Saturday, March 31, 2012

A Simple but Good Macaroni Salad Recipe

Well, my friend Dana K wrote from southern France that while my food descriptions sound enticing, I don't actually give recipes. In truth, I thought the descriptions implied the recipes. But in case they don't, I'll add an occasional detail.

Tonight it's my daughter-in-law Sara's birthday. She's currently a Gorman, so that means we treat her well. And my son Italo loves her, so she gets treated extra well. And, I think she's pretty cool and she's the mom of my first granddaughter, Taylor Rain, so that's extra special.
Anyway, everybody was working tonight so there can't be a big party with volleyball or soccer. And Madeleina nixed the idea that I put fire crackers in the cake instead of candles--which I thought was horrible but brilliant if you want to start a food fight. So none of that fun. Instead, Sara asked for ribs.
So I bought a couple of packs of baby backs, cut them in half, put them on celery/onion in pyrex baking dishes. Tossed them in olive oil/minced fresh garlic, butcher ground black pepper and really really good sea salt. Put them in the oven at 290 degrees F.
Then we left to go to the store.
We came back an hour and a half later, poured off the rib fat, put on a glaze of good bar-be-que sauce (store bought but started with fresh back bacon in olive oil/garlic/onion/tomato/schallots so it had some real zing. Then I lowered the temp to 190 F, so slow slow cook the remaining fat away.
So that's the ribs. If people wanted charcoal grill, I'd take them out now and give them 5 minutes a side to grab the flavor without losing the tenderness.
Then I made the basmati rice we always eat: Two tablespoons or more of fresh chopped garlic that's been sitting in olive oil at least 12 hours at the bottom of the pan. When the garlic is done, add water per rice: You need about 1/2 inch of water over the rice you put in. Put good sea salt into the water and bring to a boil. When it hits boiling, put in rice to about 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch below water level, bring back to boil. Cook/stir until rice has absorbed all visible water, then turn down to the lowest fire possible and cover tightly. Cook for maybe 45 minutes or so, open lid, fluff rice, close lid and either continue to cook if still moise (very low temp)_ or turn off pot and let it cook itself out.
Then I made beans. Store bought. A mix of sweet and tart beans but cooked in good back-bacon with garlic/fresh tomatoes, cilantro.
Then I made macaroni salad. Cooked the macaroni. Par-Boiled. Then sauted garlic in olive oil with diced red onions and red pepper with sea salt and black pepper. Then recooked macaroni till 95 percent done, then tossed in the garlic, onions, red pepper/black pepper/sea salt/olive oil mix. Then added mayo, to which I'd whipped in three egg yolks and 3 ounces of white vinegar.
Now I'll wait half an hour to see how it tastes and then season to meet its needs.
So that's a couple of recipes.
Have a good meal, everybody.

Visionary Nutrition--An Evolver Intensive

Folks: If I've told you this before, forgive me. It's been a long day and I've been asked to mention this. And I don't mind because I think this is something very cool. I've been asked by Morgan Maher, my friend who illustrated Ayahuasca in My Blood--and boy, he nailed several of those images, and I mean nailed as in caught the soul--has put together a 4 weekend series of videocasts about food, medicine, life. How it works together. How everything interacts and enhances everything it touches. When we breathe, we change the world. When we pick the food we want to eat, from the ground or from the supermarket shelf, we make choices that change the world. When we drink ayahuasca, we change ourselves and our choices and finally we change the world. I think this is gonna be a really good series and I'm very glad to have been included. Those of you who read this blog know how I feel about food. I respect it to no end. I try to treat it, whatever "it" is, as an individual and before I make a cut in that tomato or onion or piece of swordfish, want to know where and how it would best be cut to bring out the best it's got. I don't care much about the chemicals/vitamins it brings to the table, I do care a lot about the soul of that tomato or grapefruit or what goes into the banana bread and want it to be as fully realized as it can be: The more I respect it's personality, the more of its spirit it will share; the more of my spirit that can interact with its soul.

