Struggle With Broth

Last weekend, I had to struggle with the question–what broth to use–all because the local Trader Joe’s runs out of the low sodium organic chicken broth. This Trader Joe’s on Route One in the township of North Brunswick is too small, probably only three thousand square feet, which as a store is not much at all. Every time I go there, I find at least two or three of my favorite items missing. The non-firm tofu has been absent from the shelf twice in the last two months; soy powder not to be found anymore; pea powder nonexistent. Refrigerated soy milk disappeared permanently for a while while the non-perishable variety only show up half of the time. Once I started to like a specialty tomato sauce in a little jar, only to find it off the shelf two weeks later. I guess they are just teaser items, not meant to be liked or favored and desired for a permanent presence.

I had to switch to vegetable broth, but the taste is just not there. The wanton soup made from the vegetable broth tastes funny, though still tolerable. However one cannot live with tolerable food. One aspire to tasty food, preferably with minimum preparation time. That’s the dilemma about food. We want it tasty but without too much labor to obtain the taste; healthy but without losing those tastes that fat, cholesterol, salt can bring. We love starch but not the calories that come with it; we love sugar but not the negative aspect of it. Every meal is an act of achieving the impossible.

Now I am wondering if I can make my own vegetable broth. Just get the fresh vegetable, dice them, blend them, strain them. Isn’t that a better broth than the store bought one? Yet my days of cooking enthusiasm is gone. One has to be inspired to be able to plunge into such a labor intensive activity. Just to have a tasty meal? That’s not enough of an inspiration, not for me, not right now.

Can’t Live With Or Without Impulse

I hate impulses, especially impulse purchase. I went to Trader Joe’s today and bought a big bunch of things. Completely over my budget. Do I really need the “Tomato Basil Hummus”? No, but it is so good that I can finish the whole thing before I start my dinner. Do I really need the one gallon Aloe Vera drink? No, but I like to add it to my juice drinks. And the “Crunchy Curls” of lentil and potato snacks. I can’t live without it, but I really don’t need it that much. And what do I mean when I say I need it or not? I don’t know.

I know for a long time that I really don’t need any new clothes–non-expensive clothes–but I continue to buy them anyway. I mean buying clothes is not only a waste of money for me, also a waste of time. Still I continue. Must be the evil of habit. I already have the habit of buying things. I mean useless things. Now to think of it, most of the things we go out to buy are useless and we can live very well without. I almost feel that the reason I go out to buy things is to help the local businesses. Once I said that my friend laughed at me that my tiny little purchase will help nobody. I might as well save the trouble.

Now look at my writing. It’s sadly not advancing. I mean I should have spent all those time to sharpen my skill and perfect my craft, but instead I waste my time on wanton useless impulses. I’m an Asian immigrant and I should uphold our tradition (or stereotype) of hard work without a break, minimalism in purchasing, self denial to the extreme. The problem is that if I exercise that with my writing, it is a disaster. Whenever I force myself into a disciplined schedule and a state of self monitoring, my writing becomes worse than it already is–as if that is possible since sometimes I feel that I just can’t write any worse.

C told me that she thought of applying to Iowa, probably a PhD since she can’t afford a master. I don’t even know what Iowa means. So I searched. Thank goodness for Internet. This audible book I bought last year, “We Wanted to Be Writers: Life, Love, and Literature at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop”, with an unnecessarily long title, probably could tell me something. So I listen to it. The content is arranged in a strange way–I would never structure a book like that–but I really like it after going through half of the book. That’s the problem that a book can never be love at first sight for me since I have to go through at least fifty pages before I can decide whether I like it or not. So the sample given by Kindle book is too little to have any effect.

Now I am at the end of the audible book and it mentioned John Cheever. So I found the John Cheever book I finished several years ago and went through the index. Alas, I can’t remember most of it. I can only remember “The Enormous Radio”, “The Five-Forty-Eight”,
“The Swimmer”, “O City of Broken Dreams” and that’s about it. I can’t remember anything else. However I know there’s one story that I really liked, about a girl who describes how her husband’s snobby relatives snub her and make her feel inferior–the girl is quite a pretty airhead, but still the relatives are so mean–and the girl describes the relatives and her own confusions in such a funny way that I laughed and laughed. However I can’t find the story anymore as if the story has legs and walks away from the book. I really like that story since the girl talks exactly like how women talk. I love the way women talk and I feel that many books don’t show how women really talk–they only show women’s restrained and demure talk in social situations but not the way women really talk.

Now the book on Iowa Workshop talks about John Cheever in Iowa. I just can’t imagine that. John Cheever is always connected with New York. No wonder the book says he drinks a lot. I am not surprised. A real New Yorker like him won’t survive a place like Iowa without drinking. He must be desperate for money. Otherwise he would not take a job in Iowa, so far away from New York. Even him, with his talent and reputation, is short of money like this. I don’t understand why Iowa? Why having the workshop there? The same kind of confusion is here when I think of why Iowa is always the first to vote and what’s the differences between caucuses and primaries. Things too complicated for an immigrant and an outsider to understand?