Thursday, November 13, 2014

Fall musing

A while back, I posted an ee cummings poem as a way of starting to talk about the first signs of spring. In-Just is the post where I talk about the older Greek ladies weeding the side of the road and collecting food.

Earlier this month, I talked about black walnuts and food falling from the sky. I went for a walk where I saw the women foraging their food and it has been replaced by a community garden. There is not a single food plant. The spaces between ivy are covered in wood chips that will prevent food from growing.

I understand the idea that this side of public roadway was poorly maintained by the city and that it was a need project to bring community. But sometimes when we circumscribe a public space for public beautification, we do see what was already there.

I saw a place in spring where food was picked. In summer, it was a source of my allergies and a way for critters to get from place to place without being exposed. In fall, it replenished itself and winter was rest.

This has been replaced with pretty. I lament this loss and others. Here is a fall poem by ee cummings called l(a.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Food from the Sky

Moved into a new house in October and in days it began to rain hard fruit on the roof. There is a walkout that is begging for a patio to be built next year and it was covered with these yellow greenish fruit. When you squished it, there was this yellowish stain that turned quickly to black. The stain took days to fade and required much scrubbing.

My sons had tons of fun taking the fruit and throwing, kicking, squishing and taking the insides out. We had to use gloves to make sure that we didn't become permanently stained. 
Found out that this is what black walnuts look like. So we spent several hours repeating the activity until the kids got bored. We just removed the outer fruit to expose the nut. It turns out that the flesh was used to make stains and dyes. It really is hard to get off. Even with the gloves, my thumb got stained and stayed that way for about a week. 
The shucked nuts have been drying in the porch for a while and we are going to figure out what to do with them. Fresh nuts have a different taste than the ones you get in the stores. Last year, I got some black walnuts from Forbes' Fine Foods and used them sparingly to add a slight bitterness and nuttiness to salads and soups. This year, I have more and picked by my own hands. I wonder if that will change how precious I feel about them? 

The boys had fun and are proud of their work. They are really interested in trying them. It helps kids to connect to food when they can see how plants grow and the fun you can have. When I was younger, my folks kept us out of the garden except for weeding. We were fairly destructive and it was probably a good thing. But some nights when we went picking for beans for that night's supper, I would find myself taking a few extra to have right there in the garden. 

Here is the free food from the sky, drying. Next weekend, we are going to crack open some of these. 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Simple Lifts

I'm recently separated from my wife and have been trying to deal with cooking. Cooking or rather eating on the off days when my children aren't around can be trying. You don't want to make a bunch of dishes that you aren't going to eat and just leave the leftovers to gather blue moldy friends in the fridge. So, a few tricks for those who want to cook but don't want the hassle of "cooking" or the over reliance on processed foods.

Cook Simple

Make a simple dish that can be changed up every day. Think of it as a base recipe that can be used over and over. Stock and tomato sauce are two good examples. Stock is really easy and can be made into soup, sauces, and used to cook vegetables in and all sorts of fun stuff. Tomato sauce has similar properties. Pasta sauce, used on a sandwich, base for chili or curry, add flavour to a soup...

Add Something Special

Some good ingredients from your pantry can be added to a regular meal and make it something different. This is especially helpful if you have leftover carbs (potatoes, rice, pasta, bread and on and on). What you have in your pantry that you consider special is up to you. I like to have different kinds of curry powder, dried fruits (currants, goji berries, tomatoes), different dried peppers, vinegars and flavoured oils. These are more geared towards adding to salads and rice but if you were a potato person make sure to have dill, celery salt, flavoured oils and other things that work.

Mess Around

The risk when cooking in a small batch is low. If you mess it up, you only have to throw out a little. This is a great time to experiment and see how chopped up pickles work with fried potatoes or dropping a few fruits into miso soup. Cook like a hippie with the munchies. You never know what will work.

Make Something Special

You deserve it. It doesn't have to hard.

I made these poached pears to add to sandwiches or to act as a savoury sweet component to desserts like ice cream or served with some cheese. It took fifteen minutes. There are pears, sugar, maple syrup, black pepper, saffron, bay leaf, clove all put together and simmered. That is it. The hardest part was cutting up the pears. 

I'm not quite sure this post will inspire anybody to change their Chef Boyardee ways or I suppose now a days it is Lean Cuisine but hopefully it will get you to thinking.