And Morgan has pushed to get this series of podcasts on the air and he's done it. Good for him. And he's included me: Good for everyone.
So if you have a couple of free hours for three Sunday afternoons and one Saturday afternoon in April, and if you've got $85 bucks lurking in a secret compartment in your belt, well, darn it, give it up. You're going to get a short masters course in food, nutrition, food preparation, food gathering, medicine and food, integrating food/nutrition to enriching your life. And Morgan has lined up some great speakers. Take a look at the link below to see what's happening. I'm the freaking weak link here and anytime I'm the weak link when it comes to a discussion of food/nutrition/medicine, well, you have one very very strong fence. So take a look and if it's something of interest, sign up. If not, take a look anyway, just to see how Morgan sees it. He's the man on this project.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Silence in the House

Friday night, 7 PM. I just dropped Madeleina off at a friend's sleepover. Chepa called to say she was on the way to the airport to pick up her boyfriend. Italo and Sara have something to do for dinner. Marco is working late today. There is silence in the house.

I love silence in the morning, after some noise, so that I can get work done. I love silence in the afternoon when I go talk with the dogs and the goat and maybe check the tomatoes and cut a bit of lawn. I love silence at 3 AM because it means the world is, for a moment, at peace.
But I don't like silence at 7 PM. I like it noisy then. I like to hear the sizzle of saute' pans cooking up a storm. I like the house full of garlic and onion and maybe a piece of salmon or steak or chicken roasting. I like the house full of all the babies doing a million things at once. I like the house full of the noise of Chepa telling some off-color joke to Italo and Italo and Sara telling her she's crazy and Marco telling everyone to be quiet because he's got two movies going on on two televisions and can't pay attention while all that is happening and Madeleina is playing the piano. That's what I want to hear at 7 PM.
I like to hear the joy of living beings living and laughing and making a ruckus. I love a ruckus. Probably comes from my maternal grandpa, Jack Hooley. A Hooley is a big ruckus on the street in Ireland. Hooley is the base word for Hooligan, someone who makes a ruckus. I've got Hooley blood in me, along with Gorman blood, and between the two, I live for making a ruckus, dancing on the street in Iquitos, singing at the top of my lungs in public now and then, despite the embarrassment my kids have occasionally felt.
So tonight it's silence at 7 PM. Nobody is here and nobody is coming. They are all safe. They are all in good places. You have to know that makes a father feel good. But still, I'd be happier if there was a good food fight going on in the kitchen about now.
Have a good night, everybody. I'm gonna make a little noise all by myself now, just for the heck of it. To keep the house warm.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Friend Asked Me a Touchy Question...

My friend C asked me if I ever had a moment when I needed to leap forward as a kid. It wasn't phrased that way but that's the gist. The answer: Yeah. My whole freaking life. Here's what I wrote:

My whole youth was spent trying to live up to my brother, the athlete. He finally wound up playing for St. John's baseball when they went to the College World Series. He was good. Little, like me, but a player. He played semi-pro till he was about 60 and got Bells' Palsy during one game. He was a cop, a lieutenant who worked the streets of Harlem for 20 years before becoming a lawyer and now, after retiring after 30 years, he's a part time judge in Manhattan.
He invented the Strong Kids Club when he was about 12. The others in the club were my sisters Pat, 9, and Peg, 7 and me, 5. The basic tenets were to live through pain. Fill the tub with ice. Add water, up to 6 inches. Lie in it without moving for 30 seconds or start over. Do cartwheels all around the house in underwear when it was snowing in Queens. Write your whole name from a single pin prick. Fail and get pricked again till you could write Peter Thomas John Gorman. Lots of pricks to get that done.
So at 14-15 I started Aikido, then moved on to Karate for three or four years. Fought in Madison Square Garden, got killed. Was in a picture in a Karate magazine, not looking good but they said I was cool.
Never measured up. Made the ball team in high school but was not as good as the guys ahead of me who got college scholarships. Worried my whole life that I wasn't tough enough, which led me to go to the jungle--and you can see that I'm still trying to measure up. So if you're asking if there was a pivotal moment or two, I'd say my whole life has been trying to measure up. And now that I'm a dad, now that people have depended on me for years and years, I'm still questioning whether I know enough to be entrusted with the lives of my boys, my daughter, my grand baby, Chepa's babies, my clients in the jungle, my team in Peru.
Cause I'll never be as good as my brother or my dad. They were athletes, and I was just a sick kid living in the hospital with rheumatoid arthritis for months as a 5/6 year old and came out weighing 165 because I was a trial patient on the then-new drug, cortizone. How the hell do you recover from that? You don't. You just fight to be better ever day.
Pivotal moment? Yeah. When the tub was too cold. When the kids in my hospital room were wheeled out dead daily for months, when I went to school and Thomas ran backwards against me and beat me by 20 yards in a 50-yard race. When, when, when...
But you know, you keep fighting. You keep facing up. You fail. You falter. You fall. You get the freak up. You keep fighting.
And though I lost almost all the fights, I'm finally a winner. Nobody ever came back for seconds. And no matter what the circumstance, you keep getting up, catch your breath, and look for an opening. And that's okay for us losers. Just keeping on is what keeps us going. And nothing can stop us--you and me--if we keep on getting up.
So stay strong, okay? Keep trying. We'll all get across the river if we just keep swimming.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Food Blog and Everything Good with the Kids

