some stories are so funny; we laugh until we cry and some stories are so sad we cry before we finish, but all stories need to be told...

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

my super hates me

this is the third time i have been reprimanded by my super- our relationship has come to the point where i get that 'nervous internal feeling' i used to get when i was 5 and an adult was 'talking at me' and i felt the urge to wet my pants. the only difference is i now i can control it (usually) and i have the ability to speak rationally in a tough grown- up manner.
it would help if there weren't a language barrier- but we live in new york- some things just "are".

let me preface this by saying that we moved to this truly lovely apartment 9 months ago- before that we lived in the GHETTOOOOoooo- seriously- no exaggeration- THE ghetto- in east flatbush, new york; i cannot remember if it was my first encounter with the undercover detectives (knocking at our door to ask if we'd witnessed anything of the shooting "no, officer- just a young man shot dead right outside, but no, i didn't see the shooter, only the boy/man victim- moving as if in slow motion- with a look of bewilderment and then peace as he sort of "threw" his note book into the air. he fell gracefully to the ground as his loose leaf floated down, cascading like giant snowflakes around him) or the second (when our key wouldn't work in the front door and before calling the team of "supers" (use the term super LoooHOOO sleeee) sly and a neighbor attempted to enter the apartment by climbing down the fire escape and through our window- it didn't work (if you were wondering- the door finally opened by kicking (2 dudes and one broad).  approximately 4 hours after sly had been on the fire escape, the police showed up, responding to a break and entry call- the good news? doors in the projects are difficult to get through. the bad news? breaking and entering isn't high on the rapid response list.) or maybe, actually it was the third time, now that i think about it- (after the fire in which we had to evacuate via the fire escape, handing our then 2 month old to a fireman and following to safe ground when an officer first asked "if you don't mind me asking, what are YOU doing here" followed by "you know that you are lucky to live up near nostrand ave, right? this is what we refer to as "the front page". great. comforting. super. my point here- in this large blurb- is that we aren't spoiled and we ain't rich. we don't complain. we try to live as peacefully and as uneventfully as possible. we try to fix it ourselves or leave it alone.i wasn't going to mention this, because it's embarrassing and gross and the 2 people that read this have been here and they've probably noticed but didn't say anything because it is gross and what would you say "um, there's hair here and here and there and over there....?" we never complained about the floors- we simply weighed our options- did we really want to move all our stuff out or around to have the floors redone? couldn't we all just get along?  what is wrong with your floors, you may wonder.did you know?  helen keller has a floor refinishing business- she must- look it up. our floors have hairs- lots of long black hair under the varnish- and a size 13 shoe sticker (you know the little clear round ones) and strands of garland (festive)-and a bit of gum that must have come in on the bottom of helen's shoe the day she did the bedroom floor. it all lives under the varnish- AND we don't have a peephole. now you know.

enter our new apartment and our super- who is a GOOD guy, but i'm beginning to think that he might be a little crazy. the first time we needed him the string on the light in our bathroom broke. yes, i said "string".  this is an old building and the main lights in the kitchen and bathroom are still string operated. so, after about 1 day of living here the string just broke off in my hand. i froze and if i hadn't just relieved myself i might have right then & there. but i didn't, because i just did.
anyway, for about 1 week we slept with the bathroom light on- which doesn't sound like a big deal after the constant of helicopters hovering every night, gunfire and pot smoke wafting under your door (east flatbush). but it was a big deal.  it was like torture. the light was bright- like the sun- only not as sunny.
we finally left a note (following protocol) for the super. he showed up about 3 days later and he was not happy.
"ju pull dee string too haaard, i feex one time but next time i not do favor. you tink i work for free?"
i was embarrassed and startled and offended;  a rocket scientist i am not, but i do know how to pull a light string- you simply hold it between tips of thumb and forefinger and with a slight tip of the wrist - there is LIGHT. now that i think about it and re-read this- i don't think it physically possible to pull the string too hard- what with the diameter of the string, it is hard to get any grip at all.....

he fixed it- begrudgingly and we moved on.

the next time we needed him he was even angrier.

