HG – All Alone

November 21st, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

Many years ago, when HG/BSK lived in Montclair, N.J., HG/BSK had a Colombian, live-in housekeeper named Lucy. When HG/BSK and children would leave for an excursion to Manhattan or elsewhere, Lucy would murmur mournfully “All alone. Lucy is all alone.” HG is rarely “all alone” but when BSK is off to an evening meeting of environmentalists or political activists, HG must prepare a single dinner for HG. Ordering pizza has no appeal. (Only pizza HG has ever tasted in years was the “Skinny Pizza” at Reba & Pancho restaurant in Lewisburg, Pa. during the recent trip from Prince Edward Island. That pizza was a worthy competitor of the grilled pizza at Al Forno restaurant in Providence, R.I.). In HG’s New York days, good Chinese food was only a phone call away. No such amenity in New Mexico or PEI. So, what does HG eat in BSK’s absence? (HG isn’t really alone. Toby, The Wonder Dog, is amiable company). First choice is what Romans eat after a late night of carousing: Spaghetti with oil, garlic, chopped parsley and a shower of red pepper flakes.(Not classically Roman, but HG adds anchovies). Next on the list is Pho, utilizing a good Thai beef flavor paste for the broth. HG adds rice vermicelli, bean sprouts, tofu, sliced sweet onion and a good dose of sesame oil and chili oil. Another choice is Congee (MAMA brand mix). HG tosses in some shrimp and slices of garlic. Tops it with salted peanuts. Sesame oil and chili oil? Of course.

Freezer Treats

November 20th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

HG/BSK’s freezer is filled to the bursting point. BSK will remedy this situation by planning a range of dinners utilizing the many products stored there. A few nights ago, BSK found some frozen scallops and made a wonderful sauce of cherry tomatoes, olive oil, garlic and anchovies. Quickly sauteed the scallops until lightly browned. Mixed them with the sauce and served the lush melange over linguine. Last night, pork meat and roasted chile peppers (both hot and mild) emerged from the chill. Augmented with a bit of chopped pork from Pojoaque Super Market, the meat went into the Instant Pot with potatoes, onions, chile powder, tomato paste, cumin, Goya Adobe spice and chicken stock. Hearty dish topped with chopped onions, tomato slices, avocado and Herez Salsa Casera. Lots of bratwurst and knockwurst in the freezer. HG anticipates Alsatian choucroute. Pass the mustard, please.

Pojoaque Super Market

November 19th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

HG is very fond of this market which is just a few minutes drive from HG/BSK’s New Mexico home. Don’t know if it is owned by the Pojoaque Pueblo but it is staffed by Hispanic and Native American folks. They’re all very friendly and helpful. The store stocks an encyclopedic variety of salsas, chiles, Mexican spices (the oregano is the best), tortillas, Mexican cheeses and other ingredients for south of the border cuisine. There’s an in store liquor shop offering (no surprise) many tequilas, some at very lofty prices. Scores of chilled beers and ales plus a roster of wines. Often sells bourbon at bargain prices. The store’s kitchen produces a variety of hot dishes including menudo and green chile stew. HG finds these items inferior but loves the kitchen’s flan, pico de gallo, ceviche and tomatillo sauce. There are excellent pork products in the meat section (from local swine). HG will pick up some pork stew meat today so BSK can use it in BSK’s sublime green chile stew (the Instant Pot will cut down on the cooking time). A happy note: The store stocks Topo Chico, best of all sparkling waters.

Hot Breakfasts

November 18th, 2018 § 2 comments § permalink

HG is writing this post after a breakfast of oatmeal produced by an Israeli organic farmer transplanted to Prince Edward Island after years of farming in Turkey. Best oatmeal in the world, far surpassing imports from Ireland and Scotland. (Check the HG archive for Oct. 9. 2017 post on oatmeal). BSK cooks oatmeal with dried cranberries, cherries and raisins and serves it with Vermont (or Canadian) maple syrup. Makes the dish lush. Congee, the Asian rice porridge, is another cold weather breakfast treat. Others are: Polenta or Geechie Boy Grits topped with BSK’s perfect poached eggs; softly scrambled eggs in 505 Green Chile Sauce; Quaker Oats grits cooked with cream cheese and mixed with parmesan. In HG’s youth, the little fellow ate a steaming bowl of Wheatena, a grainy wheat porridge (oddly created on Mulberry Street in NYC back in 1879) flavored with a big chunk of butter and sprinkled with kosher salt. The beverage was Droste’s Cocoa. Nourished by this breakfast, HG hustled off to Public School 86 to absorb the spelling and arithmetic lessons that have aided HG throughout his long life.

