Friday, January 31, 2014

Free Range Friday ~ Half App Sandwiches

Cocktail food. What is it? Too little to be dinner, too much to be a snack. Or maybe it's just a bunch of snacks put together. But now the word snack sounds weird so I'm just going to drop that whole concept and go with the sandwich.

To make a sandwich, you have stuff, officially known as filling, inside and some dough type thing, officially known as stuff holder, outside. While I was thinking about these, I didn't know if that outside thing would be bread of some kind or a tortilla, to make it a rolled up stuff and holder thing, officially known as a roll up, I guess. Karen Clayton, queen of rolled up stuff, would know this.

I'm not sure why bread won out over tortillas, but it did. I liked the idea of the crunch of the crust I guess. Because yes, I cheated and used frozen bread that I baked. So I sort of made it but not really. For a frozen bread product, it comes out pretty nicely, but if it hadn't been readily, as in, at my fingertips, available, I'd have gone with the tortillas and been happy about it.

Of course, I'd already prepped and made a spread before I remembered to start taking photos of this. How convenient to actually be making something different on Thursday afternoon, thought I! Tomorrow you need food things and here it is.

This is what went into the sandwiches.
This is what held the the fillings. 

I roasted a couple heads of garlic and that was the first thing spread on the toasted baguette.

Spread dos
Cream cheese, minced chipotle peppers, some horseradish (NOT HORSE, I mean it) mixed together makes a great spread. Or dip. Or spoonful of stuff you accidently taste too much of while making it perfectly balanced between smoothness, spiciness and smokiness.

Grill the steak. I like steak rare, so the grill should be really hot when you slap that baby on . About 4-5 minutes a side and on to a resting plate. The meat will keep cooking, but not too much.

Slice it up. If that seems too rare to you, it goes through one more cooking process. Or, just cook it longer on the grill. This ain't rocket science, it's fun.
Lay out all the sliced stuff on the bread

Like so

That can all be done a couple or a few hours before the actual serving. The meat acts as a barrier for the bread and keeps it from absorbing any juices from the tomatoes or cukes.

When you are ready, turn on the broiler. Take the sandwich halves and put them on a cookie sheet. Carefully - I managed to roll one, you try to avoid that - and then put the cheese on in overlapping layers. Slide under the broiler for two or three minutes and take out. Slice open the other baguette and use both sides for tops. If you want.

I not only hadn't decided between bread or tortilla, I also thought about slicing the baguettes in rounds and topping them that way, or making it an open faced sandwich. All great ideas, but this one won's not as potentially messy. For a meal is different than for an appetizer and this just couldn't seem to decide what it wanted to be when it grew up. In the short and long run, it didn't matter. These things rarely do.

The hand
meets the mouth. Not missing is a critical step here.
There, did you get all that? Any questions? Yes, Virginia, you MAY use other fillings, it's an endless well of possibilities. No, Roberto, that is not the only kind of bread for sandwich making. What? What did I mean by well? Never mind, just erase that.

Buen provecho!

Have a fervently freeranging Friday. Do something finer.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Year of the Green Horse ~ Happy Chinese New Year!

I like the Horse years, maybe because I was born in one. They contain elements of fire and wood, of travel and strength and generally good outlooks. If you go into the depths of feng shui predictions, it can get very confusing as to what this year is supposed to bring. Even the actual date of the celebration is not tomorrow, but February 3rd, except in China, where it's the 4th. Did I mention it is confusing? Confusing enough to give me a slight headache. Here is an example from one website, this one concerning the dates:  

In the Chinese Fortune-Telling calendar, the first day of the first month, Tiger month, is called "Start of Spring", which is when the sun enters the 315th degree on the tropical zodiac. In China's time zone, the time of the Start of Spring is at Feb-04 06:04. So the first day of the Green Horse astrological year 2014 is on 04-Feb-2014.
However, the time of the Start of Spring in US Eastern Standard time is at Feb-03 17:04.  The Start of Spring time in US Pacific Standard time is at Feb-03 14:04. So the first day of the Green Horse astrological year 2014 is on 03-Feb-2014 in US time zones.
The Chinese New Year Day of 2014 is on January 31, 2014. It's 4 days before the first day of the astrology calendar in 2014. There is a very common misconception that the astrology animal signs begin on the Chinese New Year day in many Internet sites. Actually, the Astrology animal signs begin from the Start of Spring, the first day of the astrological year.
So if you are extremely interested in finding out about all things Year of the Green (or Wood) Horse 2014, you'll have to go there yourself. For the American quickie version, go here. Good luck (always).

