it snowed a little today. despite it being fuh-reezing, it is bearable. in 2016, I swiped my son’s Pokémon Go account and together my spouse and I have walked 1,200 miles. a lot of people do this game from the car but it’s best to get outside. weather snap from the app tonight. 1 wake down, 1 funeral to go. it was excellent to see the family tonight and powerful closure to see my cousin and realize he is deflated, he’s no longer there.
Made a hot curry last night. Burn-your-lips-off-a-little-hot. What else? Camping is over for the year. The leaves are in the yard covering the grass. Planning to go to the Daytona 500 next year. Have mapped the distance from Sacramento to Yosemite and priced flights for later after the snow pack has started to melt - the waterfalls are something to see, I've heard. Today, the sun is shining and it is a big voting day today in America. I live close to a polling station and it has been packed since before the sun rose. I read all the amendments and propositions. They're confusing, written to drive people to feel stupid, not empowered. I read an article in Forbes about the measures on the ballot and their criticism of their confusing nature. People worked hard to give us a voice and to see it dissolve into this nonsense, well, it bothers me. I will not engage in political banter, but I will vote. On deck today, we decide if people can smoke weed - either with a medical prescription or right out of their own stash in the basement, decide if people can call bingo, if we will pay more for gas and olympic medals (??) and whether or not a host of people will be representing the State and local governments. One weird batch of issues.
I took the day off to hang with my little homie, whose school is closed. On with the day!
The trees will be bare by week’s end. The colors have been vibrant this year. Last year, they jumped off a crumbly brown. The whole idea of Fall has been put aside for Winter, at least it feels that way. The autumn on a farm with everything going from green to yellow and orange was the best ever. The trees gave wide open views of the fields as they were being wrenched up by the tractor. To be up in a tree...
It was an early start today, which afforded me a quiet visit to the market. I made sauce and meatballs for tomorrow night's dinner and a rice/pork "something" (I can only imagine the cheerful nature of its recipient dutifully trying and smiling and swallowing after many, many prolonged chews...it could be a Panda Express night after all). The kitchen looked like an explosion, but it's all tidy now. If anything, this day is almost like Summer and deserves a nice, long walk to the library. If ever there was a punishment to me, it would be to take away my library card. Kitchen Confidential did not work out. Not being a great compartmentalizer, I could not separate myself from the thought of Anthony Bourdain killing himself. I am onto Armistead's next book Sure of You. The last one, Significant Others chronicled the impact of HIV/AIDS. The 60's and 70's were sexual times; it was considered free; no such thing as free lunch, that's for sure.
Ok, here we go.
Or knead it until it starts to look like a giant brain. Then you're done. Now, back to the sauce; it should be bubbling on low at this point. Make sure to use a spatula to scrape the bottom. It should not be crusty. If it is, toss it out and start again, it will taste burned - you cannot rid the sauce of the taste once it's there. My grandmother would not agree with adding parmesan but it's delicious, so add some, to your own liking.
Now, we make the meatballs. Set the sauce on low on the back burner and forget about it for a while. Turn the big brain into mini-brains, and add to a skillet. Don't overcrowd it, you have to flip these things around until they're brown on all sides.
The object is not to cook them in the skillet, only brown them. As they finish browning, pop them into the sauce. When they're all done, cover with the lid slightly off, and simmer on low. Occasionally, remove the lid and skim off the fat into a bowl and discard - your arteries will thank you later. After the pot has been on the stove for 4 hours, take it off, let it cool on the counter and then refrigerate over night, if possible. It will taste much better the next day.
Pork Rice Something
Pork rice something arose from watching street food videos for an hour this morning in bed drinking coffee before I spilled it on myself and was forced to not only get up, but wash the sheets. It should be dinner tonight, and it's cooling itself off in the fridge, but I don't know what to make of it. I think it started to get out of hand when I was doing a time lapse video using one hand while cooking the pork and enacting a chef-move for which I am unqualified with the other hand, tossing the veggies like a short-order cook. I think I have located all of the corn, but it was evasive. The avocados were not great, but it's almost November. I cut out all the brown parts. I know, it won't kill me, but the brown parts remind me of mold, and we have already uncovered my inability to place my feelings into little boxes to rest upon high shelves. Into the trash they went.
