A Hall of Mirrors

“Perfection in the midst of an enraging crisis brings forth the variable perspectives of natural disaster at it’s finest; the tree branches, filled with woe, rattle in the wind as the stripes of rain drench almost every surface. The universe stands au naturel, and only bemused souls stare, mystified by the harm that has, ironically enough, befallen the naive.

Zoom into the eye of the storm. An innocent candle in the stormy winds has merely enough willpower to break free of it’s destiny. It calls for a certain unwavering normality, begging for every ounce of strength to remain fortified in such timeless scenarios. A perpetually binding fate reminisces, while a sealed one continually fades. And all in all, there is too much ado about this chaotic emptiness, as the lit candle is not subject to destitution.

For it’s rays are but reflections in a hall of mirrors. Transforming the dark amidst it into a bright ocean. The candle itself forms a positive fulfillment in it’s own path, as far as it can see, and as far as it can reach. After all, a mirror’s view is endless. It is not doubtful, discrete, or daunted, but steady, sincere, and surrounding. A sight that transforms the perturbed and cryptic conscience; a pure, divine light it becomes, so that not even irony can diverge it’s steady flame.

The flame must survive in the midst of this enraging crisis, for if it falters, the storm will have conquered. The wick of every candle must be lit, a service that starts only by the epiphany of one. For a burning candle inside a hall of mirrors sees only light – a constant panorama of the truth, and a reflection of itself. This reflection embodies the essence of the purpose of this light – to unite the harmonies of human character and bring forth the innate brightness in all, to love all. So, as the amount of “light” we see in others increases, our own flame will start to become more potent. After all, if flame of pure love is lit in every heart, the unified vibrance of so many can never go unnoticed.”

And I leave you all with a beautiful quote from Martin Luther King Jr., which captures my sentiments oh so perfectly:

“Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

(Written for the incidents this year in Boston & Texas).

“I’ve learned t…

“I’ve learned that things change, people change, and it doesn’t mean you forget the past or try to cover it up. It simply means that you move on and treasure the memories. Letting go doesn’t mean giving up. It means accepting that some things weren’t meant to be.”
– Lisa Brooks

Just in love with this quote right now.

A poem or two, never hurt even a few!

Well, enough about food for a little bit! After all, I really need to start living up to what I said in my intro and actually be absorbed in thoughts of such enthralling aspects of life that can inspire awe! Here is a quick poem I wrote when I couldn’t sleep 🙂

Risky Endeavors

Only a few will go, where the wind may blow,

And some unlikely heroes, will rise and follow.

The laden mystique may wrench, and turn,

But those who have strived, will have won.

The journey is long and the ways are confusing,

Change is a cheetah; so abrupt you forget the preceding.

But the weary can become stronger,

Amidst avidity that aids to conquer.

Those desolate instances do arise,

Often filled with no relinquished surprise.

Reflections and memories form a facade,

To a point where everything must be left to God.

A surrender as such does transform,

Faith, love, and hope no longer forlorn,

That come what may happen and what could,

Is what what’s best and for the good.

So take a risk, form a weird passion,

Inspire others with your enaction,

For ridding oneself of monotonous prose,

Shall help one flower as a paramount rose.

Hope you enjoyed this!

Vegan Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies!

Okay, so blogging is definitely a new thing for me, and I’ve been spending countless hours of browsing various food blogs (literally the best break from schoolwork). Recently, I’ve been on the search for an egg substitute for baking and it has been SO hard to find!

Finally, after visiting a plethora of grocery stores, getting lost in the aisles, and munching on samples of everything as I searched, I finally found a box of Ener-G Foods Egg Replacer. I picked up a box (the last one on the rack) and was sure it wouldn’t be a disappointing find. Because I have this innate need for approval when it comes to new foods, I asked the cashier if this was a good replacement. She immediately pointed to the column of what she called “weird, idk how good this is for you, stuff” (aka amino acid content) and told me she wouldn’t buy it. Well, let’s just say Whole Foods definitely did NOT get my $7 plus tax that day (even though it may still be a good substitute).

That brings me to the flax egg! After reading some vegan food blogs, I decided to try this wonderful finding and it worked! These cookies are the most heavenly, soft, and decadent cookies ever! Plus, 12 cookies were gone in about a day…between 3 people.

The perfect part is, you can’t even taste the flax-seed (some bloggers said there was an aftertaste) in the cookie because the oatmeal and chocolate chips mask the flavor!

Always have a glass of milk handy!

Always have a glass of milk handy!

Yup, that’s how I like my dinner – cookies piled high and milk on the side. Just kidding, don’t worry, I always eat a balanced, nutritional meal packed with protein and veggies before dessert…most of the time at least.

