P.s.- This is actually 4 blogs rolled into 1... why? I don't really know. Some sort of strange urge to make it multi-dimensional caused me to lay it out this way, yet people seem to never realize that there is an index at the right which will take you to other interconnected pages. Feel free to explore and share with others!
Saturday, November 24, 2007
I once worked at a great restaurant in Cambridge called "Daddy-O's Bohemian Cafe". The philosophy and approach of the owners, Paul Sussman and Ellis Seidman, was simple and refreshing: home style comfort food with an emphasis on the ethnic traditions that our familiar American foods had evolved from. Daddy-O's was warm and inviting, earthy and unpretentious, akin to going to a block party barbeque in your neighborhood. The environment was funky and eclectic, styled as an imaginary 1950's roadhouse diner where Ferlinghetti and Kerouc might have met up for some grub after a long day of yo-yoing. Food not too far removed from your sphere of familiarity, but better, served along with a plug of seltzer, lime rickey, coffee, wine, fresh baked pies and cool jazz playing in the background. Daddy-O's also developed their own contemporary philosophy about food - we all grew up eating bad food that either our parents or the local restaurants didn't know how to cook. Rubbery veal parmigiana or breaded chicken cutlets, watery and flavorless sauces, over cooked and dry steaks, mushy pasta, thick and lumpy mashed potatoes, gravies that tasted like unset plaster of Paris with artificial turkey flavoring, instant food from a box or a can. You remember. Of course you do. Daddy-O's set out to re-define and improve upon the great, favorite traditional meals of our youth and succeeded with style, creativity and flair. Sadly, Daddy-O's closed their doors about ten years ago and I have to make do with their expert influence and inspiration. I did with our Thanksgiving dinner what Daddy-O's might have done with the holiday meal.
This year we went with the game hens. They are smaller than a chicken, gamier and better tasting (ditto for turkey as well) and will leave you with only one or two small to moderate portions to deal with the day after. The game hens were lightly coated with garlic infused extra virgin olive oil, kosher salt and some ground pepper, then stuffed with a quarter wedge of onion, a few cloves of garlic, and some sprigs of fresh marjoram and sage. They also take far less time to cook - about an hour to an hour and a half. Since we had our friend Rachel over, there was one for each of us. Plus they were on sale at our store - two per package, buy one get one free. I placed the game hens breast up in our roasting pan and cooked them at 450 degrees for a half hour, then turned them over and reduced the heat to 350 for another 40 to 50 minutes. They came out perfect, with the skin nice and crisp and the meat tender and juicy.
Thanksgiving offers us a great opportunity to get a jump up on our fat layer for the winter. We accomplished this with plenty of butter and cream in the soup, sides and dessert. The week before I made a roasted squash, leek and apple soup. Using vegetable stock for the base I added the squash, leeks and apples (cooked with a light coating of EVOO, salt and pepper) and pureed it until smooth. Blend in ground ginger and coriander, a touch of honey, and lots of butter and cream while it's simmering and you have a hearty harvest soup that compliments any meal. I used the basic ingredients here except I baked the squash, leeks and apples with my Green Thai Spice Seasoning and used coconut milk instead of cream. It turned out quite nice.
For sides for the game hens I made stuffing using butter, chicken stock, fresh marjoram and sage, diced onion and sliced baby bella mushrooms. I used a package mix since I rarely ever have stale bread in bulk on hand, either for croutons or for feeding pigeons. We had mashed potatoes and mashed yams, both cooked with butter, cream and sour cream and topped with sliced green onions. For a garnish I toasted chopped pecans and hazelnuts, added butter, suger, quatre épices and a spicy pepper blend I made from a combination of dried chiles. Oh, and there was gravy, too, of course, which I made from the pan drippings.
For dessert I created a pumpkin crème brûlée galette, which was actually more of a mousse in texture. I incorporated a couple recipe outlines for pumpkin pie type deserts and modified it into a galette - a sort of open topped pie. I used canned pie filling (some day I'll have to try fresh baked pumpkins) that I folded into whipped egg whites, egg yolk emulsion and whipped cream, flavored it with sugar, vanilla, maple syrup and Grand Marnier - NO PUMPKIN PIE SPICES! All in all, the filling wasn't too sweet, more on the savory side. Rolling out a simple pie crust into about seven inch circles, I placed a scoop or two of the filling in the center and folded the edges up around it so that it sort of looked like an aperture, then baked at 380 degrees for about 15 to 20 minutes and served it with a drizzle of burnt caramel sauce over it. To compliment our Thanksgiving meal we had a sparkling peach cider.
