Cold Weather Soups

January 16th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

Snow falling on HG/BSK’s New Mexico home (coldest, iciest, snowiest winter in memory). HG kept warm and snug on a snowy Sunday. Blaze in the fireplace. Toby, The Wonder Dog, nearby. Playoffs on TV. Fortified with congee, HG watched mature quarterbacks Brady and Brees do their thing (HG thinks the Eagles should have won). Dinner was roasted red peppers with mozzarella and olive oil. This was followed by BSK’s lusty variation of red lentil soup with lemon (NY Times recipe). Gifted Daughter Lesley R. served it to applause at her Rhode Island home. BSK does a variation, adding lots of grated lemon peel, middle eastern spices, fiery harissa to the mix. Taste sensation. In the offing is Pasta e Fagioli, that super robust Italian soup/stew of onions, garlic, herbs, broth, beans, pasta, grated cheese. The late, much lamented New York Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia called it “pasta fazoole.” It was his favorite dish.

Gracious Bathrooms

January 14th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

The incessant demands of old age have made HG recall the gracious (and some ribald) public bathrooms of yesteryear. The most monumental “comfort stations” of HG’s Bronx youth were those that Borough President James J. Lyons constructed (with WPA money, HG presumes) during the 1930’s Great Depression years. They looked like Roman mausoleums. Dour city employees (the Democratic Party machine rewarded the faithful) kept them spic and span. During the dark days of The Bronx these were dangerous places. You didn’t enter unless you were armed. In later years HG experienced some attractive bathrooms. The facility in the lobby area of the Algonquin Hotel on W. 44th Street in Manhattan had a courtly gentleman in charge. He would hand HG a towel with a graceful flourish. Best bathroom attendant ever was the man in the Plaza Hotel Oak Room bathroom. He must have been a continental nobleman in former years. HG watched him hand movie immortal Cary Grant a towel. Grant gave him five bucks. Economical HG gave him one dollar. Of course, there were some funny and irreverent attendants (with a stock of scatological humor). Famed was “Old Sam” at the long demolished Polo Grounds stadium in Upper Harlem (the baseball and football Giants played there). “Old Sam” was an aged African-American who would chant: “No matter how you shake and dance, the last drop always falls in your pants. After you’ve had your little pee, don’t forget to remember me. Old Sam.” He was always tipped.

Happy Days Are Here Again

January 13th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

Yes, HG can drink lush, stimulating alcoholic beverages again. Tonight started with a flute of chilled Provencal rosé. BSK was busy in the kitchen creating a wondrous platter of pasta. The sauce was coins of baby zucchini, gently fried thick cut bacon, lots of olive oil, garlic, onions, spices and herbs. The pasta was Abruzezze spaghetti. HG/BSK drank abundant Argentine red wine, a blend of Malbec and Grenache. Rich and fruity. HG mused about the cliche: “A meal without wine is a day without sunshine.” Yes, New Mexico weather remains chill. And snow showers are on their way. But, winy sunshine illuminated HG/BSK’s dinner table. Sipped an after dinner snifter of Whistlepig Rye Whiskey (a generous gift from nephew Matt M. and lovely companion, Allie). Powerful 100 proof. Not for the the faint of heart or palate.


January 10th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

Yes, that’s a sad word. Describes HG at present. No alcohol until anti-biotic regimen is over. Just a few more days. Food solace has been found during this dreary, involuntary bout with teetotalism: Avocado butter on toast with tomato salsa. BSK spotted the recipe in “Ottolenghi Simple”, the latest cookbook from Yotam Ottolenghi (gift from Lesley and Massimo R.). Voluptuous dish. Would have been better with a glass of red or white wine. HG had to make do with some sparkling water. This was the treat as HG and pals watched Clemson demolish Alabama in the college national championship game. Yes, Clemson’s 19-year-old QB, Trevor Lawrence, was sensational. But, he was aided by some miracle catches and ‘Bama stumbles. The heroes were the Clemson defensive linemen. They put up a brick wall whenever “Bama got near their goal line. Schadenfreude (joy at the misfortune of others) took over as arrogant Saban took a licking.

