Monday, July 4, 2011

Last of the Great Auks Miso Soup, Red Curry, and Salad

The Great Auk was a beautiful, penguin-like flightless bird. You can look at a wonderful illustration by John James Audubon here. (And then you should look up Walton Ford.) So why haven't you ever seen a real life auk? I quote Wikipedia:
The last colony of Great Auks lived on Geirfuglasker (the "Great Auk Rock") off Iceland. This islet was a volcanic rock surrounded by cliffs which made it inaccessible to humans, but in 1830 the islet submerged after a volcanic eruption, and the birds moved to the nearby island of Eldey, which was accessible from a single side. When the colony was initially discovered in 1835, nearly fifty birds were present. Museums, desiring the skins of the auk for preservation and display, quickly began collecting birds from the colony. The last pair, found incubating an egg, was killed there on 3 July 1844, with Jón Brandsson and Sigurður Ísleifsson strangling the adults and Ketill Ketilsson smashing the egg with his boot.
Oy. Vey. Strangulation less likely to damage the skins? More likely to damage the psyche. Extinction: first as tragedy, then again as tragedy. (Or is the farcical return the Apocalypse?) "The last pair, found incubating an egg..." puts meteors in my dreams. Worth considering is whether the modern policy of preserving species in captivity is substantively different than preserving a species in taxidermy. Considered worth a No.

I'm in Beautiful British Columbia now. Yesterday made food for girlfriend's family. A warming night in a place cooler than I'm used to this time of year. Gf made miso soup in the afternoon.

Fermented soy, tofu, mushrooms, green onion, spinach. Yumsies. She also made salad: lettuce and parsley with lemon vinegar dressing.

And now the curry recipe. Next time we'll use more cayenne, more basil, and more red pepper. And not slice the basil leaves.

makes approx. 7 servings

2 1/2 c. basmati rice
1 lb. tofu
1/2 head of cauliflower, chopped
1 red bell pepper, sliced
2 handfuls little potatoes, cubed
1 red onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 cans light coconut milk
1 handful Thai basil, sliced
4 spoonfuls curry paste
curry powder
ground sea salt
ground black pepper

1. Cook the rice according to package directions.
2. In a large pot, sauté onion in oil over medium-high heat. Stir occasionally, add garlic after several minutes. Add red pepper and tofu.
3. Boil the potatoes in water. Don't cook them too long, but as soon as they're tender transfer them with a slotted spoon to the pot. Boil the cauliflower for a few minutes.
4. Add the cauliflower to the pot, then pour in the coconut milk. Add the curry paste, basil, and seasonings. Lower the heat and reduce until desired consistency.

One more thing. A few days ago we went to Palace Playland in Old Orchard Beach, ME. I've been terrified of amusement park rides my whole life, ever since I went on Rocky Mountain Railroad at Disneyland as a young child and felt like I was going to die. My uncle convinced me to go on a proper roller coaster several years later, but it must have been equally traumatizing because I've repressed all memory of it between the initial ascent and stepping off onto firm ground. But my girlfriend's giddiness got me so excited I steeled myself and rode both the Galaxi and the Power Surge. And I loved it! I've never felt so relaxed and fuzzy as I did after being spun through the air with my feet dangling.