Saturday, January 31, 2015

Knock Down the Old Grey Wall, Be a Part of It All

Winter and my sad ass retail schedule is very telling of my creativity slump.  I'm reminded as I see these weekly meal pics that I've sort of been phoning it in in the last month.  I have a boatload of excuses.  It's the coldest winter, it's winter period.  I have to take the subway to work on too many nights instead of riding my bike, where I get most of my ideas.  I've worked a lot of evening shifts.  There is not a lot of fun going on over here despite my best efforts to stay on the sunny side of life.  A lot of serious, sad stuff, people's health, etcetera.  The sun's been gone for days!
Now there is another two storms predicted for the coming week.  If it weren't for music (and movies) I would be lost in dark matter this month.  I've had to take a few songs straight into my veins, playing them over and over....and over.  It's effective, if only momentarily.  Music like any drug can have lasting side effects though, like melancholy and a burning sensation..or is that an STD?  Either way, emotions run high when listening to great songs and that power can lift you up while simultaneously shattering your fragile tender little core.  But at least you're alive when you're heart is breaking.  Its shakes you out of this frigid seasonal coma.
Baby corn and bamboo shoots, carrots, onions, kale, zucchini along with ginger, white pepper, five spice powder along with ground turkey made this a solid weeknight meal.  But in my heart I know it is not my best work.   You have to feel the lows to get the highs.  Easier said than done.

Monday, January 26, 2015

I Was Just Wondering If There Was a Way

I was just standing alone in the kitchen, wondering if there was a way to still enjoy a favorite, chicken and rice.  If there was a way to make a really healthy arroz con pollo.  I needed to use skinless meat, no white rice, and add healthy fat.  I could still taste the original in my mouth.  I still wanted that taste.  I wondered if it was possible to have it again, some way to bring it back.
I used wild rice.  I braised the chicken first in a dry rub with lots of heat to create a coating, then stewed it over the vegetables and slightly browned rice with some stock and tomato sauce, dried herbs.  In the oven lidded for almost an hour.
This was surprisingly satisfying.  Not exactly the real thing but maybe close enough for today.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Caesar Roasted Romaine

I said it once before but it bares repeating.  Caesar Roasted Romaine hearts transform from lifeless lettuce to vibrant bright warm crunchy steaks, with lemon, anchovies, garlic and olive oil.  Too good to be forgotten.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Too Many People

I have an aversion to couples and I don't know why it's that's serious.  My upper lip begins to curl whenever I see one approaching.  It's just hateful.  Couples that I know, I have no problem with because I've already sorted them out.  I might like them both but the decision is always based on them individually.  And currently every couple I know, I actually honestly like them both.  So what is it about these stranger duos that I loathe?
Gay male couples I'm almost sure to be fine with and in fact enjoy observing their dynamic and interaction.  Gay women not so much, generally speaking unless they're both super masculine for some reason or young hipsters. Young heterosexual couples I almost never like.  Older couples, automatically adore them and if they are from another country, even better.  It's like I can't help but see things, like visions.  Do I impose these or are they really there? Mostly I have access to twosomes at my job whilst they're gathering information to buy a kitchen together which is a huge purchase and generally brings out the worst in people due to the high stress level.  If for example one person doesn't allow the other to talk or cuts them off, I want to tell the other person to buck up and stop taking shit, revolt! Where is your backbone?!  If one person is a real prick and the other obviously has to see it, I wonder what is their motivation.  Why or how do they still love this asshole?  Or way simpler things, like some women have real meek impish voices that hit me like nails on a chalkboard and I wonder how the man can sit and listen to that every day. Does he drink to drown out the sound?  Does she sound like that in the sack??!!  Ewww!!!  One person is almost always the decision maker while the other whines or whimpers lamely in the background.  The aggressors most always speak for the unit, so I tend to watch the other person for insights into the relationship and ignore the other's barking.  There are so many telling gestures and facial expressions in couples. I guess if you had to deal with them separately, you could easily put them in a box.  But coming at you as a combined team, it becomes harder to resist looking around at all of their 'couple stuff'.  It's like their conjoined energies wreak havoc on my minds eye and becomes overwhelming for me to focus.
I don't want to be like this. I hate judging people.  I don't want to look at their couple stuff, but it's like when someone sits on our planning chairs and you see their butt crack. You just gotta look, it's impossible to look away.  It's not pleasant, just not ignorable.
One combination that I know works very well is lemon chicken and spinach.  I thought it might be fun to make this Chicken Roulades recipe for the visual stimulation.  Meat with a surprise inside is always a crowd pleaser.  Creamy spinach bursting with vibrant green taste coupled with a juicy chicken breast is a nice pairing.

