Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Nothing Changes On New Year's Day

I love being home.  If I would have stayed in Indiana, there is a chance I would have been one of those kids who stayed living in their parents house well after 30. But the weed in the Fort just wasn't that good to keep me.  However, our house came with a beautiful apartment, large - lots of ornate details, with a big kitchen with windows and a nice claw foot tub in the bathroom, mosaic tiles.  A separate staircase and entrance with a porch.  So it was tempting. Mr Butts used to rent from us when we first bought the house but he quickly moved out and I'll never know if it had anything to do with me pressing my face to the cold wood floor beneath the door to try to see slivers of him and his lady friend getting it on very hard and fast as I recall.  Thinking back, he was sort of a wham bam kinda dude.  I'd hear his car park, then I'd get into position, and he would be in and out in record time.  No staying over or time spent with needless foreplay for them, no night caps or after-cuddling like you see in the movies.  When it was over, they whizzed out just as fast as they came in, wheels screeching on the pavement.  I was 13 and my hormones were in full swing.  Poor Mr Butts.  Our family was so loud too.  He didn't stand a chance.  After that we took over the whole house and it was massive.
But wherever live, I make sure it is a warm, safe, comfortable place that I want to be and it always is.  And of course in your favorite place you eat your favorite foods, however you want.  Like breakfast for dinner.  And tamale breakfast for New Years Eve was exactly what I craved!  Poached eggs with turkey bacon, cool avocado and tomato side with two of my chicken tamales steamed up and topped with roasted tomato chipotle sauce.

Somehow every New Year's Eve in New York is bitter cold even if the days before or after are mild. Never fails.  At work that day the damp cold came into the night like a big wool blanket made of cold.  I was happy to be at home to bring in the New Year.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Breathe In, Breathe Out

I am not a food snob.  I often get excited about an odd pairing.  Like on this day I needed a nurse but instead made a doctored up chicken soup.  A can of chicken noodle soup, a half a can of chicken stock and a 1/2 can of my roasted tomatillo sauce, and some mushrooms.  It was so spicy and strong.  Like the five napkin burgers in Manhattan, this was a three tissue soup!  Honk!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

He Will Bring Us Goodness and Light

 I am not a big fan of actual sit down meals in life.  I mean, it's not the part of food that I love.  I'm of the belief that food is more fun as bite sized snacks. Like Cher's character in Mermaids.  I hate the commitment and even the word dinner sounds so formal and stuffy.  But I can get excited about a snack.  Something you can hold in your hand while walking (away).  Or is it more I hate sitting at a table across from people having conversations?  No, I actually love going to restaurants for this purpose, although it'd be a bonus if we could just eat appetizers all night.   Owning a restaurant is something that terrifies me.  People sitting in judgement of your food.  Dissecting each dish and pouring over the menus.  Waitresses.  Staff.  It's all so much hassle.
I love planning the holiday menus mainly for the snack element.  This year I did a Cumin Roasted Shrimp with Tomatillo dipping sauce.  Great although, my shrimp were tiny and needed to be jumbo for this.
A delightful surprise was the spiced edamame.  Super easy just steamed in their pods in salted water and then dusted with spices and salt while hot.
 Kinda brilliant!
The big star was a pear and pistachio guacamole.  This was one of those recipes right up my alley because everytime you throw a new fruit into a salsa or savory dip it's pretty fabulous.  This had the wow factor because all the ingredients stayed green, there was crunch from the roasted pistachios and the crispness from the firm but ripe pear was spectacular!  Not too sweet, just barely.  Not using red tomatoes is my new favorite way to prepare guac these days too, just jalapeno, minced garlic and lime, sometimes not even cilantro although I used it here and it was RIGHT!  Try this one, it's a winner.

Do You See What I See?

This Christmas and for the last few holidays actually my sister and I promised ourselves we would make tamales.  It's quite an undertaking in some respects but it sort of comes with all these memories and myths.  What you need to do, like make sure the masa floats in a glass of ice water.  To add baking powder or not?Don't under season your masa or it'll taste like cardboard.  Don't steam them too long or they'll be hard.  Don't put in too much meat or too little either.  I've made them a few times and have screwed them up in a variety of these ways.  This time I cleared my mind and just went with it.  Sometimes we over complicate things.   We went back and forth on doing traditional or trying one of these new fangled healthier recipes.  I've done pork every time in the past, so I went with a green chile chicken tamales and R went with pork. I used Greek yogurt to replace lard and a roasted green tomatillo chile sauce to season the meat and masa instead of red powdered chile.  I couldn't find one cohesive recipe so I made due with mixing three together.  The homemade rich but defatted chicken stock would also serve as a flavoring agent to replace some of the body that porks gives you. 

