Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Paradise Lost Risotto

April 27, 1667: "The blind and impoverished John Milton sells the copyright of Paradise Lost for £10." Oi vey. Read the poem here.

Used this risotto recipe. Also took K.'s advice and made risotto cakes with the leftovers (add flour and a bit of oil).

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

First Public School Seitan Dinner

The first US public school (and oldest school in the country), Boston Latin School, was founded on April 23, 1635. Three cheers for public education! Hang on, "the Boston Latin School was a bastion for educating the sons of the Boston elite..." Humph. The school is one of the best in the country and still requires that students study Latin. The school logo (insignia?) is of Remus and Romulus suckling at the teats of their wolf mother. Further oddity: "President George W. Bush visited Boston Latin School after signing the No Child Left Behind Act earlier that day." How droll.

I used Isa's seitan recipe for this meal, and it worked beautifully. (I used it once before and screwed it up because I was more like boiling, rather than simmering, the seitan.) Cooked the rice with a little bit of mushroom broth, steamed the broccoli rabe with some garlic, and blended up ginger, lemon juice, almond milk, and tahini for the sauce.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

First Motion Picture House Ethiopian Food

Five days ago, my friend K. and I made three Ethiopian dishes. We used these recipes, roughly: (1) http://allrecipes.com/recipe/ethiopian-cabbage-dish/; (2) http://www.ethiopianrestaurant.com/recipes.html; (3) http://recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-detail.asp?recipe=1364702. I also made banana bread using this recipe, subbing spelt flour and cornmeal for the the all-purpose flour, and coconut oil and sunflower seed oil for canola (way better!): http://dairyfreecooking.about.com/od/breadsbakery/r/vegan_banana_bread_recipe.htm.

April 14 is also the day the first commercial motion picture house opened (1894, NYC). It sported ten Kinetoscopes, which were cabinets with a window for viewing films that were played by a strip of perforated film passing over a lamp with a high-speed shutter. Must have been a small theater! I wonder if there was popcorn for sale. I wonder if people hung out and talked about the films. I wonder how long the longest film they showed was. The shortest, too. I wonder how expensive each film was, and if they were priced differently depending on anticipated demand. I wonder how many workers the theater employed. I wonder who owned the theater. I wonder how long it was in business. I wonder how many children went to the theater. I wonder when the last person with a memory of the theater died.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Cookbook Review: Quick and Easy Vegan Slow Cooking (Carla Kelly)

Two and a half weeks ago, someone from The Experiment (a publisher) emailed me to see if I wanted a review copy of Carla Kelly's new cookbook, Quick and Easy Vegan Slow Cooking. Super flattering and exciting! In case you couldn't discern from the cute dotted outline on the cover, the titular slow cooking refers specifically to cooking with a slow cooker. I don't own and have never used a slow cooker. I'm not sure I've ever even eaten a meal prepared in a slow cooker. Luckily, QEVSC includes a nice introductory section on slow cookers, as well as sections on the ingredients and techniques used in the book. Very amateur-friendly, which I appreciate. The back matter includes two indices, one of recipes by cooking time (capped off with those 10 hours and over!) and one of recipes by allergen / ingredient. Pretty gluten free- and soy free-friendly. I also enjoyed the acknowledgements, both for the list of names of recipe testers (& their favorite recipes), and for these sentences: "My dad for behind-the-scenes proofreading and pedantically changing the words (which I often then changed back). My mum for keeping my dad able to do so!" Nothing like backhanded gratitude in print! (I might very well be that dad in another several decades…)

As for the recipes, I didn't test any. I wasn't about to adapt a slow cooker recipe for the stovetop. But I read through some of them, and they look good. If I had a slow cooker I'd definitely use this book. If you are a vegan who owns a slow cooker, this book would make dinner preparation mindlessly easy (two thumbs up). That said, from what I can tell the recipes all follow the same basic sequence: 1. prepare the ingredients; 2. put them in the slow cooker in the correct order, if they cook differently; and 3. wait. Which got me thinking that almost all the recipes I post here follow a sequence that goes something like: 1. prepare the ingredients; 2. put them in a pot or pan in the correct order, if they cook differently; and 3. stir &/or season. Not too tough if you already know what kinds of foods you like to eat (or have foods slowly going bad in your refrigerator / on your counter top). 

