Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Melancholia

Well, I might have been missing my mom today, or my family, or friends who passed on. Maybe I was just missing the Mooch, or Spicer. Hell, I don't know, but I felt like a little kid and so I wanted to eat like I was a little kid. You know, when we were poor and the best dirt to eat was always the cool dirt under the parked car. Man, and grub worms they told us were tiny fish, and mice on a stick they said went so well with marshmallows....if only we had marshmallows....
With those emotions running through me--and realizing that nobody has called me a Mik as a curse word since that guinea Antonio did it nearly 54 years ago, well, I was melancholy. So I decided to make franks and beans.
Took a head-and-a-half of chopped garlic in olive oil and started to saute that. Added three slices of salt pork, diced, a red onion, diced, three sticks of celery, diced, then let it steep for a few minutes. Then added 10 Ballpark beef franks, sliced to 1/2 inch pieces and three good Roma tomatoes, also diced. Fifteen minutes later, added good cracked black pepper.
About a glass of wine later, I added two cans of Bush's original baked beans and two cups of organic vegetable broth. I'm letting that cook for a while, letting the flavors get to know each other for at least another glass of wine, then add Heinz ketchup and let it sit another hour. Then I'll add a head of minced cilantro, serve it over good rice, top it with shredded smoked cheddar and stone ground mustard.
Won't be as good as dirt, but then it's hard for me to crawl under cars these days. Bon Appetite!

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Once more with food and feeling

One more with food and feeling. Today was the baby shower for my incoming granddaughter Tiegan, presented by my daughter-in law, the lovely Sarah Gorman, and my boy Italo. I stopped in for a visit, saw some people I have not seen in some time but whom I like to see now and then, and then snuck out to come home and get food ready. I spent the morning cleaning out and scrubbing the fridge (not the freezer yet), and got rid of a lot of stuff that we didn't need, then went to the store and restocked what I'd tossed.
Tonight, with Madeleina coming home early--at about 6 PM, an hour or so from now--I'm keeping it simple: Making a little spicy chopped meat with black beans, more or less.
I'll cook about a pound of chopped chuck in garlic and a bit of olive oil with diced onions, scallions and tomato. I'll add organic black beans--a 1 pound can--when the meat is done and I've eliminated excess fat. To that mix I'll add fresh cilantro and achiote (the red colorant used by indigenous to paint their faces and used by cooks to make yellow rice in South America), and a little white vinegar for a good bite. I'll lay down a bed of mixed greens, put the meat/beans on that, top with freshly grated cheddar, top that with a dollop of sour cream and three slices--about a quarter--of avocado, top that with homemade pico de gallo (cilantro, onion, tomato in lime juice with salt and a bit of garlic oil). And then we'll eat. I'll have sliced cucumber in lime with salt on the side, and serve watermelon and organic black plums for desert. In the neighborhood, stop by. It's gonna be good.

Living in the Now

A friend of mine was feeling a bit uneasy about her choice to devote her life--at least this period of it--to healing people, rather than getting along on a more typical path. I did not want to push too much, but did say this, because it's how I feel:
Living in the moment takes a lot of self-starting. It can get overwhelming, at least for me, but beats the heck out of 9-5, again, at least for me. But yeah, sometimes you have to sit down and say "25 slow, deep breaths, long as they take, till I am on solid ground again." And then you are and as long as you are thinking about helping others, even if you're not always sure you have enough juice to do it, well, you'll only get stronger the more you work. And then you have the juice--at least till the next time doubt creeps in....Good luck. You're a strong human. Be that.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Back from Peru and Hungry for My Own Cooking