History Lesson

January 9th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

Is there anything to be learned from history? Much, believes HG. The history of the ancient Roman republic has relevance for the American republic of today, a republic in jeopardy. Rome was once one of the world’s longest lasting republics. A new book by Edward Watts (Basic Books),: “Mortal Republic: How Rome Fell Into Tyranny” analyzes the death of that republic. The book was prompted, says Mr. Watts, about how antiquity can illuminate “the occasional alarming political realities of our world.” The book notes that by the 2nd Century BC Rome had shocking inequality and leaders who wouldn’t deal with it. There was a minority of super rich (like the oligarchs of today) and a majority who did back breaking work and looked forward to a bleak future for themselves and their children. One of the most powerful of the wealthy was Crassus, an unscrupulous real estate wheeler-dealer. He used his money to gain political power and influence. (Sound like anyone?). Watts concludes that such a situation couldn’t last. It didn’t.The republic came to an end at the end of the First Century. Centuries of autocracy followed.

Baby, It’s Cold Outside

January 8th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

Many people mistake New Mexico weather for that of Arizona. Lots of sunshine in both states. Great weather in spring and fall. Summer in Arizona is unrelenting, temperatures spiking in the 100s. Hot in Santa Fe. Big difference is winter. Pleasantly warm in Arizona; however, New Mexico gets snow and ice spells. And, that’s what’s happening in HG/BSK/s Santa Fe County neighborhood. Making things a bit worse is the fact that BSK has a bad, lingering cold and HG’s COPD has been aggravated by a cold (anti-biotics are curing it). Not a great way to start the year. Toby, The Wonder Dog, has raced outside only to return quickly covered in ice balls. Hot soups and cereals have been chasing the chills. Congee. Pho. Korean ramen. Whole grain Red Mill oatmeal. Polenta. Middle Eastern red lentil and lemon soup. Garbanzo soup (gifted by delightful pal, Karen K.). HG has been transfixed by wild card NFL playoffs. (Chicago made the ultimate comeback only to lose by an inches astray field goal). Better weather is on the way and more NFL combat. Hurry up, sunshine!!

Old Age. Rage. Betrayal of Jesus Christ.

January 7th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

Venerable HG has now entered HG’s 90th year on Earth (a planet soon to be destroyed by fossil fuels and the profits they create for the few). There are upsides to extreme old age. Perspective. Wisdom (?). Renewed love of animals and living things (stimulated by companionship with Toby, The Wonder Dog.) Intense love for BSK (best woman in the world) and HG’s wonderful family of talented, beautiful, spirited individuals. This is a family defined by sheer goodness and kindness with an unremitting hatred of racism, despotism, greed, violence, stupidity. (And, since these children and grandchildren have been influenced by HG/BSK, they will not tolerate bad cooking). Downsides to old age. Won’t bore you with an endless list. Finale: A visit from the Moloch Hamoves (The Angel of Death). However, capacity for rage has not been blunted. HG is furious about the betrayal of Jesus Christ by all Americans who consider themselves Christians living in a nation (allegedly?) guided by Christian religious values. And, founded on a mix of Christian and Enlightenment beliefs.HG is an atheist and humanist. Nevertheless, HG admires Jesus. HG considers JC one of the many Jewish prophets wandering the wilderness of his day and thundering a variety of messages. HG thinks of JC as a very strange mix of Jews: Alan Ginsberg, Noam Chomsky, Lenny Bruce and Bernie Sanders (Okay, now you can make your own pastiche.). The big difference is that JC attracted a following that was transformed by his message of universal love, care for the very least humans, contempt for the rich, hatred of religious authorities who would profit from believers. And, now we’ve got America and Mexico. Trumperica has waged a war on people who want a better life for themselves and their children. Tear gas. Children ripped from their parents. Discrimination against people with dark skins. Troops and helicopters galore. And, no apologies for border “deterrence” policies that has left more than 6,000 migrants dead along the Mexican/American borders between 2000 and 2016. Many more thousands have been reported missing. Many have never been reported at all. And, now America has the craziness of the needless five billion dollar “Wall”. The Trumperer has closed down the government. Feeling the blow the most are “the least among us” –families on food stamps. Every value of Jesus Christ is being betrayed. Where is the outcry from American Christians? There is none. Sad indeed, after the season following Christmas. Pope Francis seems to be a lone Christian voice. HG quotes from an article in New York Review of Books by Francisco Cantu: At a small Italian island, Lampedusa, some 70 miles from Tunisia the Pontiff delivered a homily (Some 20,000 migrants have died in the sea trying to reach the island). “These brothers and sisters of ours were trying to escape difficult situations to find some serenity and peace; they were looking for a better place for themselves and their families, but instead they found death. Has anyone of us grieved for the deaths of these brothers and sisters? Has any one of us wept?”


