SPONTANEITY OR STABILITY?

Fandango’s Provocative Question #139

Good question this week!

I’m glad you specified “today” because I have changed so much over the years. At my age, spontaneity is hard to come by. My brain is always eager to try something new, but the rest of me says “Hold that thought!”

Talk about life in the slow lane. I do everything slowly — except take pictures and write. I walk slowly. I don’t think I could run no matter what was chasing me. Spontaneity seems to be mostly about what I’m cooking than what I’m going to do. Basically, what I’m going to do is what I’m doing — write, probably for this blog — or process pictures. For the same blog. The most astonishingly spontaneous moments of the day were that Garry got up early and came with us to the grocery store.

So, yesterday was almost spontaneous. We three — Owen, Garry, and me — went shopping at a big Asian grocery store in Worcester.

We’d been talking about doing that for a while, probably because I’ve been doing a lot of Chinese cooking. Why — other than liking Chinese food — am I making so much Chinese food?

Chinese cooking uses less meat and more vegetables, usually served with rice or rice noodles. You can use a half-pound (or even less) chicken, shrimp, beef, or pork to feed three or four adults. Because the price of food has gone up by at least 50% since last year, Asian — especially Chinese — cooking tastes good. It’s healthy and mostly not -fattening. As the budget keeps tightening, I spend a lot of time seeking ways to use small amounts of food to feed the same number of people. That may be the real reason i keep losing weight. I eat as little as possible because food costs money.

This is also why I’ve been so busy. Cooking Chinese takes more effort than putting some chicken pieces in a pan with some sauce, then serving it with potatoes and a vegetable.

I spend hours in the kitchen slicing and dicing. Preparing the noodles in advance and sometimes, rice in advance because many recipes require cold noodles and rice, especially if you are going to fry them. I have also had to give in and buy raw shrimp which is cheaper, but there’s a lot of time involved in cleaning them. It’s less expensive even buying those great big shrimp I have previously only gotten in restaurants and it tastes much better than pre-cooked, pre-cleaned shrimp — but there are hours involved in the cleaning process. If I keep doing it, I’m sure I’ll get faster, but for now, it’s slow going.

So in a way all this makes me spontaneous in seeking out recipes, but patient as I learn to cook them properly.

Everything but the shrimp

The grocery store was fun. Garry found anchovy sauce to go on his frozen squid (I WON’T clean squid) and there were all the sauces from China, Vietnam, Thailand, Japan, and other places I can’t remember. There were rows of gorgeous vegetables, many of which I didn’t recognize. Are there any Chinese people living near me who could come shopping with me? I’m sure I could do something great with all those vegetables, but I need to know what they are and get a clue about their typical use.

Even a lot of the sauces only had information in Chinese. The only English I could read were the ingredients and price. We spent hours there. I was completely pixelated by the freezer department and that was immediately next to the store’s entrance. After that, I discovered the dishes, rice cookers, woks and other kitchen stuff. I love kitchen stuff.

I ended up buying a replacement for the great rice cooker I had which, after 8 years, got so scratched I couldn’t use it. If I’d known about this shop, I could have replaced the damaged pot. Oh well.

I also used to collect antique Chinese porcelain

I spontaneously grabbed a credit card to pay for the rice cooker. Owen bought the food. Garry was delighted \they had a fish department with a great selection so fresh it was still swimming. In big tanks.

So what does that make me? I think my answer is spontaneous when I need to be. I’m spontaneous when I’m fixing things — like computers, televisions, and bad cable. I believe in the Sergei Delov’s recipe for computer repair: “Keep hitting buttons. Something will happen.” That’s about as spontaneous as computer repair gets. I’m also spontaneous when trying to fix “life’s problems,” like an absence of money when we really need it. That we’ve survived this long is a kind of miracle. I know I did it but I don’t know how.

The rest of the time? I’m too tired to be anything but stable. Possibly asleep.

As for what I prefer in others? Stability and loyalty to relationships plus \enough spontaneity (and enthusiasm) to keep things interesting. That’s also what I can offer. I’m fiercely loyal to those I care about and as spontaneous as my body allows.

Since I’m not getting any younger, I’m pretty sure that’s as good as I am going to get in this life.



