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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Walk In The Shadow Of Love!

For many years now, I've dabbling in Buddhism and yoga and mediation as a way to cope with my unfettered anxiety. Why I came to Buddhism is beyond me. I'm a nice little white boy from Washington State who grew up on chewy, over-cooked hamburgers and canned green beans.

My mother's version of a side dish was a container of large-curd low-fat cottage cheese with a spoon jammed in the center. Or a can of beets opened and spilled, red juice and all, into a large bowl.

If she was feeling fancy, she's jab at the beets with the end of her fork, muttering how much she loathed cooking and then proceed to be hurt if we didn't eat the mangled mess of red looking flesh.

I've read so many stories in cookbooks how cooks were inspired by their mothers or their childhood to cook.

Martha Anal Stewart waxing poetically how her mother used to beam down at her when she was a little girl in their pretty white, green and anal-retentive kitchen. She says she remembers how the sunlight streamed in through the garden windows, a look of unfettered love in her mother's eyes as sprinkles of flour floated in the air as her mother cooed to her and lovingly showed her how to make homemade bread.

Afterwords, they would hold hands as they cut the freshly baked bread, love pouring out of every orifice. They would eat the bread snuggled together by the living room windows, gazing at the snow falling outside and feel all warm and fuzzy and entitled as they slurped their freshly brewed hot chocolate with tiny marshmallows bobbing on top, like miniature dreams floating atop a perfect cloud of hope.

I had a slightly different experience.

First of all, my mother used to fart when she cooked. Like, all the time. It wasn't the smell of yeast in the air I remember. It was sulfur. We used to walk into the kitchen, hear the tiny sound of my mother farting away and know that the food would be good. For some reason, her farting equated a good meal.

When I was 8 and finishing my 3rd year of intensive psychotherapy, I finally understood when my mother farted a lot when she cooked. The more she farted, the less anxious she felt. The less anxious she felt, the more she could enjoy cooking, resulting in a meal that was not only edible but tasty.

Just like Martha's Mom!

My mother never cooked because she liked to cook. She cooked because, like many, many women before her and many, many women after, she had no choice. Eating out wasn't an option. That option existed only for people who grew up in Connecticut.

And, plus, she was raised to cook at home, so as a wife, she felt it her moral obligation. It was in her blood. And, clearly, in some perverse way, she passed it along to me. It's neither right nor wrong, it just was the way it was and for some women, still is.

My mother was mentally ill and had horrid IBS. That's Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

I'm sorry, but it exists. Let me guess - some of you'd rather not hear about IBS.

You'd rather I talk about the new vodka drink or engage in the debate about weather or not Britney sings at her concerts.

Well, vodka is wonderful but a dull subject and as far as I'm concerned Britney Spears is a hypocrite who is filthy rich and does nothing useful with her money (like Madonna and Simon Cowell). I have a problem with rich people like her.

It's not right she can get her clit pierced with a diamond stud while 4 year old Joanna Muwabi in Africa has intestinal worms and will die in 2 days if her mother can't find her fresh water.

Buddha was right, life is suffering, but I don't think he ever imagined our society would become this indifferent. Do you?

My mother was always very ashamed about her need to constantly poop. Her poop smelled so bad we had to have a fan installed in the WALL of the bathroom as a direct line to the outside to shuffle the stench out.

And to think I wondered as a child why people kept moving out of our neighborhood. Would explain why they changed the flight patterns of the planes over our house.

They say poop smells worse when the pooper is in a state of distress. I myself am a smelly pooper and am a very anxious person. When I am extremely anxious and take a long, protracted crap, the tiles in the bathroom shrink. The medicine cabinet mirror cries. My boyfriend stares at me in awe and says in a hushed voice, "Wow. Now that's something special."

Anxiety makes poop smell like poop. Let's just agree no matter how bad the economy gets, one should never, ever accept a janitorial position at a Anxiety Disorders Convention. One may never recover. One will lose one's hair. One will descend into madness. If you need money that bad, come see me. I'll loan you a few bucks until you can find something better. I wish such a job on no one. Well, maybe George Bush. He deserves it.

My mother was very ashamed. I think she should have had more pride. She should have shoved it in people’s face. Figuratively, mind you.

She should have said, "Yes, the bathroom smells like a Roman battleground littered with thousands of dead and rotting bodies – jealous? I have a natural skill and you do not. Fuck you, you insecure gnat."

My mother's humor is what saved her from being committed to the local funny farm and what saved me and my two sisters from joining her.

So we joked.

If we heard my mother fart five times it meant we were in for a rare treat.

The main meal, which was anything from Stuffed Peppers to Hamburgers to Hot Dogs to Tuna Casserole to Baked Squash, would be tasty. No weird ingredients, no misplaced mousetraps or tampons, nothing surprising. Just good old comfort food.

