Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Winter Trips Happening Soon--Quit Mucking Around, Won't You?

Ladies and Gents: Time to pull the trigger and take your damned trip to the Amazon with me. No more stalling. No bellyaching. No complaining that Christmas ate your wallet. Just time to love yourself and, if you still have a couple of grand left after you gave to the food banks, join me for a very honest, very deep jungle, dirt-under-your-fingernails 9 1/2 day Jungle Jaunt. Overnight riverboats, primordial swamp, high jungle walking, wild food collecting, and really good medicines. Just the thing to change your life. If you suck when you join my team and I, you'll suck less when we're finished with you. If you are already an accomplished human, well, let the River and Her People, and Plants polish you up to a high gleam. Details and dates for January and February Jaunts are over on my pgorman.com site. Take the leap, you'll love the landing.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Caravan Asylum Information/Rant

I am getting so tired of listening to people talk about the caravaners as if they are illegals. They are not. It is legal to ask for asylum and you have to be at the border or in the USA to ask for it. You can't ask for USA asylum while you are in Mexico if you are fleeing drug gangs in Honduras. What a lot of people do not realize is this: If you enter the USA illegally and get stopped you are still legally allowed to ask for asylum. Yes, you are LEGALLY allowed to ask for asylum in the USA even if they catch you in Pennsylvania! You will then be given a "credible fear" interview, during which an agent for the US government will decide if you sound like you have a credible and justifiable reason for asking for asylum. If you do, you are normally given a court date and released to one of the Catholic, Presbyterian or Lutheran charity groups who work the US/Mexican border areas (along with some non-denominational immigrant groups), or to a family member if you have one in the USA.
Then you show up at your court date and a specialized immigrant judge decides whether you get to stay in the USA permanently or get deported. People like Trump say that no one goes to those court dates but the data shows that more than 95 percent do show up at court for their final hearing. And about 10 percent are given asylum; the rest are returned to their homeland. That is standard operating procedure, and it's worked well for a long time.
Introducing the fear element is the new tactic and it should have no place in the discussion at all. Hell, if 50,000 people applied for asylum tomorrow, only 5,000 would wind up with it (cases are generally decided in a couple of months), which would come to about 100 refugee asylum cases per state. Or maybe 1 person for every 500--1,000 towns. Not really scary now, is it?
And oh, those bad guys that Trump talks about? They wouldn't stand a chance of making it through the initial "credible fear" interview with agents trained to interview asylum seekers. And if you don't make it through that, you are immediately deported. If you return after that? You get five years in jail, if you have no criminal record in the USA. If you have a criminal record in the USA and get deported and return, you face 20 years in federal lockup. It's really all been figured out and it's pretty easy peasy.
And yes, I've got room for a decent family in my huge metal garage, electricity and all. And I'll feed them well too.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Making Sauce Espagnole

