Wednesday, August 31, 2022

What Goes On in Your Mind

If you daydream long enough about dinner ideas the only thing there is 'time' for is New York pizza slices 

We had a meeting at work including lots of numbers and charts that I can't relate to.  So, as my mind wandered off, daydreaming about what I would make for dinner that night, my eyes suddenly centered on the best graphic I had seen yet.  It was of a clock and every hour said, now.  I would buy this clock if we sold it.  Time is somewhat of a nemesis for me.  Currently at home, we've replaced our wall clock with a framed picture of Ringo Starr, as he represents an easy, calm reminder that the time is right now and actual details are unimportant.  He was such a constant forgiving presence in the Get Back documentary, a real reminder to accept what is happening in the moment and not to concentrate on the future, or the past.  When we begin to get anxious and look at the spot where the clock has been for years, checking the 'time', we now see Ringo, not smiling, just looking back at us as if to say, what the hell do you want from me? 

Monday, August 29, 2022

Warm Us Up and Watch Us Blow

Chicago's famous Chicken Vesuvio
This classic dish named after the Mount Vesuvius volcano near Naples, is a specialty in Chicago's Italian-American Restaurants, I've just now discovered on my late night Youtube recipe dives. It sounded right up my alley as I'm always looking for new chicken recipes.

As with any classic dish, you may want to read a handful of recipes before deciding which is best for you.  To reach this common goal of lemony, crispy potatoes and chicken skin pre-browning ahead of roasting is key to crispy everything.  You can do it separately or together in the roasting pan as they suggest below.  I love all the garlic and the extra kick of lemon.  I chose to add the bright green peas as many suggest.  I added onions just because I love them roasted.  I didn't use wine, only chicken stock but didn't miss it.  With the rich fat, then the garlicky broth and bright lemon cutting through, the hint of thyme, it was as comforting as anything I've eaten in a while.  
I jumped the gun a bit in anticipation of cooler Fall evenings and this will be awesome in the months to come. 

Saturday, August 27, 2022

Carribean Queen, Now We're Sharing the Same Dream

Trini Corn Soup - Split peas, coconut milk, corn and dumplings
We finally tried Island Shack, a newish Caribbean restaurant, for take out and it was well worth it, I think.  What was once incredibly cheap ethnic food in the neighborhood, is now the high-priced, authentic unaffordable treat.  I do believe the quality of the ingredients makes the food that much better, so it's fair we must pay.  However, now this is out of our price range to participate more than on a special occasion.  We split the entree in order to try the appetizers.  On the other hand, we had leftovers and I was able to make white rice for the shrimp the next day for a lavish lunch box meal. 

Island Shack take out - Chadon Beni Garlic Pepper Shrimp - I learned that Chadon Beni is another name for culantro, which is like Mexican Coriander.  
The chef uses Scorpion peppers at the Island Shack and the warm heat level in this will slap the goofy grin off any fool.  This is serious heat but its wicked lovely. 
The Jerk Chicken came with pure, undressed sauteed vegetables over rice, simply made to provide refuge for your tongue.  The heat levels are high, but it doesn't overtake all the fragrant spice flavor.  Unlike our friends at Mo's bar, she doesn't hack up the chicken pieces in unrecognizably, odd shapes.  At Mo's you get more than a few pure bones coated in jerk.  There is no bigger bummer than chomping down on bone, especially when trying to split an entree.  A bit of a dupe, Mo, even though your grill master is freaking magic. 

Back in the early 80's of Fresno, California and before I learned the luxuries of island food, you'd be surprised to know I was in a cover band who sang Billy Ocean's, Caribbean Queen late night in bars after my record store shift.  I would pack up my Volkswagen bug and drive out to small surrounding towns to join my band, Spank sing the hits of the moment.   I was the singer and rhythm guitarist but the drummer had the best voice, so he belted out this song. I was reduced to a back up vocal and some dance moves my lead guitarist managed to coerce me into performing.  
A Record Factory display I made using 'flats'.  Remember those??!
Later down the 80's,  I helped Billy reach #1 on the Billboard Hot Black Singles Chart at Leopold Records in Berkeley and got this cool plaque.  

Friday, August 26, 2022

Life's Been Good to Me So Far

My neighbors asked me to water they're garden while they went away on a trip and as a reward, brought me this lovely pie.  It had gold chocolate flecks on the top!   We're not dessert people because P doesn't like sweets, which means I stopped making them, which means I'm not a dessert person.  Plus, sugar makes me anxious and gives me acne like a teenager but I'm not smart enough to stop eating it just because it makes me miserable.  But when I dipped my fork into this opulent dream, you would have easily mistaken me for a pie lover.  In fact, I froze a few pieces and ate a whole half of it before throwing the rest out, standing at the trash can with the sadness of attending a funeral as the heavy thud sound of the remnants sank straight to the bottom.  It turns out Petee's Pie Company is one of the best pie makers in the city, according to the New York Magazine as well as many other publications.  They have a location down the street in Brooklyn.   This was the Lavish Chocolate Cream - A rich, old-fashioned chocolate pudding made with bittersweet chocolate and cocoa, topped with dollops of fresh whipped cream and real gold leaf-adorned chocolate flakes.  