Should anyone have any interest in the recipes for these dishes - in approximates, not exact measurements, natch - you can write me back here. I'll be recreating them in writing in the next week and have them available for you.
Friday, October 05, 2007
Cheryl and I officially got together on October 11th of 2004, the day before mom's birthday and about eight months after her death. It seems fitting to have met the woman who would become my wife on this anniversary. I'm often sad that they never got to meet. I know my mom would have approved of Cheryl and would have gotten along well with her. Cheryl is extremely talented and handy with crafts, especially knitting and sewing, and sometimes when she is busy about her latest project I recall similar memories from when I was a child. My mother and sisters would on occasion go to the fabric store and buy material, patterns and the such, and the home would be buzzing with craft activities that I had a minor fascination with but little other interest in. The other day, after Cheryl had gone shopping to buy buttons for her new sweater, she was showing them to me and asking my opinion of them. It reminded me of being a young boy, hanging out with mom and my sisters, sifting through the tin of buttons they had, looking at the variety of colors and shapes there were. It had an odd attraction to me and probably fostered an unusual love of collecting random things. I guess my mother is partly to blame if I came home with junk to showcase in odd, random nooks about my room.
Over the past two weeks the Big E - the Eastern States Exposition - was in town. It's also an odd assortment of sideshows with unusual attractions, tchachkas, midway fare and all of the rich, deep fried food you can eat, centered around 4 H club exhibits, breeding competitions (no, not that kind - we're talking dogs, cows, horses, llamas, pigs, sheep, etc....), butter sculptures, gigantic squashes and entertaining acts. Cheryl entered several items in the Big E fiber competition and came home with three ribbons. She should have won more. She's that good. I think my mother would have beamed with admiration and pride for her daughter in law. I know she would have been impressed with her talents and abilities to create and knit so well. Maybe sewing would have been at least one area they had in common and could have talked much about.
Wednesday, September 05, 2007
Monday, August 13, 2007
I was a ten month baby. I mean my mother carried me through pregnancy for ten months. It runs in the family, especially with the boys. My due date was August 7th & I was born on September 4th. Imagine my poor mom, living in the 100 degree + summer heat of the desert & having to carry a baby for another month...
On my mother's side of the family there are a slew of theatre technicians, all who worked in Las Vegas. My grandfather did sound at the Flamingo, my grandmother was a stage mother to the dancers & two uncles did lighting, one for Caesar's Palace. I'm guessing this is likely to be where my interest in theatre came from.
I have- or used to have- better than 20-20 vision. I'm the only one in my family who never had to wear glasses. My eyesight has always been sharp as an eagle's. It still is but it is now getting noticeably weaker. When I was a freshman in junior high the eye doctor told me my sight would certainly go very early because of this condition, while last year the eye doctor told me that it has probably lasted this long because of it. You just gotta appreciate the randomness of science.
When I was a child I used to have "premonition dreams". I used to see events of the future in my dreams and would recognize it when they occurred, usually by a strong familiarity with where I am & a comfortable sense of belonging. Usually these dreams mark a significant change in my life and on two occasions they involved the death of someone I had grown close to. It still happens occasionally but rarely. I've come to believe that these dreams occurred to prepare me for changes that were about to happen.
Many "well known personalities"- ie., celebrities, have eaten food that I've cooked, including Roy Rogers & Dale Evans, Cathy Rigby, Alan Hale, Jr., Larry Bird, Tracy Kidder, Jamaica Kincaid, John Deutch, Marc Ribot, G Love (& Special Sauce), Ben Affleck & Gwenyth Paltrow (on a date together), to name only a few that I know of. They seem to have not suffered any long lasting side effects because of it.
When I was very young- probably about three years old- I jumped off the high dive & into an inner tube that my father held in place for me. Probably due this I have a simultaneous fear of heights and an urge to jump off of roofs.
My family on my mother's side is supposedly descended from Native American Indians, possibly Cherokee or Comanche. There is also a rumor that we are descended from Royalty in Britain as well as France. None of this can be verified and no one from either side has attempted to contact us.
