Sunday, May 31, 2015

Everything Must Change, Nothing Stays the Same

Somewhere along the last few years we stopped going to eat at the local places and took to doing more take out runs and deliveries.  My schedule is one of the big culprits, having to work weekends and nights but also, it just feels like some natural progression is taking place. The neighborhood is also changing and has become crowded with college age caucasian kids carrying some sort of obnoxious energy that's a little off putting, not to call out white people in any negative way.  Fort Greene has it's own unique hip vibe.  And listen, the local businesses have really come into their own and I'm sure welcome the extra foot traffic.  In the last few years, this stretch of Fulton has become a major destination.  It's currently on trend, the hot spot.  But people are not respectful to the overall ambience and literally change it by plowing through with their flip flops en mass, not to mention throw cigarette butts and trash in our little planter in front.  Gorgeous, tall African-American women walk through these streets dressed very well for a night out and the men don hats and great shoes, stylish attire and intelligent conversation. There's an amazing cigar bar around the corner. It's pleasant.  I guess I just hate to see it all tarnished.  I certainly have no business walking around either and possibly am adding to the sludge with my stinky bike helmet and sweaty head, but see I don't prance around at night like I own anything.  I am like the little Mexican squirrel monkey, getting in all my shopping and errands done during daylight hours before I sneak quickly back in my little hole to write and eat.
Habana to Go sometimes calls our name to come fetch one of their chicken and corn salads that I beef up with black beans, salsa and guacamole for a weeknight after work dinner.  It is already a great salad but adding the extra fiber with the beans and flavor burst of the fresh pico just makes it that much richer.
Everything changes constantly in this city and that's how it is and will be but dern it, I want to see Coconut Rob when I go outside on the corner with his whole tropical set up and the Blue Moon with all their beautiful plants and flowering pots and fabulous diners.
Well, as they say, whatevs.  You can't stop I won't call it progress because it's just basically who has more money and can't find their own scene.  They are selling our building too and we'll need to move.  Nothing in the vicinity is affordable for us.  So for this situation, we'll be the ones exiting. Maybe the new area mix is healthy and vibrant and I just don't like change.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

I Think I'm Going Out of My Head Over You

Do you know food envy?  It's when a friend describes or shares a picture of their meal and then the only thing you can concentrate on that day is getting something that tastes similar to that mental picture in your mouth as soon as possible.  It can also happen at restaurants when someone in your party orders and you fall instantly in love with their dish when it arrives or even before just based on the menu profile.  This is something that I've suffered from for years.
My sister M called me and described these burgers that she was making for my brother D. Three varieties and being a chef, she listed the ingredients in each of them. One of hers was sundried tomatoes, feta, and green onions . One was mushrooms, poblano chilis and cheese.  Yeah. mmhmm.  I make lots of burger mixes.  They're full of veggies.  But hers got me to thinking mine, although good, weren't as pulled together and thought out as hers.  I love themes in food!  I had sudden food envy, along with feelings of inadequacy as my sisters are so much better at cooking then I am.
I was at work when I got the message and played it over and over on my break.  On my bike ride home I deliberated on my own creation which must use the ingredients in my fridge already.  It was going to be 7pm by the time I reached home and that meant I had no time to dilly and less time to dally.
I went with baked garlicky herbed yuca fries made crispy with a little corn starch.
Peeled, cut, par-boiled, patted dry, seasoned then baked at 450.
Stuffed pizza burgers with garlic, turkey pepperoni, and cheese.  The ground meat mixed with chopped zucchini and onion.  I thought to do a pizza sauce on top which would have been for a day I had more time.
There were missteps like forgetting to oil the baking pan for the fries.  Rushed, I wasn't as conscious of turning the burgers at the precise moment.  But it was all yes when it got to my mouth.  And for that moment I wouldn't of wanted anyone else's meal but my own.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Wouldn't You Agree, Baby You and Me Gotta Groovy Kind of Love