Anyway, I recommend this book (in faith) for new vegans, vegans new to cooking, and cooks new to slow cookers. I also recommend checking out Carla Kelly's blog, The Year of the Vegan.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Heaven's Gate Soup and Shrooms

On March 26, 1997, thirty-nine bodies were found in a rented mansion in California. Marshall Applewhite and 38 members of his UFO-themed spiritual evolution cult had committed carefully planned ritual suicide in three groups, with cyanide, arsenic, and plastic bags. They were trying to board a spaceship in order to escape a soon-to-be-recycled Earth. What a strange place to be.

This is a good recipe.

1 1/4 c. Jacob's cattle beans
1/2 bundle kale leaves, chopped with stems
1/2 bundle watercress, chopped
5 c. water + at least 1 c. water

couple handfuls Baby Bella mushrooms, sliced
1/2 red onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced

1. Bring water and beans to boil and reduce to a simmer.
2. After 30 minutes, add kale and seasoning.
3. After another 30 minutes, add watercress.
4. Saute mushrooms with onion in oil over medium heat. Toss in garlic for a few minutes at the end.

Special cookbook review coming soon!

Monday, March 26, 2012

McMartin Preschool Ritual Satanic Abuse Trial Tacos

On March 22, 1984, teachers and administrators at the McMartin preschool in Manhattan Beach, CA were charged with sexual abuse of children, as well as various bizarre things like "flying through the air." Well, that probably wasn't a formal charge, but it was nonetheless claimed by a mother of one of the kids that one of the teachers, Ray Buckey, could fly. Incredible, yet not incredible, that the most expensive criminal trial in US history began with the unbelievable allegations of one woman, Judy Johnson, who suffered from acute paranoid schizophrenia and who died from complications of chronic alcoholism before the preliminary hearing concluded. The whole thing is really confusing and sad. Ray Buckey spent five years in prison without ever being convicted. Hard to imagine how angry and mangled I'd be if that happened to me. Imagine too, how hard it must be for young black men in this country to resist the inheritance of rage due them after years trapped in a racist, oppressive judicial system. Not sure why that turn happened. I intended to stay on track and make a couple of quips about Satanism.

The taco on the left is by far superior to the taco on the right. I had no idea how to cook cactus; I still have no idea.


6 oz. Baby Bella mushrooms, sliced
1/2 bundle watercress, chopped
1 cactus "leaf," scraped and chopped

1/2 green cabbage, sliced
4 red potatoes, peeled and cubed
nutritional yeast

1. Boil potatoes and cabbage in a pot until tender.
2. Saute mushrooms, watercress, and cactus until the cactus is no longer slimy. Season with cumin and coriander and salt.
3. Serve with salsa or hot sauce.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Abolition of the House of Lords Quinoa Salad

On March 19, 1649, the House of Commons passed an act abolishing the House of Lords, stating, "The Commons of England [find] by too long experience that the House of Lords is useless and dangerous to the people of England." Take that, nobility! Oh, but then it reconvened little more than ten years later, when the monarchy was restored. Those pesky aristocrats.

It's been freakishly summery here in B'klyn and the City. So a few days ago I made this simple, mostly raw salad. You could totally jazz it up with some apple cider vinegar and maybe like some, uh, I don't know.

2/3 c. tri-color quinoa
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 mango, peeled and cubed or diced
1/2 cucumber, chopped or diced
1 avocado, chopped
grapeseed oil
nutritional yeast
juice of 1/4 lemon

1. Cook quinoa
2. Toss everything together

My review of Nic Cage's new film isn't soft.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Birth of Bishop Berkeley Bandelion Boup

Bishop Berkeley was born exactly 326 years before I made this soup, at home in a castle. I'll leave it to you to resolve the ambiguity of that sentence. Berkeley (pronounced "Barkley") is best known for writing this crazy book of philosophy called A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge, which I haven't read in years but which I remember fondly as basically espousing a theory that the world is strictly perceptual, metaphysically speaking. As in, the computer I'm typing on right now doesn't exist at all independent of a perceptual apparatus. If I were to turn my back on the computer in an otherwise empty room, it would cease to exist if it weren't for God's omnipresent virtual gaze, the world being held in his mind's eye at all times. There's something unnervingly relevant and penetrating about a seventeenth-century reduction of ontology to the mere two categories ideas and spirits. Welcome to the internet.

