Hands That Feed- Culinary Charity, and What You Can Do

Good morning, friends and neighbors.

Since the first time I heard it in the retrospectively-awful-yet-beloved Rankin-Bass animation of The Hobbit, this has been one of my favorite quotes in all of literature.

As Thorin, the Dwarven King, lies dying of wounds he sustained in a battle started in part by his own greed and bitterness, he speaks his last words to Bilbo Baggins are:

“Child of the Kindly West… if more of us valued your ways- food and cheer and song above hoarded gold- it would be a merrier world. Sad or merry, I must leave it now. Farewell.”

 

Whenever things get a bit too dark and heavy in this world, I try to remember that, and I try to do whatever I can to hold back the darkness a little longer.

I write some nice stories. I bake some pastries, and make people smile… and I thank Heaven that there are people in this world with the means and desire to do more than that.

Today is about them.

A quote from J.R.R. Tolkein's The Hobbit

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The Candy Man

Good evening, friends and neighbors!

Since I’ve lost weight and turned on to a more healthy lifestyle, my tastes have definitively changed.

I no longer crave (and no longer look forward to baking) saccharine-sweet things like I used to, piled deep with the butter and sugar that is cornerstone to pastry as a whole.

Instead, my tastes look toward more European recipes. When I was in culinary school, the running joke was “Take a European pastry, triple the sugar and fat, and you’ve got an American recipe.”

The joke is more true than you might think. European pastries and sweets tend to be considerably less sweet than American counterparts, and focusing on natural sugars like fruit- or more complex sweetness like that of dark chocolate- for their appeal.

That said, my sweet tooth may be diminished, but it’s still strong- though not always for pastry.

For reasons I can’t always eloquently explain, where elegant pastries in a case won’t always seize me…

a bag of rainbow-colored gummi frogs will not fail.

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Review #14- Toro Bravo

Where:  Toro Bravo,

120 NE RUSSELL STREET
PORTLAND, OR, 97212
(503)281-4464

Everyone’s trying to save a buck these days.

Restaurants, cooks, workers, all of us. Even bakers- ironically- are having trouble making a little dough.

Sadly, when belts get tighter, it invites fewer opportunities to loosen them. You start finding ways to bring in a little cash- and moments when you get to spend that cash are limited to special occasions.

That’s why I’ve been pretty light on the restaurant reviews as of late.

It’s also why I’m writing this one on my wife’s insistence.

It was our anniversary, after all- and she loves watching me be a food nerd.

The author and his wife at Toro Bravo in Portland Oregon

Yep, still adorable.

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The Morning Routine of a Monkey Monk

Good afternoon, friends and neighbors!

Thanks to (yet more) sudden upheavals in my life, I have a new job and a new schedule.

Does it really still count as an “upheaval” when they stack up so quickly? One big wave is notable, but repeated ones just mean they are the tide- to be expected and counted on, albeit at a beach that’s great for surfing.

The new schedule has meant that, for the time being, I won’t be able to play D&D with my friends on Sunday nights anymore. Going in to work at 3am means waking up earlier- and that means a game night that runs till 9pm the night before is out of the question.

Sadly, Han Wu Zhi- my latest character that I’ve had so much fun playing- will be out of action for the time being.

At least, in-game he will be. Han has already left quite an impact.

Stand by for nerdy self-improvement.

The author with his legs crossed in Lotus posture, supporting himself between two pushup bars

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A Day at the Beach, and a Sense of Perspective

Good morning, friends and neighbors.

It had been a very long time since Em and I had gotten out of the city. We went back to Philadelphia in July, but the last 6 months have been especially trying (to say the least,) and the immediate future promised to be even more interesting.

Back when I lived in New Jersey, walking on the beach near my house offered more than good exercise and an enjoyable afternoon. It offered perspective- a quiet if a not-so-subtle reminder of my size and place in this world, as well as the size and place of my problems.

Even the biggest things are not so big at all, compared to the view from Cannon Beach.

A panoramic shot of Cannon Beach and Haystack Rock in Oregon

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