Monthly Archives: December 2009

Keep Your Head Up (If it’s not too windy!)

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Thanksgiving is already behind us (I miss the pumpkin pie already) and the end of Block 4 is as visible as the temperature is freezing. Which, these days, is pretty consistent. This morning? 1 degree. This afternoon? 4 degrees, but it “feels like -16.”

Pikes in the afternoon.

Right now I’m in David Gardiner’s Buddhism class, and today had an amusing revelation. One of the main Buddhist concepts is that the realization that everything is temporary- that there is no permanent self in any person, place or thing- is essential to escape the suffering of life. When one recognizes that attachment to the impermenent pleasures that the earth provides is the root of suffering, one gains wisdom needed to achieve enlightenment.

I’m going to guess that the Buddha would love Colorado weather. Unpredictable and wild, often intense and unyielding, yet sometimes merciful and surprising. Truly impermenent, right? Perhaps it’s fitting that the anniversary of the Buddha’s enlightenment (today) arrives in the middle of a huge snowfall. If anything, it teaches one to be prepared: get plenty of vitamin c, invest in a warm coat, carry a thermos, and remember: even if the building where your class is located is not visible through the snow and wind, it’s just temporary. You’ll get there…eventually.

Brined, Grilled, and Devoured

Turkey waiting for the grill

Turkey waiting for the grill

This Thanksgiving, neither my brother or I went home to Chicago for the weekend. My brother was just beginning finals season for the fall semester of his second year at DU law school, and I would be traveling home the following weekend for a job interview and graduate school visit. So, we held Thanksgiving at my brothers place in Denver with a friend from CC and my brother’s dog.

The big question was how we would do dinner. Do we make a traditional turkey feast? Do we go low key and just make something simple? Do we relieve the stress completely by ordering in or even going out somewhere? When one is a senior in college, thinking about the life ahead where there are no dining halls or meal plans, cooking such a momentous and grand feast as Thanksgiving dinner comes as the type of challenge that needs tackling. Despite the absence of a meal plan last year as well as this year and my growing cooking abilities, this was still the perfect opportunity for my brother and me to test our “real-world” prowess.

We decided that in order to do this, we must do it right. That meant cooking enough food to feed about 15 people despite really only feeding three mouths. So, we took on the task of making all of the necessary side dishes along with cooking a 12 lb. turkey. Once we had decided what we were cooking, the next step was thinking about how we would cook everything. It was unanimous that the turkey must be done on the Weber charcoal grill. My dad sent us a video of Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass instructing folks on how to brine and grill a turkey. We followed Kass’ directions and brined overnight in a mixture of apple juice, salt, rosemary, sage, and thyme. The next morning, we removed the turkey from the brining bag and prepped it for the grill.

While we prepped the turkey and the grill, my brother continued the parade of side dishes in the kitchen. He prepared a green

Turkey in the brine bag going into the refrigerator

Turkey in the brine bag going into the refrigerator

A little charred on the edges, but it tasted SO good.

A little charred on the edges, but it tasted SO good.

bean casserole, stuffing, sweet potatoes, a cranberry crumble, and mashed potatoes. His girlfriend, gone for the holiday, had prepared a tomato pie for us as well. To top it all off, my grandmother, sad that my brother and I would not be joining the family in Chicago, ordered an apple and pecan pie from a local Denver bakery. When I say we had enough to feed maybe 15 – I’m not kidding.

The bird was miraculous. After about 2.5 hours, we had a juicy, tasty, and well-cooked turkey. We proceeded to stuff ourselves to the point of explosion, yet still had enough to feed each of us for the next week (which is exactly what happened). After a long day of cooking and enjoying a beautiful Colorado day, I could not have been more proud. I think sometimes we underestimate the things that we are capable of.

turkey2

El fin…

Hey Everyone,

It’s been a little while since I’ve updated so let me get you caught up to speed.  I finished up class for the semester last week and have been busy running around South America before I leave in two weeks.  My parents also decided to come down and visit so I’ve been busy playing tour guide. 

