It wasn't as bad as we thought it'd be.

So we went in this cold, drizzly morning, to the imposing building. The lady who met us was very friendly and kind. We went through line by line, showed what makes sense and what doesn't, and then ended with smiles.

The anticipation of it all was far worse than the actual experience. Funny that, right?

It all comes back to my (possibly insane) belief that the universe takes care of us, and things end up working out. OK, so there are struggles and hardships. That's standard for the experience of life. However, at the end of the day, you do your best, you keep pushing, keep fighting for what you need, and only then can you be satisfied with knowing that even if things don't work out perfectly, you've done everything in your power to make it right. You've used all your energy, creativity, and ability to sort things out.

Sure, things aren't perfect. They never are.

But there you go.

That's life.


I /still/ don't ever want to own a restaurant.

This week has been utter and complete purgatory for me and bossman. We can't go into the kitchen and cook the entire time we're here. Instead, we need to sit astride a mountain of paperwork to answer to an audit of doom. Thankfully, there's nothing there that's sketchy, but it's still painful to have to do, because you're talking about papers that are years old, and are not as organised as they are now. It means painstakingly going through each transaction, line by line, penny by penny, and making sure that it's all accounted for.

Meanwhile, there's folk on staff who aren't thrilled with each other. The wait staff, thankfully, has been angelic. Every single one of them has proven to me time and again that there are people out there that truly /get it/. Who really understand that vision of making less violence, making more kindness, showing our love for humanity through food. They treat each other and our customers with respect and kindness. They treat this space with the reverence of an altar of peace deserves. OK, so I'm being a touch hyperbolic. I think I'm allowed a touch of poetic license for having to look at numbers until I'm cross-eyed.

The problem is that a kitchen is built on ego. Well. A "usual" kitchen, in any case. It's a place where men flex their importance, and show how much they can take. Crassness, rudeness, and violent tempers are nurtured and encouraged. It's a horrible place to be. When you come from a place of ego, "make less violence" doesn't quite sink in. That's when we start to notice that the person may not be a good fit, and we have to part ways. Part ways where we wish the person the best, but understand that at the end of the day, we have to nurture kindness and love.

Meanwhile, this pile of paperwork that happens when you run a place doesn't care that you've got a thousand other things on your plate. It keeps building, and threatening to engulf you in its arms. And somehow, you keep just past the point of getting swallowed up.

And yet, there are folk who think that I'm mad enough to wish this on anyone, much less myself.

I'm not. This is /not/ my idea of fun. I watch bossman go home each night, shoulders held high to be strong for everyone else, and carry us on them. I watch what happens to him, day by day, as the depravities of the world keep wearing away at his armour. And I know that even though I /could/ do this, I don't /want/ to. I have passion, and drive, and love. I don't, however, have those strong shoulders to bear the weight of my loved ones or those that wish me ill.

Don't ever think that owning a business is just making the books balance. Don't ever think that it's just about finding good staff. Or that it's about having a good concept. All those things mean nothing if you're not strong, tenacious, and just a little crazy.

And I may be crazy, tenacious, or strong. But not at the same time.

That's why I've got my business partner/boss. Because we treat each other as equals. He places as much weight on my own opinion as he does his own. Bossman is just my affectionate nickname for him. I know we're equals, but I know that it gets his goat when I call him my boss, or call myself his assistant.

I'm rambling. It's been a long week. And it promises to be a long and painful audit tomorrow.

That's why I have my friend.


Organic /can/ be accessible.

Our friend Max at Living Maxwell has made an entry on his blog about a dinner for two (at home) for less than $15. He even posted a picture of the receipt from the store, so that he can show that he wasn't making idle boasts, and that he really did manage that feat for that price. A similar meal in a restaurant would have easily ran to $15 per person.

That being said, I think that his receipt highlights something important: organic food is no longer for just the elite and wealthy. The prices for some of the things he bought are comparable to the conventional versions, and in New York City, there are a bunch of different places that are happy to sell them to you at those prices. Furthermore, I'm noticing that even at the regular grocery store that's near my apartment in Washington Heights has organic food in it, priced similarly to what I'd pay further downtown.

Mind you, if you didn't have the money for the tomatoes and the walnuts, that meal would still have been excellent with some beans of your liking, or some tofu. It would have certainly been delicious with just the veggies and the quinoa, but I think Max wanted something a little more elaborate and varied.

