Friday, July 31, 2009
"Emily, I came across the following links below. Did you get ripped off?"
Attached was a link to an article that was published in the Huffington post entitled "90 salads in 90 days: how a committed carnivore brainwashed herself into liking leafy greens" and another link to a blog that the author publishes about ethics. Huh.
Thoughts and emotions flapped back and forth like wind flapping a sail. It went something like this:
I felt a puff of anger, followed by the thought 'it is just a coincidence'.
I had an overwhelming sense of loss, followed by 'she just had a similar idea, but the execution is different'.
I was back to anger, then 'if she did see my website and use the idea, why not be flattered?'
Another wave of anger, then 'the whole idea of proprietary information is stupid anyway. We are all influenced by each other, nothing is original'
I read her article again. I even got some salad groupies and a few copycats inspired by my "movement." a puff of rage filled my sail driving my fingers into a type happy rhythm. I have written and deleted many words since reading that article. I have chased down evidence, built cases and then knocked them down. My salad war spread through friends and family. Third party resentments are exploding like grenades, leaving the scattered debris of letters to the editor of the Huffington post.
After the rage storm, I began thinking about my original intent in beginning 90 salads. A quote came to mind:
"Submit to a daily practice. Your loyalty to that is a ring on the door. Keep knocking, and the joy inside will eventually open a window and look out to see who's there." -Rumi
Effort. Consistency. Dedication. Loyalty to that dedication. Persistence. Joy. An open heart. Self Discovery. Unity.
The original quote was not written in English, so these words are really not Rumi's words. They are the interpretation of a translator, who has touched the hearts and minds of many people and without credit. He himself probably doesn't realize that he is the original source of these words.
Rinse and strain 1 bunch of arugula. Add 1/2 pkg halved cherry tomatoes 3 mini cucumbers and 1 diced avocado. Squeeze the juice of 1 lemon over the top and 2-3 tbsp olive oil. Add a little diced red onion if you like. Garnish with fresh cracked pepper.
Christina's vote: "Calmed my otherwise raging soul"
Thursday, July 30, 2009
Her hair swung at her chin, just like my best friend Patience, who was currently peeking down at me from over the new girl’s shoulder. I felt robbed. I felt betrayed. I was still so naive. I didn’t care about the playground, or whom it belonged to; I just wanted my friend Patience back. I was four years old, and this was my first introduction to the adult life of an American woman. Politics, social climbing, drama, commodities, ownership, sides, a culture governed by pyramids, and right now the new girl balanced threateningly at the top.
I looked up at Patience, now a commodity, and felt betrayed. She had been brainwashed I was sure of it. Being that I was only four years old and did not yet understand the rules of this game, I did what any normal child would do.
My skin burned under my flower print shirt, cooking the water that soon filled up my eyes. Heavy tears dripped from my eyelashes, wetting my cheeks and leaving cool streams for the wind to dry. My cries boiled into bawls. The teacher came rushing over to extinguish my sobs. The new girl taunted me from her perch, calling me a crybaby.
“Hadley” said the teacher to the taunting new girl “you get down from there and come over here right now”
Hadley let her head go limp and swing from her neck as she shuffled from her bridge to the ground and then over to where we stood. Her outline was fuzzy through my swollen tear encrusted eyes. I felt suddenly ashamed of my tears and allowed my head to hang to hide them. We stood facing each other, both of our heads bowed. The teacher took each of out hands and connected them in an embrace.
“Hadley, say you are sorry”.
“imm sorry” she said.
“Now, shake hands and be friends”. The shaking of our hands startled me out of my post cry coma and suddenly I noticed them, up close, her shoes. They were covered in beads. They were dirty and worn and the beads were falling off, but they amazed and intrigued me.
“I like your shoes” I said. Her face lit up
“Really? You want to be friends?”
Here is where I learned the powerful art of manipulation. Flattery will get you everywhere. I nodded my head yes. We ran off to the playground and joined the ranks of the bullies in the sky.
I would like to say that I have grown up, and learned different ways to play on the playground. Walking away from the drama, and finding a nice patch of sand in the sandbox to meditate on, or choosing to swing on the swing set instead with some of the quieter kids...
However, I still want to play king of the hill.
The salad: Slice 6 baby cucumbers and garnish them with the sweetest leeks (3) and carrots (6 small slender) you can find. Add 2 fresh tomatoes sliced. Drizzle with 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar and 2 Tbsp olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Easy and delicious (no joke, this salad is really tasty and simple.)
Christina's vote: "This salad made me want to bite the hand that feeds me"
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
She sat with me, glasses teetering on the edge of her nose. Her hair was silver and her arms hung loose out of her T-shirt. She used foul language, but only when tastefully appropriate, and her laughter rang with the freedom of someone who had invested serious time into developing a relationship with herself. She was not trying to get something from me, not even a patient audience. She did not seem to expect anything from me, I felt no pressure to take a stage. Unsure of what their was to learn, I felt quite sure that she was a person that I could learn from. I hope to be like her one day.
She sat across from me, with orange glowing skin and bright white teeth, like a character peeking out from the little square on the back of a juicing manual. The faint smell of tanning lotion permeated the air, it reminded me of maple syrup. She smiled at everything I said, because someone told her that is what nice girls do. Inside, she felt restless. She wanted to die, she said, with a nervous smile and a downward glance.
In a moment of foolishness I climbed up onto my platform and began talking as though I had answers to give. I spoke about the impermanence of beauty and youth and about connecting with oneself on a deeper level, as if there were some way to talk her into hope.
We talked at each other like two kids throwing bean bags at each other. Take that hopelessness! Take that super optimism! Each time we spoke we teetered further from our purpose and closer to the edges of right and wrong.
"One day your youth will slip away, we all grow old and ugly you know, if you learn to base your self esteem beyond your vanity now you will be ready for that day when it comes" I said, feeling exceptionally clever.
"but you didn't get ugly" she said
SPLASH. Her bean bag pelted the target and I felt the platform drop from underneath me. "d-d-did you just call me old?" her face got a little red and she smiled nervously.
I had to leave the coffee shop with the consolation prize of my own advice.
It wasn't the first time.
I stopped in the juice bar for 12 oz of carrot juice and sucked it down like it would deliver all that it has promised on infomercials. Then I went home to get ready for my meeting with the Charlies Angles. They are not really the Charlies Angels of course, but three female TV producers who are filming the episode of a TV show in which I will be appearing. I call them the Charlies Angels because they have a male producer who is behind the scenes and seemingly calls all the shots, he is kept well hidden from the set due to the fact that the entire premise of the show is to inspire middle school aged girls to become leaders. The episode will be about cooking. During the meeting we experimented with different foods, we were trying different methods of sweetening fruits when we discovered the amazing sweetening and softening effect vinegar has on peaches.
Shred ~2-3 cups carrots (I used a food processor). Add 1 1/2-2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar, a drizzle of vegetable oil and a drizzle of maple syrup. Add some diced snap peas, snow peas and some dried cranberries. Enjoy!
