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Archive for the ‘Blogging Dinner’

Open Water

June 27, 2010 By: admin Category: Abandonment Journal, Blogging Dinner, Body, Coal, Faith, Filmmaking, Food, Going Home, Happiness, Living, Love, Meditation, Molly, Running

Tonight I went to the gallery opening of a famous island painter, Allen Whiting. His work doesn’t jump out at you, but if you spend a little time seeing where he’s going with his choices, it certainly grows on you. Revealed. The intention is revealed. In other cases you can see the intention immediately.

Such was the case with the above painting, “April-Tisbury Great Pond-Chilmark, MA,” which I bought in postcard form for a friend. The moment I saw the postcard I knew it was for her. “The intrepid fisherman in waders in the early morning, out alone in his little skiff, too young to be so in love with a practice that takes him away from people.” But there’s a love in the image too. Pure love, that’s simple and universal. Everyone will look at this painting and feel the same thing.

Things are opening up. My mind, specifically. Letting go is more a lesson learned and less a teaching, and I am, for what it’s worth, the better for it. But I still wonder about love. In all the meditation I’ve done, classes taken, and books read there is no mention of how we are to maintain an attitude of impermanence while accepting love into our lives. One teacher said: “Oh, it makes love bigger and better!” But I don’t see how. “As soon as you love,” the teachings seem to go, “you have to remind yourself that everything is impermanent.” They lost me at “Hello.” How can you love and maintain an attitude of… alright, you know the rest. But you get where I’m coming from right?

I’m thinking about these things because I realized that I’m still in love and that I won’t be able to have another relationship until these feelings fade. But they’re pretty strong feelings, so my hope for success is… kinda low. So I turn to the teachings which say, in essence “Live with it. Sucka.” Okay, no, the teachings don’t add the “Sucka” part, but that’s what it feels like sometimes. The good news is that I’ve finally moved out of Bitter. I am now firmly ensconced in “Oh well,” which I usually follow with a shrug. I am Learning To Let Go, and, frankly, it sucks. Truly, though, I won’t know if it’s good that I’ve learned to let go until I have a new, real relationship, and as we know that won’t be for some time… blah, blah, blah… You get the idea.

And so I spend a lot of time alone. I sit and look all around at this gorgeous island’s landscapes, I read, I edit, and I watch a little TV now and again. I no longer eat dessert, run probably more than I should, sleep without a comforter, allow the cats to drink out of my water glass, and avoid–as much as possible–looking at pictures of myself from the back.

In short, things are changing–evolving before my eyes–and although I’m happy that I’ve finally found some of the grace to just observe it, the price sucks.

ala Nilda

February 03, 2010 By: admin Category: Blogging Dinner, Coal, Cooking, Family, Food, Happiness, Health, House, Humane Food, India, Love, Michael, Molly, Mom, Recipes

Before I go another back-breaking minute of transcribing a long interview for my coal film, I’ll pause to tell you about a treasure I just found…

When Mom died I did three things: gathered all her clothes and jewelry and farmed them out to family, friends, and charities; brought home my third of her ashes (morbid, I know, but I really wanted “her” near me); and collected as many of her cookbooks as I could find. Specifically, I searched for books that had her writing in the notes and margins. Mom thought in recipes all the time and when she had an idea, she’d write it down. Everywhere. There are bits of loose paper, newspaper articles, notecards, and books written all over in Spanish and English. Names of spices and proteins, temperatures, and cook times.

BLURREDcandy-peanut-brittle

Today, as a break from the transcribing and in the name of finding something yummy to make for dinner, I pulled out one of her stacks of random recipes clipped together with a metal binder and looked through them. What I found are recipes and memories:

“Chicken Curry, Juthica.” Juthica is an old family friend and a good one to begin this list with. Mom and Juthica met through their Yale connections in New Haven, CT in the 60s and became good friends. Mom always liked strong, independent, and smart people and Juthica was certainly that. One day while I was in my sophomore year in college in NYC, I got a call from Mom telling me to come home immediately, that she had someone she wanted me to meet. It was in the middle of the week and so I reminded my usually VERY academically-minded mother that I’d be missing a day of COLLEGE if I came home. “I know. It’s worth it. Come tonight,” is all she said. I got on the commuter train early the next day and met Juthica that afternoon. Like my mother before me, I was instantly entranced by charismatic Juthica–a native Bengali of Calcutta–and resolved to help her with the humanitarian aid project she’s started only a few years before. Little did I know that this would be the first spark in a film career that would have it’s first international accolade (“Soma Girls”) because of Juthica.

“Alfajores.” These are basically the cookies to end all cookies. Think of an oreo where the chocolate cookie-part is a butter cookie and the middle squishy part is half-hardened caramel spread. My brother would beg for these.

