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)

Raaga

May 5th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

Many years ago, HG /BSK dined at Chutney Mary , an Indian restaurant in London. A revelation. Best Indian food ever. On Many subsequent visits to London, HG/BSK made sure to visit Chutney Mary. Never disappointed. One of the CM cooks was Paddy Rawal, then a young man. HG/BSK were unaware that Paddy, after other culinary posts, had moved to Santa Fe and opened a very well regarded restaurant, Raaga. Well, Paddy has continued the CM tradition but with an emphasis on vegetables plus a few southwestern touches. HG/BSK dined there last week with a friend and colleague from BSK’s Colorado environmental battles. (BSK continues to fight in New Mexico for Mother Earth). Meal was spectacular. Highlights were two extraordinary vegetable dishes: Fried spinach salad with warm yogurt dressing and crisp fried okra with pico de gallo (both hot and sweet and totally satisfying). Other vegetable dishes included cauliflower in a garlic tomato sauce (lassoori gobhi) and raaga tikki (an Indian version of eastern European potato “latkes.”). There was a meat dish. Three sublimely tender pink lamb chops in a masala sauce. They were as good as the lamb “popsicles” served at Vij’s, the great Vancouver Indian fusion restaurant. HG/BSK also had mahi mahi in a mustard infused Bombay curry. Great curry. Tasteless fish — the meal’s only flaw. Naan was the best HG ever ate. Drank a well priced malbec. Refreshing desserts of rasmalai and mango ice cream. Yes, followers of Hungry Gerald. There’s more to Santa Fe than green chile and robust Mexican cooking.

Thanks, Sam

April 30th, 2017 § 2 comments § permalink

As a Bronx youngster, it was obligatory to belong to a SAC (Social Athletic Club). HG’s club was the Hurricanes, SAC. Lots of athletics (basketball, softball, touch football) but not many social activities,just a few modest parties. Members of the Hurricanes sported golden satin jackets with the name of the club on the back and the member’s nickname (HG’s was “Geejay”) embroidered on the front. Unlike the ferocious clubs from the East Bronx — The “Fordham Baldies, “The Golden Guineas”, etc. — the Hurricanes were athletic and studious. There were three future doctors in the club (one was instrumental in proving a one-a-day-aspirin aspirin routine was a heart attack preventive); There were also three future lawyers, a New York State Supreme Court Judge, a leader in the women’s shoe industry, a West Pointer prominent in California defense industries, a dealer in rare books.

As an adult, HG was sponsored by the legendary real estate developer, Samuel J. LeFrak and became a member of Lotos Club. Much enjoyed the historic clubhouse just off Fifth Avenue and the convivial bar and dining room. The Lotos Club was formed in 1870 as a gathering place for men (women were admitted in 1977, more than a hundred years later) in the arts, journalism, theater, etc. The name was derived from the Tennyson poem, “The Lotos Eaters.” The club motto: “They came to a land where it was always afternoon.” The Lotos Club (unlike most other New York “gentlemen’s clubs”) had long been color blind. The late Bobby Short was a prominent member as are jazz artist Wynton Marsalis, Former NYC Mayor David Dinkins and other distinguished African-Americans. Member Mark Twain called Lotos “the Ace of Clubs.” Present day literary members include Novelist/Journalist Tom Wolfe. Many folks from the theater including Renee Fleming, Angela Lansbury, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Christoper Plummer, Peter O’Toole and Elaine Stritch. Among the musicians are Yo Yo Ma and Isaac Stern. Early historic members included Andrew Carnegie and William Randolph Hearst. Since 1947, the Lotos clubhouse has been located at 6 E. 66th Street (a few steps from Fifth Avenue). It is a magnificent building with rich period details, designed by Richard Howland Hunt as a town dwelling for an oil heiress. HG held many festive office parties in its delightful surroundings. Quit when HG/BSK moved to Colorado. No club life until HG/BSK joined Sam’s Club last week. BSK said the Club offered big bargains on summer clothes. Turned out to be true. BSK scored some excellent pants and T-shirts as well as family gifts. HG bought bargain workout shorts. As HG strolled about the mammoth store, food (naturally) was on HG’s mind. Purchased a two-pound package of Member’s Mark Hardwood Smoked Pulled Pork. Modest price. Good natural flavorings. No chemicals, sugars, etc.. BSK cooked it last night. Flanked it with cheesy Geechie Boy stone ground grits and a chopped salad of spring onions and Kumatoes. The pulled pork was enhanced by splashes of Trader Joe’s Carolina Gold barbecue sauce (vinegar and mustard based). Hearty southern meal. Thanks, Sam Walton, for the tasty pulled pork. Thanks, Sam LeFrak, for The Lotos Club.

After Colorado:

Green Goodness

April 26th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

BSK was a pioneer in the use of pesto with pasta. BSK made (and still makes) perfect pesto. Strikes the right balance of basil, olive oil, garlic, pignolia nuts and parmigiano. (At times BSK varies it by using flat leaf parsley and walnuts. At Babbo, the famed New York Italian restaurant, the chefs make a broccoli di rabe pesto and serve it with thick pork chops). Decades ago, BSK served spaghetti with pesto to SJ and his young friend. SJ’s pal looked at the dish and exclaimed: “Aa-a-rgh!! Green spaghetti.” Wouldn’t eat it. Last night, BSK defrosted a jar of BSK pesto and served with chopped Kumatoes and boiled fingerling potatoes. Solid, tasty eating. BSK followed it with endive salad in Gorgonzola/mustard dressing. Much green goodness.