Christina's vote: "Sweet tangy and lovely"
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
I have allowed my mind to scatter from the task at hand to all the tasks which need to be accomplished all at once. I am standing in front of a full stove jumping from pot to pot, stirring briefly each dish, and tasting none of them. The meal risks an unseasoned presentation, the flavors of which I will have ignorance.
I imaging a little kitchen egg timer counting down notches, representing, not minutes, but days until the next semester begins (by which time I need to have my thesis defended). The timer is splattered like spaghetti sauce with my exasperation. I look at the hill ahead, I remember the first time I ran it...
Twin cities marathon, October 2005. It was my first marathon. I began running in the winter of 2004. I had just moved to Minnesota, and was ill prepared for the notoriously cold winters. Nevertheless, I was determined to become a runner, and to run a marathon. The dramatic effect of needing to wrap multiple scarves around my head to brave below zero temperatures was air blown into my crackling spark of ambition.
The following spring I learned the importance of proper clothing. After my first long distance run my feet were covered in blisters and I had to remove my shoes at mile 13 and walk the final 2 miles home. I recall that the very next day I wrapped my feet and went out again.
On race day, it was apparent that my training could not have prepared me for this hill (more importantly, this hill at mile 21 where it came in the race). I was too new of a runner to be able to tackle it. My body was forced to hobble up the steep and shady asphalt.
Perseverance. It has nothing to do with success, it is unattached to outcomes
Just. Keep. Showing. Up.
I repeated the marathon in 2008, a more seasoned runner. I was able to cut over an hour off of my finishing time from the first race. This hill, however, was the beginning of my slowed pace and the start to an entirely different sort of challenge to get to the finish line.
Today's workout is designed specifically to get me ready for October 2009. It was five repetitions of this hill, in a 1-3/4 mile loop, 12 miles total. I was to speed up at the face of the hill. I ran extra mileage because I felt like quitting early.
Perseverance. It doesn't mean I am going to feel great everyday. It doesn't mean I am going to see improvements. It doesn't mean the purpose of what I am doing will be clear to me or that I will understand it.
I came home with a ravenous hunger. Nothing sounds more delicious right now than potato salad made with sour cream, broccoli and green onion. It reminds me of having potato skins at a restaurant, or of when my mom would make us baked potatoes and she would set out a bunch of toppings.
Put a pot of water on the stove to boil. Dice some fresh potatoes and add them to the heating water (about 2 cups). Cook the potatoes to desired texture and drain them (rinse with cold water). Now add 1 Tbsp olive oil to the empty pot. Add 1 small diced yellow onion and 1 clove minced garlic and a pinch of salt. Add some broccoli (1/2 large head) to the pan and stir until the broccoli turns green, then pour it into your salad bowl. Add another Tbsp olive oil, salt, minced clove of garlic and baby yellow onion diced to the empty pot and when the onion has cooked a little, add the potatoes back in. Toss them around a bit until they are flavored and add them to the broccoli. Dice 1 leek or 3 green onions or some chives. Add them to the veggies. Allow the veggies to cool. Add 1 1/2-2 cups sour cream. Season with lemon pepper, salt and paprika.
Christina's vote: "A pleasant change from the usual potato salad"
Monday, July 27, 2009
White headphones draped like suspenders around my shoulders, my nose and elbows dripped with sweat and I was starting to get cool from standing for so long on the side of the street in the middle of my run. An old friend stood across from me and we were having one of those odd conversations that leaves you feeling like a stumped clown unsure of whether to entertain a child who has just stomped on your foot. Did he mean to do that? Should I continue juggling, or let the tears run my makeup away. Should I get angry? The thousands of possible scenarios born in the seed of each moment pulled the corners of my mouth into an indiscriminate botox smile.
I imagine the grotesque expressions I displayed as I struggled inwardly with which face to put on. I needed to walk away for a bit. I needed to let it hover, to let it roast for awhile while I focus on other things. When I pick it up again I will taste it and see if it suits my palate to add sweetness or vinegar or to let it alone. I peeled the 4 medium beets over the kitchen sink to avoid creating a huge mess on my counter, even though the messiness of beets is sort of an illusion that can be wiped away by towel. I cut them into chunks, maybe I imagined some malicious intent. Or perhaps the intent was there, but not directed at me. Since I will have the oven hot for roasting beets, I might as well toss garlic in too to make the house smell lovely, 2 cloves. I put in 1/2 head cauliflower, because I remember how my friend Scott described the roasted cauliflower that he had ordered at a restaurant recently. It was "like angels weeping on his tongue" he said.
I sprinkle it all with salt, to bring out the flavors already locked inside the vegetables. I bathe the vegetables in 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar and 2 Tbsp olive oil. After the pan is loosely covered in a 400 degree oven, and the timer set to 50 min, I can let it go. My shoulders melt back to normal. Is it all such a big deal? I move on to other things, as the salad tenderizes in the oven.
By the time the timer goes off, everything has changed. Beets and balsamic are sweet, not tangy. The cauliflower is buttery and rich, the garlic is mild and perfumes the air. When all is cool, I mix it together with 1/2 bunch fresh diced Swiss chard and 1/3 Tbsp Ume plum vinegar.
Christina's vote: "This salad is nectar for the Gods"
Sunday, July 26, 2009
Herbs lay flat on the tables, releasing aromatic nets, trapping shoppers and bringing their heads in close. Novelty carries a heavier price tag and gathers a larger crowd, the people walk by the familiar preachings of last weeks favorites, and gather around the soap box of the blueberry and the sweet corn, leaving cabbage, zucchini and squash sitting over-sized, abundant and on sale. I find a tall stalk of Swiss chard, It feathers out of my bag revealing the weight of my shopping endeavor and parting the sea of Sunday shoppers as I trudge back up the hill to the awaiting cats in our apartment home. I think of my nieces and nephews today, and of the carefree childhood joys and the newness of flavors. It is the same feeling that adults relive as they taste their first fresh garden tomato of the year at the farmers market.
In a salad bowl, whisk together 2 Tbsp olive oil, 3/4 Tbsp white wine vinegar, a pinch of salt, a clove of garlic minced and a pinch of thyme. Add 1/2 head of fresh, dark, leafy Swiss chard. Add 3 medium fresh garden tomatoes cut into geometric shapes along the flesh of the tomato so that they hold together. Add some diced fresh basil (as much as you like). Season with fresh cracked pepper.
Christina's vote: "This salad made me want to yodel"
Saturday, July 25, 2009
"and why not.." he said.
"I...uh..I dunno, I guess I think it's silly...it reminds me of children playing with sticks in the backyard" I realized after I had said it that it made me sound like a curmedgeon
"AND WHAT'S WRONG WITH THAT?" the barista said. The encounter was shaping out to be just like the time Christina told a different barista that I didn't approve of her wearing a turban and I got shaming lecture with my Americano, the sort of lecture normally reserved for oppressive husbands. Christina, on the other hand, got a "you go girl, you rock that turban, don't let HER tell you what to wear" oh snap.
