentils
8 c. water
4 stalks celery, sliced
5 carrots, sliced
1/4 c. parsley, chopped
2 t. salt
3/4 t. pepper
1 onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
16 oz can (2 c.) tomatoes, undrained, sliced
3 T. red wine vinegar

Combine lentils, water, celery, carrots, parsley, salt, pepper, onion and garlic. Bring to boil. Reduce heat. Cover; simmer 1 1/2 hours. Stir in tomatoes and vinegar. Cover; simmer an additional 30 minutes.

Stir often in the last hour or so. The lentils like to stick to the bottom. The vinegar and tomatoes make this really good — don’t be tempted to substitue!

We usually have this with red wine, whole wheat tortillas or soda bread. Hope you like it.
Please post some of your staples. Liz and I need new food.

2007

And now, looking ahead, it must be asked: what do you foresee in 2007? This can either be predictions of important events or people, or it could take the form of personal New Years resolutions. It’s always such a reflective time. I’m reminded that the month of January comes from Janus, the Roman god of endings and beginnings, with a face looking backward and a face looking forward.

So, looking ahead now, here are a few thoughts and resolutions from me.

In 2007, I expect:

  • to see Hilary Clinton, Barack Obama, John McCain, and Rudy Guliani in the spotlight for the Presidential elections of 2008, as they all announce their candidacies. (I’m already surprised to see John Edwards announce his candidacy, and so early.)
  • a withdrawl plan from Iraq.
  • peacekeeping efforts deployed to Darfur, through a renewed United Nations.
  • the biggest seller in books, by far, to be the new and final Harry Potter.
  • the biggest movie, in terms of blockbuster status, to be the new Harry Potter movie.
  • to be exhausted by Harry Potter by this time next year.
  • additional evidence for global warming.
  • one of us to announce a child on the way.

Some of my personal resolutions include:

  • to eat vegetarian as much as possible, with only occasional fish when eating out.
  • to eat less, eat more healthy foods, drink less alcohol, and drink more water daily.
  • to exercise at the Y at least 12 times each month.
  • to post and comment regularly on the Hollow Men site, including a weekly literary/poetry feature.
  • to work to organize our house better.
  • to begin more sustained writing.
  • to be in better touch with family and friends.

–Shotts

It’s Never Too Late Music Thursday

Apologies about not posting this yesterday.  Understandably, there was turkey to be eaten.  I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving.  One thing I was thankful for yesterday was the many years of white meat (and tofurkey), cranberries, mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing and wine we all had the privilege of sharing together.  Not to mention all the traditions — especially the walks.  I’m looking forward to seeing you all in a month.

Today’s music selections are a hodge-podge of tracks I’ve been listening to since the last MT post, very suitable in light of the Thansgiving arrangement of foods we ate yesterday (and probably today).  Starting off with the T-Day appropriate “TV” and ending with an entrance into the Christmas holidays, named “That Was The Worst Christmas Ever!” I hope you enjoy this Thansgiving weekend mix.  I’ve even thrown the 2 new U2 tracks in there — it wouldn’t be Thansgiving without it.

01 Headlights | TV
02 Shiny Toy Guns | “Starts With One”
03 Teddybears | “Punkrocker (Squeakeclean Remix) Mastered”
04 U2 | “The Saints Are Coming”
05 U2 | “Window In The Skies”
06 Dappled Cities Fly | “Within Hours”
07 Sufjan Stevens | “That Was The Worst Christmas Ever!”

We’ve come a long way since Ember’s my friends….

Come one and all.

OK, here’s the deal: We have been negotiating this to some extent and realize that we will not be able to please everyone.  We realize that not everyone will be able to work this into their schedules, as busy as they all are, but we would like very much to extend a welcome to the Peters’ abode for some holdiay cheer.  The date: 12-23-06.  The time: anytime after lunch.  I believe we will have some kind of dinner celebration in the evening and maybe play some games or bocce or visit Coronado or the Lester Raymer studio or something during the afternoon.  Please let me how many of you are available so we can start to plan.  We may have some very special plans, but those are still in the works and may not pan out.  In the event you are unavailable, I wish you the best; otherwise please RSVP.  If anyone has suggestions which do not include changing said date and time please feel free to let me know.  Tob, please feel free to edit, format, and generally spruce up this document as you like.  cheers.  Looking forward to seeing as many of you as can make it.

