The Reverend Nermil Paka Sauce of Alaele Place: 2007-2019

Cats & Animals

Screen Shot 2020-01-23 at 8.43.44 PMDid it cross my mind, as I sat cross-legged in my underwear on the floor of the house we rented in Maui, cradling you like a baby, crying because I didn’t know if I would figure out how to get you home, that one day I could be holding you the same way as life seeped out of you?

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In 2007, in A sleepy Maui village called Hana, there were a few friendly stray cats hanging out on the lanai of the guest house we rented. There was fluffy, sweet marie, who were regulars, and a few others, who came and went. On our second day on the island, a little grey tabby showed up, and followed us around. We decided to call him Reverend Jaime, or The Rev, because of a little patch of white on his neck. I have no idea where the Jaime came from.

Screen Shot 2020-01-23 at 8.43.56 PMThe Rev could be seen staring up at trees, and analyzing plants. Whenever we came “home,” he would come running. He would sit on the edge of the hot tub. The other cats hated him, and he feared them, because he was a wimp. When the house owner came over to mow the lawn, The Rev got a flip flop tossed at his pointy little head for no good reason. It was then we decided,  if he came into the house and brought fleas, we wouldn’t feel so bad.

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Did it occur to me, the years we slept, spooning together, that I would feel the warmth leave your body? That the gums you strangely liked having pet would one day no longer feel the breeze of your breath?

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The Rev slept with us at night. Any time we were on the property, he was at our side. Neither of us had work lined up when we came back- I was freelance and Dave was between jobs, and I had just spent $800 that I didn’t have on my car, so naturally, our next step was to spend more money bringing a cat home.

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Getting him home took a lot of time out of our vacation. Because of some landslide, no local vets were open. We found a vet near the airport with a red Afro and a vanity plate that said TD BEAR, but we knew that if the vet didn’t clear him to fly, we would miss our flight back returning him to Hana. Thankfully, he was all cleared and ready to take his (seperate) flight to LGA.

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Did I think about it, ever, when people stopped what they were doing and remarked about your size that one day you would waste away to a much smaller cat as your kidneys failed?

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We met him in the cargo area of LGA, having had to walk in the snowy slush in flip flops on a busy road with practically no shoulder. Less than 20 hours after his first car, van, and plane ride, he had his first subway and bus ride. The bus was the “drunk” bus to bloomfield, the last of the night. It was packed and he had to rest his carrier on the lap of a very nice Spanish lady next to me. We walked the last 1/2 mile home, just over 12 years ago to the day, and started our lives.

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The Rev soon became Nerms, after Garfield’s nemesis, Nermil. He was the sweet to our other cat, The Mayor’s, sour. He took himself very seriously and was the most unintentionally funny cat I knew. He had no awareness that he was goofy, and walked around with a Sherman Helmsley-as-George Jefferson-like swagger.

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What about that time, close to the end, when i tried to record your purring sound so I would never forget it, but you were laying on my throat so it was punctuated with heavy breathing? Did I know I wouldn’t get a chance again to hear you purr?

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Anyone who met him said “whoa, that’s a big cat!” We we’re so used to it, we never noticed. He dragged corn cobs off of your plate and sucked off any remnants of vegan butter. He waited patiently at your feet for greasy chinese takeout bowls. He stuck his nail in your pizza if you didn’t share it fast enough. He pissed with his tail hanging out of the litter box.

Screen Shot 2020-01-23 at 8.46.33 PMHis favorite spot in the bed was smack dab between our chests, the more squished, the better. In the sun, he looked like a reptile. By indoor light, he looked like one of many Rankin-Bass protagonists. At some point in his life, he lost his left fang and started to look like Elvis. He liked to bite, not to break skin but to crush bone. And then he would gently lick you. He was the alpha cat of the 5. He demanded to be taken outside, and would sometimes try to get under our bikes as we brought them out of storage. If he didn’t greet us at the bottom of the stairs every time we came home, he most certainly would be at the top.Screen Shot 2020-01-23 at 8.46.23 PM

Did I bask in the moments you were stealing food, or pigging out, knowing that someday you would stop eating, despite clearly wanting to?