This dandelion soup is an imitation of a soup my friend E. made a while back. It is not as good as hers and I don't know why. I think it might be because I used too much water and not enough oil and salt. Possibly the dandelion-to-cabbage ratio should be lower.

serves: 3-4
prep. time: approx. 30 min.

1 lb. soft tofu, cubed
1 bundle dandelion leaves, chopped
1/2 green cabbage, sliced
garam masala
1/2 bulb garlic, minced
some kind of seed oil

1. Boil the vegetables and tofu in a pot of water. Season.
2. Once the cabbage is soft, transfer the soup in batches to a blender and liquefy.
3. Saute the garlic briefly in oil. Drizzle (or rather pour) over each bowl of soup.

A review of Gerhard Richter Painting.
A video of cows and a CEO.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Birth and Death of John of God Curry

Made this curry in VT on March 8 for my friend W.'s birthday, which also happens to be the birthday and deathday of John of God, a 16th-century Portuguese who's a big-shot dead guy in Spain, apparently. He experienced a religious conversion while listening to a sermon, went insane, was committed to an asylum, and when he got out he realized that the poor and vulnerable deserved better treatment than he'd received. I'll be damned if I know how to define the good life intensionally (no, I didn't spell that wrong), but if all you're looking for is an ostensive definition, John of God's Wiki bio serves nicely.

If you're making this for a normal-sized group of people, cut everything in half. I probably could have cut everything in half and been fine, because we had eight people but almost as many dishes (including kale and quinoa salad, pictured).

2 cans coconut milk
2 lb. bag of brown jasmine rice
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 red bell peppers, diced
2 red habanero peppers, diced
2 cans chickpeas
at least 1/2 bulb garlic, minced
curry powder

1. Cook the rice.
2. Heat coconut milk in a large pot. Toss in potatoes and simmer.
3. Saute peppers and garlic in a pan with some coconut or olive or seed oil.
4. Add pan contents and chickpeas to pot, along with curry powder and salt. Reduce until desired consistency.

Review of Gerhard Richter Painting to be published tomorrow. Until then, enjoy a couple of videos I made recently (more to come): http://vimeo.com/timterhaar

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Gogol's Dead Soul Dinner

Nikolai Gogol's Dead Souls is great. Dead Nikolai Gogol is neither great nor not-great. What's really not-great is how he died. Check out what Wikipedia says:
His health was undermined by exaggerated ascetic practices and he fell into a state of deep depression. On the night of 24 February 1852 [according to the Julian calendar; this post is in accordance with the New Style dates of the Gregorian], he burned some of his manuscripts, which contained most of the second part of Dead Souls. He explained this as a mistake, a practical joke played on him by the Devil. Soon thereafter he took to bed, refused all food, and died in great pain nine days later.

[...] His body was discovered lying face down; which gave rise to the story that Gogol had been buried alive.
Would Gogol have refused all food if they'd served him red quinoa with curried stew? ... Just kidding :(

serves: 3-4
prep. time: approx. 30 min.

2/3 c.red quinoa
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
some kale, chopped
some red cabbage, sliced
4 c.water
3/4 c.
1 sweet potato, peeled and cubed
curry powder
nutritional yeast

1. Cook red quinoa according to package directions.
2. Saute carrot, kale, and red cabbage (weird combo, huh?) in coconut oil in a pot.
3. Bring water to a boil with red lentils and sweet potato, then reduce to a simmer. Season with curry powder if you're lazy like me. Stir in some miso.
4. Mix nutritional yeast into the quinoa. Throw everything together in a bowl.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

United States Presidential "Election" of 1876 Vegetable Stew

On March 2, 1876 (two days before inauguration), Congress declared Rutherford B. Hayes the winner of the presidential election. This was a bit strange, because Samuel J. Tilden had won a majority in the popular vote. Tilden held 184 electoral votes to Hayes's 165, with 20 disputed. Wow, do those numbers look fixed or what? To make a long story short, the political apparatus performed incredible feats of anti-demotic gymnastics, including the establishment of the Electoral Commission. Abolish the Electoral College! The Constitution is not sacred and the Founders were not heroes. We the people have been losing our self-determination from the very beginning on the basis of the very document that begins "We the people…" Elitism is pernicious.

Finally posting again now that I've settled into a new home. Here's to hoping Bella the cat gets more comfortable with me and ceases her nighttime meowing. Or that she gets less comfortable and stops aggressively soliciting attention at 4 a.m.

serves: 1-2
prep. time: approx. 25 min.

