Tuesday, January 28, 2020

And Now I Long to See Your Smile

Spinach Mushroom Salad from Lean Crust Pizza
I found this unwritten post saved in my drafts and since I've been remembering sweet Mona the cat all week, I decided to honor that dear little girl with some thoughts of gratitude.  I had been writing all day in the winter and she lay with me in various states of relaxation.  Who could ever be sad seeing her little rabbit feet straight up in the air like that?!  She was such a joy, just watching her sleep gave the sense that everything was right in the world and now as I learn about staying in the present moment, I see that's exactly right.  Stopping thought and watching her peaceful sleep was my entrance to contentment.  I remember feeling so privileged to live with this gorgeous creature and now I recognize that her whole being was a pointer to the present.  A constant reminder that everything existed right then in that moment, the one we were in.  When she showered me with affection, I almost couldn't take it.  I felt so unworthy because an animal's attention is incredible and thick with all this communication we don't yet understand.  All cats have their unique presence and hers was a bright, innocent, childlike spirit.  I miss her so much but I do believe that spirit lives on somehow in the world, that only her body gave out.  Of course no one knows for sure,  but I maintain death frees the spirit up to enter a new vessel of it's choosing. 

I chose my belly to store these frozen tamales I found on Amazon.   

Friday, January 24, 2020

Gotta Leave It All Behind and Face the Truth

Picadillo Mexicano
So normally you would have twice the meat and half the potatoes but I only had a pound of ground beef.  This is a dish that my mom would make on weeknights before they bought and managed a restaurant and we ate like kings at home.  I never knew it had a real name but found it on a recent You Tube food excursion.  Carrots are missing as well from my dish but the taste was there of the Cumino seed and rustic, earthy potato.  A great example of the peasant type of cooking she did at home.  Opposite of the cheese laden platters in the restaurant although those kicked ass as well.
My mom was a great example of someone who's presence gave so much comfort.  Her house, her food, her smell, her beauty, her essence.  Her mind tortured her own self with so much worry, negative thoughts and woe but yet she was sometimes able to show you how all your own worries were unnecessary.  And everything she touched had tons of love and care shone upon it.  Her plants were so happy.  Sitting on the steps alongside her hillside garden was one of my first understandings of zen as a young girl.  Seeing her joy and gentleness in the tiny flowers and giant leaves of the Rhubarb, the beauty of her roses on the trellis.  It was as if the whole yard was alive with her love, happy as clams.  And we could sit out there in the sun and eat the berries off of the mulberry bushes, just drinking it all in.  Even the grass seemed to grow especially deep green and thick.  Then the wind would bend it all to show the lighter shaded backside of the blades.  

She could never escape her mind's torment during her time here but I rejoice knowing that she shed it all before moving on. I choose to remember her spirit in all these incredibly delicious dishes and in the breeze from that back yard where all her love grew.  

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

The Waiting is the Hardest Part

I don't know why this is true but I can't completely relax when I'm home alone until I know when P is coming back to the apartment.  We both work various hours and it is always tricky but especially when he's on a big job to know when he'll be back.  Will it be in time to eat together or will I should shower by myself.  We have a tiny apartment so if I get it all calm and relaxed, is he going to come bursting in with a good half an hour of big energy?  It's not his fault (or mine when I do it to him).  When you come in from the outside you must decompress, talk about it, make various noises.  You have to get all your gear off, go the bathroom and drink some water, maybe eat a little.  It's all natural but in a small space it's hard to fully relax when someone is doing all of that, walking back and forth across your path.  Another thing is that if I go out like I did today, took a walk in the park, did a little food shopping so I dressed for human consumption, put on lipstick and a bra, combed my hair to make myself as cute as I can, then I kind of want him to see me.  Because I often stay looking pretty haphazard on my days off, so it's good to remind him that I am not always a fugly cow.  So it's a bummer to get undressed and put all my stuff away, back into pajamas,  I feel he missed something, which is nuts because I'm sure he could care less.   Tonight I made these cool Philly Cheesesteak Stuffed Peppers, what a great idea btw, not mine, from this recipe idea on Delish.com.
cheesesteak stuffed peppers
I had all the ingredients ready to go for when he came back, I could just put it together and bake them off but the hours passed, so I ended up eating alone.  I made a creamy polenta to lay them on and was quite happy with the whole thing.
Its just the uncomfortable feeling that you're waiting for someone to come.  I need to stop having this unnecessary problem.  Nothing is stopping me from just being.  As a matter of fact, remaining in that waiting state can spoil a good amount of time. You do it to yourself, it's nothing the other person has control over.  And then I think, what if he were gone like on a trip, what would I be doing differently right now if I knew he would not walk through that door all day?  Probably look a lot less presentable for one.
When he finally came back I presented him with these cool little concoctions over polenta.
Side note, I usually cut the tops off of peppers and stuff them like a cup but I quite like splitting them down the middle for this type of recipe. 

