Monday, September 28, 2009

Through this window

I like to think who lives behind that window, and that shade, and that one and that one and it takes about fifteen seconds and a knock on the head to stop that kind of mental hashish. Where we live, a small Midwestern city, there are 2,454 people per square mile so it’s a conceivable pastime. Out this way, Manhattan, for example, has the highest population density of any city in the US at 66,940.1 people per square mile. That was in 2002. Looking down from the top of the Rockefeller Center jams my brain.

While on vacation I try to maintain some bits of reading here and there for sake of nourishment and grounding. Jerram Barrs’ Through His Eyes is doing that for me. Are you with me yet? It’s okay if you’re not.

I was thinking about the stories behind all those windows. It’s good we don’t know them all, being finite and what not and came to this:

The story of Tamar is a shocking story, but events like these in her story happen every day in all of our cities, in every country on the face of this earth. Some of the people involved in these shocking events are Christian believers, and yet God does not abandon them. Each one of us who reads Tamar’s story knows that we have made choices and done things to other people that have been seriously wrong, and yet God has not turned away from us. The truth is that God has no other people to love and to honor – and to forgive than people who are sinners.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Hudson

Today our plans were ruined by Ahmadinejad. Well sort of. Circle Line must have known as we headed up the Hudson past the Statue, Ground Zero toward the UN Building that we’d be turned back by the Coast Guard because of high security. We had decided to take the three hour harbor cruise around the island of Manhattan. I liked that. Getting the Big Picture. Well, Big-ger. Sometimes I’m handicapped by little parts. I like Big Pictures, that’s why when we see a Miramax movie, I always poke Denis and say, I like that when the skyline of Manhattan lights up.

I’ve never been close to the Statue and like a lot of things in real life she’s bigger and more beautiful. As we approached the United Nations we could see that all along the river the East highway had been shut down, and then a smallish boat with a gun mounted on its bow approached to turn us back. I said she didn’t look very threatening could we just go on, but John pointed out she had a lot of friends with bigger guns who could be there in seconds and who were. Capable of. To get in our three hours of paid tour the captain back-tracked and took us the other way up to the north end of Manhattan where, due to the Rockefellers having purchased all the land, you can get an idea of the green hills and palisades that used to exist that Henry Hudson fell in love with centuries ago. We also passed the Little Red Lighthouse under the George Washington Bridge and John told us that his grandmother used to live just up the hill and swam there as a young woman.

John just looked up Ahmadinejad’s speech and if you didn’t have a context for him and his words, you could agree with quite a bit of it.Very weird.

Monday, September 21, 2009

On belay

I dribbled dressing on my clean white shirt. Comment has asked me to write more columns. John has made deviled eggs. Even piped in the filling! Denis brought me a pillow. The dog laid her head on my lap and licked my face. We have a new granddaughter. Kelly sent a beautiful poem by Lucy Shaw. Everything is making me cry. And am sorry I haven’t posted more. I think I need this vacation.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Toad Hall Breakfast

Breakfast in bed this morning. Denis tea, me coffee. I made us a piece of cinnamon toast and Denis has gone back to sleep, not feeling so well today. The air of quiet on a Saturday morning, having decided to skip Farmer’s Market today as we’ll only be in town through Wednesday…just rent by someone who happens by nearly every morning and stands in our yard below our bedroom window and yells across our fence to Jane, who must be renting a room next door JANE, JANE, JANE, WAKE UP! JANE, I’VE BROUGHT YOU BREAKFAST!

Last night a friend gave me a copy of The Wind in the Willows Country Cookbook and I was reminded of how often Kenneth Grahame refers to the blessing of friendship and the sharing of meals.

It was, indeed, the most beautiful stew in the world, being made of partridges, and pheasants, and chickens, and hares and rabbits, and peahens, and guinea-fowls, and one or two other things. Toad took the plate on his lap, almost crying, and stuffed, and stuffed, and stuffed ... He thougth that he had never eaten so good a breakfast in all his life.

- The Wind in the Willows -

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Those neo-Mexican supper recipies

Okay. I got enough strokes so now I'm posting.

Cucumber-yogurt with Pepperoncini

This recipe was in the current issue of Food & Wine magazine and rather than writing the whole thing out, you can LINK to it. Clever me, duh. Honest, this is so refreshingly good, I’d like to make another batch right now. We reduced the dill. I’m no buttermilk drinker, but in this recipe no one knows they’re spooning up buttermilk. Left over buttermilk, even if it’s pretty sour and undrinkable, is great for pancakes or biscuits.

Stuffed Poblanos

Poblanos are consistently milder and cuz they’re kinda fat. Easier to stuff, but you can use Anaheims also. Then they’re called Chile Rellonos.