1 russet potato, peeled and cubed
1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
6 oz. baby bella mushrooms
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 Vidalia onion, sliced

3 cloves garlic, minced
nutritional yeast
almond milk

1. Heat oil in a pot over medium heat. Toss in the veggies as you finish preparing them. Once they're all in, cover and steam.
2. In a saucepan, saute the garlic in oil for a few minutes. Pour in some almond milk, add several vigorous shakes of nutritional yeast, and spoon a dollop of miso. Stir and reduce to desired consistency.
3. When potato is tender, cut off heat. Serve.

Since last update, I've published two film reviews: This Is Not a Film, The Fairy.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Communication Satellites Collision Two Dinners

Three years ago to the day, two communication satellites collided in orbit above Siberia at velocities greater than escape velocity. BOOM! It was 'the first accidental hypervelocity collision between two intact artificial satellites in Earth orbit.' Only one was operational. There was a ton of debris, which hasn't caused any damage to other satellites. Cool.

I can't access the internet at my apartment, so I'm posting this from a cafe down the street. I won't post recipes for these dishes. Above is just rice and lentils (unseasoned), with steamed and then sauteed beets, beet greens, and broccoli. Below is penne with a sauce made from four tomatoes, the better part of an eggplant, and a yellow onion, seasoned with dried oregano, basil, and parsley.

I'll have two film reviews for you soon.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Amadou Diallo Shooting Tofu Scramble Burrito

On February 4, 1999, four plainclothes policemen murdered an unarmed 23-year-old Guinean immigrant in the Bronx. Amadou Diallo ran up the outside steps to his apartment door after four plain-looking white dudes "loudly identified themselves as NYPD officers" (i.e., "Stop, NYPD!"). No shit he did. Diallo pulled his wallet out of his pocket, which one of the officers proclaimed was a gun (he apparently needed his contacts prescription updated). The hysterical goon then tripped backwards off the step, which his fellow officers took to mean he'd been shot (they apparently needed cochlear implants). The police fired 41 bullets, hitting Diallo 19 times. If you aren't already clutching your head, get ready. "The internal NYPD investigation ruled the officers had acted within policy, based on what a reasonable police officer would have done in the same circumstances with the information they had" (emphasis added). What is this, the metaphysics of color perception? An unarmed guy got shot at 41 times at close range. I'm sure you know how this ended, but here goes anyway. After a grand jury in the Bronx indicted the officers on charges of second-degree murder and reckless endangerment (i.e., justice), an appellate court ordered a change of venue to Albany, where the officers were acquitted (i.e., injustice). I'm not even gonna bother quoting NWA.

I made this burrito on the suggestion of my friend C.

serves: 3-4
prep. time: approx. 25 min.

1 lb. extra firm tofu, crumbled or cubed
1 Field Roast chipotle sausage, chopped
1 crown broccoli, chopped
1 small yellow onion, sliced
1 jalapeno, diced
1/2 pint grape tomatoes, halved
1/4 c. nutritional yeast
soy sauce

1. Saute the tofu and onion in oil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally.
2. Once the tofu is browned, add the broccoli and Field Roast and jalapeno. Douse with soy sauce.
3. After the broccoli has turned bright green, season and coast with nutritional yeast.
4. Heat the tomatoes just long enough to soften the skin.
5. Wrap up in a tortilla with guacamole, salsa, and/or nondairy sour cream (e.g., Tofutti).

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Vegan Health Rice and Beans

No, these rice and beans aren't consummately healthful, I just wanted to take this space to promote Ginny Messina's blog, The Vegan R.D., which she's been writing since November 2007. I really should go and get blood work done to see how I'm doing on vitamins. I'm probably deficient at least in B12 and D. Vegan Essentials is a good place to buy supplements!

serves: 2
prep. time: 100 min.

1 c. soup mix beans
3/4 c. short grain brown rice
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
1 poblano pepper, diced
some scallions, chopped or cut with kitchen scissors
1 avocado
juice of 1/4 lime
chipotle powder
dried cilantro

1. Bring 4 c. water to a boil in a medium-sized pot. Add beans and simmer until tender, usually about an hour and a half.
2. Simmer the rice for 50 minutes.
3. In a pan, saute the peppers and scallions with seasoning in oil over medium-high heat for several minutes.
4. Mash the avocado with lime juice and salt.

I have a poem in the latest issue of The Capilano Review! It's the first time I'll see my byline in print. (Thanks to A. for encouragement!)

