Sunday, September 28, 2014

A Change in Dinner Plans

Well, the dinner plan last night was to saute small portions of good salmon for Madeleina and I. I was planning to saute them with crushed garlic in olive oil, add organic shallots and scallions and diced red pepper, then toss in some beautiful Peruvian bay scallops and a dozen smallish shrimp near the finish of the salmon. I'd pull the seafood, add a bit of toasted sesame seeds and a touch of sesame oil, a bit of good soy. Sear spinach in a separate pan with garlic and a light balsamic vinegar, then plate the spinach, arrange the seafood on the spinach with salmon in the center, scallops and shrimp around it, then top with the sauce. It was going to be pretty, and, apart from a bit of a high salt content due to the soy, healthy and light. Small portions of delectable food.
    Then Madeleina came home from a band competition. She was disconsolate. She'd blown her flute solo by a few notes and was not happy with herself at all. When Italo dropped her off she came onto the porch where I was sitting on the swing, her eyes filled with tears, and then she lay down on the concrete floor of the front porch. I didn't know about the flute solo at that minute but I knew I had to do something radical.
    So I changed dinner plans. I jumped into the trusty Ford Ranger, raced to the store, picked up supplies, and returned home to see that she'd moved to the big living room couch.
    The dinner we wound up having: Two cups each of vanilla and chocolate ice cream with dark chocolate syrup. Not nearly as light as the seafood would have been, but there are times when dinner plans need to change and this was one of them.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Another Meal People would Kill for to Get to Eat

Well: I'm going with another recipe since all my efforts to change the world today have not worked. I need something to work my way. So here it is. I'm making short ribs with asparagus and salad, with an appetizer of good brie and lump crabmeat in tomatoes, baked.
    I've browned the short ribs, salted/peppered them and put some olive oil with garlic on them. They're in a 350 degree oven.
    I have asparagus I'll cook at the last minute: parboil then saute with a touch of olive oil and vinegar. I'm going with raspberry vinegar tonight on a whim.
    I have a small round of good brie and some good crackers/bread crust to grab it with.
    I have a nice organic spring mix salad ready to go with the best balsamic dressing in the world plus a bit of blue cheese.
    When it's nearly time, I'm gonna cut the organic beefsteak tomatoes in half and scoop them out. I'm gonna put on a good skillet and put olive oil and garlic and shallots and scallions and diced mushrooms and the inside of the tomatoes in there and scald those babies along with the crab meat. When it's really hot I'll pull it all, mix it, add the butcher ground black pepper, a tablespoon or two of prepared horse radish mix it all up and stuff those tomatoes. Top them with a bit of good parmesan drizzled with  a fantastic organic Spanish olive oil someone just sent me, then bake them for about 15-20 minutes with the short ribs.
    Then my friends and I are gonna sit down, drink wine, maybe take a toke, eat a bit of brie, snack on the baked tomatoes, then have a short rib with asparagus and salad.
    NOTE: Please note there is no starch beyond a bit of bread crust and no dessert. If there was this meal would kill you. As it is, we're taking chances and will need to walk a mile after dinner just to get through it.

Unbelievable Stuff Has Shown Up Unexpectedly at My Door

In the last six months, some packages containing unbelievable stuff have shown up at my front door. They're totally unexpected presents and when they come it feels like heaven's raining on me. When my leg was bad people sent all sorts of things, from fabulous honey to colloidal silver to homemade creams and lotions. Those were all very thoughtful.
    This latest round of gifts, however, sort of came out of thin air. One person dropped off a bottle of Chipotle Extra Virgin Olive Oil and a bottle of Aged Raspberry Balsamic Vinegar. An old friend sent down a health body package that included New Earth Organics Black Mountain Ants, Raw Organic Schizandra, Shizandra Berries and a large bag of Goji Berries. Someone recently presented us with a jar of Mulungu Bark, used in a tea to relieve tension and strengthen the heart. Last month someone gave Madeleina and I an Ipad Air.
    Yesterday a box arrived with steaks and hot dogs and cheese cake and apple fritters and such. Then another box came and it had a bottle of Spanish Organic Extra Virgin Garlic flavored Olive Oil and an aged bottle of Balsamic Vinagrette; wild raw honey with the come was in the box too, as was a box of raw organic peanuts from the Amazon and a bag of mesquite powder and exotic soaps and more exotic olive oil and vinegar and good chocolate.
    Someone's coming over tomorrow who asked me if I'd like a bottle--or part of a bottle--of 10 month-aged Jim Beam bourbon that was bottled in 1961 along with a Hohner 4 octave chromatic harmonica...
     All of you: Thank you. I am stunned by your kindness and generosity. Wow and thanks are what I feel.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Can Ayahuasca Permanently Cure Cancer or AIDS?

