Hello from Oakland. I’ve been here for a month after driving across America, straight through the middle of it down I-70 W from Ohio. One of my favorite places in the city is La Farine French Bakery. When I saw this pumpkin cornmeal loaf, I thought of the pumpkin cornmeal scones (as shown on this beautiful That’s So Vegan post) from Students Go Vegan. Author Carole Raymond’s advice to eat the scones with a cup of strong black coffee is a good thing to do in October no matter what city you’re in. By far, however, the most amazing vegan restaurant in Oakland is Souley Vegan, home of the best fried tofu bbq sandwich on earth.
Listening to: Dylan’s version of Copper Kettle.
Oven baked falafel with a yogurt-tahini sauce and tomato cucumber salad. I used the recipe from Appetite for Reduction as a takeoff point, adding chopped cilantro for the coriander and trading out chickpea flour for regular flour. If you have a good food processor, these are really easy. If you have one like mine, just more chopping & less talking.
The tahini sauce is equal parts tahini and yogurt (plain–soy, coconut, etc. all work) blended with lemon juice, zatar, parsley, cilantro, and chipotle chili power and then thinned out with water or more lemon juice if needed.
Serve on a pita with tomato, cucumber, and a pickle and read Abba Kovner’s Chuppah Bamidbar (just got this 1973 copy in the mail!)
Heidi Swanson of the beautiful vegetarian food blog 101 Cookbooks collected her beautiful soups into one beautiful post. I hope to make all of them, starting with Red Lentil Soup with Lemon. I love soups with cilantro, and in this instance, the cilantro gives an green edge to the tart lemon, and it’s all grounded by earthy tumeric, cumin, and mustard seeds. Some notes: 1. She says to blend the soup, but as some commenters noted, the red lentils just fall apart and there’s really no need. 2. I love lemon, but I only used two and the soup was still pretty damn lemony, but with rice, it’s perfect. 3. Wildwood makes plain soy yogurt.
I’m reading the new English translation of The Zelmenyaners (1929-1935) by the Yiddish author (and poet) Moyshe Kulbak. It has lines like “Bubbe Bashe lives in a world all her own. If she has any thoughts, they’re very strange. The must be made of a special material” (6).
Passover is over. I made this twice during Passover–once for a seder and once to live off of for a week. If you just kept Passover I know that you don’t want to look at a box of matzah until next year, but if you have some leftover, matzah lasagna is double awesome because 1) you don’t need to precook noodles and 2) when baked in tomato sauce and spread with basil-cashew ricotta, matzah becomes all kinds of edible–it literally puffs up and gets pillowy. I’m craving this a week after returning to beer and bagels, but if you don’t try it out until next year in Jerusalem (…or Ohio), I hear ya. Read the rest of this entry »
1. Vegan food. New camera. I combined two PPK recipes: Smoky Tomato Soup with Lentils and Olives dished over the Polenta from the Rustic Winter Stew. Both recipes are fantastic and easy. I’ve tried making polenta out of corn meal before–fail. This time I bought Bob’s Red Mill Corn Grits Polenta, followed Isa’s instructions, and the consistency was perfect–somewhere between corn bread and mashed potatoes. The soup calls for 2 tablespoons of paprika. I used “Budapest’s Best” Hungarian Paprika, and maybe it’s just that brand, but even though I like overly-spiced food, I’d reduce it to 1 tablespoon. Otherwise, its a good soup for Ohio’s March snowstorms.
I also made Banana Cake (minus the chocolate chips) from Chef Chloe. I was interested in it because it uses coconut milk. The batter was so, so good–the creaminess of the bananas and coconut milk definitely brings this out of banana bread territory and into moist, fluffy cake land.
