Saturday, June 26, 2010

Adrian Eats

The Lone Ranger

For almost two months I've been on a farm in rural Oregon. The night before I left Brooklyn, several friends jimmied a Bon Voyage feast, which included removing the top from my kitchen table and placing it on a smaller one in the living room, for more sitting room, cross legged. The meal in full is listed below, but does not include the detail that Lina bicycled home from Morton's Steak House at midnight with Oysters Rockafellar on a bed of rock salt, a slice of carrot cake, and a tall beer with an old man on the front.

Roasted black Brussels sprouts & turnips (broiled to a tender crisp by moi et Lily.)
Mashed potatoes w/ raw red onion and raw garlic (Robby)
Wheat penne w/ stir-fried beets, red peppers, & coconut meat (Matthew)
Sesame rolls w/ broiled tomato & mozzarella (Matthew)
Bits of duck (Jen)
Wine & whiskey

For our first week on the Harrisburg farm, Robert and I had a stove but no burners, so we cooked all of our meals on a grill outside our house. If anyone had been there to witness us, we may have looked trashy, cooking eggs in our underwear, but when a tree falls in the woods, is anyone there to point and laugh? There was also a pipe missing under the sink, so all of our water went into a bucket sitting below, and there was no shower so we washed our hair with an old wok. We bought a heap of Session Black (the cheapest of the good dark beers, and by Hood River's Full Sail) and would drink two or three at the end of the day aruond our smoldering coals. Finally, thanks to Lonnie Sexton, we got elements for the stove, and have cooked a number of reputable feasts out there in grass seed country. Below are some notable meals, which have more or less been repeated to some varying degree, denoted by GRILL or STOVE.


Salmon cakes w/ dill & yellow onion
Homemade guacamole

Salmon cakes on biscuits
Scrambled eggs

Pork burritos
Grilled toast

Spinach & garlic on biscuits
Roasted potatoes & yellow squash scrambled w/ eggs


Roasted potatoes, herbed & olive oiled
Roasted yellow squash
Leeks from the garden

Roasted garlic & olive oil w/ bread
Baked polenta w/ cayenne & cream
Roasted potatoes w/ dill
Sourdough rolls

Salmon cakes w/ green onions
Mango salsa & chips
Spinach salad w/ apples & walnuts, lemon, salt, pepper

White fish w/ toasted bread crumbs & lemon & garlic
Sautéed asparagus
Rogue Valley Mocha Porter

A heap of broccoli & chicken thighs

Homemade biscuits & butter

Chicken thighs smeared w/ ground mustard, dill, wine, olive oil & vinegar
Roasted potatoes w/ herbs de Provence

Pan o' nachos, w/ refried beans, black beans, onion, garlic, Irish cheddar, salsa
Bok choy salad


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Hot Flashes

1. Brooklyn

"It's barbaric to put just soy sauce on something," Dave explained. He had driven to Baltimore to make the trip back up to New York with me--everyone was leaving and we begged off of me taking a bus. "I have this idea that I can cook, when really I just put soy sauce and whatever vegetable I have and tofu in a container and stir it all." He said you have to balance the soy sauce with something to make it a decent thing to eat, and that's what he had done, and I can't remember what he used anymore. We leaned back into our seats, at a rest stop somewhere along the turnpike, and agreed about broccoli rabe. His car reminded me of one my father used to drive, and by the time we got to Bed Stuy, we were exhausted but not tired.

2. No Shit Bonnaroo

In Tennessee I ate things I couldn't digest, which is a certain breed of strategy. Lots of peanut butter on lots of bread and Jesse told me to eat with my face to the plate if it was too messy with my hand. "Here," he demonstrated, "I mean, it's not the same as eating with one hand and wiping your ass with the other." Fifteen of us stopped to eat together, still hours from Manchester, and ordered of Canadian bacon and our waitress's name was Susie Q. Dustin leaned in quietly and told Alix and I, "Until we get back to Baltimore--no one's Jewish and no one's gay."

Susie Q. No joke. We all squeezed each others' legs under the table but looked straight from the waist up, and drove through Chattanooga side-swiping the air as it grew hotter.

3. Beyond Eugene

Noah had a third a jar of peanut butter left, so he figured he better not buy anymore. For my first meal in Oregon, we stopped at The Rodeo in Junction City, ate sandwiches made indisputably, almost obscenely, of meat, threw our peanut shells gleefully to the ground. We caught a ride to Harrisburg just by asking someone directions. "Harley like the motorcycle," he introduced himself, talked about the eleven hours he'd been driving alone and the skate park nearby and how they don't even bother with a school field trip to the Shakesepare festival in his hometown, because everyone goes during the summer, anyway. What makes a small town tick.

