From Paradise to Paradise

May 31st, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

HG/BSK will soon leave New Mexico paradise for HG/BSK’s equally salubrious oceanfront home on Prince Edward Island. It will be a blessing to be in Canada, a true democracy with enlightened leadership. A delight to frolic in the sea and shore again. Eat fresh caught seafood plus oysters and clams. However, HG/BSK leave New Mexico with a modest pang. BSK adjusted the underground sprinkler system to help the extensive gardens to flourish. (yes, gardening and landscaping are among BSK’s multitudinous talents). Thus, the gardens are alive with color and fragrance. A blizzard of yellow columbine. Lush peonies. Big white roses. Lilacs. Red roses. Spirea. Flowering shrubs. Daisies. And, one majestic poppy. Of course, these delights were preceded by apple blossoms, forsythia, crocuses, daffodils, tulips and wisteria. As June approaches, towering trees are in full leaf and sunny breezes create changing patterns of light and shadow. Farewell.

Nifty Neighbors

May 29th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

Among the blessings of HG/BSK’s life in New Mexico are the neighbors that surround HG/BSK. Film producers, historians, poets, artists, scientists, theater folk, etc.. All lovers of life, food and wine. HG/BSK had a splendid dinner with Fred (a scientist and Yachtsman) and Mary (a teacher and authority on theater arts). Appetizer was Marcona almonds and fresh radishes with coarse salt (HG knocked off much icy vodka). Dinner featured pan broiled lamb chops, a warm Middle Eastern puree of garbanzos, broiled tomatoes. Good red wine. Dessert was Mary’s Mom’s bread pudding custard. A wow. Later in the week had an unusual dinner with Karen K. (film producer) and David F. (historian/novelist/educator). Karen posed the question: “Why not have great breakfast food for dinner?” Her response was a dinner of blueberry waffles, plain waffles, rashers of thick cut bacon, New Hampshire maple syrup. All washed down with champagne and orange juice Mimosas. HG/BSK doggybagged some blueberry and plain waffles. Topped the plain waffles with poached eggs for breakfast and finished with blueberry waffles and blueberry jam. Morning joy. HG/BSK’s next door neighbors are Garry and Natasha G. Their acreage produces the best organic vegetables in New Mexico, There is always a long line at Mister G’s, their stand at the Santa Fe Farmers market. All is sold out in a flash. BSK managed to procure a few small heads of escarole that were picked that morning. That night BSK produced a pot of escarole cooked with chicken broth, onions, garlic, parsley, olive oil, red chile flakes. Crisp bacon was added plus lots of grated parmesan. Mister G’s escarole made a big difference. BSK’s kitchen wizardry gave the escarole a savory crunch.

Quack Quack

May 25th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

Yes, HG is very fond of duck in all of the delectable bird’s cooked forms. Roast duck. Duck confit (a must in Paris). Peking duck. Barbecued duck in plain spoken Chinese restaurants. Decades ago when HG/BSK lived in spacious rent controlled comfort on New York’s Upper West Side, a foodie paradise, Sunday dinner was a roast duck fresh from the rotisserie in the Bretton Woods Hotel on 86th Street and Broadway. The juicy, crisp skinned quacker was accompanied by BSK’s salad of avocado, red onion and orange slices. An array of cheeses from Zabar’s with Z’s pumpernickel raisin bread. An abundance of red wine. Halvah with port. Sumptuous feast. HG/BSK revisited duck last night in the form of Thai Spicy Duck Salad (check out the recipe by Joshua Bousel on Google). The duck was a breast from D’Artagnan. HG scored the fat side of the breast (cooking left an abundance of duck fat, the perfect medium for lush fried potatoes). HG cut the meat in half and cast iron panbroiled it blood rare for HG and medium for BSK. The Bousel recipe calls for chunks of pineapple in the salad. BSK substituted slices of tangerine. At table, HG/BSK heated the dish up with daughter in law Exquisite Maiko’s Oni Sauce. Duck breast is pricey. Salad might be equally tasty using grilled chicken thighs or thin slices of pork. Will try since this recipe is a warm weather keeper.

