HG/BSK are very fond of that robust and delicious Vietnamese soup: Pho. HG has enjoyed it in Vietnamese restaurants in New York’s Chinatown and Denver’s Federal Boulevard. HG’s New Mexico Pho standby is Saigon Cafe in Santa Fe. However, HG/BSK have never made it at home. This has changed. BSK has sourced a very tasty Pho broth at Whole Foods. Last night was chilly. BSK heated the broth with some thin slices of onion. Then added watercress, tofu, lime juice, cooked Chinese egg noodles and chopped scallions. Very heartening. HG made an HG specialty: Chinese Spicy Eggplant. Here’s how to do it. Peel eggplant. Cut into small cubes. Brown in vegetable oil. Remove when browned and reserve in a bowl. Thinly slice a large onion and an abundance of garlic (HG loves garlic which explains why HG is never a target of vampires). Add some more oil and saute the onion/garlic mix until soft, put eggplant back in pan. Add oyster sauce, soy sauce, chile garlic sauce or sambla oelek, a bit of water, teaspoon of sugar. Stir. Simmer until sauce is absorbed and eggplant is soft. When done, give the dish a sprinkle of sesame oil and a few grinds of black pepper. HG served it with pan fried Chinese egg noodles (rice is another option).
HG has been reading Volker Ullrich’s “Hitler: The Ascent, 1889-1939”V. This is a magisterial, meticulously researched biography of Hitler (first of a two-volume work). HG has been struck by the resemblance of Trump to Hitler. In the current issue of The New York Review of Books, Diane Johnson, novelist and critic, cited Michiko Kakutani’s review of the biography in The New York Times. Kakutani called it “an account of a politician who rose to power through demagoguery, showmanship and nativist appeal to the masses.” Johnson wrote: “Without needing to mention Trump, Kakutani brings him immediately to mind.” Mr. Ullrich described Hitler as “an egomaniac who ‘only loved himself’–a narcissist with a taste for self dramatization and what Mr. Ullrich calls a ‘characteristic fondness for superlatives'” Mr. Ullrich noted that Hitler “promised to ‘lead Germany to a new era of national greatness’ though he was typically vague about his actual plans'” Mr. Ullrich wrote Hitler combined oratorical effectiveness with “bottomless mendacity.” HG notes that Trump has and Hitler had, easily caricatured hairdos.
HG has some penny pinching proclivities. Always used cheap, use ’em once and throw ’em away razor blades. Bought seven buck wines. Bought cheap vodka (Hey, they’re all the same). A big change has occurred due to BSK’s continual effort to make HG’s life better. BSK is the family sommelier and now buys great wines at nearby Kokoman (HG has written about this idiosyncratic wine-beer-spirits shop near HG/BSK’s New Mexico home). No spendthrift is BSK. Price limit is $13 a bottle. BSK’s bottles make every dinner a feast.Though not a fan of strong spirits, BSK has introduced HG to Tito’s Handmade Vodka. Thought HG should abandon low end firewater. Well, Tito’s is superlative. Wine Enthusiast gave it a rating score of 95 out of 100 points, six points above Ketel One and 11 points above Grey Goose. Tito’s is distilled in Austin, Texas: “Crafted in an Old Fashioned Pot Still by America’s Original Microdistillery.” HG enjoys its unique clean, smooth taste. This is sipping vodka. HG doesn’t adulterate it with bitters, Aperol or Campari. Just Tito’s on the rocks in a crystal glass. As for razors, HG has subscribed to Harry’s Razors. They make shaving a joy rather than a chore. At last, octogenarian HG is getting some class.
