the perfect people of LA

In the 8-ish minute 6-ish block walk to the yoga studio, I have continually seen more “perfect” people in one small space than any other city I have been to. Just today, I saw 3, and I wasn’t even actively looking. They just crossed my path. Thats a lot. Thats 22.5 per hour, if my math serves me well.

Now of course, there is no such thing as a perfect person. And also, a seemingly perfect appearance is in no way indicative of a perfect or happy emotional state. And, what I deem as perfect can be vastly different then what you deem to be perfect. However, I do think that the media has a huge influence because it perpetuates an ideal and that ideal is thin, elegant, graceful, well dressed, put together, symmetrical. And even if its not well dressed (there is a lot of “looking fashionably dirty/messy/justrolledoutofbed) its still a thin person who can pull that off in a way that is seen as socially acceptable.

Now what exactly are these perfect people of LA that I stumbled upon? Well, they are generally small. If they are tall, then they are thin, but if they are shorter, they are petite and cute. They also have sculpted arms beneath that billowing shirt which ruffles in the breeze to reveal some sculpted abs. I’m sure that all these people have back dimples. They’ve also got narrow hips and muffin tops are no where in sight. These skinny people wear skinny jeans. (What came first, skinny jeans, or skinny people? Why are they even called skinny jeans? Is it because they are exclusive to one type of person who can wear them?) The perfect people of LA put effort into their slightly disheveled appearance. Manicured and pedicured. Lip gloss. Some natural looking eye shadow. Tights. Skirts, dresses, and heels. Cup of coffee in hand. Ray-ban sunglasses. And what do these people, who can look at the world through their Ray-Ban glasses, do all day? Do they have jobs? What do they do to maintain themselves looking so pretty and nice? Or is it just natural for them to have a 20 inch waist and glossy lips and tousled (yet not tangled) hair? Is their life as perfect as how they look?

Seeing all there perfect appearances (that do not mirror an internal state) still has a negative affect on me as a viewer because of the association thin and perfect=happy and content with life. As I sit here typing away on this blog that probably very few people will see, I’m munching away on some chocolate, and wearing sweat pants because I don’t like the way my tummy hangs over the waistband of my notskinny jeans. In my mind I am thinking that those perfect people don’t even want or like chocolate, so they don’t eat it everyday, so they can wear whatever they want. My life is also far from perfect as I try to figure out how I fit in to the bigger picture that is the world. But these perfect people have found their purpose, which gives them that glowing skin and radiant look in their eyes (if they take off the ray bans). I get tired and feel lazy sometimes and lack motivation. But not those people, they are always active and going and doing things and being artsy and finding inspiration in life.

None of the above associations are necessarily true of course. These perfect looking people all have their own stories and struggles and hopes and fears and issues they are trying to navigate through. But because they look a certain way, well, I think that their life must also be a certain way. Its a constant struggle to remind myself that there is no correlation between looks and being content. And if I wanted to appear “perfect” I could very easily do that by upping my exercise, cutting out sweets, spending some time in the mornings putting together outfits, wearing some makeup, and sitting in a cafe sipping at a cappuccino while I type instead of munching on chocolate and wearing these darn sweat pants. Then maybe others would look at me and think I lead a perfect life, when in reality I would be sacrificing bits of myself in order to appear like I was perfect and therefore happy.

cheese making and bread baking

Today I made some cheese. Farmers cheese which is somewhat soft and versatile due to its subtle flavor. I also had to make bread, because I needed something to put my cheese on and I needed to use some of the whey that was left over. Also, its been rather cold; turning on the oven warms up the kitchen and my bedroom quite nicely.

Lets begin: I went to whole foods to get some Straus Organic milk, because there is no other way that I would buy milk. (bonus: once I sanitize the glass bottle, it is the perfect vessel for my kombucha! note: I tasted the kombucha today and it is delicious. slightly sweet and a bit effervescent but it still needs 1 or 2 more days). Anyways, I bought a gallon of milk, and poured it into a large pot, along with a generous pinch of salt.

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milk in the pot. The yellow is the cream which has started to melt.

I boiled the milk until the edges started to bubble and it was just at boiling, reading 185-190 on a thermometer. While the milk was boiling, I squeezed 1/4 cup of lemon juice to have at the ready. Turning off the flame, I poured in the lemon juice, and gave it a stir. It started to curdle almost immediately, but I let it sit for 7-8 minutes to continue the process.

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The curds begin to form

While the milk was curdling, I lined a colander with some cheesecloth, and set it in the sink over a bowl (in order to catch they whey). Then, I poured everything into said colander/cheesecloth contraption. I let it drain for about an hour, with a weight on top, and gave it an occasional squeeze. The final product is below.

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cheese in the forefront. whey in the background.