Four farts meant the main dish would be good, but you had to be careful for the sides.

Four Fart Sides could be odd. Like Metamucil in the green beans or blueberries in the potatoes. When four farts were heard, you prodded those lumpy mashed potatoes very carefully.

Three farts were tricky.

Three farts meant anything that appeared to be one thing could, in all likelihood, be something else. So despite the fact it looked like carrots it could, in fact, be turnips died with orange die and then put into the toaster for no apparent reason.

Three farts usually meant this was when my mother's mediation was shifting from one to the next - we called these meals the Three Fart Bi-Polar Transitional Meals.

Two farts, well - only two farts meant it was best to have car keys in hand as it was a sure bet one of us was going to have to jump in the car and drive to KFC.

You didn't want to be in the dining room on two fart nights. Two farts meant a load of tension was building inside of her and what was inside of the meatloaf was best left unprobed by human hands.

Most often my father would check the shed to see if anything was missing from his tool box, or on the rare occasion, if the bird feed was still in the bird feeder.

One fart, well, one fart was Armageddon.

One fart meant she had tried to make the meal and had failed miserably and most often would stop cooking and start taking any one of her multitude of pills. My mother was fun on one fart. On one fart nights she'd eat anything on the planet as long as she didn't have to do anything but drink her wine, take her pills and watch TV.

One farts nights were our version of Sunday Night Disney TV.

No farts? Luckily, we never had a No Fart Dinner Night. Such a night would have resulted in our own little production of Long Day's Journey Into Night, a production I'm glad I missed thank you very much. My mother was always one moment away from hysterical Katherine Hepburn land and it was best to keep pulling her away from the ledge. Trust me.

Otherwise I can't have said what would have happened to our three legged dog with a leaky bladder, Sparkle.

That Shepard's Pie on No Fart Night could have tasted like mighty 'pooch-like.'


Last night, I made a tremendous meal if I do say so myself.

I made:

Vegetable and Chicken Rogan Josh
Dum Aloo (Whole Potatoes in Spicy Yogurt Gravy)
Aloo Paratha (potato stuffed bread)
Spicy Mango Chutney

Spicy Basmati Rice

The key to planning an Indian meal is just that - planning.

We are going to start the Rogan Josh first, then make the Dum Aloo. They both cook in a Dutch oven for 45-60 minutes so as they simmer you can make the rice and get the rest ready.

I know, work, but it's WORTH IT.

I have no idea why Indian cuisine is so appealing to me. I was raised a big meat eater. But with Indian food, it's sorta amazing to me how you really, truly don't miss meat. And this is the funky part - I simply don't want meat in the meal.

It must be the spices and the colors of the food.

Homosexuals like things that are pretty and sparkle.

First thing is first - I don't trust Americans with Indian food. If you're not Indian or from the UK, it's best we don't discuss Indian recipes.

Two of my heroes: Jamie Oliver and Julie Sahni.

Julie who?

Here I am licking her cookbook. Don't have it? If you like Indian food, get off your butt and buy it. Amazing stuff. She teaches cooking in Brooklyn Heights. I may even take a class from her.

Indian food for many Americans is still a new cuisine. We don't trust it. Which is a shame. The basis for the compassionate and humanistic nature of vegetarian Indian food is pretty cool. Narcissistic and egocentric fucks could take a lesson from Indian food. The stuff tastes amazing and you don't have to harm anyone or anything to make it. I know, a foreign concept to selfish Americans (New Yorkers especially).

My hubby loves Indian food but didn't trust me making it home. He a very wary person in general, but the idea of me making Indian food didn't excite him...until he tasted it.

And let me tell you...this shit is good.

Homemade Indian food holds over very well. Since most of the recipes have half (or none) of the meat of most American cuisine, the taste becomes deeper and more flavorful over time.

Sure, some chili's and braises are better the 3rd and 4th day, but do you really want me to tell you want a diet of constant animal protein really does to you lower intestines?

Let's cook!

Jamie Oliver and Indian Food - is there anything better? Not only is Jamie passionate and aware, but he's got a big heart, takes action in life and makes KILLER Indian food.

Of course, he's from the UK and my secret lover. Don't tell my hubby...

I love Jamie. Why? He makes cooking fun. Martha makes me tense, Rachael Ray is falling apart before our eyes, Mario is fat and mean but getting thinner...but Jamie Oliver? Just a good bloke who can throw food together from his gut, not from a measuring cup.

