Saturday, October 1, 2016

D lighted

I'm continuing my goal to finish my list of favorite things that begin with each letter of the alphabet. Now I'm listing five favorite things that begin with the letter D. There are so many of my favorite things that begin with the letter D. So to make this list easier & simple, I'm going to list the first thing that pops into my mind.

I have to confess that when I started this list, the first five things popped up easily enough. But as if often the case with me, as I started writing, things got away from me, & I wrote whatever just flowed into my mind. So, as usual, I ended up with a novella when I aimed for a list. But I can't help it. It's just a part of my nature. Sometimes, when you're inspired, the ideas just keep pouring in. And when there's a rush of inspiration, it's best to just go with the flow. Because often times, it leads to the most unexpected & most surprising, amazing places.

But I'm keeping this list short. And the great volumes it inspired will be part of separate posts that can stand on their own merits. But for now, I'm keeping this simple. So here it is, my five favorite things that begin with the letter D:

1. Donuts!

That's right! Donuts! I love donuts--all flavors from lemon glazed to chocolate, strawberry, apple cinnamon, caramel, maple bacon--yes, maple & bacon!--even the donut burger--where donuts are used in place of buns for a delicious bacon cheese burger. Genius!

I've had all sorts of flavors, & I've loved them all. I've even made what I call a celestial chicken sandwich--a fried chicken sandwich using glazed donuts as the buns to hold the boneless, crispy, golden fried chicken thigh. It was absolutely divine & decadent! The contrast of sweet & savory, crunchy & airy, rich & soft, moist & tender made for an incredible explosion of scrumptious flavor, tasty texture, & was extraordinarily delicious!

One of the most beautiful sights in the world is the display shelves of a donut shop full of so many colorful & flavorful varieties of donuts--freshly baked, warm & fragrant. I consider any deep fried sweetened yeast dough made with frosting, jam, or a glaze a donut. That includes beignets, funnel cakes, & Berliners. Any yeast dough that is baked with custard, fruit jelly, or jam filling, I classify as a donut. So that includes Danishes & sweet kolaches.

Donuts are awesome treats. And as much as I love them & wish that I could eat them all the time, I actually have them as celebratory treats, to be enjoyed on special occasions. For birthdays, I prefer to make donuts instead of cakes. The delightful sight & sweet smell of these rich, vibrant treats always put a smile on my face & make me feel happy. And I love the look of enjoyment on people's faces when they savor the tasty donuts. Donuts are simply wonderful & bring great joy. My favorite has always been the simple lemon glazed donut. But I luv 'em all!

2. Deserts

I love deserts. Which is surprising given that I didn't ever want to go near a desert when I was younger. I grew up near a beach, in a remote coastal region where there was plenty of rain, rivers, & fresh water lakes. The concept of a dry, burning, hot desert seemed like an unpleasant, foreign hellscape for me. I didn't want to live in a hot oven with no access to water. Who in their right mind wants to live in a desert? Nothing grows there! It's a barren wasteland where everything dies!

And it didn't help that most of the pictures on tv about celebrities & do-gooders begging for donations--the price of a cup of coffee--to buy food for starving people seemed to show only poor, impoverished people struggling in the harsh, desolate desert with nothing to eat. That just made the desert look even worse! Just a gawd awful inferno!

When I was a child, I used to feel so sorry for those starving desert people. But as a smart ass teen, I had an epiphany & thought: Those people don't need donations to buy food. What they need are movers & large trucks to pack up their stuff & move! It's a freakin desert! Nothing grows there! Get the hell out, people! Move somewhere where you can grow crops & have access to clean water!

I subscribed to the philosophy that if you: Give a man a fish, he eats for a day; but teach a man how to fish, & he eats for the rest of his life...So instead of sending money to those poor starving desert people, how about we send U-hauls & buses so those starving poor folks can move out of the desert & hopefully go somewhere where they can grow their own food & have clean drinking water (& where there are less flies buzzing about their faces).

When you're a teenager, you think you've got everything figured out. But life has an uncanny ability to pull the rug out from under you & knock you down, just to show you that you don't know anything at all! That you are an absolute idiot! And so it was that as a young adult, not yet old enough to legally drink, that I found myself for the very first time actually out in the desert, the biggest of them all: The Sahara!

