Sunday, December 29, 2013

Promised Lands, and Cultural Expectation

Today, I was sitting in my congregation's worship service trying to figure out how to get the hymnbook app working on my phone  paying very close attention to the sermon, when a phrase jumped out of the background noise and struck my eardrums in a way slightly different than ever before. The speaker was talking about Nephi and his family being led away from Jerusalem. I think his message was intended to be about enthusiasm or murmuring or something, but I got a very different lesson today. 

Background: During the familiar story of Lehi's family being led out of Jerusalem (600 BC), there comes a point when the youngest of Lehi's sons, Nephi, wants to know that the instructions God gave to his father are real, and come from God (up to this point, Nephi had already believed his father--he is asking to have his own testimony). God grants him this knowledge, and Nephi acts on it, explaining to his three older brothers that he, too, knows that the instructions given to his father came from God. One of his brothers believes him; two of them don't. As Nephi grieves for the stubbornness of his brothers, he prays, and the Lord speaks to Nephi.

Nephi prays

Enter, the scripture that I heard, 1 Nephi 2:19:
And it came to pass that the Lord spake unto me, saying: Blessed art thou, Nephi, because of thy afaith, for thou hast sought me diligently, with lowliness of heart.
 20 And inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments, ye shallaprosper, and shall be led to a bland of promise; yea, even a land which I have prepared for you; yea, a land which is choice above all other lands." (emphases added)
The phrase "shall be led to a land of promise" turned over in my head a couple times, then it occurred to me: at the time of the story, Nephi, a young man of Jerusalem, *already lived in the Promised Land*.  He lived at JERUSALEM, the Holy City!! Everybody travels there, everybody parties there at Passover, the site of the ancient First Temple of Solomon (and subsequent temples at the same site, though at 600 BC the temple hadn't been totally demolished yet...that happened in 586 BC during the sacking of Jerusalem [that thing that Lehi had been warned about/reason they were told to leave/started this whole story in the first place]), etc. Anyway, Jeru was THE PLACE to be. Nephi was of the house of Israel, and at that point, Old Jerusalem was "The Promised Land" of his people. 
....And God just told him to leave, and go to the Promised Land. 
That must have been thought provoking for young Nephi. 
At this point, the Lord clarifies: "even a land which I have prepared for you."  
And that's where Sabina learned a valuable lesson. 
As I sat thinking about it, I realized what this moment would have meant to Nephi. Nephi was already at the place that his social and religious culture deemed "the promised land." His family was doing pretty well for themselves, there, too--we know Lehi was a wealthy man; their family was known in Jerusalem.  Nephi had been taught his whole life that Jerusalem was the Promised Land--that he was to learn and work and grow there, and was lucky to do so--and he probably had big plans for his own life. Find an honorable role in society, work hard, attend the temple, get married to a pretty (and funny, and practical, and smart) Jerusalem girl, raise a family, etc. He kept his heart close to the Lord and was able to follow the instructions the Lord gave, though he had no inkling of where that would eventually lead him. As he followed the step-by-step instructions, God was able to explain to Nephi that He had a different plan. Nephi's honorable efforts had laid the foundation for him to later accomplish some pretty unexpected things ("Blessed art thou, Nephi, because of thy afaith, for thou hast sought me diligently, with lowliness of heart.") but in order for him to eventually fill his world-changing mission, he had to leave the social and cultural expectations behind, and trust the Lord. Those expectations were not inherently bad--there were other righteous people in Jerusalem at the time, and many good-hearted folk who were doing exactly what Nephi had planned on  for his own life. But the Lord had a different plan for Nephi.
This was a major moment of truth. Was Nephi going to take the leaps of faith the Lord would require of him, in order to obtain this unexpected promise of a mysterious promised land? A land even better than any the world knew? It must have been difficult to imagine.
 Had Nephi confused cultural expectations and teachings, no matter how good they were, with doctrine--or in other words, if Nephi had chosen to trust his personal/societal expectations rather than the Lord's timeline and instruction...Nephi and his family would have been sacked along with the rest of Jerusalem. 
But he didn't!  Yay, Nephi! You rock, man. Way to follow what the Lord told you and your priesthood leaders (Lehi).
So.....who cares? Nephi obeyed, catastrophe avoided, travel in the wilderness, oh hey better go back and get scriptures--oh, yeah, and a wife, that'd be good-- build a boat, cross the ocean, blah, blah, blah. A story is a story. 

But if we pull the lessons to the present time, for our personal lives, they become pretty powerful.  

Sabina's Personal Application 
(AKA feel free to stop reading, the important stuff is over)
As a mid-20-something Latter-day Saint living in Utah Valley, I feel like I'm in a similar position as Nephi. He's hanging out, working hard, studying Modern Egyptology with a minor in Shipping Sciences: Boat Construction at ancient Jeru U or whatever. I'm chilling in Utah Valley, going to school at one of the best universities in the country, Brigham Young University (arguably and stereotypically my religious culture's "Promised Land").  I had culturally acceptable plans of standard graduation time with a decent degree, serving a mission, marriage to a handsome (and funny, and practical, and smart) BYU guy, raising a family, etc. 
But, the Lord had a different timeline, and a different plan. 
Today, as I made the choice to leave the University, I knew I was making the right choice. I had previously pulled way back in classes, only taking the bare minimum to remain a student. I figured I would work on my culinary career, and as life circumstances cleared a little I could go back and finish my last semester. I felt like I was supposed to move forward, and that was how I chose to do it.  It made sense, financially and socially and academically. Today, however, I knew it was time to take the next step and actually follow what the Lord has been telling me to do--move forward, down a personally and culturally unexpected path.