I always take a detour though due to poor planning.  I got frozen collard greens instead of spinach but it worked equally as well.  I didn't have gruyere cheese so I used Greek Yogurt with a little brie.

I think after consideration, it's not exactly that I don't like couples, it's more that I am uncomfortable being in their presence as I have no other discourse but to evaluate their behavior and it's draining.  As a girl in the department says, I can't.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

On the Back of the Fish Truck That Loads, While My Conscience Explodes

Creating is a magical thing.  It's only when I'm producing that I feel truly alive and not concerned with self.  You'd think then that I'd be doing it all the time and I want to but it's not always available to tap.  Ideas are like little pregnancies and then births.  You nurture, incubate the idea in your head before it can come out in the world and be known.  There are long lulls at times when I fear it may never come again. Sometimes you have ugly kids so to speak, where something happens but it sure ain't charmed or special in any way.  Once in a while it's so seamless, effortless.  I've made real Hunter's Chicken before but this time I just sort of went in and made it without thought or planning.  I knew it would be so good over a Parmesan polenta rich with real chicken stock, a little Greek Yogurt for added creaminess.  And it was.
So a thought kept coming in my mind on this day.  Is creating the act of doing or is creation the formation of the idea in your head?  Some would say both right away.   You couldn't just physically do it if it didn't burst in your head with enough energy to feed all the stimuli it would need to make it real.   It has to run through the series of rational thinking.  Okay, it's an idea but is it a good one?  The mind takes it through the process, then the dry run of sorts, imagining in your head.  Could it work?  But what's cool is that we must have super computers for brains because it only takes a second for all of that to take place.  We must have ability to draw upon a ton of stored data relating to the subject at a moment's notice.

So creativity is a process that involves several levels?  Is it the end product?  I created this dish.
Where does the mental seed come from?  I know I always carry a hunger.  My theory is that you must carry an idea catcher of sorts, which is the desire to create. But you can't just wait.  You continue to think and listen and observe and then something comes along and fills the net.  I think the two must collide like two atoms to create an idea in the mind.  This big bang, is the idea springing into being as a thought.
Maybe then it's actually two separate things. One is the idea's creation and the other is to bring the idea to fruition, the act of creating.  Although you do create, the idea, it's just thought when it's still in your head, like a theory, a plan. .  Producing is creating.  I've had too much coffee.

Breakfast Leftovers

Poached eggs with leftover tamale pie

Monday, January 12, 2015

The Thought I'll Have Again Tomorrow That Just Came Back From Yesterday

When I was in my late teens, early twenties I felt I had an endless supply of magic moments to reach for like candy in the back pocket of my Levi's jeans.  And to be fair, I did have an awful lot of them and hopefully it's not over yet.  I guess I like reminiscing.  Looking at old photos, remembering I want to say, times of grace. New science says the past is still here, somewhere.  That it doesn't go away at all.  Maybe we know that inherently and some of us go to to where it still exists and get in it like a hot bath.  Let it surround us and feel it again, for the first time so to speak.  The first time you met someone, that feeling you got when you just knew they are going to be very special and undoubtedly change your life in some mysterious way.  Food!  I remember the dang lighting when I ordered my first Spaghetti Supreme and how the fluorescents hit it when the waitress brought it out in that silver baking dish in the back dining room of the Pizza Hut. I remember sneaking downstairs and smelling my mom's ham in the ovens we kept in the basement she used only for the holidays.  I remember eating the best Chicken Mole on a paper plate at my brother David's house that his wife made.  So many enthralling instances.  I'm not unhappy in the present, any more than usual I should say.  I just happen to also ache for the past.   How can you not?  You already know how it turns out!
I used to eat pork and I love it, almost any way you can cook it.  I had some on this night, a cajun rubbed chop that I lathered on my cool refreshing green apple tomatillo sauce.  