A job landed me out there in those hot sands--where I never, ever thought about going. For most of us, it was our first time in the desert. And it nearly killed us all that first day. And the desert kept trying to kill us those first few weeks. It was a gawd awful, excruciating, horrific experience, so much worse than I had ever thought possible! For a short while, I fantasized that celebrities & do-gooders would have commercials begging people to send in donations so they could buy us some plane tickets to get the hell out of that gawd forsaken hellhole.

But what does not kill us, makes us stronger. And though we barely survived, we came out stronger, wiser, & totally more aware of the desert--its dangers & its beauty. After living through the merciless beat down from the desert & surviving its horrendous punishments, I emerged with a newfound awe, humility, & great respect for the desert, & I admired all those who lived & thrived there.

I experienced an unexpected revelation. Once I adapted to survive in the desert, I came to enjoy the desert & was quite astonished to discover its many wonders. The desert is a mystical & magnificent, terrifying & stunning place. And since then, I've visited & explored many other deserts for their beauty & their marvels.

The desert is a spectacular place. If you respect it & learn to follow its rules, you get to see & experience some wondrous & sensational sights--vivid colors, astonishing formations, unique life forms, & exotic landscapes. I could see now why some people choose to live in the desert. There's an allure there--an adventure & a special, exciting experience for those who come to learn about, appreciate, & understand the many amazing aspects & the wildness of the desert. There's no other place like it.

3. Dancing

I love dancing & I love dance music. That's right. Dancing & dance music. I grew up in a region that celebrated & embraced dancing. Whether it was for church performances, holiday celebrations, cultural festivals, school activities, or just large feasts & gatherings--even small get togethers--everyone danced. Even locals who didn't do social dancing for religious reasons would dance in folk & traditional cultural dances & festivals. From the oldest to the youngest, we loved to dance, & we loved music & singing & songs.

It wasn't until I visited the big city far away that I learned that not everyone danced nor celebrated dance, music, & songs like we did back home. It was quite a shock to learn that some people just don't dance. For us, dance was a natural part of life--as natural as a heartbeat or breathing. Dance was the rhythm of life.

As child, one of my favorite movies was Beat Street (1984), which told the story of break dancers battling it out on the city streets with their awesome dance moves. We were blown away by the incredible dance moves & fantastic routines. All the kids in the neighborhood wanted to be break dancers, so we copied & practiced a lot of those break dancing moves on the street corner, on a cardboard box, just like the movie! We even formed a crew & successfully battled other dance crews from different nearby towns & distant villages. We were awesome! We were even crowned champs at local & regional dance competitions!

So you can imagine my complete dismay & utter disappointment to finally visit the big city far away (San Francisco), only to discover the heartbreaking truth: There are no break dancers battling it out in the street corners! Only prostitutes, junkies, crazy & homeless people prowled those city streets. And my crew & I certainly couldn't make a living being street dancers. So much for that childhood dream job. At this point, our crew had a better chance of being space cowboys or ninja assassins & earn a better living than being break dancers out on the street. Talk about the end of childhood innocence!

The crew stayed together for a few more years til teen hormones & changing perspectives & growing up led to our mutual dissolution. We had other things on our minds now. But I still held on to my fantasies of being a dancer. I figured that maybe I could be a background dancer for Janet Jackson during her Rhythm Nation to janet. years (1989-1993). At the very least, if I couldn't be dancer, then I wanted to be her official chesticles inspector.

I still have an affinity for Janet's vintage work, because her songs were the ones the crew & I danced to back in the day: From her Control (1986) album, we won our first official dance contest with When I Think Of You, & The Pleasure Principle; from Rhythm Nation (1989), we dominated the break dancing scene with Miss You Much, & Rhythm Nation; from janet. (1993), we became champions for the last time & dissolved the crew soon after winning the contest with That's The Way Love Goes, & If.

There were plenty of other artists & great songs that we used to dance to, but back then, Janet was our go to. And we wanted to try new moves & create new routines based on the excitement & energy her songs inspired.

After the crew broke up, we still hung out. We still danced. We just didn't compete anymore. We were growing up with new responsibilities & new dreams to pursue. But we still danced at parties & gatherings. We still dance whenever we manage to get together over the years. And while I've got nothing against slow dancing, I much prefer fast dancing & fast dancing music for the energy & for fun.