What she didn't know is that Christina has also talked about adorning herself with a cane, and an eye patch, a sign that says 'no talk tuesday', an orange and blue striped zoot suit, and cowboy boots with spandex.
By now our barista has come around the counter and positioned Christina's arm up behind her, and adjusted the toe of her boot in an en guard stance.
"Oh great" I said, "are you going to bite your thumb at me too now?"
Christina just stared back at me. I had let my inner geek slip out. I had tucked my hair behind my ear to reveal how it pointed at the top. The barista got excited, if their is one thing that the fencing type likes more than a Renaissance festival, it is reciting quotation verbatim..star wars and the Simpson's are particular favorites, but of course Shakespeare will always have a place of honor.
"I do not bite my thumb at you sir, but I do bite my thumb sir.." he said, a giant smile on his face. Then he asked me if I would approve of Christina playing with light sabers instead of fencing.
We left the building and hovered at the benches while we finished our drinks, still talking about the barista
"He belongs to a subculture" I said "certain traits run through subcultures like it, for example, the propensity toward video game playing, and preferences for mountain dew, and an attraction to wearing costumes.."
Just then, no joke, two teenage boys walked by. One of them was walking with a staff, the other wore tight black clothing and had spiked up his hair to look like a Japanese animation character. It was as if we were on a movie set and the director cued them to cross our path at those exact words. Strange.
We continued our walk.
"You seem to think you know an awful lot about this" Christina said
"of course I do" I said "I've been them before..I've been everything" I said.
Christina erupted with laughter.
"Everything??" she said. I gave her my best threatening look, the one that says 'shatter my illusion and I will make you regret it'. Then I hoped that she would heed her fathers words, who said
"You can't go around shattering people's illusions, people need them"
Christina has a way of throwing rocks through false mirrors. They create ripples of light when they fly through, revealing images from the mirror underneath, twisted and distorted and without clear edges. My way with the illusion is to polish it, because in my youthful arrogance I still believe that I can make it turn real.
"I hardly think that at 30 years old you have already been everything" And it hit me. The humor of my words was magnified by the picture of me saying them. Not only is my head slightly large for my frame, my physique is somewhat childlike from running and my skin is marked like an adolescent.
"Somebody has gotten a little big for her britches" Christina said, and she hiked her pants up high. I shook with laughter, and turned a little red from embarrassment.
We kept on walking.
Marinate 1 chicken breast in 6 oz of mountain dew, 2 tsp soy sauce and 1 clove minced garlic. If you are the sort of cook that tries to avoid things like artificial processed foods, use orange juice instead (you need sugar, liquid, and and acid, and mountain dew fits in with the story; but orange juice is just as good).
Boil 1 pan of water and add 1/2 head broccoli and watch as the color of the trees turns bright green. You are the rain, unlocking the colors that have been trapped in her leaves hidden from the world while she travelled through boxes and crispers to get to you now. After just a few min in the hot water, pour the broccoli into your strainer. If cooking were a sport the strainer would be the benches. The waiting area. Let the broccoli rest there while you mince 2 cloves of garlic, and heat 2 Tbsp of toasted sesame oil. They add broccoli, and garlic to the hot oil, toss it around for a few min and remove from the heat.
Cook your chicken in a hot pan with 1 Tbsp olive oil. Add chicken and marinade into the pan all at once so the oil doesn't spatter. When the liquid is gone, the chicken will caramelize from the sugar in the soda on the outside. This is good, but don't let it burn. Remove the cooked chicken and slice into pieces.
In your salad bowl add 1/4 head purple cabbage diced. Add 2 Tbsp toasted sesame oil, 1 tsp mountain dew, 1 tsp soy sauce and 1 Tbsp rice vinegar. Toss together, add in chicken and broccoli. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds. In a dry pan, toast sesame seeds, moving constantly (they like to burn) until they are fragrant.
Christina's vote: "This salad had me speaking in tongues"
Friday, July 24, 2009
We sit back to back, facing opposing walls, a little multicolored plate of fresh raw vegetables resting on the corner of our matching black desks. My monitor reflects stick drawings of chemicals, which trick me into believing I can understand chemistry in two dimensions. I imagine molecules fitting together, held there by an invisible attraction which is both connected and separate, strong and strained. Christina watches her screen as pieces of computer hardware float back and forth hooking into place by giant fingers of unknown origin. Crunch crunch, we are both leaned forward, searching, seeking, wanting to understand. We drift into our imaginary worlds where everything works like a puzzle, every problem has a solution.
From the picture of anthocyanins on my screen, I look to the purple cabbage on my plate. In between the water and the sugars of this vegetable there are tiny little molecules of anthocyanins, hooked together in a larger network of molecules. Like a giant crochet net they sit and wait for me to chew them down and digest them with acid, and break them apart into thousands of individual geometric shapes which fit like keys into my body, locking and unlocking my genetic potential.. no, wait, they are not really shapes, they are forces of energy, pictured as shapes. At the very core, there is...
space. the material that this cabbage is made of is
I sit back in my chair, and try to jump back into the world I have made myself believe in which is two dimensional and can be easily understood on paper.
crunch crunch crunch
Blue green dressing:
Blend together 1 cup sour cream, 4 oz blue cheese, 1 cup parsley, 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar, 1/2 tsp sugar, 1 very small baby red onion (1 Tbsp diced red onion total) 1 clove garlic, 1 tsp mustard and a squeeze of lemon juice. Add some pepper and paprika and other seasonings if you like!
Dice 1/4 red cabbage. Add 2 peeled diced carrots, some cucumber (if you have it) 1/4 head broccoli in little bite sized pieces, 1/4 head cauliflower.. my mother has the best way of breaking a head of cauliflower. She lifts it above her head and slams it down on the counter, breaking the pieces away from the core. It is amazing how well this works (it is really fun, too).
Christina's vote: "This salad made me feel pure"
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Add 1 head of fennel, diced. Be prepared for the possibility of having a long conversation with the cashier about fennel, sometimes they like to ask. Here is your reply:
“fennel is a bulb with a mild anise flavor and a texture somewhat similar to a less crisp version of celery. The bulb can be eaten raw in salads, used as a seasoning for cooking fish, or is delicious braised with a little balsamic vinegar. In 16th century Italy it was revered for its medicinal qualities, where it was often served to the Pope who suffered from gastrointestinal issues, which often accompany old age.” Then whisper “to help with his constipation..”
This is the point at which they begin frantically flipping through their list of produce numbers searching for fennel. They want to get rid of you. Calm their anxieties. Let them know you are here to help them. Say “..it might be listed under anise”
Add 2 cups chopped parsley remember the nights we used to play outside until it got dark, long past the point of needing to refuel. We were kept full by our unfaltering attention to each other and whatever game we happened to play. We would walk in the house tracking giant clots of bright green grass and dried mud, cursing the end of daylight.