again with a door; only this time we were locked IN our apartment. we tried everything- sly offered to go down the fire escape, but we both quickly agreed that in a neighborhood of one black man (sly) that was probably NOT the best idea - always a huge fan of fear factor (and having prior fire escape experience) i went. - upon my arrival at the bottom level (about 12 feet or so from the concrete - i don't know the exact measurement, but i consider myself a daredevil and this was too high to jump-) i discovered that the slide-y ladder thing had been painted in the "up" position- no matter how much strength i applied- to unhook and wiggle and maneuver - the ladder wasn't going down. back up and in was i. of course we didn't have telephone numbers for the super or the landlord- that would've been too easy. we called my dad (in north carolina) he was an ironworker and i swear he CAN fix anything (he built shea stadium all by himself- he could clearly get us out). he coached us.  we tried every thing: alas, the door is old- maybe even original c. 1920ish- not one of those "oh, just remove the hinge models" it is one with the heavy spring behind the door- and mammoth hinges. we tried. to no avail. at one point i contemplated sending a note down to the ground, sort of like joan crawford in whatever happened to baby jane but i worried that bette davis would find it and i'm pretty confident there ARE rats in the cellar.
with all possible options exhausted, we called nypd. they were great. they came fast AND spoke to us through the door: "so, whaddyouse want us to do?"- "um, see if the super is here?" they did and returned to ask us to stand back as they needed to knock the door down. the super wasn't home and wouldn't be home for another 6 hours or so- policy is policy and once nypd knows you are stuck/locked in- they are not allowed to leave you.
stand back we did
far back
i waited for gunfire
or that giant medal ram thing
but in two swift kicks the door was OPEN- this isn't the ghetto, virginia- the doors kick in easily here.
we called the landlord to explain what happened- he wasn't too happy at first- he thought we were locked OUT- when i explained we were locked in he was awesome and sent another laborer over to fix the door.
the super showed up later
red faced and breathing heavy "why you call landlord? i feex when i get home- and you lock youselves out dat not my problem- you call de locksmit". sheesh and egad this dude has pms issues or something.
we were locked out of the bedroom.
this is the 2nd time in two days that the door handle ended in the lock position. yesterday with a little (frantic) jiggling the door opened.
today? not so lucky.
we tried the nail in the hole trick- and the chopstick too- we tried a skewer and  kitchen thermometer. i climbed out the bathroom window and tried to open the bedroom window (no doing, crafty do it yourselfer sly strategically taped (with the free usps click n' ship tape) the window to stop the cold air leaks-  the window wouldn't budge.
i did the walk of shame (sly couldn't go- he was wearing underpants- as he was about to change pre-lock dilemma- he had taken off his his pants- went into the bathroom and then i shut the bedroom door. and i don't really know why i shut the door- i had no reason- i was compelled to do it- it felt so right. and then? LOCK) down to the super's apartment. i followed protocol and left a note- with arrows- so he wouldn't miss it and i came back upstairs. an hour or so later- full of shame, fear and remorse, i descended the stairs again- this time knocking on the super's door- which was eventually answered by his (grumpy) wife. the super would be home at 6- and she would send him up.
at 7 sly went down (he found his pj bottoms hanging on the bathroom door). at 7:10 sly came back- redfaced (i think- it's so hard to tell) and short of breath- "the super will be up when he is done with dinner and we have to tip him"
i freaked
that is all i will say here- because it was whiny and whiny is never pretty.
i called the landlord and explained that no one intentionally locked the door- the handle is cheap (i didn't say that) the handle is loose (that is what i said) and we've been having problems with the door sticking and then you have to really grip the handle and turn and pull hard- and it sort of locked itself.
the landlord called the super
and sybill showed up.
he was R-E-D. and his pant zipper was down- which i couldn't decide if i should tell him- i mean i tried, but he was mad and i couldn't find the appropriate moment to interject "your barn door is open" which probably would have been lost on him anyway.
"because we won't pay for this- it isn't our fault" (Yeah YEAH- what SHE said) i replied.
"i not say you pay. i tell heem (point to sly) i feex one time as favor- and mebee you teep me- nex time you pay" (what? and great!- the armenian speaking to the tobagonian- no barriers HERE).
and by sheer luck i showed him what had happened on the bathroom knob and THERE IS SOMEONE WATCHING OVER ME- the doorknob goddesses smiled down- the bathroom knob locked itself and stayed locked- no matter what the super tried- it WOULDN'T open. i had to turn away and take my 'smug' into the kitchen.
sly left for his part time night gig
and i watched the super sweat and grovel while he fixed both knobs.
he DID yell a little more
sharing with me
"i done like yur nodes- (my what?) you leef on ze bord and eevereeone knows." i apologized for the arrows pointing to my message on the board and explained that sly needed pants and not pajamas as he had to leave for work-this was a pants emergency.
the bedroom is fixed.
the bathroom is sort of fixed.
the landlord is mad.
and this blog is done.

oh. i made awesome, incredible, simple yet somehow indulgent cream cheese cookies (kolacky)- filled with fruit jam- for a photo shoot as addition to our holiday fodder. they are yummy and wonderful-  phew.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

if you want to be a satisfied american- lower your standards

my swiffer broke and i am pissed
and this IS what is wrong with america.
sly's calm cool response? "it isn't made to last forever"- he's right, nothing is.
and no, it wasn't the deluxe swiffer sweeper (because then i would be REALLY peeved and would totally start a letter writing campaign to the asshole ceo's and marketing masters sitting at home with their feet up smoking cigars and laughing about the cheap plastic they've implemented in the new sleeker design)
what angers me is that the manufacturers of such products do this on purpose; people who have never had to live paycheck to paycheck design and market products for the losers who need them- they've stolen the glory i felt when i was finally able budget in a "luxury" item such as said swiffer.
either i am incredibly strong or swiffers are stupid & weak.
here's me "swiff swiff swiffering" beneath the table and in the other "impossible to reach spots" that exist to us that can only afford an upright hoover- you know the vacuum without a floor attachment- which is super - especially when you are trying to clean FLOORS.
i know it is wrong to judge- but secretly we all do it- i can tell alot about you by your swiffer.
my friend janet is upper middle class- easily identified by her swiffer sweeper- you know the one with the bottle of cleaning fluid attached?- you just push a button and TADAAA your floor is clean. unlike us barelyabovepoverty folk who own the very first swiffer model- the one where YOU spray the floor with some sort of solution- then swipe swipe swipe and turn the cloth around to use the clean underside-
i may not own the deluxe model, but i am clearly better off than povertylevel folk who just give their kids wet rags and direct "maryjo, now you hol' onto these here rags girl" and "bubba- now you grab maryjo by the ankles and run around this here house"- which in fact is brilliant- you tire the kids and the husband out all the while secretly cleaning your floors.
my stepmother is in a class of her own- she has a regular model swiffer, a swiffer sweeper AND a swiffer that plugs in and sucks up the crumbs that usually just get pushed around and then swept into one of the spaces between floor boards.
back to the point.
now my $20 some odd dollar swiffer is just all wrong; ugly and broken. the plastic snapped and sly repaired it- with usps tape- (you know, the free roll you get when you sign up for click n' ship). crankily i kept telling him "don't fix it- just throw it away"....whine whine...."i mean if we had electrical tape (i do have standards) it might be fixable- but don't waste the expensive staples brand packing tape on something it won't work on" whine whine whine.
the usps tape DID work and the swiffer is fixed-
but it is ridiculous that nothing is made to last- and frustrating.
nobody cares
we have all lowered our standards
today the swiffer breaks
tomorrow the hoover will give out
followed by a series of travesties inclusive of
sarah palin winning the presidency
the day after that i will swim all willy nilly to tobago to live out the rest of my days
where i shall recline on the beach, sip rum from a coconut and laugh at the silly americans in possession of the lowest standards of all.