My eldest sister introduced us to dance music while doing chores. It motivated my two brothers & I to work faster & have fun. To this day, I play music when doing chores--cleaning, folding, washing dishes, clearing out the clutter, I've got to have music on. And while I'm waiting for the food to finish cooking, or baking, or grilling, I pass the time by playing music, singing, & dancing.

In the car, I have to have dance music to keep me awake & energized for the long drives, bopping my head & shoulders to the beat while singing the songs. Sometimes, I forget that other people can see me singing & dancing in my car. It's only at the stoplight when I notice them smiling & waving at me that I realize that they can see me, even behind my dark sunglasses. So I smile back & keep on jamming.

To this day, when I'm at a club or party, if there's good dance music, I'm going to dance. It's one of the traits that makes me popular with my female friends & other women who love dancing & having a good time. Even when I'm home alone, I'll get the urge to play some music & sing & dance along because it's fun. My nieces, nephews, & other kids in my life love it when I join them & dance to silly or fun songs, because it's all about having a good time & enjoying yourself in good company. You don't have to be the best dancer or a professional to enjoy good music. You just need to love good music & have fun. Because dancing is an expression of joy, a celebration of life. So do what makes you feel happy, & do what makes you smile, laugh, & have fun!

4. Diatoms

I am fascinated by diatoms! Diatoms are unicellular algae that may sometimes form colonies, & they have unique silica cell walls that let in light for photosynthesis, creating energy from light. What makes them so beautiful is that they come in so many different geometric shapes! Squares, circles, triangles, so many different mathematical patterns & designs with new species being discovered all the time! I love their spectacular geometric shapes & varied colors! They are living art! Masterpieces of science & math! And they are an important & mysterious component of life! And they even glow like fairy light in the dark seas from external stimuli like rough waves, oars or hands splashing the seas, or just fish passing by causing diatoms to light up their trails in the water.

Every day, new species are being discovered out of the countless numbers that the scientists believe could possibly exist. They are found all over the world wherever water is present--from oceans to lakes to moss growing on trees to the inside of other creatures who depend on diatoms for food & energy production. Diatoms are estimated to be responsible for 20 to 25% of all organic carbon fixation on the planet (using light to transform carbon dioxide & water into sugars). In other words, every fourth to fifth breath of oxygen we breathe in comes from diatoms! Diatoms are the single most important, primary carbon fixers, removing carbon from the atmosphere & converting it into energy! Diatoms fix more carbon than all the tropical rainforests in the world!

The mysterious diatoms are thought to have appeared in the time of dinosaurs, possibly even earlier after the massive Permian Extinction (The Great Dying--the single, largest mass extinction 250 million years ago that wiped out 9 out of 10 marine species & 7 out of 10 land species). And diatoms survived the extinction of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago in the KT event. Since then, diatoms have spread all over the world, especially in the poles, where the massive blooms of proliferating microscopic diatoms are visible from space!

Diatoms are the base of the marine & freshwater food web. They are a huge component of the phytoplankton that float on the ocean's surface & feed so many animals. Many creatures depend on the diatoms for food & energy. Because diatoms use light & chlorophyll like plants to produce energy (sugars), many living organisms depend on diatoms to survive--mollusks, fish, & krill that feed whales, seals, fish, & penguins are some of the many animals that depend on diatoms.

Diatoms are responsible for 40% of photosynthesis in the oceans. Without them, much of the life in the oceans would not exist. If there is enough sunlight & available nutrients, diatom blooms support massive numbers of different species & keep other harmful algae species away. They keep oceans, freshwater lakes, & ponds clean, so long as the conditions are favorable for their growth, particularly the abundant availability of iron & silica.

Other important uses of diatoms are their unique characteristics that make them a key biological indicator of environmental changes. Certain diatoms only live in certain areas under certain conditions. This helps scientists track water quality changes & history--think algae blooms & red tides. The presence or absence of diatoms & which diatoms are present or absent are good indicators of what's happening to the waters.

On a morbid yet fascinating forensics note, the presence of diatoms in a body can help determine whether a person drowned/died in a particular lake or if the body was moved there from another location. If a person drowned, diatoms present in the body & similar to the ones in the water would confirm drowning. If the diatoms in the body are different from those found in the water (or even the absence of diatoms in the body), then the person died/was killed elsewhere & the body was moved to the current location. And since different diatoms are found in different locations & grow at different rates, it's possible to locate the site where the person died/was killed. Pretty neat, huh?

