Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Certain Requests I'm Happy to Oblige

So in a recent email from a friend she suggested I start a food blog, and since I have no interest in adding yet another blog to my list of blogs to update, and this blog is handily named after one of my favorite food stuffs (cheese… oh god cheese…) I thought I might start writing dedicated food posts here.


It’s an interesting time in my life to be writing about food. I’ve moved out of my own place and am crashing at my parents house, leaving me in this weird limbo. There’s a fridge full of food I didn’t purchase, and most likely wouldn’t purchase, in the house. As well as cupboards full of canned soup, easy mac, pudding cups, canned peas and corn and beans. During a time when I’m trying to save money, reserve resources, it’s tempting to simply subsist off these things. There’s also the inherent problem that after a year or so of eating almost entirely whole meals I cooked myself, using whole ingredients, my stomach wasn’t liking the preservatives so much. Still… I get home around 7pm or so, after leaving at 630 am, with dinner on the stove and the weird gurgling sounds my stomach is making from hunger, and I tend to give in. These meals, though, also tend to be different for me. Unlike the largely vegetable based meals I’m used to, these are meals centered around a meat of some kind (last night, pork in some sort of packaged orange sauce) and then a carbohydrate. My mom makes a lot of bread (one thing I won’t complain about… fresh made bread).


Needless to say, I was getting a bit veggie deficient. Thankfully, the Puyallup farmer’s market is just incredible. The weather hasn’t been great so there hasn’t been a lot of options. But what has been available has tended towards spray free (non-organic certified, but still organic…) or certified organic. The quality of the veggies has also been superb. And the prices… man. They make Boise look like anal rape. My favorite? The $1 bag of mixed greens (and it isn’t a light bag, either), and the $4 free range organic eggs in that beautiful assortment of browns and greens. But there have been other delights: fresh rhubarb (I made a fresh strawberry rhubarb pie using strawberries from my mom’s garden and rhubarb from the market); Mexican zuchini; carrots in oranges, whites, purples; basil (Italian, thai, and purple), rosemary, thyme plants for my own herb garden; fresh raspberries, blueberries, blackberries; rainier cherries! (which we eat by the bagful at my house).


So, Saturday trips to the market have allowed me the supplies to cook the kinds of foods I enjoy. And, as in grad school, limited time has left me cooking a big batch of something on Saturday or Sunday, and eating it throughout the week. I’ve made a carrot top soup, letting me utilize both the carrots and their tops. I made fresh pizza—where I infused olive oil with fresh garlic for the sauce, then sliced tomatoes, mushroom, red pepper, spinach, onion, and an asiago/parmesean cheese blend. Most recently, however, I made veggie burritos where I sautéed fresh garlic, onions, red peppers, zuchinni, mushrooms, potatoes. Then cayenne pepper, paprika, cumin and finally tossed in some quinoa & chili sauce. Then I made an apricot (fresh from the market) salsa using tomato, avocado, onion, fresh cilantro, garlic, and jalapeno. (Salt to taste!) Fill in a tortilla with some sharp cheddar and bake. Delish!


This weekend I’m hoping to make a pot pie. I have a good pie crust recipe and after a recent trip to Pies & Pints, a burning desire to recreate their own recipe. I think I tasted a lot of thyme and rosemary and black pepper. And they used what seemed like extra buttery mashed potatoes instead of a creamy soup base.


Of course, cooking and eating isn’t everything. I’ve managed to discover a couple fantastic cookbooks: Local Flavors (tipped off by Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal Vegetable Miracle), and then this organic whole foods cookbook I found in a Value Village for $0.50. A total steal.


But most recently, on the book front, I finished a collection of Wendell Berry essays called Art of the Commonplace. In this, Berry discusses food from an agrarian point of view—and through this shows how eating, human health, animal health, and earth health are interconnected and completely reliant on each other to happen. A lot of it is sort of no duh—mono cultures are bad. Animals bred in captivity, knee deep in their own “waste,” thus suffering immune issues, which lead to our own immune issues, which also make of everything we use a product, and a byproduct. And also forces agriculture into a reliance on fossil fuels for disposal and transportation, and importing fertilizer (that they’re disposing of by the ton from their cows and chickens and pigs and goats, etc). When, animals ranging free in pasture will naturally fertilize the soil and so on. Berry, he pretty much got agriculture. But a bit pushy on the god stuff.  Still, I’m glad I read it.


Next, I’m bringing so many of my loves together with Eco Language Reader (I’m ignoring all the parenthesis because I can’t remember where they go and I’m too lazy to look them up). Edited by Brenda Ijima, this book supposedly discusses ecology, and language, proving once again that everything is connected. Ecology, language, food, you, me, etc. I’m totally stoked. Taking a break with Berrigan first though. About halfway through the Collected. Just finished the collaboration with Anne Waldman—stunning.


Happy eating!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


Some poets can't go a day without writing, and a week is monstrous. These poets tend to be monstrous themselves, when not writing.

