Wednesday, June 26, 2013

I Am Everyday People

I've always hated the term Fusion Cuisine. It makes me think of bad strip mall restaurants in Hawaii.  Mixing things that shouldn't go together like Sushi and hot dogs. But I'm not opposed to taking the building blocks of a dish and changing all the ingredients to say, Mexican or Asian. I guess that's just another form of fusion.  Like these Mexican-ized Greek Gyros.  I made spiced taco-meat patties, put them on a whole wheat tort and added tomato, ribboned cucumber and cilantro with a little sour cream dressing. 
I also did a peach salsa with lots of jalapenos and lime juice, cilantro and red onions over warmed brown rice. Letting the herb be a main component of the wrap intensifies the flavors.  I would even do an herb mix with Italian parsley or thyme with the cilantro. 
The idea of mixing food styles is a given especially in a melting pot like Brooklyn. It's the ultimate too much of a good thing. Food wise anyway.
With all this diversity, sometimes, not always, comes intolerance. The subject of racism has come up twice this week. I think these are two great examples of funny and not funny. The one with the Zimmerman verdict, not funny.  And the one where a newscaster on KTVU announced the pilots of the SF flight to be Captain Sum Ting Wong and his crewmembers of equally hilarious names.  Wi Tu Lo?! That's comedy!
I'm not a racist but I do enjoy my racially charged inappropriate jokes, when they're funny and not hateful. You have to have a sense of humor if you're Mexican-American.  I'm on the bottom of the totem pole in power or importance especially here in New York City.  I do think a lot about differences because they're in my face all day. I'll say it, I see vast differences in many people. Maybe we are a lot the same but from where I sit, I see a lot of sharp contrasts. And that's great! Who wants to be just the same? I thought that was one of our strengths in the US?  Take me, I see myself as a rare flightless ugly bird out here. I'm pale, have a hick accent and I don't speak Spanish and that is heavily frowned upon. It's not my fault!  I grew up in the Midwest around a bunch of whacked out honkies, whom I love and grew to understand and relate to quite well by the way. 
Where I work however, it's like a rainbow liked I've never experienced.  Our customers are mainly first generation immigrants that are still struggling with the English language being served by second generation intolerant immigrants. Each coworker openly biased but to various ethnic backgrounds.  Like for example, the Puerto Rican hates waiting on the Hasidic Jews, the Dominican hates the Asians, and the dumb circus goes on and on.  I'm not immune, although my intolerances lean more towards the classes.  I am not crazy for the uppity Manhattan-ites. The designers and the architects who insist on announcing themselves each and every time.  'I'm an architect so....'  So? So what, you are highly educated but you couldn't design yourself out of a paper bag if your life depended on it? Because that's what I relate to the word! I can more easily explain our simple buying systems to the guy that just got off the dang boat! 
But speaking of, trying to explain whole systems to someone who is just learning the language can be very difficult.  It's funny sometimes too. The Russians often mistake the word kitchen for chicken and that's just giggle inducing!  I want to buy a chicken cab-ee-nyet.  I make fun only as a way to release some of the frustration.  I don't in any way hold hatred or resentment.  To the contrary, I admire anyone that comes over here and builds a life, learns a whole 'nother language and gives it a shot.  That's super cool. But that doesn't mean my head doesn't almost explode after the end of a regular day dealing with all of this wonderful diversity.

With the recent Zimmerman case, I read he was being called a white Hispanic.  Oh no you don't! Don't be trying to throw that Peruvian Jewish mix over here!   Where do you even file that? That seals it.  I'm officially leaving this Hispanic group.  I never liked that word anyway, Hispanic...and it's not even a funny word.  And by the way, it's a bogus term and I don't identify with it.  I resent the US for lumping all us brownies in one bowl.  Why not just call us raped Mexicans? And does that make Obama a white African-American or a black honky?  Is Tiger Woods a Thai African American Indian or when it gets too swirly and you were born in the states, do we drop all the adjectives and just call them Americans?

I like the term swirly that Wendy Williams uses.  The people that are a mix of flavors that look good together.  Halle Berry is swirly.

