Thursday, December 30, 2010

In the Ol' Icebox

This is yummier than you can guess, and quite easily doubled.

Easy Green Curry (Variation on a Theme of Collards):

1 tsp canola oil, or coconut oil
1/2 lb chicken breast, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 c green pepper, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
1 c broccoli stems, trimmed as needed and cut into 1/4 rounds
1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, cut into small thin lengths
a few cloves of garlic, sliced thinly crosswise
3 large collard leaves, with stems, cut into 1-inch squares
3 large or 5 small scallions, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 can coconut milk
1/2 cup water
1-2 tbsp green curry paste
1/2 tsp agave syrup or sugar, to taste (optional)
1/2 tsp fish sauce, or to taste (optional)
a squirt or two of Sriracha sauce

Heat oil in a skillet or saucepan and add chicken; cook until just done and slightly browned, turning loosely.  Throw in the green pepper, broccoli, ginger and garlic, collard greens, and the fleshy parts of the scallions, and saute over high-ish heat for a couple minutes, until the collards have begun to cook down.  Add the coconut milk, water, curry paste, sugar and fish sauce (if used), the Sriracha, and bring to a low boil.  Turn the heat down and let simmer for 5-10 minutes, stirring from time to time, adding the green ends of the scallions after a few minutes, when the flavors begin to meld.  Eat from a bowl, with a spoon.  Over wild rice is darn good, too.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Sugar Rush

I opened the cupboard to reach for coffee, and WHAM--there was crash, and a thud, and suddenly I found myself covered in something sticky and sweet...

All up and down my arm, across my chest, stuck upon my hair and into my ear...

What the hell happened?

Some boobytrap, set by the bad gnomes maybe, or perhaps it was only Fate.

It took me a minute to ascertain what had transpired, and it was this: a quart of maple syrup, which had heretofore been situated quite (seemingly) calmly upon the top shelf, decided to take or was somehow compelled into taking a small leap forward, only to fall heavily down upon and into my unexpecting morning.  It landed upright--a small concession, on its part--but the force of the impact blew its plastic lid full open, spewing its sappy, sticky, burned-gold sweetness all over the friggin' place...on my shirt, my pants, the floor, the counter, the other side of the room...

What gives?  I mean seriously, what kind of nonsense makes a good couple pounds of sugar take a dive like that?  Come on's only Wednesday.

Frigging gnomes, I swear.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Fa la la la laaaa, la laa laa laa

And so it goes, with the passing of another Christmas...  It's been a busy, lazy last few weeks here at my homestead in the city, and despite all the deliciously sticky sugarplums that have been dancing in my head, I've not had time to put down my thoughts on the rare Solstice, the beautiful snows, or the holly and the ivy, much less the divine mystery of trinity...  I hope to resume some more focused writing here, after the New Year, and in the meantime I'll be posting some pics over at the Old Time Picture Show, by way of a virtual cookie exchange... I hope you are safe and warm, reveling in the spirit of the season, enjoying life's multitudes of gifts and resting sweetly in Winter's soft embrace.  Much love to you all.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

You Have To Try This

Here's a little recipe which my mother sent my way and which I found to be not only more than the sum of its parts but also tremendously satisfying (unless that's supposed to imply that you can stop eating it).  I made mine with a double load of collard greens and stems and it was downright delish.  You could serve this over rice, or soba noodles, but I loved it all on its own.  Super easy yum, hits many spots at once...

Hawaiian Ginger-Chicken Stew

From EatingWell:  March/April 2009 

This chicken stew has a bold ginger-flavored broth and provides a whole serving of dark leafy greens in each bowl. We tried it with frozen chopped mustard greens (available in large supermarkets) and it was even quicker to prepare and just as delicious. Serve with brown rice. 

4 servings, about 1 cup each | Active Time: 35 minutes | Total Time: 35 minutes [Timing's about right but I don't know how they figure four one-cup servings...bit more than that.]


  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil, or canola oil [toasted sesame, for sure.]
  • 1 pound chicken tenders, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and cut into matchsticks or minced
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup dry sherry, (see Tip)
  • 1 14-ounce can reduced-sodium chicken broth [I used veggie Better Than Bouillon, nothing lost]
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Asian red chile sauce, such as sriracha, or to taste
  • 1 bunch mustard greens, or chard, stemmed and chopped (6-7 cups), or 2 cups frozen chopped mustard greens [Use whatever greens you like best--mustard, collards, spinach, kale, chard, a mix--and then try something new the next time. Also, frozen might be fine but fresh is fantastic.]


