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Category: Food

Happy New Year!

I’ve been learning how to cook more things recently. I started baking (soda breads and cookies) and then tried a larger project for New Year’s Day. I made red beans and ham hocks and rice and cornbread. It was fun and everything came out really well. New adventures!

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The angel is in the details


This weekend I stayed with my friends Daryl and Deborah in Brooklyn. On Saturday night they gave me the gift of a meal. And believe me, when Daryl and Deborah cook for you, it’s a gift.

Watching them work together in the kitchen was beautiful. First, it’s obvious how much they love one another and how much joy they take in preparing meals together. The whole process of cooking was like a partly choreographed, partly improvised dance. One person moving to the island in the middle of the kitchen to chop or read a recipe as the other moves to the stove to stir or add a bit of spice. One getting a bowl from the cabinet as the other pulls leaves off a stem. It was like watching a ballet where the story was being written by the dancers right there in the moment.

But what struck me even more was their attention to detail. Every part of the cooking process – deciding what to make and which dishes would go together, preparing the ingredients, cooking those ingredients, choosing the right serving containers and utensils – was carefully thought out, discussed, and agreed upon. There was a moment when Daryl and Deborah were picking exactly the right spoon for serving the chana dal, and I was overwhelmed with a sense of the love and joy and care that they put into meals and into taking care of their guests.

I’ve always appreciated people who care about the tiny details. Knowing the names of all the parts of a machine or the parts of speech or the intricacies of a piece of music. I once dated someone who said she only dated nerds, in other words, people who had at least one thing in which they were deeply interested. I still think that’s sound advice. Watching my friends cook brought that home. (Of course, the beautiful thing about D&D is that they bring that same level of passion and attention to many other things in addition to cooking.)

Being with Daryl and Deborah is inspiring in many ways. They’re a living lesson in mindfulness. I’m going to pay more attention to what they’re teaching.

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haiku: 10 November 2013

it wasn’t until spilling
half the miso soup from the pot
that I remembered I own a ladle

10 November 2013
Oak Street

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POEM: chana masala


chana masala

over chana masala and nan
we fixed all the world’s problems
or at least convinced ourselves
that the grass was indeed greener
in other places we’d lived

when I got home I put on the record
I’ve been listening to again and again
funny how a voice can work its way
inside me, open all the doors
slip past every defense

lately I’ve been wondering
whether it’s possible to fall in love
with a voice alone
a series of organized sounds
standing in for touch and sight

as the next song starts
I think yes, it’s more than possible
and for the first time in years
I draw a hot bath, grab a book
and sink down into the future

26 July 2013
Auburn AL

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POEM: surefire recipe for a good lunch

surefire recipe for a good lunch

1. beans and lettuce and quinoa
2. a little lemon and olive oil
3. a sunny table on the lawn
4. exactly the right person

In a pinch, all you really need is #4.

12 March 2013
Auburn, AL

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POEM: apples and peanut butter


apples and peanut butter
(for Sally T)

a Braeburn sits on the tabletop
it’s destined for your ever-present backpack
nestled between your Macbook and
a new jar of Santa Cruz peanut butter
(I haven’t seen inside your backpack
but that’s what I imagine is in there)

Braeburn and Mutzu and Winesap
are words in foreign tongues to me
I’ve never tasted any of them
(to be honest, I’ve probably eaten
two apples in my entire life —
I didn’t come from a fruit family)

you make me want to eat more apples
not in a Jack Nicholson/Helen Hunt way
but in the way the best people make me
want to explore new bits of my surroundings
peek around corners I didn’t realize were there
to find streets full of apple carts

20 January 2013
Auburn, AL

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POEM: making fried rice


making fried rice

slicing the potatoes
dicing the onions
chopping the garlic
slivering the ginger
heating the wok
adding the sesame oil
pouring the soy sauce
mixing the veggies
stirring the mixture
inhaling the aroma
boiling the rice
filling the wok
drizzling more soy sauce
tasting the fried rice
eating it all

12 January 2013
Auburn, AL

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POEM: Naruto Ramen, Brooklyn

