Friday, September 16, 2016

Cut the Intro: Episode 1

My brother Brian and I just published our first podcast. We have other episodes in the hopper and our excuse to talk each other about a million things is that we talk about good stuff to see on the streaming services like Netflix.

http://www.podcasts.com/download/cut-the-intro-d98040d08/Episode-1-ac02

It's so much fun. He's in Idaho, I'm in Magalia. I'm just impressed that we got over that hump. This whole thing was more work than I thought it would be but we're stoked for our Binyon brother creative project.


Sunday, September 4, 2016

Nap

There are holes in my back where the hooks keep dragging me down
my hands smell like butter and dogs
my hair looks like I crawled out of a subterranean holding cell
where they keep terrorists

I don't know why so I'm tired lately
maybe allergies
maybe because summer is over
maybe I should eat more food and drink less coffee
maybe it's the rhythm of pearl snap buttons tumbling in the drier

I should eat more greens.


Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Anarchist Thoughts

               I.

Leaving the country always feels good
this greatest empire that ever was
that can destroy the world ten times over with bombs
if it wants
but it won't
it'll destroy itself
it'll unravel like a loose knot
tied with slick rope by numb fingers on a freezing night

               II.

This is an election year
the song and dance our masters give us
so we can believe we live in a democratic republic
At least the People's Republic of China
is honest with their one party rule
Oh and they have good education
and health care
and way less prisoners

               III.

There are other nations I wouldn't want to be stuck in
without a doubt
I know it isn't all happy beaches and delicious street food out there
although there are a lot of beaches and street foods
but we are a nation that sells war to ourselves
with the delusion that our way is best for the world
and then we finance those wars and our 700 military outposts
with money borrowed from theocratic dictatorships and communist authoritarians
we don't have any money of our own anymore
we spend more than we make
take more than we give
and consume more than we create

              IV.

The actual value of every paper currency in history is zero
No fiat currency survives the test of time
In 2008 the whole system was two hours away from collapse
and the ATMs would have stopped spitting cash
and all the banks would have closed
and all our deposits would have vanished
like a jealous thought whispered away by a lover's kiss

             V.

The dollar itself is the biggest financial bubble in the history of civilization
And living among the madness and spoils of empire
has made me slothful and apathetic
or ravenously ambitious
although all that feels firmly in the past now
and the only way that feels firm and calm to me
the only balance I can find
is in anarchy, prayer, and getting things made

            VI.

Nobody has real authority over anybody else
That's a thing we do to give away responsibility
but every time we do that little pieces of sovereignty go with it
like erosion on a logged hillside
it's as unnatural as a logged hillside
       


Friday, April 29, 2016

Vegan Creole Red Beans and Rice

I used to cook at a great French-Creole restaurant in Sacramento for this guy. This recipe is inspired by him and his style.


Patrick Celestin is full of culinary swagger, a gifted and passionate cook (he hated being called a chef) and the best all-around restaurateur I've ever met. He ran the cleanest kitchen, with a happy and professional staff, and held the highest standards in the ingredients. I never saw him cut a corner. Everyday he sent at least one expensive something back to his vendors because it wasn't quite right. Delivery drivers would just sweat when he checked in food orders. The meat salesman from the local meat company just took it upon himself to be present when the order was delivered. He'd send back a case of chicken thighs if they were butchered clumsily; he'd yell at us for anything that wasn't exactly how it should be. He could throw on an apron and come up with inventive and insanely delicious specials anytime he wanted to. He'd often come back all stoned after shopping at Cash & Carry with a little chocolate soy milk carton in his hand, the kind you'd put in your kid's lunch box. He had a thing for organic chocolate soy milk and he'd get cases of it for us to drink. All the food was from scratch, soul-filled, and a lot of the recipes were from his Haitian family in Queens. He was in the game for over 25 years until he retired, and I worked for him in his final years in business when he was at the top of his game and a legend in the Sacramento restaurant scene. He wasn't the richest or the owner of the most locations, but if you loved food, he was one of the best. He owned his building, he had never been busier, and the food was delicious. It was a real pleasure learning from him, and a pleasure cooking and eating his food.

