Friday, May 28, 2021

Cash in Now Honey, Cash in Now

I used the Flatbread which is the size of a flip-flop to make quick pizza with pepperoni, mushrooms, green olives (a Midwestern thing), onions.  You could go Mexican with this and top it with beans, cheese, cabbage, tomato, pickled peppers, onions and soyrizo would be awesome.  Or do a Greek salad atop it.  Breakfast flatbread is great too.  
It's a blank canvas and can be anything, I suppose. 
We have a rash of new leaders in my store that seem to be much more progressive leaning than anyone who's governed before.  We're about as politically correct as you could imagine.  I am trying to cash in on a bit of this finally for personal gain.  These days if you're more of an 'in the middle' kind of person, not particularly anything, you get no perks or benefits in daily life.  People expect you to buck up and deal with all the blows.  Not only that, it's hard to even fight for small, equal rights.  I've written before about hard it has been to get my request validated, to use my nickname at work because for whatever personal reason, I cannot STAND hearing my legal name without feeling ill.  So this has gone on for years.  It's a weird thing that I understand but not fully.  Regardless, it's not much to ask my place of 13 years employment! 
In the summer, I wear my hair back and in general, I think I'm looking a little more gender-less than many of the naturally voluptuous, big wigged, false eyelash wearing gals I work with.  I wear my husband's white tee shirts riding in to work because I'm cheap and baggier pants because I do not have an ass you could support a lunch tray on like many of the young girls there.  I don't wear much makeup because I'm still masked all day anyway.  All this, along with my request to the newbies to be called by my nickname, has possibly lead to the assumption that I am gender neutral (which by the way is a goal look for me) or something because that appeal suddenly has been validated.  People that have never spoke to me, know my name and have addressed me like I achieved some high honor.   Not only that but the managers have come and told me they've tried to spread the word and were apologetic even when my full name was put on the daily schedules by mistake a few times. Wow, I could get used to this treatment.   

Disclaimer: I realize that in other areas of the country these issues are real battles and not to be made light of but you also can't ignore pockets where we're unnecessarily bending over backwards, cowering to groups with such guilty  intensity while ignoring equally valid needs of the middle that it has become almost ridiculous and frustrating.  

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

I'm Gonna Soak Up the Sun

P's 2nd Vaccine Shot
Cafe Luluc on Smith Street

Only one fixated on Mexican food in New York would order a Mexican breakfast at a French bistro.  But it was one of the specials and I noticed as always, there was Mexican cooks in the back.  I wasn't at all disappointed.  The raw jalapenos and tomatoes were bright and refreshing as was the giant dollop of the most perfect guacamole and crema, that tasted like the best sour cream and onion dip.  The black beans were creamy and smooth and the white rice was the perfect palate cleanser.  What they achieved was the most vibrant, tangy breakfast.  I love heat from raw jalapenos.  They must have mixed in the tomatoes right at the end because they too were still raw, juicy and fresh without making the eggs watery.  I make a ton of scrambles and there is a real art to keeping the ingredients separate and able to pop individually.  

This would conclude our vaccine shot breakfasts on Smith Street.  It was about 1000 degrees at noon and the sun was so bright on us that no one else dared eat on the street patio.  I monitored P, scared he might start feeling ill for the ride home but all turned out well.  It's also so refreshing to look back on this two months later and realize how much better and stronger we both feel physically.  

Does She Come Complete?

I'm writing this at the end of June when the lovely Jill Biden was featured on the cover of Vogue.  I didn't read the whole article but she does seem like someone I would like, as a person.  Sometimes a smile tells big stories.  Melania Trump, in live interviews, really felt like someone that I would not care for.  As a first lady, I felt she was a terrible ideal based on her words, but I also felt for her because like all of us, she might have been equally as shocked by her forced position.  I was one of those women who fantasized about rescuing her from her piggish husband until I realized she was there by choice.  I'll still be happy if someday it comes out she hated his policies and ways of communicating but I'll lose no more sleep waiting for that. 

