Wednesday, May 31, 2023

We're Still Having Fun and You're Still the One

Cooling Tomatillo Hot Sauce
Plopping peppers, onion, garlic and herbs in a blender will yield you a vibrant sauce to enhance vegetables, meats, and eggs or to dip a chip in.  You'll have it for a few meals and the ease of prep compared to the joy it brings is incomparable. 
If you don't like heat, you can take out all the pepper seeds and also add an avocado or 1/2 a green apple.  This gives it a creamier texture and adds a slight sweetness. 

Another tip for those with no summertime grill access; is to use a good jarred BBQ sauce to paint over chicken in the last minutes of high heat roasting and it mocks a great outdoor grill flavor with little effort. 

A solo walk in the park, something I've not done too much for a couple of years. I'd never say we were back to normal in New York, I'd just say we are surviving on the current crumbling foundation with hints of new growth. But broken Brooklyn is still a wonderful, vibrant place to be.

Cooling Tomatillo Hot Sauce
- A bunch of tomatillos
- 3 to 5 jalapenos
- 1/2 an onion
- 5 cloves of garlic
- bunch of cilantro including stems
Put it all on a comal stovetop or to broil in the oven until charred for 8 to 14 minutes*.

Pour that all in blender, add salt, pepper and 1/3 cup of water and a squeeze of lime.  Taste.  

If you'd like it creamier, add 1/2 an avocado
*If you'd like a fresher taste, leave it all raw and add 1/2 a green apple. 

Sunday, May 28, 2023

It's Just Another Day Choo Choo (Chew Chew Chew) Choo

Baby ducks! 
Doctored up frozen pizza 

More Orange Roses 
These are more impressive as they seem to have grown on their own alongside this abandoned church 

Biggie Breakfast and a ride in a big red truck

Saturday, May 27, 2023

Don't Give me No Shit Because I've Been Tired!

Castro's Mexican Breakfast
Chiliquiles, with a three-napkin hot sauce.  I ordered the extra hot because I didn't want the real Mexican waitresses to think I can't handle it, not that they'd care.  I was sweating and blowing my nose but I got through it and it was divine!  There is magic in a good red sauce that has a tangy flavor that powers through the heat.  I love much of the food here.  The menu is huge so of course not everything is special but much of it is.  I come for the food, and I like the vibe, mellow and easy. 

The waitresses always gloat on my husband but never ask me if I'd like a refill or more water, more napkins. They don't smile at me or make eye contact.  This is why I appreciate male waiters.  There's never any nonsense and they keep that glass filled.  But this time, she crossed the line when she asked if we wanted separate checks, which I thought was slimy but we got a kick out of it and it didn't stop me from ordering extra tamales to go.  I work crazy long hours and I'm exhausted.  All I want is a festive setting and good food.  I know there is amazing Mexican food in this town but this place is more like a small familiar taquerias in the west, even though it's tucked into the sketchy edges of Clinton Hill.  

Afterwards our neighborhood featured the Dance Afrika festival and had tons of cool stands set up with dresses & hats, figurines and art.  The food here should be out of this world but much of the time, the vendors are of the more carnival variety, not as special and pricey.  Although I'm sure there are several exceptions.  

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Happy Not Knowing

Lettuce Wrap Bacon Cheeseburgers 
Burgers are not unique but they are usually exciting and satisfying.  You set out to make dinner and you might make 100 different things with the same ingredients.  I like no knowing until it happens.
Three people came to an appointment today to plan a kitchen where I work.  A young Mexican man, a gorgeous elderly Japanese woman and a very short, Jewish man with thick glasses who signed in as Doctor Abe.  The doctor introduced everyone by name but not by relationship.  I've learned it can be awkward if you ask the wrong question in these situations.  Men buying kitchens for their mistresses who I mistook for their daughter, things like that.  So I cautiously asked who was the decision maker and they all pointed to the woman.  However in asking for details, I learned the woman was dealing with the beginnings of dementia and began rambling about unrelated things.  I looked to the doctor for support but he said he had no say in this and refused to sit with us, instead he paced back and forth behind, chiming in only when the woman would make a decision, then he would pull her to the side berating her choices until she changed her mind.   I figured the Mexican was likely not the son, so while they were arguing, I asked if he was the contractor and to my relief he said yes.  Great!  But in further conversations with him I realized that he was not a good contractor and was figuring this out in real time but had already secured the job.  His measurements were way off and his math was worse than mine.  I helped them both as best I could without calling attention to their impairments.  Afterwards I asked who was buying and they pointed to the grumpy doctor.  The address was different then noted on his account and no one ever did say what his relationship was to the lady who kept calling me 'hey girl'.  Perhaps it was a secret, long lasting love affair or a debt owed.  She showed no affection but also was not bothered by the doctor's intense side bars to discuss handles and sink choices as if it was of global significance.  

