Posts Tagged ‘food’

the grace of ice cream

Things are somewhat indescribable of late.  Aside from the fact that it is mind numbingly hot, not even really cooling off at night.  (The tomatoes Do Not Like It at all but oddly the Butternut squash are going crazy, we have four Charentais melons on the vine, and the Chair Vert melon plant in the back has quadrupled in size to an almost sci-fi extent.)

The Dog has some allergic food reaction and is covered in spots.  There was, for the first time since we’ve been here, a fire that would have roared over the hill and destroyed our yurt (and maybe lives since it was blocking the only way out from here as well) if Cal Fire hadn’t gotten on it immediately.  It made me slightly sick to see the burnt place on the way into town,  but at least I got to thank the firefighters, barely able to not blurt out a question about how come they’re always so darn HANDSOME.  People I care about are having health issues and there’s a lot going on that seems very out of any kind of measure or control.   Also I found that as hard as I try, the poisonous atmosphere on Planet LPV and all that comes from same has crept into my little brain (aside, I mean, from wondering what I’ll do with no health insurance and an internet controlled by Comcast and Verizon, voter suppression and Environmental Protection c/o Exxon Mobil and how long til this guy gets COMMITTED???…oh well.  You probably know).  This was forcibly borne in upon me when in a couple of days, I got two follows on this blog, for which I am grateful!, in Arabic.  I watched my stomach clench as my brain said, Oh boy, this is IT.  “They” will ….they, who?, will do what, exactly? I mean, really? I get hits from all over the world, amazingly, and sometimes from places we’re “supposed” to fear.  (The many Russian hits are generally hacks and ripoffs from my website to porn sites, big surprise. Flower pictures, right?)  Don’t ask me what allure this bear’s life holds but there it is.  It’s kind of like when the sheriff drove up that day and clearly realized we’re just a couple of old hardheads and no arrest could, in any universe, be forthcoming for any reason.  ANYWAY the whole thing made me a bit more tense when I found that Google Translate would not let me cut and paste any language to be translated, as it usually does when such things come up.  Maybe it’s my antediluvean laptop. Finally I figured out that I could drag the text over and? Guess what? All of it was WONDERFUL poetry.  Beauty and expression thereof, carrying on a long tradition.  One person I couldn’t get enough blog translated to be able to leave a comment since, not reading Arabic, I couldn’t figure out where that might be.  So I very much hope they don’t think I am being rude.  I often wonder what would have happened to both Christianity and Islam had Capitalism not inserted its noxious snout- perhaps the inherent love at the base of both might have gotten the upper hand.  However, alas, it did and has and now? What the heck has happened to us that the simple act of reaching out and sharing one’s thoughts about reality becomes questionable and prone to causing wonder about who else might be “looking”.  At the same time I was filled with a kind of huge radiant joy at knowing there are people, everywhere, who do create beauty and strive for truth.  And  some of that was shared with me.

So.  Swinging between the twin poles of CHUFFED (followers! who write wonderful things!) and OH DEAR (fire, dog spots, dastardly politics) I turned to my latest obsession: Dulce de Leche.  Traditionally it is made of goat’s milk which is caramelized into total fabulousness.  It is also made quite simply by putting a can of Eagle Brand in a water bath for 40 minutes or so until it becomes thick and caramelized.  It being so hot and all ice cream seemed like the obvious solution for such a preoccupation.  Also I did not want to find that I’d eaten a whole can of Eagle Brand by itself.

The first batch was good, even if the experiment of caramelizing the Eagle Brand in the microwave went just. a. tiny. bit. awry.  The valiant and elderly microwave needed to be cleaned anyway and of course I expect this sort of things-reaching-past- their-assigned boundaries as routine.  The next time I started early in the morning on one day, using the stove, and putting the resulting cooked can into the refrigerator.  When it was cool enough a day or so later to even think about again turning on the stove, this is what I did:

1 cup of milk with the thickened Eagle Brand mixed in, heated slowly.  Three egg yolks beaten, tempered, and stirred in until spoon was properly coated.  Into the refrigerator with that.  About three hours later I mashed up a cup and a half of strawberries from the garden, put a tiny bit of sugar in them, and let them rest for a couple of hours.  A few drops of vanilla into the custard, berries mixed in, and into the ice cream freezer.  The Partner says it’s the best strawberry ice cream he’s ever had, and I think he may be right.  Now, if I can just convince the Dog that he’s not being punished by the now total absence of cheese treats, potato treats, and Daddy’s leftover milk from cereal, and get him to come out from under the table, all may yet be well.  May the Poetry be with you! and as always, blessings and thanks!

until you don’t

Also, the Real Problem with Fried Chicken.