Toss in some sweet peas and think of your little ones, and how they like to dive to the bottom of the pool to show you how strongly they swim. Their eyes are searching when they surface; they are trying to find you. See how their faces lift into a smile when their eyes have found the source of their affection. It propels them out of the water to smile so big. Watch as the peas bounce all around the counter top, rolling unpredictably in the freedom of their infancy.
Mix it together, watch as the parsley floats on water crisp cucumber inhaling new breath, chilling on the freshness of the dive.
Feed it some salt, just a little to replace what you lost while you were sliding around in the green grass outside.
Feed it some vinegar, 1 ½ Tbsp, to match the bitterness of the cashier at your encounter, choose white wine vinegar to offer your peace.
Feed it some sunflower oil, 3 Tbsp, and some lemon juice 1 Tbsp, to help deliver vitamins and energy to your little ones to help them grow.
Now let it all marinate until your loved ones come home to enjoy the flavors of life with you.
Christina's vote: "Much like a sunrise"
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
I felt myself getting smaller and smaller in my chair, the stack of papers scribbled with red ink getting larger on my lap. My professor spoke from a behind a castle of books surrounded by a moat of papers. My desk at home was more like a barricade of sandbags, subject to the occasional assault from grenade outbursts.
As he continued on, I began to imagine the wall. A stone-wall, thick and indestructible. I am trapped by it, shadowing myself on either side. I look around the room to see that I am walled in. I scream but my voice just echoes. On the far wall there is a long white cot. I sit on the edge, and begin to imagine…
Chapter 1: Oxidative Stress
Hydroxyl radical was a child of Superoxide Radical and Hydrogen Peroxide, who had a one-night affair in a metal bar for transients. The bar was called the Iron bar, news of the pregnancy destroyed them. Hydroxyl Radical was left on her own. She was a restless child, full of insecurities. She was the sort of girl who would latch on to any man who made eyes at her. She met a nice man by the name of carbon at a young age, not far from her place of birth. He was a fat man; everyone on Polyunsaturated Fat street was. He lived between two double bonds. He was happy to be in the company of such a lively young creature. He tolerated her abuse. The day that she left him, he was a changed man. She had stolen one of his electrons. She left him with all of her issues, her insecurities, and her restlessness. After that, the first woman he met, he moved in with him. She was twice the oxygen that hydroxyl was. She was also a thief, and she nurtured Carbons wounded spirit to support her in her life of thievery. Together, the two of them took an alias, peroxyl radical. They went looking in other neighborhoods for electrons to steal. Then one day, Oxygen told Carbon she had met the most curious woman. She was a foreigner from the land of plant matter, who had flown in on a sunflower seed. She was a Vitamin named Tocopherol, E for short. She had given one of her electrons to Oxygen, saying that she could just get another one anytime she needed it from her friend vitamin C. Oxygen and Carbon were so touched by the spirit of giving shown by Vitamin E, that they decided to give up their life of thievery.
The professor still was speaking "...they don't hand out degree's for near misses you know. As you go on from here to continue your writing, forget not the famous words of Mark Twain, who once began a letter by saying 'I had not the time to write you a short letter, so I am writing you a long one.'"
4 Tbsp sunflower oil
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp honey
1 tsp maple syrup
tiny squeeze of lemon if you have one around
Dice 1/2 medium red cabbage. Add 4 carrots, shredded (use a food processor if you have one). Add 1 1/2 cups sunflower seeds.
Christina's vote: "I'm gonna eat the whole thing-don't judge"
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
"What if every decision were pre- programmed? What if we have no control over any of it?" Christina said from across the room, her black cowboy boots swinging off of the edge of the red couch.
"Oh it is, and we don't. I am sure of it." A foolish thing to say.
"You are sure of it?" Christina cracked a smile.
"Um, ye..ah.." I said, in one of those, I-really-ought-to-swallow-my-words-and-take-back-what-I-just-said tones.
Anything can be argued, so I went with it. "..take for example, my cousin Alice. We grew up in completely different areas and had very little contact with each other before the holidays, yet two years in a row we gave each other the exact same gift. The first year I thought it was a coincidence. Lot's of people bake cranberry orange bread as a Christmas present, but the next year it was glow in the dark stars that you stick on your ceiling! Who gifts that? We are absolutely programmed to react to life the way we do"
In the blue darkness of morning I lay still, my head still cradled by the warm heat of my pillow, and listened to the loud cries of our little Siamese cat. I could imagine her pacing outside the door, her googly eyes moving about wildly. I was sent an article recently about how cats put subliminal purrs in their cries which humans find particularly annoying, when they want to manipulate their owners. It was working. I had been dreaming about chemistry, residual thoughts from my 10 hour day of sitting in front of a computer screen researching oxidative stress. My alarm went off. 5:04am.
When the cries of the cats subsided at the sight of my feet scuffling around the coffee pot, I noticed a new sound, the splatting of water on pavement. It caught me by surprise, rain?? I had completely forgotten about the possibility of rain. My coach had planned for me to run a 12 mile hill workout today. I looked at the streets below, it was pouring. In my car, on the way to the start of my run, the windshield wipers were working hard to keep the glass clear. It was the sort of rain that turned intersection traffic lights into times square. I felt comforted by the empty streets, at least no one would be watching to judge the insanity of a soggy woman running up and down the same suburban hill over and over again in the pouring rain.
The rain had turned the neighborhood streets into a living jungle, bright green leaves weighed heavily with rain bent over my path along the street curb. I stayed protected in their shelter from the roar of buses galloping by. My headphones were squishy with rainwater, they refused to stay in my ears. I listened to my feet run to the tune of the last song that was playing before retiring my headset. By the fourth hill repeat I began playing a game. First I imagined I was chasing someone, faster and faster I ran through the rain. Then I was being chased, my legs pounded even harder against the pavement, my heart soared. I was a little kid playing tag in the rain. I felt like laughing. Suddenly my attention was drawn to the front yard of a house along my path. It was loaded with flowers, bushes and garden tour crowd pleasers and... Swiss Chard? I was reminded of my salad for the day.
Alice has a brother named Adam. Adam and his wife Melissa own a Crossfit gym out in California. What is Crossfit you say? Check out this link, Adam explains it better than I do.
It is basically what whipped the actors and stunt people into shape for the movie 300..yes the actors with washboards for stomachs. Today I made a salad with no grain, strictly meat and vegetable carbs in paleolithic fashion (well, almost paleolithic, chickens are domesticated animals) for my cousins in California. I love how open Californians are to playing with different styles of eating. I have always been told I would fit well in California.