Lastly, there's something to be said for trying your best at doing new things. Even if you suck.
You will need the following for this recipe:
1 good sized orange
1 each of yellow, red and orange peppers
Onions if you like (I do not like)
1 can of corn
1 pack of thinly sliced pork cutlets - or slice your own from a bigger piece
Spicy brown mustard
Sea salt (because it is trendy, or just salt-salt)
Literally every bowl, knife and piece of kitchen-ware you have
Cut up orange, yellow and red peppers - make tiny strips. Cut up and dice one jalapeño. Slice up half of a tomato. Open a can of corn. Add all of that to a skillet with a little oil. Do the same with some onion if you want. Add some pepper. Flip it with your dominant arm and then spend some time on the floor hunting down the corn. You'll get the hang of it eventually.
Cut up 5 thin pork cutlets. In a separate skillet with some oil, cook them until done.
While the veggies continue to cook, turn to the avocados. Remove 2 decently sized avocados from their little shells, dice them in a bowl, add some spicy brown mustard, sea salt, a touch of onion powder, and pepper. Cut a fresh lime and squeeze overhead. Mix it together.
Take 1 orange, cut it in half and take it with you back to the veggies along with the avocado mixture.
Combine the pork with the veggies, turn the heat up and add the orange juice - get it bubbling good.
Slow down the fire, add the avocado mixture, flip everything again like a short-order cook and pour over some Thai rice. Eat it or save it to ambush your family later.
The best candy store on the face of the earth has relocated to its new store. I stocked back up. When I was a 13 year old, I worked before and after school at a tuck shop right outside my high school. Every student would jam themselves into the store at 745am, just before the beginning of classes, and like the stock exchange, all call out their orders. The owner and his wife and I would fill them all quickly, like a well-oiled machine.
The job gave me cred with my fellow students, gave them fewer reasons to bang my head against a wall for being an American in their country (we did not have an anti-bullying curriculum back in the day), and gave the owners the weekend off, when they handed me the keys one Saturday and said, "You're in charge."
I used the money I saved to buy my first ever pair of sweet ass kicks. I had walking around money. It allowed for travel beyond the 10 ride clipper card my mother gave me for the bus each month. I cruised record stores, met up with friends, explored the nether reaches of the town, going to places so far away I rarely made it home for dinner on time. My parents barely batted an eyelash the night I ran away the first time. "I'm going out," I said, at 730pm on a Wednesday. I wondered how long it took for them to realize I was not coming back.
The first thing I did when I left the house was walk up the enormous and hilly road that led to the village. I went into the off-license and bought a can of Shandy. That's right, beer and lemonade, considered tame and totally legal for a 14 year old to buy. I walked across the street and entered the telephone kiosk, just like the one in Dr. Who, except red. It was raining, so I had to take shelter. I looked through the remaining change in my hand and decided to risk an investment in calling my Biology teacher. She was a friend, someone who realized I was getting the shit kicked out of me at home and took an interest in making sure I wasn't murdered or at least called my house if I didn't show up to school after a few days. My attendance was spotty; I was truant for so much of high school until the headmaster decided I was underutilizing my capabilities, made me a Prefect, thus giving me daily responsibilities to come to school for - lessons alone not being enough of an incentive.
I still had trouble staying there most of the time.
I would arrive, do my tuck shop job, then go to my form room for registration, making sure I was there to guide the students in an orderly manner during change of class, and if it was English, Geography, Religious Studies, History, Chemistry, or Biology, I would go to a class, otherwise, I would leave, right after I dropped off the big ledger off to the Registrar.
My Biology teacher sounded mildly hysterical the night I called her to mull over my next steps. She offered to come get me. I turned that down. She offered to call a social services person. Also turned that down (later, when I returned home, as all children must, unless the state steps in to save them, my mother told me flat out I would be raped repeatedly if I ever ran away again, reasoning that I would be sent straight to a children's home). I did not let this deter me from running away three more times and once back in America, they ran away from me. Problem solved.
