Dear 10 years ago me,
Later today you’re going to go on your first date with the cute guy who swims in the fast lane. You’re not sure whether it’s coffee, like, thanks for the pool tickets coffee, or whether it’s coffee. It’s the latter. But know this for certain: you have absolutely no idea what you’re getting yourself into.
That man, that shy, quiet fellow, is not who you think he is. Well, he is – engineering student, athlete, prairie boy - but he is also the most fantastically (and infuriatingly) complex person you will ever have the privilege of knowing. He works hard, but he plays even harder. He does everything fast. He’s a passionate music lover. He reads math textbooks and laughs because he thinks the equations are hilarious, and he thinks ‘story books’ are silly. He has a soft spot for dogs and babies: anything cute, basically. He’s tough on the outside but sensitive on the inside, and this is something that will take you far too long to learn.
You will take your dog on your second date, and neither of them will pay any attention to you whatsoever while they’re together. It’s a good sign; Buddy was a fantastic judge of character, and those two will be the best of friends until the end of his days.
That man will stand by patiently, and at times not so patiently, as you go back to school. Yes, you go back to school! Like waaaaaay back to school, and tackle subjects like chemistry and math you swore you’d never touch again. He will stand by through the tears and the triumphs and the occasional caffeine induced textbook throwing temper tantrum. He will finally agree that it isn’t a good idea for you to drink coffee. And that you need a math tutor.
He will push you, and the pushing won’t always feel good, but it is not because he doubts you. Rather, it is because he sees greatness in you that you don’t see in yourself. If you could see yourself through this man’s eyes you’d know that you can do anything you set your mind to.
He will change your life in ways you don’t expect. Your cookbook collection, previously riddled with post-it notes marking recipes that seem interesting but so complex you never actually make – you will make all of those recipes. Every single one, with no substitutions. He will teach you to use the good olive oil while it is still good, rather than hoarding it until the end of time. And to eat the good chocolate before he sniffs it out. And that expensive jeans are worth the money.
You will reach a point where you can no longer fathom not having salad with cottage cheese for dinner every Monday and Wednesday and an omelet for dinner every Thursday. You will no longer think of anything after 9:30pm as a reasonable bedtime. You will learn to appreciate good wine. I mean, really good wine.
You will learn to say yes to adventure and not worry quite so much about money or being rooted in one place. You will move to another country. Learn a new language. Go back to school, again, and get this; the girl who flunked out of math and chemistry in high school will do a masters of science at one of the most respected biomedical research institutions in the world.
There will be times that man will walk alongside you in life. Other times when he’s sprinting ahead of you. And others still when he’s behind you, pushing you forward. It won’t always be easy. In fact, there will be times when it feels like the hardest thing you’ve ever done. But trust me, you are going to have one hell of an interesting decade.
I have no idea what the next one will hold, but I know one thing for absolute certain: it will be awesome.
One year ago: Barley Salad with Charred Corn and Tomatoes
Two years ago: Perfect Hard Boiled Eggs
Three years ago: Curious Porridge
How to Pop Corn:
Popcorn is pretty incredible when you think about it. Isn't it amazing that so much can come from so little? Much like reflecting 10 years down the road about your first date. That little coffee date at the campus Starbucks sure turned into a lot.
Popcorn has an important place in our lives. I remember Paul making me popcorn on the stovetop in a tattered frying pan in the early days of our courtship. A stove-top popper was my first gift to him, and since we are creatures of routine, Saturday afternoon popcorn and beer is a staple in our home. We've refined our stove-top technique over the years, and what I'm sharing today is what has resulted from a decade of learnings.
I need give a nod to my friend Jess, as it is her stovetop technique that I switched over to when our whirly popper bit the dust.
2 tablespoon vegetable oil*
½ cup popcorn kernels
Place a large pot over high heat and put the oil in. Place 2-3 kernels in the pot and wait, with the lid off, until they pop.
Remove the pot from the heat, pour the rest of the kernels in, cover the pot, and count to 30.
Replace the pot on high heat. At this point what I do is count to five, then lift the pot and give it a shake. Count to five, then lift the pot and give it a shake. Count to five, and then.... repeat this sequence until the popping has slowed down to about 3-5 seconds in between pops. Then you're done!
Pour the popped corn into a bowl and top with your choice of toppings. For a weekday snack I'll munch on it bare naked, but Saturday afternoon popcorn and beer calls for butter and nutritional yeast. Yum! How do you like to top your corn?
*The oil choice is up to you. I use olive oil because I like the flavour (Yes, I know about the smoke point thing. However, I don't believe it gets raised to such a temperature for such a long time to be really damaging.) and coconut oil is another good option. Use the oil in moderation!
Popcorn is a whole grain! It is high in fiber, particularly the insoluble kind which is like a cleanup crew for your digestive tract. It's also a good source of vitamin C, B3, and Manganese. Popcorn can be a super heathy snack when prepared correctly. Air popped is undoubtedly the healthiest option, but stovetop is ok too when you're using healthy oils in moderation. Please please please try and stay away from the microwave stuff, which is laden with scary chemicals and damaging to the health of factory workers. If you're going to top your popcorn with lots of butter and salt make it a once in a while treat. Try it during the week without any toppings, or with just a sprinkling of crumbled seaweed, a shaving of Parmesan cheese, or some fresh herbs and spices.
All text and photos © The Muffin Myth 2013