“Roast Pork ala Nilda.” Nilda was my mother’s name and almost nothing in her repertoire of savory dishes would exclude cumin. That’s where the “ala Nilda” bit comes in, I think. Not surprisingly, therefore, this dish has a bunch of fun spices as well as cumin and on the notecard includes the instruction: “Let sit for ten minutes, then serve with the pan juices.” Neither my mother nor I have ever met a pan of juices we didn’t like. The theory is that if it’s slurpable with bread, it’s “FOOD.”

When I was much older and had only a modest number of recipes that I could cook well, my mother bemoaned her former strictness in the kitchen. Even though she came from a traditional culture where women were suppose to learn the “domestic arts,” she hated having me underfoot when she cooked. True, I did have an annoying habit of grazing as things got prepared (something I also plagued Molly–another fabulous cook–with), but that wasn’t it. I think she just needed her space clear. The kitchen was her church, her fiefdom, her production studio and she needed it controlled in order to create her masterpieces. Thankfully, I have a very good sense of smell and memory for the flavors and dished she created and so even though she made me stand at arm’s length, I saw most of what she did and how she did it.

Today I still cook only a few of my mother’s dishes–I’m slowly building up the amount that I memorize–but the ones I know have their impact. Recently, I made Mom’s Bolognese sauce for Michael and Laura. Michael flipped when he tasted it. I saw the memories and joy fly across his face. It must have been almost ten years since he’d last had it with pasta. That sauce has a Molly memory too: her family loved it so much that they used to commission it. Or, sometimes, when I was making it for just Molly and me word would get around that “Alexia is making meatsauce,” and before we knew it we’d have many more at the table for dinner. :)

Mom’s meals used to feed armies of children in New Haven, mostly Michael’s friends who, if they became “regulars” soon saw themselves being cooked-for specifically. “I’m making the pie for David,” Mom would say of Michael’s best friend. I’d have to have children in order to have those kinds of numbers of people climbing through my house, but when there’s a group event that I’m either hosting or contributing too, I always make something of Mom’s. It’s an easy way to make people happy and introduce a whole new crop of devotees to “ala Nilda.”

Happy Monday

January 18, 2010 By: admin Category: Abandonment Journal, Blogging Dinner, Body, Cooking, Faith, Family, Fatblogging, Food, Happiness, Health, Humane Food, Living, Love, Molly, Valet Battleship Parking

This morning it’s hard to tell why I feel so good. Was it the reasonable and delicious “all food groups represented” dinner; the fact that we went to bed fairly early; the sex; the exceptional comfort and relief that comes from the feeling of our skins together in sleep; homemade French toast for breakfast? Or is it the combination of all of these things as well as the talking honestly in the middle of the night when she got scared that’s making such a difference?

holding hands

I used to be able to tell so much about my emotional state from the reactions of my body. Time was if I was bloated or constipated I was likely overwhelmed and needing some time to relax and center so I could eat properly again. That would also have been a sign of unaddressed depression or fear because when I get ahead of myself I tend to reach for any old meal instead of what I know is good for me. The phrase “we are what we eat” is sooooo true for me, but now that in concert with the settling of this honest, raw and beautiful new thing results in a greater ease than I’ve ever felt before, and so I feel somewhat compelled to identify it’s details lest I lose the ability to repeat it. That said, I also appreciate the mystery of “letting it happen,” so don’t you all flip out that I’m being overly analytical. 😉

The simple fact that she and I can be confident about living our own lives without the classic dyke drama of needing to micromanage each other brings a relief I can’t describe. But sometimes I think it’s her big, brown eyes that make me so happy. Her eyes can’t hide anything and so when I look at them I know exactly where I stand and that’s new and wonderful for me. It’s been this way with her since the beginning: me learning all the ways in which my last relationship was deficient, the ways I was hurtfully neglected. This new squeeze is so open and attentive and loving and respectful that she is showing me to myself–HOW BITCHIN’ IS THAT????? I get to see the very good and very bad of me and, moreover, have a chance to correct the bad before it gets worse.

When it comes to just about any kind of relationship, it’s amazing the kind of shit we’ll let happen to us, the red flags we’ll ignore. If we’re lucky we get out of those situations before too much damage has been done, and if we’re really, really lucky we’ll have friends and family around to help us rebuild and tell us the truth so we don’t ignore any warnings the next time around. And if we’re really, really, really lucky we are sent someone like my new squeeze who shows us that our instincts are intact and that we deserve all the love we’ve been wanting for so long… :)

Happy Monday, everyone. :)

The Stripped-Down, Common Sense Genius of Michael Pollan

October 23, 2008 By: admin Category: Blogging Dinner, Body, Cooking, Food, Health, Humane Food

“Don’t eat anything that won’t eventually rot.” This is Michael Pollan’s best advice so far. It comes on the heels of “Stay on the perimeter of the grocery store,” which was preceded by the subtitle of his book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, “Eat Food. Not to much. Mostly plants.”