The salad: Preheat oven to 400. In a very hot pan with a little olive oil, sear 3 chicken breasts until browned. Remove from the heat and place on a bed of raw mustard greens. Mince 4 small cloves of fresh garlic and spread on both sides of the chicken breasts. Cover the chicken with mustard greens (you basically want to steam the chicken in the greens, this will keep the meat really moist and will infuse it with the flavor of garlic and mustard). Cover the pan with foil and bake in the oven for 22 min. Remove the foil when the chicken is done and allow it to cool in the mustard leaves.
In a separate frying pan heat a little more olive oil (just enough to cover the bottom of the pan). put a few large onion slices in (these will be removed later, you just want to use them to flavor the oil) add 1 tsp salt. Slice 3 zucchini and 2 yellow squash into thick slices and then quarter them. Mince 2 cloves fresh garlic. Add the garlic and aforementioned vegetables to the pan and cook until they just barely begin to soften, then remove from the heat (I put them in my strainer so they cool quickly). Add 1 cup diced mustard greens and 1 cup chopped parsley, 1 tsp salt, 1 Tbsp pepper, the chicken (diced). Stir well. Taste it. I almost didn't dress this salad, because the flavor is so fresh and raw and beautiful on its own. The dressing is a simple 1 Tbsp cider vinegar, the juice from 1 lemon, 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard, 2 Tbsp olive oil and salt.
Christina's vote: "Today the chicken came before the egg"
Monday, July 20, 2009
Just then, Christina moved into view. I could feel her watching me. Her audience made me question if there was a need for some conscious action, like when a child falls down and looks to see if there are ears to receive his cries.
"Are you chopping onions already, at 9 in the morning?" she asked.
"Ummm, I guess I am"
I was caught in a spotlight while dancing along to the music in my head. I was a child composing a song secretly under her breath only to realize that she was being listened to. I felt like I had just driven way past my exit and realized that I was lost on the freeway. It was the moment of "coming to" that happens before the panic of being lost settles in.
Where had I gone?
More importantly, why was I using frozen corn when I have a fresh cob in the fridge? Why was I using frozen vegetables at all in the middle of summer? Why was I making a salad at 9 am?
My stomach growled in response to my questioning.
This is the simplest salad that I have made to date. Actually, I am not sure that I really did any of the work. This salad used me to make itself. It turned out to be one of the most fantastic breakfasts I have ever eaten.
1/2 bag frozen, shelled edamame, 1 bag frozen sweet corn, 1 diced red pepper, 1 diced yellow pepper, 2 small red onions (baby red onions), 2 cups diced mustard greens, 1 Tbsp salad vinegar, 1 Tbsp salad oil, salt and pepper, garnish with feta cheese (optional)
Christina's vote: "This salad made me feel festive"
Sunday, July 19, 2009
This morning Christina and I were talking about evangelism and things of that nature. The evangelist believes that they have solutions for all. If only others truly understood, they would follow their way of life. The evangelist lives in a world without mirrors, and starved for his own reflection tries to paint himself on others. This morning I tried to distance myself from the evangelist, I floated him away to an island on a raft constructed of my own judgement. How ironic that in writing this now I can clearly see my own evangelistic urges over a bunch of mustard greens.
I walked down the rows of tables overloaded with bushy greens and red shapes and dirt crusted roots at the St. Paul farmers market. I stopped at a table where a large beautiful bundle of mustard greens was on sale for 1 dollar. There is an unmistakable financial benefit to being a person who is open to alternative paths through life. The roads less traveled overflow with available abundance, if one is willing to learn how to access it. I stopped at the table.
"are these spicy? " I said, my bag was already full and overflowing from my shoulder where it hung.
"OH Nooo" said the farmer "they are not spicy at all, perfect for salad"
I gave her a skeptical look and then tasted them, she watched nervously. I don't think she expected me to do that. One small taste made my sinuses clear and my eyes water.
"Oh, good. I will take them" I said. The woman looked surprised, but happily packed them up for me.
I had the same sort of interaction at several tables of radishes. It seems that "spicy" is not a big seller at the farmers market. I finally found some hot radishes and then left for home.
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp salad oil
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
juice from 1 lemon
1 tsp maple syrup
a pinch of salt
Chop 2 cups of mustard greens. Cut them with 1/2 head of romaine (use less mustard greens and more romaine if you are just introducing them to someone for the first time). Add 1 carrot and 2 mini cucumbers (peeled and diced), 1 tomato, and 1-2 cups sweet pea pods. Add some spicy radishes if you like (we do).
Christina's vote: "This salad put me in a fightin' mood"
Saturday, July 18, 2009
My brother Andy and I were only 1 year apart. We were best friends. I remember Andy walking into our kitchen one day, with his bowl hair cut hanging just above his eyes, and declaring that he was going to become a chef one day.
I was younger than he was, but we had had the same upbringing. We both used to love laying on the shag carpet and watching episodes of the Graham Kerr cooking show. Why had it never occurred to me that becoming a chef was an option! Suddenly I felt jealous. I wished that I had thought of this first. I felt like he had robbed me of my destiny, because he had chosen it first and now if I also chose to become a chef I would never be anything but a follower. From that day forth I was to defer to him in matters of cooking, he was going to be the chef after all. My mother tried to console me.
"You are going to be a famous piano player, you have such a good ear for music" she would say. 'I want to be a chef.' I would think.
Our first experiments in the kitchen involved more baking than cooking. Neither one of us could reach the stove top, but our mother allowed us to use the oven with her permission. We had tall kitchen chairs, which we dragged to the baking cabinets to stand on so that we could reach what was inside.
From these chairs we spilled flour, and gathered spices, our heads disappearing into the vanilla smelling cavern of chocolate chip bags and baking powder.
Everything we baked turned out flat, and tasted the same. A cinnamon flavored bread like substance that was really more of a dense cake. After a few attempts at this we turned our attention to microwaving marshmallows, a quicker more exciting process yielding tastier results.
One day, when we were a little older and I had grown into the temperament of not feeling like practicing the piano, Andy walked into the kitchen and announced that he resented the fact that he was never given the option of taking piano lessons. I perked up in my chair.
"You want to play the piano?" I asked. Suddenly I felt a lot cooler for knowing how to play. I also noted that the chef position was now available.
Just like that, we traded passions. After a brief stint with the piano, Andy moved on to become a talented saxophone player. He had a band and they were successful, he performed in front of large crowds. He moved on to classical composition, he now lives in Germany and is pursuing a graduate degree in classical composition.
I am currently living a life of composing salads.
The dressing (not pictured on the salad):
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp honey
generous sprinkle of cinnamon
4 Tbsp sunflower oil
a squirt of lemon juice
dash of salt
Dice 3 medium kohlrabi, add one bulb of fennel (find one with a strong anise flavor) garnish with diced basil.
Christina's vote: "This salad made me feel like I could single-handedly turn the economy around"
Friday, July 17, 2009
Papers come alive with rustling, metal desk feet scrape against the floor like raging bulls kicking sand in a ring, kicking, propelling dark figures all around. You feel like you are about to be trampled by them, they are moving unpredictably yet together in one mass toward the front of the room.