Verdict: its really good. Very mild flavor, next time I will add more salt. It also has the potential to be flavored with some herbs and spices. I sliced some and ate it atop a salad with some balsamic vinegar and it was really good. It would make an excellent filling for lasagna, or ravioli, or on top of pizza. Or, on bread…

…I had a lot of whey leftover, and wanted to use some before storing it in the refrigerator. I had read that it can be used in place of water and/or milk in baking. Last week I made a whole wheat loaf adapted from the King Arthur website. I decided to go off of that recipe again, but adapt it to my whey. I replaced the water and evaporated milk with whey, and used half agave and half molasses for the sweetener. I also reduced the oil in the recipe from 1/4 C to 1/8 C.

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ready to go into the oven! note the bubble on top…

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final product! the apples and persimmon in the background are from the farmers market and are providing my kombucha some company.

http://allrecipes.com/recipe/home-made-farmers-cheese/ and http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/classic-100-whole-wheat-bread-recipe

Kombucha!

I had a Kombucha lesson yesterday, and got a baby Kombucha culture to start brewing my own! Of course, I promptly named the Kombucha “Kevin” and he is my new pet, along with “Stanley” the sourdough starter.

Kevin the Kombucha culture+Stanley the sourdough starter=happy fermenting family.

It was very simple to make, and ridiculously cheap. I am slightly appalled that this stuff sells for around $4 a bottle. But anyways, this is what I did:

1) Boil 6 cups of water with a little under 1/2 cup sugar. Stir to dissolve it all

2) Add 3 black tea bags and let steep for 15 minutes. Remove tea bags

3) Pour brewed tea into a glass canister that is wide enough to fit the culture. Let cool to room temperature.

4) Once the tea is cooled, add the SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast), cover with a cloth, and let brew for 7-10 days. Start tasting after 5 days because it might already be delicious!

*of course there are variations to the recipe that I have read online, such as more or less sugar, water, tea, etc. But the important things are to make sure everything is clean, and not to have it touch metal.

*after the batch of kombucha is ready, you will have a new baby SCOBY formed along the mother. Separate them and give one away, or compost it. Store brewed tea in the refrigerator for about a week while your new batch is brewing. You will have Kombucha for life.

Photo on 2013-01-02 at 17.50

this is Kombucha making in action. pardon the poor quality of the photo, but that pancake looking thing is the mother, and there is some tea cooling in the back.

Photo on 2013-01-03 at 11.17

And here is Kevin just chilling. I will taste it for the first time on Monday.

link to the old one

I guess I should include a link to my old blog incase anyone has the desire to go read about random ditties from my first year and a half in Berkeley. this is it: www.berkeleyrandomness.blogspot.com 

Today is the first day of 2013, and if it is indicative of how the rest of my year will be, then 2013 does not seem like it will be a good year.

Something odd, (well, not to odd given the fact that the grass is greener on the other side) is that when I was in school, I couldn’t wait for break. Now that its break, well, I want to be back at school. But I think that stems from the fact that I need things to do, I need “ends” to orient myself towards because otherwise I feel very useless.

Means and ends and rationality. My favorite concept from sociology 101 and 102. Rationality: the most appropriate means to achieve a given ends. Calculability. It can tell you how to go about doing something, but there is no way to figure out what is to be done. This is applicable to my everyday life. I am very good at doing things and being efficient and productive. But my problem is figuring out what exactly I want to do. I will often sit, paralyzed from the multitude of options available to me, and not do anything except for spend hours poking around online at useless trivia. But give me something to do (hopefully it will be something that I enjoy) and I will do it. And hopefully I will do it well.

I suppose this is me coming to the realization that I am externally motivated. I am motivated not by what my instinct tells me or how I feel, but by external cues and wanting to appear legitimate to other people. Like I have accomplished something, and done things. How do I shift back to internal motivation? This is where, once again, the whole rationality thing comes into play. Technological rationality: we can choose what to do, but the ends we choose between are not freely given. That is, we choose from amongst already established ends. So a rational society does not mean a free society. And so, in my life, the things I am choosing to do are not decided by myself, but they are predetermined and I am just choosing something from a menu of options because I don’t even have the capability to decide for myself what I want to do. True story: despite being seen as an extremely productive person, I am the exact opposite of that because I would just sit there. I am seen as productive because my productivity is motivated by things outside of me and not myself. So maybe the proper terminology would be: I am externally productive.

post #1

It would be appropriate that on the last day of 2012 I decide to start a new blog for no other reason then that I was sick of my other one which felt to scattered and all over the place. It would also be appropriate, given that it is the new year and that time of year where making resolutions abounds, that I make some resolutions too, and publicly display them so that I have some accountability to them. Then that gets me to think, is the reason for doing things in order to be seen by others? Like, am I making resolutions and doing things because I want to do them, or because I want to be seen as legitimate in the eyes of the cyber world and virtual community? meh…

I like to write, and I probably don’t do it enough. (hence the past failed blog. rather, i stopped blogging because I got busy with midterms, and then never restarted because well…I had failed and so its better to just start a project all over again instead). So maybe, one thing I can do, is to write once a week on whatever tickles my fancy.

The title of this blog is oms noms, and so, it will likely be a lot about food. But there will be more. Perhaps about my adventures in Berkeley (last semester!) and about my post graduate adventures too.

But first, maybe I should figure out how to use this thing a bit more.

Cheers.