Recently I was in the Land of Fun known as the laundromat, and a story came on the radio about how people were found to be happier later in life than in their twenties.  Whoa.  Newsflash!!! Anyway it went on to say that as people got older and went through more adversity they were better able to cope and stay in balance.  The owner of the laundromat was there, swishing a mop around and suddenly that mop went ballistic.  UNTIL YOU DON’T! he yelled.  YOU’RE NOT BETTER ABLE TO COPE!! and so forth.  He turned a bit pink and I reminded him to breathe and lower his shoulders.  I happen to know that he’s had a pretty large adversity serving the past few years, and I said: True.  You cope til you don’t.  Then you have a massive snap fest, wind up face down on broken glass, struggle to get up and wait til the cuts heal.  He actually laughed, looked at me, and said that somehow he knew I’d get it.  I was, after all, the one who was there the day the Big Washer Broke and the entire laundromat was two feet deep in water in about 15 minutes.  A man wearing a t-shirt saying he’d given himself to Jesus made a call to the posted emergency number that was so astonishingly inchoate it made me glad Jesus accepted the poor lamb. I may have mentioned all this at the time.  Anyway, I called the number, rustled up some help and soothed the jangled nerves of the person on the other end of the phone who was still assimilating the incoherent prior call.  IN the meantime, before help arrived suddenly the water? was up to the washer bottoms and sizzling noises were beginning to happen.  I was in rubber shoes, too.  What to do? All the dryers were running and the washers were starting to sound ominous.  With help from a handsome young man (where’d HE come from???) I found the water turn off on the original, offending washer, opened the doors to the laundromat and whooshed water out.  Given we’re in a drought the resident birds were delirious with joy, taking baths and drinking in the now torrential flow.  The cavalry arrived shortly and all was more or less well.  In any event the laundromat owner thinks I’m a good person.  I’ll take it.

Perhaps this is what they’re talking about, in saying that you’re happier as you get older.  What I think it is? Is you just know at long last that not only is there no time to waste, there is DEFINITELY no time to freak out.  I suppose that can give a person a sense of calm mastery from time to time.  While they’re picking broken glass out of their face.  After an until you don’t moment.

So.  After another more recent day during which tempers flared, milk spilled, and I indulged in some blubbing while cleaning up and sorting yet again through the boxes in my storage shed known that day as MY RUINED LIFE, I thought actually about the laundromat flood and ensuing kafuffle.  Thought about how really having to be right about things is missing the point (re flaring tempers and just who Jesus will save), and how spilled things are just spilled things and you do the best you can with the Whole thing.  In the spirit of snap fest past, I decided to do something I’d never done before.  Which is make fried chicken.

My mother was, I think now, pathologically concerned with me not being overweight.  I became well acquainted with cottage cheese and Ry Krisp.  And thank God, not fat.  In any event we didn’t have fried chicken much and I thought: too hard to make.  Too messy.  FATTENING.  See where this is going? Another thing I thought I couldn’t do.  And now I’m getting a message that my draft isn’t being saved so we’ll see if I can even do THIS.

Anyway, the real truth about fried chicken is this.  It is as easy to make as falling off a log.  Easy, we may say, peasy.  The problem then becomes you can have it WHENEVER YOU WANT.  It doesn’t even have to be unhealthy if you use the right oils and keep temperature.  That still doesn’t make it something you should have every day or even every week.  It’s something you have to hold in regard and have once in a while.  It is, thus, one of those things in life that’s like a tiny party you can have for yourself when you’re picking the broken glass out of your face yet again.  And this, I thought, was quite a wonderful revelation.