Even after they die & leave their silica shells behind, diatoms are crucial, because their remains are used to make filters, abrasives (like toothpaste!), organic pest control (diatomaceous earth), & most important, their compacted remains are responsible for most of the fossil fuels we rely on heavily today--that's why oceans & places once covered by seas (like North America) are so rich in fossil fuels! So it's diatoms, not dinosaurs, that make up fossil fuels! Their light capturing shells are used to increase solar panels efficiency by 50% compared to other solar panels that don't utilize diatom shells! Diatom remains are necessary components in things like paints, soundproofing, water filters, & cleaning up toxic spills!

Yes, diatoms are useful & are an essential building block for life. But for me, diatoms are just absolutely gorgeous! They are natural works of art! Diatoms are nature's living jewels, biological gemstones, one of the most beautiful mathematical & artistic forms in all the world!
Art of Diatom Algae by Ernst Haeckel

5. Dip & Dunk

I like to Dip & Dunk, & I'm not talking about dancing or basketball. I'm talking about dipping & dunking food. And I like to dip & dunk just about anything. Mostly for the unique & awesome flavor combos. But also, I like the contrasting & resulting mix of textures.

There's the usual: I like to dip my chips in delicious dips--guacamole, beans, cheese, & chili; dunk my donuts into hot sweet beverages--hot chocolate, coffee, cider, & tea; dunk my cookies into warm milk; dip my cut veggies into ranch dressing or peanut butter. Meat, fish, & cooked poultry also get dipped, dunked, & devoured.

Then I start to raise eyebrows when people see me dunk my sandwiches into soup, broth, or sauce. I like to dip my slice of pizza into some tomato sauce, melted garlic & parsley butter sauce, or even ranch or thousand island dressing. I like to dip my sashimi in soy sauce. Some say that the best sushi & sashimi don't need soy sauce. But sushi & sashimi taste so much better & richer when dipped in a delightful sauce to make for an extraordinary, sensational taste.

It's always a joy to make new culinary discoveries when mixing different foods & dips. One of the most surprising was when I dipped meatballs into a raspberry sauce. The sauce was left over from pancakes that morning. I was going to make a tomato sauce when I saw the raspberry sauce & inspiration came to me. I love sweet & sour chicken & pork. I also love sesame chicken & pork. I love that fantastic combination of sweet, sour, savory, & tangy. So I just went for it. I dipped a meatball into some raspberry sauce & it was absolutely ambrosial! What an incredible melding of flavors!

Even my friends who came over for dinner--& initially expressed disgust & refusal to try my creation--took a bite of my meatballs & raspberry sauce, & they immediately admitted that the combination was ingenious! It was so good that they stuffed themselves full & finished off all the sauce. The next day, I experimented by dipping the meatballs in grape jelly, & they were very tasty, too. Pretty much any fruit jam, jelly, or sauce makes a great dip for meatballs.

I've learned that if I just go with my instincts & dip or dunk what I want, the results are surprisingly pleasant & sometimes, exquisite! So I dip & dunk whatever I feel like. If it doesn't work out, then at least I know. I've learned that it's sometimes best to go with your gut, even when everyone else is telling you not to.

Everyone's got their own tastes & preferences. And that's okay. But it's important to make up your own mind & not let others pressure you into conforming, keeping you from being yourself. Don't let fear & the naysayers make your choices for you. Do your own thing.

Some say that nacho chips & ranch chips don't need dip. But I dip those chips anyway. And sometimes, I even dip nacho or ranch chips into sauce or soup, instead of using the usual dipping crackers. I've used potato chips, & corn chips, & raw veggies like spoons when I dip them in chili or into mac & cheese. It may not be healthy, but it sure is mighty tasty! Corn chips on chili is awesome! Corndogs & sandwiches dipped or dunked in chili or gravy are decadent & delectable!

I dunk scones, cupcakes, sweet rolls, biscuits, buns, buttered toast, & even pancakes into my hot sweet beverages. With or without butter, jam, or frosting, most baked or fried sweet goods get dunked & dipped to make them into even tastier treats. Cakes, pretzels, & cornbread also get dunked & dipped. And yes, I've even dunked croissants, Danishes, & waffles! I've dunked these sweet treats into my milkshake & melted ice cream, & they were absolutely scrumptious! Shoot, even nacho & ranch chips take on a whole new amazing flavor when dipped in milkshake or ice cream.

