Archive for ‘Inspired’

August 17, 2012

Latin “Flavor”

by Kathryn Baldwin

Aside from a few of the derogatory terms thrown at immigrants, I sort of enjoy some of the stereotypical words used to describe Latin culture. For example: how Latin culture is “colorful,” “warm,” “flavorful,” “vivid,” and “lively!” (Someone in our class took this picture during our trip to Guanajuato, Mexico while studying abroad. “Vivid” and “colorful” things to buy huh?)

Really though, if you’re going to describe Latin culture as “flavorful,” at least call it spicy. Shoot, if you follow this plan, just plug “spicy” into your thesaurus. Possibly controversial… hmm. But truthfully, I wish U.S. culture could be described as “peppery, zesty, spirited, piquant, and saucy!”

I like to think I have a little spice in my personality; although some may find my particular form of spice on the overwhelming side. (If you can’t handle the heat… wipe your tears, blow your nose, and order some sour cream!) So, regardless of how much “Latin” I actually have in my blood, I love color, warmth, flavor (spice?), and liveliness. And, when I start to feel like I’m losing some of my “flavor,” I crave a Latin vacation like my personality depends on it.

In the interest of finding color and spice in my life, I seek recipes with these “LATIN?” characteristics.

When I saw this wall of peppers at Safeway, I was instantly reminded of another wall of “vivid” color in a “vibrant,” indoor, Guadalajaran market in Mexico. (You should have seen the glares I got after asking if I could take this picture. Haha. So worth it!).

This week, I found a recipe for mini stuffed peppers in my newest Giada book; it was the perfect way to use an entire bag (24 peppers!).

Here’s what to do:

Brown 3oz of chopped pancetta in 3 tablespoons of medium high, hot olive oil. (You could use bacon or chorizo instead!) Then spoon out the crispy flecks of smoky goodness to dry off the excess oil on a napkin. Add half of an onion, chopped, to the leftover grease in your hot pan.

While the onion softens and absorbs the smoky flavor of pig fat, grate your 1/3 cup of fresh parmesan cheese.

In a bowl, mix together:

3/4 of a cup of ricotta cheese,

1/3 of a cup of Parmesan cheese,

1/2 of a cup of frozen pees (thawed),

The cooked pancetta and onion,

And a pinch each of salt and pepper.

Prep the mini peppers by chopping off the stem side, slicing out the white ridges, and flicking the seeds out from the inside.

Using a cute, mini, sugar spoon (the opposite of an ugly, giant, soup spoon?), stuff the smoky, cheesy mixture into each vibrant casing.

Place them on a lightly greased cookie sheet and pop them into the oven at 350 degrees for just under 20 minutes. You’ll see the peppers start to wilt and the edges of the cheese start to get brown. I wish I let mine brown a little more. I also wish I greased the pan a bit less!

My equally vibrant coworkers enjoyed this Italian version of “vibrant, Latin flavor.” It was a work-place, appetizer pick-me-up. Gotta love that Latin flavor to spice things up a bit….

July 13, 2012

Nothing-is-Random Gazpacho

by Kathryn Baldwin

A dolphin showed up in a skinny body of water just north of the San Francisco airport yesterday. Yesterday was the first day in years I wore my dolphin necklace that I bought in Gibraltar when I was 11. Random? Nothing is random.

I’ve been dreaming of water my whole life. As a child, I would dream my house was full of water. I would hover in the middle of the room and then leisurely swim from the kitchen up to my bedroom. Sometimes full scenes would take place where I’d never surface to breathe. Instead, I’d drag in huge breaths of air straight from the water itself, as though my mouth worked like gills. I also had a series of tsunami dreams where a huge wave would wipe out my town. I would let the wave whip me around uncontrollably. Then, I would be one of the only survivors, helping to rescue the rest of the town once the wave went back out to sea. The past few years, I’ve been dreaming of whales: orcas racing around me in water tubes; baluga whales sinking my ship mid sea.

Right about now, you’re probably thinking one of  3  things:

1) This bitch is crazy!


2) I wish I had dreams!


3) I’ve had dreams in water too! Sweet.