When I saw the cover of Vogue, the first thing I thought was how surprised I was that Melania was not featured on every single fashion magazine as first lady because in that respect, she most definitely brought the heat.  I found her stunning and gorgeous at every turn.  Her legs in pumps looked strong and capable. Beforehand, she would dress in that stupid, old-fashioned 'sexy' look, pushed up fake boobs and tight squeezed-in bodice.  But she really pulled it off, in my opinion, in dressing the part.  Fashion magazines like Vogue do stories on strong women but this was a no-brainer.  Our first lady was visually striking, a former model with a heavy fashion sense.  And no one chose to feature her?  Shame on them.  Really, we have to call out bullshit no matter who is doling it.  I think especially now.  That was petty and mean.  

So I watch one news clip of the take from the right and instead of just acknowledging Melania should have been featured, instead they take the ugly side of saying how little Jill has done, really horrible jabs, as you would expect from Fox.  Why is everyone so ugly right now???   

Jill should most definitely be featured, as she is such a positive role model and of course a more relatable figure.  But so should Melania, for her looks and fashion sense, and in fairness, her story as well.  She could be an influencer to some.  Possibly if they would have done an interview, we may have found some depth to her as well.  She has an amazing American immigrant story, another first which makes her a person of interest.   

That's what's so shitty about everything right now, the hypocrisy of it all.
Well, what do you do when the world's going to hell in a handbasket?  Made chicken salad! Eggs, chicken, apple, celery, in a yogurt-mayo combo with lemon.  I prepared in a salad bowl, with smoked bacon Gouda and crackers, then wraps for another meal.  

Monday, May 24, 2021

And I Looked And Saw That It Was Good

On the last days of spring you realize that soon, baking in the oven will not be a viable option.  I haven't roasted enough whole chickens this year.  However, I have heavily relied on my oven for months for baking what I called, sheet pan-demic dinners.   I will need a summer replacement idea to incorporate more vegetables, less meat and most importantly, ease of prep using summer produce as the focus.  Chunky chopped salads of every variety come to mind. Yes, and I will call them Kitchen Bowl Salads as they will be filled with everything, except the kitchen sink. Thus it is written.

An ice cream sandwich treat where the packaging is better than the product.  Actually, the brownie was so chocolatey intense and rich, that it overpowered the delicate taste of the vanilla bean ice cream, which was a shame because separately, they were amazing.  A thought would be to buy another bar and make a hot chocolate sauce, cut it in two pieces and make Hot Fudge Brownie Sundaes! 

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

I Know a Place

I made a spicy baked meatball similar to the Greek Keftedes, but instead of lamb, I used beans and ground beef, red onion, herbs (mint, dill and cilantro), Panko, egg and garlic.  Baking them quickly gives a crispy crust and leaves them nice and tender inside.   Okay, you're thinking where's the luxurious sauce lady!?  Not to worry, the garlicky yogurt sauce with cucumber was safely tucked away in my fridge cooling awaiting the moment when my dumb ass would remember I'd made it.  You know, well after we ate the meal.  Lots of lemon and olive oil made up for it though.  Still delicious.
The football shape lets you believe you did something special, distinct from the thousands of meatballs or patties you've make before.  Oblong versus round seems like a small distinction but your mind can easily be tricked into believing silly notions.  Or, alternatively, maybe these slight variations really do make a significant difference. 

Similarly, P brought up how we no longer use, colored people to describe race but yet it is ironically still correct to say people of color.  Normally, I want to smack him for always playing the devil's advocate but that one struck me.  The same words, just reversed and an of added makes it right. 