Making one of the seven master sauces in French culinary arts

Vegans don't read, cause this is about making sauce espagnole, which involves beef... There are lots of things I miss about restaurant cooking. The gauge of the pots and pans, the dishwasher to wash them, the prep cooks cutting and helping me with chopping and coming up with ideas for specials. I also miss--sometimes--being in the kitchen from 7 AM till Midnight, which is time enough to make things like tomato sauce from super scratch and making a basic brown sauce. Not saying I can't do that at home, but I don't. For tomato sauce I start with my garlic and onions and fresh tomatoes, but then use an organic sauce and organic vegetable stock (and whatever spices I need) to finish it off so that it's done in 2-3 hours, instead of 8-10 hours.
Brown sauce is even worse. Sarah Appel and I would get in 50 pounds of marrow bones--beef leg bones--and roast them for a couple of hours. Then we'd hit them with a hammer to loosen up the marrow, and put them in a 10 gallon stock pot with onions and carrots and celery and water and let that baby cook for several hours till all the marrow was rendered--which might include adding several gallons of water a couple of times. Then we'd remove the bones and veggies and cook it down for another couple of hours till we had a really good stock available.
That's where the sauce espagnole starts. Once you have your stock, you take a 5 gallon stock pot. You put garli-- maybe 5 head--in olive oil, onions--maybe 10--a large head of celery--no leaves, as those are bitter-- a couple of pounds of carrots, a few pounds of mushrooms, a couple off pounds of diced jowl bacon or dry-cured ham, a couple of bunches of Italian parsley, white pepper corns, thyme and bay leaf and when that is rendered, you add the beef stock and cook that baby for 12-15 hours, slowly. After about 8 hours you add either homemade tomato paste or a 6 ounce can of organic tomato paste, then start shooting dashes of white wine into that mix to bring the fat to the surface, which gets skimmed and tossed. And you do that for hours, until you have the most perfectly clean/clear black broth you have ever seen. You start with gallons and gallons and gallons and wind up with maybe a quart. But that sauce espagnole will save for a week in the fridge, or months in the freezer. And it will be the backbone of any damned brown sauce, or cream sauce for meats, that you want. You want a bourbon sauce? When your meat is done, you pull it, then toss the bourbon and a teaspoon of the espagnole into the pan and voila! you have people getting moist when they eat it. You want a good creamed mushroom sauce? Add a teaspoon per serving of the espagnole and they will be begging for mercy from their tastebuds.
Anyway, I miss that because I'm not gonna take that time at home. So what I do is all the veggies, thyme, bay leaf, white pepper corns, cured ham and get that rendered. That means, at the volume I'm making, 3 heads of rough cut garlic in olive oil, two onions, 4 stalks of chopped celery, half- a pound of baby carrots, one large shallot, one bunch of chopped scallions, one half pound of button mushrooms, half a bundle of Italian parsley, 10 whole white pepper corns, one pound of dry cured ham, half a bundle of fresh thyme and one bay leaf. All of the veggies were organic.
That cooked for one hour, rendering it all perfectly. Then I added store-bought beef bone broth, three quarts, and that's cooking down now. In an hour, I'll add 6 ounces of organic tomato paste and a concentrated beef bone broth and more water. I'll keep adding the concentrated bone broth--organic--till it has the right consistence. Then I'll do the wine thing to get the fat to the surface for elimination. And when it's perfect, I'll taste it: It will be neutral but so rich that my mother could fly. I'll end up with maybe a pint of good, really good espagnole, enough to last a month or two in this house, if it's kept in the freezer. 
As good as it is, it won't be as good as I used to make in the restaurants.
I hope everybody is eating well tonight. Just share a little and you'll get more back than you know what to do with. You all know that. You all do that. Sorry to preach to such a nice group of people. Enjoy.

Monday, November 19, 2018

My son, Marco, working...

Do not know what has gotten into my son Marco, but he came over a couple of days ago and raked the whole front lawn. Pain in the neck job, with having to move the tree stumps the tree gnomes use for their meetings, the big rocks I keep to break up medicine on, and then raking out the ivy that girdles the house. When he was younger he would have started that but quit after an hour and it would have taken me three hours to fix what he left. The other day he did it to completion, including bagging everything and putting it in the back of my truck for easy carry to the dump--or pickup from anyone who needs 20 huge bags of mulch for their garden.
Today he returned and said "I'm going to finish the front of the house, okay dad?"
I'm gonna say I'm a sucker for the word dad when it's spoken by one of my kids, though I'm also a sucker for the word "pops", which is what my oldest son Italo calls me.
And then Marco went to work: He trimmed 15 bushes to the core, cleaned a walkway to the carport so that it's now walkable, cleaned the carport so that I can now park my Saturday night car, my 1999 Crown Vic under it. He pulled up flagstones, leveled the ground, and laid them out again. I was working in the house on my newspaper's Turkey Awards, the annual issue where we give out lousy parts of the turkey to politicians and people who did Fort Worth wrong this year, but I was peeking at Marco, and I was marveling at his work! I would never have done what he did in a thousand years. And I have never done it in the 18 years I've been in Texas.
I don't think he has an ulterior motive, he just helped out, like a grownup. Man, that was fantastic. Thank you, Marco. I appreciate it a lot.--Dad

