Saturday, May 2, 2009

Sleeping Next to the Man on the Plane

I'm not well. Neither is he.
Periodically he pulls out a handkerchief
and blows his nose. I worry
about germs, but appreciate how he shares
the armrest —especially
considering his size —too large
to lay the tray over his lap.
His seatbelt barely buckles. At least
he doesn't have to ask for an extender
for which I imagine him grateful. Our upper arms
press against each other, like apricots growing
from the same node. My arm is warm
where his touches it. I close my eyes.
In the chilly, oxygen-poor air, I am glad
to be close to his breathing mass.
We want our own species. We want
to lie down next to our own kind.
Even here in this metal encumbrance, hurtling
improbably 30,000 feet above the earth,
with all this civilization —down
to the chicken-or-lasagna in their
environmentally-incorrect packets,
even as the woman behind me is swiping
her credit card on the phone embedded
in my headrest and the folks in first
are watching their individual movies
on personal screens, I lean
into this stranger, seeking primitive comfort—
heat, touch, breath—as we slip
into the ancient vulnerability of sleep.

by Ellen Bass from Mules of Love

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Key Lime Pie with a Gingersnap Crust

Serves eight

Use instant pudding that requires no stovetop cooking for this recipe. Regular supermarket (Persian) limes taste best in this recipe; bottled lime juice makes for a lackluster pie. This easy homemade crust can easily be made with gluten-free ginger snaps as well! Use a deep-dish pie plate because there’s a whole lot of crust and it’s the kind that people will fight over.

2 cups ginger snap crumbs
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 cup granulated sugar
4 teaspoons lime zest
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1/3 cup instant vanilla pudding mix
1 1/4 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
1 cup fresh lime juice from 10 – 14 limes
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt

1. For the crust: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Pulse ginger snaps in food processor until finely ground; measure to make 2 cups. Add sugar, and salt and process for 10 seconds. Add melted butter in steady stream while pulsing until crumbs resemble damp sand. Using bottom of dry measuring cup, press crumbs firmly into bottom and sides of 9-inch deep dish pie plate. Bake until fragrant and browned around edges, 12 to 14 minutes. Cool completely.
2. For the filling: Process sugar and zest in food processor until sugar turns bright green, about 30 seconds. Add cream cheese and process until combined, about 30 seconds. Add condensed milk and pudding mix and process until smooth, about 30 seconds. Scrape down sides of bowl. Stir gelatin and 2 tablespoons lime juice in small bowl. Heat in microwave for 15 seconds; stir until dissolved. With machine running, pour gelatin mixture, remaining lime juice, and vanilla through feed tube and mix until thoroughly combined, about 30 seconds.
3. Pour filling into cooled crust, cover with plastic, and refrigerate at least 3 hours or up to 2 days. To serve, let pie sit at room temperature for 10 minutes before slicing.

**Gingersnaps are often referred to as ginger nuts in the UK, Australia and New Zealand.
*Key lime pie is usually made with key limes, which are more tart and aromatic than the common Persian limes available year round in most grocery stores. Key lime juice, unlike regular lime juice, is a pale yellow. The filling in key lime pie is often yellow due to the egg yolks featured in many recipes. Canned sweetened condensed milk was initially used in key lime pie recipes because fresh milk was not common in the Florida Keys before modern refrigerated distribution methods.

Recipe adapted by Cristina Paul

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Blah-Blah-Blahg: Food For Nought

A Word on Table Etiquette


(I KNOW I had to take Etiquette lessons as a child)

Although I am not a wasp and did not grow up in the penthouse of a fancy hotel, I do know a thing or two about table manners. I recently attended a wedding at which an entire table was chewing gum - like a herd of bored, masticating cows. I was in shock - SHOCK - I say. Then I took note of how they were eating and leaving their table.

So, I thought I would write a few notes on some common dining foibles. Some ill-informed diners may push their plate away when they have finished eating.  Please leave your plate where it is in the place setting.  Actually, you should attempt to keep the same place setting throughout the dinner, so that all items remain in the same location that the host/hostess intended.  The common way to show that you have finished your meal is to lay your fork and knife diagonally across your plate.  Place your knife and fork side by side, with the sharp side of the knife blade facing inward and the fork, tines down, to the left of the knife.  The knife and fork should be placed so as to resemble 10:20 PM on a clock face.  Be sure to arrange them in such a way that they do not slide off the plate when being removed.  This could be catastrophic for your white pants!!! Once you have used a piece of silverware, never place it back on the table or leave a used spoon in a cup; place it on the saucer.  Any unused silverware is simply left on the table.