1)   Rude!

2)   Everyone dreams! You just have to practice remembering them. Plus, you have to WANT TO REMEMBER THEM REALLY REALLY BADLY!

3)   For me, water in dreams usually symbolizes emotion (BTW, I only know this because my Aunt, Karen Baldwin, is a dream interpreter.) It makes sense that I was always surrounded by water in my dreams when I was young: I was a bucket of endless emotion! (Get it? Water = Emotion.) Sometimes I can enjoy my emotions (water): swimming and breathing through the emotions (water) with leisure and awe. Other times, I get whipped around by my emotions (tidal wave) uncontrollably. Then, once my huge wave of emotion (water) subsides, I’m the only survivor to pick up the mess. (see the connection? And, in case you’re wondering: Yes, my zodiac sign is Cancer). Does water equate to emotion in your dreams?

Right about now, you’re probably thinking one of two things:

1)   Random! What the hell does this have to do with food?


2)   I was hungry, now I’m hungry AND thirsty. Great!


1)   Nothing is random. That stray dolphin reminded me of my whale dreams. My swimming dreams reminded me of summer. Summer is scorching hot. Scorching heat requires more liquids. See. It’s all connected!

2)  If you’re hot, hungry, and thirsty, you need to make gazpacho (cold soup).

Last weekend, I tested a recipe for my soon-to-be sister’s bridal shower evening …which my sister and I are hosting. I wanted something light, pretty, and easy for self-serve. Those three categories wipe out pretty much every real food imaginable other than raw fruit and veggies. Luckily, I found a recipe in Seriously Simple, by Diane Rossen Worthington, for a chilled soup. Chilled soup quenches thirst, cures heat and anger, and is delicious in the summer!

Chilled Summer Squash Soup with Basil:

-Saute 2 chopped leeks in a few tablespoons of olive oil for 5 minutes.

-Add 6, sliced zucchini squash (squashes?) and sauté with the leeks for 5 more minutes.

-Add 4 cups of chicken broth. Simmer, covered, for 15 minutes.


-Refrigerate this blended mixture for four hours or more.

-Add a squeeze of lemon, a cup of buttermilk, 2 tablespoons of chopped chives, and 6 tablespoons of chopped basil.

-Salt. Pepper.

Partition the soup out in cute, little mason jars. Pack the cute, little mason jars for lunch or put the cute, little mason jars in a pretty ice bucket for a sweet little party. Speaking of cute. That poor little stranded dolphin was so cute!

Soup. Liquid. Dolphins. Dreams…. I’m telling you, Nothing Is Random.

July 6, 2012

Summer: Play, Pie, Pacify

by Kathryn Baldwin

My summer laziness is severe. I leave the back door open so that I don’t have to let the dogs in and out. I’ve resorted to checking email only when I feel like it. (Don’t worry though…my motivation to publish KGuac is through the rooof–cough). When I have laundry to do, I visit my mom’s closet. When I’m hungry, I buy food. When I’m tired, I buy caffein.

In fact, I’m damn proud of myself for allowing this summer laziness. Just because we have jobs, car payments, and family event-planning doesn’t mean we shouldn’t tell each other to shut up and slow down!!!!!

Stop running around: let the heat remind you to sit down. Stop wasting gas on grocery runs: pick the apricots out of the tree in your yard. Cut something out of your schedule: construct a rustic pie for your family!

On that note:

My Grandma Charlene taught me how to make her famous pie crust one hot, summer week in Arkansas. I’ve made the crust many times and it never fails.


In a bowl gently combine four things until they join together in a lumpy glob:

1) 2 1/4 cups flour

2) a teaspoon of salt

3) 2/3 cup of vegetable oil

4) 1/3 cup of water

The less you mess with your dough, the flakier it will be. (Only the flaky crusts pass Grandpa’s taste test!) Break the glob in half: one half is the bottom crust; the other, the top crust. Place some wax paper on the counter and sprinkle flour on top. Put one of the dough globs onto the floured wax paper. Add a little flour to the top of the glob and put another sheet of wax paper on top.