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His favorite thing was to roll around on the sidewalk outside, bathing in the sunlight. He also liked to play gingerbread man- running around in the yard so that you couldn’t catch him.

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He was healthy most of his life, but every time he had a medical issue, it coincided with vacation plans. It made sense- he came into our life screwing up our vacation, and he went out that way.

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After his initial foray into trying to be friends with 4 ferrets and his feline sister, and failing, he decided that he hated all other animals, and spent the rest of his life letting them know. He also hated vets.

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Once, he got into our kitchen cabinet and found a bag of xantham gum. He chewed it open, licked it, and then cleaned himself. He ended up looking like a stegosaurus. 

Screen Shot 2020-01-23 at 8.47.35 PMDespite the very cool personality he developed over the years, Nerms had heart. He had a nice, warm purr, and he was soft, and cuddly when he wanted to be. Even up to the end, if I carried him outside, he would relax and dig his nails into my shoulder, flexing each of them alternately, sniffing the air, watching the birds, the squirrels, the bugs.

Screen Shot 2020-01-23 at 8.48.28 PMOne October, he was sunbathing on our deck and he caught a bird and brought it in. I ran out to see what the commotion was just in time to see it leave his mouth and fly into the shower (while Dave was showering) and out a window. He wasn’t much of a predator otherwise. He was as shocked as we.

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The last day I took him outside was a sunny December day. I had been thinking we were at the end but he was having a good day and he rolled on the sidewalk, scraping his skull in the sun like he loved. And then it rained for a few days and I knew in my heart he would never roll in the sun again. I took him outside, at night, in the Christmas lights and the weather was mild and he relaxed in my arms as we walked around, He sniffed some mud, chewed some grass, cheeked a tree.

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I cried into his fur and told him I was sorry I couldn’t fix him at the same time that I signed the paperwork for the procedure. He hated the vet, I was starting to regret not getting an at-home euthanasia.

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The vet quickly gave him the sedative before he even noticed, and slipped out, leaving me in a chair, with him, looking out the window and rocking him. it took him awhile to fall asleep, and he did so on my chest, comfortably, seemingly happy to be snuggled in. Each time his eyes closed, it took a little longer to open until he was fully sleeping, an arm up on my shoulder. We spent about 5-10 minutes without the vet in the room and it was nice to just be present with him.

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They came back and and I gently laid him on the table, on a blanket. They gave him another shot while I put my face in his face and he was gone in mere moments.

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He didn’t look different dead. I pet his tail, it felt the same- his nose no different, his nails came out and retracted the same as they ever did when i gently squeezed a paw. His bunny legs moved just like they ever did when I carefully pushed and pulled them.  He was simultaneously totally there, and not. At that moment, I understood Schroedinger’s Cat.

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A lot of people have messaged us that he was so lucky that we took him home from Hawaii and gave him a life as a spoiled housecat. But it was us who were the lucky ones.

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If love could have saved him, he would have lived to be a crotchety old 25 year old man. I wish.

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Its hard knowing his life had to end. Even harder though, is knowing that it goes on mostly the same, without him.

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An Egg-cellent Vegan Secret

Food

I have been meat and poultry free for 6 years, and gave up fish about 5 years ago. I have never gone truly vegan, although I lessen the amount of animal byproducts as much as I can. To some people, that makes me “just as bad as a meateater” and to some people, what I do makes some sort of difference. I feel comfortable with where I am at, but recognize that at some point I may feel compelled to cut out the occasional egg, whole milk ice cream that’s given to me, or honey.

I replace eggs and dairy often. One thing that cannot really be replaced is that real egg taste- the one that tastes good but smells like dog farts. This taste is notable in hardboiled and deviled eggs.