So I got back from Peru and two trips to the jungle with lots of good medicine and good people and now I am home and pooped. Caught in that week between the two worlds I generally inhabit. I cannot think straight, so I wind up cleaning the house, trimming the ivy that invaded the front porch and could be hiding a couple of copperheads, and read the news. The news was as depressing as when I left six weeks ago: Trump this, Trump that, Trump the complete idiot, Mooch screws the pooch and gets in, Prebus gets the shaft and is kicked out, taking away more of Obama's good work because Trump can't stand him; two embarrassing talks to the Boy Scouts and Long Island police officers (the first one encouraging the scouts to boo Obama; the latter encouraing police brutality). And then the failure to repeal Obamacare. Dang, that baffoon in the White House is sure keeping busy being crazy, ain't he?
Well, to keep my own sanity I cleaned and stocked the fridge. Madeleina and her friend Adrian are staying here while off from college, so I had someone to cook for. First night I made pork chops with saurkraut and onions, with a peach tossed into the kraut to give it a sweet aftertaste.
Second night I made lime chicken, a signature dish of mine.
Third night: Sliders with the works.
Fourth night: Huge (U-10) shrimp sauteed with a vegetable medley, leaning toward Chinese with bok choy, peppers, ginger, sesame oil.
Fifth night, cold chicken salad with mayo, celery, scallions, shallots, diced red pepper stuffed into perfec avocado halves. Side of sliced, peeled apples.
Last night, hot sausage/tomato sauce/mozzarella cheese heroes.
Tonight, Uncle Clem's Chicken, made Clare Waugh style: Cooked chicken breast in a bit of garlic and olive oil, diced. Put three cooked and diced half chicken breasts in deep baking dish with four heads of broccoli, parboiled and trimmed to bite-sized pieces. Cover with a sauce of mushrooms cream and top with fresh mozzarella. Bake at 325 till the cheese bubbles and browns. Serve over good jasmine rice.
Yeah, The news sucks, but I got to get an hour or two away from it and cooking is where I tend to go to get that.

Friday, June 09, 2017

Remembering the Bonghitters Softball Team

Years ago at High Times magazine we had a softball team and entered the journalism league of softball. Now everybody wanted to play High Times because they thought we would be a joke: Just stoners out there and an easy win. Our schedule would include Penthouse, Playboy, Forbes, WBAI radio and a host of other magazines, many of them politically opposite High Times.
   Anyway, I wound up playing shortstop for a few years and was thinking about that--and about how other teams, when they discovered we were good, began bringing in ringers, former minor leaguers or college baseball players, and it was sometimes tough to stare them down knowing how hard they were going to hit the ball to me on the short softball field.
   And a few of us were reminiscing and I wrote this:
Sometimes those balls hit by big guys paid by Playboy were so fast they came like knuckleballs to shortstop. And if I drank some of the LSD before the game I was sitting there on short stop wondering which ball was the real one as it came to me. Then I would think: Hey, if you don't have the balls to play shortstop, don't play it. And I would step in two steps and say to myself: If this is the game on the line, who else should get it? Send it my way, MF's. If we lose and it is my fault, at least I will own it. You can't just give it to someone who isn't good enough to own it. And I think I attracted a lot of balls my way with that sort of prayer/invocation.I was still scared that I was not good enough, but dared myself to be there on point. And then we had a perfect season. We were great. I mean you, Bloom, I mean you, Steve, who must have turned eight double plays with me with the most awkward turn, but it was still efficient. I mean Donja, I mean Rick, the steadiest of us all, and 7 in left field, I mean Malcolm who made some great cut off throws to me. And Nate or Darryl, both of you had that dive to the right, straight down the line that still amazes me. And all the rest of you. WE WERE THE CHAMPS! They threw everything they had at us—semi-pro players and all– and we still came up strong with Dave at First Base, saving my errant throws. We WERE UNDEFEATED!!!!! That was us at our very best, both in the field and in the magazine. We kicked ass and I was and am proud to have been associated with every one of you in those years. You made my life easy and fun! You pushed me to write great stories. Thank you all. You are not forgotten in my book.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Dance a Little Faster...

Well, I'm in a bit of a pickle, and while I love pickles, I'm not sure if sinking in the brine is what I love. I had an incredible month last month, taking in about $6,500 with sapo, social security, pay, book sales. But then I needed $500 plus for Madeleina's car; $500 plus for my car; $400 legal fees to help Chepa my wife/ex-wife out of a bind; $400 to Chepa for general sustenance for the kids because she had a little op and couldn't go to work for a week. Then a total of about $500 on fixing cats, getting Boots, the wonder dog's shots and a haircut and flea medicine; then $687 or so for my quarterly home insurance. Then tires for two cars, then $1500 for 15 sapo sticks, then, then, then. So I'm now down to $1200. Not bad, except I owe $1400 for bills this month, darnit. And then I leave in 12 days to Peru. I have a cover story due on Friday--I promised it a week early so we could edit before I leave--and of the 22 phone calls I've made I have had two returned. Of the 9 emails sent I have had 1 returned. And these have been repeatedly made. So I'm a bit skimpy on specifics for that. I did manage to write most of my 100th Skunk Magazine Drug War Follies Column today, but I won't know if it's good till I look at it tomorrow. I had 8 people for my June trip but 5 copped out. I have 11 for July, but only deposits so far--and I have spent nearly $10,000 more than their deposits already on the trip, so I hope they are all coming. So dang, this is getting scary out here on the ledge. Wind is howling and my sneakers have no traction. HAHAHAHA! It will all work out, sometimes for better sometimes for worse. But the cover story will either get turned in or I am no longer a viable journalist. The column will be great or I no longer have that income stream. The two new books in the hands of editors will either sell or I'm screwed. I'll get on the plane a week from Sunday and have two great trips, even if the first one is going to cost me $4000 because of the quitters. Ain't life grand? Just dance a little faster I guess, and then I will think I'm on key.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Animal Parts, veggies, fruits...

