Saturday, April 4, 2009

Meditation on Ruin

It's not the lost lover that brings us to ruin, or the barroom brawl,
or the con game gone bad, or the beating
Taken in the alleyway. But the lost car keys,
The broken shoelace,
The overcharge at the gas pump
Which we broach without comment — these are the things that
eat away at life, these constant vibrations
In the web of the unremarkable.

The death of a father — the death of the mother —
The sudden loss shocks the living flesh alive! But the broken
pair of glasses,
The tear in the trousers,
These begin an ache behind the eyes.
And it's this ache to which we will ourselves
Oblivious. We are oblivious. Then, one morning—there's a
crack in the water glass —we wake to find ourselves undone.

by Jay Hopler from Green Squall

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Cauliflower With Ginger and Chickpeas

Serves 4 as a main dish or 6 as a side

The cauliflower can be steamed a day ahead and reheated before serving. The onion sauce can also be made ahead. Spoon this same sauce over grilled or sautéed fish or rice as well.

4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 medium onions, thin sliced
Salt and fresh ground black pepper
4 large garlic cloves, minced
One 1-inch piece fresh ginger root, peeled and minced (about 1 3/4 teaspoons)
1 chile de arbol, chopped (with seeds for greater heat)
1/3 cup raisins
1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained
1/8 teaspoon turmeric
4 threads of saffron
1/4 cup vinegar (rice, cider or wine)
2 tablespoons sun–dried tomato paste or regular tomato paste
1/2 cup vegetable broth or chicken broth
1 large cauliflower, cut into large florets
optional * 1/2 cup salted cashews broken into large pieces

1. Film the bottom of a 12-inch skillet with oil. Heat over medium-high to high. Add the onions and season liberally with salt and pepper. Sauté over high heat, stirring often, until onions begin to color, about 10 – 12 minutes
2. Stir in the garlic, ginger, chili, coriander, raisins, chickpeas, turmeric, and saffron. Stir over medium-high 2 minutes then add the vinegar. Cook, stirring occasionally, until all vinegar has evaporated, about 3 minutes.
3. Push the sauté to the sides of the pan so the center is empty and add the tomato paste. Sauté about 30 seconds, add the broth, then stir until the paste and water are combined. Now stir everything together, cooking another 3 minutes. Taste for seasoning and set the sauté aside. (You may refrigerate the sauce overnight at this point).
4. Set a collapsible steamer in a 6-quart pot, add several inches of water, cover the pot and bring to a boil. Place the cauliflower in the steamer and sprinkle with salt. Steam until the cauliflower shows a little resistance when pierced with a knife. With long tongs remove the cauliflower to a large shallow bowl.
5. Heat the onion sauté and spoon it over the cauliflower, using any liquid in the pan. Scatter with cashews, if desired. Serve.

**Turmeric is part of the ginger family. The rhizomes are boiled for several hours and then dried in hot ovens. Afterwards, they are ground into a deep orangish powder commonly used as a spice in curries and other South Asian and Middle Eastern cuisine, for dyeing, and to color mustard condiments. It has an earthy, bitter, peppery flavor and a mustardy smell.
In medieval Europe, turmeric became known as Indian Saffron, since it is often substitute far more expensive saffron.

*Leftover fresh ginger root can be stored in the freezer. Wrap it tightly in aluminum foil and seal in a zip-top plastic freezer bag. Freeze for up to a month. When it is frozen, ginger is very easy to grate.

Recipe by Cristina Paul

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Blah-Blah-Blahg: Food For Nought

As if I weren't enough of a worry wort. I have recently begun wringing my hands over my water footprint. I've started to time my showers and I've always attempted to eat lower on the food chain, since larger animals tend to consume more resources and create more waste. Recently, I heard about the water footprint of a pair of Levi's jeans (upwards of 500 gallons from cotton fields to fancy stonewash finish!). I may just have to swear off clothing all together, dig a hole and climb in to weep for future generations. I think I've begun to devote the greater part of my day agonizing over decisions like: If I drink from this water cooler now, then I will be using a paper cup which creates waste but if I wait until I get home I will be tempted to open up a bottle of fancy Italian sparkling water, which is imported from far away (BAD BAD BAD - carbon!) or If I don't shower for a day and refrain from washing my car for a whole month then perhaps I will have earned the baths that I like to take with my sunglasses on after an evening of drinking. Pray that I don't procreate and produce monsters of obsessive compulsive consciousness.