What you need for Jamie's "Rogan Josh":
  • 1 1/2 pounds chicken breast, cut into 1 inch dice
  • 1/2 head cauliflower, cut into 1 inch dice
  • 2 large yellow onions, or white onions
  • 1-2 large red hot Italian pepper or jalapeno pepper, 2 if you like it hot
  • Thumb size piece of ginger, peeled and cut into tiny dice
  • Olive oil
  • A spoon of butter
  • 4 Turkish bay leaves
  • Salt/pepper
  • 2 glugs of balsamic vinegar
  • 1 14.5 ounce can of no-salt, diced tomatoes
  • 1 14.5 ounce can of no-salt chicken broth, plus up to 1/2 can of water for thinner sauce
  • 1/2 cup mild Patak's curry paste, any style works with Biryani paste a lovely choice (see previous post about Patak's ready-made Indian PASTE...not sauce, but PASTE)
  • 2 handfuls of red Turkish lentils, or 'dal' as its called...these are not french lentils or green lentils, but red Turkish or Middle-Eastern lentils
  • 1 cup natural Middle-eastern yogurt
The cooking of this is fun but read this part carefully - it takes a full hour to cook with prep being a bit involved - a good 20 minutes of chopping and prepping for dinner, so plan carefully. But OH MY GOD. It's worth it.

I've taken liberties with Jamie's original recipe. I've added/deleted and modified based on making this countless times.

I still love you, Jamie boo. Sit on my face, er, LAP please.

Let's start the the chicken dish first, then we'll proceed to the potatoes.

Let's prep:
  1. Cut up your chicken and put aside in a bowl.
  2. Cut up cauliflower and put aside in a separate bowl.
  3. Cut up onion, chile's, ginger and put into bowl. Add bay leaves. Put aside.
  4. Get your balsamic vinegar nearby.
  5. Open up the can of tomatoes and chicken broth. Put aside.
  6. Get your Patak's and put aside.
  7. Have your open container of red lentils nearby.
NOW you're ready.

Note: Purists say you must use peanut oil or ghee (Indian butter) or vegetable oil for these meals...personally, I taste no difference when I use Olive Oil, so I use Olive Oil since it's much better for you there.
  1. Heat up a few glugs of oil in a pan with a spoon full of UNSALTED butter over medium heat. Add the bowl of onions, chile's, ginger and bay leaves - add a splash of Kosher salt. Cook until onions slightly brown. Watch so it doesn't burn.
  2. Add cauliflower. Mix well and get all the yummy veggies on there.
  3. Add the chicken. Mix, mix, mix. Liberally add fresh pepper and a dash of Kosher salt.
  4. Add a couple big old lugs of balsamic vinegar and turn up the heat to medium high. Cook for 2-3 minutes.
  5. Add the tomatoes and the broth. Really mix that up well now.
  6. Toss in your tasty Patak's. Mix the hell out of it so everything is evenly coated. Very important.
  7. Gently toss in your lentils and stir well.
  8. Bring to a boil, cover, and cook for one hour, checking often to make sure it's not drying out.
Now, Jamie Oliver, bless his little tasty bum, says to add 3 1/2 cups of water at this point. My advice? Don't do it. I'm not sure what his thinking is here, but it makes it so watery. Add what I indicated above and keep checking every 15 minutes and add a bit of water if you must, but only add 1/4 cup at a time. A little water goes a long way.

Keep checking the chicken and when it's cooked through and the cauliflower is tender, you are good go to!

Dear LORD it's good!



Sorry. Couldn't resist.

And no, I'm not going to be a drag queen. My hubby seems to think so, but he's limited in seeing my future.

Let's agree to let that go, shall we?

Let's cook!

What'll you need:
  • 2 pounds small red-bliss potatoes, don't go with Yukon Gold as they will fall apart in cooking
  • 4 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 large yellow onions, finely chopped
  • 1 thumb side piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 4 teaspoons coriander
  • 1 teaspoon tumeric
  • 2 teaspoons red pepper, 1 teaspoon if you like it mild
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 2 large ripe tomatoes, cut in half and purred in a blender
  • 1 cup thick, Greek or Middle-Eastern plain low-fat yogurt
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream, optional
All of the spices you can get nowadays at a nicer grocery store. Whole Paycheck, er, Whole FOODS is great but too bloody expensive.

Try a local Indian spice store if you have it. If you don't, one of the best places to go for these kinds of spices is Kalustyan's Indian Spice Shop in Manhattan.

Yes, they are in Manhattan but do excellent mail order.

Buy from them and you have great spices for a long, long time.

