Field particles.

These are things I dislike:No pictures please

  • Pork rinds
  • Rigid ideology
  • The smell of fish sauce
  • Waking up early
  • Rachel Ray cookbooks
  • Donna Tartt novels

It isn’t a comprehensive list, just a few current, top-of-mind thoughts. I include them here in case you’re thinking of leaving, in case one of your New Year’s resolutions is to declutter your inbox by drawing a firm “Keep/Toss” line, and you haven’t yet decided where to put me. Knowing these things about me may help make up your mind.

I should also list a few of my likes, I suppose, even though they’re pretty predictable if you’ve been here a while:

  • Dark chocolate
  • Wines from Burgundy
  • The sound of my children laughing
  • NPR
  • Bernard’s tamales
  • Hipstamatic

Oh, and coffee. I do like coffee. I received an Aeropress for Christmas, and it makes the most delicious coffee. If you, too, like coffee, but you decide you’re ditching me, then consider that tip a parting gift.

It is ok if you decide our likes and dislikes don’t match, decide that you are leaving. I will miss you, but believe me I’ve done my share of de-friending, really I have. So I understand the drill, start to finish, from both sides. Sometimes simplifying is the only way to feel sane or safe. It is how things must go, sometimes.

As I get older I see it as funny (meaning peculiar) how we all, each and every one of us, walk around like horseshoe magnets, collecting friends, followers and belongings as if they were iron shavings so we can craft a picture of our choosing, using our polarizing ends to move them around.

We get into trouble, though, when we have to deal with other magnets that have powers of their own. Whose magnet will have more pull, who will get the most shavings? How will we handle that whole positive-negative thing, when you pull my picture in a different direction? It’s all a little overwhelming, honestly, the reality of the physical laws, the mysteries of quantum physics, the implausible sub-atomic quirks that magically keep the whole thing spinning.

Sometimes it’s easiest just to avoid the whole magnet-to-magnet endeavor, to cull or ignore anything different or challenging, to stick merely to collecting the nearest iron shavings, those easily attracted to our pull.

Once, when I was much younger, I repelled grapefruit and Brussels sprouts. I was not alone. All humans, it seems, are born with a preference for sweet tastes. Bitterness, to infant taste buds, sends a biological signal of poison.

Over time, though, sweet and bitter have become good companions for me, the two of them together. Every poison may be bitter, perhaps; but not everything bitter is poisonous.

So I’m not ruling out pork rinds for eternity. Already I tolerate the awful small of fish sauce for its wonderful addition to flavor; I’ve just learned to avoid inhaling when I pour it. And though rigid ideology probably doesn’t ever stand a chance, Rachel and Donna might grow on me.

Maybe you and I can be like that, too. Maybe, even if we have conflicting likes and dislikes, even if today’s our last hurrah, we could be a couple of magnets, making pictures of our choosing, together.

Happy week.


FBroccoliood | Week of January 12, 2015

It occurred to me to have an all-French menu this week. I also thought of having an all-Algerian one. In the end I picked neither. The right to be me is mine, a great privilege for which I am thankful. This week we’ll have a few things I like, one of which even includes fish sauce.

Pasta with Broccoli, Cauliflower or Broccoli Raab (Mark Bittman)

Easy and good. Although I’ll make two batches, one with broccoli and the other with broccoli raab. Parmesan all around.

Thai Stir-Fried Chicken with Chile Jam (David Lebovitz)

Lebovitz adapted a classic recipe from Simple Thai Food: Classic Recipes from the Thai Home Kitchen by Leela Punyaratabandhu to simplify the process for weeknight cooking. His suggestions for substitutions are good, and, as a bonus, his posts are always pretty to look at.

Couscous with Lamb Stew (Gourmet, via Epicurious)

So, this is a recipe for a weekend day, a day when you have time for hours-long simmering. And this is a fun recipe to read in its 1954 form: no California bay leaves. No, no, no.

CThe Hatchorn Chowder with Green Chiles (Vegetarian Times)

I don’t have fresh corn from last summer waiting in my freezer; regular frozen corn will do just fine. I do have frozen roasted New Mexico green chiles, though, and I’ll be using those instead of fresh Anaheim or poblano. Look in your freezer section for Hatch chiles if you want to make a similar substitution.

Salmon with Lentils (Barefoot Contessa in Paris)

Easy and good. C’est tout.


All words and images belong to me, Jennifer Balink. If you’d like to borrow, please ask first.



  1. Staying…I appreciate your writing and point of view. I like pork rinds, enjoy coffee too much, and am not fond of waking early.


  2. Hmmm… I’ve never eaten a pork rind and I like the smell of fish sauce. And, about Rachel Ray. Once we stood next to each other about an hour while I was working. She was very nice to me. But, she was the nearest possible thing to a chain smoker without really being one. I like the sound of your children laughing — oh wait, what? My children. I meant my children. 🙂


  3. We are indeed sisters. I spent the day trying to finish a post, I had started yesterday. Aside from Facebook and blog notifications, I avoided reading anything else… until the post was done. And, hmm, here we are, saying the same things again. My is more pointed, perhaps a bit passive-aggressive (as there are certainly some people who I think will read my post as directed at them; it is). But, the same message is in both of our writing this week. And I love being in your company. For real.

    I’m with you on pork rinds. I disagree about Donna Tartt but don’t think she’s edited well. I love grapefruit (in fact, have a glass of fresh squeezed juice, as I type!). Love good coffee, but stick to decaff… I know, don’t say it. Love NPR, Children laughing and would love to taste Bernard’s tamales. Separated at birth, sister.


  4. Triplets at birth?! But how could that be? Today I’m polishing a post (not sure if this one will survive the polishing phase) connecting high fevers, sugar intake, and the dream where I kill the beta fish. It doesn’t seem related, to itself or to yours or Dawn’s on the outside, I know, but something about what sticks to us and what doesn’t and how inadvertent so much of it actually is. But in the end maybe what seems inadvertent, what magnetically sticks more or repels more, maybe it’s telling us something about ourselves, right?
    And I’m so with you on waking up early and rigid ideology. The worst. Tartt has been on my to-do list so no opinion there. And I’ve never had Bernard’s tamales but the rest of your love list I could take to a desert island and call it vacation. Sigh. I promise to invite both you and Dawn if I do.


  5. Are you totally ruling out chicharróns from a heritage breed locally-raised pig? If so, I’ll part company with you on that one. Delicious!

    I like this very nice version of the “Please, please, please unfriend me” message that I keep toying around with posting on Facebook for all the people I grew up with that I keep around for sociological research purposes only. But I’m not leaving here. I look forward to this every week!


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