Thursday, June 30, 2022

Joy to the Fishes is the Deep Blue Sea

When you see frozen peas and carrots and seized up polenta on the plate, you might assume it was one of those days.  Those days when admittedly, you're not feeling life, but you go on, you keep moving, you plow ahead as it were.  Life doesn't stop just because you don't want to participate.  Wouldn't it be cool if we could, put the world around us on pause?  Stopping to breathe and regain composure, maybe take a long nap before rejoining the day.  I made the most vibrant gorgeous chimichurri but instead of slathering it on the meat after grilling, I decided to marinate a thin pork steak beforehand.  It was very flavorful but visually, it would be much better to salt and pepper, get good grill marks, and then put the bright green sauce on top.  You don't want to rob yourself of that vitality on a plate.  One must savor each green moment of summer.  And yes, I know how to make a very creamy Polenta but I find corn meal to be very versatile. Calorie wise, if you leave off 3/4's of that fat, you still get amazing corny taste while making a mush.  It becomes a different rustic side, especially if you replace the butter, cream and extra cheese with garlic, cayenne and chicken stock.  You can also still drizzle with olive oil.  
The day turned out to be thoughtful and filled with fun visuals.  I saw my buddies the fish, swimming together in clusters and jumping out of the water.  They are small right now and tend to stay around the docks to feed around the Red Hook Basin.  I like to ride around the docks before work to feed my mental health, breathe deep and pause at least my thoughts for as long as possible. 

Saturday, June 25, 2022

Burnin' Down the House

Do You Home Pizza? 
Home pizza'ing, admittedly is not always a slam dunk, although enjoyable regardless.  Taking some shortcuts and making a quick treat is such a delicacy.  This needed more baking time and a couple of minutes under the broiler to be camera worthy.  A pack of flatbread from my corner store were screaming to be topped with pepperoni and mushrooms.  How could I not?  I made a quick sauce from a spiced up, garlicky tomato paste, onions and oregano to spread on bottom.  I baked them at 450, but you really need that screaming hot oven temperature and I'm always a bit scared to turn that baby up to it's limit in this tiny apartment.  I foresee news headlines, Girl...Old woman, burns down building in a botched attempt to make homemade pizza. I see me standing in front, shaking my head as my entire life goes up in flames.  Still, it pains me to look at these pictures and see the difference that 2-3 minutes could have made under that broiler or a 50 degrees higher temperature on that oven.  Just another reason to get it right the next time. 

Thursday, June 23, 2022

This One's for the Girls

Andouille Sausage and Roasted Summer Vegetables.  
I hear my friend Lisa in my ear from a statement made a couple of years ago, for the need of a sauce on my dish.  Spending limited food time with her has made me eat through the eyes of others in a fun new way.  I repurposed my refreshing tomatillo-green apple sauce by blending in some sour cream and dill.  Even though I love a rustic plate of vegetables, the sauce brought everything together.  Especially since some nights I skip the starch to keep carbs down and it forces more vegetable consumption, so a sauce makes it complete.  

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

You Found Me with Your Boundless Love

Crispy Shredded Chicken Tacos
I've shared the method to making the bestest, crispiest tacos in the oven.  Having my vessel set, I then concentrated on perfecting a different filling than the original shrimp recipe, a saucy, tomato-y moist, garlicky shredded chicken.  Avocado, lettuce and tomatillo hot sauce would top these crunchy delights.  My issue with chicken tacos is often the meat is dry or not spiced enough. This is one time I like to keep the fatty bits and cook it in a little sauce to keep the moisture.  I topped with sour cream after the pic and that pulled it all together.  
When you're cooking, things can go wrong or something in your mind might not come out as you envision. It may look perfect but lack in flavor. There is such an art to balancing all aspects, especially in a contained meal, like a taco.  So simple yet each component must contribute to the overall end goal.  I don't usually follow recipes, because I like cooking off the cuff, being allowed to play in the kitchen and create new ideas.  Some cooks can replicate a recipe to the tee, but prefer instruction, some are naturals and some, like me, come simply to play the game, for the love of food.  Many have a connection to food in their blood.  Eating can be your art, detecting all nuances and subtle errors.  I was lost but found a way to live through several expressions of food.   Wherever you fall in the culinary world, may your plate remain full. 

Do you play Wordle? Once or twice I guessed correctly in my second try and deemed myself a wizard.