One day, the geniuses over at Lagusta’s Luscious,  who always surprise my tastebuds with vegan delicacies that really don’t need the word “vegan” as a qualifier (“This is an amazing chocolate/macaron!” is all that needs to be said, not really “This is an amazing VEGAN chocolate/macaron!” because no one is going to have one of their treats and say “This is pretty great for a VEGAN treat!”), posted a recipe for Vegan Deviled Eggs. 

Yes, you read that right. That picture at the top of this post? You’ll notice the egg looks a little funny. Bubbly. That’s probably because I whisked too hard. But there are no animal products in that egg. Here, have a closer look:

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You can follow the link to their recipe, but the crowning jewel in this recipe is an indian salt called “Kala Namak.”

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Kala Namak has sulphur in it, which makes it stink, and taste, like eggs. And true enough, those deviled eggs tasted spot on. I chopped some up and made egg salad out of them, and that was amazing too.

This morning, I made myself a tofu scramble for breakfast, and used Kala Namak instead of salt. Sure enough, it tasted just like scrambled eggs!

I bought my salt from The Spice Lab @ Amazon. If you are vegan, vegetarian looking to be more vegan, or just someone who enjoys culinary creativity, grab some salt, hold your nose, and get going! I make a lot of Vegan Frittatas in the spring and summer and I suspect this will work its way into the recipes.

Super Springy Green Soup

Food

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I never got the appeal of pea soup. Maybe it was because I first saw Linda Blair do her pea soup thing before I was going to grade school for a full day, but it never appealed to me. It was chalky and didn’t taste good. I had a good friend who loved it, especially with ham in it,  and one day, 3 or 4 years ago, I decided to try to make a pea soup that I could not only stomach, but enjoy. Then I read something, a recipe unrelated to pureed soups, where someone swapped out peas with edamame. It occurred to me that edamame might make a pea soup bright. I am no recipe genius, but for a long time I was single, overworked, and made a lot of meals that were thrown together with things on hand that would last. It was in this vein that this springy soup was born. Now that the weather is getting better, I decided to find it, to hopefully soon make it, and, hell, why not share it.

SUPER SPRINGY GREEN SOUP

INGREDIENTS

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1 16 oz package frozen peas
3 cups chopped onions
3 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup carrots chopped into 1-inch rounds
1/4 cup shelled edamame
1/4 cup chopped dill
1 lemon
pinch salt
5 slices hickory smoked tofurky, chopped

DIRECTIONS

Run hot water over bag of peas for 2 minutes, set aside.

Chop onions, and sautee for a few minutes in the bottom of a heavy pot, using a little bit of spray-oil. Do not brown.

Add broth, stir, and cover, bringing to a boil. Simmer for 10 minutes covered.

Add carrot rounds and cook for another 10 minutes.

Using a slotted spoon, pull out carrot pieces and put aside. Onions should be mushy at this point. if not, cook a little more.

Remove from heat. Add peas, stir, and cover for 3 minutes. It is important that the pot be on a cold burner at this point, to keep the peas bright green.

pour into blender, in small batches if needed, and blend. You don’t want it to be perfectly smooth, it benefits from a little texture.

pour back into pot. Add the juice of one lemon. More if you want. Add the chopped dill, shelled edamame, and carrots. Stir. Add salt to taste.

Serve with a sprig of dill and 1 chopped slice of tofurkey added at the last minute. You may also put a dollup of non-dairy (or dairy, if you don’t care) sour cream for extra taste and calories.

Serving Size: makes 5 1-cup servings

Number of Servings: 5

Sintra, Portugal

Travel

Sintra, particularly the area I visited, is a tourist zone, no bones about it. With all of its historic buildings, it is a a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Upon arriving in Sintra by train, we were inundated by tour guides, 360-degree bubble vehicles, scooter rentals, and the like. Once we elbowed our way out of there, we walked down a curved cobblestone sidewalk, where sculptures lined the right hand side of it.

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is that a weasel? I love weasels.