It seems to me that if we all remembered that we can step forward in adversity, and there are rewards and joys no matter what happens, especially if we put the other person’s feelings and well being at least on a par with our own (I was actually worried about the laundromat guy’s water bill that day- almost as much as I worried about my own imminent electrocution)(the Partner had been mooning around about fried chicken, so even though I was Mightily Peeved with him at the time…..), we might even survive this ghastly election.  Anyway, we need to and to do that, getting back to basics seems to be in order.  In that vein I feel happy to be the one to tell you you can in fact make your own celebratory fried chicken in the event you can find a decent chicken.  You can coordinate with people you don’t agree with, might not like even a tiny bit.  It all moves things forward in a positive way.  Instead of a fear based, anger mongering, stupidity exacerbating way which seems to be disturbingly pervasive.   Onward, then.  And as Jacques Pepin says, happy cooking- which covers a LOT of ground.

Thank you!

 

following the nose

In keeping with the spirit of the times we’ve been shifting and changing and tilting and whirling.  The Partner’s birthday came and went and on the whole? it was a success.  Roast chicken with herb butter, Popovers,  Mexican chocolate cake with coconut cream caramel frosting.  Yes.  If I say so myself.  The Dog got his current favorite treat, a Whimzees Vegetable Ear, and he also got some chicken breast wrapped in a bit of popover.

There was more to it, of course.  While The Dog zonked out in a blissful full stomach stupor, an injury the Partner had inflicted on himself a day or so before (to wit, whacking his knee with the wood maul) worked its way through his system and resulted in a seemingly strange symptom- lung congestion and the cough from infernal regions.  So we were up all night long and I wrestled, for the most part, with Dread and Powerlessness about once again entering the fray and trying to secure a doctor appointment while wondering what in the world to do NOW. ( This appointment business means dedicating a day to calling various and sundry official places and going through various and sundry assumptions of the position.) (A few days later I DID actually get this wrestled to the ground.)  I managed to get myself to a neutral position about it all, remembered to say the Cosmic Please and Thank you, and asked for some insight about this new and unwanted development.

In about an hour I opened my eyes but before that happened I saw a picture of what had possibly happened to the Partner’s lungs.  Reviewing my text book (because my brain is a literal sieve) I saw what had happened.  And, it had to do with the flow of energy through the body, as it goes through various meridians and organs.  The whack on the knee initially involved the movement of liver energy, which passes through the knee and ends where the lung energies begin to flow.  So we had an impingement on one flow that wasn’t usually problematic, but which went directly into one that has been a lifelong project, thereby creating a temporary blockage.  Adding to that the fact that the injury itself occurred at a time where another bodily energy was moving  which is not the strongest element in the P’s constitution, and? You have a disruption of the lung energy as it begins its circuit through the body.  And the infernal coughing began at the time the lung energies begin to move, and ended at the time they move into the next thing.  I was even able to explain this understandably.

The big thing about it though, over and above the fact that I finally, reflexively understood something I’ve been doing for a long time, was that the fear and anxiety level for both us was immediately gone.  We both understood what was going on, and what would be of assistance, and sure enough in another day or so, everything was fine.  And really there wasn’t anything “to do” except be kind to the affected areas, lessen inflammation and keep a good fluid intake going.

So of course I thought about it all.  Things that seem so intimidating, so complex at the outset really do open up with simple Attention.  When I initially began studying all these things, the plants and botany and anatomy and sidereal time and all the rest of it, I thought I must’ve been nuts to think I’d ever “get” it.  But something prevailed against that residual lack of confidence and now? Cake and understanding a cough in the same day? There’s hope, and it can be brought to life by just Letting It Be each time you think something is impossible or whatever word you use for OMGletmeoutofhere sorts of things.

Not to mention the other big thing which is the very imperative current necessity to disregard what seems like “truth” coming from what seems like “authority”.  The sense that you cannot handle whatever it is that is in front of you, and some larger “thing” is going to have to “do it” for you.  Or to you, or over you, or whatever.  As in, oh dear, we have to see a doctor and there are no doctors and this is going to be AWFUL. Or whatever the case may be.  “Things” seem so overwhelming it’s easy to let everything you see in a day bleed into everything else.  You know- terrorterrorterror, or whatever other fear inducing message is being murmured about.  In fact? Not so much.

