Chayote and Ramp Slaw

Are any of you control freaks too?  It's not that I crave organization in every aspect of my life; my room is a hot mess, I can never find a pencil when I need one, and John's fridge is just... I don't even know.  That one's not really my fault.  But if I were a compulsive enough organizer then I would be on that.  I mean, I've reorganized the fridge at home before, and it stayed that way for a while.  And if my world becomes chaotic enough, if the piles of clothing are too high, and a distinct layer of bobby pins and paper clips has formed amidst the piles of graded work on my desk, I will drop whatever I'm doing and clean everything.  I do mean everything - put away clean clothes, put dirty ones in the hamper, maybe even take them down and put them through the washer and dryer if I'm feeling entirely ambitious, re-sort all of my drawers and shelves, put everything from my desk back in its place, then wash said desk to remove the layer of dust and grime that somehow formed beneath all the mess...

All this is to say that I require order on some level, in certain places at certain times.  And there are certain battles that I will always fight, even at 2 AM, because I need to try, at least.  My room will inevitably become chaotic again, as I care less and less about putting my jackets away in the closet and filing my papers away in their respective folders.  I know this to be true and I accept it, because I able to trust that I myself will clean it again.  My emails and detailed packets of information I put together for crew will be ignored, but I still send them, and put effort into them, because it's what I need to do to feel as though I have some control.  Especially nowadays when I feel out of control quite often, when I feel like I don't belong anywhere, it's the little battles that are important to me.  I take satisfaction in the fighting.  Maybe that's not healthy - I feel like I've been fighting too much, in a real way, arguing just to lash out rather than cleaning to channel that aggressive energy into something I can be proud of.

I feel a little like Harry Potter, except I'm not a wizard or The Chosen One.  I just feel so angry, all the time.  But not really, I'm kind of exaggerating.  I'm still me, bubbly and making stupid jokes that no one thinks are funny until I prod them and make them feel badly that they didn't laugh the first time, trying to save the world one cookie at a time, taking pictures of my friends making silly faces, and being entirely too cuddly for any one person to stand for very long.  I s'pose I'm just feeling homesick for the home that won't be mine for much longer, maybe, depending on when the house sells, which is up in the air.  And that makes it worse, since it could happen tomorrow or two years from now.  I'm also homesick for all the time with my family I'm missing while being away, all the new things the little ones are learning and doing, how they're growing, and I'm missing all of it.  I want to be there and take care of them, I want them to feel like I'm the big sister they never had, not just their older cousin they see sometimes when she comes home from Chicago.  I don't want to be that, but that's what becoming.  I'm almost 20.  That's just... I don't even know what to think about that.



What am I even doing with my life?  I'll be working in Chicago this summer, 40 hours a week, basically doing project management and operations for a research accelerator affiliated with the university.  Which is all well and good, because, as I've said, I do like order, especially concerning tasks that are meant to be ordered - and I'm good at it.  I'll give myself that.  I can coordinate people and projects like nobody's business (Ha, pun, because this is a business... Okay I'm done.)  But it's not like I'm creating anything of my own power, my own will or body - I'm just making sure the right hand knows what the left's doing.

And all this, of course, comes back to the kitchen.  I am in control with a knife in my hand and vegetables pressed beneath my fingers.  That is where I create the lovely, beautiful bites, when the other pieces of my day-to-day life are scattered all around me, at least I can make myself a meal.  Composed, or attempting that ideal, with the promise that next time, I will be better, there'll be a touch less acid and a little more sweet, another texture to round out the mouth-feel.  Thus this slaw came into being, one afternoon last week, in my wanderings around the grocery store.  My arms overflowed with produce (And I bought a basil plant.  Say hello to Frederick Ronaldo III.).  I set my bounty down onto the counter, and let my food take shape without much conscious effort.  It's a very simple dish, but so satisfying.  That night I ate it with some simply cooked lentils, finished with olive oil and a crushed clove of raw garlic, and the next with some smashed plaintains and mustard greens.  It's a such simple pleasure to bring a meal to life.

Chayote and Ramp Slaw

1 chayote squash, sliced into quarters lengthwise
3 ramps
1 handful cilantro
1 lime
1.5 tsp rice wine vinegar
0.5 tsp mirin
1 dash sesame oil
1 dash sea salt

Once the chayote has been sliced into quarters, it'll be very easy to remove the seed (just pull it out with your fingers).  Slice into very thin slices, then into tiny matchsticks (I'd slice them more thinly than pictured - I was experimenting with a thicker cut, but I would've preferred them to be thinner).  Place in a medium-size bowl.  Cut away the roots from the ends of the ramps, then slice thinly also (you can eat the whole ramp, from the pink-white end through the leafy greens and add to the bowl.  Finely chop the cilantro, then add to the bowl as well.  Cut the lime in half and squeeze its juice over the bowl.  Add in the remaining ingredients, then toss to coat.  Adjust seasoning to taste, then allow to marinate at room temperature ~30 minutes.


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