Wednesday, July 04, 2018

My Recipe Novella - Pressurized Rhubarb in the Instant Pot

It’s a thing, you know. These days, when you look up a recipe on the interwebs, you don’t just get a straight up recipe with just the facts ma’am tablespoons and cooking temperatures. 

Now the recipe is like the climax after paragraphs about grandmothers and prairies. There is talk about heading out to a well-tended garden on rainy days. After sniffing the fragrance of a good simple life, the recipe author will gracefully kneel to clip perky stalks of nostalgic vegetables sprouted from the pink hearts of homemade whole grain bread baked with love in shiny retro appliances covered with artfully arranged Hello Kitty stickers.

Also there are a lot of ads for Pottery Barn for Kids.

I love moss-covered table decorations as much as the next gal, and so I became inspired. May I present to you my first, and probably last, Recipe Novella:

I went out in my ancient slippers to pick up the CSA box. I threw all the vegetables in the fridge. Then I ignored them for about a week, until everything became somewhat flaccid and clearly on the way out. 

This is when I normally snap into action. 

I extracted everything from the fridge and besides the easily identifiable kale and turnips and romaine hearts, I found some long red celery looking things. I smelled them and cut them in half, but to no avail. I had a mystery produce item on my hands.

Mystery Blood Celery

In a burst of epiphany possibly accompanied by 80’s electronica, I recalled the photocopied sheet that always lists the contents of the CSA box. I fished it out of the recycling bin and by process of elimination identified the stalks as Rhubarb. 

I should have moved the sheet from the counter
before I started washing things

I do not have a treasured box of family recipes. Both my grandmas were somewhat questionable in the kitchen department. No worries, the google found this narrative about stewing Rhubarb including a decent backstory and plot line:

It looked amazing and such cute rubber boots. I couldn’t be bothered with the whole stove part of the operation so I just threw all the ingredients in the Instant Pot, guessed at the timing (8 minutes?) and hoped for the best. And when I say “all the ingredients” I mean all the ones I happened to have on hand. 

My Pressurized Rhubarb turned out pretty well. Good enough to add to my smoothie. I could barely taste it.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

MidSummer through Jenga

Corridor to Midsummer in Battery Park, NYC

After we left the Midsummer fest on Friday, we marched up to El Vez for corn tacos. But we only made it half way there. Someone spotted a half empty patio with twinkling Christmas lights and Casey had us a table in T minus 20.

Personally I couldn’t keep my eyes off the party of six next to us. Two gentlemen took turns slapping each other across the face for about ten minutes. Then a skinny Asian girl fell underneath the table and simply could not escape. The table legs were like the bars of her personal prison, impossible to circumvent when you're flat on the floor. Finally she managed some sort of yogic sunrise and rejoined the world of chairs.

After that, they all did body shots of tequila.

Earlier, at the midsummer fest, Anna Karin told me her American husband got the Swedish Rosetta Stone but he quit because he was learning sentences like “The girl is under the table.” Whoever would need to say “the girl is under the table” in Swedish, she griped. Well, now we know. 

Don’t underestimate Rosetta Stone.

The waitress, it turned out, was moving to Croatia the very next day. Our fellow patrons had come to see her off very emphatically and in a fashion that no one would recall in the morning.

Meanwhile, over at our table, we felt experienced. We’d been out hopping like frogs around the midsummer pole for something like 8 hours and yet were totally able to sit in an upright position and grill the waitress for solutions to everyone’s unique dietary restrictions. Also could she ask the kitchen to make a corn taco.  

We went inside when it started to rain. Someone noticed a ping pong table. Tom and Jo teamed up for a little doubles action versus Casey and Steven. Their moves were daring and terrifically bouncy. Surprisingly, we only found one ball lodged in Petrina’s tote bag after the match.

Jenga seemed like a good idea for a cool down. Our first game was total anarchy. We only figured this out after Jo got back from the bathroom and schooled us on every single Jenga rule. He has a keen eye for compliance. The game ended in a towering ruckus and then we had to leave because they turned the lights on in the bar and started picking up the salt shakers.

Considering that now we were going on pretty much a full day in the field so to speak, including serious solstice action, teaching “Helan Går" to the unwary, getting bitten by children, enjoying svenska punsch with a lot of ants, learning that spiked seltzer exists… it was an achievement. Kind of like a triathlon.  But that's next week.

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Family Pile-On

It all started when my mom dropped the s-word in front of the kids. My bro tells grandma she could certainly come up better word choices. Almost immediately afterwards, he sends this text:

Sunday, June 03, 2018

Well... that was awkward.

Coming home the other day, I ran into our neighbor Marilyn outside on the sidewalk. Her sad, matted little dog slumped over in one of those dog strollers while Marilyn chatted with a young woman I had never seen before.

"This is my niece Dara. She's visiting from Virginia," said Marilyn.

I said nice to meet you or something. Then we all stood there uncomfortably, like you do when you run into someone on the sidewalk but can't think of anything to talk about.

"She's 17 and completely arthritic," interjected Marilyn. "She can barely walk."

My eyebrows probably disappeared into my hairline. I looked at Dara the niece. "My goodness," I said. "That must be a challenge."

"She's talking about the dog," said Dara.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

George Washington, a sight you can't unsee by Grant Wood at the Whitney

In case you didn't know, Grant Wood was the one-hit wonder who painted American Gothic:
American Gothic by Grant Wood.

