February 24, 2008 § 3 Comments

Dick Cheney! I broke my keyboard! I was scraping around between the keys and producing quite a sizable dustclump when I got a little too aggressive with the left-side command button (equivalent of control on PC) and off it popped. And either I can’t figure out the plastic spring mechanism or digits lack the requisite delicacy for the job, because after about two hours of breathless surgery and trying many configurations, I’m still without the button. Of course, the reason the base of this particular key was so filthy is because it’s the key I use most, so there has been a VERY STEEP LEARNING CURVE this afternoon as I reacquainted myself with all those inefficient mouse movements that one uses while copying and pasting engineering specs from one document to another. And there’s a gaping wound where I’ve injured my faithful companion here. Sorry, Horatio.

Richard thinks our next door neighbor, an on-site, independent Apple technician could repair the damage, but while we were all wrapped up in our own misery and poverty in 2006-07, he was caring for his terminally ill wife— and we found out so late in the game we were too late to make many overtures, although we had both finished a long stint with palliative care ourselves, and might have offered an empathic ear. The wife was a kind, helpful, sparkly woman, and even seeing him shoveling out his car makes both of us so abashed and embarrassed about our selfishness and unneighborliness in their time of need, I can’t imagine knocking on his door to ask for rescue.

Three Quick Vegetarian Suppers

February 21, 2008 § 3 Comments

for Stephen Parrish

Thrice Baked Potatoes
4 russet potatoes, pricked with fork
1 bunch broccoli, cut into florets, stem peeled and sliced
2 T butter or olive oil
¾ cup plain yogurt
½ – ¾ cup Cheddar or other semi-soft English-y cheese, grated
salt & pepper to taste

Bake the potatoes at 400°F for an hour.
While they bake, saute the broccoli in butter, seasoning with salt and pepper. Combine yogurt, cheese, and broccoli in a large bowl, reserving a bit of cheese for the tops of the potatoes.
After the hour has passed, remove potatoes from oven and allow to cool ten minutes. Do a U-shaped cut out of the top of each, scoop the flesh into the yogurt mixture, then put potato skins back in the oven to crisp up for eight minutes or so.
Mash and mix the filling thoroughly, seasoning to taste, then fill the crisped shells. Mound it up like I do, or save some filling for brunch. Top with reserved cheese, then broil the potatoes for 8 more minutes.

Taco Filling/Nacho Topping
1 tub firm or extra firm tofu (about 12 ounces by weight), crumbled
2 tablespoons salt-free Mexican seasoning (or a mixture of cumin, cinnamon, oregano, and coriander to make 2 tablespoons)
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons olive oil/mixture of olive oil and butter
1 28-oz can whole tomatoes
1 14-oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1-1 ½ cups frozen corn
1 chipotle chili finely chopped, or a spoonful of adobo sauce
salt & pepper to taste

Start by toasting the spices on medium heat for 3 minutes or so, until they’re fragrant and faintly smoky, then add the oil and tofu, stirring to coat. Cook 5-6 minutes, adding salt to taste. Add minced garlic (with a little more fat if necessary— we cook mostly in cast iron or non-stick) and cook for one minute, then add tomatoes and , smooshing them in the pan. Bring to a simmer and allow to simmer for 10 more minutes. Stir in beans and corn, and serve when warmed through.
Serve alongside rice in taco shells with the usual variety of accompaniments: spinach or lettuce, salsa, cubed avocado, pickled jalapeños, etc. This goes very nicely with goat cheese, too.

Spinach Pilaf
1 block of firm tofu, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2 tablespoons butter
3 garlic cloves
2 teaspoons ground coriander + a few scrapings of nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
2 fresh tomatoes, chopped
2 cups basmati rice
2 big handfuls spinach
½ lemon

In a medium saucepan, fry the tofu in the butter until golden brown on at least two sides. Add the garlic, coriander and nutmeg, saute until fragrant. Then add tomato, rice, stir for one minute. Add 2 ⅔ cups water* and salt, stir once, then cover and let simmer for 15 minutes. Remove cover, add spinach, then recover until spinach is wilted and rice is done (up to five minutes). Squeeze the lemon over just before serving.

*This is assuming you use white basmati. if you use brown, use 2 cups rice:4 cups water, and increase cooking time to 35-40 minutes, adding spinach a few minutes from the end.

This recipe lends itself to many variations… try it with cashews, almonds, raisins or chopped dried apricots, frozen peas, coconut milk, curry powder or garam masala, lemongrass, fennel seeds, green beans, lentils, potatoes… lots of possibilities.

Sudden snowstorms raged on the November day when against token opposition he was elected President…

February 20, 2008 § Leave a comment

“…and scarcely abated thereafter. It could not have been always winter in those years, summer must have come around as duly as ever, yet universally people remembered winters: the longest, coldest, deepest winters ever known; one continuous winter. Every hardship the Tyrant regretfully imposed or his opponents willfully inflicted in their uprisings against him was made worse by winter, by months of frozen mud and sleety rain that continually mired every enterprise. Winter made ghastly and hopeless the movements of trucks, traffic, brown-clad troops; everywhere, deeply marking the memory, were the huddled clots and queues of refugees, rag-bound against the cold; the stalled trains, grounded planes,; the new frontiers at which lines of slush-bound cars tailpipes breathing cold clouds, waited to be examined by muffled guards; shortages of everything, the awful struggle, the difficulties and uncertainties made more awful by the isolating endless cold.”

John Crowley, Little, Big


Writing executive summaries for two newsletters doesn’t leave much room for creativity or joy, and then, of course, we live on the Atlantic coast where sunless days can be measured in weeks. A string of twenty gray days in a row ended Monday; three weeks during which the highlight was receiving a Seedsavers catalog of fantastical varieties of melon and tomato that laugh heartily in the carefully moistened soil; mocking my dream of just. one. Brandywine.

Further to my previous two posts, the body of Karissa Boudreau was found on February 9, as I said, and the police announced the following Thursday that she had been murdered. A twelve-year-old, abandoned in a dirty snowbank beside the river.

In the Bleak Midwinter

February 10, 2008 § 2 Comments

This winter has gotten a little wearing for all the usual dreary, gray reasons. It snows nearly every day— with little total accumulation— and the sky is always heavy, iron gray. I don’t mind the snow, though; every fall still seems miraculous after so many brown winters, it’s just that I never feel I have the excuse to play in it, nor the proper attire. And with every snowfall, the chances of a happy outcome were dampened.

The body of Karissa Boudreau has washed up on the shores of the LaHave River, just downstream from where she disappeared. No official confirmation yet, but the body is described as an adolescent female caucasian, and there’s only one missing. I do hope it’s not someone no one was looking for. The body was buried in snowdrifts, and the RCMP were out all night carefully preserving the snow around the body.

Like everyone else, I’m so sorry for the family; and I’m sorry for the employees at the Irvings and SaveEasys who will have to take down their posters and fliers. I’m sorry for all of us who searched the faces of girls along the side of the road, and watched the waters of the LaHave with dread, and hoped a little less each day.

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