The Lord asked Nephi to take steps in an unexpected direction, leaving behind good and righteous goals in favor of the things the Lord had in store. If Nephi could do it, so could I. Finally understanding this piece today at church felt like a major step in my life. I un-registered for the classes I was going to take this Winter, and withdrew from the University entirely. 
Maybe I'll go back someday to finish what I started, and maybe my life will move in a totally different direction. But, I can trust that the Lord's plans are significantly cooler than mine were. 
Hasta luego, Cougars! I have a kitchen to run and culinary school to finish.  And a bunch of other fantastic stuff to accomplish. 
PS--For the record, Nephi wasn't married yet, either. ;-)

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Unexpected Happenings

So, I no longer have a job. Which So I've been on a job hunt most of last week. when the weekend came, I decided to try and start catching up on school. Which really means I was cooking and cooking and cooking. 

I broke my phone last week, and I was concerned that I lost my photos of all the assignments I did the days before I broke it....BUT then I got them off the phone and life was good. 

It has been rather full week--a lot to do, a lot of unknowns, and I'm very tired. But I'm a lot less stressed than I have been in a long time (which is weird, seeing as I don't know where the next paycheck is coming from). But, I'm glad that I'm less stressed. I've cleaned my house, got to spend time with friends, I'm almost done with a couple of Christmas projects, helped with several doctor's appointments, and I'm swiftly catching up with school. So, trusting that the job thing will work out, it's been a pretty great week. :-)

Thursday, November 7, 2013

The Last Time I Was Here

This is a poem I wrote just now about my home in Idaho. I haven't been back recently; this is not intended to be taken literally. Also, it's a draft. And, it's 2am. For the record.

The last time I was here
the earth trembled with life
the birds were singing, orchards ringing
--now my heaven wilts with strife.

The squirrels would run and chase and leap
from branch to trunk to floor
but now the leaves and twigs fall still
--the squirrels run here no more

The quail, the hawks, the foxes, too
All called this place their home
they shared their kingdom willingly
with me, who loved to roam

around this quarter acre wonderland
this place that grew my soul
deep in the earth, with roots of trust
--this place that made me whole.

The apple tree, with picket fence,
a comfort, and a friend,
A memory of days gone by
Reminds of what has been.

The cherry tree, its twisted trunk
a staircase to the girl
who climbed up with her book and dreams
and let her daydreams whirl

The hawks would circle round our heads,
the quail around our feet
My thought would sore and run with them
And now they only weep.

The sprawling patch of once-bare earth
where mother's garden thrived
now houses naught but weeds and dust
For nothing has survived.

The land was ours, but just as true
to say, we were the land's
We cared for one another,
with hearts and wills and hands.

Now, life's road has taken toll
and ripped us from each other--
the family from the orchard trees--
me from my soul-mother.

Year have passed, and naught remains
of  my own paradise
but souls of trees,  and creeping things.
But memories, suffice.

I turn my back, I walk away,
and realize, with a start
that though the trees have long since died
they live within my heart.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

And You Can't Come Because You Don't Speak French

So, today marked the first day that I actually had a "lesson" about the French language. It was a very short lesson, granted, but it supplemented the computer learning program quite well.

I am finding that my background in linguistics, as well as some Spanish and Arabic, are quite helpful in deciphering the written French language. After only a couple days, I can read simple paragraphs in French and understand enough to write a summary in English. I can form simple French sentences, and while I have trouble remembering which nouns are feminine and which nouns are masculine, I am generally grasping the grammatical concepts. I can understand the French audio and can transcribe simple sentences. Having only started my French studies a couple of days ago, I was feeling pretty good about my progress.

"I have until next October before the school's next trip to France," says I, to Myself.  "Self, I totally got this."

So I decided it was time to stop working solely with a computer and venture into the world of person-to-person French-y talking-ness.  Lucky for me, I have many friends who speak French. 

One particularly good friend of mine offered to start me off with basic pronunciation: the alphabet, simple words, numbers 1-10, etc. I was stoked. I went to her house this afternoon to practice.

As it turns out...I really, really stink at French pronunciation. :-D

During first attempts at the alphabet, my accent was a mutated atrocity of Spanish, Arabic, and Idahoan English. It was a veritable Frankenstein's Monster: Accent Edition.  It was horrifically coarse, and entirely lacking in the refinement and finesse required of those already among the ranks of French speakers. There was no *rhythm*, no *flow*, no...proper vowel shapes. 

French vowels are HARD, people!  And the consonant paradigm is quite removed from any involved in the other languages bumbling about in my brain-space. 