This was all that and a bag of chips. I never expect a reward but they always give us one and unfortunately for them, they keep upping their game, so next time they'll have a hard time topping this one. 

Thursday, August 25, 2022

Only the Sound of The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys

Diner-like Burger on Toast with homemade fries
Using the last of my Dave's Killer bread, I did baked cheese burgers on toast with homemade fries and melon.

This is a colorful plate.  I love colorful food as well as people.  I've noticed lately we are getting a fast infiltration of girlie boys walking around, in heels and skirts, edgy makeup and bouncy hair.  Not in drag, not trying to pass, but more of a blatant approach to a new entity.  Much like when the punk rock scene sprouted in your town, or the goth movement, it's been a little shocking to see a 6ft man walking around with colorful tights under a mini and acting as though it's common place in Brooklyn, which I can tell you it's not been.  Its coming at an interesting time, when after the Pandemic it seems like the straights are even straighter.  The young people, we call the Celery People, because it's as if they are no longer living in this reality but have full on committed to the virtual world.  They are very passive and looked frightened when you speak to them.  They dress like 80's parents.  I'm sure it's just because I'm not out at night as much but it's been pretty void of cool people and the only interesting folks I've noticed are a handful of artist types in my neighborhood.  Maybe the random violence is shaping that.  People want to blend in and not stand out, lest they become a victim.  So people that could be more vulnerable to attacks, being so brassy is bringing me to attention.  I admire it.  In the same breath I have to admit some are walking around acting like they dare you to say something.  Again, much like how the kids in their black make up of the 90's once worked fairly hard to shock.  More than a few times, I've been stopped in the store and these men have insisted I answer lengthy questions about product, asking to be shown things, walk with them, more in-depth than your average annoying customer.  I want to say you're barking up the wrong tree dude, I've seen it and done it more than you might imagine and have no qualms with your look.  I'm interested in kind people, cool fun, inclusive folks no matter how they dress.  He's probably judging me in my yellow shirt, thinking I've never lived a colorful life.  

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Ooh Child, Things Are Gonna Get Easier

Vegetable Beef Soup 

I made vegetable beef soup like the Women's Day take on Beef Bourguignon, without the Cognac and wine.  I replaced those with Worcestershire and Beef Bone broth (Better than Bouillon), but also browned the tomato paste in the fond to develop the flavors beforehand instead of adding it raw into the stock.  It was highly satisfying and I will recreate on a cold winter's day instead of in a heat wave.  In any case, it travels well for lunch box meals and is self contained with all the vegetables and protein you need. Plus the broth is super filling without weighing you down.  After you do a few of these stews, you find it's merely a pattern of searing the meat and then adding a base with vegetables and stock.   

Sunday, August 21, 2022

Learning From Eachother, While We Do Our Thing

Chicken & Avocado BLT
I loved my recent retro BLT on whole grain bread but could not resist adding thinly sliced chicken breast as well as big slices of avocado, and red onion.  These extra players transformed it into a proper dinner sandwich.  Slices of melon, chips and dip rounded out the meal.  After watching a Martha Stewart tutorial on constructing sandwiches 'the right way', I would have added another piece of toast and layered the chicken on another level to make a triple decker.  That would be the ultimate and wish I had thought of it sooner.  
Similar to sifting through used vinyl bins, I've found a few fresher thinking chefs on the web in my latenight searches.  Some seem to fit with my way of cooking, or my aspirations anyway.  I am not in the Martha Stewart school of thought. I don't believe in 'correct' ways of cooking.  As my bud likes to say, there are no guilty pleasures in music and I feel the same towards creating food.  She is the only person I know who thinks Phil Collins is sexy, and I support that and it only makes me love her more. There are a thousand ways to love and appreciate music and food.   This guy is a professional home cook and likes to go off recipe and just feel the waters.  I think he enjoys the experience of doing, getting to it and then gets super stoked when it works out. Playing with a thought or idea is the best part of cooking.  I fail, so to speak but always learn something from it.  Even though I forgot to do it here, it's better to smash the avocado and season it, so you can spread it on the bread, otherwise the slices slide out the sides.  

Saturday, August 20, 2022

There Was A Time You Could Put it Out of Your Mind

My husband goes running off on the road when he can, which seems to be a lot.  But there is something to be said of alone time.  Time to just be still.  I can take ridiculously long showers and eat bad food that he doesn't enjoy.  I can watch stupid girlie movies.  I can clean the apartment and rest knowing there will not be peanuts on the floor or unwiped spills.  The bedding will be void of popcorn kernels, just cotton pureness on my legs.  I can light candles and pretend I don't suck.  
Because he gets to go gallivanting everywhere, I convince myself I deserve, the best chips made, like these ham flavored numbers, and they were! I got Dave's Killer Bread after seeing countless late night commercials on YouTube. And it was a cut above in taste and texture, actually.  I carefully made myself a stacked retro BLT with chips and sour cream and onion dip.  I watched a whole season of Alone and it helped me to feel less so, as well as grateful I wasn't eating a dead squirrel in a stinky tent somewhere in Siberia.  
Restlessness makes sense to me.  Who isn't feeling agitated, anxious and disturbed? I don't trust people who are complacent, especially during these last two years.  There was a time you could put all this chaos around us out of your mind but that time is gone.  I don't know what we're supposed to do with it but I do respect those who are searching for their own answers. 