Grant Wood's other works are obscure. Perhaps for a reason. At the solo exhibit at the Whitney, this painting caught my attention:

Grant Wood painting of George Washington

I stared at the central theme - a young George Washington brandishing an ax after cutting down his pop's cherry tree. "I cannot tell a lie," he blabbers. This tell-all gambit seems like a totally straightforward best move, given that young George has just been caught brandishing an ax in the middle of the yard. 

Let's zoom in on the action:

Zooming in on young George

And tighter:

What head?

Aha. Now I see what is so peculiar.

If little George is so smart, why is he out cutting down cherry trees in satin Tory Burch ballet slippers? Not only are these a genuinely bad idea for ax-work, but they're also a crappy get-away choice.

I eyeballed this rendering of our founding father with a giant WTF dangling over my head. And a song came roaring out of my subconscious. It became the soundtrack for the whole damn day. As a result, I am not happy with Brad Neely. Or Grant Wood.

Civilized Air Travel does not include smearing up the back of your seat

Speaking of things not to do if there's someone sitting behind you...

Some lady on the plane back from Cuba
Let me turn your attention to air travel, specifically civilized air travel. One rule of etiquette might be:

Do not rub your fingers all over the screen on the back of your seat.

I don't understand the contortions necessary for this sort of rear overhead relaxation. I envision the armpit in the stewardess's face though. "And ma'am, what would you like to drink..." cough cough cough.

I showed the above photo to someone and they said I should have leaned forward and licked her thumb. I would have considered this course of action had it not sounded so truly unhygienic.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Our Broadway weekend.

Never man-bun at the theater. Never woman-bun either, especially a topknot of any kind. Hair should be low slung and, if possible, damp so as to avoid frizz. Someone is sitting behind you for chrissake. They might have a short torso.

Also, do not move around your head like you're listening to polka music. You are not listening to polka music. Everyone with a view including your head now also appears to be listening to polka music, just in the opposite direction. It's a chain reaction. It would be a terrific play-by-play commentary:

"The gentleman in G105 with the long spiky haircut-- he's at again with the agitated bobble-head moves. The woman in H105 reacts to left. And it's I105 to the right... 
But now for the flourish! G105s girlfriend, there she is with the head tilt aaand... SHE PUTS HER ARM AROUND G105. The crowd goes wild. 
It's a cascade folks, a veritable waterfall. Everyone in the 103 and 105 seats madly attempts to catch a glimpse the culmination of Act 1 on stage. And fails miserably. It's midnight for Cinderella for the low 100 seats. Maybe Act II will be their time to see the show."

On Thursday and Friday nights, we saw Angels in America. On Saturday afternoon, we saw The Play That Goes Wrong with Derek and Wanda. Very different, these two shows.

But there was an incident during Angels in America that was eerily similar to The Play. I took it as foreshadowing.

During the third act, a hospital bed on wheels hadn't been locked in place. And the bed began to slowly roll across the stage, headed in the direction of the front row. Andrew Garfield tried to stop it, but there was an angel in the room, and Andrew got bodily moved elsewhere. The bed continued to roll...

photo credit:

Boom. Five guys in black with headsets come flying out stage left and clamp that sucker down. They are gone as fast as they showed up.

On Saturday, during the Play that Goes Wrong, the whole stage fell apart. Nobody did anything about it though. That was the point.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Adding and Subtracting and Toting Up the Meaning

Usually, I sit down to write these blog posts and a theme comes to me. It's not usually an effort. I just think about the goings-on and notice a peculiar pattern. Or an odd outlier. I try to find some meaning in life, which might seem unbelievably quaint but usually I give it a solid college try.

So far, 2018 has been a neurotic cat totally unwilling to get herded. Maybe Mercury is in retrograde or something. When I try to recall yesterday or last week or last month, it's all choppy and poorly lit.

Probably normal people don't attempt to summarize their calendars. But when I don't or can't, it makes me harshly aware of the nature of earthly things --  mainly that anything I can touch with my fingers, hear or see is as mesmerizing as it is vacuous. Everything tangible I'm preoccupied with at this exact moment, I know I won't remember in a month. And time disappears without even a poof.

Despite all my faults, which are numerous and occasionally spectacular, I think I figured at least one thing out. What matters to me is what the time spent adds up to. And if it actually adds up to anything, it is possible to write down the sum of it on a piece of paper.


I have a proxy for determining if there's any sort of meaning to be found in how I'm choosing to fritter away my hours. It's my ability to write a blog post or a really short journal entry. Nice when it's that simple.

Quite possibly this whole introspective phase might have started right after my second, and final, grandmother died in January. It's been a tough transition. Anyone who has experienced the death or disablement or departure of beloved family or a friend has experienced the same, I'm confident.

What a melancholy moment it is to find yourself in the possession of a topic --  a topic that, in the past, you would have tucked carefully away in brain tissue. While you waited, with great anticipation, for the chance to talk to the one other person who would also relish the topic.

And then together you'd inspect the topic and poke at it, savor it. You'd laugh over it using language no one else would understand because the words are really about the thing that happened twenty years ago and you both smile as you remember it.

But now, instead, you spot the topic. Maybe you turn it over in your hands once or twice. And then you drop it on the sidewalk because. What's the point.

That's an endgame right there. To be around and appreciate people who see time spent together as an opportunity to build something together. A structure where all these shared topics hang on the walls in frames and the chairs are comfortable. This mysigt-filled place might have a name in Swedish. Probably the Buddhists also have it figured out.

Even though I can't think of a good name for it, let me state for the record that without this joint construction project, the relationship or friendship isn't much more in hindsight than laundry lists of dates on the calendar.

I don't know.

I guess it's fun while it lasts.