Foodie Tuesday: Even a Classic can Take Plenty of Twists and Turns

Being a fairly dedicated eater and happy to grab my utensils in the blink of an eye almost without regard to what’s on offer, I still do enjoy the familiar and comfortable on my menu too. There are occasions when I just plain crave the known and cozy to fill my plate and my empty stomach. Sometimes nothing will do but the good old-fashioned classic.photoSo when I’ve made a batch of roasted vegetables that I can pop onto the platter at a number of meals in the next few days, it can be nice to tuck it alongside a variety of things while it lasts, just to keep things interesting. However, having some of those many different entrees be lovely old-school stuff doesn’t in any way diminish the range and color of what I’m going to eat. That just makes it doubly fun to puzzle together the menus that, despite a repeating item and a well-known dish, still easily keep their sense of invention and surprise enough to brighten up both the day and the meal.

One obvious way to accomplish that is to introduce minor tweaks: ingredient combination, presentation, and so forth. The simple roast beef from last week gets thoroughly sliced and diced and then piled into buttery grilled french rolls, and finally, dipped in a dense jus reduction of roast drippings, butter and a big slosh of red wine, and served with a touch of horseradish cream (softened with sour cream) alongside side for enhancing either the beef dip sandwich or the roasted vegetables on the way down the hatch.photoA different day, a different tweaked standard: macaroni salad with bacon and eggs. Not sure I’d recommend one of this latest round of tweaks–I tried it with rice pasta (the gluten-free twist on the occasion), which was just dandy when the salad was first made, but in the refrigerated leftover salad soaked up the dressing so thoroughly that the pasta tasted pretty much just like cold rice later. It wasn’t hopeless: I added more dressing each time I went back to it, and I found that it rehydrated decently. But it wasn’t as stable in that aspect as traditional pasta, which I think I’ll still prefer in the long term. The other slight variations, however, I enjoyed very much, and by the way, so did all the others at dinner.photoMacaroni Salad with Bacon and Eggs

Cooked [elbow macaroni–still my favorite for macaroni salad] pasta gets dressed simply with mayonnaise, a good squirt of cartoon-yellow mustard, and cream. A sturdy grind of black pepper gives it a hint of depth, though it’d be great with a splash of hot sauce or a sprinkling of cayenne as well. A big handful of diced pickles playfully zings things up a little; I used half dill pickles and half sweet gherkins. You know me and my sweet-plus-salty fetish. Traditionalists would of course hard boil egg and mince or sieve it before adding it to a picnic salad. Me, I just semi-scrambled the egg until it was just fully set and minced it up. Pretty much the same result, with less time and effort. Lastly, fried up a whole lot of bacon into crispy, smoky pieces.

The end product? About like what you’d expect if waiters carrying platters of the familiar summer macaroni salad and of pasta Carbonara crashed into each other and fell into a breakfast buffet table. But involving a lot less flying cutlery and cussing. Unless you count people diving after the salad avidly waving their forks and yelling, Damn, that’s good! Not that anyone at my table would ever behave in such a reckless and uncouth manner. Well, me, maybe.

Solace in Silence

Let us look for our peace wherever we can. Let us embrace it and rest in it. And let us always share that peace with whomever, whenever and however we are able, inviting them all into our places of peace so that they and others all around the world, too, can find and disperse the sweetness of true and deep repose.

graphite drawing + text

Mocking, Ever So Gently

Summer teases us with her dramatic, exaggerated changes of mood and meaning, but if we know our own history well enough to remember it, we can be sure that her graces will always return when the time is right.

photo + text

Still Hungry after All these Posts

digital illustration + text

Where Carryings-on could Lead to Carrion

digital illustrationSaturday Night Study Group

Lo, the lazy morning passes,

Finds the weary lads and lasses

Still abed, or on their asses,

Half awake and half a-snore,

‘Mid detritus of the pizza,

Hot wings, chips and other treats a

Sober student seldom eats, a-

Strewn in heaps upon the floor–

Partied late; what was it for?

Shattering the blissful quiet

Suddenly, a loud impiety

Is screamed and starts a riot

Right among the corpse-like corps:

All a-scramble, grabbing trousers,

Shirts and shoes, these late carousers

Start remembering the wowsers

Of the night they’d passed before,

Though recall was rather poor–

Finally, wakening more fully,

One of them, if somewhat dully,

Crawled across, his brain still woolly,

To fling wide the knocked-on door

And reveal the dawning horror

Come to waken every snorer,

Standing, looking faintly, more or

Less, like someone seen before–

Somehow shook him to the core–

Ay! It’s Mother stands there staring,

Arms akimbo, nostrils flaring,

Challenging his story, daring

Him amain: Explain this war!

What’s this wreckage, who these bodies

Strewn among the butts and toddies,

Some dressed only in their naughties,

Covered all in festive gore?

He stood gawping, nothing more.

In the cursèd silence stretching,

From a distance came a retching

Sound and instantly, all fetching

Up as though a manticore

Chased them out of their reclining,

They responded to this shining

Call and left the poor repining

Lad, with Mother, at the door,

Beast and trembling matador.