Monday, January 20, 2020

Do You Remember the Time

An unexpected treat in a super quick rye bread toastie.  This bright cabbage slaw served alongside a simple toasted bread with a slice of jack cheese was a sweet simple surprise.  Remember when a sandwich was two slices of bread like this with some barely see-able thing between them, not the stacked extravaganzas of today?  I recall if you had a piece of fried bologna and added a fried egg, that was pretty deluxe.  Actually, with mustard and black pepper I would be thrilled to have that as I write this now.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Well Who Am I To Keep You Down

I walked into the apartment at 6:30 in the evening coming home from a mucked up day at work.  Could I be dreaming, I smelled what could only be homemade beef stew.  P cooked dinner!  So my first reaction from my screwed up girl side, was jealousy that he could just make this amazing semi complicated meal so easily out of the blue.  And the backstory was that I had just made it but it was not the dream I had anticipated.  Quickly I get right because Wake up girl, someone made really good food for you!  And it was undeniable.  He did real good.  The thing about P is when he cooks, it's a special occasion so he reads recipes, he buys the good stuff, he makes it an event but that being said, he's also naturally talented at cooking, meat especially.  I've said this before but his family is rich in ability and often excel in their chosen ventures, which is lucky.  I'm not naturally talented at anything I've hoped to be so it's just a tiny bit frustrating.   He went to the good butcher for stew meat and bones, he bought wine and fresh vegetables.  He probably spent as much money as a big dinner out would cost but there is such a difference in textures with good beef that I for one could taste right out of the gate.  And in a slow cooked delight like stew, it does come through.  Compared to my penny saver beef stew from a couple of weeks ago, this was levels up in richness. 

Friday, January 17, 2020

Life in the Fast Lane, Surely Make you Lose Your Mind

Using crispy rice as a crunchy topping for a salad was a fun idea to use up the small leftover black grain.  Heated on a hot pan until it begins to crust, rice takes on a very nutty and savory flavor that any cook knows.  When was the first moment someone discovered that secret awesomeness, perhaps while cleaning up they scraped the pan and like me, tasted the caramelized wonder.
Today I felt it is culinarily (yes, its a word in food land) time to take these bits and give them their moment in the spotlight.
I'm pretty easily entertained and satisfied so a small new delight can really shake up my nerd world. I eat a lot of burger patties over salad, because it's tasty, easy, fast and relatively healthy.  The best things about this type of easy meal is the countless variations.  You can make a turkey, black bean, ground chicken or beef burger, topped with many different cheeses.  You can use so many types of lettuce, theme your salad or make the dressing the star.  So one idea can be several meals.  I added fresh orange juice and zest to this iceberg salad with chick peas and avocados. 
I'm so inspired today by my own lame low-bar values that I'm making a cup of orange peel tea with you guessed it, my own orange peels that I pulled off with my own tiny nail-bitten fingers.  And guess who has fresh mint!? My mom used to make it this way, so it's nostalgic, green, and planet saving but not at all pretentious because it's just me enjoying life in the cheapest ways possible.  To continue the festivities I also whipped up a jar of my house blend popcorn seasoning.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Separate the Wheat From the Chaff

The Documentary

We finally watched the David Crosby documentary Remember My Name.  It was interesting in many ways especially to see behaviors from the 70s shone in the woke light of our current era.  It's also roughly the first anniversary of much of the cancel generations biggest take down year.  Or maybe it was just round one as I just read that Chris Matthews is the latest victim of our new zero tolerance society.  The warriors victor for violations as horrible as making someone uncomfortable.

