Monday, September 5, 2011

Getting Out of The Zone

Every now and then I find that I begin to establish and settle into a comfort zone that is aptly comfortable but unfortunately breeds complacency. It happens to the best of us.  I personally become aware of such an event when I return to the same routines such as passing the same routes in driving, offering the same reliable menus, wearing similar type clothes as seen in the fact that I have too many nude colored shoes at the moment (it used to be too much black).  I definitely think it's time for a shock of color in my life.  

It isn't that I'm bored with it all because patterns and a degree of predictability in ones life is nice. Especially when one is living with children.  They need to have a familiar rhythm that makes them feel secure and happy at all times. So at this point, gaining stability isn't only a wanton desire on my part but an explicit need that must be fulfilled for a stress-free existence. However, on the other end of the pole, stability can be the very same thing that leads to getting old--not really physically old but old as in obsolete and dated.  I don't want to be that.  In business or life in general, nobody really wants to become a relic frozen and trapped in the rituals and routines of days gone by.

To help me get out of this zone, I do the following:
  1. Try to do something I don't like doing or something I've never tried before
  2. Learn a new skill and/or update the ones I already have
  3. Travel
  4. Read or surf the net for new things to try
I do the 4th one on a daily basis.  But today, I'm also trying out something which I actually said in previous posts I do not much enjoy, fusion.  I don't like it.  In fact, I'm still iffy about trying out this recipe from Oui, Chef which is this Vanilla Brined Pork Chops with Hot-Sweet Rub.  First, the brine has Vanilla AND Star Anise in it.  Two very distinct flavors and aromas you will never mistake for the other unless of course you're nasally incapacitated.  Looking at and smelling the brine increases my reluctance in going for it because it looked like petrol and smelled something of a witch's brew. But the voice in my head kept repeating "Relic.  Relic.  Relic."  So I went along and brined the chops for 4 hours.  

While waiting, I proceeded to make the rub which was comprised of:  paprika (both sweet and spicy), dry mustard, coriander, cinnamon, cumin, brown sugar and dried thyme. I become more anxious with the cornucopia of spices that filled the kitchen with a heady, intoxicating perfume.  And the voice spoke louder, "Relic, relic, relic."

But of course, this story had a happy ending.  The chops were moist and juicy despite its thickness.  It wasn't overwhelming in its aroma but instead had faint whispers from both the anise and vanilla like a gentle passing memory of a woman's mysterious smile.  It had the perfect balance of smoky and aromatic, and sweet and spicy all in one go.  It got me saying in the end: "Oui, Chef.  I will never doubt thee again."  From my kitchen to yours, a heart felt thank you, Mr. Steve Dunn.  :-)

Today's lunch box contains: Vanilla-Brined King Henry Chops with Hot-Sweet Rub (recipe from Oui, Chef), Mashed Potatoes with Leeks, Buttered Corn and Carrots 


  1. You write so wonderfully, Le Pirouette! My thoughts this morning were running along those lines exactly! How nice for someone to put into words what my heart was feeling today. In fact, I was just about to make a short list of new things to do, including learning a new language. The pork chop seems heavenly. But for now, since I'm entertaining a break from daily cooking, I will be most happy to just try it out from you. hint, hint! :-)

  2. Hello Malaya! What a lovely name, if this is truly what you go by. Thank you for your kind words which I needed after a pretty long day. The pork chop, according to the kid, was indeed lovely. Thank you to the generosity of Mr. Dunn in sharing this recipe no? Who would've known, vanilla and anise? It's good to know we still can get surprised every now and then. Thank you for reading, and please drop by again.
    As to tasting this pork chop, it can perhaps be arranged.


  3. Hi Nicole! This is such a wonderful read. Everytime I read your posts, it sets me thinking :D

  4. Thanks for reading Bento Cat, it feels nice knowing that I am able to connect with people through this blog. :-)