Friday, November 26, 2010

i hear voices and one of them is mine

has this ever happened to you?
you are talking to someone- face to face, like, um, your sister- or your brother and you absolutely cannot pay attention? it isn't that the conversation is boring it's that the person speaking sounds so much like you it is freaking you out a little? the only way you can be sure you aren't speaking is to subtly move your hands to your jaw and ensure nothing is flapping?
it happens when my sister talks to me (which she hasn't done in over one year, so i guess in a way i should add that to my "grateful list").
it is the strangest thing; we don't look alike- but we sound exactly alike- it's as if we are identical voice twins. she speaks and i think "ugh, is that what i sound like? shoot me now".
oddly, although our voices are identical i can sing and my sister cannot. canNOT.
interestingly as we age when my sister laughs, which isn't all too often, she sounds exactly like our 93 year old grandmother- thankfully, i do not- (another item to add to my "grateful list").
last night my 3 year old climbed into my bed- he was "newvous" and i said quietly "it's okay" and i did one of those "grab the mattress because you feel like you are falling" moves because the voice sounded exactly like my mother's. there were two huge clues though, indicating surely it was i who had spoken: (1) the tone was comforting and kind (my mother is neither) and (2) the voice was coming from the bed - (in my entire life my mother has never sat on or near my bed).
after my son fell asleep, i quickly ran to the bathroom to gargle with boiling water and listerine- there was something obviously wrong with my voice- while i was in there, i checked for a stick up my ass- if my voice was leaning towards my mother i would do all i could to prevent my attitude from going there too.

it happens with my second son too. he sounds exactly like my brother- so much so in fact that when he calls, if i haven't looked at caller id, i duck and cover after hearing "hello". ( don't ask why i duck- the phone call is usually cellphone to landline- but i feel the need to hide whenever i hear my brother- a call from him means hours listening to the drone and anger of a drunk dialer).

i spent the summer with my father and he sounds a lot like my brother- to the point where sometimes when he was speaking i probably did that "dog thing" squinting my eyes and turning my head to listen on a different frequency.

my stepmother sounds uncannily like her own mother- here i have to pay very close attention, especially if they are in the room together and adding to the same conversation; it can get very confusing very quickly.

and sly sounds exactly like his father- but that doesn't matter much. their accents are strong and when they are speaking together they let loose into tobago patois; so not only am i clueless as to who the speaker is, i don't know what they are saying anyway, so it doesn't matter.

what is the cause of all this? are voice boxes so limited that there are only a few keys to choose from?
can we change our voices- training them to sound more like lauren bacall and less like minnie mouse?
should i have laid off of the helium- or smoked more?
obviously, i shouldn't have quit smoking- my lungs may be happy but my voice box is not.

oops. AND NOW!! tatataDAAAA: FOOD! (this all started as a blog for foodies)
yesterday's vegetarian fare was extraordinaire. sly made everything. root vegetables with roasted garlic and fresh herbs, stuffing with apricots, golden raisins, drunken cranberries, capers and oodles of fresh sage and plenty of butter. it was just the three of us; quiet (well, not so quiet- shea & i were here) calm, serene- no political or religious arguments- a lot of looking around the room and realizing just how far i've come and how very very lucky i have been.

lots of laughter and hugging; a black man, a white woman and a light brown boy: nobody to mistake a voice with.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

because it's what we're supposed to do

today i am grateful for:
breath- in and out; slow and steady- sometimes erratic- sometimes stale- i don't care- as long as it comes and goes- danke
bones- brittle, strong- curved, straight, white - supportive- like an old friend- merci
skin- wrinkled & spotted- fair and sensitive- it holds my insides in- xie-xie
hair- dishwater blond- with a few greys- shorn- straight- unmentionable- loyal- always there- i can count on you- gracias
heart- cracked and repaired- missing pieces- but beating and feeling-arigato
ex- husband- thank you for your consistency in asshole-ness and douchey behaviour. thank you for pushing me to the point of no return; forcing me to make a painful and wretched decision- without your bad behaviour i wouldn't have struggled as hard as i did- through each let down finding myself; getting up and starting over; thank you for failing at your attempt to ruin my life- i am the strong independent woman i am today because of you.
sly- i am speechless here- forever i kneel in gratitude before you; you found me and you saved me from myself and you continue to love me in spite of myself.
austin- my goofy intellectual musician; struggling to decide, at 19 years old, what he should do for the rest of his life. i am eternally grateful for this boy/man who, no matter the situation, always makes me laugh- mahalo
mikey- my 22 year old- living overseas in egypt- extraordinarily sad today because he misses all of us stateside- trudging through and working to change the world minute by minute and day by day- shukran
abby- my only daughter- my beautiful girl- we haven't spoken in 2 years, but i am forever grateful for her existence- i admire her from a far- ask often about her and live on the perimeter of her life; always hopeful that someday soon we can mend our broken parts and love each other - obrigado
dad- a bigot when he was raising us- now the most amazingly serene father - peaceful and thoughtful- always behind us- moving each of us gently forward- go raibh maith agat
jo ann- a stepmother extraordinaire; patient and loving- never making us feel any less than hers- grazi
my friends- pat & janet; artist, crafter, mothers, wives, sisters, friends- i love you both and cannot imagine my life without you. thank you both for always listening- asante
shea- my sweet kind 3 year old- who loves to dance and eat cheese and all the food stuffs. a child who is endless in his love and joy- a miracle- an old soul- a breath of fresh air - salamat po

