Thursday, September 30, 2010

Love as a verb.

How many allegories and metaphors have centered around this oblong shelled seed? Birth, growth, and possibilities, are all enclosed within this easily cracked avian embryo.

Distance, however, separates us from the plated chicklet before us. Much like our pork and beef, whose cuts are dressed up in plastic wrap covered Styrofoam plates (which old women reuse as "plastic plates," a behavior which I have always found disturbingly dangerous -- flirting with bacteria on its home turf, without the possibility of giving it an incorrect digit when it boldly asks for our number. No, it now knows where we live.) to disguise their lineage, linking them too closely with us. No one recognizes it as mammalian, when it is all dressed up with a someplace to go that is our dinner plate. So too, with the scrambling, the egg is lost in a whirl of reproductive destruction in a hot frying pan. Although, be reassured, none of those Uniform Dozens are capable of growing anything; anything, that is, other than your gut.

One learns early about reproduction growing up on a farm. I knew that the Red Dot in the egg yolk, the Rooster's bloody signature stating that He Was There, was what made the egg grow into the chick. I knew this before I knew what a sperm or egg really was. And, I knew that grocery store eggs didn't have this signature. Our rooster, evidently, didn't service those hens. I thought, "how lucky those hens are!" Roosters aren't known for their skills in the straw. It is more like watching a cooped gang rape.

Yes, those commercial hens were lucky, free range or not.

Sometimes, we'd miss some eggs. The hens would get their bird-brains set upon going "broody" and they'd nest away clutches of their hopes. But, those dreams of motherhood had to be broken. A broody hen stops laying eggs. On a farm selling these eggs, this is not good.

And, sometimes, we wouldn't catch the eggs soon enough. The hen had already sat for awhile. Her instincts are strong. Her wings want to shelter and to gather her young. Her warmth had incubated beginnings of birth. But, in the gathering basket they would go, and we would keep these Loved Ones in the farmhouse, not wanting to sell a surprise. That excitement was reserved for our breakfasts. I remember several occasions, cracking open an egg, and instead of a sunny yolk, finding a half-formed fetus. On such occasions, the breakfast menu was always quickly changed to cereal.

A few days ago now, I acknowledged something to myself. I admitted to myself where I have been. That though, is the stuff of a different post...another day...

This self realization prompted me to buy eggs. Protein. Non-vegetable matter. "Real" food. For my health, or lack thereof.

It took quite a bit of effort though, for me to reach for those eggs. But, love made me do it.

Yes, love...and in its true form, we see people's needs. We learn to read their language and we answer back as best we can; often, using vocabulary foreign to our native tongue. Love watches, waits, and learns to answer in kind. It knows the little things that matter. It tries new things, and it does old ones with understanding that they mean something in translation.

Love makes us do things. Crazy things. And sometimes, love makes us do damned sensible ones.

This egg situation was the latter. "Try some eggs," my mother said, "They are easy to digest." A logical point you have there mother, I thought. What is a first-food when growing? What is a gentle food after sickness? Eggs.


I reached. I bought. I cooked.

This translates as, I love my mother.

My status on Tuesday night, on that Universal Snooping Device that is Facebook, was: "determinedly scrambling eggs." I was determined that I was going to teach my stomach a thing or two about digestion. And, I was going to start with eggs.

They were delicious. I have had them every night since.

Tonight though, I faced my fears of finding evidence of a Red Dotted Signature grown up, head on. I hard-boiled.

I bravely ate...

~ Two eggs, hard-boiled ~
Brown rice
Bok choy
Sea salt
White ceylon pepper

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

An apple is an excellent thing...

A name is a hard thing to get over.

Remembered is the name of a first dog, a best friend, a first kiss and one's first lover. Also packed away in cerebral storage units, whose one and only key is kept safely tucked away behind accumulated tomes of experience, disappointments, and Small Expectations, are the names of enemies, friends lost, breakers of words and hearts, and perhaps the name of one who shattered a promised world.

A name identifies. It ties to a person-hood, to a family, and to a place in time. When someday death reaches for me, my name will last, providing evidence that I Was Here.

And, names change. They trail, truncate and reach their ends on Trees of Genes. Blood is joined and separated. Married and divorced. Sometimes, I am sure, these trails are false. What lusts I wonder, led to breadcrumb names, left to lead astray? Not all unions are a Proud Branch on the family tree, surely. However, some of the accepted and traditional unions are, I can assure you, nothing to be proud of. Their branches wither and rot in gnarled bitterness, all the while remaining genealogically upstanding.

My name changed. And, changed back again. I am now back in my Father's House: a Block, falling off the tree of rounded fruits.

