Archives for the month of: March, 2012

“We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us”  – E.M. Forster

Over the years I’ve learned that every experience, be it negative or positive, leave scars on us. We can let those that come from times of pain haunt us. Or we can gain strength, confidence, and courage from overcoming such adversity. The littlest failures. Brief short comings. Events far out of my control. These are a constant source of anxiety for me. But I’ve learned to process and use them as experiences that shape me to what I am today. One of the goals of my year-long happiness project is to open myself up to judgement. Show people what I am, not what I want them to think I am.

Less than four days until I take one of my first steps to being a more courageous person. I’m letting go of something I’ve become used to, and trying something I’m not.

– Daniel

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I’ve done a lot of things, but performing on stage hasn’t been one of them. I played ukulele at Dr. Jane Goodall’s 77th birthday party, but aside from that very low-key event, I’ve never had the courage to pick up one of my instruments and perform. That will soon change. A friend of mine, a fellow archaeologist, is setting up an open mic event next Thursday and asked me to perform. At first I was hesitant. What if I wasn’t any good?  I didn’t want people to judge me. But over the course of the past few weeks, I began to seriously consider performing and eventually signed up. Courage is not one of my strong points. It’s easy to hike in the valley’s of Jordan. But performing and opening yourself up to others takes a tremendous amount of courage. And if I want to be happier, this seems like a good stepping stone. After confirming my attendance came the daunting task of picking songs. I initially assumed that I’d only get a chance at a single song. But at the moment, I’m one of only two performers. More songs became necessary. Superficially, this seemed like an easy task. I can play a multitude of songs on both guitar and ukulele. However, I believe that one of the first steps of my Happiness Project should be commemorated by songs that mean a lot to me. Songs that will allow me to musically articulate feelings, emotions and thoughts that I’m currently experiencing. A short list developed.

I’d Rather Be With You by Joshua Radin, Rhythm of Love by The Plain White T’s, How Many Hearts by Jason Reeves (one of my favorite musicians), and We Could Happen by AJ Rafael

I’m extremely excited and nervous for this event. It’ll mark a major personal milestone for me and will take me one step closer to completing my one year Happiness Project.

– Daniel


Lawrence J. Peter said that, “the noblest of all dogs is the hot dog; it feeds the hand that bites it“.

I love this quote almost as much as I love hotdogs. In fact, I had one for lunch today after I taught one of my final Introduction to Anthropology tutorials for the year. For a mere $2.50 from the “Blue Chip Truck” on St. George, I received what I believe to be one of the perfect meals for a gorgeous day. As a side note, check out the Blue Chip Truck if you’re ever at UofT. Although it’s your average food truck. And as much as I’d like it to be, this is nothing off of Eat St. However, it’s run by two pretty cool guys. Anyways, back to my topic: hot dogs. I share a similar sentiment for hotdogs as I do for grilled cheese and chicken pot pie (don’t you worry Kiron, I’ll write about that soon). Ketchup, mustard, barbecue sauce, onion, and sauerkraut are my toppings of choice, with the occasional use of relish. Nothing fancy. I couldn’t care less about the common damning perception of these “pseudo-sausages”. I say this about a lot of foods, but there’s a reason I eat them. Why they’re a common fallback for anyone low on cash, out late, or just looking for something familiar.  They’re simple, delicious, and (at the moment) perfect to eat on a hot day out in the city.

May the dragon of life only roast your hot dogs and never burn your buns!

– Daniel


“I wanted to think about myself so I could forget myself.”

Once again, Gretchen Rubin has managed to articulate exactly what I’ve come to realize over the course of the past few weeks. I want to change myself for the better but still maintain a sense of “Daniel”. I want to be happier. Someone that I’ve been working with recently made a very insightful observation about the way I’ve been living my life. She said, “Daniel, you’ve done things most people can only dream of doing. Accomplished a lot for someone your age. Yet, you aren’t satisfied with any of it”. After careful thought, I realized that she was absolutely right. I’ve been keeping myself busy. Keeping myself from actually figuring out what makes me happy. From what makes me unique. This seems to be a logical point from which to start my happiness project. Setting aside the myriad of activities, hobbies and interests that I’ve been using to divert my focus away from actually figuring myself out, I made a mental list of what makes me…”Daniel”.