Vegan Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients:

For the flax egg (we only need 1):

1:3 tbsp ratio per “egg” of ground flax meal to water

3/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup of Earth Balance butter

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup quick-cooking oats

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

3/4 cup of all-purpose flour

a good pinch of salt

First! Make the flax egg. Add the flax meal into a small bowl and then add the tablespoons of water, stirring constantly. Whisk it around with a fork for a minute or so and place it in the fridge to “set” for about 15 minutes. DO NOT skip this step, you need it to make the perfect sealant.

In the mean time, combine the flour, baking soda, chocolate chips, and oats in a bowl and mix well. Now in another bowl, combine the butter, vanilla, salt, brown sugar, and the “egg” together. Mix in the dry ingredients together slowly, to make a dough like this.

The cookie dough...so delicious!

The cookie dough…so delicious!

This should get you about 20-24 2-inch cookies, but I made mine a little bigger, so I ended up with 12 larger ones! Baked them at 350 F for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Enjoy! I think I’m going to have another one…YUM.

Soup Trials

Ahh, the soup trials. This concept started when I realized that literally, you can throw any vegetables you want into a pot and make soup! Even the “you’re not considered a veggie” counts! Literally. Everything. So I decided hey! why not try different types of soups for lunch every day! 

And the best part? It’s a quick, easy, and tastes delicious!

Well actually, this is kind of a big deal for me because being your typical college student, I can only seem to relate those two words with Ramen orrrrrrr a bowl of Honey Bunches of Oats (which I usually eat three bowls of after a draining day. Sometimes I even tend to fall asleep in the midst of chewing on that third bowl and watching Friends… not a pretty sight.)

ANYWAY, after coming to such an enthralling epiphany one fine Tuesday, I decided to initiate my endeavors starting with spinach soup!

Isn’t this bowl cute? 🙂

I know I know. If you’re a youngin’ of this new generation, or just don’t like cooked spinach, you’re probably thinking, “EW, why am I reading this?!”

BUT STOP. Before you hit the red X at the top of this page and start pondering things like how Popeye can eat an entire can of spinach in one gulp and not gag, or how bitter cooked spinach is (trust me, you can’t notice it if you puree it!), take a minute to check out how much flavor you can actually incorporate into this soup to mask the spinach-y taste! It’ll definitely surprise you!

Sesame seeds also pair really well with this soup!

Sesame seeds also pair really well with this soup!

I would like to take a minute to address one important aspect of soup (well, my favorite aspect anyway). ALWAYS ADD CROUTONS IN! Whether you like the crunch or the “soaked up in soup” deliciousness, they bring out the extraordinary personality of soup!

And without further ado,

Spinach Soup

 Ingredients:

1 clove garlic, minced

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1 tbsp lemon pepper (this is one of the keys to masking the strong flavor of the spinach)

1/2  teaspoon salt

1/3 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1 potato, chopped

4 cups of vegetable stock

4-5 cups of spinach (depends on how spinach-y you want the soup…be daring my friends!)

salt, pepper & lemon juice to taste

Heat the olive oil in a large non-stick pot, and make sure the oil is hot before saute-ing the onions. Once the onions cook down and become translucent, add in the garlic, lemon pepper, sugar, nutmeg, and salt. After a minute or so, add in the potato cubes and saute for a couple of minutes.

Now pour in the vegetable stock and bring it to a simmer until the potato cubes are cooked through. After this, turn stove to low and add in the spinach leaves. Cook this for about 5 minutes.

Transfer everything into a blender (this can be done in batches, if there is too much soup) and blend everything together. Now, what I like to do is take a strainer (or colander) and pour the soup through it just once, so that it’s smooth when consumed!

Add croutons, sesame seeds, lemon juice (for taste), really anything, and make it a soup to remember!

P.s. Just starting out on this whole ‘food photography’ thing, so any tips would surely be appreciated!

The Spice of Life

Ahh, Indian spices… truly the epitome of flavor. Plus, they have many health benefits! (More on that later)
An array of indian spices... such beautiful colors!

An array of indian spices… such beautiful colors! I was organizing and refilling these in the morning for my mom, and wanted to incorporate this picture into a blog post!

I remember always twirling into the kitchen when I was young, pretending like I was a princess and usually bumping into my mother, who was in the midst of cooking up something wonderful. But the first step she always took; the aroma that brought me so close to the stove that I practically burnt myself every time, is what is known as vaghar.’

Oh how I loved that smell! I wish I could attach a file of that essence to this post and let you all smell for yourself. Well, maybe in the future, but for now, I guess we’ll have to stick to talking about it! (But don’t think I’m not going to put that on my to do list…)

Anyway, vaghar is the starting point of many indian dishes. Once you place your pot on a flame/stove, add some oil to it, and then the magic happens! As soon as the oil is heated up cumin (jeera), black mustard seeds, a whole dried chili & a whole stick of cinnamon, turmeric, as well as a little asafoetida (hing) is added in.