Along with the sculptures were artists hawking their art- watercolors, jewelry, belt buckles, scarves. On our second trip in I did end up buying a ring and a hair clip. There was also a guy playing, in heavy rotation, “A Whole New World,” “Colors of the Wind,” and “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad” on the panflute. It gave me flashbacks to when I worked in Times Square and below my office there were pan flautists playing the Titanic theme… ALL DAY. My heart may go on but my brain is toast, thankyouverymuch.
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Castle from Below

Once we got past all of the people trying to get our money, we came to the town itself. More people trying to get our money, but anyway. Up, way way up on the mountain, we could see the Castelo Dos Mouros- a castle built in the 8th and 9th centuries to protect this farming town. During this time, this area was ruled by Muslims until the castle was surrendered in the 1100s to Christian Rule.

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“Hey Nando, you see them tits up there?” – Roberto Canessa, Andes.

We followed a road, away from the town, and up towards the castle. We got a great view of the Sintra National Palace, AKA the Boob Building.  Very few were walking it, some took a bus. We got so many great views of the amazing architecture. Aching to get away from the cobblestone and occasional pavement, we found a lush path on our way up, and hiked through it. It brought us through the back end of the castle, but not before we came across a weird little tunnel building that went, well, I don’t know where:

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Vaginaland, Except with spiders.

I cannot tell a lie; we gave up at the first sign of spiders.

 

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Around front, we paid our admission and wandered around. There was a cool thing to climb on in the front, until I realized I was climbing on a crypt with a skull and crossbones on it. The views all over the castle were amazing and breathtaking. You could see some of the other palaces that we did not get a chance to visit in the background. Giant, colossal buildings that looked so tiny. The National Palace, which looked so large, was so small below us.

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In 1755 there was a major earthquake that almost completely destroyed Lisbon and the surrounding areas. The castle was damaged and the structural integrity compromised, but it still stood, and was made safe, standing still today.

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We wandered around town a little bit until our stomachs led us to a restaurant we had seen on our way with vegan friendly options.  Cafe Saudade was a welcome comfort. We had the most common local beer (we had it everywhere!), Super Bock, and a couple of sandwiches that we split. The sandwiches were on Bolo Do Caco bread, a traditional bread from Madeira Island. We sure didn’t eat vegan, but it was delicious- we shared a tomato, mozzarella, oregano, and olive oil sandwich, and a cheese, lettuce, tomato, olives, carrots, and beet sandwich. It was delicious, and the largest meal we had had so far.

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We wandered around the town a little more, and then left to go back to Lisbon. We weren’t planning on coming back again, however, towards the end of the trip, when we had a car, we decided to go back, a decision mostly influenced by the fact that we could find SHADE at Quinta Da Regaleira.

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Quinta Da Regaleira was built in the early 1900s and had a lot of different owners. He wanted to build a unique place that reflected his ideologies. Along the property are many symbols of alchemyMasonry, the Knights Templar, and the Rosicrucians. Not to mention, lots of dogs (that’s my sole opinion, but there were lots of statues of dogs. I’m a fan. Fun fact: Many lame facebook websites and clickbait sites show spots from Quinta Da Regaleira (mostly the initiation wells, but also some mossy ponds) and refer to them as “Beautiful Abandoned Spots.” This place is about as abandoned as Times Square, just so you know.

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Initiation Well. Like a tower but inside out.

Rambling gardens and caves, waterfalls and fountains, towers, mini-cathedrals, gardens, and a giant palace, by far, my favorite part was the initiation well. These wells were never meant for water, rather, they were used for tarot initiation rites- they are like towers, that go down instead of up.

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Eventually, we left Sintra, by car, but not without some excitement. If I learned 2 lessons from my second trip to Sintra, its these.

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  1. Take it easy with the photos, lest you end up like this annoying couple, holding everyone up everywhere, because they thought that Sintra was their own private photo shoot location. They literally posed each other for 50 photos in EVERYTHING.
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2. No matter what, even if everyone else is doing it, do not park wherever you feel like it, on a narrow street next to a tourist attraction. Everyone else will leave, the GNR (police) will pretty much treat it as a disaster zone, reroute traffic around your car, and make you follow him to his station, only because you avoided getting towed by about 30 seconds, and then you will have to pay 160 euros. Trust me on this one. But, on the flip side, most of the GNR were handsome.