The world darkened for HG/BSK with the news that our friend and neighbor, the brave, life enhancing Polly Brown had died after a long, courageous battle with a staggering amount of health problems. Polly and her, husband David Fowler (novelist/historian/educator), were our frequent dinner companions. Our epic meals at HG/BSK’s home or Polly and David’s, were filled with laughter and wonderful observations. Yes, there was abundant vodka, wine and brandy. Polly had beauty, style, wit. She amused and loved to be amused by others. She glowed. indomitable Polly did not let health issues diminish her energy and love of life. Polly was so much fun that one could forget that she was a creative talent of stature. Polly was a photographer, a social documentarian. Her work was published in many periodicals and was exhibited to critical applause. Go to pollybrownphotographs.com to see her work. Her photos show her humanity, searching eye and gift for composition. HG/BSK and the world have lost a treasure. Thank you, Polly, for your art and allowing us to share your life.
BSK has a way with chicken. Roast spatchcocked chicken. Breaded chicken breast cutlets. Chicken sauté with garlic and rosemary. Chicken sautéed with 40 (that’s right) cloves of garlic. And, more. Last night, there was a dinner party for five and, as usual, BSK rose to the occasion. First, there were toasts with glasses of Gruet Sparkling Rose and nibbles of Feridies Five O’Clock Mix. Everyone took their seats as BSK placed a steaming pot on the table. It contained a new chicken dish: Greek Chicken Stew with Cauliflower and Olives (Recipe by Martha Rose Shulman of the New York Times.). Besides the cauliflower and olives, the dish contained crushed tomatoes, onions, garlic and a plethora of herbs and spices including smoked Spanish pimenton. The diners topped their bowls with chopped Bulgarian goat feta and added harissa for further heat. BSK served the savory autumn dish with pearl couscous and accompanied it with a salad of thinly sliced baby turnips, radishes and fennel. All drank much Spanish Tempranillo and Argentine Malbec. The meal concluded with carrot cake (a creation of HG/BSK’s neighbor, Karen K., The Dessert Queen) and vanilla ice cream. HG/BSK and their pals have enchanting meals in The Land of Enchantment (among other virtues, polls indicate that New Mexico is solidly behind Hillary).
Among other advantages, New Mexico smells good. Days are invariably sunny and the air has mingled scents of pine and sagebrush. In the autumn, the air is alive with the scent of roasting green chiles, At night, the air is perfumed by the smoke of piñon logs blazing in fireplaces. When spring comes around, HG/BSK’s oasis compound is fragrant with the scent of a variety of flowers in bloom. In springtime Santa Fe, the predominant smell is the sweetness of lilac bushes. This autumn, BSK is banishing the election tensions with green chile pork stew. This is supreme comfort food. BSK uses a variety of freshly roasted chiles–mild Big Jims and some fiery varieties. The stew contains sliced potatoes, pork, onions, garlic and a variety of spices (cumin, coriander, Goya Adobo, etc.). BSK exercises judicious restraint. BSK tastes as she cooks to achieve the perfect balance of hot and mild. The result is a stew that has hot New Mexican authority but won’t blister your lips. Another BSK triumph.
When HG was news editor at a major photo agency, a person who, for publicity purposes, tried to get into every news photo, was known as a “lens louse.” Later, people who were avid for media exposure were known as “media whores” or “media sluts.” Very unattractive terms (and demeaning). Well, Der Trumperer was mad for media exposure since the very beginning of his career. (HG goes back a long way with Trump. HG was part of the publicity team that ballyhooed his first major venture, the reconstruction of New York’s defunct Commodore Hotel into the flossy Grand Hyatt. As usual, he did it with other people’s money. This time New York taxpayers footed the bill). When Der Trumperer began his (fingers crossed) ill fated campaign for the Presidency, the media felt he was an exciting story. Every one of his outlandish statements made headlines. He was a star on news TV. He didn’t have to spend a dime on advertising. The Mainstream Media did the job for him. For free. Well, there’s been a turnaround.The love affair has ended. And, Putin’s little puppet, is whining and sniveling that the Media has rigged the election against him. Rumor has it that if (HG prays) Trump loses, Derf Trumperer will buy his own television network. His narcissism and egomania has no limits.
