Monday, December 03, 2007


Thanksgiving 2007 Menu:

Simple Stuffing
Cranberry Sauce
Rosemary Apple Cider Gravy
Ginger Sweet Potatoes
Green Beans with Lemon and Mint
Green Chile Cornbread
Apple Brie Rosemary Purses
Curried Butternut Squash Soup with Fried Leeks
Gratineed Dijon Creamed Pearl Onions
Blackberry Pie
Pumpkin Pecan Clafouti

Green Chile Cornbread

1 portion green chiles minced (frozen/reconstituted/can diced)
1 poblano chile (roasted, peeled and seeded) minced
1 c. flour
1 c. cornmeal
2/3 c. buttermilk or plain kefir
1 T sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 T cold butter
1 egg, lightly beaten
3/4 can creamed corn

450 degrees. Big bowl, mix dry: flour, cornmeal, sugar, powder, soda, salt, then butter in bits. in another bowl, mix wet: egg, corn, chiles, kefir. Add wet to dry. Bake in greased dish, perhaps a square 9 inch glass baking dish, or some such item, until golden and toothpick comes out clean.

I am thankful for many things. Thankful that as I get older I get to watch people I love get older and really start to become friends with their siblings. I am thankful that my palate is so curious. I'm thankful for criticism, change, spices, chemistry and honesty. I am thankful for my senses, my memory, and my family. I am thankful for cumin, Honeycrisp apples, onions, and chiles. I can't possibly list all the things in the world I am thankful for, better to try and pay attention everyday and night and live the list instead of write it.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Three Days in the South

I was in far western North Carolina last weekend. I'm not from there, and neither are my parents or grandparents, but my great aunt lives in Cherokee, and all of us on my dad's side have spent some time growing up, living, or working there. I have the least amount of experience with the place, but being there with my family and my 90 year-old great aunt, I could hear and feel many layers of memories surrounding us. It was a moving trip that further informed me of my heritage and of the region. There was lots and lots of driving, some hanging out and eating in the hip coziness of Asheville, and some time in the mountains, being with each other and the past.

The leaves are so late here!
(I'm not complaining)

At the gas station, there is a sign alerting drivers what kind of snack (?) they can get when they fill up.

I was hoping for some boiled peanuts, but alas, I only found shells littering the ground.

Coffee, Tea, Cereal, Grits.

Battery-powered ice cream toothbrush.

For scale, the containers on the right are gallon size.

These (Maker's Diet approved) (organic) breakfast cereals are a convenient way to follow through with "God's dietary guidelines", a specific mode of eating drawn from biblical principles. I like to picture the food stylist aranging the spoonful on the box, and the graphic designer charged with creating catchy packaging. (Where should the dove go? should we create a background pattern using scripture?) The diet has rules about animals with cloven hoof who do and do not chew the cud (apparently you should really stay away from the tempting, unclean "does not chew the cud" items.) The diet is 40 days long. So I guess Noah was pretty good lookin after that storm.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Autumn Opening

On a recent Saturday I had an excellent opportunity to run upstate for fresh air and to feel the proper onset of fall. It was nearly ninety degrees, but I think it still did the trick. I was giddy the moment we got in the car, and got progressively higher on oxygen as we left town, gripped with regular laughter as we hit and ran over falling leaves in the road. Our first stop was a Stewarts Shops, which had one bale of hay outside the front door. Stewart's is a regional gas station/convenience store chain covering a wide plume-shape area rising from New York City. They all have a lengthy self service counter that snakes around, offering all the convenience store items you would expect, but spread throughout a different landscape. I love the fat font that covers everything, identifying the brand's sacked, wrapped and bottled items, and even the occasional novelty spoon. I ordered my favorite: a maple walnut milkshake, and noticed the inventive and appropriately creepy spheres floating above.

Every breath smelled more or less the same. The even, humid air was constantly noticeable, slowly counteracting all the different breaths I took in the city, where there are at least five smells in every block. I felt an inner scale slowly slide towards health, and realized I was relaxing a little from a constant awareness of my immediate environment informed by my nose. Here, inhaling under a tree would probably be a similar experience to inhaling twenty feet away from it, and so I let go of an unconscious humming inside.

We attempted to pick apples, but a slight lack of planning and the bizarre hours of a pick your own place forced us to stop at this spot. I bought some lovely brown eggs, a bag of honeycrisp apples (the BEST), some fresh mozzarella and a maple candy shaped like a maple leaf. There were 15 kinds of apples, and a variety of fresh things, but two thirds of the shelves were stocked with high fructose corn syrup "jam", and 30 colors of "olde-fashioned stick candy". There were wooden things painted with "gone fishin'" and other country wisdom, and unfortunate quantities of bland, processed foods.

We recovered from our roadside retail experience with something cozy, beautiful, mysterious and familial: The opening of Martine Kaczynski's: Route 11. Visit to see more about this particular work and exciting space. Children ran around, there were arias sung, a bonfire lit, raspberries picked, a biodymic apple eaten.

At the end I stepped away from the fire which was burning one side of me, and walked toward the dark which was just as dark when my eyes adjusted. Maybe I should just camp out for a few days...

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Embrace of the Lobster

The trip to the fish market yielded three 3+ lb. lobsters. They had to be gently protected all the rest of that late morning and work day before we could celebrate their lives in the kitchen.

Here one sits in familiar feeling shadows before meeting the steam pot.

"Best lobstahs yevah gonna have"...

We drank a buttery wine, had rosemary roasted potatoes, some spicy wilted greens, and salad to accompany the lobster. (As if there was a reason to eat anything else). Each one was steamed for about 15 minutes, and after the beautiful and funny process of getting into them in order to get them into us, every bite was textured and sweet. Fragrant fat covered our hands and everything on the table until we were finally still with satisfying dizziness.

Monday, September 10, 2007

The New Fulton Fish Market

Its 2am. Do you know where your children are? They're walking through chilly fish puddles in a year-old $86,000,000 refrigerated facility in the south Bronx.

If you can't sleep, go to the fish market. Its between the meat market and the prison, and is filled with fluorescent lights and the pungent, gleaming catch you were hoping to find.

Its cold and damp. Guys have cigarettes hanging out of their mouths, and many of them have round bellies that bulge protectively close to the fish, watching over them.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

A Crime Against Cherries

At least there were souls who walked by and didn't think this was a good idea at all, and left those sad embalmed things on the shelf to be marked down to move.

Be thankful for actual cherries. The ones that ripen, the ones we eat, adding their souls to ours.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Cold Summer Drink III

Cherry Juice

I wake up from a dream. In the moment before waking, someone whispers something that seems present and pressing to me at the time, words that don’t mean anything outside the moment of their dream context. Something under my skin is with me all day, but I can’t remember it, or can’t hear it.

I’m standing in the sun after some wandering around, looking for I’m not sure what. I’m drinking cherry juice through a straw from a box. When I turn with the light on my back, I see my dark shadow and a clear red line from my hand to my mouth, part of my shadow’s body.

The taste of the cherry is under something, not as easy and upfront as you might think. It’s under the sweetness. Like how a walnut has a flavor that is below and looks up at you, cherry juice is there being sweet but not knowing it. It’s not missing anything and not self-conscious, looking at you in the eye but saying something in your ear.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Cold Summer Drink II

How could you not get neck-deep in a thorn bush for this?

Wild blackberries found in Central Park make beautiful and tasty cocktails. Press them gently (they're fragile enough that they'll crush if you talk to them directly), strain from their seeds, add a tiny pinch of sugar to the liquid and combine syrup with vodka, ice and soda.