A Fulfilled Life

Archived | June 27, 2013 | By

Listened to the show Saturday and it was not bad. I’d just finished an article about Nietzsche, who said that “art is the great stimulant to life” and I’m with him. It’s one reason I turn the radio on every Saturday, to listen to Mr. Keillor tell stories and to Mr. Dworsky’s lovely piano playing, and Tim and Sue’s acting, and Fred’s voices and sounds, and the Shoe Band. Art, all of it. And listening to it a stimulant as well as the performing of it all must be. I’m thinking everybody practices — or can practice — some form of art, not only the painters and sculptors and dancers and musicians and writers. I mean, if we proceed with mindfulness and care and a certain eye toward a level of something, aren’t baking or mowing the lawn or even conversations forms of art?
That same article mentions Nietzsche’s idea of a “fulfilled life”, and that with such a life comes a measure of suffering along the way. It’s kind of ironic, in a way. We struggle and have pain, and express it with art, and sometimes the expressing causes a new pain. Writing a cookbook feels like art to me, but there are certainly pain-in-the-ass stretches of time. This is not a complaint; making a book is simply a challenge. I’ve had to draw some major boundaries with the kids where time and space are concerned, and I’ve spent hours some nights in a weird culinary agony about which dessert works better — rhubarb pie or apple crisp, or should I abandon dessert and go for ham balls as another appetizer — for a particular section. I’ve shut myself away on occasion, and I’m preoccupied, and I’ve canceled a number of social activities in the pursuit of what feels like art to me. Sometimes I talk to myself, and sometimes I get up to find a recipe and forget what the recipe was. Sometimes I have phone conversations with Mr. Sundberg and then we hang up and I can’t recall a thing we talked about.
I’ve always ascribed to the notion that anything worthwhile is going to involve some hard work and a bit of pain. It’s true. Raising kids, finding the right job, being in a healthy relationship, owning your own home, having a garden, or living with a dog. Just BEING can be painful and hard sometimes, but it’s worthwhile, in my mind. The trick is to make it fulfilling. So my charge to you and the summer nears its halfway point, is find yourself some art to practice, and if you’re not interested in sculpting, look at something you already do and simply kick it up a notch. Make a gourmet meal and invite people you don’t know so well over for dinner. Start a book group and read something people will argue about. Stain your deck like no other deck has ever been stained. Write a musical about your life. Write a love poem, and send it, or write it in the driveway with sidewalk chalk. Invent a dance, and teach it to your neighbors. Try making cheese. Seriously.
Or cook up a batch of these wings. They’re something else, and good year round. Consider another dipping sauce, something you concoct all on your own. With grape jam, perhaps, and sesame seeds. Never do know.
Grandpa’s Wings
Start with a 5 lb bag frozen wings.
Whole chicken wings come in three parts: the drumette (thickest and meatiest), the wingette or “flat”, and the wing tip. To prepare, hold wing down firmly on chopping block and cut at each of the two joints from the inside out -try to get between the bones. Discard wing tips or use for soup stock.
Deep fry at 375, 10 minutes for drummies, 8 for flats. When they float, they’re done. Wings can also be grilled or baked, as you wish. Dredge in 2 sticks’ worth of melted butter, combined with 1-4 T Tobasco sauce. Serve with blue cheese sauce and celery sticks.
Super Buffalo Blue Cheese Sauce
1-2 tsp white wine vinegar
2 T milk
1 T finely chopped onion
1 small clove garlic, crushed
2 T minced parsley, fresh if avail
½ cup real mayo
2-4 T crumbled blue cheese (get the good stuff)
1 T lemon juice
⅛ tsp salt
¼ tsp fresh ground black pepper
Pinch cayenne
Mix and serve with wings and celery sticks.
Good for 2 dozen whole wings (48 pieces).