Luckily, EJ was very patient, and didn't tire of correcting me--which I greatly appreciated! (Actually, she probably DID tire of correcting me, because I needed it a lot, but she endured, nonetheless).  We only got through the alphabet, some demonstrative simple sentences on her end (which I was unable to repeat with ANY kind of accuracy) and numbers 1-5...sort of. hahaha

Maybe when I'm in France, I'll pretend to be a deaf-mute, and make everyone write everything down. ;-)  [then I'll pop down to Egypt and explain that I am completely illiterate, and would you dumb it down to amiyya fi'musr, min fudluck? {egyptian low-speak, please?}]

Ah, well. 

C'est la vie. 
Just don't ask me to say it. 
"Please dont cry Bar-ba-ra!
You're a nice Manatee!
You've been so good to me!
--But I must go into the world and to noble things for the good of all!!
..and you cant come because you don't speak French!
Au revoir!"

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Sort of a Cop-Out

Not to totally cop out of writing a blog update, but I just finished this one for my school blog and I don't really want to re-type it for my personal blog.  Plus, it's a personal story, not an essay, so it shouldn't be too boring to read. I was pretty excited.

Here's the link.

SPOILER: It's about chocolate. 

I love chocolate.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Steps to Take

Or, Things I Could Do To Be Better At My Life

Get involved in the local food scene:  Find somewhere to volunteer. Talk to local farmers, growers, factories. Take advantage of every opportunity to learn from experts of their craft. Put together/volunteer to help with events.

Stay up-to-date:  subscribe to foodzines, food blogs (the pertinent ones), customer stories, food trends, food science developments, restaurant policy, and all the other food news floating around.

Learn about people in the industry: historical figures and their impact, important milestones, current movers and shakers in the US and abroad.

Get back in shape:  "Fat chef" is bad business in our modern world. Plus, I just feel TONS better about life when I'm exercising hard-core on a regular basis. Obviously, I'll never be skinny...but I can be strong.

Write about food:  I think that, whichever specific route I end up on, I will need excellent writing skills--particularly, writing about food, restaurants, and the personal experiences of myself and others.

Publish writing about food: Give myself a deadline. Find a blog (or three), a magazine, a newspaper, somebody that will carry a story that I wrote...maybe a year. Include the writing in my culinary education.  As anyone who has social conversation with me would emphatically tell you--I love telling stories.  Time to tell stories about something I'm passionate about. Like food.

Oh, hey, look.  A food blog. With my name on it.  Maybe I should write in it. Even better--maybe I should give myself a (weekly? semiweekly?) deadline for writing in it. That might help. 

Learn how to take food photos:  Yeah, definitely not a strong point.  But it could be. It will be, eventually. 

Volunteer:  Find outlets to volunteer teaching, cooking, teaching cooking, working on farms and ranches, helping with events, cooking for families, cooking for people with food restrictions, cleaning. Job shadow someone talented. Ask questions. Work hard.

Learn French:  At least enough to not butcher things I'm trying to explain in the food world.  And preferably enough to get me around the streets of foodie places. Like France, for example. 
                     dude....right after I typed that, a native French speaker about my age emailed me and offered to teach me French and negotiate a price for tutoring....o.o.  Sweet!!  (Big Brother is watching...?)

Keep a clean space:  Having my room/apartment/living space clean and uncluttered will help me stay calm and clear and help with the creative inspiration process.  (This post has taken so long to write and publish, primarily because I keep stopping to clean things)

Keep the CLEAN space DECORATED: if I keep it decorated the way that I like it, it is much easier for me to keep it clean and uncluttered. I enjoy being in cohesive spaces. (Also: Give myself permission to get rid of some perfectly good stuff that just isn't my style--even if someone gave it to me as a gift or I've had it forever.)

Start a dinner group:  This is difficult with work schedules, but the concept is the same. I cook more, and better, and have more opportunity to explore new techniques and ingredients when I have other people to cook for.  Preferably other people who appreciate good food.
Develop patience. 
And a more real sense of self-beauty. 
And prioritize taking care of myself. 

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Dropping Eaves

My brother is currently in Anaheim, California, serving a 2-year mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He writes a lot of letters, particularly to my mom. I happened to see a letter sitting next to the computer in the office, and saw my name on the front page. Naturally....I peeked.

and then I laughed and laughed.

This is the paragraph the he wrote about me, to my mom:

"Ahh...Sabina.... The woman, the myth, the legend. She had better slow down before she ends up owning (the store where I work). Or dying. Or even worse...becoming a real chef... ;-) haha priorities, right?"

First, warm fuzzies on SO many levels. (1) Who knew he thought so well of me? :-) (2) Hermione reference!! (3) he also included a note to me directly (a separate letter; the above paragraph was in a letter to my mother and not intended for me to read).

His note to me read as follows:

"Sabina. sorry I cannot write much; I only have 5 minutes left. I LOVE YOU SO MUCH... Send me snacks. :-)" --Elder Robert Safsten

...........I love that kid. So much. Gotta go make some snacks. ;-)

Monday, July 8, 2013

Kitchen Wants

I'm spending this afternoon and evening charting out all the required assignments, optional assignments, and extracurricular enrichment activities for this quarter.  And that's boring.  But do you know what isn't boring?


Like these. 


Friday, July 5, 2013


once upon a time, I spent a ton of time in my kitchen. It was pretty cool or whatever (Well, lately, mostly "whatever." I only have air conditioning in one room, and it is not my kitchen. It's been crazy hot lately.)