You can also throw in some bay leaves in here for added flavor! YUM! (This picture was taken from http://www.ezpzcooking.com)

As a side note, you’ll know when the oil is hot because the mustard seeds will pop!, and the cumin, turmeric, and asafoetida will sizzle! And then, the most amazing scent (to me, at least) rises from this concoction of spices.

Once you have these flavors sizzling and the kitchen smelling like yum (my mind is not coming up with better, even decent adjectives…sigh) for a couple minutes – just add whatever vegetable you want into the pot, cook for some time, and Voilà! That veggie is TRANSFORMED. If you haven’t realized already, I’m really passionate about Indian spices and food since they  represent the brightness of the culture itself. Plus, gotta love food, eh? My motto? So much food to try, so little time.

But you can take these thoughts with a grain of salt, or choose not to and just dive right into trial mode. So whichever path you choose – cautious or daring – I know you won’t regret at least trying this! (Seriously, the aroma is incredible.)

Hope you enjoyed this post!

Share a story, change the world!

Storytelling is a profession.

No, really, it is! You know that saying, “share a story, change the world”? Well, I took that saying for granted, until I met one vibrant figure.

Two words: Simply. Inspiring.

And it’s not your sit by the fire, tale-passed-down-over-generations kinda of storytelling that I’m talking about. Rather it’s about the present. The NOW. Alongside that is an alive, pulsating approach through the storytellers’ veins as he tries to convey the ultimate moral to a captured audience.

Imagine this scene: “Really! He just stared at me with wide-open eyes until I responded,” the storyteller proclaimed, as he himself acted out his words, scaring the poor guy he stared at (with enormous bug-eyes) right out of his socks!

His name is Michael, Michael McCarty. The way I would describe him is an energetic man with too many life-changing experiences – which make up the basis of his hilarious & inspiring stories.

I’ve found that this type of storytelling is an art that truly brings forth one’s character, and gives the audience a chance to understand the story at hand – whether it is one of emotion, imagination, or comedy – and see it play out directly in front of them. Watching Michael was a enthralling, once-in-a-lifetime experience that I’ll never forget. It’s like a lesson in theatre, where one portrays the steps of their allegory in such a fashion, that it is clear and relatable to everyone. Michael once said,

“One time I was telling stories at an elementary school in the Los Angeles area and after the assembly a fourth grade girl came up to me and was very serious. She said, ‘Mr. McCarty, I want to thank you for your stories. They made me laugh. I haven’t laughed in a long time.’ Then she walked away. I told the school principal about the encounter and she said, ‘That little girl’s father killed himself a few months ago.’ For that girl, at that point in time, being able to laugh was the most important thing in her life.”

There is a certain spark that these storytellers have; they can make literally anything interesting. One of them metaphorically described their library book as an eager, yet vexatiously stale (definition: annoying…yeah, I looked the word up after too, don’t worry) cookie… he obviously did not like that novel.

Anyway, I understand that some of us are not as evolved with our verbal expression skills – definitely not me. If I try to express confusion, people usually think I have to “go”… sigh. Even if you’re not good at acting out expressions like me, it’s the devotion to the story, the feeling that emanates from your words and touches the listeners’ heart that counts. Really, the only reason I’ve devoted a post to storytelling is the fact that it fascinates me as a profession, as well as the fact that it is such a genuine and simple way to make a real difference.

Stories cause people to aspire to achieve goals that often seem out of reach, but just knowing that someone else has been through a similar experience can do wonders for one’s confidence and character building.

So, if you know of someone who needs guidance, or even a little cheering up, don’t be afraid to encourage them with your stories! Next time you are multitasking with your mind running in a million places, and you bite into an unpeeled banana, (not one of my better days, trust me), translate that simple mistake into an inspirational tale (to use in a comedic moment, of course). After all, it could bring great happiness to your audience.

Through this medium of sharing one’s experiences, lessons can be learned, and exceptional ideas can be formed!

And here, I leave you all with a quote about storytelling. Hope you enjoyed this post!

“You may tell a tale that takes up residence in someone’s soul, becomes their blood and self and purpose. That tale will move them and drive them and who knows that they might do because of it, because of your words. That is your role, your gift.” 
― Erin MorgensternThe Night Circus

You’re not livin’ til you try vegan!

And these pictures/recipes prove it!

Recently I’ve been trying to eat healthier and put rigorous efficient workouts into my schedule. Not because everyone around me is doing it and they look great, though that does help, but because that way of life is just more refreshing!