So Chepa and the babies were visiting her boyfriend up in Amarillo last week during Sierra's kindergarden Spring Break. I was down here in bucolic Joshua, Texas, with Madeleina and my former clients and friends Emily and Devon. Could have been miserable but it was pretty fantastic. First, I hadn't seen Madeleina in weeks. Second, it was a medicine and food week.

For medicine, and for the record I'm the only one who did it, there was a 16-hour San Pedro ceremony and two frog sweat--sapo ceremonies. The frog sweat came from my friend Alberto who used to live with Pablo on the Rio Galvez in Peru at 7 de Junio pueblo, the only two men there. Pablo had four wives then and Alberto two. Alberto had about 12 kids, Pablo about 18-20. So they were really really good hunters. I mean, if every person in camp normally ate a kilo (2.2 pounds) of meat daily, that came to 40 kilos of meat. That means 3-4 small boars; 2-3 large boars; 5-6 good sized monkeys--and that's just scraping by and eating all the organs and intestines and bones, or 7 majas, a fantastic jungle rodent that weighs in at maybe 15-20 pounds with entrails--and is the best damned meat in the jungle--or two good sized caiman, or maybe 200 fish or a combination of all the above.
They depended on sapo to help them hunt as they really had a lot of meat to produce daily. And so their sapo is better than anything anyone in the world can get. They didn't scrape the frogs forever, they just took the first juice from several frogs to make a single stick of sapo. And about three years ago, Alberto sent me a stick from the Galvez. And it's one of my personal sticks. Two little burns with that will simply set you on your ass for hours and hours. That stuff cleans you out, cleans out your arteries, your kidneys, your liver, your lungs, your stomach so well that while the acute effects are gone after the same 15 minutes in which they are normally gone, it takes 8-10 hours to recuperate from all that poison running through your system trying to flush itself out. But man, worth the pain! Joyfully worth the pain!
My son Marco likes to get five sapo burns per dose and handles it well: He doesn't smoke or drink or drink coffee or anything like that so he doesn't have a lot of poison to eliminate. But when I offered him some of Alberto's stick I only gave him two burns.
"Hey dad, what are you, a sissy? Why don't you give me five like always?"
"Cause this comes from a Matses hunter who still looks at people like they are a potential lunch. A human can put a lot of food on the table."
He laughed and I gave him two burns. Ten minutes later, in the throes, he began to curse me. "You son of a bitch, dad! What did you give me? I'm gonna die!!!!!"
Of course he didn't. It's great medicine and can't kill you because all of its proteins--144 new ones identified thus far--are bioactive, but when it was all over and he'd slept three or four hours he still couldn't believe how strong the small dose had been.
That's sapo when a hunter depends for the life of his family on it.
And no, you can't have any. It's a private stash.
But nicely, Emily has a diet that restricts meat, most fish and all flour. As a chef it's always nice to have a challenge. So while I was making homemade bar-be-que sauce to put on mixed meats for Devon, I was making things like roasted portobellos stuffed with blue cheese, organic raisins and slivered walnuts for Em. And sliced zucchini stuffed with crushed corn chips, sauteed onion, garlic and tomatoes in olive oil, topped with shredded parmesan. And vegetable bouquets of cauliflower and broccoli florets with sliced zucchini and yellow squash with scallions in a sauteed diced tomato, onion and garlic olive oil mix baked with a bit of freshly grated high-quality sharp cheddar; and whole steamed asparagus with thinly sliced red pepper and sweet onions sauteed with very light garlic and olive oil and finished with a touch of unsalted butter and balsamic vinegar. And we're not done yet! She had thickly sliced organic tomatoes sauteed in garlic and olive oil and covered with grated parmesan and cracked black pepper. And steamed broccoli florets covered with a homemade curry sauce and baked with good mozzarella (given that we're in Texas and not Brooklyn it was pretty good mozzarella, anyway). And don't forget the baked spaghetti squash with a little butter and sweet red pepper. Or the jungle guacamole which is made by mashing avocados, then adding diced tomatoes, red onions and garlic in olive oil. When that's done, add it to the mashed avacado. Wait ten minutes and add the juice of a couple/few limes and salt and pepper to taste. Cracked black pepper, please, let's do it right.
And then there was other stuff that I forget because I'm remembering the salmon with sesame seeds on a bed of spinach I made for Devon and the swordfish with diced red peppers and chives and so on.
And tonight, Madeleina and I alone, well, it's just roast chicken basted with garlic in olive oil and tossed with a bit of cracked black pepper and sea salt, baked on a bed of celery with halved new potatoes, red onion pieces and organic baby carrots. With a gravy made with the drippings, of course. And served with steamed broccoli and steamed fresh spinach.
So that's where we stand. If the kids or Chepa show up, there is part of a good chuck steak, a couple of pounds of swordfish, and if that fails, well, they can have the rice and some of the dogs' chicken legs.
For a family that's very poor, we sure do eat better than most freaking kings!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Second Thing I have to Sell You