I am currently renting an apartment, and have really enjoyed the kitchen set-up. I have these huge sliding glass doors, and a cute little porch, and some classy outdoor furniture (which I need to clean today). 

As I was hanging out in my not-so-cool but soon to be very classy kitchen (I'm working on some artsy stuff and new organization), I glanced down at the floor--and immediately noticed something that caused me great alarm.


all over the entrance of the glass doors, and trailing through to in-front-of-my-stove-space.


i immediately stopped what I was doing, and looked up various ways to kill ants, the intent of bug murder burning deep in my soul. Outside is bug territory. Inside--at least, my kitchen-- is MY territory. (Porch is the Neutral Zone). i will sometimes just catch or re-direct bugs that are in my room, or other parts of the house-- but bugs crossing into my kitchen is a trespass worthy of immediate destruction. 

I didn't like any of the remedies I found, and medical situations in my apartment disallowed the use of traditional bug poison. So, true to form, I took the knowledge that I had and mixed up my own concoction. I couldn't use soap, because that would leave my floor sticky.  I need something that evaporated quickly, and didn't leave a nasty scent.

It took a few tries before I was successful, but in the end, this is what I came up with:

Some water (about a cup) (use filtered if your surfaces are particular)

About a cup of distilled vinegar (or apple cider, but distilled is clear)
Also some vodka (or rubbing alcohol)
Mix in lavender oil, cinnamon oil or extract, mint oil or extract, oregano oil, thyme oil, clove oil, ginger oil, lemon or bitter orange oil. Garlic, I hear, also works....but I did'nt want my house to smell like garlic.

For a less expensive version that takes longer, I'm sure I could have steeped the herbs in the water instead of using all the oils, then let it sit overnight. Strain the herbs out, then mix the liquid with the water and alcohol.
But today, those bugs needed to die. Immediately. Essential oils by doTerra for the win!!

Put in a spray bottle. Spray on the bugs, and they die. Also, allow a couple to escape, follow them back to the entrance point, spray the entrance point with the mixture. Mop surrounding floor, spray lightly. If you find the hill, destroy it with either boiling water or dumping some of the mixture into it.

Note: I cannot vouch for whether the ants feel pain.  I really, really don't like killing things (I have a hard time with shellfish cookery)  or knowing things were killed inhumanely. However, bugs do not belong in the house, and one simply cannot reason with them at this point in our mortality.

The bugs are in bug-heaven, my kitchen is up to code, my floor is clean. 

And my house smells fantastic. Bonus points. 

Sunday, June 30, 2013

On Clutter...and art

I like having a house that looks like a home. For that, I need to do a number of things (including tackling the last of the boxes that are hiding in corners) but I think one of the biggest things I need to do is to TREAT it like a home. 

I am no longer in that "college student living with roommates" era. I should start acting like it.

As I sat pondering this, I realized:  I have nothing hanging on my wall, except for two metal signs hanging in my kitchen. I have nothing in my living room, and nothing in the office, and nothing in my bedroom. 

Even I don't plan on staying hear forever, there is no reason not to make it a very nice, well-put-together place. Decorations help me keep things orderly and clean. (Analogy: it's easier to live a good life when you fill it with good things instead of just focusing on not doing bad things. It is easier for me to keep my house de-cluttered when it looks cute and tastefully decorated, rather than just focusing on not having stacks of books and paper everywhere). 

I am a cluttered person not because I enjoy having STUFF everywhere. Honestly, it is usually because I am so focused on doing/getting/being somewhere else, and thinking of a thousand things nearly at once, that I just kind of blow through my life like a whirlwind. I just never make time, and I am so brain-busy that I usually don't take time to put things away right after I use them.  I frequently misplace my glasses, car keys, phone, etc. because after I am done using them, my brain is so absolutely "on to the next thing" before I even register that I've set them down. 

Working on that. 

So, first step: clean and de-clutter my house. Reward: purchase and or create nice art with which to decorate my home

Excuse me....I need to go put my books away. :-)

Friday, June 28, 2013

Photographers Are Awesome

Working on my photo portfolio for school is kiiiiiiind of kicking my trash. Pausing to take pictures TOTALLY throws off my groove, and how on earth am I supposed to get a photo of both of my hands in proper cutting position if I have to take a picture of it?? I couldn't figure out how to get the timer to function properly, and the focus was usually wrong, and the balance and flow of the picture always seemed to be "off" somehow. 

Moral of the story: 
People make comments like "Wow, you take really good photos. You must have a really nice camera!"  
I've decided that's kind of like saying "Wow!  You make really good food!  You must have an awesome set of pans!"

>.<  Facepalm. 

REAL moral of the story:  Marry a photographer, who happens to be really good at shots of edible, inanimate objects. 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Culinary School

I started culinary school eight days ago.

I love it. 


haha, yeah, I definitely feel like I belong here. The Academy, like most culinary schools, offers bakery/pastry or "hot side" (culinary arts).  Both programs are fantastic, but it's separate tuition so I had to pick just one.  I decided to go hot side. Boyperson picked me up some MTC-style flashcards from the BYU bookstore, and I hit the ground running. (I know that me being enthusiastic about something is hard to imagine. Try really hard.)  I actually got pretty far ahead of where my adviser expected I would be; she seemed kind of surprised at my action-oriented enthusiasm. All-the-things culminated in me getting a call from the main office today.  They expressed their surprise at my progress, and offered me a deal:  I could go ahead and join the bakery classes, as well, for significantly reduced tuition because I was dual-enrolled. The basics classes would count for both, so I wouldn't have to take them twice. 