In fact, were you to make the sauerkraut yourself at home (which is fairly easy to do), you could bring down the cost even further! But look at the price of his avocados, and the Kalamata olives. Both those items are priced at roughly the same as conventional versions. Same with the quinoa. For the record, that small amount of quinoa cooks up to a whole lot of food. It seems pricey when you cost it per pound, but when you get it home, you only need a very little bit to make lots of food.

There's this quote that the lovely Colleen Patrick Godreau says all the time: "Don't do nothing because you can't do everything." If you can't afford to get all the food that you purchase as organic, do the best you can with your budget and time constraints, and get what you can. If you can't cook at home every night, then do so once a week, and expand from there! It doesn't need to be an all-or-nothing proposition. Eating healthy and supporting organic foods can be workable, if you're willing to be creative, like Max has, with a simple shopping trip, and a few spices from home. It takes a bit of planning, but it's well worth the effort.

Thanks for the blog post, Max!



There's times (rare though they be) when I want a particular vegetable with nothing on it but a bit of salt, and possibly some olive oil. I don't want any spices, herbs, or complex flavours. Sometimes, I just want the pleasure of eating that vegetable as it is, with no adornments.

It was a couple of weeks back, but I recall how pretty it looked. Bossman was hungry, and I had cooked up a pumpkin for something else. I scooped out the pumpkin from the shell, and put it in a bowl, with a bit of salt. Then, I added some steamed kale, and a bit of steamed red cabbage. The colours looked so vibrant and vivid in the bowl. I tossed the kale with a bit of sesame oil and salt, and left the other veg just plain.

Of course, he ate every bite, and enjoyed it.

It's funny how those things work out. I'm surrounded by really amazing food all the time. Whether it be at the restaurant or at home, everything I eat is fairly complex with regards to its preparation and spicing. There's multiple layers of flavour and spice that go into every dish. This goes double for the Indian food that I tend to make, which is inspired (though not constrained) by South India, which tends to layer on the spices. You generally start with hot fat, whole spices, pop the spices in the fat, then add aromatics, then add powdered spices and any chiles you have, and then add your food, and herbs of your choosing when everything is done cooking. It's layers of intricate flavours, all combined with skill and grace. And I'd say that 99 days of 100, I'm quite happy to settle in with a plate of intricately spiced things.

However, some nights, when I get home, I want plain steamed veggies, or a bit raw veggies with a touch of lemon juice and salt. Sometimes I crave plain boiled potatoes with just a hint of salt. No fat of any kind, but just the plain potatoes. An onion sandwich. A tomato, fresh from the market, with the smell of the sun on its skin. A ripe, juicy Macintosh apple (it's my favourite type). Some daikon, that's been lightly steamed with a bit of ginger and soy sauce. Broccoli, steamed in the microwave for about five minutes, with a grinding of black pepper. Cucumber, with a bare hint of rock salt.

OK, so I'm a bit of salt fiend, but you get my point, right? The next time you get something home, try it plain, without any adornments, and then see what works with it. Sometimes, just having it neat is quite pleasurable.


Be who you are.

This story brought me to tears. Not just of the sadness of a little boy whose own parent is being a bully to him, but for the big brother who stands up for his little brother.

I hope that were I in the same position, I'd do the same thing. I know for a fact that my little sister certainly would. I remember my mom getting annoyed phone calls from her school bus driver when she was in elementary school. Her concern was not that it was her fight or not; it was more so that justice be served. She would stand up for the person who she felt was in the right whether or not it was anything to do with her.

I'm fairly certain that I would. I've been the recipient of such bullying behaviour in the past, and I know what it feels like to be tormented by someone much bigger than me, and with so much more power than I have. It's not a comfortable place to be in.

I understand that parenting is the hardest job in the world. I don't deny it. However, there comes a point when good people cannot stand silently by while injustice continues. If a kid has certain tendencies, no amount of your disapproval is going to make them more "manly" or "lady-like". All that's going to happen is that your child will drift further and further away from you, to the point where you aren't an important part of their lives, and you lose your child.

I can tell you unequivocally that the folk who were nasty to me when I was growing up, with demands that I "act more manly" have lost any shred of respect that I had for them, and my regard for them is nonexistent. As an adult, I've grown to realise that those people are petty, insecure, small-minded jerks, who do not deserve my regard.

And that's what you're setting yourself up for when you bully a child into fitting into an ill-suited mould: you're making yourself become unimportant in that person's development. Cry "sissy" long enough, and you will eventually be ignored.

I give major kudos to the big brother in the story for standing in between the bullying father and his sensitive little brother. May all of us have kind, and loving people like that in our lives!