30 October 2007

The Revolution Will Be Made of Ham?

My sons are obsessed with ham sandwiches.

I don't know why. Perhaps it is their first act of rebellion. The ham eaters versus the vegetarians. Hmm.

I am wondering if any of you of parenting-experience have this sort of thing happening. I just let them go ahead and eat whatever they want so long as it's relatively healthy. By the same token, I only cook veggie (and mostly vegan) at home.

I feel like if I try to 'make' them eat a certain thing, I'm sure to raise a Dick Cheney. So, I let 'em go and figure out their own taste. That said, they of course depend on me for either making or buying the grub. Thus, they are huge fans of tofu and seitan.

28 October 2007

Best Halloween Candy Ever

Halloween is coming up. Around here that means two things: tummy aches and a front yard strewn with skulls and Styrofoam gravestones.

On the tummy ache front: I'm conducting a poll.

Here's your question:

What's the all-time best Halloween treat? (And I'm talking candy here, folks. If you give out apples or pennies this year, you've let the Terrorists win).

25 October 2007

Chicken Bones

Has anyone else noticed all the chicken bones lying around the sidewalks and gutters of Baltimore? All over the place.

What's with this? I went down to visit Edgar Allan Poe's grave and leading into the graveyard there was a trail of chicken bones. And then, right there sitting on the site of Poe's original resting place (they moved him... he's still in the same churchyard, just in a spot with better lighting...) there's a pair of Blair Witch - style chicken bone totems.

Weird.

MJ said the area around Charles Center is littered with bones. And Khan said he saw a lady get out of a car downtown and when she opened the door a ton of chicken bones fell out of the car.

What's with this? Anyone else in town notice this? Any of you living in other cities notice bones littering your neighborhoods? And what about this mysterious lady and her mobile collection of chicken skeletons?

23 October 2007

[I'm] No[t] Nuts!

My wife doesn't believe I'm allergic to nuts.

I remember when I was little. My mother told my aunt: "Oh, don't give him those. He's allergic to nuts."

Fact of the matter is, I have no idea whether or not I'm allergic to nuts. But I am prone to issues with anxiety. So I don't eat nuts.

Don't even get near 'em.

MJ thinks it's just so I can get out of making peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches in the mornings for the kids. Yeah? Well, I don't even care if a peanut isn't really a nut. Someone should have thought about that back when they were brainstorming. It's got 'nut' in the name, my mom told an aunt that an early version of me is allergic to nuts, people who really are allergic to nuts die from breathing in nut-powder, I'm anxiety-prone.

Deal.

Ok. So, I've dealt with pine-nuts. But that's before I knew they were in Pesto. These days, Pesto Gnocchi is off the menu. I'm allergic.

I don't even like coconuts.

I'll deal with pumpkin seeds. And dried soybeans. That's as nutty as I'll go. And yeah, I know that neither of them are nuts. So now we have come to a clear understanding of just how far I will go.

No nuts. My mom said I was allergic.

22 October 2007

Monty Python - Bavarian restaurant

MC'ed a 'traditional' Oktoberfest last weekend. Not sure I was up to this caliber, but I definately was beyond good and evil.

19 October 2007

Bad Waiter

I'm not one to complain about waiters. But let me tell you a little tale about the worst waiter I've ever had the pleasure of being served by.

This was at the TGIF in Harvard Sq. To this day, I have no idea what compelled MJ and I to go into this travesty of a restaurant to begin with, alas life is not all rationale.

The place was empty. A couple sat at the bar and a few televisions mimed soundlessly under the din of piped-in modern rock. Our waiter -- I'll call him Steve -- decided to check on us a few minutes after being sat.

He approached the table and immediately proceeded to take our order. I think he was annoyed when in reply we asked him for menus.

Obviously figuring folks of our ilk would need plenty of time to SLOWLY put together the phonemes and syllables that comprised the words on the menu, Steve gave us a good fifteen minutes before returning with our salads.

Not that we had ordered salads.