The Best Cookie

May 21st, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

The best cookie is Japanese. It is called “Cigare” (it is shaped like a cigar.) It is crisp but unctuous with a slightly sweet buttery flavor. The Cigare grows with intensity as you chew. HG was introduced tn this wondrous pastry by Exquisite Maiko, HG’s talented daughter-in-law and noted Japanese chef. The Cigares are packed in an elegant blue box (lucky HG is gifted with them by generous EM). They are produced by Yoku Moku. HG doesn’t know if this is a name of a person or company but it has a lulling sound and HG sometimes rolls the words around HG’s mouth as if they are an actual confection. Intrigued ? Go to Amazon and type in the words and you can order the Cigares. Warning: They are not cheap. But, worth it. HG consumes a Cigare with the last remnants of dinner wine. Also splendid with a cup of tea.

The Best Potato Chip

May 18th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

Last night, before dinner, HG sipped a glass of ice cold Provence rose wine accompanied by six carefully rationed Trader Joe’s Ridge Cut Salt and Pepper Potato Chips. The chips accounted for some 60 calories. Yes, you’ve got to be careful with these chips since they are addictive. They are the best chips in the world. They have the honest taste of freshly fried potatoes. Moreover, they are solidly constructed and the most efficient vehicle for dipping into guacamole, hummus, white bean dip (check out Zabar’s recipe), etc. BSK is disciplined about diet and snacking (one of the secrets of her good looks). But, BSK goes haywire over TJ’s chips. HG has been instructed to hide them in an obscure corner of the pantry to keep them out of BSK’s reach.

Take That, Bluto!

May 16th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

Spring is in fully flower filled glory in New Mexico and BSK is treating HG to perfectly steamed, plump and juicy asparagus. Alas, asparagus is not always in season. Thus, in BSK’s perpetual emphasis on healthy eating, BSK often turns to spinach. No, not any spinach. Baby spinach is BSK’s choice. Provides the perfect bedding for steamed sole or flounder. It is an essential ingredient in BSK’s comforting stracciatella (See HG post on this subject). The green is a lovely complement for BSK’s glorious paillards of chicken thighs drenched in a butter, olive oil, lemon and caper sauce. When HG was a little fellow, HG despised spinach. HG’s late Mom tricked HG into eating the hated stuff. “Hitten treshes” she would announce in her rich Yiddish accent. She was describing “hidden treasures”, a dish she learned about from a radio program. Mom would mash and whip boiled potatoes and chicken fat (Nu? What else?). Mom would make plump spheroids of the spuds and stuff them with spinach. Dusted them with kosher salt and black pepper. Little HG would wolf them down. It would never have occurred to HG’s beloved Mom that the abundance of chicken fat might negate the health benefits of the spinach. (In case you younger HG followers don’t understand the headline, permit HG to clarify. Bluto was a nasty villain in the Popeye movie cartoons and comic strip. He would attack poor Olive Oil, Popeye’s girl friend, after buffeting Popeye. Our hero would then swallow a bowl of spinach. Thus energized, he would beat the hell out that big brute, Bluto. The message was clear: Eat your spinach, kids.)

Home Remedies From the Shtetl

May 15th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

Following the example of President Roosevelt, daring fighter pilots, baseball players and, yes, doctors, HG began smoking cigarettes in 1942 at the age of 13. Puffed as many as three packs of Marlboros daily (they were the healthy choice because they had a filter). No surprise, HG was diagnosed with throat cancer in 1992. Saved by a brilliant surgeon, Dr. Victor Schramm. Arduous recovery. Stopped smoking on day of diagnosis. Now celebrating 25th anniversary of being smoke free. However, the 50 years of smoking did create problems. HG has COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). However, due to advanced pharmacology and technology, HG functions nicely. Walks (slowly), swims daily, does gym work (light weights) and cardiology exercises (treadmill, bike, steps). It helps to have a vigilant and caring family. BSK is a diligent supervisor of diet, vitamins, exercise. And, of course, much is owed to SJ who discovered a lump on his Dad’s neck 25 years ago. Urged immediate diagnosis. Probably, saved HG’s life. From the very beginning of HG’s life, bronchial disease was a problem. Recurrent bronchitis every winter. HG’s Mom believed in the folk remedies of Plestyanitz, the “Shtetl” in Belorussia where she grew up over one hundred years ago. “Shtetl” is the descriptive of the small towns where Jews lived within the Russian Pale of Settlement. Sanitary and sewage facilities were primitive, Health care was medieval;. However, HG’s mom treated HG’s bronchitis the way she was treated in Russia. Basis of the cure was a “shvitz” (a sweat). Many blankets were piled on little HG. Then he drank a glass of “gugel mugel” (a glass of hot milk, honey and rye whiskey). This was followed by numerous hot cups of tea and honey. And, more blankets. Yes, little HG sweated in this Jewish version of an Indian sweat lodge. If this remedy didn’t work HG’s Mom took the drastic step of summoning the “bynkes” man. A “bynke” is a shallow glass suction cup. The “bynkes” man arrived with a leather case of the cups and a heating apparatus. An old little fellow with a long beard, he smelled strongly of whiskey and cheap cigars. Mom was forgiving. “Alteh shikker muz machen ah leben”. (an old drunk must make a living). The suction cups were heated to a robust temperature. Then they were applied with pressure to little HG’s chest and back. Ouch!! The belief was that the heat and the suction would draw out and ultimately destroy the disease. Surprisingly, it worked. It was infallible. The suction cups led to a Yiddish saying describing an ineffectual maneuver: “Helft vey toyten bynkes” It helps like dead (cold) bynkes.