You feel your heart sink, it pulls you lower into your chair, so low, it seems, that the little attached desk chokes you at the throat. It threatens to decapitate you. You feel the blunt edge against your skin and realize that your desk is more of a pillory than a guillotine, even worse.
Their laughter as they waltz into the halls, out of the cinder block walls; their joy at freedom as they sway into the weekend, fills you with regret.
You sit in across from the giant mastermind of all this torture, his hair frames his face in wirey gray curls, permanently blown back from his forehead like a mad chemist. His glasses clutch firmly to his nose, trained obediently to hold there in place, defying their inanimate nature, which would cause them to slide. His shirt stands stiffly at attention, proudly refusing to ruffle or wrinkle except where appropriate at the crease of his elbow as he lifts his hand onto his desk to tap it lightly with his pen breaking the spell of your stare.
“Time” he mouths, without bothering to blow air out of his lips.
You feel even lower. You were not worth the breath, and he knew it.
Reluctantly you stand and pull one strap of your, still open, backpack over your shoulder. The only thing left to do.... is to be a smart ass. If you can’t be good, then you will be bad. You will be really bad. You will be the best at being bad. You will be slovenly, lazy, ungrateful, and defiant. You will be unmade always, like a messy bed thrown together in the morning, clothing hanging in all the wrong places, hair tangled into a knot. You will hang around with the “wrong crowd” comprised to mothers only of other people’s children.
You have options.
You always have options.
Stay in the middle of the seesaw, you do not have to jump always in the air or sink to the ground. Balance on your feet if you like an extra challenge, stand on your hands even. Look closer at your paper. It is not completely blank, you have some written there and even more inside of you.
Walk slowly to your teacher; contemplate the meaning of the word. Watch as he becomes smaller the closer you walk to him, his hair reflecting soft light from the window. His glasses slide. He pushes them back into their creases. He is not perfect.
Ask him for his help; then listen carefully to his reply.
When you get home, there is a nice taco salad to eat:
In a hot pan, cook 2 baby red onions. Add a clove of garlic. Cook 1 cup grass fed ground beef. Season with chipoltle pepper and a little tomato paste (or some Mexican seasoning). In a separate hot pan, heat some vegetable oil until it is really hot and add 1 flour tortilla. Allow it to brown on both sides, then remove from heat. Build your taco salad by adding all your favorite fresh taco veggies, I used romaine lettuce, yellow pepper, green onion diced, tomato, fresh raw sweet corn on the cob (cut off the cob). Dress with lime juice and vegetable oil, and top with sour cream. (cheese, cilantro and avocado would be delicious, but I left them off this time)
Christina's vote: "Gives new meaning to taco salad"
Thursday, July 16, 2009
I pulled over to the side of the industrial street in my little blue car and felt my world shake at the passing of each truck.
Christina, I just met with my adviser. I have so much work to do. I am afraid I will never get this thesis done. I typed into text.
A giant truck went by, sending the street garbage whirling through the air. My car shook.
Just do it-stay up late get up early no playing. its ok. Christina replied
I felt the color come back into my cheeks. Christina is my airplane.
Cook 1 cup orzo in boiling water for 10 min. In a separate pan boil some water to blanch 2 cups chopped green beans and ½ cauliflower (put the cauliflower in first and cook it for a few min before adding the green beans. Cook the green beans until they are bright, then drain the whole pot into your strainer) Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil, add ½ yellow onion diced and some salt. Add 2 cloves garlic. Add the orzo and 1 ½ Tbsp muchi curry powder. Pour this bright yellow orzo over the green beans and cauliflower and add 1 Tbsp white wine vinegar, 1 tsp cider vinegar and some salt. Chill and serve.
Christina’s vote: “I loved everything but the orzo. Sorry, the noodle thing.”
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
"Has anyone seen my car?" A voice carried from down the street. It was Joey, he was looking at me as he spoke.
"your...keys?" I asked, thinking he had misspoken.
"No. My CAR". His eyes squinted from the harshness of a morning sun after a night of drinking. He wore a sleeveless tank top and a bandanna on his head, which had been his uniform since the early playground days and only now was he beginning to embody it. During the week the men of the town wore black suits and carried briefcases and were sent off on the train together. At night the women would park at the train station and wait at the door of their station wagons, the kids tightly strapped into the back with eyes unfocused and talking slowly with mouths moving absent mindedly.
On Sundays the men wore sweaters, and pushed the baby strollers as their wives walked tethered to their sides. Joey staggered, weaving through the sweater clad families, along the sidewalk, "Have you seen my car, No? ahhF*$#!" He had a thick Brooklyn accent, which he also wore daily.
I arrived at college with a need to define myself, I wanted flashy labels like punk rocker, activist, or vegan. No longer housed by the structures lined with hometown judgement, I sought new cages imagining them to be without boundaries. The flashy labels I donned were knock-offs. I spoke definitively of things I knew little about. One night, after defending my new found veganism over massive quantities of beer in a freshman dorm room, I left to go home to bed and decided to stop in a phone booth on my way to order some chicken wings. When the door of the phone booth swung open and I was found huddled over a menu with a guilty look on my face, whispering into the phone, caught failing to uphold my own standards.
Joey, here is your blue cheese and bacon salad. It pairs nicely with self discovery and searching until we all find what we are looking for.
In a blender, mix:
1 clove garlic
4 oz blue cheese
3 tsp white wine vinegar
3/4 cup sour cream
1 cup mayonnaise
2 Tbsp salt free seasoning (or parsley, or spices that you like)
Mix 1/2 head chopped romaine lettuce with 6 stalks diced celery, and 2 sliced tomatoes. Add 1/2 head cauliflower (crumbled) and some blue cheese (crumbled) and 6 strips cooked, chopped bacon.
Christina's vote: "Real bacon over a delicious salad, this is living!"
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Monday, July 13, 2009
Potatoes. They live in the darkness, their eyes buried in the cool dirt. What must it be like for them to feel the sun for the first time. If someone described that moment, the first moment of light, to a buried potato, would the potato be able to fathom it?
Every time I dug into the sand with my rake and came up with a potato I felt lucky. Like I had just won a prize. The digging was addictive, and soon the rush of finding potatoes made me forget about the landing bugs, and I was lost, like my companions, to the secret world of the garden. I soon began wishing that I had an army to cook for so that I could stay here for hours.
It was a memory. I felt the light hit my eyelids and the muscles of my back straighten as I sat breathing, cross-legged on the floor, the backs of my hands against my knees. "open your arms if you want to be held" a quote by Rumi trails through my mind like a train with no end. The yoga instructor walks delicately over to the window to open the blinds, I can feel her feet as they stick gently to the wooden floor before pushing off. I imagine the potatoes, their journey from darkness, their denial of the existence of light, and then that incredible feeling of light surrounding, blazing, defying all previous reality.