I grew up in the 60's when it was proper to describe blacks as colored people.  It was a term of respect.  In my town, the N word was most definitely used by too many folks, so I made it clear I was not one of those eedjiots by using the decent term that now would be considered highly inappropriate.  And people of color is not it's replacement, but instead has become a term for all races.  But it does make you pause and realize how senseless our logic can be sometimes.  The term African-American is on it's way out and the kids at work only describe others as dark-skinned but I've never loved that verbiage. It doesn't feel natural for me to use.  It's also confusing because when they say light-skinned, I'm always unsure if they mean white or just a fair skinned black or possibly a Latino.  The solo word black often feels weird, just like saying white as a descriptive.  Some people pronounce White, like Trump says CHI-na, with such an emphasis that it just feels derogatory. Some WHite guy, gives me images of some  big, dumb, asshole, which is completely unfair.  Not to mention how brown sounds highly strange and then what do you do with the Asians?  I've never liked Latina to describe myself, but accept it in absence of a better word.  To me, it felt like you were void of a true Ethnic background, like you had no homeland, forced to be stirred into some giant pot of brown soup.  Mexican-American is long but correct. 

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Together We Burn, Together We Burn Away

Tostada's versus Tacos
With the mainstreaming of Taco Tuesday and just about everyone loving tacos, I am coming out today as a Tostada advocate.  They are similar, in ways. The main deviation lies in the tostada's flat bed, the crunchy base, in which to mound a sufficient layer of meat and creamy beans to act as the glue for all the other stuff.  It changes the bite entirely from a taco, which is generally folded, soft corn tortillas with meat, onion and maybe some pico de gallo and lime.  A handy delicacy that I would never refuse but different, nonetheless.  More of a treat, the taco, while tostadas for me, are an event.  Hefting the loaded disc up to your mouth, trying to balance the serious, savory items on the bottom and then all the colorful, fresh, cool sassy bits on top.  The mullet of Mexican food, one might say. Whether it be cabbage or lettuce, tomatoes, onions, there is always room for cheese, sour cream or guacamole and then cilantro, green onion, jalapeno slices. In fact, it's almost impossible to stop stacking! THAT full pyramid of delight is what really makes Tostadas my choice.
In this world, there are taco people and tostada people.  As I concentrate on our universal connectivity, I can't help but notice there are also key differences, you really can't ignore.   In a similar comparison, the other day P likened he and I to Jay Farrar and Jeff Tweedy from Uncle Tupelo, rivaling Midwestern mates who went on to create separate careers and bands.   I would say, a great example of a taco and a tostada.  He claims I'm Tweedy, the goofy one who people originally discounted as not as talented but who has an odd spunk that made him more attractive to the masses and who went on to have the bigger success.  He being Farrar, the moody, introspective genius that didn't quite get the kudos he deserved, but as he says, clearly the more talented of the two.  I don't know about all of that.    

All I know is, in my recent past I would swim in the broody, sun-downing sounds of Son Volt.  Jay's voice for me, brings up the sweet, summer's end smell of my Midwestern youth, regret and lost hope.   A field of lightning bugs at dusk, loud chirping of crickets and that stale beer stench in my car from the night before.  That was comforting to me, to wallow in bleak memories.  Lately, I am not as much a fan of embracing the past gloom.  Romantic as it can be, it's not a healthy place to dwell for too long.
Tweedy is much more optimistic and celebratory.  Music you can clean your house by, energetic and uplifting.  When he sings on problems, you know he'll continue on and there is no fear of him giving up.  Even though he's struggled with addictions, his problems seem more simple, common and relatable as he relays them in interviews. 
In my summation, I guess we are a mixture of both at any given time.  But I always thought I would be Jay.  I guess I'm just a Tostado person in love with a Taco. 

Monday, May 10, 2021

And Show the World All the Love in Your Heart

Beautiful Colorful Tostadas!  Shrimp with purple cabbage with a sour cream dressing for the win!  And then baked ground beef with refried beans falls into second as no slouch.  Tostadas need a bed for the toppings to stick to so when you pick it up nothing goes tumbling off.  I love experimenting with a variety of choices like guacamole, beans, yogurt, crema, hummus, mashed sweet potatoes, so many ideas!  I bake the tostada shells usually but sometimes you gotta fry those puppies to that perfect crisp.  These were special but very simple to make.  Instead of sides, make these the entire meal to simplify even more.  
Carole King is right, you've got to get up every morning with a smile on your face!  And to achieve that, I continue to end my evenings with visions of beefy waves and young surfers enjoying the planet.  My husband thinks I'm going to run off with some sun bleached blonde named Freedumb one day but in reality, I watch like a vampire in my dark cavey room.  Youth enjoying the blue ocean in the sun after the pandemic is therapeutic.  After holing up so long and getting kicked in the gut by life,  I tend to feel like Nosferatu all pale, unattractive and ancient and these guys and gals just help me to remember that you are as young and beautiful as you feel.  