The rest of the photos… Click to enlarge.

Totally Inauthentic Delicious Tagine

Food

Recently, I had an amazing 9-course dinner, at Dirt Candy. One of the courses was a tomato fennel moroccan dish, served in the tiniest little ceramic tagine. The most memorable thing about this dish was the really flavorful broth. I decided there was no way I could recreate the dish, but I decided to make my own, focusing on a really rich tomatoey broth.

Full disclosure: I don’t know what the fuck I am doing when it comes to moroccan food. Its been awhile since i have had it. The only thing i really had in mind was beans and preserved lemons and maybe some turmeric and sausage. I basically wandered through the store and just put whatever I felt like in my basket. It actually ended up coming out really great.

Many of the ingredients in this are VERY salty- resulting in a salty dish. If you can find low sodium tomato juice, it will help in that respect.

I am not a food photographer. Once I cook it, I want to eat it, which means quick iPhone photos.

Lisa’s Inauthentic Tagine (serves 8-10.)

For the Tagine
2 C. White Wine
3 C. Tomato Juice
2 sweet onions, sliced thinly
2 Bulbs Fennel, sliced thinly.  Fronds and tops reserved and chopped roughly.
3 T chopped, preserved lemon (or 1 T. lemon zest and 1 t. salt, but preserved lemon is better.)
1 Pinch saffron (optional)
3 t. turmeric
2 t. Crushed red pepper
1 bag (14 oz) frozen artichoke hearts
8 oz cooked fava beans (or garbanzos)
4 vegan sausages, cut into discs
1 package tempeh, cubed and previously braised in broth, wine, or tomato juice.
1 C pitted kalamata olives
4 T olive oil
1 large tomato, chopped
For the couscous
1 C whole wheat couscous
1/2 c tomato juice
1 T vegan butter (or olive oil)
1/2 cup water
large pinch salt
Saute one onion in half of the olive oil for 3-5 minutes. Add the roughly-chopped fennel tops and fronds and stir. Add white wine and tomato juice. Bring to a boil and let simmer for 15 minutes. Strain, toss the solids, and put aside.
Saute the other onion in the rest of the olive oil for 3-5 minutes. Add chopped tomato, and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add all of the other ingredients, plus around a cup of the broth you put aside. cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring often.
Add the rest of the broth and stir. Bring to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer for 15 minutes. Taste; depending on your taste you may want to add more preserved lemon. If you didn’t use preserved lemon, you may wish to add salt at this point, but if you used it, its probably plenty salty at this time.
While the tagine is simmering, prepare couscous: bring  water, tomato juice, and butter/oil to a boil. Remove from heat, and add salt and couscous. Mix thoroughly and cover for 5-10 minutes.
To serve, put 1/4 cup cooked couscous at the bottom of a bowl, and add tagine on top.

Parked on Pavement

Other Thoughts

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December 19th. 4pm. Traffic court. 36 Degrees outside. Got to the courthouse early to try to sweet-talk the prosecutor out of a speeding ticket, and to get a non-points ticket instead.

85 in a 65. The cop  had given me a break. It didn’t feel like one, but he had assured me on that hot summer day, that he had.

After returning my cell phone to the car and going through the metal detector (“Miss, I didn’t ask you to put your hands up,”) I took my seat.

A girl in her mid-20s, in hot pink pajama pants with yellow suns, and black and white stars, tucked into combat boots stood at the bench with her hands clasped in front of her. Two policemen flanked her. Her arraignment.