Thai Congee Comfort

November 17th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

If there’s snow, if there’s cold, if there’s rain, if the skies are overcast (and even if it’s warm and sunny), there are few breakfasts more comforting than heaping bowls of Asian congee (rice porridge also called “jook.”) Breakfast joy is a steaming bowl with a few shrimp or scallops or Chinese mushrooms within. HG likes his congee dotted with a few peanuts and modest splashes of sesame oil, chile oil and soy sauce. Some years ago, HG/BSK spent many months of the year in a Vancouver, B.C., loft. The loft was in the hip Mt. Pleasant neighborhood and Congee Noodle House was on Broadway near Main Street, a five minute walk from home. As you might have guessed, the big restaurant specialized in congee and noodle dishes. The Asian customers liked to accompany their congee with deep fried crullers and hard boiled eggs steamed in soy sauce. HG accompanied his congee with Chinese pork or shrimp crepes. With many cups of hot tea and the print edition of The New York Times, it was a wonderful way to start the day. Recently, HG discovered a good instant congee mix. The brand is “Mama” and it originates in Thailand. Quick cooking and lots of Thai flavor. Snow last night in New Mexico but HG was wrapped in Thai comfort this morning as HG dipped HG’s spoon in the congee and read the digital New York Times.

50 Cent Bronx Dinners Circa 1940

November 15th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

HG’s beloved parents, Harry and Ida, long deceased, almost never went to restaurants. They were out of the question during the Great Depression when pennies were carefully counted. However, the economy picked up by 1940 and a once-a-month family meal was a happy occasion at Tower Delicatessen and Restaurant on W. Kingsbridge Road in The Bronx. Cost of the meal was 50 cents per person plus a generous tip of 35 cents. So, what did you get for a half buck in this Jewish kosher eatery? Choice of chopped liver (plenty of chicken fat) or gefilte fish (fiery horseradish). Then a bowl of chicken soup with either noodles or kasha. Main dish was boiled chicken with a boiled potato and mushy peas and carrots. More fiery horseradish, mustard and pickles. Lots of rye bread and challah on the table. Dessert was stewed prunes. Beverage was seltzer. Finale was tea.

El Parasol Menudo

November 13th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

HG’s favorite New Mexico food is green chile menudo (tripe stew) from the El Parasol restaurant in Pojoaque (quick drive from HG/BSK’s home). Many levels of flavor: A certain barn-yard funk from the innards. Rich broth. Heat from the chiles. Soft and firm tripe textures. Crunch from chopped sweet onions. New Mexicans claim it is a cure for hangovers. HG can’t vouch for this since (despite some vigorous alcoholic intake) HG is never assaulted by hangovers. Cold and raw weather last night so HG brought home a pint container of El Parasol menudo and gave it a generous hit of onions and cilantro, Cost: $6.31. This is usually mixed with posole but HG likes his menudo unadulterated by starch. HG drank red Malbec with the cold weather defeating treat as BSK (no tripe fan) looked on. BSK was content with a healthy salad. Sopaipilla Factory, another local restaurant, serves a more refined (and pricier) menudo, where the slight tang of offal funkiness has been cleaned up. HG prefers El Parasol’s rugged version. Curiously, HG has never eaten tripe in Europe. Once took a bite of a tripe sandwich from a food truck in Rome. Feh!! Threw it away. In Paris, HG has never tasted the Calvados laced tripe at Chez Denise or the Tripe a la mode de Caen at Le Stella. At 89, HG is still optimistic about seeing Paris again.

BSK Cuisine

November 12th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

Blue skies. Golden sunshine. Cool temperatures descending down to 20 degree fahrenheit in the evenings. BSK is responding with “twofer’ meals: Hearty cooking ample enough for two dinners. First up was a roast spatchcocked chicken with plenty of natural gravy accompanied by Garafalo orzo mixed with fried onions and shitake mushrooms. Plenty of left-over meat for lunch, bones for stock. Next was a huge crock of Texas chile. BSK uses Wick Fowler’s chile mix but adds lots of original touches. New Mexico pals and neighbors Karen K. and David F. joined HG/BSK in the chile feast. Toppings of grated cheddar cheese, chopped raw onion and fiery chipotle peppers. Karen K., The Dessert Queen, brought home baked brownies and corn bread. Watched the election results together. Given the Democratic gains and the hearty food, it was a happy night.

89

November 11th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

Yes, 89 on November 9th. HG now qualifies as an old, old guy. Never thought HG would live so long. But, glorious BSK keeps HG alive with care, love and wonderful food. And, HG’s family in Rhode Island, Tokyo and New York is a source of ongoing comfort, love and pride. HG/BSK’s wonderful friends Antony and Claudia C. (residents of Colorado, England and Salt Spring Island, B.C.) hosted a birthday lunch for HG/BSK at the Compound restaurant in Santa Fe. The generous duo gifted HG with splendid wines and chocolates. All dined well in a sunlit room. HG took particular joy in a steak tartare cut and spiced to order and adorned with an orange egg yolk. Confession: Better than any steak tartare in Paris. Lavish dessert. Much wine (left HG with midday dizziness). Joyous birthday celebration (made better with the many kind remembrances from friends and family). BSK topped off the day by gifting HG with Spider socks, insuring HG with a winter of comfy feet.

Land of Enchantment

November 10th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

Yes, that’s an accurate description of HG/BSK’s New Mexico. A blue tsunami hit the state on Election Day. Governor, Senator, Congressional candidates all were victorious with generous majorities. Plus commissioners and judges and state representatives, etc. The state is as blue as the skies. Oh, yes, HG/BSK are happy to be in the state with azure skies, light that continues to inspire artists and brisk nights that make sleeping a joy. Have HG mentioned green chile menudo and green chile pork stew plus Christmas chicken enchiladas, breakfast burritos, guacamole? More. Yes, much, much more. Margaritas, for example.