And then, because it was just so dang memorable, I had it again the next night on a Mexican pork stir fry accompanied by corn and zucchini.
Now, thinking about this dish weeks later, the pork with that sauce on top, how they complimented each other so well makes me want to write a damn country song.

National Thai

National Thai, Fort Greene, Brooklyn

Saturday, January 10, 2015

What's Up Wit That? What's Up Wit That?!

Brooklyn is an amazing place to live in really specific ways.  There are some people that I've always felt very easy living around and Irish, Jewish, Polish and Russian I'm discovering are my mains.  Initially the draw was my deep fascination with and appreciation, respect for black culture. I'm more of a barnacle living off the fray of this community, barely seen by human eyes but I'm there.  Quiet and not saying shit, but I'm here with my non protruding ass.
With all of this focus, I'm remembering I've always really had my own inner black voice.  I'm easily aurily aroused you could say, intellectually speaking.  At work I hear all of these common words but put together in unique ways that now work as a private language for lots of these kids.  Like 'Damn son, I ain't seen you in a minute dog' or 'How you gonna act like that?', 'Whatchu said?'.  There are tons of fun combinations!  Now six years in, my subconscious brain is forming it's own responses that I fear are gonna leak out.  Like at the PathMark yesterday I heard myself saying 'All you heffahs need to move out da way or mama's gonna lay some stank!'
Now (in my mind) I've always known enough about scenes, to easily float amongst almost any set but as you get older, people are not as accepting of your alleged hepness.  And I just hope I don't get a case of Tourettes.  I sometimes wonder if the kid next to my locker at work has any idea that I have perked up ears and am drinking up everything he is throwing down. OOOooooweeee!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Flee From Me Keepers of the Gloom

You rarely see the sunsets in New York unless of course you have a fantastic view like the one we temporarily have at work.  A huge picture window to see the Hudson River's upper bay.  We had the most amazing sunsets lately and it's such a pity that most people can't see them.  
Even though it's barely nature, but ships and tug boats, parking lots, ferries instead of open water. Still it's impossible not to dream on it when it's right there in front of you.  You don't get wide open spaces in New York like this, so it also makes it that much more special.
Sometimes it's crystal clear, sometimes its all murky and glum, like me.  You learn to stop and appreciate these different views when you put in some time here on earth.  It becomes even more magical, the colors, the glow, the power of the sun. The way it can make you feel all silent and humble.  Everyone always talks about what you lose when you get older but I'm noticing the opposite.  I think we gain keener ability to use all of our senses and we can take it deeper, go to 11 so to speak.  There is added ability to stay calm enough to enjoy it too and sometimes just be.  I for one have never been comfortable enough with myself to just be, in my youth, unless I was more than slightly inebriated.  So yeah, this is good stuff.  It's not to say complacency.  I'm still highly dissatisfied and on any given day you could probably find me complaining of my misery.  Afterall I am a work in progress. Well actually I could work on the progress part a lot more than I do.  It's a problem actually.  But what I'm focusing on here is that sunset and that sky and the fact that there is a whole world outside of me and my despondency.  Sometimes just knowing that can eliminate my gloom.  The little trick is that when I do stop and acknowledge these things, it puts all the other stupid stuff into more a manageable light, so at the very least it dilutes it.  This is what happens to people who don't have kids.

Tonight i made this simple baked chicken breast with a cajun rub and sauced up masa with peas.  So good that it's hard to believe how straightforward it is.  The focus was just on getting the chicken cooked to perfection.  

I topped this with a cool guacamole with pears and walnuts.