December 19th. Less than a week before Christmas.  I was thinking about how, at sunset, the courthouse sure did look pretty with its giant, lit wreath on the door, and how it was just chilly enough outside to feel festive without feeling uncomfortable. Did she have an address that mail could be sent to? After a pause of thinking, yes. She and her fiancé stay there. Did she normally have any business in this town? No, she and her fiancé were just staying at Rich’s the past couple days. Who is Rich? The guy we are staying with. Do you have any kids? Yes, sir, I have 4. The oldest is 6 and the youngest is a little over 1. No, I haven’t seen them in a very long time, almost a year. They live with their dad who was in the army.

God, I hoped I didn’t get any points on my license.

She stood before them, in handcuffs, because 1.) she stole a 1000 piece puzzle, and a bottle of women’s multivitamins, and 2.) she was in possession of said puzzle and vitamins.

Would she have a problem staying 1000 feet away from the address she stole from? No, your honor. Good, because there will be an order of protection keeping you 1000 feet from such. Can I expect you not to contact, in any way, shape or form, those that you stole from? Yes, your honor. Do you have anything you’d like to say? I- Remember, don’t say anything that would further incriminate you. 

Soft crying.

I realized I didn’t have my wallet on me. What if I had to pay a huge fine for my speeding ticket right here, right now? What if someone is texting me right now?

You are going to have to come back here. If you live in (muffled) how are you going to get back here? Assertively: I will find a way I promise. Are you working? I mean now. Are you working now? No, ok.

She craned her neck wildly around the room, in the first time that I saw her full face, as the judge told her her bail. $1000 cash. $2500 bond. Remember- you have to get yourself back here on January 3, or there will be a warrant out for your arrest. However, if you cannot pay bail, and you are still in jail on January third, you will be escorted back to this courthouse. 

Head down. More soft crying. $1000 might as well be $999,999. It was clear that she would be spending the holidays in jail, a building likely less cheerful than this courthouse. The court officer called my number to come into another room to meet the prosecutor. It all went very quickly after that, (except for the part where the court officer decided to tell me how stupid some of the people here really are, and how we shouldn’t let immigrants in.)

I drove home, bathed in Christmas lights, listening to a podcast, making a mental note to send a money order for $175 for my reduced ticket- Parking on Concrete- no points, impatient to get home to my warm house, my soft cats, my tasty dinner, my smart-ass human. Each colorfully lit up house I passed, Whether decorated in geometric, lines of lights or sloppy, half blinking jumbles, I wondered if the girl in the pink pants was passing them, if the holiday season would be passing her by, in jail, with no lights, no cheer.

Driving over 20 miles over the speed limit, I could have killed someone. I got to go home and eat Bibimbap with a puny cat crammed into the back of my knee, purring, with a relatively small fee and a silly ticket, while the girl in the pink pants would be spending time indefinitely in jail for stealing a puzzle and some vitamins.

 

 

Fungus Frenzy

Food, Uncategorized

Mushrooms are an amazing thing. I loved them the moment I first had a button mushroom cooked in butter, with a little garlic. I loved them raw, and eraser-like, in my salad. I loved them microwaved in a cup of water, pickled in salt or vinegar, raw and whole and probably covered in cow feces. I loved them stuffed, thrown into a vat of molten soondobu, sliced thinly like ceviche. Any way, I love them.

Not everyone loves mushrooms. There are a lot of people who downright hate them.  I have to believe those folks have never had a properly prepared mushroom. The tastes are so varied and complex and meaty.

A wonderful winter meal, showcasing shrooms, follows- it is my very favorite for the cold winter months. Mushroom and Wild Rice Stoup, with wild mushroom flatbreads.

MUSHROOM AND WILD RICE “STOUP”

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The first day, this hearty winter meal will present as a soup. Overnight though, it will soak up most of its liquid and resemble a very thick stew. It tastes very brown, very hearty, and very warming, perfect for a cold winter night.

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Wild Rice and Mushroom Soup

Makes about 10 servings

1 cup wild rice

1 large diced onion

5 celery stalks, diced

1 lb Shiitake Mushrooms

1/2 lb Crimini Mushrooms

8 oz chopped Seitan

2 Cups Baby Kale

3 cloves minced garlic

1 teaspoon dried oregano

3 Tablespoons Flour

1.5 Cups White Wine

2 Bay Leaves

4 cups “Unchicken” stock (plain veggie stock is ok too.)

