December 13, 2008

Banana Split Tease

While I work to gather the pieces of myself after a week of grading, I am pleased to post a sexy poem written by Linda Lee Madison of Indianapolis. Linda is a disability claims analyst who enjoys running, sipping on margaritas, and reading Tarot cards. She is also my mom. Enjoy Linda's first poem submitted to the Moody Kitchen! Also, be expecting un monton de posts in the next 3 weeks; today marks the first day of my holiday vacation!

Banana Split Tease

There you sit in your fancy bowl, enticing me with your charm.
You think I do not know that you have disguised your legs with a smooth, sleek banana and your bosoms with two thick mounds of the richest ice cream. Premium brand, I am sure.

I see your scarf wrapped around your neck made of the thickest, fluffiest cream available, along with your Cover Girl make up of chocolate, strawberry and pineapple. Everything about you is strategically placed to attract more attention.

You want me to admire, most of all, your sugar-crusted pecan accessories scattered ever-so-poignantly with the utmost detail. You top all of this off with your cherry-red “Sunday-go-to-meeting” hat. You’re a good girl going bad.

I hear you laugh quietly as I scramble for a spoon.
I lick the very last drop of your blood in your lead crystal bowl and you roar like the king of the jungle, knowing that you cost me 100 points. How could you?

I quickly climb the 16 steps, turn right, turn right and face the monster in my bathroom. I slowly step my heavy leg onto the digits, knowing already that I lost more than a pound today.

December 2, 2008

'Tis the Season for Citrus Fruits and Radiators!

While I am horrible at remembering book titles, album titles, and people's names, I am pretty damn good at remembering images. When it comes to image-collection, I am the queen of hamsters, stuffing those pretty pictures into my brainy pouch so that I can meal on them later. I once stored an image from an M.F.K. Fisher book that ranks right up there with the best of seeds in my rodent world. What's the title, you might be asking? That's for you to hunt down, Wiki-Sherlock. If this essay ain't getting graded, the responsibility for accuracy is out of my hands. Please tolerate my breed of hyper-unreliability.

Anyway, back to the hamster. Back to the citrusy seed. The image I recall so fondly is a slice of tangerine that Fisher accidentally roasted atop her apartment radiator in Paris. What I love about this image is the sheer accidental nature of its creation. Finished with her tangerine, she placed the remaining pieces on an old piece of newspaper and tossed the now-weighted paper aside...onto her metal radiator. This was the kind of heater you might imagine in any studio apartment in Chicago. Or a bourgie Parisian apartment circa 1930. Or 1931, Mrs. Picky Calculator Lady! Early-30s Paris might very well be the setting for this miracle. Or not.

At any rate, the radiator, the 1930s, the newspaper, the tangerine scraps, the woman, the naked man this woman can see in the apartment building across the street--none of these things are important. Nothing is important in this image I'm mealin' on betwixt my hamster teeth except for the final citrusy transformation.

While Fisher rested studiously in her armchair, perhaps considering a new way to prepare a fig compote at the tennis club brunch, her tangerine became something entirely new. From summery orange slice, to a crispy-shelled nugget of winter sun, Fisher's tangerine had changed. (If I could remember the book title or the essay title--or, if I could somehow summon forth Fisher's ghost--I would be thrilled to offer you her gorgeous description of this accidentally-roasted tangerine. However, these primary sources are the properties of other hamsters. Hamsters with winning memories and connections to high-ranking government officials.)

Back to the miracle that took place at Fisher's side: she remarked on how the soft membrane of this small slice turned to crunch, how the inside of the tangerine remained juicy, became almost creamy when warmed. How this union of glass and cream must have rattled her spine! How, after taking the first bite, she must have wanted to dive through her own glass window and into the creamy arms of the man still see standing naked across the street. (Or, am I once again imposing my own psychology upon this scene?)

I tried roasting my own tangerines a few years ago--without the newspaper, without the radiator, without the naked muse standing before me. I roasted my slices in a more conventional way: I used the oven. While my roasted sun slices were kinda good, they were nothing to lose yourself over. Perhaps they were made too deliberately, with expectations far exceeding anything in this real world (vs. my hamster world). Or, perhaps one needs to be in a bourgie apartment in Paris to understand such delights. I was dissatisfied with my copied tangerines, but still hopeful of their possibility. I probably won't try roasting my own tangerines again, but at least I still have the original and perfect image-seed to continue nibbling on until an accidental miracle takes place on my very own radiator.