What was easy to understand is that this is also a Yang Horse year, which last happened, interestingly enough to me anyway, in 1954, the year I was born. So depending on how deeply I'm letting this belief sway me in its breeze, this should be an interesting year, because I don't really understand what a Yang year is either, except that "Yang is the white area of the symbol, means sunlight or positive literally", and that's a good thing. No matter what, it already is an interesting year. It's not like I'm Chinese. Except on Chinese New Year's Eve.

Enough already!
What should you be eating tonight to insure good fortune in the Chinese year ahead? If your plans included horse meat, I'd suggest rethinking your menu. Otherwise, there are some great recipes all over the web. The traditional dish, Buddha's Delight or Jai, includes 18 ingredients, about 3 of which can be found on Culebra, so I'm going to pass. Hopefully, it won't screw up my karma too much.

From all the reading, I end up with this. Our year, our months, our weeks and our days are basically what we make of them. There will be joy and sorrow, hilarity and grimness, serendipitous wonders and deep disappointments. I only know to keep looking for the wonder, keep close to those you love and who love you. Don't let money dictate your contentment. Remember to smile and say good morning to people you pass (unless it's not morning, that would be silly).

Be ready for the unexpected
Life is good. As one Chinese New Year greeting goes "Keep a green tree alive in your heart and a songbird may come to sing there."

 Have a transitional Thursday. Do something tuneful.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

And Now, a Word from My Life Sponsor(s)

Pete Seeger died on Monday. He was 94 and 10 days before he died, he was out chopping wood. His last public appearance was at Farm Aid in September of last year,  34 years older than me, he played a part in my life and the lives of many thousands of my tribe, his songs and activist deeds a background running theme well on its way before my consciousness kicked in. Back in those days, it was normal for 10 year old kids and 60 year old folks to hang out together, of one mind about music, war, peace and love. It seems unimaginable today.

Charles Kuralt, Jacques Cousteau, the Beatles, John Glenn, Neil Armstrong, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr., John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Betty Frieden, Rachel Carson, Herman Hesse, Nelson Mandela, Che Guevara, Margaret Mead, Daniel Berrigan, Dorothy Day...their names roll off my brain easier than whoever I was introduced to yesterday. I was drawn to them, influenced by them and obviously not quite in step with many of my peers (and looking forward to graduating from weird to eccentric). Pete Seeger's music was both a theme song and a life awareness that, while all was certainly not well in our world, we were in the fight for good together. Even a little kid like me was welcome.

Jon Pareles, in an article I found in the New York Times, seems to feel the same:

Pete Seeger sang until his voice wore out, and then he kept on singing, decade upon decade. Mr. Seeger, who died on Monday at 94, sang for children, folk-music devotees, union members, civil-rights marchers, antiwar protesters, environmentalists and everyone else drawn to a repertoire that extended from ancient ballads to brand-new songs about every cause that moved him. But it wasn’t his own voice he wanted to hear. He wanted everyone to sing along.

This land is your land, this land is my land (unless we let Monsanto have it all)
When I think about today's generation and look at the pockets of quiet resistance, I wonder where HAVE all the flowers gone? Where are the strong voices of change? They are out there. I read about them, I know some of them. But it's an underground river, it seems to me. The cultural icons of today are...who? American Idols? 'Reality show' participants? I couldn't name one under 40 that would resonate with any diverse group such as the ones I grew up with and around. If you can, let me know. 

House sitting where there is a television, I've been watching one reality type show, The Legend of Mick Dodge, put on by National Geographic. I started watching it because in a commercial for it, the name Sun Ray Kelley was mentioned and I thought, if this guy is good friends with Sun Ray, I want to see this show. I'm glad I did, I'm glad those guys are still out there - and mentoring younger men and women who are living lives without a screen in their hands. Underground rivers indeed...and encouraging that the waters are still alive and flowing, even if withdrawing from the [overused word] mainstream is how they flow. 

Let's never be quiet
But isn't that how rivers keep flowing, not always seen but strongly there? Pete Seeger's music and life and even his death might just wake up a few more people to the basics of what matters, what is worth fighting for, on the only planet we've got, the only life we have, here and now. 

Have a whiskered, whitehaired, wishful, wistful and watchful Wednesday. Do something worthy. Rest in Peace, Pete Seeger. But I doubt you will be resting; I'm sure there's more songs to be sung with your cohorts, where ever you are. We're listening.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Tiny Home Tuesday

This is a boat home on the water for some big bucks, but she's so beautiful, I can't stop looking at her. 43 feet of gorgeous.

Plus, what a great name!