<.< . . . >.>, my afternoon plans got cancelled.  I finished my first bakery chapter today. 

My life.  Is SO. AWESOME.

...I may have to pace the bakery along with culinary. Bakery is not my passion. But I am stoked for the training. And I have friends who are stoked about the idea of my kitchen filling up with sweets. ;-)

Monday, May 27, 2013

A Soldier's Recollection

Once upon a time, I was studying the Civil War. Many of the accounts of the battles stuck with me.  I personally have grandparents (however many generations ago) that fought on both sides of the war--many Americans do.  Most of my family fought for the Confederacy--well, "for Virginia, and these Confederate States"-- but I have a healthy smattering of "them d#$% Yankees," as well. Some battles list family members, by name, that met each other on either side of the battlefield. As I was pondering the 'real story' behind the war--the personal courage, the families torn apart by death and violent disagreement, the loyalty and fierce patriotism experienced by members of both armies, the death and misery and destruction of those on the battlefield--I wrote this poem. It came into my head as lyrics, sung to the tune of "O, Holy Night," which, for those of us familiar with the original song, lends a hauntingly ironic quality to the latter stanzas.

It is not clear to me whether this is one man speaking, multiple men speaking, or what side they are on.  It is not even clear to me, as the author, whether the speaker lives or dies. Perhaps the last stanza is a dying man, metaphorically waving the flag of those for whom he was fighting. Or, perhaps he is the sole survivor of his unit, proudly flying the colors as the opposing army leaves in victory, leaving him to cry for the brothers and friends dead and dying around him. Perhaps. 

I don't know. 
I don't know that it matters. 
May we remember the fallen heroes. May we not get so caught up in politics and policies that we forget the real stories, the real people, the real sacrifice and pain and loyalty and courage that the sons and daughters of God experience in the face of such conflict. 

A Soldier’s Recollection Sabina Safsten
Intended to be sung to the tune of “O Holy Night”

The mists of the rain fall gently o’er the clearing
blind to the fear and the sadness of war
The night- it has gone, the dawn is swiftly nearing
I wait with dread– what does the day have in store?

The bugle sounds, it breaks through dismal darkness
as brethren rise to greet the fateful morn
        Oh, if I die, remember me, my brother
        Remember, and do not mourn when I am gone– oh, do not mourn

The corporal arises, we wait- intense, courageous-
We calm our fears with sincerest of prayers.
Long are the shadows and great the expectation--
I see the sun and shield my face from its glare.

Blue or Grey- the enfilading gunfire
knew naught but death as it tore along its way
       Truly it was through the valley of the shadow
       of Death we plunged that hellish day

Forward we run- the enemy is shielded
by mists and trenches with head-logs above.
Headless of danger, my heart and ears are pounding
I feel the pain as a shell rips my side

The shell and shot around the men are flying
and all around lay the dying and the dead
      O’er across the field, I see the foe assembling
      “March on, boys!” he cried as all around my brethren died

The battle is o’er, the valiant men have fallen
all wait for dawn, when we’ll again resume the fight
Thousands of wounded anguished brethren calling
As I lay still through the fearful, miserable night

The foe retreats, I hold aloft the colors
I stand as tears flow for the brothers gone
         Onward, and on, the battle-cry of freedom
         Forever carries on if we remember those who’ve gone
         Our freedom will live on, and on if we remember brave ones gone

Saturday, May 25, 2013


I've spent most of my time the last few days pondering things that do not belong on the bloggosphere. However, I wanted to write an update so I don't fall out of the habit of doing so.

tonight, I came home from work a little late, so, around 830.  I wanted some ice cream, but had no chocolate fudge sauce. Seemed a little silly to eaet peppermint ice cream without any fudge sauce, if I could help it. So, I threw in a stick of butter, cup and a half or so of 60% dark chocolate chips (whatever was left in the bag. It looked like enough...or, as close to "enough" as a finite amount of chocolate could be).  Also, a can of sweetened condensed milk. Melt the butter, throw in chocolate til melted, as milk. Incorporate til smooth.
Beautiful. And easy.

So then I'm playing brain training memory and arithmetic games on my computer. that's cool. Start reading over my transcript from last night.  Finished ice cream (notice there was no mention of dinner, or lunch in my daily run-down). Took a mental nap, while physical brain stayed mostly awake.

Woke up. Turned on my music to Vocal Point, made bananas foster, put away the chocolate sauce, gathered stuff for crepes, made 1.5 lb ground beef, cleaned my fridge, macerated 3 lb starwberries, did tons of dishes.

yup.  Productive Friday night! 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Missionary Send Off

Robert left on a mission today. I will miss that kid.

He left Mom and I notes before he left, with instruction not to read it until he was out the door.

Mom opened hers, and was tearing up, and....yeah pretty much burst into tears, saying things about her stripling warrior and how awesome he was going to be, out serving God for two years full-time, and all that.