  1. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook, stirring occasionally, until just cooked through, about 6 minutes. Transfer to a plate with tongs. [or with your Kitchamajig.]
  2. Add ginger and garlic to the pot and cook until fragrant, about 10 seconds. Add sherry and cook until mostly evaporated, scraping up any browned bits, 1 1/2 to 3 minutes. Add broth and water, increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes. Add soy sauce, chile sauce and mustard greens (or chard) and cook until the greens are tender, about 3 minutes. Return the chicken and any accumulated juices to the pot and cook until heated through, 1 to 2 minutes.


Per serving : 201 Calories; 4 g Fat; 1 g Sat; 1 g Mono; 69 mg Cholesterol; 7 g Carbohydrates; 31 g Protein; 3 g Fiber; 346 mg Sodium; 369 mg Potassium
1/2 Carbohydrate Serving
Exchanges: 1 vegetable, 3 1/2 lean meat

Tips & Notes

  • Tip: “Cooking sherry” can be high in sodium. Instead, look for dry sherry with other fortified wines in your wine or liquor store. [As a general rule, I wouldn't use "cooking" anything for cooking anything.  If someone has to tell you to cook with it you probably shouldn't be eating it (Crisco???), UNLESS they're talking about green vegetables, which you'd have to work pretty hard at to get more than is good for you.]

Saturday, December 11, 2010

I Have Moved Mountains

Okay.  First, let me just say, YAY!  I'm almost done shoveling now, so it's a little difficult to recall, but I believe the phrase of the moment was "holy buttmunchers, this is a fuckload of snow!"

Second: silk, wool, sheepskin, down, Gore-Tex, polyester and last, but not least, goofily-blue stretchy waterproof bibbs!

Friday, December 10, 2010

this day in December

A Christmas tree was a magical thing, when I was growing up.  We cut our own, not at a lot or a farm but on the land where we lived, and the "ritual"--not some obligatory bullshit or overly done-up reverence or laborious nonsense--of bringing it into the house was one which--though always a little late, a bit complicated and perhaps just a tad contentious--was always one of significance, of joy and anticipation, the culmination and recognition of the passage of another year, from darkness to light...We spent hours, as a family, listening to music--Tchaikovsky, maybe, or Handel or various others...jazz musicians or just plain old folks on vinyl, not only of the season--and carefully unpacking each ornament, jointly considering its best placement and most beautiful attributes, so as best to fill each void, or catch the light, or be most pleasing to the eye and heart. 

The collection of ornaments was rare, artful, breakable. There were many in glass, figures and creatures and bubbles of all sizes, sculptures of metal and clay and wood.  This might seem less than notable, these days, but in the late 70's and until much later--perhaps not until well into the 90's, with the general acceptance of consumerism as a way of life--such things were not so commonplace, and even yet I have rarely glimpsed so many lovely, thoughtful graces on a single tree.  We had gnomes with pipes and mates and children, a blown-glass dragon (or was it really a chicken?), wild reindeer and wonderful birds...bulbs which had rounded out decades...trumpets and french horns and trombones and flutes, drums, disco balls...jesters and wizards and pickles and starbursts...angels (though not of the white-winged variety) and saints (though not of the biblical sort).  There were no Precious Moments but the Imaginary Ones.  Lights of all colors, reflected in every direction, casting rainbowed shadow branches onto the ceiling...things heavy, things hidden, things coming alive among the flashes of light, the falling needles, the fragrant sap...  Each year, everyone received a new decoration to add to the tree.  In this way, we composed our space inside a winter's night.

Outside, stars pierced the sky, making of it a sieve through which we might receive the finer parts of the light beyond.  The slivered, silvered moon danced a million smiling dances with each snowflake, while the coyotes caroled their way along the fence, out past the Oak Grove.  In the distance, the Big Hill rose in pregnant silence against the horizon, to carry on an unspoken dialogue with the wrinkled eaves of the old barn roof.  Close by, in the still crisp air under the pole light, the ginalla whispered gently to the weeping willow, remembering a distant Spring...Paw prints in the snow and puppies at the window reminded us to open the door, return to the fire...

A night went by, and morning came.  Presents were something; we had lots some years, and good ones...but the Presence--and let's be clear on this: I mean not of Christ but of Love, itself--was all that shaped the day.  Sweet music, nourishing food, a challenging puzzle perhaps, something new to build, an invigorating ski trek over fields and through woods to the beaver dam and back....these are my memories of this time of year, when gravity draws us toward our dark Solstice and with some ancient strength hurls us past it into the open arms of the next bright season. I'm thinking of this tonight, partly in giddy anticipation of the snows (okay already: blizzard!!!) tomorrow, and also with gratitude for the birth and life of my mother, and all that she has known, and learned to share, and taught us all.  It's her birthday tomorrow.  Send her some love.

Friday, December 3, 2010


Oh frabjous day, calloo, callay!  Tomorrow I shall ski!!!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

to sleep on

a layer of sparkling snow holds the rabbit tracks between my boot steps