Andre R. was a very eccentric pal of HG/BSK during HG/BSK’s long ago summers on Fire Island. A Swiss-born “futurist” (whatever that job entailed), Andre was perpetually stoned on weed. He would arrive every summer at HG/BSK’s dune house (as he would get older, the women accompanying him would get younger). Upon arrival, Andre and his youthful female friend would remove their clothes (to the delight and amazement of the little kids present) and leap into the sea. Upon their return, Andre would cook a splendid dinner and give HG/BSK some very high grade marijuana. Happy days. On a particularly steamy August day, Andre stopped at Schaller & Weber (the famed German butcher in the Yorkville section of Manhattan) and brought to Fire Island a pork knuckle, a big uncooked sausage and kassler rippchen (smoked pork chops) plus, of course, sauerkraut. HG/BSK were dubious about eating such heavy food at the end of a steamy summer day. Andre simmered it in a pot with onions. He boiled potatoes. The sun went down. Appetites were sharpened by weed and icy vodka. Hot mustard, pickles and plenty of cold beer. A memorable feast. HG thought about Andre last night as HG/BSK and visiting grandson Handsome Haru devoured a flank steak a la Andre. This was a flank steak barbecued after a long bath in a marinade of soy sauce, garlic and honey. Andre scored the steak with a sharp knife before putting it in the marinade. The honey in the marinade would caramelize the surface of the meat. Cooked rare and sliced on the bias, this was consumed with many ears of in season corn on the cob. No corn last night. Just BSK’s sublime smashed potatoes.
Always a good move to cook an abundance of kasha. It reheats nicely and can be used in many ways. HG ladles it into steaming chicken broth (sometimes adds a beaten egg). A pleasant winter lunch. Good for breakfast with melted butter and a side of sour cream or Greek yogurt. Last night, BSK served left over kasha varnishkes with fall off the bone short ribs. BSK cooked them with onions and spices in BSK’s wondrous new Instant Pot. The result was lush, savory. The kasha soaked up the juices. HG gave the meal a slightly middle eastern tilt by mixing a bowl of Greek yogurt with garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, cumin, sumac and zaatar. Harissa on the side. BSK/HG drank joyously, enjoying a bottle of Argentine malbec. Tequila on the rocks with lots of freshly squeezed lime juice was HG’s pre-dinner beverage. Unconventional post dinner drink: Canadian whiskey with a bit of maple syrup, In his maturity, HG does not ration alcohol.
In 1942, Germany’s Der Fuhrer was given new powers by the dummy Reichstag. Der Fuhrer was given discretionary powers in the administration of justice. In other words, no judicial restraint. The Reichstag made it clear: “At present in Germany there are no rights, only duties.” Does this seem similar to Der Trumperer’s view that Der Trumperer can do anything in the name of national security without regard for constitutionality or judicial restraint? Joseph Goebbels commented on Der Fuhrer’s new powers: “The bourgeois era with its false and misleading notion of humaneness is over.” Lackeys Spicer and Kellyanne haven’t gone that far. Yet. Marie Vassiltchikov (who worked in the Nazi bureaucracy 1940-1945) commented in her “Berlin Diaries”: “If people only knew how inefficiently this whole machine works under the semblance of a well-oiled bureaucracy, they would be amazed.” Der Trumperer told a press conference recently in reply to questions about his administration’s stumbling: “We’re running like a fine tuned machine.” Indeed. Also, please tell me me how Der Trumperer’s craven rubber stamp Congress differs from Der Fuhrer’s Reichstag? As for Der Trumperer’s disgraceful omission of Jews from his Holocaust statement and very belated response to questions about the escalating attacks on Jews in the United States, this is a nod to Der Trumperer’s ardent supporters, the Alt-Right aka Nazis. Obviously, Bannon is working like a “fine tuned machine.”
That’s right. Whole Foods in Santa Fe no longer carries kasha (buckwheat groats). HG used to find this excellent food in the bulk section, the hot cereal section and the “international” section where Wolff’s boxed kasha would snuggle against vaguely dusty jars of gefilte fish and matzo ball mix. (More woe on the Santa Fe grocery front: Trader Joe’s no longer carries Belgian Butter Almond Cookies.) HG did some Google research and found a Santa Fe kasha source: Natural Grocers on Cerillos Road. Big, well organized market. HG bought two bags of dark brown organic kasha. They also carry white kasha. Have never tasted it but in future will try it as a breakfast dish. Filled the HG cart with many other natural and organic products. Will come back with BSK to examine their wide array of nut butter, jam, honey, granola, dried fruit, etc. Mystery: Why do customers in “health” stores look so unhealthy?