In the end, I’ve come to realize that archaeology, food and writing have never served as diversions from figuring out who I am. They’ve simply made me smile.

– Daniel


I love food. I love the thrill of experiencing something new; something exotic to my palate. However, throughout the course of my life, I have encountered a few dishes/foods that I’ve been less than fond of. At the forefront of this list is bananas. Although I enjoy them when incorporated into pastry, I loath bananas in their purest form. I haven’t eaten a banana in a couple of years. It’s simply the texture. I can’t get over the fact that this fruit straddles the divide between a solid and semi-solid. Maybe I’ll one day learn to like them. One day. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a picky eater. If the situation arises where I’ll have to eat one, I will. However, in the wake of Toronto’s culinary variety, I don’t think I’ll be eating banana any time soon.

– Daniel


“No man is lonely eating spaghetti; it requires so much attention.”

Of any place in the world, I first saw this Christopher Morley (1890 – 1957) quote on a menu in Jordan. It really hit home. I can say with absolute certainty that I’m not the only one in this world who has used food to quell my emotions in times of heartache. It doesn’t have to be Italian food. The point I took from this quote is that food, in its production, consumption and distribution, is good for your soul.

Be it a shared meal with friends, family, and/or a loved one, or a night alone, food will always be there for you.

– Daniel


There’s an ancient Chinese myth about the red thread of fate. It says that the Gods had a red thread around everyone of our ankles and attached it to all the people who’s lives were destined to touch. This thread may stretch or tangle but it will never break…

Part of the narration from the opening of the pilot episode of Kiefer Sutherland’s new tv series Touch.

 


I’ve been making these cookies for over a year now. Each time I make them, and as I become more comfortable with the ingredients/measurements, they get better. They evolve. I have yet to receive any criticism regarding these treats. In fact, this is the first recipe that I ever shared with my girlfriend. Before we started dating, I brought a batch of these to a house warming party she and her room mate hosted. I like to think that they played a role in the earliest stages of our relationship.

These probably aren’t the healthiest cookies, but that isn’t my intention. Who cares! You only live once, so do it right and enjoy life.

*Note: At the moment, I do not have any high quality photos of these cookies. They keep getting eaten before I can think of grabbing my camera. A part of me wanted to publish this post once I have the appropriate media, but it’s too good to not share immediately! This being said, photos will be added to this post int he near future!

What you need!

  • 1 cup (or two sticks) of unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup of packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup of granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
and…
  • 1/2 pack of Hershey’s Chipits (white chocolate chips)
  • 1/2 pack of Hershey’s Chipits (milk chocolate chips)
or…
  • 1/3 pack of Hershey’s Chipits (milk chocolate chips)
  • Reese’s Pieces (however many you want!)

Make and bake!

  1. Heat oven to 375° F
  2. Beat butter, sugars, vanilla, and eggs in  a large bowl until light and fluffy
  3. Add dry ingredients (baking soda and flour)
  4. Mix well! Use those muscles!
  5. Stir in chocolate/whatever confectionary items you may fancy
  6. Place tablespoon fuls of dough onto a baking sheet (leave about 1.5-2 inches between)
  7. Bake for 9 – 11 minutes (I prefer my cookies soft!)
  8. Enjoy!

This recipe was originally adapted from Kraft Foods. I’ve also made a habit of baking Oreo cookies into this dough (with only milk chocolate and a single teaspoon of vanilla).

In the near future, I plan on adapting this recipe for use with candied bacon and butterscotch. Don’t you wish you lived with me?

– Daniel


“In the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is more meaningful than our criticism designating it so…”


In 2004,  The Guardian (UK) reported that “Parents are sending their children to school with lunch boxes that are packed with fat, salt and sugar”. I’m lucky enough to have parents that imbued me with the sense of wonder and joy for food that I still possess. What was your favorite lunch as a youngster? My dad used to make fried rice with Oktoberfest and Chinese sausages. Wonderful flavour! I haven’t had it in years. Perhaps I should whip up a batch.

I saw this image on http://geekandsundry.tumblr.com/ and had to share it! I can’t help but wonder what type of person I would have turned out to be had my parents made lunches like this. Not that I’m complaining…

– Daniel