Monday, November 24, 2008

therefore I am

To think is uncomfortable,
like a poodle, pissing
Quotidian and extraordinary
My shadow on a passing train
Shapes are clouds, in gravel on the road, cottage cheese ceilings, cowlicks
Numbers are boxcars like cracks in the sidewalk
Colors are red earth and daytime moons
I decide my destinies, not by odd or even petals on a flower
but by how long I can balance on this or that foot
When your resting place is a home,
home is a place of rest
…I think

by Cristina Paul

Coocoo Bars

Makes twenty four 2 – inch bars

1 1/2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (7 1/2 ounces)
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
dash of cayenne pepper
12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), melted and cooled
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 large eggs plus 1 egg white lightly beaten
1/3 cup canned pumpkin
2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
4 teaspoons vanilla extract
6 ounces semisweet or dark chocolate chunks (1 cup)

1. Adjust oven rack to the middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Toast coconut on a rimmed baking sheet, stirring 2 to 3 times, until light golden, about 4 to 6 minutes.
2. While coconut toasts, cut 18-inch length foil and fold lengthwise to 8-inch width. Fit foil into length of 13 by 9-inch baking pan, pushing it into corners and up sides of pan; allow excess to overhang pan edges. Cut 14-inch length foil and fit into width of baking pan in same manner, perpendicular to first sheet (if using extra-wide foil, fold second sheet lengthwise to 12-inch width). Spray foil-lined pan with nonstick cooking spray.
3. Whisk flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ground ginger, and peppers together in a medium bowl; set aside.
4. Whisk melted butter and sugars together in medium bowl until combined. Add eggs, pumpkin, ginger, and vanilla and mix well. Using a rubber spatula, fold dry ingredients into egg mixture until just combined; do not over mix. Fold in chocolate and coconut, and turn batter into prepared pan, smoothing top with a rubber spatula.
5. Bake until top cracks a bit and becomes golden brown around the edges, 26 to 30 minutes; do not over bake. Cool on wire rack to room temperature. Remove bars from pan by lifting foil overhang and transfer to cutting board. Cut into 2-inch squares and serve.

Recipe by Cristina Paul

***Though many purists may scoff at the use of canned rather than fresh pumpkin in any recipe, these sweets have so little of the stuff that it’s not worth roasting a whole pumpkin.
**Did you know that Napoleon Bonaparte’s hunger for power is inadvertently responsible for modern day canning? In the late 18th century Napoleon was concerned about feeding his troops. So he offered a cash prize to whoever could develop a reliable method of food preservation. Nicolas Appert thought of preserving food in bottles, like wine. After 15 years of experimentation, he realized if food is sufficiently heated and sealed in an airtight container, it won’t spoil.
* Never cover an opened metal can with plastic wrap and keep in the refrigerator. This is an invitation for botulism – which is no country club. Be safe; use a rubber… or a plastic… any tupperware will do.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Blah-Blah-Blahg: Food For Nought

Some Frightening News

These commercials, brought to us by Mephistopheles and his corn-pushing minions:

Nurdles are on the loose. No they are not a cross between Nerds and Skittles. To find out what they are and the havoc they are wreaking upon us, read this article.

After returning home from a four month respite from my life as usual, I found my dad had shaved the goatee he’s had for years and my step-dad had randomly grown a mountain-man beard. The explanation for his unruly scruff: he’s “experimenting”. I was not warned about either one of these most shocking events. As far as I can, tell my step-dad didn’t just superglue my dad’s castaway facial hair onto his own face. I may have to do some gumshoeing though.

My dad is currently displaying some of his naughty drawings in his room. Yes, he’s an artist and yes the pieces are quite – beautiful – I say that as I gag and remember my father’s age and my pseudo-Catholic upbringing. I just don’t want to see peoples’ goods. Being human is an embarrassing ordeal. If I total up the minutes that I've spent checking the spelling of the word embarrassing, it's probably consumed the greater part of a day. I think I've spent less time, in my entire life, tying my shoes. Amazing.

Turkey Day is coming and here are some (fun?) facts about to chew on:
*Nearly all turkeys raised for consumption in the United States are selectively bred and modified to be extremely heavy and large breasted; breast meat is the most desirable and commands the highest price. Unfortunately, these turkeys have such puffed up chests that they are incapable of breeding naturally. Thus, practically all of the turkeys raised commercially in the United States are the result of artificial insemination (AI). Imagine if that were your job - just don't imagine it while enjoying your annual feast this Thursday.

*Some male turkeys can weigh up to 85 pounds, whereas a female weighs around 20 pounds when she begins to lay eggs. Due to the extra weight these poor gobblers must support, many commercial turkeys end up with splayed leg disorder like the one pictured here. Once I'm finished with my Thanksgiving dinner, I too may be rendered a bit splayed in the legs.
*Apparently, humans aren't the only species who shoot blanks. Many of the male turkeys used for fertilization (toms) have less than reliable results. Some hatcheries inseminate females with 200-300 million sperm a week.

Today I witnessed a woman violently sobbing over the loss of her Blackberry. Even Faye Dunaway with running mascara and quivering lips couldn't compare with this woman's desperate ire. It was more like an infant's convulsive and hiccuping sob - a reaction to no sleep, severe butt rash, want of food, and the total lack of a favorite blanky. RUGGED! An iPhone owner would never behave in such a way.