The Asians get poked fun at in a lighthearted way most times, with the slanty-eye jokes and the funny names. They also all got lumped into one big group. Just like Mexicans getting the lazy and bean jokes.  We laugh but it gets a little tiresome too.  But honky, now that's a funny word!  It's supposed to be derogatory but give me a break, it's hardly harsh and no one even knows what it means. I grew up in a time where people could say what they wanted, like George Jefferson and Archie Bunker on TV and people seemed to accept that as humor. It was charged but not in a hateful way.  Points were made but as a way of easing the mounting pressure. Maybe we need to get back to a bit of what we had in the 60 and 70s.  I hope we haven't gone so far backwards that we can't still have a little fun at the expense of the race that holds all the money and power. So I started making up my own terms.  White people are also very different and should have distinctions made.  For example:
A white-Asian is called a Chonky. In my experience, Asians are very good at adapting in one quick generation to the 'American way'. SF had a ton of Chonkies.  Mexicans are not as good at this. (see Monky)
A Bonky is a big ass honky, like Larry Bird. Bonkies are kind of awkward and therefore funny.
A Wonky is a really white honky. Joel Olsteen would be a good example of a wonky.
A Donky is an dumb ass-hole who happens to be a honky.  Like George Bush.
A Tonky is a tiny honky.  Kristin Chenoweth is teenie-tiny tonky.
A Fonky is one messed up honky, say, like Carrot Top, Brit-Bit, Lindsay Lohan's father, or Tom Cruise.
A Monky is a Mexican honky - there aren't many of them here but lots out in the West where you have several generations.  I'm almost a Monky!
A Slonky is a sleazy honky.  Like Tara Reid.
A Sonky is a honky who writes songs, like my P. I heart sonkies!
A Squonky is one of them squirrely honkies, like Matt Lauer.
A Swonky is a honky who sweats a lot.  These might be regional to the south.

I think there is nothing funny about George Zimmerman.  I don't know if he was a racist. I know he killed an unarmed teen when he had no business going after him. 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

This Magic Moment

Nothing says summer like corn on the cob.  This might be one of the things we don't get to enjoy easily if the droughts keep it up.  Sweet buttery salted corn.  So just right.
Alongside in keeping up with my 'summer of the burger' theme, I made a nice beef burger patty with onions and garlic, brown rice and put it atop a bed of lemon-zested baby spinach, onion, tomato, pickle and a toasted thin bread slice.
A burger salad. It actually did work to cut each bite of burger and mix it with a bite of onion, spinach and take it down with a slice of bread.  Maybe the next time I'll do it as a 'chopped' burger salad so it's not so much work in cutting each bite. 
Yes! Brilliant idea! A chopped burger salad and I could even toast the bread into little croutons and add small cheese chunks for a chopped cheeseburger salad!  The wheels are turning baby!  Join me next time won't you, while I add even further disgrace to my over flowing muffin top!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood

Many times after bad food behavior I try to back pedal and eat healthy for a couple of weeks.   I got off work and made these heath(ish) wraps.  Fresh baby spinach, tomato, avocado, red onion and here's the 'ish part, ranch dressing wrapped up in a whole wheat tortilla. I served along with pita chips and hummus, greek olives and watermelon chunks. 

We had us a little indoor picky-nic.
Note: One thing that has been on the brain is the 'whole wheat flour' controversy. Is whole wheat flour when listed as the main ingredient truly 'whole wheat' or is it only when the term 'whole wheat' is used is it truly whole wheat? From what I read if it says 'wheat flour' that actually is the one that does not mean it is actually a whole wheat product, therefore it may contain 1% of whole wheat.  You need a lawyer these days to go buy your dang bread!  Because if eating all these 'whole wheat flour' products is not beneficial then this monkey will be one pissed off little beast. 

I Saw the Whole of the Moon

So far this has been the summer of the burger.  I'm almost embarrassed to say I've eaten at least 10 burgers already and it's only June.  67 Burger here in Fort Greene can be out of this world good.  Most times they are exceptional.  This time they were good.  But their 'just good' is still pretty spectacular.  They weren't as 'right off the grill' tasting and not hot.  The bleu cheese on the 67 burger was slathered real thick. 
Bur honestly, they're so tasty and hearty.  One should not complain.  Especially one that didn't pay for them nor go get them.  (Thanks P!) And they have the best fries and onion rings.  The rings are the kind that the onion doesn't come slithering out with each bite.  It stays where it belongs and the batter is light. 
All in all a very great experience.  Afterwards we ran out to see the Super Moon.  Last year we had to look for it and finally found it after climbing up into Fort Greene Park. 
This year we just stepped out of the apartment and looked to the left and there it was, big and bright shining right down on Fulton Street.  For me, the moon has such a brilliant presence and I can barely take my eyes off of it, the pull is mesmerizing.  Sadly though, seemed like no one else really cared out there on the streets.  They were just shuffling off to the bars and restaurants. 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

I'm Gonna Make You Love Me

A day off...a gorgeous day.  Brooklyn, New York. But there is one catch.  I have to spend it alone.  I'm not all that fond of my own company sometimes.  I can be depressing and lethargic, not easily motivated and a bit high maintenance.  Not always a willing participant in human activity. And certainly not the one I want to spend this beautiful day with.
But somehow magically, I got my dumb-ass out for a nice long walk up to Prospect Park. 10,000 steps on my new Pedometer. Nerd alert!  I went to a thrift store in Clinton Hill and stopped at the market for fresh tomatoes. Then back home to make lunch.
In the heat I'm noticing I'm coming up with tons of time savers and tips.  Anything not to have to wash another pan. So while the water was boiling for the rice, I threw in my frozen peas to heat them back to life and then just fished them out with a slotted spoon.  I also chopped my fresh pineapple and stuck the core in the water for flavor!  What?!
Then it seemed like everything just worked for this veggie filled stir fry, the chunks of tomatoes, the sweet Vidalia onions that I can't get enough of, and finally the chicken.
I thickened the mix at the end with a quick soy sauce corn starch slurry in a bit of chicken stock..