I am currently in El Calafate in Southern Patagonia near the border between Argentina and Chile.  Today we went to Los Glaciales National Park and saw the glaciers and it was absolutely incredible.  After nearly a month of snow and rain, it was 80 and sunny all day – which apparently is a once in a life time opportunity.  We were able to see the glacier and all of the mountains in back.  In addition, we went climbing on the glacier which was also really cool.  At one point I drank some of the flowing water from a running stream that was the deepest blue I had ever seen; it comes as no surprise that it was also the best tasting I’ve ever drank. 

Tomorrow I am headed to Fitz Roy peak that looks like a bunch of needles that jump straight out of the mountain.  Apparently it’s one of the most technically difficult climbs in the world.  Although I won’t be attempting to climb it, it still looks like an incredible hike around there.  Wednesday morning I am getting a little fly fishing in before heading north back to Bariloche to do some more fishing and make my way to Cordoba to see friends on my way back to Buenos Aires. 

What a picture perfect finish to my journey here.  Argentina has offered some incredible experiences from living in the chaotic city of Buenos Aires, to experiencing some of the most visually stunning sights in the world.  There has certainly been no shortage of ‘Planet Earth’ type views. 

In the last month I also travelled to Iguazu near the borders of Paraguay and Brazil to see the falls.  Despite the rain we spent the whole day trapsing around looking at all sorts of exotic wild life and millions of cubic feet of water over the falls.   I also on a whim / a ‘you won’t’ moment was peer pressured into going sky diving outide of Buenos Aires for a friend’s birthday.  And don’t think I didn’t make to time to visit Mendoza for a little wine and biking…not at the same time of course. 

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about this experience and I am so happy about how I’ve grown and changed throughout my journey.  I can’t explain how rewarding and fulfilling spending a significant time abroad is, especially somewhere as unique as Argentina.  I have a feeling I’ll be back before long. 

Until Next time,

Max

P.S.  I’m having some technical difficulties uploading my pictures on the sight.  For now, let your imagination and Plane Earth serve as an appropriate guide…seriously.

Snow, Updates, and Homesickness

It’s that time of year again!

DSCN1108

Since yesterday, the snow has been dancing out  the skies.  It’s a beautiful site; however, it’s not so fun in 7 degree weather.  As I sit in my room, sipping on delicious peppermint hot chocolate, I do not plan on leaving my house at all today.  As a native Oklahoman, I don’t think I’ve ever encountered single digit weather.  Yes, I’ve seen snow, ice, and freezing water–just never experienced that single digit stuff.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate this weather.  I actually adore it.  I just never want to spend more than 15 minutes in the weather.

Isn't this gorgeous?  This is the quad near where I live.

Isn't this gorgeous? This is the quad near where I live.

Now, updates.  I’m in a history class this block called American History, American Cinema:  History, Hollywood and Representing the American Past.  It’s a different type of class in which students read about historical events and then watch how film presents the historical events.  Just last week, we learned about the JFK assassination and the 9/11 events in order to visualize how film narrates trauma.

On the subject of history, I am declaring a double major in history and sociology!  It’s very exciting, because I love how the two majors go hand-in-hand.  Sociology studies societal patterns of today, while history analyzes patterns of the past.  🙂

This weekend, I baked sugar cookie people (it’s like a gingerbread person, but made with sugar cookie dough) with my friends.  It was incredibly fun, because I haven’t hung out with my friends altogether in awhile and we were able to enjoy each other’s company.  Since I’m the baker out of the four of us, I made the cookies and cut out the people, while my friends ate the cookies once they were done baking.    I wish I had pictures of the cookies, but they’re gone… 🙁

Lastly, I will be home in 1 week and 5 days!  I’m gotten quite homesick.  I left Oklahoma around mid-August, and haven’t been home since.  Regardless, I’m so excited to see my family, friends, and my luscious bed.  A month of Oklahoma (truthfully, that’s the perfect amount of time).   I can’t wait.