I go in the kitchen to open mine, anticipating something similar.

"Dear Sabina:  You better write me!! And cook me food!!...."  with further instruction to not mess up his Facebook. Also, that I need to work on my Lord of the Rings quotes while he is gone, as my skills of "recitation of Theodin King at the drop of a hat" need some work.

Thanks Robert, for those words of wisdom.

Godspeed, Elder. I've got to go put your first package together. 

Sunday, May 19, 2013


"Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will."  
--Mahatma Ghandi    

Food Allergies, meet Sabina.  You've been long-time companions.  She has never considered you an enemy, nor really a friend. Just a companion she received to help teach her things in this life she is trying to live. It's time that you knew her name.  I am writing on her behalf, with a message of both urgency and weighty import. 

I feel I must make you aware, Allergies, that Sabina no longer cares about you, and will do what she wants. 

"What she wants" includes being a phenomenal chef, of both the Professional and Sought-After varieties. 

This requires her to be able to be around food. Including shellfish, tree nuts, and other allergens. 
So kindly back off. 

Now, Allergies, don't think I am demanding too much of you.  She doesn't actually have to EAT the food. You can still have that part. You have been a long-time and faithful companion, and shall have at least part of your required payment for such loyal company. 

She will take the medication that you have required, and participate in ridiculous-looking protections such as medical-grade gloves (though your agreement with Mr. Latex makes it rather complicated to do so) and breathing masks. I ask you to see reason, Allergies, and you must accept this as a reasonable compromise. 

As I have stated:  you agreement to these terms is not required.  This letter is strictly for your information. Sabina will now continue to be Awesome.  It is fully expected that her sheer force of willpower* will leave you in the dust. See Ether 12:27 for further explanation. 

Sincerely No-Longer-Yours,
Mae   (Mental Alter-Ego)
On behalf of Sabina Michelle

*Willpower: an energetic ability and control one has over ones own behavior, reactions, responses, and actions.
 As we exercise faith, we willingly hand over our will (willpower) to the Lord, giving him control over our behavior, reactions, responses, and actions.  As we do so, He will endow us will the power we need to move forward and the strength we need to be happy. Cool, right?   (of course there is a lot more to think about with that, but it's a jumping-off point). 


Once upon a time, Sabina was very tired. 
She bought some crystallized ginger from the store because she was running low. She also bought some peanut M&Ms. 
She then went to meet the boy on the mountain to watch the sun set. 
forty five minutes later, she found herself sitting on the boy's couch in his living room, hanging out and eating peanut M&Ms. 
Boy went to go get water. 
Sabina saw a clear container on the table with pieces of candied pineapple. She wanted one, because candied pineapple is delicious. 
So she ate one. 
But then, it wasn't actually candied pineapple. It was the whole pieces of crystallized ginger. 
And her mouth was unexpectedly sort of on fire. 
The end. 
Epilogue: Boy walks  back in room with the water and laughs at Sabina. What college boys would keep fancy containers of candied pineapple on their coffee table? Not these college boys. 
Silly Sabina. 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Ghost of Halftimes Past

Today, I was at work, handing out crepes and strawberries like a good Foodie.  No big deal; just some of the best food people have ever eaten. The normal amount of life-changing culinary magic. 

All is well and generally normal,  when suddenly an older-side-of-middle-aged woman cries out "Hey! I know you! You played the cymbals!" 

O.O ... <.< ...  >.>...o.o

I stand there, not quite sure what to do. Kind of a deer-in-headlights reaction. Strange. 

My meta-oriented alter-ego marvels at my own reaction (or, lack thereof) for a moment. 

Woman-whom-I-do-not-yet-recognize continues her exclamatory explanation. "You twirled them around like a Crazy! Right in the middle of that really cool halftime show! Remember??" She proceeds to imitate me twirling cymbals.

                     In the middle of the grocery store. 
                                      In front of my boss. 
                                                 And The Big Boss. 

I couldn't help it-- I burst out laughing. She grinned and we chatted back and forth for a bit. 

"I always wondered what happened to you," she says. "Somebody told me you were injured! And that's why you never came back! Well, you're better now!! What are you doing here?? Go join the marching band! Are you still a student?"
I explained I was a culinary student. At that, she decided to eat the warm, paper-thin crepe with balsamic strawberries, creme fraiche, and lemon sugar that was nestled in the souffle cup in her hands. 

"I admit," she says, " This is YUMMY. Are you here all the time? I suppose I shop here, now. And I guess I will just have to watch for you on the next celebrity chef cooking show....I'll send them a clip of you in the band...."

 ..... that halftime show was in 2009...almost 4 years ago now. Must have made an impression.

Thank you, random store customer. That was extremely validating. 

Future Husband

Dear Future Husband:

The best, best, BEST way to make me feel loved, appreciated, and all the other things you want for me? I'll tell you. No, it is too much. Let me sum up. The last six and a half minutes of my life have been spent writing you a note, preemptively, to take out all the guess work.

I don't need gifts, though they are nice.
Roses are sweet, but won't suffice.
Kisses, travel, homemade dinners
Chocolate, too, they all are winners!
But number one of all my wishes?
Mop my floors, and do the dishes.