So because of that time I miss Creole foods often: Gumbo, red beans and rice, jerk chicken, coconut lime scallops, tostones, calamari, corn fries, key lime pie, veggie curry, ti-malice sauce, grio. He even made an orange vinaigrette with some Tang in it, the secret ingredient, just like his Grandma did. His food carried so much soul.

Anyway I'm plant-based now and have never felt healthier so I'm sticking with that, and I eat a lot of beans. I was dying for some Creole red beans and rice so I did some adaptation and landed on a pot of beans that really hit the spot and would make Patrick proud. These are often made with chicken stock, and usually have tasso ham in it, or bacon fat, and sometimes sausage and things like that. We are leaving all that out and replacing those ingredients with plant-based sources of flavor, but that's no excuse to get flavor lazy or soulless in the soul food.

There are other Creole Vegan Red Bean recipes online, but they seem to mostly be prepared from a place of vegan culture. One lady put a strip of kombu in her beans (Japanese seaweed often used for Japanese broths) because she said it helps you digest them. That just does not belong.

These beans are Creole first, vegan second.

INGREDIENTS 

Vegan Creole Red Beans and Rice

16 oz package dry Red Beans (I like the smaller red beans but kidneys will work. Cook time will be longer.) 1 1/2 onions diced
1 green bell pepper diced
2-3 stalks celery diced 
2 cloves garlic minced
1 green onion thinly sliced
10 cups water
2 T salt
3 veggie bouillon cubes (Repunzel brand is great. Good flavor, good ingredients)
3 T vegan worcestershire sauce (Lea & Perrins has anchovies in the recipe)
3 dashes Crystal hot sauce
3 bay leaves
1T dried thyme
1/2 t black pepper
1/4 t cayenne pepper
1/4 c fresh parsley chopped
1 t liquid smoke
3 T cooking oil

METHOD

Soak your beans in cold water overnight. Or you can use the quick-soak method (which isn't quite as good, but it works). Put the beans in a pot of water, boil for one minute, remove from heat and cover. Soak that for one hour.

Drain your soaked beans and set aside.

In a large heavy-bottomed pan, saute the onions, green bell and celery in the oil. (These are the "Creole Three") Hit them with the salt. Cook them until soft for five minutes.

Add black pepper, cayenne, thyme, bay leaf and garlic. Stir and cook for one minute.

Add beans, water, and the rest of the ingredients (except the green onion, that's for the finish).

Bring to boil and reduce to medium low heat. Stir occasionally and cook uncovered the whole time. After 2 - 3 hours (depending on beans size and freshness, soak method, and other factors) the beans and veggies will have cooked down quite a bit.

Taste a bean. When the beans are nice and creamy, no longer mealy, smash a third of them or so against the pan and stir to introduce all their starchy goodness through the whole pot. Cook them down for another 20 minutes.

Add a little water if it reduces too much. I have to add a cup or so of water near the end every time.

Season to taste with additional salt if needed.

Cook as much cooked parboiled (converted) rice as you want. Follow the package instructions and cook that up with a bay leaf too.

Serve a bunch of beans on a bed of the finished rice. Top it off with the green onions and serve with a salad with lots of avocados and tomatoes and an apple cider vinaigrette.

Keep that Crystal hot sauce handy because it's awesome with these.


     That's it! This one's for you Patrick. You old baller. 





Wednesday, April 13, 2016

The Quiet


The night
The dark like a wet wool army blanket
a room within a room


The voice of Jake in the distance
he’s like the guys who bring guns to the campground
and talk loudly four campsites away


The network is down
it is no match for trees this tall
with all their falling branches and ravens

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Magalia

The valley wind wanted to get away from itself
so it hurried up and out of the valley
and blew through the pines
three thousand feet up
bending the tree tops over
making that soft applause sound
like millions of tiny people in the sky clapping

The wind looked over its shoulder
to see if the valley noticed its absence
and relieved, the wind settled
it ducked down and filled the canyon
a branch cracked from the weight of the wind's wake
it fell and stabbed against the single pane window
the dog gazed out that window
motionless
for a solid minute
a full sixty seconds

It is warm tonight
there's no need to burn up the wood
or work in the garage any longer




Sadie Rose's Contribution to Culinary Art

In my life in and out of food work, I've noticed that almost everybody who has cooked for a long time stumbles on some creation that has the potential to spread to kitchens everywhere. Most of those recipes end up trapped in families or small circles of people, but some of them travel. This one should travel.