Picture this: After a grueling hour of cardio at the gym (while watching Food Network…ahem… c’mon, everyone needs motivation!) what sweaty, exhausted individual wouldn’t love to come home to this?

Drooling…

From my perspective, vegan people are some of the most creative when it comes to food because let’s face it, they don’t eat all of that processed, easily available, microwavable-family-dinner-in-10-minutes-or-less junk that most Americans do – (hey, at least they get over their daily value in sodium from those frozen tv dinners…right?) Nevertheless, vegan food lovers make items that taste and look amazing – and don’t make you miss meat? (well, I wouldn’t know because I’ve been 100% vegetarian all my life, but you can decide that for yourself!)

Eating vegan often means eating soy meat (protein source)… which registers in my head as ew, ew, and more ew. The exception is if you are originally a meat-lover and a newly wed to veganism, needing to slowly but surely part from your inner carnivore. Otherwise, this concept just grosses me out. Even in terms of word choice, is it called soy chicken so that one can feel less guilty about not choosing to consume actual chicken?

The point here is not to demean the fact that soy has a bunch of benefits, no fat, low in cholesterol & sodium, and is cheap, unlike meat, it’s the fact that consumers want to feel like they are eating meat without the shame! I mean, what’s in a name? Why not just call them flavored soy strips or something instead of “steak style strips”, and leave it at that?   Eating things that give a “forever vegetarian” sensations of the  texture, feel, and look of meat… just doesn’t settle in my mind. For me, consuming something that resembles and feels like meat, but isn’t, is like an unappetizing mind trick.

(If you got the vibe from this post – my “Why I am Vegetarian” spiel is coming soon). Well, these young kids wouldn’t know the first thing about being vegetarian, let alone recognizing simple veggies! – Check out this hilariously sad video.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=bGYs4KS_djg

In addition to these various thoughts passing through my mind about veganism, keeping an open mind is what led me to this page, and I’m really excited to try these recipes out (not the ones with soy meat of course)!

(first up, obviously these potato skins…ohmygodhjdffjkllds) Also, I have recently discovered that most vegan ingredients can be conveniently found at Trader Joe’s (another reason why it’s the best store ever)!

Please check out this website for more recipes and I guarantee that your taste buds will start tingling right away!

http://www.buzzfeed.com/expresident/vegan-super-bowl-recipes

Feel free to comment and leave your thoughts on veganism!

Go for it!

Well, here I am, sitting on my couch with some soothing hot chocolate at the end of a long yet slightly amusing day. I hesitated posting this for about 5 minutes 2 hours (not. kidding.), waiting to get rid of the initial butterflies. Hopefully they leave me and my hot chocolate alone soon…

Speaking of the title of my blog, Sublime Musings is honestly the result of countless hours of “sleeping on it” and deep pondering. Actually not really… though this name did come to me in what seemed like a moment of epiphany, a spark per se! As soon as I set up my blog account, on a whim, I Google-searched “Sublime Musings” to see if this page would actually show up (once again, cue butterflies). In 0.20 seconds bam! there were about 530,000 hits!

And guess what?

The entire first page consisted of numerous blogs echoing the same title. Go figure! I’m just going to go with that saying, “great minds think alike,” and move on…

Actualllllyyyy….I will mostly likely change the title of my blog to Subtle Musings or Sublime Speculations (on another note, loving this alliteration, how about Sublime Something’s from a Stirred Soul? I’d dig that!). As you can tell, I love these two words so much, that including even just one of those in the bundle of words that sits at the top of the page (just as Humpty Dumpty devotedly sat on his wall) would be delightfully satisfying. But right now, I’m feeling as though my title just might betray me and have a  great fall… After all, was it Humpty Dumpty that fell off of the wall or was it the wall that betrayed Humpty? (Okay, moving on, since this simple matter is getting too profound).

Seriously, I think I’ve written enough about the quest for my title. Now that I reminisce, these developing musings have propelled me forward in my journey to ultimately put the ceaselessly active thoughts swimming in my head on to the internet, and literally, what perfect timing! After reading up on some of the most hilarious and inspiring blogs this past weekend (totally unplanned), the little voice in my head told me to just “Go for it!” and rack up some sublime musings onto this page.

You name it! Travelling, Spirituality, Moving Against the Norm, The Thread that Connects Us All, Reaching Out through Service (& Storytelling), Science & Healthcare, Poetry & Music,  Food! & Some Whimsical Aspects of Life are just some of the concepts that I look forward to talking about (and posting various pictures about)! Might as well call this blog Random Spiels (but that wouldn’t include ‘sublime’ or ‘musings’… so let’s just scratch that…).

Anyway, here we go! Hope you enjoy reading my blog (aka ramble, if I do say so myself).

Til next time,

A first time bloggah