Archives for the day of: July 30, 2012

Here is the Homesick Texan’s Texas caviar I talk about all the time. She’s really good with assertive, balanced flavors.

Texas caviar with the first fruits of my heirloom Chimayo chile, which I am drying per Laura Hudson’s instructions at Mas du Diable.

At this altitude (Macondo is the other mile-high city >:-() cooking beans is something that pretty much does not occur. I don’t know how the millions of Mexis here do it — and they do do it, but me I never could get them cooked in under three days. So I got a pressure cooker and they’re cooked to perfection in 10 minutes. I got the one recommended by Cooks’ Magazine, the Fagor Splendid 6-quart pressure cooker.

I always feared pressure cookers but that was stupid. Soak beans overnight, have them cooked in 10 minutes = instant bean-based soup, chili, humus, what have you, much less expensively than canned beans, and with more delicious beans, too. I cook a pound of dried whatever — the one$ from the food coop are, in fact, prettier and ta$tier — and stick half in the freezer. There’s nothing more delicious for dinner than Hoppin’ John, if you’re wondering what to do with extra black eyed peas.

My other Healthy Lunch Meat Chronicle discovery was at the prepared food cold case in the local hippie dippie food coop. They call it Burmese Crunchy Ginger Salad, but Uncle Google tells me the Burmese call it gin thoke.

My name is Jeannette, and I’m a crunchaholic. Honest to God, I need to crunch at least every other day or there’ll be hell. to. pay. As in, sleepwalk to the 7-11 in my footed pajamas and rifle the potato chip rack in my sleep, awakening with a circle of Cheeto-colored salt around my lips that can’t be accounted for. Weight Watchers and Lean Cuisine could make you want to slit your wrists mainly for the LACK OF CRUNCH.

Gin thoke to the rescue. There are several recipes for it on the internets. The ingredient list from the Fante Se hippies who make it is as follows:

Here’s one with tomato and sesame with chick pea flour sprinkled over it:

And one with toasted chickpeas as part of the crunchies, as well as toasted chick pea flour, and not as nummy a fish sauce/lime dressing as most:

This one is my favorite so far, with sauteed dried lima beans and Napa cabbage:

The Fanta Se hippie gin thoke comes with the ginger and jalapeno nestled on the very finely shredded cabbage, with the sauce in a little lidded cup and the crunchies in their own baggie. I have to say, there is nothing, nothing, like crisp sizzled thin slices of garlic, carefully drained. Something I was making called for a garnish of these and I acquiesced to what seemed like another eon of labor just for decoration.

But no. Crunch Nirvana.

So any version of gin thoke that goes down here at the Rancho Atomico will haz garlic AND shallots, crisp fried. The peanuts, coconut and shrimp flakes are keepers too. The crisply fried yellow split peas are hilarious and absolutely delicious. Those Burmese!

I wonder what the toasted garbanzo flour is all about? I have some.  Maybe I’ll try it. I think I’ll try toasted chickpeas and tomatoes too.

But this week it’s Texas caviar, mmmm hmmmm.

My friend’s apocalypse, in which [redacted], has real resonance for those of us who decided years ago, not to breed.
One lesson of that is work, with more courage, vision and innovation. The second is, as Virginia Woolf, the queen of modernity and loss, wrote: Never pretend that what you don’t have is not worth having.
I have often compared my life to my friend’s and noted she’s richer. I would like to be richer. But I truly do not believe her life has been better than mine. I don’t like the little sense of told-you-so that comes with this disaster. I need to do some amputation on that.
For the mental hygiene, I am laying in lace weight yarn to crochet a lacey pink scarf for her. And I will work that all through stitch by stitch.

Knit Picks shadow tonal lace weight yarn, in Queen Anne’s Lace.

