I’ve never been big on holidays. I dislike them immensely. It’s a phobia I acquired — like a bad taste in my mouth — from working impossibly long hours, especially on holidays, in the restaurant trade for such a large slice of my life. Customers — would come in on holidays, often with family members, out of obligation, or from out of town — were always double, like extra supersize needy. Suppliers were frequently under-staffed and under-stocked, making deliveries extra stressful. Staff was grumpy, hung over, or, in jail. One night 3 of my cooks were busted for smoking a joint in the alley behind the restaurant by 2 cops on mountain bikes. Fortunately, it was late and we had just closed. After they were taken to be processed and then released 3 hours later, I insisted they come back and clean up the kitchen. It was the night before Memorial day. I still shudder when it comes around. Of course in these Colorado high times, that scenario would no longer apply. Nowadays, maybe you could share your stash with the cops? Continue reading “Our Memorial Day”→
I read an article last week by Timothy Egan, in the NYT, about, “short-cutting life’s essentials.” It was titled The One Minute life. For some reason I kept reading it as The One-Minute Lunch— as I happened to be making mine as I read— it took less than a minute to prepare, which is probably quicker than opening, mixing and sucking down a serving of powdered soylent.
Tahini, a puree of sesame seeds, when blended with cooked chickpeas, and seasoned with lemon juice and garlic is the Mid-East side dish known as Hummus. It’s almost always served as part of the meal, along with other dishes like Tabbouleh, Baba Ghannouj, Fattoush, and lamb or beef. Here in the US we call it a dip and bring it to parties and eat it with chips. Nothing wrong with that.
Poor old grains. They’re getting such a bad wrap these days. You haven’t heard? Maybe you don’t live in the US. Over here rabid gangs of seedy paleo nuts run the darkened streets, pushing animal fats and intimidating all to drop their grains and follow their fad. As if paleo man and wife dined on rib-eyes and arugula every night.
Gluten free, my friend, no longer cuts it. That’s what the book Wheat Belly was about. Now you got your rice belly, your buckwheat belly, your cookie belly and here in Denver your pot belly, which comes from hoards of stoners stuffing themselves silly with sugar — the munchie affliction. I think the whole belly thing is going to be a big flop. Mine is. So’s Ionah’s. That’s why for a 2 week period she’s decided not to eat any grains. So, I go along. I like the challenge.
Normally, we love to eat Asian style noodle bowls, Italian pastas, risottos, arroz con pollo, couscous, croissants, potatoes. I love pastries, I love burritos. I make corn tortillas all the time— sourdough bread on the grill, toast with butter and jam, I love a nice pear tart and I love beer… but I make an exception, a concession: I will continue taking my daily intake of oatcakes. My friends at Oats of Allegiance would be too upset if I cancelled my subscription.
Lately I’d been thinking, one of these days, I need to make a fire. I have always loved the act of preparing fire. Not only is it warming and key to survival for some, it’s ancestral and it promotes council and community — but really, its the mischief of flame that I like.
We sat outside on a beautiful May evening, watched neighborhood cormorants cross the sky above our heads and listened to chirps of newly arrived blackbirds and the urgent wale of city police sirens and enjoyed our wood fire grilled meal.
Ionah, who casually flirts along the frontiers of veganisn, is mostly a loyal vegetarian. And I usually go along. But I wanted some beef, a Mid-Eastern flavored plump lolli stick seemed in order— along with stuffed poblano peppers with corn and black beans, slices of zucchinni, scallions, tahini sauce, harissa mayonnaise. Avocado too.
Normally I would serve a platter of glorious steamed couscous, fruity with olive oil and alive with a mound of mint stubbled with toasted pine nuts and golden raisins— but it was not to be.
Start a fire. I am lucky to have an indegenous mix of juniper and piñon. It usually takes a couple of hours to develop down into hot glowing coals. If you are a beer drinker, this would be the time.
For the beef, chop some parsley,
grind up some cumin and rosemary,
Add these to a pound of ground beef in a bowl and add some chopped garlic, onion and salt and black pepper.
Form it into a nice ball
and divide into four lollipop shapes. Skewer each one with a pre-soaked (10 minutes in water) bamboo skewer. I forgot to photograph this. Oh well.
Next blister the chilis on an open flame
Get them black all over. Put them into a paper or plastic bag and seal for 10 minutes.
Remove from the bag and peel them
Slit them down the middle and remove as many seeds as you can. Rinsing under running water can make this easier.
For the filling sauté some onion until soft,
add corn (I used frozen, it will thaw as soon as it hits the pan).
Add a few chopped herbs
Add cooked black beans. Season to taste with salt.
Stuff the chilis with this mixture
Close them as best you can, adding a scant amount of olive oil to prevent sticking on the grill.
Peel the asparagus. Cut the zucchini into 3 long slices, having removed the skin on both sides and cut these in half. You should have 6 even slices. Season with salt and roll in a tiny amount of olive oil—too much and the grill will flame up. You do not want that to happen.
Now get out there and grill…
You got your beef,
you got your zucchini, your scallions, your peppers,
Spring’s around and It gets into every corner of the garden. I want to be out there and not miss a shoot. That means getting dirty tearing out the dead, digging in the dirt, trimming, weeding, pruning and collecting. The premier crop right now is dandelion. It’s coming up through the cracks in the patio. It’s growing out of the walls in the garage. It’s peeking out of pots where it shouldn’t. You really got to love it, and then you get to eat it. It’s free. It’s killer good, and it’s up there mega on the nutritional scale.
It was the Brits who first brought it here. In those days, it is said, they cleared out the grass to make room for the dandelion so they could have fresh greens in their new digs.
My, how things have changed. Nowadays, people display uncontrollable urges to poison and exterminate the guileless dandelion as if it were lucifer in the flesh himself.
Yesterday for lunch, Ionah produced a beautiful salad of dandelion greens, chick peas, avocado and toasted sunflower seeds — It went something like this.
Chop a little garlic into your salad bowl and add some mustard and red wine vinegar and whisk to emulsify.
Slowly stream in olive oil and whisk until you have enough to coat the greens. Add chopped avocado and some cooked chickpeas.
Toast sunflower seeds in a heavy skillet on medium heat