2. My sisters amaze me. Sister 1 organized a Middle East Peace Event. Last night, the Jewish Federation of Columbus, Congregation Tifereth Israel, Noor Islamic Cultural Center, & Trinity Lutheran hosted two speakers from The Parents Circle – Families Forum (PCFF), a joint Palestinian Israeli organization of over 600 families. The members of PCFF identify with the call to prevent further bereavement through dialogue, tolerance, peace, and reconciliation. It was amazing to hear joint messaging about peace. The group made a film called Two-Sided Story:
Sister 2 taught herself how to knit watching youtube videos, is following her passion to become a school psychologist, and fills me with so happiness every day that I bought her a bag of pistachios at the market today just because they reminded me of her.
Sister 3′s music made me cry so hard that I missed an exit driving. I reached for a cd in the car. It was addressed to my third youngest sister from my youngest sister. It opened with “Good Riddance” by Green Day and moved through “Home” by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros and ”I’m Going Down” by Vampire Weekend. My sister is obsessed with Vampire Weekend, and the two songs I know and love by them I know through her– “Horchata” and “A Team,” which she made a music video to in design class. But “I’m Going Down” was different–it was too good. Turns out that’s because it’s by Bruce Springsteen. The cd was all of the things that remind me of my youngest sister–beautiful and visionary and relentless–but more than anything it was horizontal -it was all momentum, and more than anything that is what it feels like to be 17–like you can make it across the country on your own energy.
3. I got to take a very, very wonderful trip to Tampa, Florida. Highlights included the Dali Museum–I especially like the painting “Bed and Two Bedside Tables Ferociously Attacking a Cello”, visiting Jack Kerouac’s old house, finding Triangles in the Afternoon at Haslam’s Book Store, being in the same room as the Greek dessert case in Tarpon Spring’s Hellas Bakery, and lots of waves, palm trees, wind, and happiness.
Lately (or even more than usual), I’ve been thinking about youth. It was brought on one day last week when the thermometer went from 17 degrees to 50 and, biking to work, those childhood biking muscles and the chemical reaction that occurs in Ohio natives when springlike humidity strikes in the middle of January combined to make me feel like I was about eight…even more than usual.
When I was, I guess nine, I decided that eight was my lucky number because it was my favorite year of life. I met one of my best friends and I got to carry the stefanas down the aisle during my aunt’s wedding ceremony, and combined with The Baby Sitter’s Club, that must have been enough.
Here are some other things that have filled me with elementary giddiness lately:
a. I have a tendency of buying clothes that look like clothes that I already own, and the biggest offender is the cream-colored, frothy, F. Scott Fitzgerald “frosted wedding cake of the ceiling” miniskirt. I have four right now, and I know when I’m about to buy one because it always involves me pulling a sister into the dressing room and asking, without pulling my eyes away from the mirror, “Oh god I love this but does it make me look 8?” Here is a way that looks decidedly twenty-something.
b. The about me section on this photography blog is adolescent, follow-your-dreams recklessness at its best.
2. My poetry chapbook is out, and the amazing Rachel is kind enough to feature it on her blog next month, and very kind and beyond talented Kathy Fagan, Henri Cole, and Ilya Kaminsky blurbed the back cover. Here is a preview of the chapbook. Two of the poems are about my great grandmother, and I recently gained access to this amazing document about her hometown, Dąbrowa Białostocka.
3. My friend (now world traveler) Becca has always transferred joy from her mind to the page without spilling a drop.
4. I write this eating poppy seed cake and koulourakia made and mailed by my wonderful Aunt Angela. When my sister and I picked up up the package from the post office, we sat in our parked Chevy in the Clintonville Post Office parking lot eating cookies and laughing like we have been for the past 24 years.
In the 614 Magazine article “Practical Interviewing for the Hobby Journalist,” executive editor David S. Lewis provides tips to aspiring journalists like “Don’t flirt with your subject. It makes you look like a douche. The only people who think writers are hot stuff are English majors still making your coffee” (January 2013). Coincidentally, that was the last day Mr. Lewis was able to get a cup of coffee in Columbus without a douche floating in it.