it seems so very cliche
to sit and think about all the wonders in our lives
it is so easy to spend time bitching and moaning
thinking of all that is wrong- all that we have fucked up; the friends we have hurt- money borrowed and not returned- mean things said- bad decisions made- drunk dialing- all of it
if we could only move to the present
see ourselves for all that we are
and all that we have to offer
and all that we have-

if we could encourage our children to write selfless lists of gratitude instead of selfish lists of wants

the world would be nicer

if we could every day, okay maybe that is too much, maybe once a week- overkill? okay- how about once a month?
if we could turn to the stranger- next to us on the bus, or behind us in line- ahead of us on the highway and silently whisper "thank you"

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

karma & bread pudding

the first time i had bread pudding i was not impressed- i was also very very frightened.
i had just been hired as a restaurant manager at a midtown location- on 9th avenue, between, oh let's say 48th & 51st streets- you figure it out.
i had been hired as restaurant manager and as managers do, i wandered in to the kitchen to check out the goings on.
i had been told by the waitstaff and bartenders that the food in said establishment was "okay" but as the days passed and shifts finished i noticed that none of the staff "ate in". they all ordered from local restaurants- i tried (HUGE mistake) to implement some rules during the course of my stay there. silly things like, no eating during your shift- (didn't work) no eating on the floor during your shift (uh uh) if you are going to eat at a table during your shift, could you in the very least, put the competition's food on one of our plates (with eye rolls, attitude and whispers they finally heard me).
i observed the kitchen and was apalled.
the "executive chef" was so bent out of shape- so mad at the world that watching him do anything was scary. he didn't care. he vented and cooked at the same time. it wasn't pretty. he accented his sentences with huge 'dashes' of salt.- really? really. so an animated story relaying a conversation with the owner could end with nearly one box of salt in a ten gallon pot of marinara. yum. sweaty sweatersons unite.
the "sous chef"  mixed meatballs with her bare hands, usually not a problem- the problem came afterward; she would stand for minutes and with a toothpick pick AND flick the meat from beneath her guinness book of world record nails.
i approached the owner.
he feigned being apalled.
he asked if i would be interested in eventually taking over the kitchen.
to which i repsonded an overly excited "YES".
the weeks passed
i watched the woman with the clapperclaws- do things:  make salads (which involved bags of gooey black mesculin through which one busy evening i was asked to pour it out onto a sheet tray and "pick out the green stuff"), pick pick, marinate chicken; pick pick, weed through shredded cheese picking out the moldy pieces; pick pick - and i watched her rip stale bread- rip rip pick pick oooo, found something- FLICK- and make bread pudding; far far from appealing or anything resembling anything i would ever put in my mouth (being old, i have had OODLES of things in my mouth). it was mushy and milky and she had touched it with those talons.....
the months passed and the owner announced "tomorrow you will take over the kitchen".
in all honesty, was i ready? no- was i excited? yes. scared? petrified- i had worked in kitchens on and off my entire adult life- and this wasn't five star dining- it was a bar that served food; i figured it would be great nyc experience.
i worked my ass off. literally and figuratively.
i quickly learned that the owner was not only aware of the disgusting and quite frankly illegal happenings in the kitchen- he was at fault- constantly up the chef's ass- dictating impossibilities and holding back funds- wherein the bar was making over $10,000 on a "slow" night he would constantly complain that he couldn't afford the labor in the kitchen (two full time cooks (moi and a mexicano) working 7 days per week). many paydays came and went where he would tell us; "i'm shawt on cash- i'll catch ya next week". 
blabbitty blah blab.
long story.
i worked there for a year.
seven days a week- in the very least 12 hours a day.
instead of getting better- everything got worse.
my pay was reduced.
and eventually i was fired and replaced by another cook the owner had hired to "assist me".
that's the karma part of my story; the old chef asked me "what's going on, am i going to get fired?" and i wasn't honest- i pretended i didn't know- because what the chef did was wrong- but i should have told him. i should have allowed him the dignity to walk out the door on his own and become an infection in another kitchen.
it was strange; almost like a silent film rolling above me- i could see my story playing out- unfolding- and i couldn't stop it-
but that's not the point
the point is my introduction to the existence of bread pudding.
which i have just made tonight for tomorrow's dessert.
don't forget sly & i have been baking pumpkin this and cranberry that- apple this and when we were planning our own thanksgiving meal, dessert planned first, we both just stared at each other; dumbfounded and over tradition.
i walked around whole foods in a stupor- being pushed and nudged and not caring- i somehow ended up near their chunked chocolate section....and the lights came on- there were little bakers dancing in my head- and a big neon light was flashing; BReaDpUDDingbREADpUDDinG
i grabbed challah, and a chunk of pure chocolate, whole milk, eggs, vanilla, heavy cream, and dried cherries.
with clean cut nails, i rushed home and started

warming the milk
adding vanilla- letting it sit
re-heating and adding the chocolate now perfectly shaved (after i nearly killed myself trying to CUT the chocolate, realizing as the knife slipped and dangled close to my abdomen "oh yeah, you shave it")-
i beat eggs & sugar and a dash of salt
i made chocolate ganash
i tempered the eggs and made chocolate custard.  i added diced challah and cherries and let it all bask and soak up the chocolate glory.

i LAYERED the soaked custardy bread/ ganache/ bread/ ganache
and now, it sits in the fridge
waiting to be baked
beckoning to be eaten
with a bit of creme anglaise.
the possibility exists that i may eat only bread pudding tomorrow
and forgo the usual thanksgiving fare.
i will eat the bread pudding
with a side of humble pie.
i will give thanks for custard and chocolate and bread
i will close my eyes in gratitude and offer a toast
"to karma".