In 1999 I somehow found myself on stage performing in an opera with several Nobel prize recipients who were dressed up as sheep. I was tenor clone #3. That was the Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony and you can read the libretto transcript at http://www.improbable.com/ig/ig99-seedy-libretto.html
That's my eight. I now have to pick eight people to list eight things about themselves. Here they are:
Baird T. Soules
Josh & Carrie Rubero
Mike & Katie Peterson
Monday, July 23, 2007
Saturday night we made gyros. I used a greek seasoning blend with chicken breasts. A little extra virgin olive oil to lightly coat the breasts so that a small but goodly amount of spices will stay in place- about a table spoon sprinkled over the surface with some kosher salt, cracked black pepper & smoked paprika. I let it set for a couple hours at room temperature in a covered pyrex dish so that the chicken will absorb the spice seasoning & since I planned to grill the chicken I used a little extra of the seasoning to make sure that it wouldn't be burnt off by the fire.
While the chicken marinated I made some Tzatziki sauce to go with it. I modified an online recipe & came up with this variation:
1 cup plain yoghurt
1 large clove fresh garlic, minced (we get ours fresh from the fields at our farm share)
1 cucumber, peeled & diced
3 tb chopped scallions
1 tsp fresh oregano
1 tsp fresh thyme
1 tsp fresh dill
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil (approximately)
1 tsp white blasamic vinegar (approximately)
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
pinch of black pepper
dash of salt
Mix it up & let sit. No, I didn't actually measure any of the ingredients I used & I'm only guessing at approximates here, but it should keep you in the ballpark of tastiness. Tzatziki traditionally has mint in it but, since my seasoning mix already has some mint in it I opted for fresh oregano, thyme & dill. You can add mint as well. Go ahead. It will be OK.
I bought pre-made pizza dough for the gyro wrap from our local store. You can make it fresh, of course, but you would have to do that all way before everything else. I rolled it out into plate size rounds & coated them lightly with olive oil. After grilling the chicken, while the coals were cooler, I grilled the bread quickly on both sides to firm it up. Cooking pizza dough on a hot grill is tricky but it can be done. Just be careful of the hot spots & don't leave the bread over them for too long.
We sliced the grilled chicken breasts into bite size strips & placed them on the grilled bread with a generous amount of Tzatziki sauce, added sliced cucumbers, sliced kalamata olives, mixed greens (arugula compliments it wonderfully), crumbled gorgonzola cheese & sprinkled some Zatar over it. Unfortunately I forgot about Cheryl's pickled vegetables, which would have been great as a side, but Cheryl did make some wonderful lemonade to go with it. It was a great outdoor summertime meal that I hope to repeat again while the weather remains inviting. Give it a try & tell me how it was.
Monday, July 09, 2007
But I do use the spice blends regularly to cook & season with, so it isn't all cruel torture for her. Come on over to the Etsy site HERE & check them out.
Currently I have six blends to choose from: Green Thai Curry (my favorite), Moroccan Tajine, Ethiopian Berbère, Tandoori, Cajun Seasoning & Greek Seasoning. Off the site are a few others I've made up which I could probably be persuaded to make available: African Malayan Curry, Carribean Curry & Persian spice blend. More where those came from. Oh, so many, many more!
If you love spices you'll love these. You do love spices, don't you?
Thursday, May 31, 2007
Thank God and nerd engineers for web browsers, the common day equivalent of my boyhood aspirations. I can find stuff and stuff linked to other stuff easier, and in most cases have access to or own a copy of an item with simplest of ease. For some time now I've been interested in, among other things, stories from around the world. Several months ago I stumbled upon a great book, World Tales, by Idries Shah (printed by Octagon Press). It's a great book filled with wonderful stories from the diversity of our world culture, but it also has great introductions which trace the roots and development of a tale from it's origins and tracks it's sphere of influence within other cultures. Just the sort of book or slew of books I would have loved stumbling upon as a kid. In similar fashion, I discovered this great site last night, also called World Tales; it's a beautifully, wonderfully designed flash site of stories which are animated well and they give some background to the stories and the characters common to the folklore board of advisers. You can also read the tale if you prefer. I hope you find as much enjoyment in these as I have been, and keep the connection going - tell a friend.
Thursday, May 17, 2007
Some pieces currently in development or being considered are:
Karagöz & Hacivat
Gita Govinda By Jayadeva
Layla & Majnun by Nizami
The Birds by Aristophanes
Hassan of Baghdad by James Elroy Flecker
Victory over the Sun by Vladimir Mayakovsky
Maori Myths & Tales
The Conference of the Birds by Attar
Commedia dell 'Arte scenes
The Case of the Missing Bodies by Tom S. Long
Plays by Rabindranath Tagore
Arabic short play series
Short plays by David Ives
World Tales by Idries Shah
The Guide by R. K. Narayan
The Saddle Bag by Bahiyyih Nakhjavani
Plays by Carlo Gozzi
The long journey of Poppie Nongena
The Ring and The Book by Robert Browning
And more! So many more!