There you go, handsome. Easier than a microwaveable, pre-made, shrink wrapped little pie.
Love you already. I'll talk to you soon.


Wednesday, May 15, 2013


Once upon a time, I liked to cook. 

Actually, two parts of the same story:
A particularly handsome man-person went across the world on a study abroad. Upon his return, he brought me a plethora of exotic and expensive spices. Not the least of which was a giant, 36 g container of saffron. 

For those that don't know: that's really... rEaLLy...REALLY cool.  Saffron is the most expensive spice in the world. It runs between $2,500-$5,000 a pound--or more, depending on the variety. Saffron comes from the red stigmas of a blue crocus flower. It takes around 80,000 crocus flowers (about a quarter million dried stigmas) to make 1 pound of saffron. Hand picked, hand processed.'s expensive. Especially in the States. 

That being said, I didn't have the opportunity to use saffron much until it was gifted to me. I have since experimented quite a bit. To the point where, when another particularly handsome man-person goes across the world, I will be sending money so that he can bring me back some more spices...okay, more saffron.
During the time said boy was away, I sunk into a deep depression. I have been dealing with a lot the last few years, and I think my mind and body and spirit just kind of ran out of steam. I was having a really hard time. 

That's enough of THAT part of the story. Gosh, what a downer. Back to the handsome boy part, Sabs.  

Okay, so handsome boy-person gets home and gives me crimson gold. I start experimenting.  During this time, I gradually start feeling much better. I am working things out and getting my life back on track. I'm working really hard, and it doesn't always help, but I can tell the fog is lifting a bit and I'm feeling better about life. The depression doesn't "go away," but I'm managing it a bit better. I joked with this boy that ever since he got back, my depression was getting better, and he was good medicine. haha, right?

So today, I'm doing a bunch of research for work, and it leads me to some phytomedicine/ethnopharmacology journals. Basically plant medicine and traditional healing methods. 
REAL SURPRISE TIME:  Turns out, saffron has been used as a legitimate anti-depressant agent for centuries. Current medical journals have been studying the difference between a daily dosage of saffron and a daily dosage of Prozac. Saffron has seemed to be just about as effective. :-D  Cool, right??

Now, obviously I haven't been taking saffron in 15 mg daily dosages. But hey, at least I'm not crazy!  It really could be helping!  :-D We live in such a cool world. 

Monday, May 13, 2013

Birthdays Remembered

So I realized today that I had about a month until my birthday. I want to celebrate, but have no idea what to do. My friends come from all sorts of circles, many of them have left Utah, and I live kind of far away from the ones who've stayed, and I don't have roommates. I didn't really have birthday parties as a kid, but I've done different sorts of things since I left home for school. While it doesn't really help me figure out what to do for my birthday THIS year, it is fun to remember the last few years. 

2013: I don't know! That's what sparked this post. 

2012: Last summer, my birthday was odd. I was supposed to go on a picnic with a friend, but he had a family emergency, so instead I watched Criminal Minds. **shemar moore** Then that night, a bunch of people came over. My roommate had driven to Nevada and had bought illegal fireworks, and brought them back to Provo. We had some sort of food something or other, lit off the rocket dealio, and people said a whole bunch of nice things about me and came up with some sweet wishes. Many of which, actually came true. :-)

2011:  I lived with my cousin/bff Caitlin. A man-boy-guy-friend of the time (see 2010 "not-date") surprised me by taking me out to lunch and getting milkshakes. It was super fun. Then Caitlin surprised me by inviting a bunch of people over that night. They said lots of nice things about me and came up with really cool wishes. 

2010: I lived in Lehi, and hosted a small dance out there at my grandpa's house, just before my birthday. Everybody dressed up and it was super fun. I ended up spending most of the evening with a boy who was not my date...but that was okay, since my date was spending most of the time with the girl who was not me. We all would randomly realize that we had switched, and go back to our "dates"...and it was a little awkward...and we ended up back with the "not dates".  It was pretty hilarious. On my actual birthday, I went in to Provo and got a job. Who was there in the interview room, but the "not date" I had spent so much time with at the dance. o.o  I feel like we went out to dinner or something that night, or maybe a movie. I don't remember exactly. But it was pretty great. 

2009: Biggest birthday on record. I threw a really big dance party in the rec area of my apartment complex. Also, I had gotten 3 new roommates that day, one being my cousin/bff Caitlin see 2011--we were roommates twice.  I got to see her mom--my Aunt Rachelle--that day, which is always super fun. Also, I had stayed up all night the night before making refreshments. My coolest runner roommate Emily was the DJ; she totally rocked. (also, she had baked me a birthday cake out of brownies and andes mints (I don't like cake, and she not only remembered that, but deliberately went out of her comfort zone to MAKE me a brownie cake.It looks fabulous and tasted AMAZING). I had tons of friends show up to the party;  that made me feel really special. I think someone counted 113 people through the course of the night: married friends, single friends, wardies, roommates, pretend roommates, kids from classes, man-people, band friends, all sorts of people.   I was able to introduce my roommates to a ton of people, and we had a blast! Really attractive guys kept coming up to me and giving me hugs. Some really awesome Africans (who ended up being my roommates in 2012) taught me some sweet dance moves. Even the Bishop showed up to the party for a little while. Also, I worked at ColdStone Creamery at the time, and the cake decorator there made me a GIANT pink ice cream cake. So many people who meant so much to me were there.  I don't think I had ever felt so loved up to that point, in my whole life. :-D  Also, it was an EXCELLENT ice-breaker to welcome Caitlin back to the States and into college life. 