SO.  It may have been the Partner’s birthday, but I feel like I’m the one who got the present.  Love and Understanding.  Not to mention dog kisses.

what muscles look like

The heat here has been, frankly, unbearable.  Having to be out in it for about four, scattered, and ever so slightly back breaking hours a day has been something I decided to view as Training, like for a marathon.  Fortunately we have a 50 foot long hose that weighs about ….oh, who knows how much.  But it’s heavy and has a mind of its own, we know that much.  I’m thinking I should do a You Tube video with it, a new exercise program- this could really be something!

Anyway it was fun when I went to the doctor (no more visits now! honestly, but everything takes about ten times longer than it needs to in the brave new medical world) and he said, wow, look at your BMI! You’re overweight!  I started to giggle, at which he actually looked at me.  Do I look overweight or inappropriately or excessively jiggly to you? I said.  He shook his head no.  OK then, feel THIS I said, extending my arm to him.  OH.  He said.  Yes.  I said.  Muscle.

So muscles are another one of those things that can be there but be unseen.  The usual adherence to preoccupations and entrenched ways of thinking can be continued without interruption.  Everyone’s prejudices and biases can remain intact.  I ruined his diagnostic day, sadly, as he was about to launch into the cholesterol and weight loss speech but realized it was totally off base. ( IN fact at this most recent appointment I had lost a fair amount of weight due to the above mentioned training regime.  And sweating, and stuff.) As he gathered himself, the eventual bright spot was the undeniable truth about my lungs to which he now had to attend.  In last year’s medical fun fest it turns out that in the process of collapsing my lungs, then filling them with fluid, then using god knows what crap to empty them?  Permanent damage was done.  I am pretty sure I can heal this up, actually, and more on all that soon because I am working on Something Big!……  But I am also going to file a formal complaint against the surgeon and anesthesiologist, because the past 18 months of not being able to breathe or do much and having my lungs crink up like squashed dixie cups in the middle of the night? has been hell.  And I don’t think they should have carte blanche to do it to someone else to whom, in their paradigm, attention need not be paid.

So.  You know.  This may be what passes for fighting the evil empire at the moment.

Other than that, it’s largely been armed struggle just to keep things alive out here this month.  We did get straw bales placed against the outside of the yurt, and they do provide some much needed insulation from the heat.  It’s still 85 in here all day but that, GR, is a whole lot better than 95.  Given that it’s about 112 outside, lowering on some days to 95 at midnight.  The Dog has reluctantly understood that it IS too hot out there for his paws and limits his excursions accordingly. We’ve had some Bad Dog Mornings, where he does naughty things like run down to the main road and eat dead things, returning up the driveway skulking and later? for extra fun, emitting the fart to end all farts.  Which, of course, hung in the heat for longer than it needed to.  It seems like a miracle that our garden is still alive and to the naked eye, flourishing.  It’s  really  too hot now for the vegetables to do much but we do have a LOT of cucumbers and chard.  We’ll have a few tomatoes but the plants have suffered since I am not nearly as good as the Partner is at picking those noxious hookworms off the plants.  Still, I’m feeling pretty good about it all at the moment.  There look to be enough San Marzano tomatoes to make some sauce, anyway.

Having it be too hot to cook has been a cha cha cramping sort of thing, too.  But!  I butterflied a game hen and marinated it in shallots and turmeric and chilis and stuff….not too bad, really, cooked in a grill pan.  The surprise was the aroncini I made with the end of it and the left over rice which was its accompaniment.  Aroncini are those wonderful croquettes made from risotto, with vegetables and cheese inside and crisp exteriors.  I thought, OK, left over shredded game hen, rice, let’s make those.  Imagine my excitement when I remembered it wasn’t arborio rice I’d cooked, but basmati in coconut milk. Deciding to do it anyway was touch and go, Gentle Reader and I feared ghastly failure.  I couldn’t get them to cohere (a lot of that going around….) because arborio and basmati are two really different creatures, and bit my lip as I plated their reasonably shaped in the end crispy selves.  Also important because the Partner has not been eating through this illness so whatever I do give him needs to be good.  And you know what? they were.   So further encouragement not to give up, dear friends.  Anything is possible and with a bit of effort, can happen.  From rice balls to evil empire, we can do it.