I have an M.A. and B.A. in English, and I still serve coffee in addition to adjuncting at a college. I fit his qualifications, yet Lewis’ reliance on social hierarchy to prove his pen-size doesn’t exactly have me rolling around on the coffee shop floor. People have written important documents from everywhere from sweatshops to palaces, and what writers do to make money has no connection to their ability or–obviously–whether or not they’ll consider someone “hot stuff.”
Americans spend a lot of time at work–a lot of life. What you do all day likely influences how you see reality–its proportions and challenges. My grandmother worked at her husband’s laundromat for decades, and I remember sitting beside her looking at a Norman Rockwell print. The girl in the picture was wearing a dress with many intricate pleats, and my grandmother started running her finger over them. I said, “Yia Yia, isn’t that dress pretty?” and without taking her eyes off the page she said, “It would be very hard to press.” Harvey Shapiro speaks of the “painstaking craftsmanship” with which Charles Reznikoff makes his poems, comparing his precise lines to the precise stitches of his milliner parents. Yiddish poet and shoemaker Mani Leib, on the other hand, separates work and identity in “I Am”:
און אַ דאַנק וואָס איך בין ניט קיין פּאָעט אַ שוסטער,
וואָס איך בין אַ שוסטער אַ פּאָעט.
“And I’m not a cobbler who writes, thank heaven,
But a poet who makes shoes.”
The luckiest, I suppose, are those who A) escape it all and find a way to live outside of the system or B) manage to make a living doing what they love. This week, I went to a local Columbus record store. What makes or breaks a record store for me is the seller. At my favorite record store in Cincinnati, the dealer was notoriously silent about your choices. Of all of the sweet records that I bought there, it was an $8 copy of–of all things–”East Side Wedding” by The Klezmorim that finally got him to say “This one is really good.” My friends and I watched him slip the record into the brown paper bag in disbelief. At the Columbus shop, I pulled out three Elvis Costello bootlegs and when I asked the owner which one he liked the best, he played parts from each one. When he came to the winner, he closed his eyes, bobbed his head to the beat, and said “I can’t believe this is my job.”
I wrote this poem about identity in the work place. Though the event is a composite of many real and imagined experiences, I published it under a pen name to respect the business. I guess David S. Lewis’ comments were so jarring because I naturally crave the respect of the working class and tend to become more critical as the ladder goes up.
These images from Vahram Muratyan are from his 2010 series ”Paris versus New York, a tally of two cities.” I love any art that uses juxtaposition as a wordless, rhetorical vehicle for meaning–I was just talking to someone about the stark differences between Warsaw and Krakow due to WWII, and while the difference between these two cities is politicized, the differences between Paris and New York somewhat give away to their similarities, their self-consciousness hipness, and the result is Muratyan’s images engage in an unvoiced, good natured competition.
UPDATE: Much thanks to ReadyMadeBoquet for buying me the set!
I’ve been cooking, but mostly repeats, and my camera has been broken. Two things that I’ve made that I haven’t discussed are the Tomato & Roasted Eggplant Stew with Chickpeas from Veganomicon and my take on the tomato soup from the Columbus restaurant Northstar.
The Tomato & Roasted Eggplant Stew with Chickpeas is time intensive but delicious. I think it’s especially good straight-from-the-fridge the day after (I always feel the same way about Indian food), but served hot over rice, the blend of wine, tomatoes, roasted garlic, and fall-off-the-fork eggplant tastes very Greek–even more so if you add a little cinnamon.
Like everything else at Northstar (of the vegan beet burger fame,) the tomato soup is super good but expensive as hell. It’s super easy (and cheap) to make at home–start out with Jamie Oliver’s Bread and Tomato Soup but leave out the bread. Toast some bread in the oven, finely chop up a mix of Greek olives, parsley, lemon rind, salt, and olive oil, and arrange both on top of the soup so it looks like this.
Finally, if you haven’t seen the German film The Lives of Others, so good. It already won an Oscar back in 2006, but I give it another one now. Happy Hanukkah.