Naruto Ramen, Brooklyn

where the cooks speak a mixture
of Japanese and Spanish
Irashaimase!” they call
as people come in off 5th Ave
hang their coats and backpacks
on the wall hooks
those who know sit at the bar
because the bar is a sacred place
where devotion is paid
to the sprout, the noodle,
the bean pod, the tofu square,
the white pepper garnish
the sweat on the brow
the cold Sapporo or Asahi
the cheap balsa wood hashi
that you break at the end
scraping the sticks against
one another to remove splinters
order the extra noodles because
they’re generous with the broth
slurp loud enough to pay respect
to the hachimaki-sporting men
flinging pots on the six-burner stove
like Barishnikovs with ladles
for some, the nostalgia is as thick
as the steam rising off the broth pots
it’s a bit of a surprise to leave
and find yourself in Brooklyn
not in any of a thousand thousand shops
just like this one, tucked around a corner
of a narrow street, in every town in Japan

4 April 2012
Brooklyn, NY

/ / /

It’s National Poetry Writing Month! A poem a day, each day in April.

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haiku (stone #40)

This haiku is largely an inside joke. Sorry about that.

/ / /

warm miso soup
cold soba & the taste of avocado
way better than Chipotle (TM)

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stone #10

Listen using the player above.

/ / /

first my teeth pierce the soft nori skin
then move through the rice into the rich
avocado in the center

the mug of sencha fits perfectly in my hand
and there’s just enough room at the table
for these friends who will miss me when I go

/ / /

part of a river of stones


Why I became a vegan

I’ve been a vegan for 24 hours and have already started fielding questions from friends and acquaintances about why I made this decision. Many of my friends (in particular, Jenn Cornish) have offered words of support and resources for navigating this new world. Thanks, all.

The Chain Of Events

If you’re reading this blog, you probably know something about me and the various things I’ve done with my life thus far. I’ve been a fairly active progressive as a union organizer, Green candidate for local office, anti-war organizer and bicycling advocate. During all that time, I’ve also been eating beef and chicken and fish and dairy products, and lots of them. Given that 99% of that meat comes from creatures who are abused, caged and tortured to varying degrees, that practice is ethically inconsistent with how I try to live the rest of my life. Up until this weekend, I just compartmentalized that issue and chalked it up to “it’s a complex world and you have to pick your battles.” Plus, I really like sushi and tonkatsu and eel and karaage and chicken flautas and and and.

Over the past week, I’ve been overdosing on past episodes of the show Citizen Radio, hosted by comedian Jamie Kilstein and political writer Alison Kilkenny. They are both vegans and couch their veganism in terms of social justice. That’s a very compelling argument and one that, as I mentioned, I’ve been willfully ignoring. On a recent show, they interviewed the progressive punk band Rise Against. At the end of the interview, Alison and Jamie asked the band to recommend things they found inspiring, and one of the band members recommended the book Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer. I got it from the library on Thursday and became a vegan yesterday.

Why Not A Vegetarian?

I initially thought I’d become a vegetarian and then maybe move on to being a vegan. The more I read about the issues, though, the more vegetarianism seems to fall short of the mark from an ethical and social justice perspective. It’s nearly impossible in this country to get dairy products or eggs from a source other than factory farming. I’m slightly more ambivalent about folks who raise their own chickens in small numbers to collect their eggs. Some of my very closest friends do this and care deeply for their chickens. They treat them humanely and let them live natural lives. These people are certainly the exception, not the rule, however, so it’s easier for me to cut those things out completely. (There’s also the fact that even the most humane treatment involves caging animals, but I haven’t really reached an opinion on this yet.)

I also like the idea of limiting animal consumption in other ways than just food. Being a vegan can impact the clothes and chemicals I use and some of the social interactions I have, and it also fits well with my anti-corporate philosophy.

Now What?

Well, now I have a lot of learning to do. I bought a vegan cookbook and got quite a few other resource suggestions from Jenn Cornish. I also need to examine the other areas of my life and the other purchases I make to see what needs to be modified and what alternatives exist. Citizen Radio is sponsored by Vegan Essentials, which is one source of products (not just food) made to vegan standards.

I also need to find more vegetables that I like and more ways to prepare them. I’ve never been a huge veggie fan, so I’m looking forward to expanding my horizons. I already eat (and in some cases cook) a lot of Japanese food without meat or fish or chicken, and I’m also a big fan of Indian food. I hope to add some other cuisines to my diet as well.

Another book I’m reading, Vegan Freak: Being Vegan in a Non-Vegan World (Tofu Hound Press), suggested going “cold tofu” — become a vegan and commit to it for three weeks, with the idea that at the end of that time it will be easy to keep going. So that’s what I’m doing. Wish me luck!