Okay, so without meaning to push myself on you--but which I'm gonna do anyway--here is the second thing I'm gonna try to sell you. My friend Morgan Maher, the fellow who illustrated my book, has just put together a 4-part webinar for Reality Sandwich's Evolver Intensives. A webinar is when the participants have a seminar or are interviewed by the host, Maher, over the web using cameras. Those who attend the webinar are at their own computers and can watch the seminars in real time, then participate during the question and answer period at the end of the seminar. Sounds complicated but it's not. You just pay your money, get a code to type into your computer and bingo! you're part of the deal.
This webinar series is called Visionary Nutrition: Enhancing Your Health in a Psychedelic World. There are four two-hour sessions in April and if you sign on you get all four of them.
Sunday, April 8 at 3 PM EST, is Daniel Vitalis, a leading health, nutrition and personal development strategist and a great nature-based philosopher.
Saturday, April 14 at 3 PM EST, is moi, Peter Gorman, and I'll be talking about ayahuasca and diet, integrating jungle medicine into everyday living, and I'll bet we touch of foods to keep you health--as I was a New York City chef for two decades before turning to journalism full time.
Sunday, April 22, at 3 PM EST, is Morgan Brent, an ethnopharmacologist who will talk about ayahuasca and the dieta, how we learn from plants and pro-active health and spiritual evolution, among other fascinating topics.
Sunday, April 29, at 3 PM EST, is David Wolfe, one of the worlds' leading authorities on natural health, beauty nutrition, herbalism, chocolate and organic superfoods. His books include Eating for Beauty, Naked Chocolate and Superfoods: The Food and Medicine of the Future.
The series host, Morgan Maher, is an artist, photographer, writer, designer and researcher. He's one of the coolest people I know.
I think this is going to be a very very interesting webinar series. And if it sounds like it to you as well, then what are you waiting for. Sign up. The cost if you register by March 28 is $75 for the whole shebang. After that it will bust you for $85. But you know what? That's not much to listen to those others guys for a couple of hours. And I'll try to entertain you as well.