January 7th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

Another cold night in HG/BSK’s snow covered New Mexico neighborhood. Lovely dinner. BSK made a Middle Eastern baking sheet roast of chicken thighs with potatoes, onion, garlic, etc. plus lots of spices (sourced from all over the world). There was heat from Moroccan harissa (red pepper condiment). Cooling element was a Greek yogurt sauce laced with olive oil, garlic and lemon juice. After dinner, watched three segments of the 11th season of Anthony Bourdain. Newfoundland. Uruguay. Armenia. The late Bourdain was special. He gave you political, historic, cultural insights into the countries he visited. And he made you hungry. He made you hanker for some very unusual food. He is much missed. HG/BSK’s son, Jeremy, is a Tokyo resident and adventurous eater. Since Bourdain is no longer with us, HG suggests you log into SJ’s blog, and be enlightened with sharp observations, graceful writing, and guidance for the best Tokyo dining experiences.

Football Fun

January 5th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

As 2019 rolls around, HG has a grand time watching much college football. The Bowls provided lots of action. HG is not nostalgic about football heroes of the past. Today’s players are faster, bigger and more skilled. The quarterbacks are extraordinary. Zac Taylor of Oklahoma is an HG favorite. A bravura performer. Ohio State (which BSK attended before graduating with honors from Hunter College in New York) beat Washington in the Rose Bowl. Brought back a happy memory. Many years ago HG/BSK had financial problems. Desperate HG placed a big bet on the Buckeyes. If memory serves, Ohio State was behind at the half but won with many scores in the second half. HG/BSK surged to financial solvency. Comfort food at dinner. BSK’s Ma Po Tofu and Chinese rice noodles. Lots of red wine. Warm slumber beneath a mountain of sheets, duvets and blankets.

Chili Vs Chilly

January 4th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

HG hates air travel. Sudden flight cancellations. Long delays. Crowded planes. Tight seating. Lots of coughing and sneezing from flight neighbors. Nevertheless, finally arrived in Albuquerque too late to drive to HG/BSK’s home. Checked into Holiday Inn for much needed sleep. Did not have a White Christmas in Rhode Island this year. But, lots of snow and chilly temperatures greeted HG when they arrived at their New Mexico home on New Year’s Eve Day. Br-r-r!!! However, fun and comfort were on their way. First, there was a happy reunion with Toby, The Wonder Dog. (Very much missed by HG/BSK). Then a roaring blaze in the fireplace. Quick warm up. Yo Yo Ma on the Bose. Finally, BSK plucked a big container of BSK’s spicy Texas chili from the freezer. There’s nothing better on snowy night than a big, steaming bowl of red topped with chopped sweet onions, sharp cheddar cheese and Mexican salsa. Yes, BSK gave Jack Frost a quick kick in the posterior.

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