Thank you all, as always.

no picture monday

You are spared a gratuitous dog picture today, Gentle Reader, because my attempt at emailing an action shot of The Dog to myself failed.  Technology and I are not on good terms of late it seems.  While I am somewhat proud of myself for (at last) figuring out the reason my camera and laptop no longer speak to each other? (Which is that because I FINALLY upgraded my antediluvian OS , now the photo application is Lost In Space….) at the same time the complexity of constantly having to “upgrade” something that’s working fine as it is reminds me of just how close to going over the edge we are as a species, in general.

Writing yet another letter about not drilling in the Arctic.  Yet another letter about immigration reform.  YET ANOTHER LETTER ABOUT SAVING BEES.  This all takes time, and when you add to that the irresistible impulse I have every time I even see the word Trump to obliterate my consciousness, it adds up to quite the endeavor to maintain equanimity.  And?  All these things are generated by this same impulse to “upgrade”, make more and ever more stuff for God knows Who to consume.  All the while repulsing individuals, generically labelled “refugees”, who are simply trying to stay alive and escape from the miasma created to some large extent by this very Upgrade Machine called world politics and economy.  We all want, at bottom, the same things.  To be happy, as Buddha said, but also to simply be acknowledged and treated like human beings.  Not consumers and receptacles.

Which equanimity endeavor failed rather miserably yesterday.  The Arrival of The Dog has made me think about things differently, as such things tend to do.  As in.  When I “think” about The Dog, I think, oh jesus god it is too much work, too much expense, too much blahblahblah.  When I “experience” The Dog, it’s more along the lines of YIPPEE! Life is good, all kinds of things happen and we really don’t have to take any of it personally.  Just simply do the best we can at each step.  Remembering that love is the glue of the universe.  We are here to BE, not to DO or let our egoic thinking run the show.  HOWEVER.  As I was driving home yesterday a truck which did not have the right of way unexpectedly attempted to take it while I was, innocently minding my own business, getting on the freeway.  No collision, thank heavens, but massive horn honking and then?  The people in the truck flipped me off, big time.  Before I knew it, I’d returned the gesture.

I really was not happy with myself about that and was surprised to find a bit of nervousness as to whether or not the individuals in the truck were a) drugged, b) heavily armed white supremacists,  c) neighbors I haven’t met yet, or worst of all d) all of the above.  As it happened they whizzed on past me, probably not thinking much about any of it.  But I thought about it, because I do try to…well, BEHAVE.  And if someone like me goes tilt at the drop of a hat, what can we expect from anyone else?  Like, say, Trump.  Or FIFA officials.  Or any member of Congress or government in general.

I found it oddly upsetting, the whole incident, and couldn’t really put my finger on why.  Was it because someone, essentially, harshed my buzz? (ahem) Was it just the intrusion of three dimensional PTSD in the form of a bit of pickup driven thoughtless nastiness? One might also ask why I thought it was “bad” to be irritated with those fine folks who narrowly missed splattering me all over I-5.  So, net net?  I still haven’t figured a damn thing out.  Oh, well.

On the other hand, the Dog got his first bath yesterday, went for his first shots this week, and continues taking walks on a leash.  All of which are going swimmingly.  He is also, at least, peeing AT the door now when he doesn’t get through to us in time to go outside.  I’ve never seen anything grow as fast as this dog, who the Vet said will probably end up weighing EIGHTY TO NINETY POUNDS.  Talk about something landing in your lap.

The other sign of potential progress is tortillas.  Finally, I got back on the bike and made both corn and flour tortillas.  The problem with flour tortillas, of course, is that you have to use lard and also a bit of vegetable shortening.  Both of which are now close to weapons grade substances, being multiply-hydrogenated and chemicalized.   The quest for organic lard starts now.  But the tortillas were great and, as the Partner noted when he drifted by my pressing and rolling efforts, I had in fact “done this before”.  I was also seized by an unfightable urge to make prickly pear creme brulee.  Since we had some melons from the garden that were over ripe, I pureed them as well and plan a rainbow assortment of chair vert, cantaloupe, and aforementioned prickly pear custards set atop caramel.  (No propane in blow torch for top caramel at present, is why.) There is a cactus across the road from the yurt from whence came the pricklies.  At this point, between The Dog and The Cactus, I look as though I’ve gone several, losing, rounds with the inhabitants of a pincushion.  I plan to have pictures of BOTH The Dog and the panoply of cremes in the not too distant future.  Barring, of course, any more exploded equanimity or contretemps to the contrary.