They were really good. Especially with the sauce and guacamole over top or even better for some reason, the red roasted chipotle sauce over top.
 ..or both!
My sister wrote and said her pork tamales were so good she almost cried.  The hand of God may have been involved in her Christmas bundles.  I've written about sister's way with food before.  There is a beauty in it, an art.  It the Goldilocks principle, where everything is 'just right'. People have tried to film it in movies like Chocolat or Like Water for Chocolate.  Well, she has it.  And it shows, even in her photos.
 Any seeing man can taste this pork with his eyes....Nothing really can replace the combination of red chile seasoned pork and corn masa.  Like a pepperoni pizza.  It's most popular because it works for a reason.  Look at the shredded meat all moist and gorgeous.  A tablespoon of it is enough to make a tamal sing.
 The masa is the correct texture, wetter than a cookie dough, dryer than a cake batter.
 ...and looky they stand up straight for her. Mine got a little smashed down with my steamer lid.  They are just the right size too.
 ..and she freakin' tied them up, just like they tell you to but I always think, yeah right, no way man, there are dozens of these babies.  But she did it.  She took that time and made them special.
Sister is awesome and I knew her tamales would be too.  
I miss her so much.  This was a way to share the holiday across the miles with a good memory food, making it with love and attention like our mom used to do and making lots of others happy along the way.  

Saturday, December 20, 2014

I'm Looking For A New Love Baby

My relationship with the Veggetti noodle is becoming stronger.  At first it could not compete with the real spaghetti but little by little I'm just really feeling it.  The bright green color, the silkiness.  The way I can eat a big old honkin' plate of it and not feel like a fat cow.

Just this with a some good olive old and red pepper flakes, maybe a sprinkle of Parmesan would be a real treat.
But add in a rich ground turkey, tomato sauce with bell peppers mushrooms and onion, lots of garlic and herbs.  Well my goodness, who wouldn't love this?

Friday, December 19, 2014

Learning From Each Other, While We Do Our Thing

My longest running love relationship has probably been with spaghetti.  All varieties.  Spaghetti, before we Americans started calling it pasta and gave it some sophistication.  It pairs with my love of ground meat, mushrooms, garlic, onions, bell peppers, canned whole tomatoes, tomato sauce and finally the silky strands of noodles in every dimension, thick and thin.  And then one day it was like the curtain dropped on what I had thought was just good food.  White flour pasta was the devil.  People were to stop eating it's empty calories.  It was no longer wholesome, good food - it was bad for your body and should be avoided at all costs.  It could be giving you headaches, bloating, making you sluggish, putting us at risk for type 2 diabetes, it was singlehandedly making us all obese. Bad on top of bad.
I used to watch the Cosby show.  My dad liked him growing up so I knew his comedy.  At the time of the shows first season I had moved to Fresno and then to SF so tv watching was kept to a minimum, but I was quite familiar and even watched A Different World.  I loved Fat Albert too!  I wasn't crazy about the Cosby show but found it provided information about Brooklyn and fed my ever growing fascination with New York.  But I bought into the belief that Mr Cosby was bringing a version of African Americans that many needed to see and he was a funny cool guy doing it.  Then later in years when he came out with all that 'young black men need to pull their pants up' stuff I was half paying attention but I thought the core message was suspicious.  You don't go against your own people to other people. That's the rules.  He upped his own profile by doing just that and sacrificing the youth no less. To me he did a double disservice feeding the myth that black people did all this to themselves and if they'd just throw on a pair of Dockers, they would be fine.  So his own people see someone they respect give a preacher like sermon with the wrong message.  And then the bigots on the outside of poverty had their gut feelings validated from a real live black man.  Instead of maybe looking to help his own rise up behind the scenes, he went to the white audience and told them what was wrong with the black youth.  To me, that was all kinds of wrong, even back then. And it tells you more about him than anything. That was my first major eyebrow crimp about Cosby.
So when all these accusations ( came out I was listening.  And every week we get more women.  They tell eerily similar stories.  It's gone so beyond comprehension.  He's a serial rapist of historical proportion feeding like a vampire on the weak and vulnerable for decades or this gray area of rape is finally being uncovered for the true criminal it really is and has been for a long long time.  Just because you know someone and go have a drink with them doesn't give any right to drug you and take your body while you're defenseless.  Bad judgement is unfortunate but not a crime.  I think either makes him an excellent candidate for a major study and analysis.  He's alive and c'mon, even if half of these 30+ women are lying, which they probably aren't, we have the ability to investigate a true sexual predator that we have tons of back story on and pertinent information, years and years of data.  My mind has been flooded with hypothesis for days on my bike rides home!  
I am and have been very interested in what makes the deviant's mind tick.  What is their motivation?  How do they justify and live with themselves?  And in this case, convince themselves they are not guilty of any wrong doing.  Alone at night does he truly believe they all deserved it?  Or even that it was a gift perhaps, or his due for helping their careers?  Does he have remorse or shame?  Does he cry like a little baby at night because he knows he's the biggest dirty bird or does he sleep sound?  And what is with the wet hair thing?  Apparently when you read each of the women's testimonies (as I have several times) you'll see much the same scenarios: they are weak, sometimes sick, he gives them pills or a spiked drink and they end up waking up either mid sex or even weirder in some cases, he's stroking their wet hair or he's asked them to go wet their hair.  There has got to be a big clue to that little fetish.