I wouldn't agree to anything on the phone that night. I only wanted to hear her voice. I wanted the reassurance of someone else caring for me to know as I was about to leap into the unknown, that I wasn't entirely alone. I walked a few miles past all the bags of glue hanging from the trees (glue sniffing was big in the 80's as was heroin, but when hasn't heroin been big?). I walked through the council houses, through the rough parts of the village until I arrived at the row of houses of two youth leaders from church. They opened the door and didn't ask any questions. They took me inside and got me something warm to drink to de-ice me.
The youth leaders called the pastor. The pastor, a guy who hated my dad, called for my presence. It turns out the pastor was the father of my boyfriend, so it was just a little awkward to arrive in their foyer with now 4 youth leaders in tow for a conference in the dining room. The pastor was trying to frame my father for some bad stuff he actually did, but once I realized they weren't there for my well-being, I lied and pled the fifth. I spent the weekend at the home of another youth leader who had two other girls staying for similar reasons. The two girls had invested most of every day at high school bullying me; I wasn't sure if I was in the frying pan or the fire. Further, given lack of space, I had to share a bed with one of them and I got my first kiss that night. People are abusive for a surprisingly large array of reasons, it turns out.
The pastor had a heart attack years later. He worked so hard to oust the former pastor, to gain control over the congregation, among which existed a subversive list of dark characters doing things they should not, my father one of them. I am still waiting for those things to be shouted from the rooftops, and who knows, maybe one day, I will do the shouting.
the asters are blowing the signal of the last of the flowering, the things I love the best about the year. I hate digging up the tomato beds. I feel like I’m betraying them as they keep forcing out more fruit even though it’s 32 out. :/
“Everything in life is like a dance with strangers,
right from the start
your heart is waiting...
you never fall in love without a little danger
we stumble around to the music playing...”
Update: I decided not to pull out all of the tomatoes. I clipped them back significantly, almost to stalks. I unplanted all of the herbs; they are delicate and Big Delicious Planet in Chicago has (the best lunch ever) a huge, raised garden and in talking to the main gardener there, learned they transplant their herbs indoors for the winter. Hence the pic below, in the basement. They were 2 to a pot, for space conservation. The basement is not just for tornados anymore!
Had the people over for dinner last night. The cherry tomatoes had one last magnificent hurrah and produced 60 more so I made easy tomato jam via the Suburban Soapbox. I scaled the ingredients back a bit because I didn't have big tomatoes or as many as required. The important part about making it is to let it boil a lot and make sure it is in a very non-stick pot. It has to thicken up - the sugar has to candy a little and then it is done.
I paired it with goat cheese and thin crackers. I got some port salut cheese as well - a soft cheese with a decent taste. Both went over well. Once you add the tomato jam, it is just the sweet topping to round it out perfectly.
I also made bread rolls, the main course was beef. It's fall (y'all), so why not make it hearty? These corn-fed midwesterners need their carbohydrates. I found the recipe in a small cookbook from my mother, circa 1980. I love her old cookbooks. This one is English and was hard to translate. The dough was too sticky, so I had to add more flour during the first kneading & set to rise a 2nd time for about 30 minutes.
I used a big bread bowl not pictured here to mix everything together and then transferred over to a glass bowl greased with olive oil.
Kneading post-2nd rise. Do not over-knead it or they will be extra-crusty-tough. Rolled into a long tube. Cut sections. Every place I have lived before my current house did not have a countertop I could use as a giant cutting board. Now, I am a spoiled, American brat. It is handy, but I still got a lot of flour on the floor (and me).
Had I been a more practiced bread-maker, I could have added a brushing of egg to make the tops golden. I might have made them all the exact length and shape, too. Again, do not let your inexperience concern you. The point is, just make stuff. Try things out. I greased the pans with olive oil because it has a higher temp threshold before it turns everything black above it.
Right out of the oven, these were really good. They were soft but very crusty (over-kneader!) at dinner. Good yeasty character, but not overwhelmingly-so.
It's not my favorite version yet. They pack well for reheating in the microwave for 8-10 seconds. Hot butter to finish.
It was a bright day, perfect to try out more cyanotypes. It took me an hour of painstaking knife cuts to get this just the way I wanted it. The paper thickness was great. The liquid was not fresh and did not produce the deep, vivid blueprint look I was aiming for. I'm going to try it on cotton next chance I get.