Add your favorites to the list!
Saturday, April 21, 2007
It's spring in more ways than finally being warm and sunny. The annual breaking of the winter's long hold over activity seems to thrust us forward with a flurry of creativity, almost as if to say "I'm still here and I'm still alert", and to assert ourselves over the cold lingering slumber. Just like nature. For Easter this year we've offered up a couple of projects to share with the community: the third edition of our zine, "The Gregarious Monk", which is a humble showcase of talent from our funky, eclectic church, the northampton vineyard, proffering a variety of articles on topics from candy to fitness, featuring crafting and book reviews and so much more. Recipes, photographs, random thoughts, poetry, short stories and personal reflections all laid out with spiffy graphics. Our community is rather savvy, diverse and prolific bunch with a wide range of interests collectively and individually. There will be more in the months to come, including an online version of it sometime soon.
Also for Easter several of us did a short excerpt of a radio play by Dorothy L. Sayers on the life of Jesus. We were allotted ten minutes tops, so we extracted a crucial section from the resurrection from the tomb, enacted it, recorded it (with sound effects) and added some pictures to accompany it. It had a few glitches but over all came off well, and we had a lot of fun doing it. You can listen to it here: Easter radio play audio or view it here: Easter radio play video.
This will be the first of several radio plays I'm planning to put together. I've been figuring out how to do podcasting and it seems like a fun direction to go toward creatively & experimentally.
Friday, April 20, 2007
Five of us showed up with choice materials to explore and share with one another. Bobby brought a small metal cup and something that looked like a midget version of the Pillsbury dough boy, except it had some sort of spray nozzle top hat affixed to it and you could shake it like a baby maraca. Jeff brought an amplifier and a microphone with a volume pedal and a small delay effect box. Chip brought a guitar, an amp and several odd glasses which he filled withe different levels of water. I was going to bring some copper tubing I have, which you could blow into or bang about, but it turned out to be about eight feet in length and too long to put in the car. I brought some metal rods, 3/16 x 36", which are fun to place on a table, pull back and release while you change their length. I looked about the office for some objects and found a drum, a couple of vases with fake marble like rocks in them, and a couple plastic pitchers. Joel showed us all up. Joel has the most toys of us all and came with an untuned guitar and amp, a tenor saxophone, several glass beakers, a small drum, a set of tuned wind chimes he had made, a set of tuning forks, a marching band glockenspiel, some screwdrivers, a brass bowl for gonging, several pvc pipes cut to different pitch lengths, a cardboard tube 5' in length and about 8" in diameter, a car brake and a car tire. Probably several other objects which evade my memory at the moment.
The idea to do this came after an arts meeting we had about a month ago. The topic moved to music and it turned out that several of us listen to experimental music and were interested getting together to see what we could come up with. We had one guiding rule- that we shouldn't stick with any instrument that we naturally know how to play. Not too difficult since we mostly had things which had an indeterminate tuning. Other rules applicable were for determining how it might possibly be structured- a sense, a mood, an emotion; a time concept or a poetic construct, like call and response. We ended a piece when it felt like it had reached a finishing point, and in less than two hours had created three distinct and ephemeral pieces. We beat on things, we rattled stuff, we added different rhythms over other rhythms, hit things with random pitches, ran sounds through the microphone and manipulated them, squawked with reeds and pieces of paper, chanted and yelled, rustled bags and gamboled about in junk and noise and discovery and reverie. It was like men going into the forest to beat on drums and bond. Well, not really. It was more like young kids, left alone and unsupervised, finding out about sound and creativity. Worship music from the church of the blissfully bewildered.
Monday, April 09, 2007
Friday, February 16, 2007
Wednesday, February 07, 2007
There is this website- Idealist.org- which is asking us all this question. This week they are coordinating a series of start-up meetings around the world in an effort to engage ourselves and our communities into living out and achieving our ideals together.
These start-up meetings will provide an opportunity to connect with others who want to help build a network, and to talk about how we can create more connections and opportunities for action between people, ideas, and resources in our neighborhood, village, school, or workplace. These meetings are about taking a step back from singular issues and looking at the big picture. How can we create a community where ideas and resources are easily shared between people? How can we create more opportunities for everyone to get involved? Through these meetings we hope to take the first steps toward creating communities where projects and organizations are better connected, supported and ultimately more successful.
There is probably a start-up meeting close to you. To learn more and become involved, please go to Idealist.org.