Saturday, August 15, 2015

When the Rain Washes You Clean You'll Know

There are certain lines that you read from books or poems or lyrics from songs that stick with you throughout your life.  Maybe because they are true.  Maybe they are just true for you. Or maybe they make perfect sense for that particular time in your life.  It's hard to know what's true, the closer you get to it.  One day you wake up and something feels so very real and the next, it's entirely oblique.
You think with your mind but I gotta believe your heart and soul are always whispering secrets and dropping philosophy in it's ear.  A favorite line of mine from The Misfits is when Marilyn says 'maybe it's not fair to believe what people say, maybe it's not even fair to them'.  And then something I read last week has struck another chord.  'When someone shows themselves to you, believe them'.  The opposite of what I've ever wanted to accept.  I get wild romantic notions that people are full of enchantment and mystery and all it takes to bring it out is to recognize it.  And for much of my life, I think that has been true.  I've always been keen to a layer that we normally don't gain access to.  You have to really pay attention to that glimmer in someone's eyes, that knowing smile or something they say and then you are able to feel it.
If you're religious you believe that God is in you. If you don't believe in God, you feel that in ways, you are God, since nothing exists that is greater than you.  Either way, it could be that perfect love does live in each of us.  Ideal versions of our imperfect selves, wanting to break out and be free.  And maybe that's what I see, the deep longing. The hope of something that wants to explode but can't for whatever reason.  Maybe we all hold just a tiny piece of it.  
Basing your own reality on exactly what people show you is probably way more brave than any of my crazy notions.

I braved the decaying PathMark and settled on a braised chicken with artichoke and olives recipe I found. This is the perfect dish to get that seasoning in the sweet spot and it will comfort you into the night whoever you are and whatever you believe.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Can't Get There From Here

I'm so backed up in my writing that I have to think back two months now on these pictures to remember their stories.  But this one I do remember because I was very excited to make this stuffed chicken breast recipe I had found online.  The image was gorgeous.  I bought everything I needed to make it after work that week.  I rode home thinking about the picture.  I had good plump chicken breasts thawing.  ....Or so I thought.
I came home and no, no it wasn't chicken breasts thawing. It was actually ground turkey. Shit.
So I ran to the corner market. I'm so lucky to have all these gourmet markets and a major grocery store within one or two blocks.  I love Brooklyn for this!  However, breaking it down for reals as they say...I don't step into Green Grape unless I'm desperate.  It's like a 20 something bar scene in there.  Cute, young, hip, happy people that I cannot relate to. I stay far away.  And I have to mentally prepare for PathMark because it's a trip down fucked up lane sometimes.  I won't go into it because at this very moment it's transforming into a beautiful butterfly Stop and Shop and I have big hopes for a promised land, but it got ugly towards the end. Real ugly.  I like my Garden Market.  The corner market. They'll have some!  They installed that nice meat fridge last year.  Oh, guess what?  Cooler is down.  Cooler is empty. No chicken breast.  Damn! Hunger had set in. But I'm too sweaty and uncute to face the Grape.  Had to improvise.  I looked at all their high priced gourmet packaged meats and found a nice sun dried tomato chicken sausage that was nitrate free and I figured, I could do something with it.  I'll make the chicken another night.
But then I just couldn't let go of that image on the recipe for this amazing stuffed chicken. You know when you've already gone a second too far to turn back? So even though technically it was really a stretch, I had to make this dish.
And I did. And it was goooooooood.  It was pizza good.  It was special.  And it was a very pleasant surprise.
Happy accidents in life and in the kitchen.


Monday, August 10, 2015

One Thing Leads to Another

One of my favorite choices at Republic is the Sauteed Beef Salad with cold rice noodles, onion, tomato, mint, bean sprouts, peanut, scallions and shallots.  
Just thinking of it right now makes me hungry and I just ate a huge bowl of hot oatmeal with nuts and raisins.
I'm trying to eat less meat, cutting out most pork, most beef.  But you know what that leaves you 
with?  As far as affordable choices anyway.  Chicken and Turkey.  The ground versions of course being 
easiest, fastest and versatile.  BUT...a girl can run out of ideas.  When she's weak mind you.  This is why I pay attention to everyone's food, at restaurants, on posts, shared pics, recipe articles, books, TV shows and street foods, magazines, you name it.  I have my eyes on your fries.  You have to keep feeding the brainchild or she tends to takes long naps.  
Black bean noodles, ground turkey, sprouts, mint, cold tomatoes, onions topped with a splash of rice 
vinegar and a little olive oil.   Really good.  A dish inspired by another sometimes becomes a brand new treasure.  A totally different taste sensation then Republic's but nonetheless a good change of pace.  And who doesn't love a bowl?