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Ham the Chimp's Spaceflight Three Dishes

On January 31, 1961, a chimpanzee named Ham (actually HAM, for Holloman Aerospace Medical Center) became the first higher primate to leave the Earth's atmosphere. I was going to relay some facts from Wikipedia, but it's just all sad. Poor chimpanzees probably often wonder who the hell these big hairless devils are and why they punish you until you perform in rote, mechanical ways. And then why they continue to punish you in increasingly bizarre ways until you die. NASA no longer "employs" chimpanzees, if that's any consolation.

Notice: You shouldn't use more than three or four cloves of garlic for 30 oz. of chick peas when making hummus. I used double that amount here out of spite for my taste buds and my taste buds' children.

serves: 2
prep. time: no more than 25 min.

some rapini, thick parts of the stems discarded
1 clove garlic, minced

3/4 c. red lentils
2 c. water
1 large tomato, sliced

1 can chick peas
lots o' olive oil
3 cloves garlic
spoonful of tahini
juice of at least 1/4 lemon

1. Put everything for the lentil soup in a small pot. Simmer or gently boil for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
2. Put everything for the hummus in a food processor and process until smooth.
3. Saute the rapini with garlic for about five minutes.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Elk Cloner Bashers and Mash

On January 30, 1982, Rich Skrenta wrote the first self-replicating program, or "computer virus," as it came to be called. He was 15. The virus wasn't malicious; it displayed the following poem every 50th time an infected Apple II computer rebooted:
Elk Cloner: The program with a personality

It will get on all your disks
It will infiltrate your chips
Yes, it’s Cloner!

It will stick to you like glue
It will modify RAM too
Send in the Cloner!
Don't add Earth Balance to the potatoes like I did.

serves: 1-2
prep. time: approx. 20 min.

4 red potatoes, quartered
2 handfuls brussels sprouts
1 Field Roast sausage
nutritional yeast
almond milk

1. Cover the potatoes with water in a small pot. Bring to a boil. Boil until tender (but not overdone).
2. Preheat the oven to 400F. Toss the brussels sprouts in olive oil and bake until they turn bright.
3. Fry the sausage in a bit of oil over medium heat.
4. Drain the potatoes. Place back in the pot and mash with some mylk, nutritional yeast, salt, and pepper.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Nick and Rocco Memorial Fettuccine

I am interrupting normal programming to make you cry. Today, Vegansaurus posted an incredibly sad story about Nick Santino, who committed suicide after being pressured to put down his rescued pit bull, Rocco. I am crying.

serves: 1 (or 2, if you don't have an inexplicably, temporarily massive appetite)
prep. time: approx. 20 min.

1/2 lb. tomato basil fettuccine
1 Field Roast sausage, chopped (chipotle variety, as it turns out my dad bought for my stay, very thoughtfully and tastefully but to the disadvantage of this dish)
1/2 bundle of rapini (aka broccoli rabe), leaves only
1 small yellow onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, sliced
handful pine nuts
2 sprigs fresh dill, chopped
olive oil

1. Boil the pasta for 3 minutes, nevertheless overcooking it.
2. Saute onion in a large pan over medium-high heat. Once translucent, add sausage and dill.
3. After five minutes or so, add pine nuts, garlic, and rapini. Lower heat and cover, until rapini is wilted.

I'm not subtle enough to make good pasta dishes.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

André the Giant no longer has a Posse Bulgar Stew

André the Giant (André René Roussimoff) died in his sleep January 27, 1993 (age: 46). His acromegaly caused congestive heart failure while André was in Paris for his father's funeral. Facts that will not make this story less sad: 1. André once consumed 19.5 gallons of beer in one sitting; 2. in the last years of his life, André was constantly in horrible pain; 3. André never fulfilled his wish of seeing a Broadway show because he didn't want to block other people's view; 4. too big to ride the school bus as a young teen, André was driven to school by his father's friend Samuel Beckett.