5-10 roasted peppers. Go to this site for instructions on roasting or charring. Only, sweat them in a paper bag, not plastic. And if you rinse them under water to help skin, be sure to dry them off before cooking. Another thing - if you do a larger batch you can freeze the extra for later use.

Monterrey Jack cheese – 8 – 12 oz.

Dry the roasted poblanos with a paper towel. Make a small slit on side to remove some of the seeds and ribbing. Tuck a triangle of cheese in the slit. Roll in flour to dust outside. Don’t worry if the “slit” becomes more of a gaping hole. Just kind of wrap the flesh around the cheese and dip them in batter one by one, using your fingers, place on a saucer and slip into ½ inch hot oil in a frying pan. Sauté until golden, turn, about 3-4 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels. Eat SOON.


3-4 eggs, separated

1 – 2 T water

3 T flour

¼ t. salt

Beat egg whites until they form soft peaks.

Beat yolks with water, flour, salt until thick and creamy.

Fold whites into yolks.

Tomato and Mint Salad with Pomegranate Dressing.

Yeah! Go to Epicurious for this recipe. Really great company for this menu.

Lazy Flat Enchiladas like my Hispanic Neighbor Taught Me

1 lb ground beef, browned

1 pkg corn tortillas

1 small onion, chopped

1 can green chile (or use fresh, add jalapenos if you want heat)

2 cans cream of chicken soup (Horrors! Sometimes I have stock and can make my own.)

1 can water

1 lb grated mild c

heddar cheese.

1 large casserole dish, oiled

Mix soup and water in shallow dish.

Assemble like this:

1. Dip tortillas in soup one at a time and place in a single layer. Tear them in ½ to make fit, if needed.

2. Sprinkle layer with 2 T ground beef.

3. 1 T. or so of raw onion

4. 1-2 T green chile

5. A little grated cheese.

Repeat until you fill

the casserole. I usually get about 3-4 layers. Pour any remaining soup over the top. Finish with cheese. Bake 350 oven for 30 minutes or until it bubbles.

Café Flan (I could eat this all day, but I’m a Christian. You know?)

3 eggs, slightly beaten

6 T. sugar

¼ t. salt

1 t. vanilla

2 T. instant coffee or espresso (okay, just so you know, this is about the only form of instant coffee that ever passes my lips, and it keeps forever)

3 c. milk, scalded. (about 3-4 minutes in microwave?)

6 T. Kahlua

Whipped cream (Do NOT use COOL WHIP!!)

In mixing bowl, combine eggs, sugar, salt, coffee, and vanilla. Mix. Gradually add hot milk, stir like heck, Pour mixture into 6 custard cups. Place in pan of hot water and bake at 375 for 25 minutes or until slightly firm. Cool to room temp or chill if you make it a day ahead. To serve, spoon liqueur over flan and top with whipped cream.

Source: Simply Simpatico cookbook

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Days of heaven, maybe

A couple nights ago we took another supper out to the farm. Anita and I got inspired by a peppery sort of Mexican menu and before the food was planned she had pulled a red Mexican blanket from the trunk of her car for a tablecloth and I’d chosen a cd - Flaco Jimenez – All Said and Done. Joe and Becca’s interns Nathan & Sarah joined us, Hannah was there, and Daniel, Joe’s good friend, arrived on his motorcycle with his new puppy, Franky, riding in a box on the back.

While Anita and Denis set up, I finished the poblanos, frying them up in Becca’s cast iron skillet.

Sitting down together in the yard with friends and a loaded table had the distinct feel of eternity – the scent we sometimes get being hundreds of miles or years

downstream from the source. What with the long rays of evening crossing the fields diffusing through the trees, the blend of flavors and textures, sharing stories – it roused hope, the reminder that one day these won't be such a rare moments especially when life is…
Cheez. I’ve been reading too much nineteenth century nature writing. Sounds like I’m channeling James Audubon essays. What I’m saying, okay, is that sometimes God gives grace-filled days and I really, really need to bank them against bad times. Not that I’ve lived with a pessimist or anything, these many years.

This was our menu:

Cucumber-Yogurt Soup with Pepperoncini
(now my favorite cold soup with perfect amount of creamy tanginess)
Flat enchiladas (an easy dish from Hispanic neighbors)
Stuffed Poblano Peppers
Tomato mint salad with pomegranate molasses dressing (unusual foody items like this can make me crabby, but this specialty molasses was worth it)
Challah bread & butter
Fresh lemonade
Café Flan with whipped cream and Kahlua. (a flawless melting of flavors when a spoonful is slowly pressed to the roof of your mouth)

You know, if there was interest, I might post some of these recipes. But only...