Using a rolling pin, roll from the center outward, spinning the wax paper sandwich as you go so that creating a circle is easier. If you’re rushing and not careful, your crust will look overly rustic (hence my crazy, awkward-looking pie…). With the dough safe between the wax paper, you can hold the crust over your pie dish to check for size!

Pull one layer of wax paper off, flip it upside down on your pie dish, and then slowly remove the other layer of wax paper. After you position the crust in the pan, poke holes in the bottom so that steam is able to release. Add any summer fruit mixture you can find on the internet. (In a separate bowl, I mixed freshly picked apricot halves, brown sugar, white sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and a tiny bit of flour. I then poured that fruit mixture on top of the bottom dough layer.) I guarantee if the mixture recipe you find sounds yummy, it will be yummy. Then, top it off with the other glob of dough (which you can roll out in the same way you rolled out the first). No matter how it looks, remember that any home-made pie is a million times better than a store-bought one… right? Haha:

Poke some holes in the top (Grandma Charlene makes a smiley face on the top) and put it in the oven at 475 degrees for 20 minutes. This higher temperature makes the bottom crust crispier!

Change the temperature to 375 degrees for 20 more minutes. If the crust starts to brown too early, cover the pie (or just the edges) with foil.

It’s really a simple, lazy process. If I can make this pie in the middle of a summer day, you can make it with your eyes closed (or after a few beers).

By the way. It’s too late to be writing. I’m exhausted…

June 15, 2012

Cooking with a History

by Kathryn Baldwin

Sometimes a memory can enhance a flavor, just like a memory clings to a song. Do you ever find yourself holding onto a song long after others are sick of it because it reminds you of… that one dance club in Mexico?… or that one car ride in high school? I do.

For me, food is the exact same way. Sprinkling sesame seeds on my mole enchiladas isn’t a meal-altering flavor boost; it reminds me of my host mother and makes me feel more and more nurtured with each bite. Eating ice cream out of a tall mug with added milk and a long, skinny spoon doesn’t change the flavor of the ice cream; it reminds me of my Pop and how I grew up admiring his quirky traditions.

Of course, this is all explained through Miguel de Cervantes’ words, written in Don Quixote (year 1605):

Translating from one language to another, …is like looking at Flemish tapestries from the wrong side, for although the figures are visible, they … cannot be seen with the smoothness and color of the right side.

As we choose our meal menu, or lost in thought as we chew, sometimes our dinner dates are sitting on the other side of the tapestry.

We may be thinking, “These purple potatoes remind me of that meal I had, sitting next to the clucking chickens in a rural Peruvian village.” But our dinner guest may be thinking, “Oh God, my ex boyfriend loved his stupid, purple Lakers jersey: I officially hate purple!”

The culture, the colors, the flavors, and the memories, which seep through our taste buds and into our souls with each bite, are ours to keep. I can try to describe why recipes or flavors speak to me, but you must cook with the passion that you find in your own history.


Giada tips her hat to Peru every time she cooks with Quinoa. I followed her recipe for “Quinoa with peas, potatoes, and olives” from her newest cookbook. I had tri-color Quinoa already in the cabinet to work with. Also, I didn’t hunt down “Peruvian potatoes,” I just used the darkest ones I could find (Did you know Peru has literally thousands of identified potatoes with names and distinct flavors?). I also packed the meal in a casserole dish and brought it to my sister’s for dinner a day later. Plus, I had it for lunch the day after that! Half of the recipe could feed a family of five as a side dish. My sister marinated chicken with lime, oregano, and red pepper flakes as the main protein. They were perfect together.

Come queens, come crooks! Come climbers, come quitters! Come coaches, come crews! This colorful, carnival of quinoa can calm cranky kids, can comfort complaining cooks, can connect cultural cues.

Keep cooking …

June 1, 2012

“Wine Down”

by Kathryn Baldwin

I have officially begun a 9-5 job and as I scramble to get situated, I crave a daily routine. (I also didn’t have time to cook a meal worthy of discussing: guilty. I’ll make up for it next week I promise. Annyyyways…) I feel like I just completed my first day of kindergarten: I know everything will be fine but everything seems so new, I can’t imagine getting used to it all, and I still feel like a baby. Has anyone else ever felt that way?