In the week prior to our visit alone, the only two bars in Harrisburg went out of business. "It says something when the bars shut down," Adrian said ominously. She read my tarot cards on one of the first nights of my visit, and Noah's cards one of the last. His reading was sandwiched between two feasts: Age's dinner was salmon cooked with dill, onions baked with cheese and butter, asparagus to a T, a salad I assembled and a dressing Noah obsessed over. Our breakfast was easy-bake biscuits that I worried would stick together, and Noah manning three burners like a navy captain. Cursing, the bacon too long for the pan, peppers-and-onions done long before the starchy potatoes softened, eggs with cheddar and tomatoes, everything done at roughly the same time . "It's like the rest of my life," Noah said of his tarot. "Either you'll crash and burn into absolute oblivion--or everything will go really well."

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Lily Eats

What's nearby and what's not far away

"Living in New York made you a better driver," Noah said.
"I didn't have a car in New York."
"I know," he said. "But you're more aggressive now."

If that's true, it's an aggression borne of making much more frequent mistakes, with much more dire consequences, and having to live with the results. So now it's a year and a half later, I've got no feeling left in the tip of my right ring finger, I'm arguably an even better driver, and without a doubt, a much-improved cook. It could be that all of this originates in my Brooklyn-bred ability to Man Up, or, as Adrian once referred to the required grit, "Go be Diane di Prima."

Di Prima slept in public parks, made love to junkies and fifteen-year-olds, fathers and sons, took her clothes for the day out of a dry cleaner's, one ticket at a time. I was never quite ready to be her, but we have a shared enthusiasm for feeding ourselves, whatever that means.

Say that it means relying on a food processor that I know in my heart is too small to complete the task for which I mean to use it. Raw carob cookies, which need some form of sugar, and since I can't boil water to soak the dates (because I've arbitrarily decided, in spite of the cheeseburger with french fries I ate last night, I'm going to honor the rawness of this process) I have to soak them for thirty minutes in room-temperature water. The trouble is, I bought these dates around the same time I signed the lease on this apartment. (Which incidentally, is up in August, and it's maybe the same ballsy New York influence that saves me from panicking at having no concept of where I intend to live come September.) The dates are still rock-hard after almost an hour of soaking, but I dump them with the allotted amount of water into the food processor. When I flip the switch, I get a real-life reenactment of the trickle-down theory, and date-water (much like benefits to taxpayers) spews out of any seam or crack it can find. I notice this when a stream of it hits me in the stomach, and after two more tries, I conclude that I never trusted Reagan anyway, and just use the syrup from the bottom of the pitcher, setting the date chunks to the side.

This is significantly less liquid than I am supposed to be using. I add the cocoa powder (because, even though I'm honoring the rawness of this recipe, I've arbitrarily decided to use cooked cocoa powder instead of raw carob) and almond butter, and what I've got is essentially a mass of date juice and almond chunks in an otherwise Sahara-like desert of cocoa. I directly forsake keeping the recipe raw, and take inventory of all moistening agents present in my kitchen. I add almond milk and stir. And add more. And it's about the right consistency now, I assume, but I take a taste and am immediately confronted with the absence of enough date-mash. It tastes a little bit like Baker's chocolate. So I add agave, lots of agave, till it tastes like something I'd want to eat, and not something I endure because (son of a bitch) I cooked this.

It's at this point that I notice the French Press. I check the remaining coffee--I used the pot three days ago, and I've grown very accustomed to peering in and finding patches of blue mold sprouting on the surface--but it doesn't seem to be contaminated yet. I pour most of it into the bowl, and stir, splashing more coffee and chocolate and coconut flakes, right, I added coconut flakes, around my kitchen. My feet are now sticking to the floor, and I've got dustings of brown powder on my gut, since I decided, in observance of my 91-degree apartment, to assemble these cookies in a bra and shorts.

Of course I don't even want the cookies. I've finished making them--rolled them up into little balls, which I then doused in more coconut, and ceremoniously garnished with a single almond each. Put them in the refrigerator because the author who says you can eat them at room temperature is from Northern Canada, for Christ's sake, and doesn't have to confront heat as not only a comfort issue, but an alterer of all alterable matter.

I leave them in my father's apartment in a tupperware container. After one day, he asks me to take them away and leave him just a few.

"Give some to your buddies," he says, my father being the kind of man who sees anyone as a potential "buddy," and certainly someone to share with. "I ate three of them yesterday, which I don't need to do." With a kind of routine cuteness, my father finishes every meal with "something sweet," which he searches his kitchen for absently, as though this is the first time in his life that the notion of dessert has ever occurred to him.

For lunch I assemble a salad of white beans, radishes, romaine, and balsamic vinegar. Then the avocado on Wasa crackers with cumin. And a Roma tomato, cut into wedges with olive oil and sea salt. I think of my father, how he didn't "need" three cookies, and eating my tomato, consider how easily I could eat three more just like it. Consider that two years ago I wouldn't have trusted my own attentiveness to know what it was I wanted to eat. (My ring finger was stitched up, but there was permanent nerve damage.) Maybe I wouldn't have even trusted my hand to be light enough with the olive oil.