I am not one of these writers.About twice a year I go weeks, perhaps even a month or two, without producing a single thing. Maybe even not writing. The thing is... I just get tapped, mentally drained, nothing left to give. I call it recuperation. Writing is mentally and emotionally exhaustive... at least for me. After the end of a period of mass production (because normally when I'm writing I write a lot), there's just not a lot left in me for much of anything. Like, really. Anything. Usually I sit around watching spectacularly bad tv, which I enjoy immensely. Usually I don't read. Usually when I finally have the energy to read again, it indicated writing was around the corner.

But then there was grad school... 2 years of wild productivity, reading, writing, everything. And then a thesis. 2.5 years passed and January rolled around and I could write no more. And I didn't write anything more. Except a quickie chapbook in March. A one off. And then NapoWrimo... which was really just an exercise in futility. Realistically, I say I havent' been writing since January. That's going on 7 months. Above and beyond my usual points of recuperation. And I was starting to feel bad, like I might never get it back.

But I've been reading, for pleasure, for a while now. And recently dipped my toes back in to reading poetry. And I wrote something today.Whether it's good or worth bothering with doesn't matter. It was the impulse to write and I took it. And it's possible it might stick this time. And it's possible it might not.

A sample:

                                     "The ache of corn starch.
Dreaming of clean lines—I enter the breach and
reconceive the whole
. The whole thing is burning down.
Everyone is burning down.

But your wilderness.

It keeps growing."

Monday, July 19, 2010

True Blood, True Love

Living with my parents like I’m in high school has a few advantages. They have a hot tub, which has been magical for my brand new bum knee. The fridge is always full (if not with the sorts of things I would normally fill it with) and I don’t have to fill it. But mostly, the best part, is HBO. I don’t actually use this all that often. In fact, I’m pretty much only using it Sunday nights for True Blood. I love this fucking show. It’s not particularly dealing with the “big issues,” or really anything that actually matters – the characters are by and large totally ridiculous. This is a show entirely about escapism, which makes sense for something based on a series of trade paperback romance novels. However, the best part of the show is exactly how ridiculous it is. Characters like Lafayette, who are loud and hilarious and brash, and like Eric’s little blonde bombshell lesbian minion. They are the joy of this show that the relationship between Sookie Stackhouse & Bill Compton is incapable of being. And this season, the absurdity goes pro with a whole new series of characters living just one state over. These Mississippi vamps are all kinds of glorious. The gay Vampire King and his Vampire Boy—with their human cruelty free blood courses—(“this one fed on nothing but oranges for weeks… notice the citrusy notes on the finish”…). But my favorite, my absolute favorite, is the psycho Franklin Mott who wants to turn Tara into his vampire bride. He’s totally co-dependent. Totally wacked out. And makes me laugh so hard I’d spit. He’s played by James Frain, the brit you’ll recognize and have no idea where from (because as I discovered when I looked him up on imdb… he hasn’t been in many big movies).


I do have one issue, for which I may be in the minority. The sex scenes. There’s so many, and they rarely do anything to advance character or plot (with the exception of Jason Stackhouse in season 1) and then when they do, they tend to be ridiculously unpleasant to watch (thinking specifically of the sex tape in season 1 and the most recent hate sex with a head twist in season 3).


I’m willing to put this aside, however, ‘cause season 3 is kicking major ass. Season 2 was a little dull, for me, compared to season 1. The maenad lady didn’t really do it for me. But season 3, so far, is way, way, way making up for it.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Notes from the Coast, another installment

I have officially started my new job. Last Wednesday. That makes a week and a half in the new job and I must say the honeymoon period is in effect. I can't imagine that this will last. But so far, I just feel totally lucky. Like it's too good to be true. Every day, it seems, a new perk comes around.And really? An employer that actually believes that the employee's happiness is important?

There are downsides. Everyone is suffering there, even though they all smile and laugh. Breast cancer. Heart attack. Daughter with Hodgkins. Daughter with severe anxiety, hair pulling disorder, and immune deficiency. But they do sort of restore my faith in people. For them to continue to be so generous and kind, despite the different parts of their own lives that are falling apart. It's been a long time since I've seen that sort of kindness, selflessness, en masse. Certainly I've known individuals with the capacity, but... you know...

I'm also shopping for a place of my own, now. The plan stands that I hope to be living in Seattle proper (rather than with my parents) by September. Living with my parents makes me feel like a child. And the 4 hours of commuting a day is pretty exhausting. And I'm not spending enough time with my uber needy cat. And my social life isn't quite what I'd like it to be... though I am managing to do stuff, see people (... I actually went to see a jam band last night... I didn't know it was going to be a jam band... it was one of those friends of a friends of a friends were in the band things... just wow...) The commute does have the advantage of giving me time to read. I've even been reading some poems. John Beer's The Wasteland and Other Poems is absolutely gorgeous. And I think I shall write a review of Maged Zaher's Self Portrait of the Artist as an Engineer... also very, very good.

Today I went to the farmer's market. Mixed carrots. A mexican squash. Apricots. Eggs. Baby greens. I'm thinking veggie burritos with an apricot salsa. Now I'm sitting in a local coffee shop that does all local, homemade fair. I have coffee and berry cobbler. Life is pretty damn good.

Next I'm supposed to see my brother's new house today. He's supposed to give me an armoire. Oh life...