Dust now settling, son and mother

Gazed intently on each other,

Understood this bit of bother

Must be rectified, the score

Evened out: this was the chore.

Mother, calm now and quite cool,

Explains to him that, while in school,

Her son shall still observe the rule

Of sober thought. The lad’s encore:

Will I party? Nevermore!

(And means well, just as before.)digital illustration

Sources of Brilliance, Such as We Are

digital drawingTropical Splash

A-chatter in the curling fronds, the wet-leafed canopy, the ponds,

Among the tangled twining root of every vine-choked tree’s broad foot,

Wild birds spread out their neon wings in this green palace of such kings,

Shout to a sun that’s seldom seen, deep in this hot palace of green,

But bring a blaze that’s all their own, as bright as such a place has known.

Take flight! Take wing! Aim for the sun–race with them upward, every one,

Above the canopy, to see whether a sun can really be;

And if it’s not, let no bleak night deter a second from our flight:

Upward and forward, light or none, we always ought to seek the sun–

And if not found, our calling is that we must light these palaces.

Uninformed, or Old and Infirm?

 

Or just uniformly old?

Does it matter? Not much; never mind. As it happens, I was a little hazy to begin with, so there’s not much worry about the old marbles disappearing. Who really needs marbles anyway, except for a game-playing champ or, say, Michelangelo. For me, the touch of lunacy just adds a little color and a lively element of surprise to my everyday existence.pen & ink

Scaredy Coot

My fears are principally these:

Of sharks, the dark; of killer bees;

Of speeding cars and drunken louts

That race them through the roundabouts;

Bloodsucking leeches; of the kind

Of beasts that populate my mind

In doctors’ offices; of tests

That only earn me second-bests;

And most of all, I fall in tears

Lest someone should unmask my fears!

 

Foodie Tuesday: Meatless had Better Not be Tasteless

 

photoJust because I am generally an unregenerate carnivore, that does not make me averse to vegetarian delights. I am not so silly as that, really, my dears! It’s still very much about great flavor and appetite fulfillment, is it not? Oh–and that glorious connectivity that occurs at table between friends and loved ones, of course. Of course. Sitting and watching the dragonflies and wood wasps and butterflies tumble through the air outside the kitchen window, and the occasional marvel of a buzzing hummingbird or flashy scarlet cardinal.photoBut those non-meaty treats for eating, they beckon too. Oh, yes they do. As long as they’re loaded with flavor, texture, deliciousness and appeal of their own kinds. It’s not too much to ask. For a simple example, let’s consider having a few crackers or pieces of flatbread to dip in a bowl of easily made eggplant spread. When my girlfriend joined me for lunch, I made it the easiest way possible: I took a jar of roasted eggplant (nothing but salt and a little citric acid, for preservative, added in processing), tossed it in the blender with a good dose each of cumin and smoked paprika, topped it in the bowl with some Thai fried shallots, and we dug in to our lunch. A sort of Baba Ghannouj 2.0, perhaps.photoThe other dish of the day was supremely easy, too. Warm quinoa salad. Quinoa, to begin, naturally. A nutty, crunchy salad, because I wanted lots of texture. Sliced almonds, black and white sesame seeds. And I wanted something fresh and summery in it, and a little chew to complement the toothiness of the quinoa and contrast with the nuts’ crunch. For the latter, small pieces of queso blanco. Too mild for you? Some snappier feta or goat cheese would do it nicely. But I did brighten it up for that summery aspect. Chopped navel orange, some zest from it; juice, too, along with a little lime juice. A bit of Persian Lime olive oil, a little salt and pepper. I certainly could have added lots of possible further tweaks, as could you, my friends: fresh mint, fresh or pickled ginger, toasted pine nuts, dried apricots or figs; preserved lemon, rice vinegar; toasted coconut; chopped fresh tomatoes or cucumber. No matter how composed, very edible. No fuss, lots of taste. Oh, and no meat. Purely coincidental? Karma? Or just good eating? I know where my own inclinations lead. Oh, yessiree, now hurry up and hand over a fork, please.photo

Happy Birthday, My Sweet

Between us, my husband and I have nine outstanding nephews, all of whom we adore. We have one niece. She was born 22 years ago today. Any questions? digitally painted photoGoddesses Beware

My dearest darling, grand, almighty,

So surpasses Aphrodite

In each nuance womanhood

Considers lovely, fine and good—

And never mind what men prefer,

All being ten times more in her—

digitally painted photoWhat panegyric can I make,

What genuflections, what grand hymns

Of obloquy, as evening dims,

Shall I sing for my niece’s sake?

Is there a form of worship deep

Enough to compass the extent

Of family greatness, heaven-sent,

We mortals are so blessed to keep?photo

What I See is What I Get

acrylic mural on a wall (6 ft H)My Hero, My Self

The guide to my path,

The lamp to my feet,

My counselor, guru,

Informer, my sweet

Intelligent tutor,

My rescue, my hope—

Too bad you are Me,

You poor pitiful dope.