1 Tablespoon fresh chopped rosemary

1 Cup lite coconut milk

1 Tablespoon Cider Vinegar

2 teaspoons Salt

2 Tablespoons oil

Begin by boiling a pot of water. When it comes to a boil, add 1 t. salt and all of the wild rice. Reduce the heat and simmer for 50 minutes, until the rice splits open. Drain and set aside when done.

While the rice is cooking, heat up the oil on medium-high, and cook the onions and celery for 5 minutes.  When the onions are translucent and soft, add the rest of the salt and the mushrooms and turn down the heat to medium. Cook for a full 20 minutes, allowing the mushrooms to slowly turn brown, and for brown goo to begin to collect at the bottom of the pan. Stir mixture occasionally.

Once the full 20 minutes is up, add the seitan and stir for 2 minutes. Add Garlic and Oregano and stir for another minute.  Next, sprinkle in the flour and cook until the veggies are covered in flour and the flour begins to look sticky, another 2 minutes or so.

Turn the heat back up and add in the wine. Scrape the bottom of the pan carefully; all of that beatiful brown created by the mushrooms needs to mix with the wine. Cook for another 3-5 minutes so that the wine reduces.

Add the bayleaf and stock, and simmer for 20 minutes. Then add in the coconut milk and the rosemary, and then the wild rice. Simmer for another 15 minutes. Stir in the baby kale a minute or two before you take it off of the heat. Add the cider vinegar at the very end to brighten it up.

WILD MUSHROOM FLATBREADS

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These little flatbreads were total improv. The key is slowly cooking the mushrooms in the beginning; it adds an earthy “Brown” flavor that complements, but can also easily stand alone from, the brightness of the pesto.

Ingredients

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Makes 10 servings

14 oz whole wheat pizza dough

3 T pesto

6 oz mixed wild mushrooms

1 Red Bell Pepper

1 C Baby Kale

Salt, Pepper

1 t olive oil

Heat the oil in a pan on medium. Cook mushrooms with salt, slowly stirring for 15 minutes.

While mushrooms are cooking, divide dough into 10 equal pieces and spread out in oval shapes on a lightly sprayed pan. Preheat oven to 450, or whatever temperature your dough states.

if you leave the dough to rest, you can go back in a few minutes and usually stretch it a little more.

spread 1 t. of pesto on each piece of dough. Distribute the cooked mushrooms on top of the pesto, and top with a few thin slices of pepper, then top each flatbread with the baby kale.

Cook in oven until dough is cooked and edges are browned.

(Vegan) Beef Goulash with Whole Wheat Spätzle

Food

 

Once upon a time, many years ago, I worked my first real job in an German/Austrian Restaurant in the middle of the most rural part of New Jersey. You would think that something like that wouldn’t last, but it thrived for many, many years before and after my time there, perhaps because of his relationship with local hunters, or perhaps just because the food was good and homey.

I made desserts and salads and cold appetizers. I am friends, to this day, with a guy I met there whom I used to get in shrimp vein fights with (we’d devein the shrimp and then wipe it on each other, ew.) I started a 5+ year relationship with a man I met here, also still a friend, who I awkwardly watched the boss tell to “Give me the WEINER! I need the WEINER! (As in, WEINER Schnitzel.) I think of the old boss every time I make a cake, especially one with booze in it, and I learned that the best way to decorate desserts is with edible flowers. I learned that tiny strawberries reminded me of my dog, and that a really good way to tease your friend is to rub shrimp veins into his arm hair (but you’ll get paid back 2-fold.) I learned that sauerbraten gravy is a mysterious, wonderful concoction.

I learned that in a restaurant like this, meat is king. At the time, I still ate meat, but I can’t think of anything, besides the salad, that had any green in it.