By the way, for those of you with real radiators (vs. the metaphorical radiator I just crappily tried to create above), check this out. Radiator cooking sure has come a long way since Paris in the 30s!

Here are two near-miraculous recipes for appetizers that contain citrus. Since we are currently in the thick of citrus season, you might give one of these a shot at your next holiday gathering!

Citrus Roasted Olives
Based on a Rachel Ray recipe. You might have seen her prepare these olives during her 1-hour Thanksgiving Special.

3-4 cups of olives (I used a mix of Kalamata and Greek)
drizzle of olive oil
a few pinches of red pepper flakes
a strip of orange zest (from half an orange)
a strip of lemon zest (from half a lemon)
black pepper
a drizzle of the orange and lemon juice

1. Place olives on a large strip of aluminum foil. Throw in the remaining ingredients and mix everything around with your hands.
2. Fold the foil so that your olives are contained in an air-tight pouch. Toss your pouch into the oven (250-300) for 25-30 minutes.
3. Serve in a bowl while still warm.

Orange-Walnut Brie

1/4 cup of brown sugar
zest from half an orange
a few tablespoons of orange juice
1 Tbs. butter (cut into small squares)
a pinch of cinnamon
1/4 cup of walnuts
1 wheel of brie cheese

1. In a bowl, mix the brown sugar, orange juice, zest, butter, and cinnamon. When mixtures looks mixed and slightly clumpy, add the walnuts. Stir to combine.
2. Place your wheel of cheese onto a large piece of foil. Top it with the nutty mixture. Fold foil so that your cheese is contained in an air-tight pouch, and place your pouch in the oven (250-300) for 25-30 minutes. (Same as olives...you can warm both together!)
3. Serve warm with bread.

December 1, 2008

On Old Favorites and Mimosas

This post has sucked a lot out of me the past four days. It's a post about Thanksgiving. A holiday devoted to food. On a blog. A blog about food. Er, can you please remove the weight from my shoulders, please? For a woman who sometimes suffers from an empirical drive to document her surroundings Bill Clinton-style (hint, hint: his autobiography was 1008 pages long!), a simple post about Thanksgiving has totally wrecked me. To avoid writing this post, I experimented with every act of avoidance possible. I dusted my mantle. I played find-the-glow stick with my raver cat for, like, 7 hours. Hell, I even made soup! And you know how I feel about soup!

Yes, I've been driven to the verge, baby.

How does one even begin to summarize 2 days of planning; 10 hours of drinking; and 48 hours of feasting on delectable, wholesome, tried-and true, labor-intensive, goddamn-I-feel-my-arteries-singing food?

And even before the feast, how do I begin to describe the sensation of traveling 2,200 miles to a home I left 4 months ago--not my mom-and-pop-drinkin'-eggnog-in-front-of-the-fireplace home (although that reality would now include step-moms and step-dads), but a new home. Flagstaff, Arizona. The first place I was able to call home after studio-jumping from city to city for 3 years. The home where some of my closest friends are--human-friends and dog-friends alike! A place where, two years ago, I celebrated Thanksgiving away from my home-home for the first time and finally felt like an adult...kinda. A place where I will never feel like an adult.

And, how do I also describe the cavernous sense of loss I sometimes experience in that home? Even though it is a home dizzyingly full of pillows and long-haired cats and full moons and cute forestry boys, it is also a home where we have lost people who we loved dearly.

Ahh, a Flagstaff Thanksgiving: the blur of spills, the flavorful textures. The flashes of friends from kitchen...to table...to kitchen...to bed. The drinks in their hands. The Turkish friend who posed eagerly with a turkey tendon stretched from mouth to bird. The Canadian linguist friend who woke early to baby the bird until it turned into a new thing entirely. Two generous friends who shared a secret. The lemon meringue pie that changed my opinions on lemon meringue pies. The best friend whose intelligence and sense of style (I mean, hello Clinton and Stacey!) is admired by everyone who meets her. A best friend who is everything.
The dog-friend who just might be the only non-human friend my cat will ever have. My button wanting to pop into constellations if I don't stop eating soon! The super-smart libertarian friend who makes the free market sound like the best sex you'll ever have. The brain hazy with mimosas and images of pilgrims drinking mimosas. The people who aren't there...but are there, too. And the Pennsylvania sweetcorn we now make and enjoy not because it tastes good (even though it does taste good!) but because he thought it tasted good. And we never questioned his sense of taste.
And my brain is/was kinda fuzzy because that's how we have to approach this day: to spit our mimosas from the kitchen to the mountain outside and say thanks for this meal that keeps everything together.