Nope, not much cockpit. Less area to bounce around!

So much storage!

Heavy weather? Stay inside.

Sweet galley

A sit down place in the shower? Wow.

Nice cabins
2 heads. Nice.

Even the steps are not only beautiful, but they look easier to use than just straight down. That handrail...ooooh!

Double sink, great hardware. I'm drooling.
You can see more photos and specs here. If you buy it, you have to bring her to Culebra and take me for a sail!

Have a therapeutic Tuesday. Do something transplantable.

Monday, January 27, 2014

We'll Leave the Light On, Lawrence

Yesterday there was a farewell brunch for Lawrence, who, beside being one of the nicest people most of us have ever met, has also, on the specific side, given so very much to Culebra through our Community Library. Though invisible, as you scan those shelves (shelves put together) or use the computers, ask for suggestions on good reads and find a lot of what you are looking for exactly where it should be, there are Lawrence's fingerprints, all over the place. Literally.

Everyone wanted some Lawrence time.
If you haven't been to the library, you need to go check it out - it's looking great, serving so many facets of our population and Lawrence is a big reason for that. Of course, if you were to say that to him he would give everyone else credit for most everything (and there is no denying it - every one of the dedicated people who keep the library running are all worthy of big time respect!). He even has a star review on Trip Advisor, Lawrence of Culebra. Shhhh, don't tell.

Lawrence, who no doubt would call this the thorn between the roses of Rosarito and Lisette
It seems normal to have the library now, but on a time line, it is a very recent addition for Culebra, going from a generously donated basic trailer with some donated books, run by a temperamental generator to what it is today.

Love you, tall guy! Come back and visit!
With his parents getting on in age (a surprise, since Lawrence is such a youngster. It must be all that healthy living, rowing to and from his sweet little boat, running the streets and hills, eating right and drinking, uh, not much. Here. On Culebra. Go figure), he's heading back to Portland to keep them on their toes. Culebra will miss him a lot. The Turkey Run won't be the same without him, let alone the library (even though there is a great person stepping into his big Tevas, you'll have to go there to find out who!). He knows he can always come back to welcoming smiles and hugs. Go well, Lawrence. Our loss is Portland's gain and they are damn lucky to have you.

p.s. I know Lawrence would want me to emphasize that the library IS run on donations. That's what keeps the lights and the wifi on and makes the place run. There are so many worthy causes to donate to and this is one of them. From school kids to wandering travelers the library is a quiet hub of Culebra and can always use some green infusion. Thanks!

Thank you.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Friday, January 24, 2014

Free Range Friday ~ Chicken Again, Ma?

I can't help it, I really like chicken. Frankly I should hate it because I sure have eaten enough of it over the years. But when you find a bag of flash frozen all natural chicken thighs here for six bucks, it's chicken time again! Toss in some fidelo and life is good. Ok, and a couple more things too.

Do not put a horse in your chicken dish.

MJ's Chicken with Fideo

We start out with our old friends, garlic and shallot. Which would also be good pet names.

Saute in a bit of olive oil

Lay down your chicken thighs, skin side down (unless you've got skinless, in which case, do the obvious)

On a low heat, brown them, while getting a pot of water boiling for the fideo
Did I forget to mention the marsala? Well, don't you forget it! It's key. During the browning, pour in about a half cup. If it evaporates too much, pour in some more. It will make a very rich sauce. Just writing this is making my mouth water. It was that good. Just remember, really low heat. Because this is electric rather than the propane I'm used to using, it's a re-learning curve, but entirely possible.

Toss in a dollop of olive oil and some salt into your pasta water.

I've only managed once, in my entire life, to cook this and keep it 'nest-like'

This was not going to be the second time

I really like this garlic chili sauce. It could be hotter, but for lots of things, it doesn't need to kick you to have enough heat.

While the fideo was cooking, I deboned the chicken. If I was serving it to others, I'd have left it on. Maybe. Chicken bones, if you aren't at a picnic where bones are handy to hang on to while you're eating, rather than concentrating on balancing your plate, they end up being sort of like shrimp tails. It's a good presentation but they really are just more of, what do I do with this now?

How I pretend I eat

How I really eat
Yes, of course there should be vegetables here. You could easily have vegetables in this - I'd steam them and add them near the end myself. Unless it's mushrooms. Which would have been really really good in this. Use what you have. Enjoy! I'll go to the veggie guy today, I promise.

Buen provecho!

If a horse looks at you like this, you might invite him or her over for a meal. Do not feed chicken to a horse. Of course.
 Have a flyaway Friday. Do something freshly fruitful.