Someone on a board I occasionally visit asked the question of whether ayahuasca, the jungle medicine from the Amazon, could permanently cure cancer or AIDS or other killing diseases. I thought that was the wrong question to ask. Took me a bit of background to get to it, but I think I did finally answer the question--or what I think was the right question for the person to have asked.
    Here's what I wrote:
Traditionally, illnesses in Northwest Amazonia were seen as the symptoms of an imbalance on another plane of reality. Fix the imbalance and the symptom could be cured or would disappear on its own. With that in mind, until quite recently only the curandero would drink the medicine, not the patient. The curandero would be told what ailed someone and he/she would drink ayahuasca to access other levels of reality where he/she could communicate with spirits--whether that be plant or animal spirits, or other types--to try to discern what the imbalance was in the patient that was causing the ailment on the physical level. Once that was discovered, the spirits might also recommend specific diets or plant decoctions or other things to help expedite the elimination of the physical illness.
    In other words, I don't think--except for stomach ailments--that ayahuasca was ever thought of as a curative until curious Westerners decided to stand the paradigm on its head and drink the medicine themselves. That is a pretty modern development; one that was certainly not widespread until the 1990s or so.
    The curative properties of the ayahuasca came from what the curandero learned while communicating with his genios/spirit allies when under the influence of ayahuasca. Some of those have become pretty standard medications for certain ailments. Drinking large amounts of water from the chawki paujil (or paujil chawki) vine will do wonders for cirrhosis of the liver--the drawback being that the mineral water is unstable and has to be drunk almost immediately or it loses much of it's value.
    For bolstering immune system, and eliminating excess water--as in bursitis, arthritis--Una de Gato will generally do the trick.
    For diminishing the size of tumors, fresh Sacha Jergon is the ticket--or at least one of them. In combination with Una de Gato, Sacha Jergon can do wonders for people with cancer or immune deficiencies. My late teacher loved adding essence of Medio Renako (spelling?) tree bark to the Una de Gato and Sacha Jergon when working with someone with cancer.
    All of the old timers knew the plants and their benefits in the region where they lived. And if they needed more information, the spirits would give it to them when they asked.
    So I think the answer to your question of whether ayahuasca can permanently cure cancers or AIDS and other wretched diseases is not the right question. I think the question should be: Can a good curandero really access a spirit world that can aid him/her in finding imbalances in a patient that, if corrected, will help eliminate physical illnesses on this plane of reality? And if extra work is needed, can that curandero really come back from his/her ayahuasca dream armed with the information about plants and diets for the patient to use to eliminate those illnesses? And if that's the question or two, then the answer is yes.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Best Salad Dressing in the World

Best Salad Dressing in the World
Okay, I'm a political writer. I worry about the world and its inhabitants about 70 hours a day. I try to fix things. At the same time I need to keep sane, which is where cooking comes in. When I was a really good chef in New York--and on cable television before anyone knew what that was--I never cooked at home. But once I stopped cooking for a living, I started cooking at home like crazy. In all my kids' lives, I don't think they've eaten fast food 50 times, at least when I was around. I don't think they've had pizza 50 times. What they have is homemade food from Chepa or me day in and day out.
But while I'm a great chef, baking is not my strong point. I can do it but it ain't the same as when a real baker gets involved. And things like salad dressing are not my strong point. I've invented 100 new salad dressing recipes over the years but none of them ever caught on like a lot of my dishes did.
So here is a recipe that my friend Christie Engle made for the best dressing I've ever had. She and her husband were visiting for a few days and she threw it together and it was so simple I wanted to commit suicide for not seeing it in all my years. Or something like that.
The recipe is: One large shallot, minced. Three table spoons of olive oil with diced garlic. Sea salt and butcher ground pepper to taste. Three ounces of good balsamic vinegar.
That's it. It's perfect. It's unbelievable. You cannot go wrong. Put it on any mixed greens, add a bit of your favorite cheese or walnuts or olives or whatever you like. Thanks, Christie. Major life problem solved. Now we can return to the problem of eradicating private prisons or ending the drug war, eh?

Social Media Comment I Just Had to Make

There are some very nice people on Facebook. There are some dopes as well--at least from my political perspective. But then there is another bunch, good people for whom I think Facebook is so addicting they can't help but post a dozen times a day--and with at least some of those, they occasionally post something so incredibly short-sighted or misogynistic or cruel that I have to respond. 
    So yesterday, this perfectly lovely woman who posts perfectly cool things, suddenly puts up a picture of a guy named Greg Gutfeld, a Fox News host and a jerk who thinks he's funny. Next to his picture was this quote:  "A Smith & Wesson does more for empowering women than feminism ever could." 
    If he was a real satirist, it would have been hilarious. But it's the sort of thing he actually meant. So I had to respond. I did, with this:
    What a douche! Unless he means she should use it to get equal pay, to stop men from making sexual comments to her on the street, to protect her right to her own body without government interference, to blast the glass ceiling, to keep the vote, to shoot abusive boyfriends and husbands and all the rest of the empowerment that feminism brings. In that case, well, I would retract my initial comment and rephrase it "that's one dangerous motha fugga! He wants women to kill nearly every man they've ever met!!!!"