After a winter of hating on virtually every part of our lives here, spring came.  Trust me, we're damn lucky, have our health and from how we both treated our bodies, pretty grateful for that alone.  Spring in New York allows you into it's wonderfulness just long enough for your jaw to drop and realize you're so fortunate to ever have lived here period.  It's like getting that girl that you knew was way too pretty for you but somehow she said 'okay I'll go out with you'.  She never said she loved you though...take note. All amazing hard to describe advantages to being with her. There are no appropriate words for the scenes you steal with your eyes here, the conversations you overhear, the people a chapter all their own, the architecture, the history, the happenings, the stuff that goes on that you have no connection to but is equally fabulous.  The energy that emits from every single direction and even if you took a 30 minute cab ride to another side of town, that electric current never stops the entire way, jam packed with more and more life happening at just that moment.  And it's all this big build up going in and until end of summer and now thanks to global warming, way into late November-early December.
I'm constantly reminded though that I'm not from here. Mostly from myself.  I am a visitor, no matter how many years I pay rent.  New Yorkers are so lucky to have been born here, to have family here or to have started their lives here.  You are never awestruck and have learned to keep the poker face amidst just about any occurrence.  You have the upper hand in most conversations regarding any part of the city.  You are New York for all intents and purposes.
I put a whole lot of spices and flavor into this tomato chipotle broth for my poached chicken.  I'm not sure if it paid off although it was very tender and juicy.  I enjoyed it and kept saying how much I liked it. The surprise was these delicious fresh green beans just steamed and then sauteed in garlic and EVOO. Finished off with a big squeeze of lime and salt.  Couldn't quit eating them.
No New York never tells you she loves you back maybe because she too sees that it could never really work between us, really and truly.  She likes us too, the people that come looking for something here that they can't find in the cornfields of their own towns.  Maybe we serve some sort of real purpose. We're nice and willing.  I don't know how many of my dumbass friendly smiles go unanswered everyday you'd think I'd learn.  We're always telling her how great she looks, so thankful just to hang.  And seems like she'll let us for however long we're willing to pay out our ass just to stay here.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Mother Nature's Son

I definitely have to remember this little creative tool; parchment paper.  So easy to just season up your dinner, add herbs, vegetables and seasonings...
...stick it in the oven....
...and then open it like a Christmas present!

Spring is like that too.  You wait for just the right conditions and then go exploring and you find so many gorgeous gifts left for you like presents what seems like overnight from Mother Nature.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

I'm a Loser, And I'm not What I Appear to Be

I have unbridled guilt that seems to seed on my days off.  Little thought sprouts that grow until I'm practically fetal position under the bed.  Pathetic!  But real and yeah, it's a thing.  I'm the worst daughter.  I am learning so late in life to show love and appreciation to my sisters and brothers the way most kids do naturally.  I basically botched up my entire list of aunt duties.  I put real effort into being a good partner but suck at it a good majority of the time.  We've already gone into my friendship skills and people have recently walked off the set, seriously.
I'm shy and I don't like social situations.  I'm not can do.  I never learned to play well with others.  I'm awkward and say stupid shit because I'm incapable of small talk.
So even though I'm not an accomplished real cook, I've found cooking to help like art might be useful to kids with autism. I can start something and finish it, occasionally share it and bad or good it lets me do something normal and feel like I'm part of society.
I have spoken of the demons coming to greet me on days off and how it's like a cat and mouse game to shun them.  I think they are not allowed in the grocery store, so I tend to go there for refuge.  Good ideas are also very useful repellent so it's best to grab onto one should it happen to pass by my brain.  I allow us pork sometimes and on this day, found some nice lean pieces to feature in a dish that would turn into a mashup of spicy peanut noodles and cashew pork.

Using unsweetened chunky peanut butter and adding the honey helped control the sugar content.

The fact that they planted a tree with a giant claw right outside my window at the crack of dawn aided in creating a distraction for me and I somehow made it through to the 4pm hour.  For some reason I give myself immunity at that point I guess figuring I gave the day my best shot.  Plus I must save time for fretting about getting fat or saggy, how I never look fresh and alert anymore or how I don't have cute clothes and never manage to wear the appropriate outerwear.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Cause You Got Personality

Thanks to Netflix & ROKU, I am able to finally watch some cooking shows, something I've missed not having cable.  In a few of the burger competitions they complained many burgers were more of a meatloaf because they had too many fillers.  I think ground turkey and chicken do very well with lots of additions.  I like the taste of these burgers and feel if you don't overmix, they still hold their form and texture. It gives them unique personalities.
And the truth is if you do add things like oatmeal, peppers, garlic, herbs, spinach they become a little  healthier.  It stretches the pound of meat and yields many more burgers.  We all know full on veggie burgers can be amazing. So, sorry Food Network judges, the logic just doesn't hold up.  Folks are not eating beef as much and we still need our burger fix. Almost-veggie burgers rock.
This was a good food day, very similar to a good hair day.  I was happy with it. It tasted great, better than expected and photographed fairly well.  A slice of jack cheese and then topped with a very tropical tasting salsa over a pineapple jasmine rice and beans.