Animal Parts, Veggies, Beans, Fruit...What to eat, considering all of it is going to hate me for eating it...
It's Sunday afternoon. It's been storming here in Joshua, TX for hours, so no lawnwork today. I already advanced a couple of stories I'm working on and finished compiling my Drug War Follies columns--the best of them--to be able to get out to my first editor, who can tell me which 20 percent do not belong in the book.
I showered, cleaned the kitchen, vacuumed my office, and went to the store early. Having my first glass of wine, a Noble Vines cabernet named simply 337. It's good.
I am not hungry, but it is still time to think about dinner after spending hours thinking about the drug war and the state of the world for most of the day. There are lots of choices. Should I just make a couple of Ballpark Beef Franks on toasted Ballpark buns with crispy saurkraut and good mustard? Sounds good to me.
But I have a nice piece of salmon that I could saute with garlic and a bit of olive oil, then add capers and ginger and scallions and when it's near done a little teriyaki and sesame oil to candy-that skin.
Or should i throw in the 1/2 pork butt I just bought: Brown it on all sides, baste with plenty of garlic and black pepper, lay it on a bed of onions, celery, with sliced anjou pears for sweetness, and let that baby sit for 3 hours?
Then again, I have a few left over chicken thighs which might go very well in burritos. I've got good beans, cheese, avocado, sour cream, and can make a nice pico de gallo. Not a bad idea.
Thinking of the avocado, what about if i chopped the chicken thigh meat and added sauted onion and garlic, diced celery, and mayonaise to make a good chicken salad, then stuffed it into avocado halves to make Royal Stuffed Avocados?
Then there is the fresh corn, the red potatoes, a beautiful sweet potato i could boil up and slice with fresh boiled beets. And there is spinach, of course, and broccoli, and salad I could make and top with my special dressing. Or I could steam asparagus, then saute them up with a bit of garlic and olive oil with jowel bacon bits and balsamic vinegar and top with a little finely grated good blue cheese.
I'm full just thinking about all this. I guess i don't really need to make anything since I just gained 5 pounds writing this.
I hope everyone, everywhere, gets to make these kinds of decisions one day. That I get to choose among several possible meals of fresh food--none of which is very expensive--while millions are starving to death, and millions are going to bed hungry right here in the US is a crime. If I ever get some money, I will have several food trucks outfitted and scouring the poorest neighborhoods here in Fort Worth and surrounding areas and we will give away fantastic food to anyone who wants it. That's a dream I've had since I started working in kitchens in New York restaurants and realized we were throwing away enough food nightly--at the small places I ran--to feed 100 hungry people. I really am not a fan of the unequal hands people have been dealt. Dammit. Now I really don't feel like eating.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

NOT PC but TRUE

.On 21st Ave in Whitestone, Queens, in 1959, when I was 8, we had Mics, Spics, Pollacks, Guineas, Jews, Gypsies, a couple of Greeks, a Ruskie family, and gumbas from Sicily (very different from Guineas from northern Italy). That's how we called each other and that;s how we identified and it was all very cool. Then a black family moved in and we called them Afrikaners, and nobody got upset. I was proud to be called a Mic. And I think everybody else was proud to be called shorthand from where their families came from. We had great sports, everybody ate at everybody else's house, and it was wonderful growing up in that soup. I know it's not PC right now, but nearly 60 years ago, it worked and nobody got mad. Ah, idyllic youth.....