in the mystery

So, we’ve had a few pee setbacks and every day requires a troll through the garden for small bits of plastic that might find their way into an enquiring pit bull’s mouth, as well as setting to rights the carnage of the night before in terms of chewed gloves, flower pots, and disappeared small shovels.  We’re at about 60% compliance to coming when called by name.  Last night was a notable failure, when he just simply decided he was staying outside and that was that.  It’s hard to know exactly how to proceed in such a case, not wanting to set a poor precedent but also? Not wanting to create unnecessary Armageddon.  Anyway this morning he was up, in his downstairs dog cave, at his usual dawn hour, and was VERY happy to see us.  All the smoke is making him sneeze but the light bulb went off and I realized that I can wipe his nose with water, the same way I do mine, and it helps with the nose/crud balance.

Otherwise, I’m finding myself wondering how one strikes the balance between what needs to be done, knowing what that truly is for crying out loud, and accepting the things that are not likely to change.  The capitalist model would have you believe that if you don’t have financial success, it’s just simply your fault.  This, of course, is patently false but it can cause a certain amount of wasted time until you bite the bullet and accept it for what it is: propaganda.  Is it better to beat the bushes constantly?  Or simply keep your powder dry and in order for when the time comes?  Given that the current setup has most liquidity tied up at the top, it can be difficult to see what the truth actually is at any given point.  This particular paradigm exists not just about money, of course, but can also flourish in those places where you haven’t exactly understood what you went though before.  Is this all my fault or were there a few partners involved?  Accepting responsibility is important, but should not be a misperception of self to the point of thinking that…well, thinking that you are powerful enough to have caused x or y to happen.  Especially when you ARE powerful but perhaps not in the areas of x or y.  You can, after all, control your mind after working at that task diligently.  But you cannot “make” anyone else “do” anything, or feel anything.  Nor are they responsible for what you want and fulfilling your needs.  It’s up to you at every moment, and perhaps the issue now is that the overall resonance of society and the world is WAAAAAAY out of whack.  It’s spiky and discordant and people are crying a lot.  How do you get in synch with that? and why should you?

So I guess the dog and I are walking this path together, trying to remember our names and put our paws right.  Fortunately for us, the Partner KNOWS his name and is very good at alerting a person to where the deep hole is right in front where if you don’t stop your paw will……the poor man has his work cut out for him right now, is all I can say.  But in mitigation, I can also say I made more tripeless menudo from the bone of a leg of lamb, some hominy, and some chili paste, which is one of the P’s favorite things.   We’re all trying.

strange changes

getPart-1Well, Gentle Reader.  Here he is.

It’s been quite surprising, the array of emotions and thoughts that result when a tornado moves into your small home.  I found myself thinking that I did not want anything or anyone else to take care of and worry about.  I realized that I totally identified with this dog in his abandonment and stout resolution to stay alive.  I realized that squeezing him was an incredibly joyful experience.

I also realize that I’m going to have to win the lottery to feed him properly, but that’s a concern for another time.  It’s fascinating, though, to have another being living with you whose thoughts are impenetrable for a high enough percentage of the time as to be a complete mystery.  He looks a lot like Einstein when his forehead is wrinkled and those big eyes are looking at the horizon.

This of course coincides with yet another total reboot of my personal system.  The pace at which things are shifting and realizations dawning is almost nauseating, especially when you combine it with no visible tangible change (except the dog).  I guess it’s fish or cut bait time and I have no idea which it will be.

Still, though.  There’s something about being quiet and Not Doing that ultimately leads somewhere.  In the meantime? I made pineapple gelato.  All is not yet lost, and at least the potty training portion of the program seems to be going reasonably well.  As Wavy Gravy once said, thank you for everything.  I have no complaints whatsoever.