Yet we are not babies. I am learning what my delicate constitution needs in order to still the waters. As I try to find my work/life balance, I will be adjusting to different aspects of my daily routine. (If you have a busy brain and a go-get-em personality, routine constructs the basis for a healthy body. This is a cornerstone of Ayurvedic teachings and I swear by this practice.)

For me, meal times and beverages help me to find a daily and weekly rhythm. So, I save time for breakfast in the morning and pack a healthy lunch and teas for work. Still, by the time I get home from work, my brain is reeling with the day’s positive and negative events. I do not want to suffocate my closest friends with my workday recap (amplified by I-680 traffic), so I need a way to turn off my work-brain until tomorrow.

Thus, the term is born: “Wine Down!” Mental health supports physical health, both of which bring a more balanced life and healthier relationships. Find a bottle of wine you love (Avalon Cabernet Savignon, which I love), the best deal at BevMo (current deal presents buy one, get next one for five cents), or even just a wine bottle with a label that speaks to you (The Middle Sister Wines). Put down your keys, take off your shoes, open a bottle, stop counting calories, and wine down. One bottle could last all week, and leaving it on the counter will remind you again the next day: “It’s time to wine down.”

Whether you’re with a best friend, laughing with Ellen Degeneres, or staring out the window at the descending sun, just let work dissipate with the smooth venom of gentle alcohol. It’s not a sin; it’s therapy. That’s my plan.

I hereby swear to wine down.

PS: Please help me with my transition!!! What’s your favorite aspect of your work/life routine?

May 24, 2012

BLTA Tacos!

by Kathryn Baldwin

I doubt the average American knows the significance of Memorial Day, nor that it became an official national holiday in 1868. (Ya. I DEFINITELY had to look that one up!) For me, this particular weekend has always felt like an initial toast to summer: the worst of the allergy season has hopefully passed; salads are back in style; a bowl of watermelon cubes sits free for passersby on the kitchen counter. On my favorite summery days, when I’m not walking around barefoot or holding the hose for babies in swimsuits, I am sitting in the outdoor patio of a restaurant ordering a BLTA.

According to some sandwich history, we have the roaring twenties (1929) to thank for the addition of Bacon to our sandwiches. In a period of U.S. history where thriftiness was respected, it was natural to use every part of the pig and leave nothing to waste. The greasy strips of bacon were easy to roast over a fire and stick between bread. Today, I would argue, summer is incomplete without BLT’s… and BLT’s are incomplete without Avocado.

Considering I love twisting traditions to meet my Melting-Pot-American lifestyle, I recently tweaked the traditional BLTA by accident. My boyfriend had been unexpectedly freed from work, giving me less than ten minutes to prepare a mini-lunch date. Within seconds of reading his warning text, I had the fridge and every cabinet wide open. Ugh! I thought. Of course we’re out of bread! So I took inventory. What DO we have? Hmm. Turkey Bacon. Whole-wheat tortillas. Lettuce. Oh YES: Avocado. And tomatoes. PERFECT! I threw a few strips of turkey bacon in the microwave, whipped out the mayo, and while the tortilla was steaming on the stove, I slapped BLTA on top. By the time my poodles were yapping at the fully suited man on my front porch, lunch was served.

The mayo and the tomato juice ran together to combine with the smoky grease off of the bacon. As the romaine lettuce crunched, I felt like I was eating a fried tortilla. With sun tea in my left fist and a dripping, BLTA taco in my right, this instant meal felt like July 16th.

These BLTA tacos ended up being a new go-to. You NEED to try it. Plus, in my opinion, it’s much more satisfying to turn your head sideways to eat a BLTA, than to occupy your drink hand with a two-handed sandwich.

1) Bake Original Bacon on a sheet pan with either parchment paper or a drip rack: 375 degrees for 20 minutes

(or thick cut at 400 for 18 ish).

2) Lather some mayo on your whole wheat (or regular flour) tortilla.