Categories: #FPQ, Anecdote, Life, Photography, Provocative Questions, Relationships, story

Tags: , , , , ,

8 replies

  1. I love your attitude marilyn!
    Chinese food is so good!
    I’ve never been to an asian market though!

    Like

  2. Sounds adventurous to me!

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  3. That store and your amazing cookery skills sound DELICIOUS!! It takes a certain amount of spontaneity (in my opinion) to attempt Chinese cooking in the first place. I can make a few dishes (like fried rice, which is easy), but the seasoning is never quite the same. I’ve purchased the frozen varieties of Chinese dishes I like (beef & broccoli, lemon chicken (if I can find grilled, not breaded chicken ones), I bought some rice noodles but admit I’m leery to use them in case they become glutenous and tasteless, as I fear they will because I’m not skilled at Chinese cookery. Congratulations on your great trip to an amazing store!! I wish (in vain, because I doubt it will happen in my lifetime), that such a place would open up somewhere close here. But I suspect there isn’t the market for such food, as most of these folks are meat & potatoes and the odd cob of corn or some green beans type of folks. *sigh* I’m glad to see you posting too! 🙂

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    • First, the noodles. Just follow the directions and drain them. If you are going to fry them with other stuff (like shrimp or pork and/or veggies), rinse them thoroughly with cold water. They do NOT get gelatinous. They have no wheat in them. They are all rice and water. Much lighter than regular pasta and NO gluten.

      Chinese cooking isn’t hard, but it is laborious. You need a good cookbook — and you need to really follow the directions. You know. Measuring? I used to ignore measurements and the results were uneven to say the least. Since I caved in and started following directions and measuring how much of what I put into the dish, I have some control over it. If I think it needs more oomph, I can add more ginger, put in some hot sauce.

      I like the noodles from Thailand better than the Chinese ones. They seem to come out better. A lot of them don’t even need to be boiled, just soaked in water — cold or hot, doesn’t matter.

      Surprisingly, our little local grocery has a pretty good selection of Asian foods. Obviously the Asian grocery has much more, but little old Hannaford has quite a decent selection. The pre-cooked frozen stuff tastes like pre-cooked frozen food always tastes — nothing like the real thing and not particularly tasty.

      First, you need a good cookbook that is easy to follow and includes ALL the steps you need. Some cookbooks leave out steps because they just assume you already know that. I know some stuff, but there are a lot of small stuff I don’t know. I’m good at writing directions, so I get annoyed when I buy a cookbook and it leaves out steps and I have to guess!

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  4. Like you, I think I’m a bit of both.

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    • I think most adults are. When you are working and have a life and maybe a family to support, there’s only so much spontaneity possible. I remember 12 hour work days, 3 or more hour commutes, making dinner, cleaning up after which I could spend time with Owen. After that, I crashed until I was up at dawn the next day to do a repeat. It’s hard to be spontaneous when you work for a living!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. that’s a WONDERFUL post Marilyn. I hear you and I listen to you and I totally agree with you. It was my birthday yesterday and as I’m living in such a peaceful, relatively stable country and have a truly good life (apart from the few things that could definitely be better), I ‘gave myself the pressie of sending out good wishes for all the friends I don’t see/know but am deeply connected’ – my wish for you was
    To have enough to live
    better health
    always to be able to see the good amongst the very bad
    and enough enthusiasm to keep your blogging going, even at a slow(er) rate as it seemed to me to be a ‘life savour’….
    Bless you.

    Like

    • Thank you so much! This is the busiest I’ve been since I retired and trying to fit everything in and still do some things that are also fun gets a bit complicated. I think my online life IS my life at this point. We do go out, but the older I get, the more I want my own bed to sleep in and my own comfortable chair in which to sit. Maybe that’s true for all of us.

      I plan to keep blogging as long as I can find something in my head that I think is worth saying. Some days, there really isn’t any time and finally, I gave up staying up half the night to put together posts for the next day. I realized that life would go on even if I didn’t write for a day here and there. After doing this daily for so many years, it’s hard to wrap my head around today’s reality 😀 I’m working on it!

      Liked by 1 person

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