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

a cute kid

here's the dilemma; i have this kid- and he's really cute- super cute as a matter of fact- and funny (okay sarcastic and fresh, but that's the beauty of being "older parents" we think he is charming and pretty much know how this all ends). okay, wait, i re-read that and it's wrong.  the dilemma isn't that he is cute- the dilemma is that he is really special- a mix of the west indies and queens; the color of cocoa with huge eyes and lips you want to kiss and hair that everyone touches. i'm not kidding- at the playground random kids run by and run their hands over his head. 'tis true.
this summer we spent months with my dad & stepmom at their beach house and now not only is the hair amazing in texture, but it is golden brown at the roots and a reddish blond at the tips (i SWEAR i did not have it done- look at my hair- it is obvious i am not that type). sly calls him "sugah- head".
so, we have this kid.
and he photographs like an angel (deceptive).
everyone says "he should be a model" and "you are crazy not to take him to an agent" and "if he were my kid he would be in magazines".
we are torn.
because, people are funny. wait. let me re-phrase. people are stupid.
sly & i have been in the restaurant industry for about 100 years combined (only like 30 years combined- but it feels like 100). we are both really good at what we do. whenever we cook for anyone the response is usually (chew chew mouth full of food) "ohmygawd" (chewchew) "youtwoshouldopenarestaurant".
we did.
well, not exactly.
we started out here in cyberspace- ridiculous and hard- but that's not the point.
the point is, the same people who told us how great we were have suddenly morphed into professional food/business critics. instead of hearing how amazing we are, we hear what we should be doing.
i've decided the worst sentence starts "you know what you should do?"- when i hear that i either want to (a) run for the hills or (b) respond "no, please in all of your infinite wisdom- please, pray tell- tell me what i should do." or (c) if i am premenstrual (which seems perpetual these days) i want to respond "no, actually i don't know what i should do, but you know what you should do? how about if you shut the fuck up".
back to the point- which so quickly gets so very far away from me.
everyone thinks we should model the kid- pimp him out, so to speak. which in some ways i think would be great for him. he is beautiful. he is social. he would have money for his future (i won't specify college here, as it will be his money to do with what he so chooses and don't even get me started about this country and how dumb we are when it comes to college.....)
sly & i are the type of parents that won't push the kid- don't get me wrong- we are excellent attentive parents, but we have older kids- grown and living life- we know the drill- we know what is important and that which doesn't matter.
it is obvious that we would probably get fired.
if the kid awoke and didn't want to go to a job, we wouldn't force him- he's only 3- give me a break.
likewise, if we were at a shoot and the kid wasn't feeling it, we would leave- again, he's only 3.
and i have a feeling that all of the people who told us how cute and amazing the boy is would now, on the flip side point out to us the damage we were inflicting upon his psyche exposing him to "work" at such an age.
life is funny isn't it?-
we never really know what we should be doing, until we do it and realize it isn't the right thing.

speaking of cocoa (remember? the kid is the color of cocoa?) last night we made a batch of amazing cocoa ginger bread- slightly sweet and moist- with fire-y bits of our own crystallized ginger. an amazing comfort food- i may not know what to do about the kid, but i do know that when i am finished here, i will toast said bread, smear it with ghee and share it with said kid.

Monday, November 22, 2010


you know how you love something- like pizza or sex and for an amazing few minutes in your life you have it everyday?
then- things change.
the pizza place changes hands or goes out of business.
your three year old makes regular middle of the night appearances in your room and you are too tired to do much more than move over and let him climb between you and the very hot west indian you are so very fortunate to live with?
you know how that happens?
well, we've been a little busy with some orders and we've been baking- but given the holiday- we've been baking specific; like pumpkin bread with drunken cranberries (ooo and a jaggery star anise topping) and focaccias (which make excellent h'ors douvres, side dishes, or if you are a vegetarian, you could forgo the turkey and eat focaccia instead- that is my plan- if only sly could make one in the shape of a turkey) and apple bread- you know, thanksgiving fodder.
today, we got an order for something un-thanksgiving-ish  and something, therefore, that we haven't made in a while.  cocoa ginger bread with bittersweet cocoa and crystallized ginger nibs.
can i get an amen?
it smells so good in here- orgasmic- if i may be so bold.
luckily, we've developed a method where we make a teeny piece of whatever it is we are baking (hello big stomach and ginormo thighs)- so we can "test" it to ensure it is good enough to go.
i was going to wait for sly to get home
but i couldn't control myself
aaaaaaAAAAAaaaahhhhh  aaaAAAAaaaaahhh (remember the song ariel sings in the beginning of the little mermaid?)
it is amazing
it is so so so good
i sit here in awe of myself and wonder how it is that we are not famous.....
and i'm not just saying "it's good" to make the bread feel confident. this isn't something you should lie about- honesty is an integral ingredient in ensuring satisfaction.
i am satisfied.

something remembered.
something good revived.
who knows what else will change?
maybe tonight we will have pizza.
maybe tonight the 3 year old will sleep in his own bed.