I Try to Be Me, You Try to Be You

Pork Chops, roasted cauliflower and fried eggs for dinner
There's nothing better than a surprisingly satisfying dinner creation when you started out thinking there was not a meal to be made.  These items in the fridge didn't go together but they turned out tasting like a rustic dinner plate served up at a countryside bed and breakfast (and I have no idea where I got that since I have never been to either).  A warm low carb tortilla to sop up the creamy egg yolks!  Curried roasted cauliflower and a spice rubbed pork chop.  
Sometimes I'm shocked at the way we can live with these people, our partners, day in and day out, for decades!  It's an impossible waltz, living two separate lives, yet also together.  How it all sort of flows harmoniously, without collisions, like the traffic in India.   Once in awhile you'll have a wreck and it will be bad.  But you learn to feed off their presence and encouragement to continue moving along these invisible paths we're all on.  In the end, we all walk alone but being married doesn't suck.
I'm also shocked by the talent of our mutual friend who has just released his album Scene to Scene.  His wife did the gorgeous artwork for the album and video and it arrived in the mail on this day.  

Sunday, May 9, 2021

Oh Baby, Just You Shut Your Mouth

Here and there in moments of desperation and deep hunger I have created the perfect meal for my specific individual craving of the day.  In this example, I had leftover roast chicken but I really needed silky noodles sliding down my throat real soon or I might just disintegrate into the ether.  I reheated the chicken and vegetables in a pan with a little chicken broth, tons of garlic chili sauce, soy and sesame oil.  Served over naked vermicelli it became the ultra hot Asian dream dish I desired. 

Another amazing discovery was this Pure Green juice featuring apple cider, ginger, cayenne and lemon.  What an eye opener!  So much so that I could only take in 2 sips at a time, which is good because it was $8 and change for the 8 ounces and it ended up lasted a few days.  

Saturday, May 8, 2021

Doesn't Take Much to Make Me Happy

Sheet pan chicken and vegetables
It has come to my attention that I have been living life all wrong.  The simplest advice seems to be the most complex and all encompassing.  When I cook, I thought I was present naturally, but turns out, I basically sleep through most tasks and work.  Perhaps the mind tricks you to pay attention to it's thoughts whilst you're doing something easy.  Many parts of the day, I check out and go on autopilot, or inside, spending too much time with bad mind ideas.   I tasked myself to stay present and aware while brushing my teeth, showering, cooking and washing the dishes.  Just changing my focus on those basic chores enriched my entire day.  Cutting and washing the vegetables felt like a sacred ritual.  There is romance and poetry to some of these chores.  Checking the doneness of the chicken or being there when you rinse that glass to crystal clear, becomes these full moments, that you don't want to miss because it feels healing to be in them.  Try it!   
 Try tossing all your vegetables together with spices and oil before laying them on a sheet pan.  There is nothing better than roasted vegetables.  

Thursday, May 6, 2021

The Second Time Around

There's a first time for everything.  This was the second time.  I got a 2 day bug and had to ask P to make dinner.  As always, he insists he has zero ability to cook and no idea how to even begin.  So from the couch I barked specific orders and ingredient amounts for this super simple pantry two bean chili.  Canned beans, canned green chiles, canned stock, super easy but made special with jalapeno jack cheese, sour cream and green onions.  P thinks I fall for his incompetence claims.  The truth is couples give each other all of these little breaks, allowances, get out of jail free cards.  We lie to each other, constantly and we know it.  Hopefully nothing too drastic, mainly it's to protect them or not to hurt each other.  Sometimes the lie is believing his lie.