One of the things on the menu that wasn’t made of meat, was a weird little pasta called Spatzle. Teeny tiny blobs of pasta, that we served with the sauerbraten- or was it the weiner? I can’t remember. It was mostly bland, but slightly nutmeggy, and sucked up the sauces wonderfully.

Spatzle is not only an Austrian thing, its also made in Hungarian cooking. When I decided I was going to take on Beef Goulash, I knew I was going to have to incorporate Spatzle into it too. And I’d have to do more research; I can “wing” veganizing a meal, until there’s eggy dough involved. I didn’t want to waste my time, or my money, or make a mess that produced no results, so I had to do a little research before beginning my spatzle dough.

I served this with a side of baby kale with little lemon, oil, and mustard, and some rice flower hot sauce crusted brussels sprouts. recipes below.

I was really scared making the goulash.  I was combining a few (meaty) recipes and altering some things, and I thought I made a big mistake using so much wine. Some recipes had all wine and some had some broth and I wanted a bold, hearty flavor so, I went all wine. At one point I checked the broth as it was cooking (and had been cooking for awhile) and it tasted like dirty wine. Be patient, this will go away. Also, a cup of paprika sounds deadly (like, how many times have you ever used more than a tablespoon of paprika?) but I promise you, in the end it will not disappoint. The vinegar at the end balances everything out. IF you think at the end its missing something, add an extra little bit of vinegar.

One more note: I cook on sundays for the house to eat for the whole work week. You can easily halve these recipes.

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hungarian beef goulash

  • 2 T. Olive oil
  • 4 medium red bell peppers, Diced
  • 2 heads of garlic, peeled and smashed and roughly chopped
  • 3 large Onions, sliced
  • 5 medium carrots, sliced
  • 1 cup sweet paprika
  • 2 t.  caraway seed
  • 24 ounce, Seitan Cubed
  • 6 large portabella mushrooms, cut in large cubes
  • 6 cup(s), Wine – Table, red
  • 5 Bay leaves
  • 2 t. Salt
  • 4 T. Red Wine Vinegar
  • 1 T. Corn Starch

directions:

The majority of this preparation is inactive, and can be done either in a dutch oven in the oven, or a slow cooker. Either turn on your slow cooker, or preheat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

Heat the oil in a large dutch oven (or a pot if you plan on using a slow cooker later.) Add onions and peppers and stir occasionally, for 15 minutes. In the meantime, brown mushrooms in a pan and set aside.

Add paprika and caraway seeds to the onion mixture, and stir for 3 minutes. Now add wine, carrots, seitan, salt, and mushrooms, mix to combine, and bring to a boil.

Once it boils, cover the dutch oven and place inside the oven (or, transfer to slow cooker) and cook for 3 hours.

Scoop out a half cup of liquids, and mix with corn starch. Mix back into the pot, and add vinegar. Return to stove top and bring to boil, then turn off heat. If using a slow cooker, cook for 5 more minutes instead of returning to stovetop.

Makes 12 servings.

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vegan whole wheat spätzle

  • 1.5 cups almond milk, plain
  • 1.75 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1 C. garbanzo/fava bean flour
  • 1/2 t. Salt
  • 1 t. Ground nutmeg
  • fresh ground pepper
  • a large pot of boiling water, heavily salted.

directions: 

Mix milk, flours, salt, nutmeg, and pepper together, once combined, mix for an additional 3-5 minutes, or until glue like in consistency. Cover with a towel and allow to rest for 20 minutes.

Boil large pot of heavily salted water. Have a colander nearby. With clean hands and a large slotted spoon (a box grater on its side (the side with the biggest holes)  works ok in a pinch too. Working in batches, push dough through the holes of slotted spoon/box grater into the boiling water. It will fall in in blobs. When the small blobs begin to float, scoop them up with a clean slotted spoon and dump into colander. Continue until dough is all cooked.

Spätzle is ready to go at this point, but if you’d like, you can brown it a little in some oil or cooking spray.

Serves 12.