That’s how HG’s Montclair, N.J., neighbor, the immortal Yogi Berra, phrased it. And,yes, history does repeat. HG grew up in the United States pre-Pearl Harbor when anti-semitism flourished. The “radio priest”, Father Charles Coughlin railed against the Jews in his weekly radio broadcast and in his newspaper, “Social Justice.” Special targets were “the international bankers.” The “America First” party, headed by Charles A. Lindbergh also assailed “the international bankers” and Jewish “internationalists.” Fritz Kuhn and his Nazi “German American Bund” filled New York’s Madison Square Garden for rallies. The blatantly anti-semitic Christian Front was active in many American cities. Henry Ford’s Dearborn, Michigan, newspaper promoted the infamous “Protocols of the Elders of Zion.” And, of course, Jews faced quotas in medical schools and Ivy League universities. Major corporations and banks did not hire Jews. Country clubs did not admit Jews. Suburban housing was severely restricted. And, now we’ve got Der Trumperer. Like the Europeans before World War Two and the American anti-semites before Pearl Harbor, Donald Trump is claiming that Hillary Clinton is conspiring with “international financial interests” to rig the coming election and defeat him. His campaign has run an ad picturing Hillary with a load of money backdropped by a Jewish star. Maybe it’s time for Der Trumperer to be a “mensch” (a stand up guy) and stop pussyfooting You’re not fooling anyone, Despicable Donald. Say what you mean: Use the J-word.
Ah, what a joy it is to live in New Mexico, The Land of Enchantment. This week there was another salutary event in the history of feminism: Jocelyn Fernandez, described as a “diminutive wide receiver”, stole the show when she scored a touchdown on a flare pass. Her varsity team, St. Michael’s High went on to defeat Pojoaque Valley by a 55-12 score. She didn’t exactly make New Mexico history — Jocelyn is the 2nd female player to score a touchdown in a New Mexico varsity high school game. In 2003, Vanessa Lucero was the first, scoring against ill-fated Pojoaque. However, the Santa Fe New Mexican newspaper reported: “In truth, Fernandez scored twice. Her first trip to pay dirt was nothing short of highway robbery when officials ruled she was down inches from the goal line during what appeared to be a 7-yard touchdown run midway in the first quarter.” Jocelyn also kicked two extra points, and played most of the second half as a defensive back. Said Jocelyn: ” Before the game there was talk from Pojoaque that girls can’t play football and shouldn’t be allowed on the field. This was my game to show everyone that, you know, that I can do it. I came out wanting it and I got my glory.” HG felt Fernandez’s game was an apt response to the denigrating remarks about women by Der Groper/Trumperer and his misguided (deplorable?) supporters. HG celebrated Jocelyn Fernandez’s achievement by an appropriate lunch at Sopaipilla Factory (in Pojoaque, of all places.) Menudo, chicken enchilada and a margarita. Go, Jocelyn! Go, Hillary! And: Go, all American women who are stepping forward to demonstrate their dignity and power !!
One of the many joys of the Santa Fe Farmers Market is the abundance of shishito and padron peppers. These are small, bright green chile peppers. Mild but flavorful taste. However, be forewarned. Every now and then you may encounters a blazingly hot one. BSK did just that at the very good Bones Restaurant in Denver. It was so hot that it took BSK’s breath away and BSK almost fainted. Anyway, take a chance. These peppers are a treat. Shishito peppers are an East Asian variety. Padrons originated in the Galcia province of Spain. HG can’t discern any taste difference (Padrons fend to be smaller). HG/BSK were introduced to fried, garlicky padrons–Pimientos de Padron—at a Galician restaurant in Madrid near Madrid’s museum of modern art (it’s the museum that houses Picasso’s “Guernica”.) HG/BSK relished the peppers as well as tender octopus (polpo de gallego), shrimp in garlic sauce (camarones de ajillo), Spanish saffron rice and a big pitcher of sangria. There are two schools of padron frying. Both call for the peppers to be fried in a very hot cast iron pan. One school calls for the peppers to be cooked in olive oil. The others pours olive oil over the peppers after they have fried. BSK cooks the peppers in oil and adds plenty of minced garlic. Sublime.