3) Cut Tomatoes in half-moons, slice open the avocado, and prepare whatever lettuce you have on hand. (We had bagged lettuce in the fridge left over. Romaine or butter lettuce would be best. Keep it mild).

4) Put the BLTA (Bacon, Lettuce, Tomato, Avocado) on top of the mayoed tortilla however you think it looks pretty 🙂 Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

5) Place it on a warm/medium heat comal (flat pan on the stove). If you’re rushing, just lay the tortilla on the pan while you’re adding all the ingredients. You’ll be sad if you burn it. Just get it a little warm.

6) Fold it like a taco, turn your head sideways, and chomp!!!!!!

May 16, 2012

Choose Your Fortune…Cookie

by Kathryn Baldwin

Finishing up my final three days of college is like being trapped in a tornado and liking it. Last week I:

1)    Solidified my commencement eligibility.

2)    Was informed about two awards that I will be receiving.

3)    And was hired with a non-profit organization.

As I prepare for a life of full-time employment, I must first reflect on how the heck I survived juggling four years of double-major, collegiate insanity. The answer? FORTUNE COOKIES!

Here’s the story:

Last week Professor Spicher lent me a movie that reveals the secret to success (“The Secret,” also available in Spanish, “El Secreto”). The movie describes that thinking positively about your desires, as well as envisioning your dreams coming true, releases ripples into the universe that will bring the dreams to life. In other words, if you envision yourself graduating with honors and believe it to be the real future, you will graduate with honors; if you envision yourself dropping out of school and developing depression, you will not have a happy future. If you envision yourself being an obese 50-year-old Grandpa, you will be obese; if you envision yourself healthy and riding bikes with your grandkids at age 50, you will likely have a longer lifespan. Granted, it’s not simple as pie, but it is definitely as simple as fortune cookies.

For as long as I can remember, my family has gotten take-out Chinese food from China Gourmet. My sister and I would reach into the wax paper baggie, grab the first cookie we touched, and crack the two halves apart as though the winning lottery numbers sat trapped inside. After reading the message, we decided between two things:

1)    If the fortune was positive, we would eat the cookie AND eat the paper message!

2)    If the fortune was negative, we would eat the cookie and throw away the message.

As we got older, we learned how seriously disturbing it was to eat paper. Instead, I started saving the positive messages. Later, I would unexpectedly find them in jean pockets, in the crack of a seat in the car, in the pencil pocket of my backpack. Considering I always forgot the mini-message a minute after reading it, finding the fortune for the second time was just as thrilling as the first.

Throughout college, I saved my favorite fortunes and posted them in corners of places I see often:

My Car Speedometer:

My Bathroom Mirror:

My Desk’s Magnet Strip:

My Inspiration Board:

Call me a hoarder, but glancing positive words throughout my whirl-wind days brings a constant breeze of happiness. They remind me periodically that life is positive if I allow it to be positive.

Today, when I picked up some take-out Wonton Soup, I pleaded for a few extra fortune cookies thinking I could share with all of you. I sat down at my final essay with my soup and some Yogi Tea, and took the first cookie out with you in mind:

When I looked in the bag, I saw that one had already been cracked during the ride home. Deciding that this particular fortune was destined for me, I pulled it out:

Yes universe, I will certainly be celebrating my graduation this week. Call it good fortune; call it superstition; call it faith; call it chance; call it serendipity; call it whatever you want! If you ask me, I think the something wanted you all to take this positivity thing very seriously.

PS: Please visit the Fortune Cookie Factory in San Francisco’s China Town. It takes less that one minute to see the entire place, but watching the cookies get formed so rapidly is a necessary addition to your bucket list!

May 10, 2012

Giada and I…

by Kathryn Baldwin

So as you may have already heard, I’m on a first name basis with Giada. Psh. Well not really. She held up a motivational sign for the children I babysit and then retweeted me an hour later (I refuse to admit that I acted like I was a 12-year-old who just got a text from Justin Bieber).