With Abraham Lincoln’s Day soon upon us, HG has been thinking about the Republican Party, the party of Lincoln, the Grand Old Party. HG’s thoughts are dire. The party that once stood for rational conservatism and provided a needed check upon government powers, has descended to the lowest level of cowardice. More and more it could be likened to a large pile of excreta. Consider its latest outrage. Our so called President, Der Trumperer, acknowledged International Holocaust Remembrance Day without any mention of Jews and Hitler’s “final solution”, the total extermination of Europe’s Jewish population. Yes, it is proper to remember that the Third Reich consigned many others to death camps. Among them were Gays. Romanys. Political opponents. The physically impaired. Etc., etc. However, the words “The Holocaust”, refer specifically to the Nazi murder of some 6,000,000 Jews. International Holocaust Remembrance Day was created to honor the memory of those murdered Jews and to warn against future genocide. Was Steve Bannon,behind Der Trumperer’s omission? Quite possible. When Der Trumperer’s senior adviser was running Breitbart News, he said it provided a platform for the Alt Right a.k.a White Supremacists a.k.a. Nazis. The Republicans in Congress had a chance to remedy Der Trumperer’s injustice. Rep. Joe Crowley (D.-NY) called for a vote in the House of Representatives on a resolution sponsored by 100 Democrats emphasizing that the Nazis targeted Jews during The Holocaust and requesting the White House to affirm that fact. The lumps of filth a.k.a. Republican Congressmen. blocked the effort in a party line vote. Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) said the Republican Party, was “in the camp of Holocaust denial.” HG agrees. Lincoln weeps.
BSK bought an Instant Pot, a miraculous pressure cooker that cooks food in a fraction of the time the food would spend in the oven. And, it tastes good. On Super Bowl day, BSK used the Pot to make savory pulled pork. And, on this chilly New Mexico day (65 degrees yesterday and 35 degrees today), BSK made congee in the Instant Pot. For the uninitiated, congee is Asian rice porridge (also called “jook”). It is a wonderfully soothing comfort food. BSK enhanced the congee with ginger and dried Chinese shiitake mushrooms (they plumped up beautifully). Tossed in a few scallions. When served, the steaming bowls got a topping of chopped scallions, a splash of sesame oil and a scattering of salted peanuts. HG had sumptuous refills. Perfect dining after watching HG’s beloved New York Knicks defeat the mighty San Antonio Spurs. HG still loves Noo Yawk, Noo Yawk. One of Der Trumperer’s lackeys called New York the “people’s republic.” It is, indeed. Long may it reign.
HG/BSK watched the searing Ken Burns documentary, “The Central Park Five” and, once more, were made aware of the depth of American racism and the vicious tactics of police in forcing confessions from unfortunate, young, minority men. Permit HG to refresh your memory: On April 19, 1989 a young, white female jogger in New York’s Central Park was raped and brutally beaten. Five young men, ages 14 to 16, were present in the park that night. Four of the youngsters were African-American and the fifth was Puerto Rican. Seized by police, the frightened and befuddled youngsters underwent 36 sleepless hours of aggressive interrogation. They subsequently made televised confessions to the crime. As one youngster said: “We’d say anything. We just wanted to go home.” In trials of May 1, 1989 and December, 1990 all were found guilty and sentenced to prison terms of five to fifteen years. The evidence against them was inconclusive. DNA analysis did not link any of the young men to the victim and the crime scene. Some years later, another man, a convicted rapist and murderer, confessed to the crime. His confession with an abundance of circumstantial details left no doubt that he was the actual attacker of the young woman. After rigorous analysis by then New York District Attorney Robert Morgenthau and his staff, the Central Park Five were freed. Later, they won a $41,000,000 suit against New York City for false arrest and imprisonment, the sum of $1,000,000 for each of the collective 41 years they spent in prison. This sad miscarriage of justice provided an early insight to the character of our so called President, Der Trumperer. In 1989, Der Trumperer was a publicity hungry real estate developer. On April 19, 1989, the future Der Trumperer took full page ads in the leading New York newspapers one month before the trial of The Five. These inflammatory ads (defense lawyers said they influenced the juries) called for the “death penalty for criminals of every age.” Furthermore, the ads stated “criminals must be told that their civil rights ended when an attack on our safety begins.” In connection with the ads, he told television interviewer Larry King: “Maybe hate is what we need if we’re gonna get something done.” And that’s the essence of Der Trumperer: Disregard and contempt for the law, glorification of hate and a huge bill at the end of the day for ignoring our Constitution.