Taking our drink orders, he wandered off somewhere (East Cambridge, perhaps) returning ten minutes later with two glasses of tap water.

By now, my wife's patience was growing thin. I, on the other hand was cool, calm, and collected (of course).

Finally Steve took our food orders. I recall ordering a portabella mushroom burger (or something of that ilk); MJ ordered something similar.

Thirty minutes later, Steve returns and asks if we'd like dessert. I suggested we'd like our meal first.

Steve runs off frantically.

MJ and I are relatively smart people, so we decided enough is enough. I tell the host (who is sitting at the bar watching the silent TV over a few drinks) that we're leaving.

As we exit the restaurant, there is a sudden commotion. Here we are standing in the cold of a Massachusetts evening and Steve, the waiter, burst out the door of the restaurant screaming and crying: "What!?! You leave without leaving a tip!?! Can't you see that I'm working here?!? No tip!?! F*CK YOU, MISTER!!!"

Just goes to show that all experiences are just a matter of yr point of view.

16 October 2007

On Flying Pizzas and Astrophysics

Not sure what started the food fights. But once they started, there was no stopping them.

This was back in high school. In an all boy's catholic school in west baltimore, to be more precise. Among the things I remember about the cafeteria was that there was a huge over-sized portrait of the founder of the order of Religious Brothers that ran the place. He was a dead-ringer for Mr. Drummond from 'Diff'rent Strokes'.

Which is one of the reasons I remember the image of an opened-and-tossed pudding-cup staining his jowls.

The cafeteria was a dangerous place. If you weren't on the inside, you were toast. So, let me give you an insider's view.

Mind you: 1) I never actually took part in a food fight. I was what you might call an anthropological investigator -- at the time, I think the boys tossing the pizzas had another name for me. 2) I do not condone wasting food in any way; I will be the first to admit that what happened back then was immature and despicable... and obviously the fault of a lax administration.

It started off innocently enough... a whiplashed french-fry here, a spit-balled straw-wrapper there. Pretty soon there was meat and cheese flying through the air.

Coincidentally, one of our most celebrated food-tossers is now an astrophysicist. So go figure.

Anyway, let's get into one of the more audacious events. John drowning the Freshman.

See, the foodfights had become so common and the administration was so woefully unprepared to deal with them, that they started to get boring. You can only see so many flying cheeseburgers before they all start to run together.

So, John -- a boy thrice the scale of the ordinary nerd -- decided upon a campaign of direct guerrilla action.

I remember it like it was yesterday. The most disturbing food-fight technique I've ever seen demonstrated. John picks up a large cup of soda, walks over to a table of Freshmen, and doesn't fling the drink, nor toss it over his shoulder -- he actually removes the lid and proceeds to pour the soda directly onto an unwitting boy. This was food-fight gone bully-style. Bad news. Yet memorable. I've long thought this could make a perfect characterization in a high school movie.

The greatest of all food-fighters was the aforementioned astrophysicist. A man who could fling half a pizza thirty yards under the radar of the lone teacher-on-duty. A man who could take out a Channel-One TV with a half-eaten apple. A man who single-handedly could cause a riot among 200 high school boys using nothing other than a popsicle and a Sprite.

Immature? Absolutely. The stuff of legend? Right again.

The young astrophysicist was actually the only student I've ever known either when I was a student, or now as a teacher, who was such a threat to society that he actually got banned from the cafeteria. For two years.

Haven't seen a food fight in some time. Good riddance. Food is scarce these days and it seems that kids have more respect for it. They're busy getting in trouble in other ways. Good for them.

But there's something about that image of a pizza flying through the air that is so surreal, so stupid, so wrong. It just ingrains itself on yr brain and there-ever-after stands not as an image of waste, but an image of youth -- which, come to think of it, are two things often confused with one another.

15 October 2007

Green Green Green

Thinking about the business of green, it being Blog Action Day and all that.

Thinking about the hoopla about the Nobel Peace Prize to Al Gore and about people talking about whether or not he'd run for president and then getting into a whole other argument about the candidates who are running for president and all that. Digg is full of B.S. the last few days about whether people like or dislike Al Gore and whether the Nobel Prize is legit or not.