Take a gander:

Let's prep:
  1. Wash red potatoes. Prick all over many times with a pairing knife. This is to aid in the cooking and to allow the sauce to penetrate the flesh (I love writing that - flesh). Put in a large bowl with cold water as you prep the rest.
  2. Chop onions. Put in a side bowl.
  3. Chop ginger. Put aside.
  4. In a small bowl, mix your cumin, coriander, tumeric, red pepper and garam masala. (Note: I've erred way to many times on putting in too much cumin. Use cumin sparingly and with only a level measure. It can overwhelm a dish.)
  5. Quarter your 2 large, ripe tomatoes. Puree in a blender until just liquefied. Put aside.
  6. Measure out yogurt. Put aside.
Now...this is an easy and fun recipe. Here is what you do:
  • Heat up the oil in a large Dutch oven that is large enough to accomodate the potatoes in one layer. Very important.
  • As oil heats over medium heat, drain potatoes and dry with paper towel. Put dry potoes in one layer in Dutch oven. Cook, moving around for 10 minutes until they are spotted and brown all over. Remove with a slotted spoon; drain on papertowel lined plate. Nice!
  • Add onions, lower heat to medium low and cook, slowly until brown, about 10 min. Chill with the onions. Don't go crazy. They can burn. Watch them.
  • Now add ginger, cook a minute. Careful it doesn't burn.
  • Add spices. Ah...that smells LOVELY. Cook a minute. Must always toast spices, lovelies.
  • Toss in the tomatoes, mix.
  • Toss in the yogurt, mix.
  • Add a healthy dash of salt.
  • Put in the potatoes in an even layer, cover, cook for 30 minutes or so until tender.
Keep checking to make sure it's not dried out.

When the potatoes are tender, add the tiny bit of cream. I wrote this as optional. But don't be a butthead. 1/4 heavy cream spread over 6 meals won't kill you.

Love you!

If the sauce is too watery before you put in the cream, then remove the lid and reduce it down a bit. But be careful the potatoes don't cook to the point of mush.

Now for the rice, you can just go to an Indian restaurant and get pre-made Basmati rice. I mean, I get it. You did the goddamn chicken and the potatoes and you've got the bread...but to me, Indian food without good rice is a crime. Just a crime.

So here is the easy way to make it:


What you'll need:
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 3-inch piece of cinnamon
  • 4 cloves
  • 3 cardamon pods
  • 1 cup REAL basmati rice
  • 1 1/2 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
All of the recipe books say you must, must, MUST rinse your rice. Poppycock. I've been making it one way for years and it's taste and fluffy and doesn't stick together.

Not much prep to do here except make sure you slice your onion early and thin.

And make sure the pan you make this in has a tight fitting lid.

This is what you do:
  1. Heat up the oil in the pan over medium heat.
  2. Toss in the cinnamon, cloves, cardamon pods in and cook until the pop. (I used to think 'cloves' mean 'garlic cloves' and could never figure out why they didn't pop...took me awhile to realize cloves meant CLOVES, tiny dark spices you can get at any store.)
  3. Add onion; cook 2 min or so. Careful as it can burn.
  4. Throw in rice; cook 1 min.
  5. Throw in water, bring to boil, over and SIMMER for NO MORE THAN 17 MIN.
  6. Check at 12 minute mark to make sure rice is not burning.
  7. After max of 17 min, move off burn and let it sit for 15 min. Very important.
  8. Take lid off, fluff with fork, remove spices and throw out.
Now, this is fine as is. But if you want to add some SPICE, do this:

Chop up one or two red or green fresh pepper, two garlic cloves and a tiny bit of peeled ginger. Measure out one tablespoon of no-salt tomato paste.

Heat up 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil in a skillet, add the spices and the tomato paste, cook for a few minutes, throw in the plain rice and cook for a few minutes and voila! Spicy rice!

This is one of those dishes that is lovely the next day or the day after. It tastes amazing heated up.

I bought some lovely store bought Aloo Paratha for the meal and it was fantastic. All you have to do is heat it up in a large non-stick pan for 5 min. each side.

Add the Hot Mango Chutney on the side and you have a brilliant meal!

Enjoy this my darlings!

And next week - what happens when a gay man is contacted by old, straight and married High School male friends on Facebook and the gay man reminds them they used to have increadibly hot acrobatic sex under the bleachers and in the bathroom and in the locker room and the straight men deny it until the gay man has pictures to prove it! Oh, it's a hoot!

And food is involved!


1 comment:

  1. Wow...Buddah, love, Indian food and maternal flatulence. This must have been an excerpt from your R-rated one-man show? Painfully funny. I don't remember mom tooting away while she cooked...but, I do remember the opened cottage cheese container in the middle of the table with a spoon jammed in the center. I also remember the best homemade white bread on planet Earth. We'd smother it with butter and feel the love. Pies were another of mom's achievements which is probably why you love to make pies :) All so long ago.......... XO Last night we had fish with curry, onion and coconut milk....yum....