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Terence McKenna story

Today is Terence McKenna's birthday. He died in 2000 but is still fondly remembered by millions whose lives he impacted. I knew him, we did a couple of radio shows together--on the phone--and we met a few times in person. I didn't know him well enough to call him a friend, but I still respected him and enjoyed what little time we spent together. 
Now I have one Terence M story that I cherish. I was at home in my New York City apartment on 90th and 3rd Ave one evening when the phone rang. I answered: "Hello, Peter Gorman..."
The voice on the other end: "Hello, this is Tom Robbins. I hope I'm not bothering you but Terence gave me your number. I'm doing a book about the frog and he said you were the expert..."
Me: "Tom Robbins? Terence McKenna gave you my number?"
TR: "Yes, I hope that's alright..."
Me: "Can you hold on for one second?"
TR: "Sure."
ME: I covered the receiver and jumped up and down, screaming "I can't fucking believe it!!!!! I'm somebody!!! I'm somebody!!!!"
Me: Uncovered the receiver and asked: "Sure, how can I help you?"
It turned out Tom Robbins was asking about the bufo toad and not the sapo/kambo frog I was associated with, and so my help wasn't a great deal of help. But Robbins did go on to write Half Asleep in Frog Pajamas, and I got to feel pretty special that Terence McKenna had my phone number and gave it out to Tom Robbins. That was a long time ago and it made my week.
RIP Terence M. Thanks, and I hope you're doing well, wherever you are.

Western Union Hell

I got kicked off Western Union months ago. They said I was sending too much money to Peru, a known drug place, and said they needed some information before they could reinstate me, which would allow me to send monies again. Well, I answered their questionaire, then they sent me a second one, asking for a list of the people I send monies to in Peru, what their relationship is to me, how long I've known them and why I send them monies. I painstakingly went through that: There are maybe 15 people in Peru who get money from me for all sorts of things. One guy watches a property I own; someone else watches my little house in Iquitos. When I rent rooms there my cousin Monica gets money. My team all sometimes get advances, and then there are the pre-trip expenses for my Amazon Jaunts. Oh, and renting cabins on the riverboat, helping out friends who are broke. Lots of things.
    Then Western Union asked for my tax returns to show I actually paid taxes on my jungle trips. I showed them those too. Then they asked for my contracts with my employees in Peru, and for their birth certificates, and receipts for everything I spend on a given trip. Not happening. Instead, I wrote this long letter of explanation. No, it didn't work.

Dear Western Union: I'm going over the list of things you are asking for and it is really impossible to provide more than I have. I run a mall business called Gorman Amazon Jaunts. You can look it up at pgorman.com website and you will see that I have been going to Peru since 1984. I married a woman there, Gilma Aguilar, in 1994. We have three grown kids: Italo, Marco, and Madeleina. We mostly lived in New York, but did move to Peru in the late 1990s for a couple of years, during which we opened The Cold Beer Blues Bar and served good food, cold beer, and played lots of blues music on our sound system. 
   It was during that period--1998-99-2000--that I began taking people out to the jungle. It was pretty informal, as the jungle and its people are not as connected to certain things as we are. For instance, my wife has no birth certificate. Her mother always guessed at her own age and was only fairly certain when my wife was born. None of my jungle helpers have birth certificates that match their birth: When the parents make an occasional trip to the city of Iquitos, if they present the child they are given a certificate dated the day they presented the child. That might be weeks or months after the child was born. There are also no contracts with anyone: You ask someone to. work for you for a day or several days and promise to pay them a certain amount. If you don't pay what you promised, they don't work with you again. My team, many of them very young when I started taking people out to the jungle, have always worked that way with me.
   In a similar fashion, when Juan Ruber, my right-hand man down there, sends me an email of a list of things we need to send up the river, or work at the camp that has to be done, he does not send a contract: Just a list of things and an estimate of that they will cost. I do not get receipts for those things, but those things get bought and sent up river to camp in advance of the trips. 
  That is also true of purchases of jungle things (hammocks, blankets, mosquito nets, machetes, shotgun shells, petroleum lanterns ((no electricity in the jungle))), as well as dry goods, kitchen cleaning supplies, and fresh foods that we bring. We purchase in a market, Belen, and there just aren't receipts that matter: I'll get a torn bit of paper with an accounting of things that I bring to the cash register to pay for. That's all I get.
  The hotel I use in Iquitos before and after we go to the jungle is the Nativa Apartments. It is owned by my wife's cousin. It's quite well known. I pay her in advance for the rooms we'll need via Western Union. Again, no receipt because I never ask, having paid for the rooms often several weeks before I arrive in Iquitos. 
   As to the people I send money to via WU, I've provided a list of the people on my team and the time I've known them, and what they do for me. If they write and say they need $100 I just send it if I have it. It just means they didn't work for a few weeks and are broke, so they ask me for help. I pay them very well when we work, but we only work together for two weeks, four times a year, so they always wind up broke. 
  I believe I already showed you my tax returns that indicate that I pay taxes on my Amazon Jaunts. I really don't know what else I can give you. We are talking about Iquitos, the largest city in the world not accessible by a road. And we are talking about the jungle, where people live two, three, four days by boat from Iquitos and have no electricity, other than batteries for their radios they might buy in a river town like Genaro Herrera or Requena, or even Iquitos. 
   Now, as a precaution to having my trips totally halted by a malfunctioning ATM in Iquitos, which might (and has) eaten my cards, I have gotten in the habit of sending monies to Juan Ruber and myself (and on the last trip, my friend Devon) via WU. Those are normally in the $925-$950 range. That way, if the cards get eaten or hacked, I can still run the trips with the WU monies. One year, a couple of years ago, I even sent a few thousand to my wife's cousin Monica Araujo, who owns the Nativa Apartments, and when an ATM machine went belly up and ate my card, she was able to go to WU and get sufficient funds for me from what I'd sent her prior to the trip. Whatever funds are left over in WU when I return home are my profit (or, if the bank ate the card or the card got hacked, whatever money is left in that bank account is my profit).
   Everything I am saying here is truthful. This is a glorious part of the Third World, but it is still Third World in a lot of ways. Which is partly why it is glorious. But it is not the sort of place where you have contracts with people who you have known since they were three years old, or old friends working for you for two weeks four times a year. The receipts are the WU receipts that would be presented to the IRS if I got audited. That's my paper trail. 
   That is really the best I can do. I would love to be reinstated with WU because it is much easier getting monies to Peru via your company than it is sending to US ex-pat friends who live in Iquitos who have bank accounts and can take wire transfers but then have to find my darned team to dole out the funds. That is a royal pain in the neck. 
  I hope you accept this and give me reinstatement.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Toothache and Homemade Mac and Cheese