I mean, come on. Does any of this really matter?

Meanwhile, the environment part of this all gets obscured through the process of all the bickering and showmanship both by politicians and bloggers alike.

I tend to think of the environment in 'bite-sized' terms. The melting of Greenland scares me, but it really seems just so far away... I mean, I barely know what's going on in Harford County. So, I try to do my part by doing the little things that I am able to do and that make life easier for me. Such as:

1) Recycling. Easy. Just like throwing out trash, but you sort it first. Makes yr trash haul smaller each week and less trash cans means less likelihood of a raccoon ruining yr morning.

2) Eating locally grown food. Two words: tastes better. And this time of the year, it's a whole helluva lot cheaper than the grocery. Last weekend, I picked up 17 green peppers for 8 bucks. Try that at the grocery store.

3) Composting. MJ got a little tin and we just through unusable bits of things in it. Again, it helps with the raccoons around here. We dump it each morning in the composting bin and now we don't have to pay an arm and a leg on fertilizer for our garden each Spring.

4) Driving a gas efficient car. My Yaris is getting between 40 and 45 MPG on the highway. I commute 45 minutes up I-95 to work. Consider my neighbor's GMC Yukon (17 MPG highway) and do the math. I fit three kids, my wife, and a load of groceries in the car with ease. When I've got gigs, I use the VW wagon (32 MPG highway) to carry amps and stuff. Go figure: save the environment AND have more money left over to buy new guitars...

5) Don't be a jerk. Jerks are bad for the environment. You know who you are. Shape up.

And that sort of governs my personal guide to environmental activism. Oh yeah, and enjoy yr State Parks and city green spaces. Buy a Frisbee. Pick up a walking stick and pretend it has magical powers. Use yr imagination. I think that's all good stuff. And eat well... which means cook good food and enjoy it. This is the kind of stuff that changes the planet with or without Al Gore and the bloggers.

12 October 2007

Blog Action Day



12,000 bloggers can't be wrong.

Talk about audacious. The Blog Action Day project dares beyond dare. Here's info:

"On October 15th, bloggers around the web will unite to put a single important issue on everyone’s mind - the
environment. Every blogger will post about the environment in their own way and relating to their own topic. Our aim
is to get everyone talking towards a better future.

Blog Action Day is about MASS participation. That means we need you! Here are 3 ways to participate:

1. Post on your blog relating to the environment on Blog Action Day ( http://blogactionday.org )
2. Donate your day’s earnings to an environmental charity
3. Promote Blog Action Day around the web"

So me here at LTSRP is thinking... maybe something on the fantastic little Farmers' Market I stumbled upon last week in a parking lot in Cooksville, MD? How about an initiative to start planting a community garden in the empty space behind a nearby high school soccer field? Or maybe I can just write another article about eating bark.

Feel free to leave ideas in my comments.

And in relevant news: Al Gore and the UN receive the Nobel Peace Prize, the EU's getting ready to hold a global chat on the environment, and I just finished a fantastic tomato and edamame dish. Could things possibly be on the up?

Coming tomorrow... the story of a man and his food fight. 'Til then, have a good night's sleep... and consider it from the bed bugs' point-of-view.

11 October 2007

Food Divine with Itself



Upstairs frenzied in knife slices, pointing fingers, barked laughs, and spumes of red dust; downstairs candlelit smoky aware, laughs and yelps yelping laughs, and flowing wine weighted into glassy hollow devious.

Upstairs preparation come together whole in holy helpless improvised recipe. Sestina myth writer, cut yr tofu into floppy diamonds.

The garlic went off like land mines on the refugee tender tongue.

Full-assault food. Pickled red cabbage caverns dusty with cayenne pepper. Seitan thrice sautéed in crusty Old Bay paprika fix.

Food that works on yr glands.