October, and kingdoms rise, and kingdoms fall

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We approach our gathering, and I’m enjoying the anticipation. I look forward to speaking with you all. It’s been a long couple of weeks, one of which was spent on the road in New Jersey for the Dodge Poetry Festival (anyone who has viewed Bill Moyers’ special The Language of Life knows the Dodge Festival) and then in New York for a few days. A week away has paid a toll.

First, some housekeeping:

Toby, are you ready for us to descend upon you? Anything we can do, bring, or otherwise?

J.E. and Ned, are you able to be there?

Peters, I assume you’re set to come?

And second, a few things:

I know I’ve put in for a guys-only kind of weekend. I still stand by that, but certainly don’t mean to put any of you in a strange spot–Toby especially–about this. So whatever the configuration, it will be great. Toby in particular, I know you and Steph have had a hard few weeks by now. I hope this weekend is still good for you, and I hope it’s useful the way friendship can be useful to grief.

I look forward to such candid talk. For one, I would like to hear more about our marriages and the ways each of us makes them work. Who would have thought we’d have an HM gathering and talk about our relationships, let alone our marriages? Considering that most HM gatherings centered often on our solitude, perhaps we’ve come some distance. But I guess that’s the vicinity I’d like to discuss–how do you protect your solitude and still remain a committed and loving partner? Certainly some of that conversation can and should occur here on the site–so please do respond here–but I hope we can talk openly about some of these issues. Speaking for myself, in this last year, I’ve found it very difficult to maintain the things that I used to value and still value–solitude, reading, writing, contemplation, running, certain friendships, and so on. While I realize a new balance is being struck with Jen, and one that most often seems only to improve, it’s still sometimes hard not to feel some loss. Peters brought some of this up awhile ago on an earlier post, and it would be great to continue some of that conversation and to hear from Peters on this, since he and I are at least in a similar time frame in our marriages, but also to hear from Ned, J. E., and Toby, who have had some longer time to live within their marriages.

In any case, this is on my mind, and it’s part of what I look forward to. Of course, I also look forward to tea and coffee, walking through the leaves, and catching up on all our eccentricities. Autumn has been in full force here in Minnesota for the last couple of weeks–truly exhilarating around the Mississippi, the bridges, the lakes, our neighborhood and in the parks. It will be great to come down while Kansas City will be in the throes of its autumn.

See you, in less than three weeks — Jeff

Comments on a Few Things

Food:

I, too, like J.E. have longed to be a vegetarian at certain points in my life. Gandhi speaks quite frequently about this and it certainly has re-instated that longing. He refers to the fact that red meat makes people more aggressive, which I don’t think has been proven through science but is interesting nonetheless. It has been tested empirically in dogs. Gandhi states that his rigid adherance to this lifestyle often came at quite a cost. Unfortunately, one of the larger hinderances to this choice in lifestyle is its accessibility for me. It takes more time, more planning, and more money to be a vegetarian where I live. I think it might have been easier to do this in NY but here it is quite difficult. We shop at the local Co-op occasionally, but the food is more expensive (sometimes more than I can afford on my tight budget).

This brings me to another point about choices (NPR had a program about this.) Fast food is really over-used by people who have little money and little time, which adds to their plight by giving them health problems in the long run. All of this may make healthy living sound like more of a luxury than a choice, but I think there are some truths here. I think giving up caffeine, as Jeff did, is an example of a very deliberate and healthy choice. I think one of the questions of morality is how the food was raised and how animals were treated before their slaughter. This is why smaller, local food stores are often better, but because they are smaller, they are more expensive.

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Hot Topic

DSCN7921.jpgIt seems like we’re getting into a topic that Shotts indicated he wanted to explore in an earlier post. So rather than add a comment to The Switch is On, Or The Coming of Autumn I’m starting a new post.

Instead of congratulating our food instincts for being so smart those of us who live in a culture of unlimited food must question them at every turn. We have seemingly limitless cravings for fat and sugar in a world where all instincts are exploited by commerce. In this culture our many of our beliefs about food are as confused and harmful as our beliefs about that other instinct (we’ll save that for another post).

I’ve spent a lot of time over the year thinking about and fiddling with my diet. I think I have a much better diet now than I did ten years ago. As a culture, we no longer have to spend most of our time trying to find or produce food as our ancestors did but we continue to spend a lot of time thinking about food. Biological cravings are inseparable from cultural cravings (and taboos). Our ideas about food carry as much emotional weight as the experience of eating. Unfamiliar food ways can seem like a threat so when someone questions your diet they are questioning your means of survival. Therefore, it should be no surprise how emotional people can become about food.

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