Add the tomatoes towards the end so as not to get them overly cooked. Just so hot that their juices burst in your mouth but they still hold their shape.
Served over rice.
I may not be the coolest or most interesting person I know but thank goodness some days I don't suck.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Meaner Than a Junkyard Dog

Just when I figured out the right way to really char-broil a steak, they are talking loud about the dangerous carcinogens.  By cooking meats at these high temperatures, you can produce the same types of carcinogens found in cigarette smoke.  There ain't no joy in that! Seems every time you really find something tasty, you have to read how bad it is for you.  I know steak is not something to eat everyday and who could afford to anyway?  But this was a huge piece of London Broil on sale for a song.  I was able to marinate it, broil it and then slice is for steak and eggs with a side spinach salad. 
That is a breakfast for the gods right there.  If you're a woman, you can guess where I was in my monthly cycle. I try to remain civilized but I have to admit, when nearing the flow I feel the urge to rip heads off of women that stare at me sideways.  Men would be advised to stay a good distance away if they are any kind of ornery too.  Not because I'm dangerous, but I can throw off a foul attitude and funk, maybe make you think twice about messing with me. And I need my meat and proteins. 
It doesn't make me entirely human but eating a big meal like this definitely tames a bit of the werewolf-like tendencies.

At least enough to get me to work and just hope no one comes along and  rattles my chain.

Friday, June 14, 2013

'Cause it Just Feels So Good, So Free, So Right...

Sometimes I wake up and I feel so hopeless. Even this whole cooking thing is fun and I'll always do it but that nothing will ever come from it. I get all down on my efforts and even doubt that I've even learned to be a better cook along the way.
But once in a while I'll do that one little thing that makes me feel like maybe I'm not the biggest failure that I know or that maybe I can trust some of my intuition here and there.  I can believe that it's not just the schooled chefs that come up with key pairings and the real gems but once in awhile, the home-cooks like me.
Green Apple Salsa.  Firstly, I LOVE green apples.  They're tart and sweet and refreshing and they remind me of where I grew up.  But with basil and mint, onions, jalapeno, chunked up small-like.....lots of lemon juice and then to make it all nice and mellow, ripe avocado mixed in.  Like any fresh salsa, when the ingredients go together they can't help but sing out.
I thought of this and made it and it was like potato salad, I just wanted to keep scooping it in my mouth. And then with a spicy pork chop it just gave the perfect balance.  I deseeded the peppers so they were more fragrant but didn't put heat in the salsa.
It's a bonus that it's all green, my favorite color.
This salsa is all I needed tonight.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Good Love is Hard to Find

Whole wheat banana walnut bread.  Definitely an irresistible treat for me with the dark chocolate chips and the roasted nuts along with that ultra moist, better-than-cake like bread.  There is something about the texture of it.  Whether it's toasted with butter and has that little crisp edge that makes me so happy or cold out of the fridge and you crunch into the nuts with that cool sweet soft bread...

....Either way I love it.  I make this one dessert for me I think.  Most others I make just to see it, more of an experiment since you never know if you'll get lucky with baking.  But how many things in life actually make you instantly happy?  This one's a no brainer.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

No One On Earth Could Feel Like This

When we first moved to Brooklyn we found a place called Bedouin Tent where they served $5 Middle Eastern pizzas on fresh baked pita bread.  A man, who seems to be gone now, I was convinced was a real life angel here on earth was there every day making fresh pita bread in the oven right next to the window. Endlessly he was rolling dough and pulling it out of the oven.  He was always smiling and always at work.  Day or night, you'd walk by and he was there.  Sometimes I'd even see him walking to work out my apartment window.   In the winter it seemed a beautiful job in all whites next to the warm pizza oven. His oversized white turban worn like a doo rag.  Snow falling outside, a scene from a movie. In summer it seemed like the hardest job in the world being next to that heat box all day.  But he always seemed the same, very content and smiling a genuine loving smile. A plastic sweating cup of crushed iced lemon water on his work station. And those pizzas were beyond good.

Well, these that I made here today were nothing like those but they gave me the idea.  I found some .99 Damascus pita bread on sale so I figured to make it that night.  For a healthier version I took thin sliced raw zucchini, chopped broccoil rabe, fresh baby spinach, onions, sliced beefsteak tomatoes, garlic, olive oil and mozzarella cheese and then chopped Kalamata olives on top.