Last May, after eating a Polish Dog at my son's birthday party, I felt disgusting and wanted to give up meat, something I had done a number of times. From the nutrition books I've read and from watching my lifelong vegetarian mother age with freakish strength and vitality, I'm convinced that we are healthiest when we eat no animals, or virtually no animals. After that birthday party, I knew I wanted to stop eating meat.

I told Sadie that I wasn't going to eat meat anymore, and then she told me she would make me a delicious vegetarian dinner that she came up with when she was broke in college, living with her vegan best friend, and eating tons of lentils.

Sadie is a woman who can walk into a kitchen, scan the ingredients and the environs, and make delicious food every time. It's a skill she's honed from single motherhood and it's very different than the skills you pick up as a professional cook. When you spend years cooking or baking professionally, you scan all of your ingredients that come in your kitchen and send back the ones that aren't perfect. You sharpen your knives to razors. You smell the scallops to make sure they aren't a single day old. You measure in grams. You get picky and precise. It's culinary art for sales and consistency, not culinary art for survival or personal pleasure. My first impression of Sadie's cooking was when she made fish tacos with little crushed tater tots in them, with some sauce and cabbage and I can't remember what else, but they were some of the best fish tacos I had ever had, made with what was in her freezer and small refrigerator. I mean they were killer, really good tacos. Sadie knows she can cook, but she is a way better cook than she thinks she is. She cooks gracefully and totally relaxed, with a big open mind to improvisation.

The lentil dish she prepared was one of the best lentil dishes I have ever tasted, and it was totally created by her. I cooked in an Indian restaurant, have made many lentil dishes for pay and for myself, grew up with a vegetarian mom, am thoroughly familiar with the lentil's prominent standing in vegetarian culture, and this thing that Sadie makes is the best. It is number one. I love it, my kids love it, everybody loves it. And it's so simple. This dish is her contribution to culinary art, it is a creative masterpiece of flavor, balance, and nutrition, and I wonder what other inspired jewels hide in all single-mother's kitchens. Anyway, make this, it is a phenomenal vegetarian meal.    


1C Red Lentils
2C Water
1T Olive Oil
1 Red Onion thinly sliced
1t Red Thai curry paste
3T Braggs liquid aminos
2T Maple syrup

Sourdough Bread (preferably Dave Miller's bread available at the Saturday morning Farmer's Market in Chico) Read about Dave Miller's masterful bread.

If you're gluten-free I'm sorry. Please reconsider unless you are truly, painfully allergic to gluten. Dave Miller is one of the best bakers in the United States and he's right here. And his loaf with some rye in it goes perfectly with this dish.

Rinse your red lentils and combine in a pot with the water. Bring to a boil and lower the heat to the lower end of medium.

Pull out a saute pan and heat the olive oil. Drop the sliced onions. Throw a couple pinches of salt on them and keep them moving in the hot pan until they start to soften and brown. Turn the heat down. You're going to cook these down until they are sweet, soft, and quite brown. Cook them until the lentils are ready.

In 10-15 minutes the red lentils will be done. They go from done to mush quickly. You want them to retain a little bit of themselves so don't over do it.

Season your lentils with the Red Curry, Braggs, and Maple Syrup. Sadie always does this to taste without measuring but I think the quantities above are about right. You can of course adjust how you like, taste as you season.

Serve in bowls topped with caramelized onions and thick slices of lightly toasted sourdough for dipping. If you're plant based like me, drizzle high quality olive oil on your toasted bread. If not, go with ghee.

Thanks for reading. Give this a shot. It's an easy, super healthful and affordable way to feed a lot of people. And it's so delicious you'll think about how good it was and crave it until you make it again.