I have gotten out my Riverside Shakespeare and unearthed my old friend King Lear, accompanied in this edition by state-of-the-art (ca..1979) footnotes and a radiant essay by the radiant Frank Kermode:
Bradley began his lectures on King Lear by asking why this work, repeatedly described as Shakespeare’s greatest, was “the least popular of the famous four”; why for a century and a half it was never played in its original form; and why so many readers have shared with Dr. Johnson a kind of distaste for a work whose greatness seems undeniable. In his answer he concurs with what he takes to be the opinion of the common reader, pronouncing Lear “Shakespeare’s greatest achievement, but….not his best play.”  As a play he finds it inferior to the other three but as “the fullest revelation of Shakespeare’s power,” it takes its place in his mind with “the Prometheus Vinctus and the Divine Comedy, and even with the greatest symphonies of Beethoven and the statues in the Medici Chapel.” The trouble is that it is too huge for the stage.

That Lear was unactable was the intellectual conundrum I inherited at 19 when he became my lifelong companion. Nearly 50 years later, I am here to tell you it is actable. The age of genocide has rendered it small enough. (Reading on, I see Kermode notes this point was made in 1962.)
The English professor could not bear another honors seminar on all of Shakespeare that semester and so he chose to teach one. What I learned was that Lear was Rashomon. The smartest smarty of every age since its first performance in 1606 has taken a matador’s veronica pass at the big man and never killed him. The literary criticism of Lear, from Johnson through Shelley, Tolstoy and Eliot, is a history of intellectual fashion and of what Quinet calls “the beautiful procession” of the minds which have gone before us, inviting us, without asking for any credentials, to join them in thinking about what matters. One of the thinkers I plan to meet is the 19-year-old me, who adopted Lear and Virginia Woolf as people to think about all my life.  A gay acquaintance and I have been talking, apropos childlessness, and the loss of one’s child, and the loss of someone else’s child years after one has decided not to reproduce, about how clear-thinking 14-year-olds are about the wreckage of their future around sex and its losses.  But I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now.

I am also thinking about Hupka’s photographs of Michelangelo’s Pieta, Heine/Schumann’s Dichterliebe Op 48/11 as my acquaintance recommends, and what people do when their beloved child dies. Virginia Woolf wrote Three Guineas, in feminism’s finest hour, as an argument with her nephew, who had died, angrily repudiating his parents’ pacifism, in the Spanish Civil War.

My other get-a-grip method is to get a real pedicure, for the first time in at least five years. I’m going for a medical one, in which she wields real blades and cuts to the chase, and also paints your toenails. And I’m going for raspberry, more Katy Perry neon than Cruella De Ville.
Purple toenails have kept me putting one foot in front of another every time. Painting a woman is  a way of writing.
Sometimes, if you’re lucky, it is the stairway to heaven:
I just now quoted Billy Bray; I cannot do better than give his own brief account of his post-conversion feelings: —“I can’t help praising the Lord. As I go along the street, I lift up one foot, and it seems to say ‘Glory’; and I lift up the other, and it seems to say ‘Amen’; and so they keep up like that all the time I am walking.”
Hay foot, straw foot, hay foot, straw foot. Things matter.
Pamplona Purple.
_King Lear
Act V. Scene II.

A Field between the two Camps.
Alarum within. Enter, with drum and colours, LEAR, CORDELIA, and their Forces; and exeunt. Enter EDGAR and GLOUCESTER.
Edg. Here, father, take the shadow of this tree
For your good host; pray that the right may thrive. 4
If ever I return to you again,
I’ll bring you comfort.
Glo. Grace go with you, sir! [Exit EDGAR.
Alarum; afterwards a retreat. Re-enter EDGAR.
Edg. Away, old man! give me thy hand: away!
King Lear hath lost, he and his daughter ta’en.
Give me thy hand; come on.
Glo. No further, sir; a man may rot even here. 12
Edg. What. in ill thoughts again? Men must endure
Their going hence, even as their coming hither:
Ripeness is all. Come on.
Glo. And that’s true too. [Exeunt.
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