I made this stew the night before coming home to Virginia for a couple of weeks to look after our old dog while my parents are out of town. Have to wrap this up, because S. is giving me clear signals that it's past time for me to carry her up the stairs.

serves: 3
prep. time: approx. 30 minutes

1 yellow onion, sliced
1/4 red cabbage, sliced
1 butternut squash, cubed
3/4 c. bulgar wheat
fenugreek seeds

1. Saute the onion with oil in a soup pot over medium-high heat.
2. Toss in everything except the bulgar wheat and water. Saute for a few minutes.
3. Pour in enough water to get the squash floating. Cover and bring to a boil.
4. Add bulgar wheat. Reduce heat; cook for 20 mins.
5. Let stand and cool. The bulgar will soak up a lot of the water.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Testimony of a Ghost Tofu, Steamed Veggies, and Rice

Elva Zona Heaster was found dead on January 23, 1897. Her mother believed Elva's husband murdered her. To convince the prosecutor to reopen the case, Elva's mother referred to a vision she had had.
According to local legend, Zona appeared to her mother in a dream four weeks after the funeral. She said that Shue was a cruel man who abused her, and who had attacked her in a fit of rage when he believed that she had cooked no meat for dinner. He had broken her neck; to prove this, the ghost turned her head completely around until it was facing backwards.
I'd like to reiterate: "she had cooked no meat for dinner." Shue was convicted despite a lack of evidence because the jury believed Elva's mother's ghost story. I wish ghosts would get meathead assholes in trouble more often.

I haven't updated recently because I've been eating out a lot with my grandma. She left today. :(

serves: 3
prep. time: 50 min.

1 c. brown jasmine rice
1 lb. tofu, cubed
6 kale leaves and stems, chopped
1/2 red cabbage, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
Bragg's liquid aminos
cayenne powder
dried parsley

1. Cook the rice.
2. Steam the kale leaves and red cabbage.
3. Saute the tofu and kale stems in coconut oil. Add Bragg's periodically. Once the tofu starts to brown, season. Cook until desired texture.

I wrote an article for The Huffington Post about an incident that occurred at a bear bile farm in China in August of last year.

I also wrote this review of Aleph's album From Chaos to Cosmos for Tiny Mix Tapes.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Posthumous Promotion Curried Lentils

On January 17, 2001, President Bill Clinton posthumously promoted Meriwether Lewis from Lieutenant to Captain. I don't know why that was necessary. Don't worry, he also posthumously promoted William Clark, who was thereby spared rolling over in his grave. Seriously, though, posthumous military promotions? Waste of time.

Today is a sad day. Someday I will have fewer of those, maybe.

servers: 3-4
prep. time: approx. 30 min.

1 c. red lentils
1 yellow onion, sliced
1 sweet potato, chopped
6 kale leaves, torn
2 plum tomatoes, chopped
~3 c. water
curry powder
Bragg's liquid aminos
nutritional yeast

1. Saute the onion in a pot in coconut oil over medium-high heat. After it goes translucent, toss everything in and keep it at a low boil or aggressive simmer until the red lentils start to break down.
2. Stir vigorously. I ate it by itself because I forgot to put on some orzo and didn't want to wait for rice.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Gavin Bryars' Birthday Pseudo-Borscht

I like Gavin Bryars' music. He was born on January 16, 1943. He studied philosophy at Sheffield before studying music. He began playing jazz but gave it up after seeing a young bassist play in an "artificial" way. He studied composition with John Cage. One of his first pieces, and the one I'm most familiar with, is called The Sinking of the Titanic. You can read about it here.

My friend W. made borscht awhile ago, which inspired me to make borscht. I do not know how to make borscht correctly, nor did I look up a recipe beforehand. What I made was more a stew than a soup. I don't have a grater, so I couldn't shred the beets. I wish I could have shredded the beats. Nevertheless, I present this recipe for a palatable pseudo-borscht.

serves: approx. 4
prep. time: approx. 30 min.

1 beet, sliced thin (or shredded, if you have a grater)
1 red onion, sliced
1/2 head red cabbage, sliced
2 bay leaves
garlic powder

1. Throw everything in a pot and boil until the beets are nice and tender. Add water if you want it soupier.

Won't be posting tomorrow in (meager) solidarity with the internet blackout. STOP PIPA/SOPA!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Review of Jason Reitman's Young Adult

"Young adult" is a polyvalent description of Mavis Gary (Charlize Theron), a ghostwriter for a YA series about horrid, privileged high schoolers. She lives in luxury squalor, neglects her Pomeranian (the film could be partially but nevertheless faithfully and fruitfully read as an inversion of Kelly Reichardt's Wendy and Lucy), and one day receives a mass email announcement from a high school sweetheart that he and his wife are having a baby. Mavis travels back to her small Minnesota hometown, Mercury, where she attempts to steal Buddy Slade (Patrick Wilson) away from his domestic entrapment to a life of — well, who knows, that’s not the point.