Sometimes, I think I should listen to the unspoken voices, to the harbinger's of the fates, more often. A square trying to be round? "It may not work" they said through others' voices. A bird may love a fish, it is said, but where would they live? And thus I longed for a nest in a wet world.

For years, I had a plate hanging on my kitchen wall declaring "An apple is an excellent thinguntil you have tried a peach." –George du Maurier. It was witty and fitting at the time, given to me by my mother who procured it at a Goodwill somewhere in the heart of the heartland: Lincoln, Nebraska. I left that plate, hanging on a wall...

And, I thought apples an excellent thing, having tried...

My appetite for this particular stone fruit, extolled on the porcelain plate, waned considerably. Although that may, indeed is, an understatement. My appetite ceased.

A friend, and one truest to the very essence of that word "friend" (over-used and cosmetically understood very like "love" which is used on anything from kittens to Skittles to Beloveds to a physical Making which is at the very heart of humanity), who has talked me through a great deal so far in this confusing business of Living, said, "These must be renamed. A code name, if you will, must be created. It is all mental, this problem." She was right, of course. The verbiage must be changed. "...doth not the appetite alter? A man loves the meat in his youth that he cannot endure in his age." In my case, Mr. Shakespeare, the appetite concerns a certain fruit. But, all the same...I stand altered.

"Taos," (pronounced: touz) she christened. And, therefore it came about that the Stone Fruit Peach was baptized "tao."

Slowly, I have made my peace with a Name. Age altered, and now discovers sweetness of a different kind.

Admittedly, I still prefer the name taos.

Baked Ginger Taos

2 peaches
Pads of butter (in my case -- Earth Balance soy free spread)
Brown sugar
Freshly grated ginger
Water for a "bath" for the peaches as they cook

Bake at 425 degrees for 30 minutes.

My sister, eating with me, declared that it was like eating only the best part of a pie. Who wants the crust, anyway?

She licked her plate.

So did I.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Stuffed Peppers

Recipes requiring too many steps scare me. "Scare" though, I admit, is not quite right -- really, I avoid "recipes" like the plague. Is this yet a remaining childish distaste of directions? Or, the inability to concentrate on following more than a few steps -- I am easily distracted, and tend to forget what I have done.
Did I already add the sugar?
Have I stirred 10 minutes?
Have I "pinched" in the salt?
My stomach sinks full, feeling failure is sure to emerge from this effort. Perhaps looks
will be pretty, but the proverbial warning of deception rings through my pessimism. I have cooked many delicious looking things, but many flop. I didn't begin to love cooking, until I discovered the creativity of it. Until I found out for myself that
Instructions don't always lead to the right way, they don't always solve, and they needn't always be followed.
When I throw things in, make what looks pleasing through my grumbly gut's eyes, that is where I find satisfaction and enjoyment in cooking.
My parents were visiting my new home, and after a day's "barn-raising" work, as, true to our mid-western roots, my mom called the tasks assigned to us by the neglected state of my recent purchase, -- my mom and I turned to the open fridge's holdings of the week's acquired produce. Three purple peppers stared back at us, slight lines shriveling creases crying with neglect, being overlooked for other vegetables.
At the Cherry Creek Farmer's Market, we had bought a whole bag of Purple Peppers. At $0.50 each, who could not? On a weekend hike, two were eaten -- apple style. Surprisingly quenching midway through a 10 mile hike.

The mother-daughter consensus was to Stuff. The peppers, not selves. Although, the latter we realized, was a very real possibility. Stuff we did, the peppers to plumpness, and ourselves with contentment of created comestibles.
Over dinner, we all questioned "Just who exactly, first thought to stuff a pepper?" My dad's answer was that this dish was surely the fruit of a frustrated mother. Her attempt at getting kids to eat their vegetables -- hiding "gold" at the end of the rainbow of eating a pepper. What was hiding 'neatht the depths of sticky herbed rice and myriad veggies? Only digging with edible scoops would bring the answer to the mystery internal.
The harnessed wisdom of the interwebs tell me that Stuffed Peppers are estimated to be
Hungarian in origin. So, perhaps it was a Hungarian mother.

Whatever was hiding in the bottom of these, I liked...very much.

~ Stuffed Peppers ~
1. Cook desired amount of rice. I used 1/2 cup dry, and I had quite a bit of filling left, from stuffing three peppers.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
3. Chop carrots (4) & zuchinni (1) in small pieces. Lightly steam.
3. Core peppers, making sure to save their top "hats."
4. Cut up one tomato and a handful of flat-leaf Italian parsley and chives.
5. Mix rice, steamed vegetables, tomato, parsley & chives together. Salt & pepper to taste.
6. Stuff the Bells with filling mixutre, place in a pan filled with an inch of water and cook for 20-30 minutes to desired tenderness.