Clearly I have Giada’s new cookbook: Weeknights with Giada(Apparently every girl and her mother are on a first name basis with this food network wonder-woman. Poop.) The first recipe that caught my eye, Apricot Oat Bars, intrigued me for a few reasons:

1) It reminds me of cobbler. Sigh…

2) It is a possible breakfast food, giving us a reason to get out of bed.

3) Since these bars include fruit and nuts, I was reminded of how Mexican culture is obsessed with the ingredients of fruits and nuts. Seriously. Mexicans will sit around a table and describe fruit textures and names for hours. My favorite is Zapote Negro, a black fruit that grew on a tree at my host family’s house in Mexico…I could go on for hours.

4) Tangent #3 led me to think that Giada’s southern-Italian style of cooking is similar to customs in Mexico. Mexican mole has almonds; Italian pesto has pine nuts. The list goes on forever! (I wonder if this has something to do with climate zones. Or price of animal protein products versus availability of fruits and nuts. I’ll have to do research. I’m in the middle of finals at school. Gimme a break.)

Thus, I decided to try Giada’s Apricot Oat Bars. Considering we had a ton of fig jam chillin’ in the cabinet, I used the exact recipe for a separate pan of Fig Oat Bars (just use dried figs and fig jam instead of dried apricots and apricot jam). They are a great gift for a Mother’s/Grandma’s day picnic, for teacher appreciation come the end of the year, and obviously, for an energy booster when you feel like you’ll die if you spend one more minute slaving on homework.

Apricot (or Any Dried Fruit + Jam) Oat Bars with Walnuts

Follow Giada’s recipe:

If you plan on making these as a breakfast or a mid-afternoon pick-me-up, I recommend putting half of a cup of brown sugar rather than a whole cup. If you want dessert, by all means, load it up!!!!

You may want to try another nut like almonds. I was also thinking that cranberry with pistachio would be fun to try. Make them any way you wish. Just tell me when you make them so I can tell Giada when we meet for coffee this weekend… (cough).

April 27, 2012

Cinnamon Raspberry FroYo: A Marvelous Mess!

by Kathryn Baldwin

“What?! We had a spotless kitchen like five minutes ago!!” That’s what my mom said when she appeared at the kitchen door and saw this on the newly wiped counter:

“…but I wanna make raspberry cinnamon frozen yogurt!” I whined. She was probably thinking, “psh, if I really wanted fro-yo I could just gather some spare quarters and drive down the street to get some.” She’s right, and so could I. So why the heck did I choose to subject myself to mounds of dishes?! Plus, having an insane amount of egg whites left over guilted me into making mint meringues on the side: more ingredients, more spills, more clanking utensils, more dirty towels, and more left over sweets to stare us down throughout the week.

Well too bad!!!! Some days, making a mess is necessary for our happiness. Case in point:

-Do surfers opt out of a day at the beach because the sand is inevitably going to invade the carpet in their van?

-Does my family give our poodles away (or my Pop for that matter) because they track trails of leaves five feet inside every single doorway?

-Do runners choose not to go jogging because they’ll dirty an extra pair of workout clothes?

-Do painters leave their paint at home because cleaning the brushes is too much work?

-Does a wood worker throw away his belt sander because it spreads too much sawdust?

The answer to all of these questions: sometimes.

Sometimes we abandon the spotless kitchen and walk down the street for some take out, but sometimes a little artistic expression, appreciation of ingredients, and tired knees are necessary. Actually, going out to grab a bite is often cheaper. Using practically a whole carton of eggs just to make a quart or two of ice cream seems insane, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t try out Pop’s retro ice cream maker every couple months.

In an instant, you might end up sprinting across the kitchen with a hot plate in your left hand, gooey egg whites on your right hand, opening the oven door with your foot while making your iPhone timer stop quacking with a free pinky finger. These unsolicited, frantic moments happen spontaneously but they’re thrilling in their own Julia-Child-Bad-Girl kinda way (not to mention entertaining to guests).

Yes, I threw apart the kitchen and had to repaint my nails after doing so many dishes, but next time we eat frozen yogurt at Ian’s Yogurt, the contrast of an organized, self-serve toppings bar will flood me with memories. As the clerk weighs my styrofoam cup, I’ll be daydreaming about cracked cinnamon sticks steeping in warm milk, a roaring, ancient ice cream maker, and my smiling family as they scraped the pink edges of their fancy frozen yogurt cups.