The casting is perfect: Patton Oswalt as Matt Freehaur plays Pluto to Mavis's Mercury. The writing is good. The structure is repetitive, recursive — a strong reflection of Mavis's interiority and doomed quest.
Other than that, I don’t have much to say by way of straightforward commentary (the film speaks for itself, mostly), so I’d like to take this opportunity to parasitize Young Adult in order to illustrate the potency of Michel Serres's The Parasite, a book dedicated to an exploration and articulation of the one-directional arrow that defines relationality as such.

Mavis is a ghostwriter, seemingly in first position as the creator of the series parasites her work. But it becomes obvious (if we couldn’t have guessed from the beginning) that Mavis is not a producer but a reproducer, living from and through her own idealized adolescence. Already a sort of nothing, drinking herself into oblivion in a messy high-rise apartment, Mavis would fall into critical condition if she weaned herself off of the delusions of memory.

Buddy's baby is a rival parasite. Buddy's wife is a rival parasite. For Mavis, the entirety of Mercury steals Buddy's vitality and denies him a life of happiness with Mavis. Matt Freehauf (Patton Oswalt) is a fellow parasite. His past is a crutch no less than Mavis's (and more literally). Mavis parasites Matt because "guys like [him] are born to love girls like [her]." The one moment in which the arrow hesitates to point is when Mavis fucks Matt or Matt fucks Mavis. Abuse value is Serres's brilliant term.

Given the parasite, how do we make a better humanity? Maybe that's the dumbest question ever posed. Maybe that's why Mavis, on the brink of self-awareness and the threshold of growth, is pulled back from her moment of radical vulnerability by another, weaker parasite: Matt's sister, who dreams of following Mavis to the city, where she will finally be able to live a life of — well, who knows, that's not the point.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Harold Shipman Meets the Same Fate as His 218 Victims Quinoa Dish

In 2004, Harold Shipman hung himself in his cell. He was 57, 16 years older than his youngest victim. Shipman was a doctor who killed his patients by administering heroin. I'm not sure how that sufficed, because he didn't totally whack them out on it. There must have been more to his methodology, but I'm not morbid enough right now to find out. ... Never mind, the Guardian claims that his method was always "a swift injection of diamorphine—pharmaceutical heroin." I guess that'll do it.

Haven't been updating much of late because I was home for a couple weeks and then moving. I'm now settled in my little room in a little basement in Bushwick. The little kitchen is a bit difficult to manage, but I'm going to try to keep up my cooking. Today's late lunch (4:30) was a strange version of edamame salad.

serves: 2-3
prep. time: approx. 20 min.

2/3 c. tri-color quinoa (the best kind!)
1 can green pigeon peas (because pigeons are wonderful animals!)
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 shallots, sliced
juice of 1/2 lemon
dried basil
Bragg's liquid aminos
Sriracha hot sauce

1. Simmer the quinoa in 1 1/2 c. water for 15 min.
2. Saute the pepper and shallots in olive oil over medium-high heat for several minutes. Add the green pigeon peas and Bragg's.
3. Squeeze lemon juice; season.

Got the job application blues. May they give way to the salaried job greens.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Carlo Tresca Dessert Outing

Carlo Tresca was an Italian-American anarchist. A newspaper editor, orator, labor organizer, and leader of the Industrial Workers of the World during the 1910s, he was gunned down in NYC by a Fascist, a Stalinist, or a mafioso (all groups Tresca had vocally criticized and opposed). The most miraculous part of the story:
A eulogy at his memorial service was delivered by Angelica Balabanoff, the socialist activist and former Bolshevik. According to Lewis Coser's account of the funeral, "I was sitting near a burly Irish policeman who clearly didn't understand a word of Balabanoff's fierce Italian oratory. But at her climax he burst into tears."
Today my grandmother (visiting for a good while!), my friend C., and I went to Cocoa Bar in Park Slope. I helped eat Peanut Butter Explosion and Oreo Cookie, two of their three vegan cakes. It was good, but I'm not used to so much sugar. Short rise, steep crash. Feeling better now, though.

Tiny Mix Tapes published my fevered review of Zwischenwelt's album Paranormale Aktivität today. I have to be possessed to write a music review. Hope it happens again. Still need a home for my review of Young Adult. Any takers?