Brain Pickings

I’m so excited about this website that I can’t even draft a legitimate post about it. I just want to keep exploring its depths and listening to its audio files. Most importantly, it has inspired me to get busy on my own passions, and any time I stumble across something that gets me moving, I am eternally grateful. And not honoring that ambition is an affront to the source of inspiration, so without procrastination, here is Brain Pickings, a rich blog full of interesting posts and insightful articles that will help launch your 2014 resolutions into full gear.

If you’re not sure where to start, I highly recommend listening to this talk from Debbie Millman, a short, encouraging piece on doing what you love.

Halloween Muffins

I finally stopped drooling over the recipes in my copy of Grain-Free Gourmet and tried one. The results were…unexpected!

One day last week I woke up with a craving for blueberry baked goods. Out of the blue (har har), I just had a hankering. So I settled in with Grain-Free Gourmet and flipped through to the recipe for blueberry muffins.

The recipe calls for 2 cups of blueberries (fresh or frozen), and I had a big resealable bag of blueberries in my freezer, from this summer when my mom, grandmother, and I visited Wild Blueberry Land in Columbia Falls. World’s largest blueberry here, folks!

World's largest blueberry

Two cups seemed like an awful lot, but I figured I’d go where the recipe led me. It also called for simmering the blueberries on the stove top, which again seemed peculiar, and a tad too time intensive for my norm. I grew a bit impatient once I had all my other ingredients mixed and the oven preheated, and I was just waiting on the blueberries to cool. I decided to mix the wet ingredients and the dry, and then stir in the blueberries to that afterward.

The results were surprising.

Booberry batter

Midnight black batter! If you’re looking for something that fits the spooky Halloween bill, these muffins are it. No food coloring required to make these booberry babies!

Dark black muffins

I can’t get over how dark the batter turned once I added the blueberries. These would be a festive addition to a Halloween party spread. For an extra special treat, you could even top these with a very simple meringue frosting using honey, egg whites, sea salt, and a dash of vanilla. I bet this SCD cream cheese-style frosting would also be great. Throw in some red and yellow food coloring to make a striking shade of orange that will really bring out the Halloween effect.

Black muffins for Halloween

Happy Halloween!

Cookbookery

For more than a year, I’ve secretly dreamed of finding a secondhand copy of a gluten-free, grain-free, paleo, or Specific Carbohydrate Diet cookbook. At every thrift store I visited, I’d scour the paint-chipped nonfiction shelves, hoping to find something I could use sandwiched between In the Kitchen with Rosie: Oprah’s Favorite Recipes and Dr. Atkins’ New Diet Revolution. Seriously, if you’ve ever browsed a Goodwill’s bookshelves, you know there are more than enough copies to go around.

in the kitchen with rosie

Once I found a copy of The Maker’s Diet, the gateway book that sparked my interest in alternative healing methods and ultimately led me to Breaking the Vicious Cycle and my SCD revolution. I hefted the volume and considered picking it up for my sister (who also suffers from Crohn’s), then set it back down when I realized I could give her my neglected copy. I continued to scan the shelves with each trip, despite my failure to find anything remotely usable in my kitchen. You know…just in case.

A few weeks ago, my patient search was rewarded with a dog-eared, food-stained copy of one of the most quintessential SCD tomes.

SCD cookbook

Could I have purchased this book online? Certainly. But where’s the fun in that? I was happy to rescue this unwanted book from the purgatory of a thrift store bookshelf. I can only hope that the book’s previous owner healed her body enough that she no longer needed her copy. Or else she memorized her favorite recipes and decided to pass along the wealth of knowledge and deliciousness to someone else. What does it matter? I am eternally grateful to whomever donated it, and will think of this unknown donor fondly with every helping of Thai Chicken Wraps or Sesame-Dijon Crackers.

National Nut Day

It’s National Nut Day! Isn’t it crazy how there’s pretty much a day for everything? In honor of this nutty holiday, pop open a can of salted cashews and enjoy this scene from one of my favorite mockumentaries, Best in Show.

Finding Your Passion

My productive morning of cleaning was followed by an afternoon of listless soul-searching and Internet research. Lately I’ve been reading career books like What Color Is Your Parachute?, Do What You Are, and Do What You Love, the Money Will Follow. I’ve also been taking several career tests, such as this Career Interest Game that uses Holland codes to help you assess what kinds of jobs might interest you. It’s not really much of a game so much as a scenario. Given descriptions of six different groups of people at a party, you are asked to pick the top three groups you would gravitate toward. Your choices reveal your three-letter Holland code and the associated careers for that code, giving you some insight into other jobs you might like to pursue. I also found a Holland code quiz that is a bit more straightforward, and perhaps more accurate—with the game, I selected IAR (Investigative, Artistic, Realistic); with the quiz, my result was IAC (Investigative, Artistic, Conventional). Either way, the top two were IA, and some further research on a Myers-Briggs personality type forum revealed that testing highly as “investigative” is a common thread among those with my personality type (INTJ).

Why all this searching? In general, I like what I do, but I can’t seem to shake that feeling of wanting more—a career that’s a bit more challenging and innovative, that lets me constantly learn and develop, and allows me to make some positive impact on the world, in some way changing lives for the better. Is this too ambitious? I don’t think so, and after I viewed this mesmerizing TED talk from economist Larry Smith, I couldn’t help but feel inspired. I may still be stumbling and groping blindly in the dark, but at least I know there’s a light switch somewhere around here. And with enough effort, I’m bound to strike it.