Make a mess this weekend. Your creativity is craving it.

Cinnamon Raspberry Frozen Yogurt Recipe:

My favorite ice cream recipe is from BrownEyedBaker. I have an addiction to cinnamon stuff based on my obsession with Horchata, so I tweaked that cinnamon ice cream recipe this time to make it a TAD! bit healthier.

Steep the cinnamon sticks, ¾ cups sugar, and a pinch of salt in two cups of slowly heated, whole milk for an hour.

Beat five egg yolks and add the milk mixture (cinnamon sticks removed) into the yolks slowly. Strain that yolkie mixture back into the saucepan.

Warm yolk mixture again and stir-stir-stir until it leaves a film on your spoon.

Strain this mixture into a bowl; add a cup of plain Greek yogurt, another dash of cinnamon for looks, a tiny bit of vanilla, and a few handfuls of raspberries.

Then let your retro ice cream maker drive your family crazy. Or maybe you have a quieter one…? Haha.

April 18, 2012

Need a Spicier Relationship?

by Kathryn Baldwin

Speaking of spices, a friend and I recently essay-texted about a typical relationship spoiler: How can a couple rediscover their spice when it seems like the Silk Road has been buried for years? Yesterday, during my final minutes in Treadmill Hell, songwriter Ricardo Arjona delivered me the answer via his song “Di me que no” on my iPod:

En Español:

Si me dices que si, dejaré de soñar y me volveré un idiota,

Mejor dime que no y dame ese sí como un cuenta gotas;

Dime que no pensando en un sí

Y déjame lo otro a mi,

Que sí se me pone fácil

El amor se hace frágil y uno para de sonar.

Dime que no,

Y deja la puerta abierta.

In English:

If you tell me “yes,” I’ll stop dreaming and become a fool.

Just tell me “no” and give me that “yes” like a slow-trickling story;

Tell me “no” thinking about a “yes”

And leave the other to me,

Since “yes” makes me seem easy,

Love becomes fragile and one stops dreaming.

Tell me “no,”

And leave the door open.

-Ricardo Arjona, Di me que no

Everyone needs to dream in order to keep loving. Why does winning the lottery not guarantee happiness? Because solving the money problem makes you stop dreaming about how you’d the spend money and then you’re forced to focus on other problems.

Why can eating chocolate cake every single night ruin the decadence of chocolate cake? Because you’re no longer left to dream about the lusciousness of chocolate cake; the thrill of the hunt and the aspect of restraint gone, chocolate loses its exotic lure. Without imagination and looming hopes, any love, even love of chocolate, can lose its flavor.

Ricardo tells us couples to “leave the door open”… to culinary adventure. No pair is capable of checking all “first times” off their list:

  • Duck into an Indian, Asian, or Mexican market together to pick out a foreign fruit and leave laughing about how many people stared at you for seeming out of place.

  • Put Italian ingredients into your typical quesadilla dinner and compare how much easier that was to concoct than making a “calzone” would have been

-My Favorite: flour tortilla, Sautéd mushrooms, spinach, basil, sundried tomatoes, Mozzarella (folded half-moon style of course).

  • Ask your partner what country they’d die to go to and then Yelp the closest restaurant for an international date next Friday (followed by a country-themed movie rental).

-How about Spain?: Order some Paella and sangría at Esperpento in San Franscisco’s Mission District. We love that place.

  • Wake up early and pack a picnic for a low budget ferry ride across the bay. Then, bike from bench to bench, munching home packed snacks at each post, and complimenting each other’s attention to picnic-food-detail.

If you’re anything like us, culinary adventure might cause the kitchen to go up in flames. It may even award you both Moctezuma’s Revenge after eating those 1a.m.-hotdogs from a Guadalajara street vendor. Safe or not, the outcomes of adventure continually add fresh layers of spice that our perpetually virgin pallets have never experienced before.

Keep that kitchen door open, lovers 🙂