Maple syrup is HG’s favorite sweetener and HG uses it in a variety of ways. Breakfast is a bowl of organic corn flakes and milk enhanced with a splash of the syrup. Best dessert is Haagen Dasz vanilla bean ice cream gilded with maple goodness. HG often adds a bit of the maple to a snifter of bourbon for after dinner sipping. In civilized, inclusive, democratic Canada, chefs use maple syrup in a variety of dishes. An HG/BSK favorite is roast sablefish with a maple syrup glaze, a perfect blend of smokiness and sweetness. On Prince Edward Island where HG/BSK spend four months annually at the HG/BSK oceanfront home, local groceries offer a variety of Canadian maple syrups at very affordable prices. In New Mexico, HG/BSK buy their maple syrup at Trader Joe’s. Recently, TJ offered Bourbon Barrel Aged Maple Syrup. Great stuff, dark and robust as advertised. Items come and go at TJ so HG/BSK hope the addition of this syrup is a permanent fixture.
HG has often faced moral conundrums. Can HG enjoy cod even though worldwide supplies are diminishing? Yes. Can art be separated from politics and despicable opinions? HG chooses art. HG is transported by music conducted by Herbert Von Karajan despite the conductor’s membership in the Nazi party. HG relishes the short fiction of Roald Dahl despite Dahl’s anti-semitism. HG also admires the prose of the French author and virulent anti-semite, Louis-Ferdinand Celine (“Journey to the End of the Night”.) The philosopher and political commentator Bernard Henri-Levy summed up the contradiction by noting a man can be “a great author” and “a complete bastard.” On a far lesser scale of values, HG is an admirer of Tom Brady, the New England Patriots quarterback, despite Brady’s alleged support of Adolf Trump, our so called President. (A President who could talk about the Holocaust and not mention Jews). As an informed long time football fan, HG considers Brady the greatest quarterback in football history. That opinion was confirmed by Brady’s dissection of Atlanta in the stirring Super Bowl comeback. Thus, the traditional Super Bowl viewing and food fest at David F.’s was a joy. Much vodka and red wine. A big sliced ham and all the fixings. BSK’s contribution was pulled pork made in the miraculous Instant Pot pressure cooker. The pork was cooked in an hour and fifteen minutes rather than the hours of oven cooking. Delicious when rolled in a warm tortilla and topped with tomatillo salsa. (Ah, HG’s beloved BSK is the Brady of home cooking).
HG has been reading Adolf Hitler’s biography and am startled (and distressed) how closely Der Trumperer is following the Hitler/Goebbels agenda. Everything is a lie except if pronounced by Der Trumperer and his ludicrous lackeys, Kellyanne and Spicer. There is no truth, only “alternate facts.” Unfavorable polls are “fake.” Unfavorable news is “fake news.” Judges who rule against Der Trumperer’s edicts are not really judges. They are “so called” judges. The media, traditional watchdog of the people, essential in a functioning democracy, is “the opposition”, “corrupt”, “dishonest.” The American intelligence agencies are incompetent unless they agree with Der Trumperer’s views. HG asks the basic question. Are millions of voting Americans racist, homophobic, misogynist, xenophobic, theocratic? If so, they have a leader they can love, one who reflects the dark underbelly of hate in America. Very frightening. HG takes heart from the gestures from abroad. The Speaker of Britain’s House of Commons refusing to let Der Trumperer address Parliament. The march against Islamaphobia on Canada’s smallest province, Prince Edward Island (population 146,000). Some 2,000 people showed up on a bitterly cold day to assert their solidarity with Canada’s Islamic communities. HG/BSK are proud to have their summer home on this gentle island which is dotted with scores of churches. It seems true Christian and humanist principles are alive here.