Friday, June 17, 2022

Time Don't Fly, It Bounds and Leaps

Life, or as Eckhart Tolle puts it, our life situation, can be very hard to swallow from time to time.  Sometimes nothing is particularly wrong, you just feel anxious or uneasy.  Adults need to make more parties to remember that even though its so difficult and the days beat us up, this is our one life we're living right now.  We're not waiting to begin living when we get the perfect job, or meet the right friend, or move to a new house.  We have to work with what is here now.  A nacho bar creates its own festive environment especially when you have fresh hot sauces and take a little time to highlight a summer fruit.  I made a chipotle roasted tomato hot sauce, a fresh tomatillo and green apple jalapeno salsa and a pineapple pico de gallo.  I put out a bowl of crumbled spiced ground turkey for toppers on the cheesy plain nachos.  

The opposite and maybe just as much of a challenge as thinking too much is wrestling with COVID brain, a new recurring condition some of us struggle with.  I often walk around like a zombie for hours, unable to form thoughts, bad or good.  I'm blank.  I hear fine, I can read but it doesn't get absorbed.  I notice after a couple of rounds of the virus, and long COVID my pea brain has slight damage.  Whatever your challenge, a jovial nacho spread is sure to ease your pain.  

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Pig is Nude, Unashamed

Spicy Cashew Pork and a Haircut
This Spicy Cashew Pork checked all my boxes, colorful, a little heat, bold flavors and textures.  I toasted the rice and it's nutty bite paired so well with the juicy vegetables.  

 I used this as a base recipe.
Before I got to porkin', I was to get a haircut.  I could go way shorter or try another layered shag. 

My dear friend recently mentioned she thought it was wrong that I referred to the mind as the ego and it's been a point of contention for the last years, all these related words.  You get to processing some of this higher thinking and you can start losing it when you try to make any sense logically instead of letting it wash over you.  Choosing the wrong words like brain instead of mind, or mind instead of ego probably does matter somewhat.  You almost need to be in an altered state to comprehend who operates the ego or where it originates.  It exists mainly as thought, your story, your perceived projection onto the world. Perhaps the ego goes in and manipulates the brain as it's tool, like those insects that take over the bodies of other insects and use them as hosts.  When you're in consciousness, we use the mind to deal with life therefore the ego cannot take the wheel.  Some believe the sooner we can all shift to living more through consciousness, we can begin to evolve to a better way of living on this planet, which we clearly need to do.  This shit is broken.
So many people live only in the material world and it's getting more and more hollow there, so I believe we'll see more converts. 
The brain is the organ that controls the mind but could also be the zombie host for the ego.  This becomes complicated and reminds me of sitting in Religion class at Catholic grade school.  The nuns taught us God is one, but also made up of the father son and holy spirit.  It's that Holy Spirit that gets a kid wondering, if that  is our soul, the light in all of us, the eternal flame.  We are so many things at once, our mind, body and soul.  Then you throw in brain, ego, consciousness, God, our environment, our perceptions, experiences and more.  Some say nothing is real, what we think we see is just a creative way to process this vast universe.  Some say consciousness created the universe so that it could experience itself.  
How is it that we can't fully comprehend these complex ideas, yet we sense the truth of it in some very distant way.  Distant where though?  It is as if you can feel truth deep somewhere, but not necessarily inside of you.  

Some say we carry pain, our pain-bodies, as if that is a separate identity too.  The pain could be from our own experiences, or many generations past.  They say women carry unique pain.  But the pain body is not you, it is another bodily manifestation of ego, even though it seems to have real roots, possibly in our DNA.  There is presence and being present, which is being, which they say is what we are, a being, a human being.  Living is being.  When you are being present, you are in the state of awareness, which is consciousness. There is a presence in dogs and cats and flowers, we can sense it but it's almost impossible to distinguish this from ourselves.  We are part of that presence.  We are awareness.   So, I got a shag. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

No You're Never Gonna Get It

One Pan Pork and Cauliflower
Ground pork with a slightly sweet and spicy sauce can really add excitement to riced cauliflower. If you're in the one pot club, then this recipe is great for a light, easy dinner from  I used ground pork instead of turkey for a change of pace.  