But not all hot and sweaty. Sweet lemon peppers and rosemary crushed and mixed with minced Greek oregano, simmered in margarine and Atlantic sea-salt and drizzled over wild rice and oats stuffed into gnarly bell peppers. Pears slow cooked in Brandy and white wine flourished with raisins and served with milky Chai. Krishna stuff.

Chick Peas rolled in olive oil, shuddered red pepper, and coarse salt. Cucumber sliced raw and served on plate with ice.

Early Sunday morning I fell into a deep sleep. No dreams. Just the sensation of olfactory memory flashbacks occasionally dragging me forth into half-consciousness like ghosts hungry in the pre-dawn mist.

Ah, Food.

08 October 2007

Peppers and Pears



There were a lot of peppers.

Green peppers. Red, Yellow, and Orange peppers. Jalapeño peppers. Lemon peppers. Cayenne peppers. Black pepper. Lots of peppers.

There were tears. There were laughs... lots of laughs. But there were tears. Tears full of pepper oil. Like I said before: this was an exercise in challenging the senses. Roughing up the taste buds.

This was food that looked back at you and dared you to eat it.

Confrontational food.

But food that cared. Food that wanted the best for you. Food for food-eaters like a mountain for a mountain-climber. Good for you; necessary; dangerous.

This was the scene at a little EOG in Canton this last Saturday. And while I'll leave any reviews of the meal to the connoisseurs who wined and dined on it, I'd like to give you the view from the kitchen. A kitchen serving friends; a kitchen alive.

***

Didn't really speak for the first hour I was there. Was solely dedicated in my concentration to the pears.

The plan was to prepare and serve an organic vegan meal for a dozen friends and a small kitchen staff. Prep began on the thing to be served last: Brandied Pears.

Simple recipe: pears, raisins, VSOP, white wine, and sugar. Slow cooked covered for four and a half hours.

Those pears were among the most gnarled I'd ever seen. They were pears who'd spent a lot of time thinking about being pears. Scarred by even the lightest rake of a fingernail, I sliced them slowly and with as much patience as I can ever muster -- Lao-Tzu on the mind.

I liked the idea of starting prep on the last thing that would be served. It gave me a sense of where the story would lead. It was really my job just to bring the story to fruition.

Now and then people would walk passed the open kitchen window. And I felt funny. Like I was more pear than person.

(continued tomorrow...)

07 October 2007

Tales from the Big Head


Still recovering from the experience of cooking for seventeen people last night. What a night! Posted above is a pic of Jorge holding the Spinach and Soy Salad.

There will be a bigger and bolder post on this tomorrow, but for now may it suffice to say that I've got a ring finger swollen to twice its normal size (jalapeno oil under the nail) and I haven't been able to focus my mind all day (raw peppers... Portuguese liqueurs...)

Last night's theme: extremes.

On the hot side: Seitan sautéed in Old Bay and Cayenne pepper.

On the cold side: An icecube. (literally).

Ok. So tomorrow you get the whole story (I've gotta go rest my finger).

04 October 2007

Exquisite Dancin' Corpses

Here's part of a video installation from Snacks' 'Snack Shack' piece from ArtScape.

We're gonna be sitting down with Snacks talking food and music soon. So consider this a preview!

03 October 2007

Lost my Tooth at an Airshow

First time I lost a tooth was at a Roy Roger's fast-food joint. We'd all just been to an airshow. Old-time dare-devils, new time dare-devils... airshow stuff. I was around five years old.

I remember I was eating a chicken wing when I noticed something funny in my mouth. I still equate the smell of fried chicken with losing teeth.

I didn't get to keep that first tooth. I swallowed it with the chicken and it either passed through a few days later or I've still got bone in my gut. Don't remember if the Tooth-Fairy came.

Got a love-hate relationship with my teeth these days. Seems like I just can't keep ahead of 'em. But I wanna keep 'em.

Some years ago I wrote a song about losing my first tooth. All I remember now is the first verse. It went something like this:

Lost my tooth at an airshow,
Never stopped to think why;
But now I got so much older,
All I do is think about the sky...