I carry my meditation with me. I bring it home to the kitchen. I am standing, breathing, feeling the green, yellow and purple string beans as I snap off their ends. The colors, so bright that my pupils contract at the sight of them, physically altering me before I have even tasted a nutrient. I can smell the potatoes when they finish boiling, their odor, like the steam that fills a Thanksgiving kitchen.
When the new potatoes finish cooking I pour in the beans and watch as the colors brighten or dim back to green. In minutes I drain the whole pot of beans and potatoes into the strainer and rinse them with cool water. Into the empty pot I pour 4 Tbsp sesame oil. Sesame oil is exotic and sensual. It says I am interesting, I am different and undeniably irresistible. It is compelling, mystifying, it compliments the simple beauty of a fresh potato training the palate not to go searching for butter or ketchup. When the sesame oil is hot, I turn the heat off and add 4 cloves of purple garlic, fresh from the farmers market. I quickly pour this mixture over the potatoes and beans and add 4 small red onions sliced thin.
Then I dress the salad with 1 Tbsp rice vinegar, 1 Tbsp salad vinegar, 2 tsp Ume plum vinegar, a bit of salt. Over the top, pour, 2 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds.
I used 6 new potatoes, 3 red and 3 yellow, and 2 cups of beans for this salad. The recipe made about 5 cups.
Christina's vote: "An unusual delight!"
Sunday, July 12, 2009
It was a perfect day for cleaning. Last night we stayed up far too late after a full 8 hour day of driving, followed by a concert. I rarely go to concerts anymore, but every now and then a friend from the east coast comes through Minneapolis on tour. Being the only one of my graduating class to have moved to the twin cities (that I am aware of) I feel it is really important to go to these things.
We sat sleepily on some bar stools overlooking an eclectic crowd of college aged kids, tattooed with reflective light from a disco ball overhead. My friend Michael stood on stage looking out with his soft brown eyes and salad bowl hair cut and I was aware of how he had become an adult.
A few months ago I saw a friend from high school play a show. I was amazed by how her cheekbones had grown prominent and her posture confident, I might not have recognized her in the street. How amazing to watch live examples of energetic childhood dreams manifest themselves into fully expressed realities. I feel empowered by their commitment.
I awoke from my sleepy reflections at the sound of the mic check as a small queer person of mixed gender with a 70's mustache spoke into the mic, "Are you guys ready for a gay disco party?" the crowd cheered and then the beat exploded into the walls of the club, ricocheting back towards the group of sweaty dancers. The music was vibrant, the crowd was elated, the performance art was brilliant, I left feeling inspired.
I woke up to the mid-summer sun radiating off white walls. The sound of bartering from the farmers market carries all the way up to our 6th floor window. It was a perfect day for cleaning, and reflecting, and relaxing in the cool shade of our apartment.
The arugula I found in my refrigerator seemed a little tired and not quite as flavorful as I had hoped, so I made a full dressing in lieu of lemon and oil.
4 cloves fresh garlic (the garlic I used was not quite dry, sharp yet mild. If you use dried bulbs, use 2 cloves instead of 4)
the juice of 3 juicy lemons
1 tsp white wine vinegar
4 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
For the salad, use arugula as the base green, diced yellow pepper, spicy radishes, chopped tomato, and baby cucumber. Garnish with raspberries and fresh ground pepper.
Christina's vote: "I felt like I needed to handle this salad like a newborn baby"
Saturday, July 11, 2009
The beauty of the river was demystified by the stench of sewage, incongruent as the gorgeous woman who speaks hatred and slander through perfectly painted lips.
The raw smell of the river wafts in and out of narrow downtown streets like a rat lost in a maze, poking around corners and then quickly withdrawing. Sometimes it charges back and forth on the same block, this way and that, trapped in the narrow streets, looking for it’s way back to the river.
I run down paved sidewalks passed murals on buildings, painted by small hands with dreams of growing big. The messy work becomes an abstract blur as my heart begins ascending into the day’s running adventure. Bounding down the hill I am a child, carefree, arms swinging wild. My reflection projects an adult, controlled, tightly moving, serious attention to form. I am two people in one.
As I climb out of the maze of buildings I have a clear landscape view of the winding path along the river, which is littered with brightly colored shirts, which scatter about like leaves in the wind. Volumes of air moving in and out of my lungs quench my thirst. This is what drinking breath feels like. The Minnesota sky, uninterrupted by mountains, is a giant blue dome overhead. I feel like I am inside a shakable globe. Everything is fixed, a perfectly painted world, and I am a moving toy bounding up the river path weighted so I land proper in the scene.
Nothing beats a good fruit salad after a run like this. Yesterday I went to Tanya and Allison’s house to see their vegetable garden. They had an excess of raspberries and invited me over to pick some. I walked into the yard and saw Tanya standing in what looked like a giant tomato jungle, rake in hand, squinting from the sun. It was their first garden, and, it was quite impressive. They had baby cucumbers, small and pimpled and nestled under leaves like street teenagers waiting to be rescued. They had green beans, so new they were sticky and in their infancy they clung to my tongue. They had spicy mustard greens, whose aggressive flavor hit me between the eyes. The zucchini were my favorite. In the shade of giant heart shaped leaves hides a little village where giant yellow squash blossoms, billowy at the bottom and peaking in a point like a soft ice cream cone, sit atop little green zucchini. They look like Dr. Seuss characters. When Allison brushed the leaves aside to show me the zucchini, I half expected them to gather and sing in whoville chorus. The raspberry bushes were contained in a giant hairnet, I left with a container of beautiful fresh red raspberries.
The fruit salad for today is simple. Just fruit. I used ¼ watermelon (cubed), 1 honeydew melon (cubed), 1 cup blueberries, 1 cup raspberries, 1 cup grapes (halved). Mix and enjoy!
Jesse’s vote: “I liked it so much”
Friday, July 10, 2009
They were orange, with fake tans tapered into little shoes and blond hair piled on top like an ice cream cone. They were huge with bulging muscles and tight T shirts, with necks so thick they had to turn their whole bodies to look behind them. They were skinny and blemished, with billowing polo T shirts, narrow waists and sagging pants tied with braided belts. They hung on the arms of each other leaving the bar. They walked briskly, floating heads chattering, propelled by swinging legs walking into the bar.
"I don't like her, do you?" One woman said.
Then a stream of she's and he's and they did this, said that etc.. began. They dealt out opinions as though they were cards, emulating the world poker tournament which flashed on the television screen projecting from every corner of the bar.
"Are you going to tell your friends about the argument you had with other friends today?" Christina asked. I had had an argument with some friends earlier in the day. I felt terrible. I wanted relief. I wanted to slander. I wanted to get to my other friends to tell them my story before they had a chance to tell their side. I wanted to win my friends over, to make sure that if sides were created, they would pick mine.