It's gonna be cool.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Two Things to Sell You

Okay, here are two things I want to sell you. And I want you to buy them because I could use the money to pay for the goat feed, dog and cat food and the mortgage.
The first is an offer of two different trips to the Amazon. They are both 9 1/2 day intensives. The first starts on June 2, a Saturday. The second is a trip scheduled to end on the day the Shamanism conference in Iquitos starts. We'll get you back in time for registration. That starts Thursday, July 5.
Cost for each, once you hit Iquitos, is $1900. I buy your food, your hotels, pick you up at the airport, put you back at the airport at the end of things. I take care of everything except any alcohol you might have in Iquitos before we leave and the money you'll need to buy presents for your friends/family back home.
Both trips will see you acclimate in Iquitos for two days--two days which will be packed with stuff a lot of people who live in Iquitos have never seen. Then we head up the river for six days into deep jungle. Deep jungle. Swamp walking, high pristine rainforest hiking and medicine learning; night canoeing, collecting edible plants and the sapo frog. Along the way we'll get to do magic mushrooms, have two opportunities to drink ayahuasca, do the indigenous Matses' medicines sapo and nu-nu, get lots of dirt under our fingernails and have a roaring good time with some very serious medicine as well.
This trip doesn't demand a lot physically: My team is bigger than the 12 guests that can come on a trip, so if you walk slowly, you'll still see gorgeous rainforest, but you might be walking with two team members at a slower pace and for a shorter length of time than some of the others. But this trip does demand that you bathe in the river, don't cry over a few lousy mosquitos, and see the best in everything. Because this is the real deal, no fooling.
So some of you who want to do something like this, well, this is the time. Others who never thought about it, what the heck, start thinking. This trip will change your life. If you are a suck human being, you will suck less when the medicines and my team are done with you. If you are already a shining human, well, we'll polish you up to a high gleam. Cool? Very. So get on it.
The next note will talk about the other thing I'm trying to sell you.
And yes, I'm hoping to make something. But just like everything I do, I think I'll give you your money's worth and a big dollop more--leaving you laughing at how you got over on me. And I'm very very happy if that's how you wind up feeling. Cause I'm here to do the work--as well as here to work.
Thanks for listening.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Like That Damned Bad Penny, Here I Am Again

Hello All: Back from Peru. Exhausted, refreshed, with my teeth looking very good and a clean bill of health on my body after a battery of tests. I missed you all. And I missed my family. Of course, I had a wonderful time with my guests and my friends in Iquitos and the jungle--when I am there I am there 100 percent--but come time to come home and I desperately miss my kids, Chepa's kids, my granddaughter, my friends.
Right now, Madeleina is playing the piano I got her for Christmas. She's learning quickly. It feels very right to be here at my dest while she plays in the next room. Just fantastic.
And while Chepa and the babies are upstate with her boyfriend for spring break, I did get to see the girls before they left and that was priceless.
And Marco and Italo and Sarah have been over, which means I've gotten to see Taylor a few times, as well. She is just perfect. Makes me laugh.
There was a party at my house for Taylor Rain's second birthday while I was away. The whole extended family and friends came--including Chepa's boyfriend, whom Madeleina resented for being in my house. I understood--we're never going to be friends, just because--but I tried to get her to lighten up on it. Resentment serves no one.
I happened to call Chepa the day of the party. There was commotion at her house and I asked what was up. "We're getting ready to go to Mr. Peter's Ranch"--my house--"for Taylor Rain's party" she said.
"Why my house and not your house?" I asked, surprised at the venue.
"Because we're going to have everybody over and we're going to make a big mess, maybe even have a food fight," she said. "And I don't want that mess at my house. Better to wreck your place."
So Chepa remains Chepa. Crazy but hilarious.
The woman taking care of my house while I was gone, Emily, got it all cleaned up before I came home.
Right now Em and another friend who flew in from Washington, are in the back yard. They are in San Pedro medicine. They are sitting on blankets under a soft blue sky. The ceremony was lovely. I hope the medicine gives them something good, something deep, something that works on their bodies, hearts and spirits. I check on them and sing a little every few minutes. I think they are doing fine.
So here I am, back again. I've already got three deadlines for stories by Monday. Then a cover story due in three weeks. I am also planning three jungle intensives for June and July, so while I'm exhausted I'm still busy.
I'm glad to be home. I'm glad Boots and the new dog and the cats and the goat--only one left--are doing well. I hope you are all doing well too.