I watched a 1-hour talk on YouTube (below) Pollan gave at a symposium for authors sponsored by Google. He was pimping his latest book, In Defense of Food, but spoke at length about food as a whole and why he chose to write this last book. Mostly, he said, it was because people kept approaching me saying they couldn’t finish The Omnivore’s Dilemma because they were afraid that they’d starve after reading about all the foods they couldn’t eat anymore.

I encourage everyone to carve out an hour to watch this. You’ll feel very glad that you did. Reawakening our perspectives is healthy, and, with built-in “information overload” systems  we can’t really get too much of it…

The End of A Short-Assed Era OR Please Don’t Call Me A Vegetarian

July 21, 2008 By: admin Category: Blogging Dinner, Body, Fatblogging, Food, Humane Food

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So… it happened. I broke down for bacon. But here’s the thing… I didn’t need it, I just wanted it. It wasn’t a craving thing as much it was a “oh holy god I haven’t eaten bacon for months” thing. Also, bacon isn’t like other meats. it’s BACON. It has special powers. And so I’ll eat it as much as I can while I’m dancing through this landscape called “pescatarian.”

Seriously, though, this whole “fish only” thing isn’t by choice. It’s just happening. I LOVE beef. I LOVE chicken. I LOVE pork… and, ohmygod, LAMB???? I live for lamb; except for recently I can’t help thinking about living lambs. Itty-bitty baby sheep being slaughtered for my enjoyment. I get the whole “survival of the fittest” thing, I really do — I’m the fuckin’ poster child for survival of the fittest! — but lambs are SO CUTE! So, consequently, those have been off my plate as well.

Let me reiterate…. let me, as Aaron Sorkin would say, “spread it out for you in a nutshell”: I. AM. NOT. A VEGETARIAN. And, unlike a bisexual, am not confused about my gastric identity, for I am also not a pescatarian. I identify as a bloodthirsty, grease-loving, CARNIVORE and am completely at peace with that!!!! Except, notsomuch when it comes to the teeny-tiny lambies…

I’ve Just Been Mizrahi-d

May 01, 2008 By: admin Category: Blogging Dinner, Body, Cooking, Family, Fatblogging, Food, General, Health, Randomosity

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If you’ve never seen it, fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi’s website is a MUST VISIT. This is a link to his videoblog which I think is absolute genius. I’ve always said that you can’t have a video blog if you are a) forced to hold things back and/or, b) you’re not famous. But even though he’s famous, Mizrahi has a way of being Everygay–his vlog feels like how I would do a vlog if I ever got the guts. I’d just talk about all the things I hate about myself in a funny manner so everyone could empathize and we could all feel better together.

Universality, baby. It’s what it’s all about…

Blogging dinner: Molly’s dad, John made the famous family stew/roast. DELICIOUS. I’m never disappointed by anything this man cooks, but the stew is a real wow-er. The meat melts away and the potatoes and carrots swim lovingly in a broth made of wine and beer and whatever-the-hell-else he cares to throw in there. He just has the touch, this man.  Anyway, I managed to avoid wine and an extra helping and was rewarded with a compliment from our guests: “You’re looking skinny.” I’m not, but it’s still fun to hear it. 😉

The Zen of Great Rice

February 21, 2008 By: admin Category: Blogging Dinner, Cooking, Food, Health, India, Mom, Recipes

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DOVER SOLE WITH MAYO AND MUSTARD GLAZE
I got the ingredients for this dish from Mom’s copy of “The Spice Cookbook.

Filets of Dover Sole for 2
Mustard (of choice — I used a French kind with those big, brown seeds in it)
Mayonnaise
Thyme
Pepper
Salt
Lemon juice

Heat large skillet on Med/High.

Mix about 2 teaspoons of mayo with 1.5 teaspoons of mustard. Add 1 teaspoon Thyme, .5 teaspoons of Pepper, and dashes of Salt & Lemon Juice to taste. Stir’em up good so they’re mixed together very well. Lather the fish in this concoction and place filets into the skillet. Cover and immediately turn heat down to Low. (Sole cooks very fast!) Cook one side of filets for about 2 mins., then turn over and cook opposite side for 2 mins. Turn heat off, cover skillet, remove skillet from cooling burner. let sit. 2 mins. on each side should be enough to cook the fish through. If not then the cover-and-let-sit action will do the trick. It will also enhance the moistness of the fish.

