Been reading some very cool books lately (and not posting, obviously). After watching tons of food-related movies and television, I've started cooking a lot more lately.
One book is "The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry" by Kathleen Flynn.
Another is "Service Included: Four-Star Secrets of an Eavesdropping Waiter" by Phoebe Damrosch.
"Molecular Gastronomy" By Herve Thís.
It is just too bad that I don't have a real kitchen. Two burners, no storage or counter space, no dishwasher or oven (no one here has dishwashers or ovens), horrible pots and pans. But at least I bought a nice knife set. There's a market behind my house where I can go get pretty decent produce and some meats (which I've only recently started buying since the weather has cooled off; I wasn't keen on beef and pork sitting out all day in 100º weather), but when it comes down to it, I'm left having to make pretty simple things and find ways to make them taste good. I have no good heavy bottom pans, no cast iron skillet; I have about three paper-thin pans of varying sizes and shapes, and one thicker one that feigns as a decent frying pan. Despite this, I have found things I can still cook or assemble. Thai salads are easy: cucumbers or papaya are easy to slice or shred (I bought a mandolin) and toss with fish sauce and lime and chilis and the like; I keep chicken stock on hand for soups. I usually have celery, onions, carrots, garlic around and can get something going with those. Potatoes, cabbage and bacon always make for the beginnings of some really heavy Irish type slop that tastes delicious with lots of butter and a beer... Have a few Moroccan dishes planned for this weekend, but am going to have to hunt around a bit for things like coriander, paprika and golden raisins.
The more important kind of food, though, is the kind we're helping other people here get: the spiritual kind. I have more studies now than I've ever had, and to have a chance to get to know them beyond the confines of my one-hour-a-week session with them has proved wonderful. I have this little set of studies on Saturday afternoon, right behind my house. A sister in our hall is a teacher at the local middle school, and ran into one of her former students in service. She told me she wanted to bring me by to meet him and try to start a study. I was initially skeptical of her overwhelming enthusiasm, and recall having just laid down for a nap when she called and asked me to go with her. I did. He lives at the back of my block, and was home. He's about 15, and we started the study that day. I invited him to the meeting, and told him I could go to his house and walk with him, since it's only a short distance from where we live. I got to his house the following morning and he and his little cousin were waiting outside for us. The two of them have been to the meetings every week since then. One Saturday on the study (after the young cousin, 10 years old, whose English name, hilariously, is Oscar), his older brother was home, and sat down at the computer in the next room; I was nervous to see how he would respond, but after the study, he was cordial and we all exchanged email addresses. He began to sit in on the study every week. Long story short, he asked for his own study, and is now a few chapters ahead of his little brother. He studies on Tuesday afternoons, and then sits in with his little brother on Saturday, along with the big brother's girlfriend and the little cousin. All four are attentive at the study, and I'm in chapter 7 with big brother, and chapter 5 with the other three. All but the girlfriend are now attending the meetings every Sunday and commenting or reading a scripture at least once at the Watchtower. They prepare their Watchtowers, and asked me when they can start going in service. There's so much more to say, but in short, it's one of those experiences that, as much as we as the teachers are doing, makes it clear that we can take very little credit for the progress the student makes to learn about Jehovah. It's so enjoyable, and makes ever clearer the importance of the work we're doing.