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Maybe She Just Has to Sing For the Sake of the Song

Home cooks are like the house band at a neighborhood bar.  We're not the chef headliners at the big name venues.  No we're the everyday, get that shit done while making it fun, with love and looking purdy. The working artists. We cook to live.  Sometimes we cook with amazing fresh ingredients but more so with a whole lot of everyday common foods.  The basics.  And after a particular age you have to ditch many items in your bag of tricks.  You know, the stuff that always makes the party? The cheese, the fat, the high heat.  Age has a way of cockblocking your fun actually.  Or tries to. But you can deceive her Elderliness.  Make your own new definitions of remarkable.
If I didn't get to create and prepare meals for kicks I'd probably just dry up and die.  It brings me satisfaction.  A feeling seriously lacking in life today.  I have a bad habit of living primarily inside of my mind and coming out to earth only to forage for inspiration.  So preparing a meal from start to finish, buying the ingredients, visualizing the concept, clean and readying the station, chopping and washing, seasoning and operating the oven and stove...all these things are real.  They are tools to ground crazies like me in the physical realm.  I'm not doing it to win awards or for people to emulate me. I'm not trying to teach or preach or be the best.  I just really need to do it for my own sanity and it serves a practical purpose. So, bonus that!
To create is sometimes all I need to feel human.
I had some million dollar organic, no nitrate chicken sausage from the corner market but only a red potato and some yellow grape tomatoes.  I did a hash and topped it with soft eggs.  Salt, pepper and the only condiment needed was squirts of Louisiana Hot Sauce.
So remember, tip your waitress. Thank you and goodnight!

Friday, August 7, 2015

Fast As You

A very quick-style after work version of a nice long stewed dish, Hunter's Chicken.  A very valid point brought to my attention (thanks Melissa!) is that the sauce should never touch the salad.  I agree and coincidentally one of my pet peeves is a runny sauce.  It's common sense when to plate the salad separately but I didn't use it.  Did I mention this was a fast after work meal? Also some days of the week the main dish does not contain a bed. That would be rice, masa or quinoa perhaps which normally catches all the sauce.   Small things matter though and my goal, if I ever had one is to be a better cook overall.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Turkey Kofta and Pesto Peas

Ground Turkey Kofta.  How fun is anything on a stick?  I'm very easily entertained.  But this is so tasty with the yogurt sauce.  Pesto peas.  Meh.  I love the idea and maybe you have to just mix it at the last minute because the pesto turns brown otherwise, or cool the peas first.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Don't Bring Me Down

Sometimes the only way you can go is up.  I've burgered myself all the way to boredom this year but this was interesting.  Pesto over turkey cheeseburger layered over wilted greens and tomato.
I like when things are easy to eat.  When they don't just look good and then you can't figure how to cut into them.  Or you go to take a bite and everything slides away like an avalanche.  So this was all yes in those areas.  Plus putting the pesto on top and having the greens as a base gives this enough substance as to not require additional fanfare.  Thus, dinner is done!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Through This Open World, I'm Bound to Ramble

I love cooking for dozens of reasons.  One is because there is a start and a finish. An end product, an outcome bad or good. I have issues with time as it relates to the continuum so I appreciate the art of cooking and eating a meal.  There is no gray.  It is straightforward.
I live in the moment but I also have all this backed up living to do.  Somehow, somewhere I fostered the ability to save certain situations in tiny time capsules to later pop open and address. Maybe I wasn't ready or was distracted at the time.  I read that your mind truly does have the capability to preserve memories in this way.  So occasionally I choose to sacrifice moments in the day to let one or two into the ole noggin.  A virtual Pintrest board for feel ya later's.  Miraculously it all comes back with smells and specific details, and emotions.  Mostly these are hard. After all, you don't not live a situation because it's easy.  Maybe you just couldn't cope at the time.  But no matter how great of an escape artist, one must still eventually reckon with whatever it is they lived through.
I don't always get the shrimp right but when I do, I have to brag about it.  That slight crispy outer crust with a big burst of juicy shrimpiness when you bite. Not hard but tender.  And then this amazing pesto sauce over zucchini veggetti was all Yes!
I don't want to miss out on any of this world's breath, even the hard parts.  I also don't want to be limited by the conventional means of understanding time or love or reality.  We have way too many restrictions on ourselves.  Why put them on our minds and hearts as well?
For me, time doesn't have a past or a future.  Reality is an illusion and love is infinite.
But damned if I won't find a way to be miserable half my days.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Whenever I Call You Friend

I love how someone you don't know in some far off distant land can come up with a simple new recipe and then you try it and its just what you were craving.  So magical.
That is what happened with this recipe I found on a site for easy summer quick meals.  Cannellini beans, red onion (I had sweet), green onion, avocado and lemon juice.  The usual s&p, drizzle of oil ending.
I am pretty sure that I believe that all the people in our lives come to us by some inner will of our own.  I don't even exclude the assholes.  My studies on this are not yet complete.  I used to think God sent them all.  But then I sort of nixed that theory because I don't think He micromanages the game like that. I believe He creates the original scene and it is then our responsibility to solve the puzzle He's given us.  I believe we even pick our mothers and when and where we come into the picture.  Some higher part of our consciousness owns abilities to imagine people, send for them, and then we must also recognize them when they get here.  At work for instance maybe all of us have met someone new and got an instant jolt that this person was going to be important in some way, bad or good.  Occasionally it's a surprise. You don't feel anything and later they become your nemesis or your best friend. In those situations I believe you are the one that has entered into their radar.  You are the one that has been summoned.
My evolution happens painstakingly slow with tendencies to regress.  I'm just this past year beginning to see the relevance of humans as they relate to my day to day life.  I feel a strong pull to finally get to know those specific persons that I seemed to have conjured to my party.  It is finally time to cherish them now. It may be too late in some cases but I will be diligent in my persistenceness because I feel it is worth the effort.
In the same way this year I have come to appreciate recipes from other simple cooks.  They provide inspiration, ideas, and stimulate my culinary growth.