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

I'm Gonna Do it Again, So Be Careful or You're Gonna Cry Because You're Not Here

Sorry to do this to you meat eaters out there but here goes cause I'm on a roll. I bought a large pork loin roast 5.6 lbs a few days ago, thinking the family would have it over the Labor Day Weekend. Well, the family had other plans, and even when they did eat here they had specific requests that didn't include my roast.
   So today I decided to cook it because I didn't want it to go bad. I laid out a nice bed of organic celery in a baking dish. I laid a sliced onion in sections on top of that. I laid out four generous sprigs of fresh rosemary on top of that.
   I tied the roast up nicely with jute--Madeleina asking where the hell I learned things like tying up roasts and me saying I had no idea, I just knew how to to do it since I was born--then made some tiny cuts into it in which I put whole cloves of garlic. Maybe 15 altogether. Then I seared it in a good pan to seal up those cuts and get it brown enough to keep much juice from leaking while it cooked.
   I put the seared pork into the baking dish on the rosemary, onions and celery. Then I cut up two nice organic macintosh apples and three oranges--non organic--and mixed the pieces up in a bowl with lots of chopped garlic, a little olive oil and some teriyaki sauce. I put the whole mess on top of the well peppered--rough ground pepper is vital to pork--roast and put it in the oven at 335.
    It's been two hours, about 20 minutes a pound. It is perfect. I had Madeleina turn the oven off and it will finish up while I mow some lawn. I'll make a fruity gravy from the juices and serve it with a salad. I take blue cheese on an organic spring mix with a homemade garlic/scallion/olive oil/balsamic vinagrette; Madeleina takes romaine with feta and a ranch dressing. We both take organic grape tomatoes. But no, no potatoes, no rice, no starch. The dish is rich enough.
   Wish you were here. We've enough for 10. Italo just showed so we have enough for nine more. Come and get it.
PS: Naturally we're having sauteed spinach underneath the pork.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

A beautiful 25 Minute Dish

So I had to go to the Fort Worth Weekly offices today because I've got the cover story tomorrow--please see it as it's important: had to be there for last minute questions, photo cut lines, cover approval and whatnot.
    Well, Madeleina was getting off at 8 PM, and I didn't even leave for the city till 6 PM and didn't get back till 9:15 PM. Madeleina was bordering on sleep, Chepa, who picked her up from band practice, was waiting patiently until I returned. Time for a quick meal.
    I took out four half-breasts of chicken and put on a really good made in the USA saute pan on high heat. When it was hot I added olive oil suffused with fresh garlic--but held back the garlic itself.
    Washed the half-breasts, paper-toweled them dry and when the oil was ready to burst into flames, put the chicken in the saute pan. It sizzled.
    Put cracked black pepper and sea salt on the chicken.
    Got scallions, Roma tomatoes, cilantro out of the fridge.
    Cleaned, trimmed and sliced 8 scallions into small pieces. Cleaned, trimmed the tops and diced 3 Roma tomatoes. Cleaned and minced half a bunch of organic cilantro.
     Turned the chicken when I was done cutting veggies: It was golden brown on one side.
     In a separate, but good made in USA saute pan I put chopped garlic in olive oil. When that got hot I added the scallions. When they were nearly see-through I added the tomatoes. When they were just beginning to soften I added a can (yes, can, sorry!!!!) of organic black beans to the mix. Cooked at high heat for five minutes or so, till I got bored stirring, then turned the heat down, added cracked black pepper and a little organic free range chicken stock--Yes, I know that's made with dead chickens!!!--and let it simmer.
    I added garlic in olive oil to the pan with the half-breasts of chicken and let the juices start to marry and thicken a bit.
    When the beans, garlic, tomatoes and scallions were the right consistency, I added the cilantro and let it cook for three minutes. Then I served a portion of the veggies and beans into a shallow bowl and topped it with half a chicken breast. I squeezed a lime onto the chicken breast and beans, then poured about a teaspoon of the garlicky pan juices from the chicken on that.
    From start to finish it was about 23-25 minutes, including most of the clean up. Man, that was a good quick meal. And it would have been good even if it took two hours. But it didn't cause my baby was hungry and I had to move like lightning. I can really zoom around a kitchen.