Monday, November 10, 2008

Opposing Forces

Even in this sharp weather there are lovers everywhere
holding onto each other, hands in one another's pockets
for warmth, for the sense of I'm yours, the tender claim
it keeps making ? one couple stopping in the chill
to stand there, faces pressed together, arms around
jacketed shoulders so I can see bare hands grapple
with padding, see the rosy redness of cold fingers
as they shift a little, trying to register through fold
after fold, This is my flesh feeling you you're feeling.

It must be some contrary instinct in the blood
that sets itself against the weather like this, brings
lovers out like early buds, like the silver-grey catkins
I saw this morning polished to brightness
by ice overnight. Geese, too: more and more couples
voyaging north, great high-spirited congregations
taking the freezing air in and letting it out
as song, as if this frigid enterprise were all joy,
nothing to be afraid of.

by Eamon Grennan from Matter of Fact

Granny Smith, Fennel, and Hazelnut Salad

Serves 3

The nuts can be toasted, skinned, chopped, and kept in an airtight container up to four days in advance. The dressing can also be made a day in advance. Even without prior prepping, this refreshing salad comes together in no time at all and can easily be doubled, tripled, or quadrupled.

1/3 cup hazelnuts
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 teaspoons whole-grain mustard
1/4 teaspoon celery seed
1/4 teaspoon table salt
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or hazelnut oil
1 - 1 1/2 cup thinly sliced fennel (about 1 medium bulb)
1 large granny smith apple, cut into 1/8 inch matchsticks

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spread hazelnuts in a pie plate or a rimmed baking sheet. Toast for about 8 minutes, or until fragrant and golden. Let the hazelnuts cool, then transfer to a kitchen towel and rub them together to remove the skins. Coarsely chop the hazelnuts and set aside.
2. In a medium-large bowl, whisk the vinegar, mustard, celery seed, and salt. Gradually whisk in the oil. Add the fennel, apple, and nuts. Toss the salad to coat and serve immediately.

Variations: Celery can be substituted for the fennel and Anjou pear or asian pear may be substituted for the apple. You may also want to add 1/2 cup bleu or feta cheese along with 1/2 cup golden raisins.

*** Hazelnuts are often labeled “filberts” in markets. Although these two nuts are closely related, they are not actually the same. The shell of a true hazelnut is smooth and round and holds a plump, sweet kernel. The filbert is thought by some historians to have originated from the Old English name, "full beard," because of the long husk that entirely covers this nut in some varieties.
**Vinegar is a product of fermentation. Fermentation occurs when sugars in a food are broken down by bacteria and yeast. In the first stage, the sugars are turned into alcohol. Then, if the alcohol ferments further, you get vinegar. The word comes from the French, meaning "sour wine." Vinegar can be made many things -- like fruits, vegetables, and grains -- apple cider vinegar comes from pulverized apples. The main ingredient of apple cider vinegar, or any vinegar, is acetic acid.
*Apple cider vinegar is purported to treat numerous diseases and health conditions. It's supposed to kill head lice, reverse aging, aid digestion, and wash toxins from the body. Only some of these claims have been backed by studies, but with the proviso that vinegar may work, but not as well as other treatments. For example, vinegar does seem to help with jellyfish stings, but hot water works better.

Recipe by Cristina Paul

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Blah-Blah-Blahg: Food For Nought

Who on Earth invented the magnifying mirror? Isn’t a regular old mirror enough? If we need a good laugh we can go check out a fun house mirror or manipulate pictures on iPhoto. But magnifying mirrors just make me want to weep. They creep me out Dorian Gray style, as if each of my indiscretions has hurtled itself from the ether of All Things Past straight onto my face. I think most people get a secret pleasure from inspecting and picking at their skin. Kind of like when you can’t leave that crusty scab on your knee alone or the feeling of trembling and trepidation you get when you see or touch a really gnarly birthmark or scar. I even thought at one point that I should turn my sadistic fascination with all things epidermal into a career in dermatology. But being confronted everyday by a magnifying mirror in a brightly lit space might make me go hysterically blind or bonkers. When looking into these cold reflectors I get introspective and nervous, like my blood stream has been injected with Nietzschean Teleteubbies. I am mesmerized by the infinitesimal quality of follicles and wrinkles. I ponder what all these flaws will morph into in the future. Then I contemplate the fact that most dust bunnies and, of course, regular old dust are composed primarily of dead skin. So now, I just gotta walk away and start thinking some good thoughts.

Here is a list of a few of those good thoughts:

*Wow, I think hand-beaded moccasins are really impressive and the fact that you can dunk them in water and wear them to bed to coax them into form fitting your feet is COOL

*Cal-Earth's super adobes are awesome (Santa or God if you are out there and listening, take note - I've been exceedingly good this year)

*Gosh, I love listening to podcasts from The Splendid Table – especially when Isaac Mizrahi was interviewed in the June 6th, 2008 episode

*Looking at Spanish moss from below the shade of a tree is really incredible – even though it’s not a lichen or moss. It’s actually a flowering plant, but that’s just me twitching to the deranged hum of my inner obsessive compulsive – back to happy thoughts…

*Gee Whiz, tart apples and almond butter make me smile when you put them together

*Headstands are WOOOOONDERFUL

*Rock chairs are even better than rock-ing chairs - especially when they have a foot rest

*Damn, the French have an awesome President