possibilities are always endless

Sunday, November 21, 2010

people with wooden spoons up their arses

ah the list is long- endless, really.
there are so many people out there who truly believe that they have all the answers - that they are better than the rest of us. the fucking know it alls-
i have my entire life, disliked clubs and teams- anything organized requiring multiple heads to make a decision, does not, in my lowly opinion, ever work- there is usually oodles of arguing and backstabbing and falsehoods, lying and fake smiles, hurt feelings and then disaster.
i hate all sports that require more than one player- for me it has always been; running, swimming, biking and yoga (and for a while power wine drinking whilst chain smoking). i'm best in sports with just me on the team; nobody relying on me to accurately catch an object or run in the right direction- nobody hoping that at some point the skinny stick in my hand might actually make contact with something- or that some day i may actually catch that 90mph ball headed my way- instead of my usual duck for cover after screaming "I'VEGOTIT!".
just me and the wind.
or the water.
unfortunately, sometimes clubs or teams are necessary; like when you are attempting to start a business on an unmentioned handmade website; teams become a highly recommended tool.
scour through team lists i did.
there were hundreds of teams to choose from; my favorites were the one person team; i was torn: i wanted to join but i didn't want to ruin their solo mojo.
teams for the over 40 artist
teams for artists over 50
teams for girls
teams for gays
teams for guys
teams for knitters
teams for beginners
teams for just out of the closet gay knitters who like to be alone on wednesdays with girls over 50
and then i found it
teams for food makers....aha- this sounded so right! and then? i read the rules. and then? i nearly died.
remember here, that we are not speaking of the james beard foundation- nor are we trying to get rated by the ny times; this is website for artists and craftspeople- (wherein it is difficult to be recognized as either when your medium is food)
that's not the point
the point is
teams were created to assist and encourage each other
or so the bi-line reads
until you read this joke ass of a club's rules:

"proof of licensing to work in your state required (we don't know the rules for all 50, but we WILL find out)
if you make dog food or cat treats, please provide us with health safety codes. if we find out you've lied (and we will) we will report you to the leaders of this website and you will be forever banished from our kingdom.
once you've passed the application process and we've accepted you,  you will be on a 3 month probationary period. (you've got to be fucking kidding me) during this time you may NOT list ANYWHERE that you are associated with our team. you may not refer to our team. you may not look at us. you must curl up in a ball and die". you must have sold at least 4,000,000 items and have 6,000,000 positive feedbacks. you must blog; said blog having first been published shortly after your mother named you. said blog must have 8 cajillion followers all of whom buy at least $20 of product per day". (okay, i added the last few but amazingly they fit right in and they are only an exaggeration in numbers.)
raise your hand if you are dumb enough to believe that because someone possesses a "food handler's safety certificate" this guarantees cleanliness and proper food preparation.
raise your hand if you are dumb enough to believe that all restaurants in nyc are clean and run above board- because in nyc every kitchen must have, in the very least one employee in possession of said certificate.
and if you believe all that you've read, i will tell you this
that all of the ingredients we use are homegrown- each & everyone- homegrown, organic, local, and fair trade.
we have an aviary upon our roof where each morning, after singing songs and playing guitar, i float upwards to retrieve fresh jars of honey.
after that i pull lavender flowers from my ass.....
i won't ever find success
apparently i am not a team player
i can't do it
i just can't be on a team where the requirements call for my head to live so far up my ass that i can see my tonsils
yes, i am agile- but everyone has a limit....

there may not be an "i" in team, but there is definitely a "me"-

oh, i nearly forgot
last night sly made kalamata & marmarbirlik olive & caramelized onion focaccias
they are beyond good
you should try one- while watching a team sport.

Friday, November 19, 2010

the name game

so yesterday i started to talk about our name- rude eve's and then i stopped.
today i am ready to share.
now before you read any further:
WARNING: this blog may contain politically incorrect terms- no offense at all is meant- please note that i am only taking from my real life (which includes my amazingly sexy beautiful west indian (black) partner, sly and our 3 year old who truly is the color of a cocoa bean).
okay, here we go
the name: rude eve's
"obvious" many think
her name is eve and she must be rude.
au contraire my friends, au contraire.
eve is me, 'tis tru
but rude is sly.

i have befriended and dated a few black men and one thing i have found to be true: they ALL have aliases; i'm not joking. and here i apologize in advance if i offend someone; i'm not sure the statistics- but these aliases must make it easier to cheat. just sayin.

i knew a keith, aka david
a joseph- who also went by ezra
there was nick, who was really bernard
and a rob sometimes called robert (not that strange i know, but his whole name- first and middle was: robert e. lee)

the list goes on & on & on.

white people don't seem to be as clever
my nickname as a child? evie
we dared to call my brother austin "aust" (crazy, i know)
my ex-husband was called mike by his family while i preferred michael (and at the end of our time (yes, like a prison sentence)- i liked "douche bag"- but that's definitely another story).
in high school i did know a muffy whom, i've since learned has spent her entire adult life trying to get back to her real name.

black people don't reserve these completely separate names and identities for men
it is the women too
i know a denise whom others call rell-rell
and there are others.

i'm sure i will stand corrected - i'm sure the name thing is cross- culture- i simply haven't experienced it in my culture.
in some ways it is BRILLIANT

think about it
you are dating keith
and you bump into an angry woman- a stranger you've never seen
she walks up to you
and accuses "you dating my man?"
and you think "what?"
and she says "c'mon, i know you dating david"
nervous at first because keith's behaviour is oft times sketchy you breathe a sigh of relief
"oh no" you respond "i'm dating keith"
and then the bitch slaps you
the other fact is
not only do black people have two names
all other black people have the secret code and they KNOW

back to rude eve's
i am eve
sly is rudolph
i did not know this when we first started dating
i may not have gone out with him, if i had known (kidding- have you seen his pictures i would've dated him if his name was shelly or cindy- who cares? just close your eyes and imagine my life- a calm hot man- with a beautiful accent, a calm demeanor - and he loves to cook and bake- hello? wwjd?)
i didn't know.
sometimes, when we were first an item and i was still drinking way too much wine
i would call him when i knew he couldn't answer so i could listen to his voice mail recording
and i never knew what he was saying
i got the last name
but it seems he didn't know his first name- or was stumbling over it
it seemed the wine was effecting my ears.
"you've reached blblb quashie, please leave a message"
i would ask friends to listen; quickly upon hearing his accent they too were sucked in and did not know nor did they care what he was saying.

