Spare thoughts can reveal a lot.
Like anyone, my mind can often wander. Sometimes it wanders to far-off and unknown places, which leaves me looking lost and confused. These thoughts are stray thoughts, without any purpose or sense of direction. These stray thoughts require a passing hand or snapping finger to direct my attention back to the well-worn path.
But other times, my mind moves with a sense of purpose. Pushing past the brush and trekking towards a clearing. More often than not, these directed thoughts focus on finding either legal or culinary clearing.
When I’m folding laundry or putting away dishes, my mind goes in one of two directions. It goes down a legal path or a culinary one. In these spare moments, I find myself puzzling over a case or a recipe, wandering and wondering about a solution to a particular problem. How should I approach the jurisdictional issue? What sort of marinade should I use? Does the prior arbitration proceeding influence the outcome of our case? Can I fashion an interesting variation on a classic dessert?
On a general level, I imagine these types of questions are not unique. When brushing one’s hair or shoveling snow, a teacher might think of ways to revise a lesson plan, an advertising executive might be working towards a new slogan, and a doctor may be puzzling over an undiagnosed illness. Professionalism encourages this never-ending curiosity and reflection.
What I find interesting, though, is the other path you might pursue. That an architect might picture his drawings over dinner, or that a columnist might play with her opening sentence — there’s no mystery there. But what other intellectual path does the mind wander down? Does the architect also deconstruct the engine for the car he’s building while he runs on the treadmill? Does the columnist close her eyes and shuffle the tiles of a mosaic as she rides the subway?
In my spare moments, I find myself thinking about how to best tackle a legal issue in a lawsuit, and how to best rework a recipe to my liking.
Baked Banana Oatmeal
Recipe adapted by Caitlin from Kath Eats Real Food.
PREP TIME: 5 minutes
COOK TIME: 30 minutes
YIELD: Serves 6
WHAT TO GRAB:
1 cup old fashioned oats
1 cup quick-cooking oats
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 egg white, beaten
1 banana, mashed
1 3/4 cups low-fat milk (or almond milk)
1 vanilla bean (or one teaspoon vanilla extract)
1 banana, cut in slices
HOW YOU DO IT:
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the oats, allspice, cinnamon, baking powder, salt, and brown sugar. In a separate bowl, combine the egg white, mashed banana, milk, and vanilla bean seeds. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, and mix well. Pour the mixture into a shallow baking dish. Top with sliced bananas.
3. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Allow the mixture to settle, and cool to room temperature. I also think it tastes best after a night in the fridge!