At the register I thought to ask him a few questions to solve the mystery but instead after not speaking directly the entire time he turned his attention to me, asked what my nickname was short for, how long I had been working there and where I came from.  I handed him his receipt, smiled genuinely and said, Hey, enjoy your kitchen and have a great day.'  

Sunday, May 21, 2023

Easy Like a Sunday Morning

I call these Sunday eggs because weekend breakfast should be easy, using your leftover bits of meat and vegetables.  When in doubt, like on Chopped, it's best to make a hash.  As long as your eggs have a soft bed of potatoes, vegetables and small salty meat you can't go wrong. 

Make it even easier on yourself by cooking everything in one pan. Prepare the hash and then make little indents before cracking the eggs on top.  Cover on medium low.  I even warm the torts on top of the food.  Everything is hot and ready at the same time. 

Thursday, May 18, 2023

You Know I'm Gonna Be Like Him

When I was a young girl wandering around in my parents' Mexican restaurant, I began breaking out of my finicky eating habits and understanding just what my dad saw in food.  I started to get why he got so excited about the sweetness of the summer corn or how a burger was put together just right.  I knew that I wanted that type of passion in my life.  I had a laundry list of foods I wasn't fond of and generally stuck to tried-and-true options.  But I also didn't want to miss out on all the fun he seemed to create out of thin air.  I wanted to learn this skill of honing happiness from very small occurrences. Peeling an orange, choosing a ripe watermelon or spotting a fruit stand were all things that could change the entire day.  Come to think of it, our general welfare tended to depend on our dad's mood, so just like you wouldn't want to be around if he was grouchy, it was an absolute privilege to be there when he was happy. 

I loved the mellowness of my mom's Mexican rice. She had the goldilocks factor with her food.  It wasn't too tomatoey, it wasn't spicy, you couldn't place all the spice, it was very subtle and delicate.  Her hot sauce was hands down the most addictive in all of the Fort.  Other restaurants bought it to serve, it was that good.  Even with my undeveloped taste buds, I knew their food was special.  

My small mark came with the secret invention of the rice bowl.  I would grab a soup bowl, fill it with rice, hot sauce and ground beef from the front of house.  There were giant vats of chilled chopped lettuce and tomatoes sitting on ice, so that cool bite would go on top. Afterwards I scooped up all the goodness with freshly made warmed corn chips, no need for a spoon and that became my feel good meal.  It was non-committal, which was important, even back then.  I hated sitting at the booth and eating alone.  I could be mobile with my bowl, to go bother the dishwasher or sit in the back with my mother.  It had the best of everything, hot and cold, crisp and crunchy, fresh, and packed with flavor.  That was my initiation into finding absolute joy and contentment in small things, in the moment.  Of course I would get older and forget everything for too long a time but I remember now.   
Just like the thrill of discovering fresh flowers, reveling in their beauty and then riding off.  Like these Peonies.  Peonies were one of my mother's favorite flowers and now they are also mine because of their large bulbs and giant bold blooms. They are robust and burst open with no apologies.  We had two giant bushes in our front yard and I used to run and leap on them like pillows, much to my mother's horror. 

Today's Mexican Rice Bowl sans chips and sauce

Later a bowl of leftover green chili

Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Big Time! So Much Larger than Life

Biggie Girl Breakfast of Ham and Eggs
Mainly cream-dreamy poached eggs are my go-to, but with ham, I feel like you must do fried eggs, especially if you have a tort to scoop up the yolk.  The avocado adds a little mellowness to the salty ham and was an alternative to potatoes.  

Word nerds will find this exciting.  2nd try getting a random 5 letter word out of the millions of available choices.  Priceless.  (warning: elation lasts only 5 seconds)


Monday, May 15, 2023

You Know I Love Those Little Things

Stovetop No Carb Mini Tacos

These tiny little darlings are great for toasting up on a griddle and adding whatever you have to make quickie tacos.  Shredded chicken, onions and peppers on a bed of cheddar cheese for this girl.  And you don't have to hold guilt for eating three as they are about 4 inches in diameter. 

I'm going on record to say griddle tacos are the way to go for one or two people.  You can make them to order and everything can be done in one pan.  A painting of oil on both sides of the tortilla will yield a crisp shell that you can still fold over.  

Saturday, May 13, 2023

And Lose My Heart on the Burning Sand

One handy perk, especially when you're illin',  is when you make a meal with specific ingredients, like yesterday's  Vietnamese Summer Rolls, and have leftover pre-cooked pork and shrimp.  Perfect for a quickie Ramen broth, also fortified with leftover dipping sauce, mushrooms, rice noodles and that incredible shrimp boiling broth.  This came together quickly and was the highlight of my day.
Being sick on your day off of work is a blessing and a curse.  It's helpful because you don't have to call out and feel guilty but it's not good to squash all productivity for a whole day.   But bodies need to replenish and refuel from time to time.  It shows us we're not in charge.  I'm all over that.  Submission can be a fun way to spend a day.