Drama is voluntary. Drama is for people who believe that life is dull and needs to be made interesting, that life is too bland and needs to be spiced. In order for flavors to be fully tasted, the palate needs to be trained to sense them. Years of eating food doused with heavy spices can ruin the tongues ability to sense more delicate flavors. I want to try not gossiping, I want to refrain from artificial excitements, so that I can experience the richness of life.
2 Tbsp Sesame oil
2 cloves mashed minced garlic
2 Tbsp sunflower oil
1 Tbsp Rice vinegar
1/2 tsp Ume plum vinegar
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp sugar
Dice slice and finely chop a head of green cabbage until you have filled 2/3 of your salad bowl. Mix in 5 large spicy red radishes (cut into half moons), 4 green onions (chopped), and one fresh zucchini (the garden aroma is important, make sure you find some fresh zucchini). Garnish with raw sesame seeds.
Christina's vote: TBA
Thursday, July 9, 2009
I used to stand for hours on the shoreline, double daring the ocean to bury me. I wanted to feel the cool weight of wet sand climb over me, comforting me with its heaviness. I wanted to get stuck there forever, becoming a fixture caked with salt. I wanted to feel my skin tan and then weather like the shore houses. I wanted the sun to change me, to bake my hair into streaks and my skin into wrinkles. The ocean only ever dared to bury my ankles, teasing me as each powerful building swell faded to a gentle push at my feet.
I loved how the wind carried away songs, mumblings, and lunacies, filling my ears with wind and water to protect them from the nonsense which vibrated past my lips. I search the floor for the scattered shards of glass, the faint humming of Jesse in the background.
My meditation ends abruptly by the prancing tap of paws. The culprit. Ears back, tail straight in the air, the cat comes to brag before his kill. A San Pellegrino smashed into pieces all over the floor. I squirt chase him away with a water gun. He has bullied the old orange tabby cat into a spot behind the copper legs of the table. Poor old Charlie looks just like a prisoner there. He follows my movements with his head from behind copper bars.
Shells, shrimp, peas, edamame, pasta salad. East meets Midwest. My father grew up on the east coast and my mother in Wisconsin. What better represents this cultural union than a shrimp filled pasta salad? (a lobster hot dish, perhaps?)
This morning, as we drove to pick up her brother Jesse from the airport, the dawn sky burned with pink. Glowing shrouds of cloud against a pink sky in the early morning make me dream ocean thoughts. Christina spoke love for Minnesota which was contagious, it is beautiful, I thought as we wound around the river sleepy eyed, with the crowning sun at our backs.
Boil some water and cook 1/2 box shells. While the shells are cooking, dice 1/2 onion. Mash and mince 2 cloves fresh garlic.
Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a frying pan. Add onions and garlic. Break 1/2 cauliflower into little pieces into the pan. Add some salt, and give a stir. Add 1/3 cup water and allow cauliflower to cook on high until the water is gone (I like it when it still has some crunch, but is not too hard). Check on your pasta periodically. When it is finished cooking, drain it and rinse immediately with cold water to prevent it from sticking.
Cook ~2 cups peeled de-veined shrimp in 1 tsp butter, 1/2 Tbsp olive oil. Add a little salt. After about 4 min pour shrimp into cauliflower and remove from heat. Add 2 more cloves of minced and mashed garlic to the mixture. Add in the pasta, 3 diced green onions, 1 cup frozen peas and 1 cup frozen edamame (shelled). Stir well, allow temperatures to even out. The peas and edamame will thaw, the cauliflower will cool.
Pour yourself some coffee. Wash a few dishes. Relax a bit.
Empty the salad into a large bowl and add 1 diced tomato, and liberal amounts of pepper and your favorite seasoning mix (I used some salt free seasoning mix that Christina's mom sent to us). Add salt to taste. Add 1 cup mayonnaise, and 1 1/2 Tbsp salad vinegar. Chill salad and serve!
Christina's vote: "This salad is rich"
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
He was not really asking me a question. He never pauses for long enough to invite an answer. He often skips over pauses in his speech entirely, drawing out his words to ward off possible interruption. He continues, "of course you never cook angry, because what is in your heart goes into the food. What is innnn yooooouuuur heaaaaarrrt goes innn-tooo the food..." he went on.
Nobody could get past his wall of glasses and words, the building of which took longer than the growing of his ponytail. I tried to look interested in his lecture, not for him so much as for the kids. I felt a sense of responsibility to them, to behave in such a way as to encourage them to behave properly. I was passing down unquestioned formalities, too afraid to question them at this stage in the game. There is a secret one learns when they find themselves standing in front of a lecture hall, or as in the case of my museum trip, when counseling at a summer camp. There are many truths, many paths, many ways. Our leaders are children, there paths go only as far as they have been led.
"You never cook when you are angry" These words resonate. My spoon hits the metal bowl with a clang. Today, I was cooking angry. I saw that the path Dan had cleared drops off into a cliff. I found his words to be false. To cook angry was pure heaven.
Oil spattered hungry for the raw green edges of zucchini. The smooth white insides turned yellow, melting in the steamy scream of oil. My hands were filled with passion as I crushed garlic under the smooth back of my knife. The passion of my anger dissolved into love and I saw they were one and the same. By the time the salad was finished I was laughing.
Try making this salad with any emotion:
Boil 2 cups water, 1 Tbsp olive oil and 1 tsp salt. Add 1 1/2 cups couscous, remove from heat, stir, cover and let sit for 7 min.
In a frying pan, cover the bottom with olive oil. Add 5 small diced zucchini and some salt. Add 4 cloves FRESH garlic (from the farmers market if possible, alive and spicy). When Zucchini has had enough, remove from heat and add 1/2 diced red onion. Add 1 cup re-hydrated sun dried tomatoes. Mix in couscous. Allow to cool a bit, add 1 Tbsp oil, 1 Tbsp rice vinegar, 1 1/2 Tbsp Salad vinegar, 1/2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar and 1 cup diced basil. Season with salt and pepper.
Christina's vote: "Love in every mouthful"
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
Last night in a magazine, I read about a new author. She talked about fiction writing, and about how the characters find you. She talked about she often found herself writing about things of which she had no previous experience. It is similar with salad. Standing before an empty cutting board, my hands and arms select ingredients without consulting my mind, it seems. I gave up planning a long time ago. The salad has an agenda. It finds you when it wants to be made.
This salad is very similar to a favorite salad of mine, which I used to order from a local restaurant every time I went there for dinner. It was often my sole reason for going there.
In a blender or mini food processor mix:
1 clove garlic
1/4 red onion
1 handful basil leaves
1/2 cup sour cream
2 Tbsp water
Juice from 1 lemon
1 Tbsp white wine vinegar
1/2 Tbsp cider vinegar
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
pepper to taste
Thyme and parsley to taste
Rinse and chop 1/2 head romaine, add 2 peeled sliced carrots, 1/2 head cauliflower, 1 tomato sliced and quartered, 1/4 diced red onion, shredded cheese and roasted salted sunflower seeds to taste.
Christina's vote: "Simply delicious"