once, we were walking together and this dude starts yelling "rudolph! ohmygod, rudolph!" and i of course, oblivious to this "two name world" kept walking- i did not realize i was alone until i crossed the street- i turned and sure enough sly was hugging "dude".

i walked back and was introduced
interjection: not only do black people "dual name" but when west indians get together and speak excitedly i have NO IDEA what is being said- i sit there stupefied- i don't even pretend to know anymore- i just sit and try really hard to pick out words i recognize....

i was dating sly
and then i met rudolph
same guy
same lover
different name

and at first i thought
"oh, here we go again" and i sort of winced waiting for some strange angry woman to bitch slap me in queens.

but she hasn't, not yet anyway.
the point is
sly was rude when he was younger subsequently, his mama started calling him "rude" and then "rude" grew to "rudolph"

so even though i am honest (if you ask me i WILL tell you) i am not rude
sometimes sly says i am- he thinks that because i grew up in madison, connecticut i am automatically in some category of snobbery (talk about profiling). i'm not rude. i will reiterate; i am honest- i calls 'em likes i sees 'em.
sly is rude.
and i am eve.
rude eve's, get it?

we thought about calling ourselves sly eve, but i didn't want people to think i was deceitful.

and now the food
caramelized onion focaccia- simply amazing
once you see it- you too will want to date sly, rudolph. sly. rudolph.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

was this the wrong name

for reasons i won't go into now (my morning blog time is limited) i need to state; there are good reasons the name rude eve's was chosen for our business.
the more we thought, the more we played, the more names tossed out there, the more i said it, the more i grew to love it.

was it a mistake?
one vendor actually said to me, after our order was confirmed, "phew" to which i replied "excuse me?" and she said "you are really nice, i mean, i was scared to talk to rude eve".
and i felt relieved
and oddly, sort of powerful.
not that i live wishing to intimidate people; unfortunately it is always the nice people who are nervous- never ever the assholes you despise.
i was a little proud-one of my peacock feathers stood a little brighter
and for one small moment, before i reverted back to myself
i felt kind of badass.

i liked it.

it leaves me to wonder
when did being honest become rude?
is it better to lie?
so a liar is nicer and an honest person is mean.
got it.

happy thursday

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

for the days you don't feel like it

be inspired
and be inspiring

gratitude and thanks

today we begin again. 
despite the grey weather. 
despite the shorter days.
despite ourselves sometimes, today we begin agnew.

i feel an enormous indescribable sense of gratitude towards my friends- who have so very generously gone to our site and ordered breads and focaccias.

if we had a brick & mortar place- if we had a shop with wooden shelves loaded with breads and glass showcases brimming with cheeses and dinners our friends would be there. 
if we had a shop with wooden tables covered in red checkered oilcloth ...with local art on the walls and shelves laden with books; our friends would come.
we would make a huge pot of chai
and for moment, we would take a break,
we would remove our aprons,
and wipe the sweat from our brows.
we would sit with our friends; pat & frank, janet & charlie, jenny, zilma & daniel, jo ann & auty, and bonny & sid. sly would tear a piece of just baked focaccia and pass it to his right- we would all follow- and before anyone took a bite we would say
to our friends
"this is what life is about
this is what we've dreamed of for a very long time; this here, right now, with you around us, is our best day and the one we want to remember for all days."
together we would eat
and chat 
and laugh
and love.

this is a great start.

thank you, friends.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

today isn't funny

i'm optimistic that in the last few days i've developed an inkling of a readership- a handful of people who will not only read this, but answer my question. please answer me.  my flaws are many- oodles of issues and handicaps- emotional, financial- self-made and world given- they exist in multitude; one constant in my life has always been hope.  without some semblance of hope what do we have? without a daydream or fantasy; without secret longing and internal conversations what do we have? isn't it true- hasn't science proven that humans are comprised of water, matter, love and hope?
when do we stop hoping?
is there a line? a map to follow? a calendar marked with a big red "x" and a message: "THIS IS YOUR LAST DAY TO HOPE, NOW GROW UP, GET A GRIP AND MOVE ONWARD; GIVE UP."?