American Fascism? Has it Arrived?

May 13th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

Dark, dark days. Obviously, Der Trumperer and his spineless Republican minions will do their utmost to cover up Der Trumperer’s collusion with Russia before and after the election. HG’s grim prediction: Der Trumperer will cement his relationship with Putin in order to give Russian hackers a free hand to influence the coming elections. Is this the end of the American democracy ? Possibly. Been reading Gore Vidal’s essays and memoirs. His view of the future of, as he called it, “Imperial America”, seem ever more prescient.

Lawrence L. Langer

May 10th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

There was a glaring omission from HG’s recent post, “Thanks Sam”. HG mentioned the careers of fellow members of Hurricanes, SAC., the club of HG’s Bronx youth. Carelessly, HG didn’t mention Lawrence L. Langer. Larry was a special pal of HG’s. A Professor at Simmons College, Boston, for many years until retirement in 1992, Larry is one of the foremost scholars and analysts of the Holocaust. He was the first academic to teach a course on the Holocaust. Among his many books are: “Holocaust Testimonies”, “Admitting the Holocaust”, “The Holocaust and the Literary Imagination”, “Art From the Ashes.” The books have received many awards and Larry has been given honorary degrees from a number of colleges and universities. Larry’s analysis of the Holocaust has been rigorous and dispassionate. He has been skeptical of efforts to deflect attention from the realities of industrialized killing of Jews by emphasizing resistance and rescue. He has challenged the idea that the Holocaust–a mass murder–sanctifies the dignity of the human spirit. Larry established the idea of “choiceless choice” to describe the disintegration of moral reality for concentration camp inmates. Though grim and unsparing, Larry’s books are an essential read if you wish to understand modern history.

Vive La France

May 9th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

Liberte, Equalite, Fraternite. Yes, indeed. France has embraced democracy and Europe. At a joyous demonstration around the Louvre, there was a sign: HOPE BEATS HATE. That sums it up. France made a mighty contribution to the American Revolution, helping the fledgling democracy defeat imperial Britain. (Yes, the USA paid back its debt to France in World Wars One and Two). HG/BSK wish they could be in Paris to join the celebration (BSK is clear eyed. BSK noted that HG”s celebration in Paris would only be partially political. HG’s worship of sole meuniere, ill flottante, quenelles, brandade, soup de poisson, canard confit, plateaus of fruits de mer, cheese platters and gallons of Morgon and Crozes Hermitage could also play a role). The lucky Family Riva (joined by Lesley’s sister, the New York restaurateur, Vicki F.) will soon be in France to celebrate Gorgeous (and smart) Granddaughter Sofia’s graduation from two years of international affairs study in Reims). Since Reims is the center of the champagne country, HG/BSK presume the group will toast Macron with many glasses of splendid (and affordable) bubbly.

French Economy minister Emmanuel Macron (R) and his wife Brigitte Trogneux arrive to attend the annual Bastille Day military parade in Paris on July 14, 2015. AFP PHOTO / POOL / PASCAL ROSSIGNOL
REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol /POOL (Photo credit should read PASCAL ROSSIGNOL/AFP/Getty Images)