In HR there is a protocol.  You give a talk, a face to face they call it where they explain the problem they're having with you.  Basically you're told to cool it.  The second time you do the same issue, they give you a written warning, and that one means the next time and they're better not be one, you will be terminated.  In other words you get chances to change your behavior in the case that you were living so far out of the reality of others that possibly, you didn't understand the gravity of your actions.

David Crosby's musical talent early on was undeniable and it stands the test of time.  In the same breathe David, the person also admittedly used much of the power gained from that good talent in selfish, ugly ways.  Drugs and alcohol brought out his angry side, allowed him to become an evil being.  With women he admits getting several gorgeous young women addicted to heroin.  Ultimately, you can never blame someone for your own addiction but you can certainly choose better judgement against handing a fully loaded gun to a young impressionable, trusting girl when you're a powerful, influential musician.

Is redemption ever off the table?  Why do we allow some people off the hook with only slightly reflective behavior but others we condemn for life?  I watched this movie to learn about David's musical life but went away seeing more of a complete picture.  I formed an opinion that he's an egotistical, narcissist that even in facing death seems unwilling to accept forgiveness but still I honor all the good that came from the music he created.  It's hard not to notice he's still proud of all his imperfections and seems hellbent on not changing any of that, since it seems to attract the attention he seeks.  It's sad considering his health is failing.
The documentary is entertaining, you get a sense of how it all went down but mostly my takeaway reads:  I never want to listen to David Crosby talk ever again.  Thank goodness I have his music instead, his best offering.
After I finally understood that there are no rules in salads and soups, I love to experiment with combinations that mock my inner happiness.   I've read a lot about how we are connected to every single thing in this world and beyond.  And if all this is true, first of all, there is no way to begin to comprehend the idea.  If you don't even try, you can taste it in a salad, like in this roasted chickpea, diced crisped-up ham, tomatoes, green olives over butter lettuce number I tossed up to go alongside my burger patty. 

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Time is Only a Thief

Went to the famous Junior's Restaurant and Bar here in Downtown Brooklyn.  They've served up the most delicious cheesecake since 1950. It's a NY institution.  But what they don't tell you is they also serve up old Brooklyn in the most delightful way. They've never left, it's everything and one around them that has changed over time.  High rises have gone up around and down the block but there they stand in this winter night, all lit up like a Christmas tree in the new cold world.  When you walk in, you feel as though you're in a food church of sorts.  You realize manners are still a thing and dining out is an experience to respect in every way.  I'm sure they still do great business but on a weeknight, you might find what we did sitting in the multiple dining rooms, single patrons, mainly an elderly African-American crowd.  Stately male waiters recited the daily specials, busboys and large vinyl menus with too many choices.  In attendance that night was multiple pairs of old women friends and me and my pal, Hope.
That's an oversized portion of their famous cheesecake and Hope ordered the Carrot Cake, her favorite. 
We, too, are old city foundations that are lost in time.  We're not the old ladies we're seated next to but we're also not the young women we were when we met 20 years ago, moving and shaking in the big city, sharing an office and cab rides home after long nights of trying to change the world...of music retail.  But none of that matters once you begin talking and sharing stories, laughing and at least for me, remembering that we're not our jobs, or our hair styles, we're certainly not the last cool thing we did. Thank goodness, because I haven't done anything cool in years.  I might not understand exactly what I really am but when I can let go of any preconceived thoughts of self and just let myself have a great time, that's when I feel most real and alive. 
When the waiter mentioned Pot Pie was the special, I imagined a cute Banquet tin container set in front of me.  This was a full sized ceramic platter bowl, possibly 15" wide.  But that crust was so light and delicate, vegetables and sauce seasoned just right with the perfect amount of chicken-y goodness, atop another flaky bottom crust.   I could have eaten it all, truth be told but I was anticipating dessert.
As always, like any respectable diner, you receive tiny separate bowls atop tiny plates of beets, coleslaw and pickles for the table regardless of your dinner choices.  Also offered was a bread basket but we declined that, unfortunately.  Hope who has no issues with weight reminds me of how carbs can really weigh you down and in my insecure brain I hear that as, you're too fat, you don't need bread. 
Because you can have moments of clarity but in the end it's super hard to shed the ego when out in a social environment and even though I was smart to wear my elastic waist pants, I was so quickly reminded of this mortal coil. 

