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.
HG loves grits. There was a time when you had to travel south to get a bowl of grits. Now grits making an appearance on menus all over the USA. Shrimp and grits (An HG favorite) is being devoured at a half dozen Santa Fe eateries. Best ever shrimp and grits were served at Chicago’s Soul Kitchen (closed, alas) and best cheese grits were found up north at the lovely Griswold Inn, Lyme, Conn. HG isn’t snobbish about grits. Enjoys them at Waffle House topped by eggs and flanked by crisp fried potatoes. Quaker Oats Instant Grits provide a quick and pleasant breakfast when adorned with a lump of butter, salt, pepper and a dash of Tabasco. (Don’t sneer. Try it). For some peculiar reason, grits are not sold on Prince Edward Island. Maybe they represent a challenge to the Island’s omnipresent and delicious mineral rich potatoes. So, when HG/BSK voyage to the family summer home on this serene and beautiful Canadian isle, HG/BSK always pack a few bags of Geechie Boy Mill white grits. SJ, a guy who knows what’s good, gifts his parents with this splendid product. Geechie calls its product “Stone Ground Goodness.” Accurate. These grits ascend to heaven when topped by BSK’s perfect poached eggs.
Sunny morning. Warming weather. Senorita A., HG/BSK’s very efficient and hard working once-a-week housekeeper has arrived at HG/BSK’s New Mexico home. Greetings of “Bueno dias !!”. (Senorita A.’s English is limited). In hours, HG/BSK’s home will be sparkling and order will reign. Knowing HG’s love of menudo (Mexican tripe stew), some months ago Senorita A. brought HG a big container of her grandmother’s (“Mi abuela”) menudo. Down home yumminess. Today, Senorita A. brought menudo she herself had made (“Yo!!). Plus some fiery salsa. HG can hardly wait to devour a hearty bowl of this invigorating (hangover chaser) food.
While Adolf Trump and Heinrich H. Bannon (with mouthpiece Joseph G. Kellyanne) usher in America First nationalism (is National Socialism or outright Nazism far behind?), HG/BSK practice internationalism at the table. With a bow to Muslims, there are two Middle East staples: Baba Ghanoush (garlic infused mashed eggplant) and Shakshuka (poached eggs in tomato-onion-pepper sauce) Shakshuka is very popular in Israel, a delight shared by Arabs and Jews. HG/BSK also like Halwa (from Lebanon) as dessert. Asia predominates in many HG/BSK dinners. Oyster (or scallop) pancakes from Korea. Pho and rice noodle/chicken salad from Vietnam. Ma Po Tofu from China. Watercress and smoked ham soup from China. Chicken and vegetable curries from India. Spicy eggplant and pork belly dishes from the Hunan and Szechuan provinces. Steamed sole with bok choy and garlic chips from Japan. A score of pasta, meat and chicken dishes inspired by the late Marcella Hazan’s Italian cookbooks. Soup de Poisson from France. Congee from China and the Philippines. Lamb chops and racks of lamb (imported from New Zealand) and cooked using French techniques. And, yes, many dishes from Mexico including chile and posole. For sheer comfort there is the strange Jewish-Russian-Italian medley, Kasha Varnishkes (buckwheat groats, chicken stock, eggs, mushrooms, onions and Italian farfalle pasta). HG/BSK will eat this tonight with gobs of sour cream. HG will accompany it with iced vodka (from Sweden). BSK will choose a wine from Argentina, Italy, Chile, France or the State of Washington. Hurray for diversity in culture, people, life and pleasure. This is the message fromHG/BSK’s American-Canadian-Japanese-Italian-Jewish-Russian-English-Irish-Welsh family.