*****

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I’m a simple girl. Easy to please: you work hard, I’ll get off your back; you treat my nearest and dearest well, I’m your friend for life. So then it’s little wonder that I’m in awe of great rice. Great rice can make a meal, and as Mom used to say, “It’s not easy, Ah-lehck-SYA!”

Tonight and last night I made killer rice. Molly had requested fish for dinner and when I went to the store I couldn’t resist getting dover sole AND whole brook trout. She’d only asked for fish for the one night, but when a Prichard sees a deal ($4.99 a pound!!!)… and we had to have rice because if you’re avoiding potatoes in a pathetic attempt to lose some of the weight you inexplicably gained in your recent trip to the third world, there aren’t that many choices for something to balance to plate, especially if you’re also having salad. I don’t know about y’all, but I need something grainy or starchy with my fish because for some reason fish with only salad fucks with my stomach. It’s like I need something in there to “bind” with everything else.

Anyway, so I have a little bit of a gift with fish but have always burned, undercooked or overcooked the rice. It’s never a total disaster, but it’s always rarely as good as it could be. So you can imagine my delight when Molly produced HER RICE COOKER.

People…

All I can tell you is that if you’ve been slaving over a hot stove trying for the perfect Oryza sativa, STOP. Stop, and run to the nearest kitchen store and get yourself a goddamned rice cooker. The tastse of rice from a properly used rice cooker is like the first time you had an orgasm: you just won’t believe that anything could be this good.

Happy cooking. :)

Late Night Salad

December 03, 2007 By: admin Category: Blogging Dinner, Cooking, Fatblogging, Food, Living, Mom, NewsQuake!, Randomosity, sustainability, Video

Sneezing is my body’s way of flushing tension. Once, when I was really high on mushrooms and freaking out, I began crying uncontrollably–runny nose and everything–because I was terrified that I would stay this way forever. Then I wiped my nose and a lightbulb went off: “That’s how it’s going to leave!” I shrieked with joy, and began blowing my nose furiously.

I’m eating an organic salad–red butter lettuce and green leaf lettuce–because I think i might be coming down with something. I’m exhausted…

I’ve never been mistaken for a rocket scientist. Just another pretty girl in the room who’s destined, in everyone’s mind except mine, to be second. Standing in line for the ice cream truck once at age 7, I asked my mother: “Mommy, am I second?” And she said: “No. You’ll never be second at anything.” Somehow, even coming from a rough childhood in socially backward 30s Peru, Mom knew just what feminist vibe to deliver to her young first-generation daughter. Not much has changed. Except that now I have to make up what she would say.

I too, like my new idol, Elizabeth Gilbert, will travel the world. I don’t know if it’ll be on my own or for a company, but the time will be mine to do with what I want. I feel the need for this coming soon, and am so moved by the warmth from my father’s voice whenever we talk about me going back to India. I grew up with my parents being afraid of me traveling. Or maybe it was just Mom, I don’t know… But Dad’s not fearful now. He’s encouraging, and sprinkles his reactions with touches of awe.

It’s 1:00am and I’m still working. I know… But I really feel a sense of responsibility to finishing these videos on time. I set the schedule for myself, but it’s not about that–I really want to ‘show up” for those few folks who are actually “watching” this series. Who knows how many they really area, but even if it’s just me, it’s enough.

Angus The Turkey

November 22, 2007 By: admin Category: Angus, Blogging Dinner, Cooking, Fatblogging, Food

There once was a turkey named Angus
Who was terribly fond of French mangos,
He flew all the way
In one long-ass day
And ended up dancing six tangos.

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Soup For Bean

November 20, 2007 By: admin Category: Blogging Dinner, Cooking, Food, Recipes

CHICKEN
2 packages of chicken tenders (cubed)
Olive oil (enuf to cover bottom of frying pan)
Soy sauce (1/3 amount of oil)

Heat oil & soy sauce.
Add chicken, turn heat down, cover. (You want to make sure you are moistening the chicken)
When chicken is full cooked, turn heat off and set aside.

SOUP
Water (fill 3/4 of a pot)
Salt (approx. 3 tablespoons–shouldn’t overwhelm)
Onions (2 medium-sized)
Garlic (5-7 cloves, coarsely chopped–large pieces)
Celery (1 bunch, chopped)
Bok Choy (1 bunch, chopped)
Potatoes (3-4 large potatoes)
Taragon (approx. 1 tablespoon, to taste)
Thyme (approx. 1/2 tablespoon, to taste)
Pepper (approx. 1/2 tablespoon, to taste)

Heat water and add salt, potatoes, onions and garlic. Bring to a boil.
Turn heat down and add celery and bok choy.
Add spices.