One of the initial plans when returning back to a full-time career was to immediately start saving for a washer and dryer for our apartment. There were few times in my early life I remember going with Mom to the laundromat. As a young child, laundry day was dreaded. It’s a boring place. The afternoons were worst, because the televisions only ran soap operas. Back then, there were only a few channels. The wash and spin sound was irritating. The combination of various dryers turning consistently was boisterously loud. As a young family working hard to better our lives, we eventually moved out of apartment living into a newly constructed house with our own laundry room. Even in college, I would come home on weekends to do laundry to avoid the school’s laundromat. Today, using a public laundromat at my age is beyond the farthest imagination of how I was going to live as an adult.
To someone else, such as my boyfriend, who grew up around public laundromats, it’s part of their lives. It’s part of the New York City lifestyle. It’s a relaxing opportunity to spend two hours of solitude washing, drying, and folding clothes. The rotating sounds of washers and dryers are soothing to his dreamy thoughts. During those two hours, paper work is organized; long phone calls to far away friends are made, and it’s a peaceful time to listen to thoughts… Sit still for a moment.
In searching for a full-time job, I’ve come to grasp the reality of my situation: It’s out of my control. In my process of rethinking dreams and plans, the definition of happiness is being redefined. After all, the rent for the apartment is inexpensive. My neighborhood, an African-American community of various incomes, is a beautiful community. I’m eating good meals everyday. The boyfriend is nothing short of being supportive. Life is a success.
Recently, in my beautiful community, a corner store participated in New York City’s Healthy Bodegas Initiative. They’re changing their inventory to provide healthier options. In addition, the shop went beyond the initiative by offering fresh produce, nuts by the pound, and organic diary. A 45-minute trip to the nearest grocery store is now a ten-minute trip. The owners are eager for produce suggestions in our community. After visiting a farmer’s market, I stopped by the bodega on my way home for a quarter pound of whole almonds. My canvas bag was loaded with cinnamon basil, carrots, dandelion greens, freshly made wheat pita bread, shiitake mushrooms, pea shoots, and rhubarb. The owner of the shop notices long pink and green celery-like stalks peering over my bag. He asks what it is and how to cook it. As I’m leaving the store, a little boy asks the same question. An hour before, a couple asked how to cook it, because they have rhubarb growing in their backyard.
Rhubarb is the trendy vegetable (masquerading as a sweet fruit) these days, for it’s in season right now. Truthfully, I didn’t grow up eating rhubarb. Dad talked about eating rhubarb strawberry pies when he was a young child. Once when he did find a few at a store, he let me sample a taste. The tartness didn’t favor my opinion too well. Today, my grown up taste buds appreciate complex flavors, especially using rhubarb in sweet desserts. In a savory recipe, it’s mostly paired with pork chops. This Baked Chicken Thighs with Ginger Rhubarb Sauce is a bit different. This sharp-tasting sauce is a savory addition to juicy baked chicken thighs seasoned well with crispy skin. If pork is enjoyed in your household, I’m confident of this sauce’s versatility in pairing quite well with pork chops.
Such tainted childhood ideas about rhubarb are now nonexistent. Who knew years ago I would enjoy its tart taste as an adult. Taste changes as we grow up. Become mature. Some people continue to follow their dreams without disruption. Others, such as myself, have had to question the reality of our dreams. In doing so, we recognize change to our current life expectation is a necessity. Whether internal actions or external forces manifest such decisions, it’s usually out of our control.
When nothing in the world works in your favor, sit still. Go with the flow. As a child, I was known to run around the block to escape the doldrums of my perception of the laundromat. I can’t escape it now. This week, a visit to the laundromat is on the “to-do” list. Amid the whirlwind of washers and the pounding sound of the dryers, I write grocery lists and plan menus. When the clothes are in the dryer, I will likely start visiting the new bodega to purchase fresh produce for the night’s dinner. I’m rethinking if a full-time career is a good option for me. Thanks to everyone’s support, MyLifeRunsOnFood.com is nominated as one of the top five best Best Food Blogs for the 2011 Black Weblog Awards (Now, I need your vote to win the award, for voting ends June 17th at midnight). Online publications are inquiring about contributing food blog posts. The need for a media kit is becoming a pressing priority.
For me, the deviation of yesterday’s dreams, has led a hidden talent: cooking and writing. My change is about seriously thinking of a small business. It’s more responsibility, but writing a food blog doesn’t seem like work. Only life knows what’s in plan for us, and I’m happily flowing with it.
Baked Chicken Thighs
4 bone-in, with skin chicken thighs; cleaned and patted dry
A dash of cinnamon
Sea salt and fresh black pepper; to taste
Crushed red pepper; to taste
1/2 tsp. smoked red paprika
2 tsp. ground caraway seeds
1 tsp. white pepper
3 tbsp. olive oil; plus more for the pan
1/8-cup wine or chicken stock
Ginger Rhubarb Sauce (Recipe below)
Brown and wild rice; cooked according to the manufacturer’s directions
Serve with Roast Asparagus
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix all the spices together.
2. Rub chicken with olive oil and spices.
3. Over medium to high temperature, heat olive oil in a black skillet. Sear both sides of the chicken until brown. If necessary, flip chicken thighs to skin side up. Pour chicken stock or wine in the skillet (be careful, because the skillet will sizzle), and cover with an ovenproof lid or foil.
4. Place in the oven and roast for about 20 minutes or until done. Remove foil or lid and cook for an additional five minutes to allow the skin to crisp up again.
5. Spoon Spicy Ginger Rhubarb sauce over each chicken thigh.
6. Platting: Place brown and wild rice on each plate. Top with the chicken thighs. Spoon Ginger Rhubarb Sauce over the chicken.
Ginger Rhubarb Sauce
1 to 2 tsp. olive oil
One half of a very small onion; diced
(Optional) 1 jalapeno; diced with seeds discarded
1 inch ginger; minced
1/4 lb. rhubarb; diced/sliced into 1/2-inch pieces
1 tsp. pomegranate molasses or honey
Sea salt and fresh black pepper; to taste
Crushed red pepper; to taste
1 tsp. water or wine
1. Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium temperature.
2. Place onions, jalapeno (if using), and ginger into the saucepan. Cook until the onion is translucent.
3. Add rhubarb, pomegranate molasses or honey, sea salt, fresh black pepper and crushed red pepper. Cook until rhubarb slightly softens. Reduce heat to a low temperature.
4. Add water and slowly simmer for an additional one-minute if a chunky texture (a chutney) is preferred or four minutes (maximum) for the vegetables to break down into a smoother sauce.
5. Spoon over baked chicken thighs.
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