So out of the blue I get a toothache in one of my remaining teeth and dang if it didn't make me want to cut my whole head off. It just came on and in an hour was killing me. Luckily, my kid Italo had some Rebel Yell bourbon and brought it over. I also packed in abnesol and Orajel and cloves. And then my face blew up. 
I called my friend Doc G, who called Walmart with a script for one of the cilins, and it was ready the nest morning. That was yesterday. But because I'd slept very badly, my sciatica was raging. And because that was raging, my back knotted up badly. So there I went into Walmart to the pharmacy at the way back of the supercenter , crumpled over the shopping cart, my left jaw and neck the size of a cantaloupe, and leaning to the right about 30 degrees.
My leg was unbandaged as well, so my right foreleg, which looks like an alligator took a good bite, finished the picture. And now this morning I saw an ad for Walmart Photos--you know, the ones that make you laugh out loud--and realized that since several people took pics of me. yesterday, I'm probably gonna show up on those pages one of these days. Oh, well.
The positive was this: to fight the pain I did a recycle run to the dump, packaged up and sent out a couple of things at the post office, got Boots, the wonder dog, and the cats, and the chickens and ducks all fed.
And then it was dinner time. I couldn't chew so I went with Mac and cheese: Good garlic in olive oil and diced onions to start. Added diced country ham, then diced tomatoes from the garden. Tossed in cheddar, Colby, Swiss, and parmesan cheese--heaviest on the cheddar--and some organic 2 percent milk. Sea salt and cracked black pepper, and when it started to heat up I added three eggs from our chicks.
While that was. happening I made the elbows--with help from Chepa's Sierra--and when they were done and drained, put them in a deep glass baking dish. Covered with cheese mix, topped with good parmesan, then baked at 325 for 20 minutes.
So good and soft enough that even a guy with a bad tooth could eat it. Bon Appetit!

Monday, November 12, 2018

Sometimes it's Harder than it Seems

Years ago I was given the message, during a really wretched time of breaking up with my wife, that I was to change the way I did things and to make More Joy, and Less Pain. In other words, every time my buttons were pushed, I could respond negatively, which would cause more pain, or figure out another response, one that would cause more joy and less pain. That was hard, but it was the beginning of the end of rancor, screaming matches, making the kids upset, and so forth. 
I try to live my life that way. I try to pause and think if what I'm about to do or say will cause more joy or more pain, and then I try to opt for the former.
But I'm gonna tell you, without going into specifics, that it is sometimes VERY difficult. 
Get the behind me, satan.....
I mean, all my strength and whatever other resources to go for the more joy, when I really feel like causing more pain. Yikes!!!!!
Trying.