2008:  My roommate Cassia and I hosted a three-course murder mystery dinner, The Last Train From Paris, and invited 8 of our closest friends. We all dressed up, and got really into the characters. It was super, super fun!! I still have some of the props from that night. The people that came are still considered some of my dearest friends. This was before I'd decided to be a chef, but spending three days prepping the meal didn't seem out of place at all. I think that was a clue for me in my eventual life course. 

2007: I still lived at home at this point, so I'm not sure what happened, exactly. I probably went to work, and I think someone was in the hospital. We always joked that there couldn't be a holiday or birthday in our house without somebody injured or seriously ill. ;-) I'll have to go back in my journal and look. :-)

So, birthdays are great. It feels a little awkward for me to throw my own party, but welcome to adulthood, I suppose. The super-fun thing I haven't done yet is a bonfire...but ManFriend O'Texas has a birthday the day before mine, and HE always does a huge fire. And it's awesome. Since we share many friends, it seems silly to have two fires in the same weekend.

So, if you are still reading this, and have suggestions....I'm open to them! :-D

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Wish I Had a Time-Turner

The other day, I had a passing conversation about a cafe in the area "that you've probably never heard of," you know? That kind of place. A lot of my friends like this cafe, and it had come up as a recommendation for where to go to dinner. I don't know anyone who works there, and I don't frequent this particular restaurant. I do, however, love the food, and the set-up. It's a cool concept. 

Anyway, I had a good evening and kind of forgot about the conversation. 

On my way back home, I had just gotten on the freeway when I realized I had a missed call. Didn't recognize the number, so I called it back. 

le Me: "Hi, this is Sabina. I missed a call from this number?"
adult female voice: "Oh!  Great! So glad you called back! thisissoandsofromsuchnsuchandiwascallingtoask: do you have a job?"
le Me: "uh.....what? I didn't catch that.  Who is this?"

afv: "Oh! Sorry. This is (so-and-so), calling from (the cafe I had been talking about earlier)."
Me:  "Oh! [there were a lot of "oh!"s in this conversation] Uh, cool! what's up?"
So-and-So: "Well, we were just calling to see if you were interested--see, your name came up, and it looks like you have quite a bit of kitchen experience, and you come definitely recommended. We are looking for a kitchen manager, and we're wondering if you already have a job, or if you would be interested in looking at the position."

To my knowledge, I have never applied to this cafe before. I had no idea how they got my number or my resume and asked her to clarify said points. 
I'm still not sure how they got it. She just said that "they" said I was "highly recommended." 

My little mental alter-ego--the one that you see cartoon-ified on Facebook occasionally--was SUPER, SUPER excited. With just a titch of "say wuuuuuuuuut??" 

Unfortunately/fortunately, I already have a job requiring me to work afternoon/evenings. Were I still in my 3am-noon position, I may have actually tried to do both. And then I would have died. 

It was a flattering event. Even if it was just a small little Provo cafe. Started me to thinking that, while I'm not anybody in the culinary world yet....there's that little three-letter word. 

Friday, May 10, 2013

Watermelon Jam

I made Watermelon Blackberry Jam today. Well, I should say that I made my first round of Watermelon Blackberry jam today.

And actually, I used marionberries.

It was delicious. I will try it again with a low-sugar pectin, and will probably drain off some of the watermelon liquid about halfway through. And I will add some lime zest. I added lime juice, but I want to retain the fresher taste of the zest. I also think I blended it too much; I prefer preserves with big ol' chunks of fruit in them.

I will share the recipe. I think I will make another batch tomorrow afternoon, and will edit the recipe as I perfect it. But if I don't share it now, I'll forget.

Makes about 1 cup of jam

Making time : Appr. 45 mins...or an hour...or 90 minutes. Who knows? I was reading Ender's Game and lost track of how long I was stirring. 

Watermelon - Appr. 2 lbs or 900 gms ( Without the rind and hard seeds)
Sugar - Around 3 Tbs--err on the generous side [maybe more]
Blackberries/marionberries-- a handful (or as much as you want)
Cinnamon - A couple of pinches
Cardamom --a little bit, couple shakes of the shaker, eh. 
Vanilla powder (Can substitute vanilla bean, paste, or extract) to taste
dash of Salt

Lime Juice from half of a fruit, OR few squirts of key lime juice 
[zest from lime]

Cut the watermelon flesh into small chunks. Mix spices with sugar. You can vary the sugar and spice quantity to your taste. Simmer the fruit, sugar mixture and lime juice. The fruit will start breaking down. There is no need to add water as the water from the watermelon is sufficient. Keep stirring constantly as the mixture thickens and use a ladle to mash the chunks. [drain some water] When the mixture has reached the consistency of a jam, take it off heat and use a hand blender or a regular blender to grind it to the desired consistency. Return to heat and simmer for about 5 more minutes. Let cool and refrigerate. The jam will stay fresh for about 10 days. I hope.

This stuff is addicting.
I need more watermelon.