Yes, I'm sad if all this is true not only for the black community because we all need strong leaders and especially us minority groups.  But I certainly do not feel this is any reflection on the group as a whole.  No Cosby stands alone in this.  But his main bullshit message may actually be true of his own life, that he did it to himself.  In his case, he had fame, power, influence and a legacy and he himself (if allegations are true) has single handedly smashed it all to hell.

I hope I don't sound snide.  I don't think this is one bit funny and truly am hungry to learn about these subjects for my own sanity.  I do believe we need to investigate this and learn as much as we can while he's alive.  It's a sad American story for sure.

I'm also a bit somber that white flour products turned out to be bad for me.  Spaghetti was truly one of my favorite all time foods.  I was seduced by it's awesome taste and coma inducing after effects.  But I have wisely switched to zucchini pasta thanks to my Veggetti and enjoy my favorite homemade sauces as often as I see fit.  Hey, hey, hey!!!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Celebrate Good Times C'mon!

Where I work there are often celebratory luncheons or ice cream bars, pies to eat as an added bonus treat.  It's very festive.  On this day there was a whole plethora of sweet treats.  I grabbed one of these caramel chocolate sprinkled apples and I'm so glad I did.  I believe you should stay away from sugars because they are connected to everything bad that can happen to you healthwise.  But I also believe once in awhile, you need to have fun with food.  If a caramel apple or a piece of one can provide some happiness and joy in your heart as a way of celebrating life, I'm all for it.  In moderation.
I love pork posole or beef tripe menudo but for the everyday, you really don't want to be eating either regularly.  So chicken posole can be very satisfying with a rich chicken broth.  You still get the chili broth and the hominy, lemon, Mexican oregano.  Just not all the fat.

I took the idea of the raw crunchy cabbage but instead of a topper, I included strands into the soup to cook in the broth and also add it's flavor.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

You Can G(row) Your Own Way

I married into a family of can do people.  My brother now in real law, the one who sends his fresh grown peppers each year has ventured into a Gourmet Mushroom Kit business along with his son.  They had me at the box.  It's so shocking seeing something so professional and polished looking.  We knew this was underway but when you see the finished product it sort of takes your breath away.
And now, here it is.  Solid.  Good colors.  Description and insert are written very well and full of useful information.
 And then it hits me, this is a kit.  I gotta get to it.  Followed the instructions, made the slits, misted.
 And kept misting...
 ...days past and I felt like maybe this wasn't gonna work, even though they clearly state it takes 7 to 10 days before they begin to bloom. I began to think of what I'd tell Mark, how I'd screwed up and forgot to mist that one day.  I reread the instructions...was it supposed to be placed horizontally or vertically?
 I kept misting.
 Did I pick a good spot?  On the mantle facing the window, out of direct sunlight but would still get some.

 And then, on Christmas Eve like clockwork.....!!!
 Oyster Mushrooms, a miracle on Fulton Street.
I sauteed them with butter, garlic and served warm over scrambled eggs and chives.  We were so curious to taste I didn't get a pic before they were gone.  This was a great experience for a city dweller, to grow something and eat it.  And bonus, they were delicious!