Thursday, August 18, 2022

Clang, Clang, Clang Went the Trolley

Fish in the Gowanus 
I get cheap thrills from finding swarms of fish in the Gowanus Canal behind my work. 
Tacos and a Burrito take out from Brklyn Burro.  This guy got big points for having properly seasoned meat, adding charred green onion and the burrito was toasty warm and everything inside was layered and had purpose.  The size was optimal, not too big, but it was slightly reminiscent of the giant San Francisco burritos in that it was all in there, beans, rice, meat, lettuce, sour cream, salsa, melted cheese.  This guy touts Mission Style Burritos from SF for Brooklyn.  And the promise was kept.  
I do recall the Mission style giant burritos but I mainly ate them in Berkeley.  What I remember about the Mission District is all the Latino drag queen prostitutes and how it felt dangerous walking around even during the day, in mini skirts and black boots because the Central American immigrants who mistook us for little whores instead of the goofy drunk punks that we were. 

I made a little magic of my own with this Slow roasted Whole Jerk Chicken - stuffed with garlic and low and slowed - succulent awesomeness!  Tasted like it was made in a pit. 

Thursday, August 11, 2022

Travelling in the World of My Creation

Tex-Mex Stewed Drumsticks inspired by a simple recipe from The Spruce
I fell asleep watching Southern Smothered Chicken videos followed by a few Italian numbers.  I'm always looking for different things to do with this familiar 'ol bird.  Soon I was going down the Mexican route and came across this super simple recipe from The Spruce Eats.  I combined her idea with the floured roux gravy of a smothered chicken recipe.  I did use my favorite jarred salsa, because it's that good but I added onions, garlic, mushrooms, bell pepper, cumin seed as well as chicken stock.  Like with smothered chicken, I finished braising the drumsticks in the oven.  I would call this a Mexican Hunter's Chicken. 
Pollo de Cazador - And boom it's a thing!

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

I Nearly Lost You There, And It's Taken Us Somewhere

Serendipity 3 - An old school themed visit with the hopes of making fortunate discoveries by accident.

It was to be Lisa Loomis Day here in the city, the day one of my favorite people would come to be in my vicinity.  She and her mate chose New York City for their vacation destination.  August may not be the best  time to come, and during a major heat wave but the city needs the cash, and I was thrilled to see her.  We're recovering and morphing into the next phase of this town's insane history.  Coming from Los Angeles, she has seen her own share of absurdity.  But NYC is coming up to speed again, especially noticable this summer and businesses are working hard to hold on, trying new things.  
Papaya King 
People in your life tend to come and go.  But our time in San Francisco so many years ago was concentrated broth that was not easily forgotten.  We worked and lived together, partied and ate, had mutual friends and shared some milestone hardships as well as many remarkable days.  There are a handful of people that you can start where you left off as if no time had passed.  Those are very special humans and I am truly lucky to know any of them. 
Lisa is a fellow foodie.  She understands nuance in flavors.  She cares about what she orders and considers all options when scrolling the menus.  She's a girl you can talk about the quality of the fry on a potato.  My kind of gal.  So knowing I had an afternoon with her, I scrambled to find the right eat spots.  She stayed in Times Square, which I took as an old school theme.  She mentioned wanting to try Papaya King thinking it was in Brooklyn but the only one left is in Manhattan's Upper East Side.  Traditionally, I've not been a great host, I struggled to find a great old diner for the breakfast spot and then got lost walking through the village as I always do, so we ended up at the Chelsea instead of the University Grey Dog location, a spot that came recommended, and it was very good.  The coffee wasn't incredible.  My thinking is that if you're going to be a semi-pricey breakfast joint, you need that quality, super hot coffee, not the cheap diner warmish kind.  But the bacon and buttery croissant made up for it.  

Serendipity pecan pie and Hot apple pie ala-mode
I knew better than to trust Serendipity but I always remembered it as a place my friend's mother's older upper crusty buddy took us to after the theater.  It's been around for years and I love institutions and the art deco feel of it, the location and idea of an old fashioned ice-cream parlor.  It's pink and girlie inside and turned out, cold as hell.  The pie's weren't made in house and the cute boy waiter didn't really make anything sound too appealing, but we had hot dogs to eat and another 30 blocks to walk to get there, so we settled on pie and passed on the $25 dollar giant sundaes.  It must have been 100 degrees out with the humidity, but we still managed to walk and talk about all things life when our mouths weren't full of food. 
Lisa noticed all the little dogs in the city like they were old friends, so sweet!

Breakfast at the Grey Dog
This is the first time that I took no pictures of the city during a visit which is a testament to the quality of the conversations and also my inability to multitask.
Me looking like Ronnie James Dio (hashtag covid hair loss)  in the humidity but all smiles and good times had by all.