Tuesday, August 25, 2009

In My Next Life

I will own a sailboat sleek
as fingers of wind
and ply the green islands
of the gulf of Maine.
In my next life I will pilot a plane,
and enjoy the light artillery
of the air as I fly to our island
and set down with aplomb
on its grass runway.
I'll be a whiz at math, master five or six
of the world's languages, write poems
strong as Frost and Milosz.
In my next life I won't wonder why
I lie awake from four till daybreak.
I'll be amiable, mostly, but large
and formidable.

I'll insist you be present
in my next life—and the one after that.

by Mark Perlberg from Waiting for the Alchemist

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Lonely Shoe Lying on the Road

One sad shoe that someone has probably flung
out of a car or truck. Why only one?

This happens on an average one year
in four. But always throughout my
life, my travels, I see it like
a memorandum. Something I have
forgotten to remember,

that there are always
mysteries in life. That shoes
do not always go in pairs, any more
than we do. That one fits;
the other, not. That children can
thoughtlessly and in a merry fashion
chuck out someone's shoe, split up
someone's life.

But usually that shoe that I
see is a man's, old, worn, the sole
parted from the upper.
Then why did the owner keep the other,
keep it to himself? Was he
afraid (as I so often am with
inanimate objects) to hurt it's feelings?
That one shoe in the road invokes
my awe and my sad pity.

by Muriel Spark, from All The Poems of Muriel Spark

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Fresh Fig and Thyme Cake

I like to use a mix of the more common Black Mission and green Kadota figs. It is best to use regular olive oil rather than extra virgin olive oil in the cake.
Serves 8

1 pound fresh figs (quarter larger figs and halve smaller figs)
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons juice from 1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cornmeal
1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon table salt
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/4 cup olive oil
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter , melted and cooled slightly
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sour cream
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

FOR THE FIG TOPPING: Butter bottom and sides of 10-inch spring form nonstick pan; set aside. Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Combine all ingredients for fig topping in a bowl. Gently toss and transfer about a quarter of the figs, cut side down, to prepared pan. Figs will not cover entire pan! Refrigerate remaining figs while preparing cake.

3. FOR THE CAKE: Whisk flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt together in medium bowl; set aside. In electric mixer, mix granulated sugar, brown sugar, eggs and olive oil together on medium speed until thick and homogeneous, about 45 seconds. On low speed, whisk in butter, sour cream, thyme and vanilla until combined. Add flour mixture and whisk on low speed until just combined. Pour batter into pan and spread evenly over figs. Bake until cake is golden brown and toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, 40 to 44 minutes.
4. Cool pan on wire rack 20 minutes. Run paring knife around sides of cake to loosen. Release the sides of the pan. Place serving plate over cake pan. Holding dish tightly, invert cake pan and serving dish together; carefully lift off top of spring form cake pan. If any fruit sticks to pan bottom, remove and position it on top of cake. Let cake cool 20 minutes (or longer to cool completely), cut into pieces, top with the remaining figs and serve.

**And you thought figs were fruits… although they look like fruits and are quite tasty they’re actually the flowers of the tree. Like pineapples, they are inflorescences (arrangements of multiple flowers), false fruits or multiple fruits, in which the flowers and seeds grow together to form a single mass.
*Figs are one of the highest plant sources of calcium and fiber. Plus, if you’re just not that keen on prunes, figs have a laxative effect.

Recipe by Cristina Paul

Monday, August 10, 2009

I Admit

I've been eating the cookies behind your back
I couldn't cry at the funeral
I am not, and won't ever be, a vegetarian (although I'm conscious of overfishing)
I wear white after Labor Day (frequently)
I don't actually like you; I just enjoy the attention
I want more than my fair share
I've lied about books I haven't read, people I've never met and nodded about films I'll never see
I think buffets are barbaric
I probably wouldn't forgive me

by Cristina Paul, inspired by William Carlos Williams' This Is Just To Say

Thai Beef Over Coconut Brown Rice

Serves 4

1 cup brown jasmine rice
1 can (13.5 ounces) thin or light coconut milk (see first note below)
1/2 cup chicken broth
generous 1/4 teaspoon table salt
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice (from 1 lime)
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
3 scallions, green and white parts thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 long peppers or red jalapeƱos, seeded and julienned
1 pound ground beef sirloin
1/4 cup grated carrot
1/2 cup loosely packed and torn fresh basil leaves (preferably purple or opal basil)
1/4 cup loosely packed and torn fresh mint leaves
optional lime wedges, for serving

1. In a medium saucepan, combine rice, coconut milk, broth and water. Cover and bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer, keep covered and cook until rice is creamy and liquid has absorbed, about 30 minutes.
2. When rice is nearly done, combine fish sauce, tamari, lime juice and sugar in a small bowl; set aside. Heat oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Add scallions, garlic and chiles; cook, stirring frequently, for 4 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high and add beef. Cook, breaking up meat with a wooden spoon, until completely browned, about 4 minutes. Add tamari mixture and cook for 30 more seconds. Add basil, mint and carrot and stir to combine. Serve over coconut rice with lime wedges, if desired.

*Coconut milk is the sweet, milky white cooking base derived from the meat of a mature coconut. Two types of coconut milk exist: thick and thin. Thick coconut milk is prepared by squeezing grated coconut meat through cheesecloth. Then, the squeezed meat is soaked in warm water and squeezed a second or third time for thin coconut milk. Generally, thick milk is used to make desserts and rich sauces. Often, thin milk is used for soups. This distinction isn’t usually made in Western nations since fresh coconut milk is seldom produced, and most consumers buy coconut milk in cans. Manufacturers of canned coconut milk typically combine the thin and thick squeezes with the addition of water as a filler.

Recipe by Cristina Paul

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Poem of The Week

When we try to pick out anything by itself we find it hitched to everything in the universe

˜ John Muir

syllogisms are toe - shoes of the mind
finger snaps are the coming storm
nametags are like unicycles
at a party, I'm the missing sock
a toe circling in sand is like a raised eyebrow
a fig is like a pregnant woman
my heart is a hammer
the crook of your arm - a silk scarf
After it all, your eyes were stones
dogs on roller skates are like toddlers on tippy toes
Even when things are different, they're still alike

by Cristina Paul

Monday, August 3, 2009

Preserved Lemons

when life gives you lemons... preserve them!

LEMONS - lots of them
1/4 cup coarse salt

Scrub two large lemons under cold running water and pat them dry. Cut lemons into eight wedges (or you may slice them into thick circles) and toss with coarse salt. Place salted lemons in a sterilized glass jar with a lid. Pour enough fresh lemon juice into the jar to cover the lemons (you will require many lemons for this part), and seal it tightly. Let lemons stand at room temperature for 7-10 days, shaking and turning the jar over once a day to redistribute the contents. Rinse the salted lemons and use them immediately, or cover them with oil and store them in the refrigerator for several weeks. Slice and serve them in salads or add them to fish and meat dishes. They are also a great surprise in a cocktail!

*Preserved lemons are popular in certain parts of the Mediterranean and they're also a very easy and handsome gift.