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Stuffed Roasted Poblano Peppers

Roasted Poblano peppers stuffed with cheese and mushrooms

Saturday, January 11, 2020

In a World That Keeps on Pushin' Me Around

Sheet Pan Dinner Rice Bowl
Roasted Chicken Sausage chunks along with cabbage wedges, Brussels sprouts, potatoes, carrots and onion over black rice makes a healthy less-meat type of meal.  I do less-meat because I can't quite get to meatless yet. After salt & pepper you can get creative with your spices or just leave it at that.  Toss them in some olive oil and roast.
Writing this in March while in quarantine.  Breakfast, lunch and dinner are all happening in the apartment so meals like this will come in handy especially since even if you love to cook, two or three times a day can start to feel a lot like work.
A day in the life of a hypochondriac
Some say we may gain more consciousness so to speak due to this difficult time we're in during to the Coronavirus pandemic.  Reading about all of these spiritual methods I'm using this time to kick out some conditions of my ego.  For example, I'm a bit of a hypochondriac.  Knowing that means I'm somewhat self-aware.  But my awareness was only there to serve another affliction, my need to be self critical and clearly define my faults.  But now when I recognize an illness coming on, I try to accept it but let it pass as you would a negative thought.  Only if and when it keeps coming back do I begin to accept it may be true.  P generally ignores me like all the men now but especially when I feel ill.  On the other hand, if he gets the sickness, then it finally becomes real.  No matter how many times it happens.  The thing is,  I do catch bugs fairly easily.  I mean you try working with thousands of world travelers in a closed environment each day that gets a soft wipe down once a week.  Busy family retail is brutal in big cities.  Someone is constantly coughing in your face.  And many folks haven't caught on to the turn away rule, some even seem to use my mouth to shoot spit hoops.   Right before this whole thing hit I was struck with two bouts of the flu.  I've felt crappy this entire last several weeks, a dull ache in my chest, shortness of breathe, mystery body aches including punch to the gut cricks off and on.  I've have fever like sweats and a thermometer on it's way from a distant planet.  I've mostly stayed resting during the quarantine.  Part of the day I feel good, but it's in spurts.  Nothing has gotten worse, so I will continue to ignore it.
Breakfast cracker with peanut butter, peanuts, golden raisins. 
Time will tell if I'm nuts or possibly this thing in its mild form lingers like the stench of my husbands sweaty Pendleton board shirt after a long winter.

Friday, January 10, 2020

But Get That Ice or Else No Dice

Image result for hidden gems movie adam sandler movie poster
Hidden Gems at Alamo Drafthouse Citypoint Brooklyn
The M Train Flatbread

Loaded fries

Fried pickles
Hidden Gems was incredible and Adam Sandler really transformed into a character that I'm positive I've literally bumped into in that district of Manhattan several times through the years.  Julia Fox became an instant movie star as far as I'm concerned.  Everything about her role was perfect and she could not have been more mesmerizing to watch.  Alamo is an experience when there is a great movie and I can't say enough about the awesomeness of being in a darkened theater, large comfortable chairs and never having to get up to get a thing.  You want more coffee?  Write it on the card.  Are you feeling like a big ice cream sundae? Write it on the card and ninjas come to grab it for you with lightning speed without blocking the screen.  Enjoying this M-Train flatbread in that setting is somehow so much more special.  Little slices cut on the bias.  Grabbing at loaded fries in the dark, not knowing what you're shoving in your mouth is again, fun as heck.  It's gluttonous and should be kept for special occasions but a movie debut can be that and this was.
My sister sent me this Jim Morrison-like vintage coat for Christmas so I sported it fresh for the matinee.

Later that night I made a really bright shaved Brussels sprout salad with pumpkin seeds and apples and with the tomatoes and wine vinegar dressing I thought it was a bit of heaven. This could be a light lunch for sure. 
A similar recipe