Of all the foods that I've tried over the years, the most dunkable & most dippable are the potato & sweet potato, especially in their fries or chips forms. I've dipped & dunked fries & chips in everything from salad dressings, gravies, egg salads, tuna salads, stews, soups, both sweet & savory sauces, chili, custards, chocolate fountains, milkshakes, jams/jellies, even mousse, pie fillings, & yogurts. And they were all perfectly edible & pleasing.

But as exotic & crazy my dipping & dunking tendencies are, I do have a fondness for the simple things. My favorite dunked treat is just plain buttered saltines, toast, or crackers, dipped in hot sweet tea, just long enough for the butter to melt & the edges of the crackers or toast to soften. The combination of different tastes & textures--sweet, salty, hot, soft, crunchy--is delicious & divine!

I like being a dipper & dunker, because it makes food taste so much better. Some people don't dip or dunk. But that's okay. Because when it comes to life, you've got to do what's best for you, so do what makes you happy. So dip, dunk, or don't. Just be you & do what you love, & life becomes a much better, more enjoyable, very wonderful, & delightfully delicious experience.

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14 comments:

  1. Delightful doings!

    Donuts! I like the occasional fancy one, but mostly just the plain old Krispy Kreme® glazed is my favorite. It is always a special treat to see the machine in action as the donuts wend there way through from forming, proofing, frying, and glazing.

    Not a dunker myself. [shudders] Sorry. But dipping, yes! Chips and salsa! Hummus and pita! Fries and ketchup with a few drops of Tabasco®!

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    1. LX, That Krispy Kreme machine is awesome! It's engineering & art in culinary creation! And plain glazed is one of my fave flavors, too!

      My fave dip for fries is a mix of ketchup & mayo--sometimes with a tiny part of mustard, & minced pickles for a special sauce for guests & kids. I leave the hot sauce on the side, in case the guests & kids don't like the hot stuff, or they can have as much or as little as they want.

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    1. MJ, That pic is a reminder of why donuts are a treat, not everyday food, because they're highly addictive! And addiction is not pretty!

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  3. I am such a twat.... I read the first paragraph of your second 'D' as 'desserts' [it was a natural follow on from donuts] and became quite confused.... anyhow, I will now finish reading....fried chicken with donuts though???? I can't have read that right...
    Sx

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    1. Scarlet, I read the second item as "dessert", too, for the very same reason the first few times when I was working on this! And I'm the author!

      You read fried chicken donut sandwich right--it was a divine & delectable inspiration--it's why I call it a celestial chicken sandwich, heavenly & delicious! I've had crispy fried chicken sandwiches with biscuits, buns, even waffles. Donuts were just the next decadent, rich step.

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  4. I'm with you on the dip, dunk, and dance thing! And thank you for the information regarding the Diatoms.
    Sx

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    1. To Dip, Dunk, & Dance make life fun! And Diatoms are pretty awesome & fascinating. Glad you liked them! I especially like it when they glow in the dark seas as a reaction to stimuli--being tossed about or disturbed by waves or hands just swishing about the waters. The fairy glow makes for a beautiful & magical light show!

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  5. ....but NO to dipping buttered toast in tea!!! I think I have said this before.
    Sx

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    1. Is it proper to dunk those Cornwall scone-jam-cream thingies?

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    2. NO!!!! Please don't do that Mr Lax, you will be frowned at.
      Sx

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    3. Dipping buttered toast into tea is an absolute pleasure & delicious delightful treat! Knowing that dunking buttered toast into tea at tea time might cause a scandal & possible upper crust ladies to faint makes it even more sinfully delicious!

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  6. The US seems to have as many Different types of Donuts as there are Diatoms! I love how pretty they look (Donuts and Diatoms, but I'm just talking about Donuts here), but I'm always Disappointed with the taste (at least with the UK versions). I'd be Delighted with a good old jam-filled funfair or seaside Doughnut!

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    1. IDV, Jam filled donuts are awesome! Berliners, jam rolls, & jelly donuts are all varieties of delicious sweet yeasted dough deep fried golden & filled with jam!

      There are a lot of varieties of donuts here--probably because America encourages variety, innovation, & creativity--all sorts of neat new creations & mixes/adaptations of different old varieties. As long as it tastes good, Americans will eat it! It might not be healthy, but it sure is delicious! And I love the spectacular displays of colorful, whimsical, fantastic donut (& diatom) varieties!

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