I was noticing that trying to be more conscious is like wearing braces on your teeth.  At first I likened it to training wheels but that's not right.  It's nothing you'll ever achieve but it's in each minute of the day, where you could steer wrong but instead must quickly auto-correct your actions and thinking.  You can't get it right in any finished way but its important that you allow the braces, meaning the practice of staying in the moment, to do it's thing.  
Bad thoughts, negativity, the brain is that pushy obnoxious friend that has keys to your apartment.  She's there all the time and is relentless.  
What she doesn't know about life is a lot.  Poor little thing.  

Monday, June 13, 2022

Summer Lovin' Happened so Fast

Giant Cobb Salad
I'm talking huge.  This was going to be dinner and lunch box meals for the week.  If Hungry Man made salads, this might be what it looked like.  Bacon, ham, and chicken went over a bed of herbed-up greens, along with red onions, boiled eggs, bleu cheese, celery, tomatoes and avocado.  I served the lemon vinaigrette on the side so nothing would get soggy.  After frying the chicken and bacon, the rest is just chopping and it all came together very quickly. 

Sunday, June 12, 2022

So Many Roads to Choose

Baked Tostadas
So, skip the comal or frying each shell one by one in oil.  Instead simply brush the raw corn torillas with oil and top with cheese and meat, in my case beans as well, and arrange on a flat baking sheet in a ripping hot oven, 450 degrees for 9 to 11 minutes.  Your shells will be crisp and toasty, the cheese will have melted and you can then add your cold toppings and serve.  This way, everyone eats at once.  I learned this from the ladies at America's Test Kitchen and am applying it to many Mexican dishes. 
You can do things for decades the same way without questioning. It's humbling to learn a new way, that you didn't even consider before, especially when it's a simple change.   I will always experiment and love the taste of a truly just-fried tortilla or tacos melted and folded stove-top, even steamed torts can be incredible, but this way is definitely more efficient.  
Small changes are in order, for example, I often say, I love this actor or this musician.  A small change is going to be that I now proclaim, I love their music, I love his voice, I love her work, which I always felt must be part of the person. That inside, they surely hold some kind of specialness, unique to them. That could still be true, but it's not always the case.   In previous years, because of all the public shaming, telling biographies, we know the people behind much of this big talent are just like us, all flawed and imperfect, some even bigger assholes or fools.  So it feels more appropriate to differentiate the art from the person even more.  However, I hold on to the hope that the fact that these folks found a way to connect to the muse must show some ability to stand in grace, which is an awareness that we all have but don't always utilize.  Perhaps for some it's not enough to flow into their day to day lives.  

Breakfast Burrito Scramble with Ham

Thursday, June 9, 2022

We Gotta Get Out of this Place, If It's the Last Thing We Ever Do

We are so affected by media, even when simply scrolling through your phone for a short time.  We absorb so many thought pathways, roads of information to consider, explore but many times fear.  Which makes me wonder, why do we keep doing this????!!!  What could possibly be worth sifting through all this mental muck when seldom there are stories that bring beneficial news.  It's a lot of tales that leave you completely uneasy and stressed out.  We're already so jittery by what is true or what we perceive to be true in our real world.  I should be informed, lest it affects me in some way, that's how I justify it but really, the best days are internet free.  Most threats I can do little about anyway. Bad news will be constantly regurgitated so even taking days off from the news, you never really miss anything.  If it's bad enough we'll hear about it regardless of the medium, over and over.

Fear mongering?  A lot of new and second time around COVID going on right now.  Monkeypox is now some sort of state of public health emergency here in New York as of 8/2/22.  Gay Men and also men who have sex with men are the main targets.  Wait, for one, did I miss a new scategory?  Isn't that the same man?  But they go on to stress that anyone can get it and it's spread with prolonged skin to skin contact but unsure if it's sexually transmittable. I don't quite get it, but that's going to be some cause of discussion in straight households I'll betcha.   

Italian Meatloaf - America's Test Kitchen Recipe
Back in the physical world, rave reviews were received for this Italian Meatloaf effort!  Julia Collin Davidson is a hero, along with her cohort, Bridget Lancaster of America's Test Kitchen and Cook's Country.  Especially with old recipes, they have reworked every step to perfect the process and the end results.  They changed my life with their Crunchy Shrimp Taco method.  Meatloaf is good, but this was great!
On my grill pan, I toasted a corn tortilla, and topped with leftover sauteed vegetables, and added a poached egg to make yet another incredible personal breakfast tostada.  These are cook's secret moments when you create a little something just for yourself, quickly and using leftovers in your kitchen.