since october 3, 2010 i have learned so very much- and achieved some things i never thought i could;  sly & i have given root to a dream-or maybe not root just yet- we've given it a roomy pot with lots of sunlight and plenty of dirt and water. (uniquely this wasn't his dream which i followed or my dream which he followed- individually we came into this relationship with a common dream)-  in a little over 30 days we've tweaked and created recipes-we've researched and read articles on bistros, bakeries, restaurants and such existing "without brick and mortar".  we've photographed and re-photographed, we've created/joined 3 selling sites- one completely our own; sweating and crying and cursing my way through- we created a web site- and now here we are.
we have a beautiful bakery in cyber space; our food is incredible and the ideas pour forth- and yet, nothing- we study and research and read some more. we ask and re- read and try to figure the best way to be seen- to be heard- (we need to be smelled- but that hasn't been developed yet).....
a few nights ago, my father & step-mother, both of whom have been hugely supportive and both of whom i adore, laid it out severely and honestly (as  parents of adults should)- asking or rather indicating that "it is time to look for a job".  they have been beyond incredible and beyond generous, helping us to find and get this place- co-signing our lease for us and helping us when we are short on rent and other things.
we aren't slackers; we are products of the economy; sly lost his job last december and culinary jobs paying enough to support a small family don't seem to exist anymore. we have our beautiful 3 year old boy and we both agreed from the beginning that we would sacrifice whatever it took to have me stay home- we want to raise this child ourselves- we live frugally and small- for 3 years we lived in a studio apartment in the projects of east flatbush, new york. we've recently moved to a one bedroom apartment in a safer beautiful area. we don't drive. we don't party. we don't go out. we don't buy ourselves or each other or our older children gifts. we budget on air. but we do this. for each other and for shea. we do this because we both failed the first time and i will be damned before i fuck this up again. i will not fuck up love.
sly has picked up a few gigs here & there- we supplement unemployment to the best of our ability; he worked a summer job as a sous chef at a camp in wisconsin- and now he cleans a doctor's office 5 nights a week.  and holding hands we walked to the self employed edge and we leapt.
we've started this dream; this bakery- with focaccias and breads- comfort foods and other food stuffs. we dream someday of having a store front- nothing huge- not a five star palace; a retail space.  we talk and brainstorm constantly as to what would be on our menu; how we would do things- we dare. we push each other. we dream.
after 30 days we've not much action- 3 orders, that's it. we twitter and facebook and blog. we create often and update our sites daily. we tweak out specials and eke out our lives; forging forward. a lot of days i am grumpy; moving about sighing heavily- bitching and moaning - we argue a little more now, but we are closer too. there is something else between us; another baby that we both adore equally one we both want to nurture and see grow.
what would you do?
when would you stop hoping?
except for a very brief time, when i was around 8 and i wanted to be a veterinarian, i always wanted to be an actress. i had a ridiculous amount of belief in myself; i was self assured and obnoxious- looking back now i imagine my parents and teachers must have disliked me enormously. i was arrogant, thinking subjects such as geometry and trigonometry were beneath me- completely living in a fantasy that i would have subjects to do my menial carpet measuring while solving my train vs. airplane travel dilemmas when i was famous in nearly failed math and argued the point of learning such blather.
i often wonder if i was good enough and further i wonder if my karma is completely kaput; shot, in the universal toilet because i didn't do what i was supposed to; i didn't use the gift i was given by god or the universe- (depending upon your belief system)- i do believe that are we are predestined- there is a plan- or a way- a path we are supposed to follow and i didn't follow mine. i gave up. i lost hope- i realized that although i may be talented i lacked the drive- or not so much the drive- i lacked the gumption to face critic after critic without crumbling.
when do you stop hoping?
when do you hang it up?
i have not spoken to my mother in nearly 3 years. in a twisted turn of karma, my own beautiful 24 year old daughter has not spoken to me in 2 years. i have nearly given up hope on a relationship with my mother; she won't ever change and probably neither will i. but i will NEVER give up hope that my daughter will come around and stop hating me so very very much.
i am divorced and it was a disaster; i made bad choices.  i crumbled. i had no faith in myself and it showed. i lost everything; most importantly i lost the privilege a parent has to see her children every day. i was ordered to pay child support and did, to the very best of my ability. i am now over $15,000 in arrears- money i won't ever have- not in this lifetime- and because i am in arrears there are freedoms i have lost: owning a bank account or any property, traveling where a passport is required. ironically- or with another twist of fate, my partner is from tobago- i will never go there- i am not allowed to travel outside this country- when the day comes for sly to go visit his elderly father- or his brothers or his beloved aunt the possibility is real that i will watch from the ground as he and shea take off.  i must believe that somehow i will be there too- to meet extended family- to introduce them to our child; to extend our love. although i know my ex-husband despises me, i cannot, i will not give up hope that someday he will forgive this debt. if i let go of hope i will suffocate. if i let go of this hope then i wonder; what is the point of going on?
i will never give up hope that my brother will someday get his shit together and get sober; that he will be all that he nearly once was.
i will never stop hoping that my sister will forgive whatever transgression against her i am responsible for. until my dying breath i will believe that she will, at some point, show up- really really show up and be present in our moment.
i will never stop hoping that one day soon i will stop worrying about the future, stop mourning the past and will live in this moment, in my amazing life; with my incredibly patient, kind, compassionate and calm partner sly and our boy; our beautiful cocoa bean miracle.
i have fallen and gotten back up; i have done things i am not very proud of and i have achieved things i never dreamed i would.
when do i give up?
in 90 days?
is there a guarantee that if i give up and i don't like it i can get my hope back?
is that it- is giving up hope the secret of life- or more accurately the secret of the end of life? do we give up? does the father leaving for work today, just like every other day know that he will be in a fatal car accident this afternoon? did he make some sort of secret agreement? did he give up?  does the old woman in the nursing home finally realize that her daughter isn't ever going to show up? does she make the secret agreement and give up? when she lays down tonight does she know that having given in she will breathe out and then forget to inhale?
is there a time in our lives when we are supposed to stop dreaming? and if so what becomes of our souls?
is there really someone out there with all the answers? and if not all the answers, maybe just a few?
the other day while visiting with a friend and expressing my morose feelings of responsibility for each and every down fall in the lives of my children my friend responded "oh, come on now, you aren't that important". i will never stop hoping that someday i will see and believe that i am not responsible for all bad things.  someday i will believe that none of us is that important but collectively and with an abundance of hope we are all important.
we are each other's lifeline.
we are each other's inspiration.
if you pull me through this moment- i will pull you through tomorrow.
i will never give up hope and i will never stop believing.  

Friday, November 12, 2010

age & the spice of life

life is interesting- how we see & perceive the very things in front of us; what we fear and what we cherish. how most of us fight age, never truly appreciating all that we've gone through to become who we are.

we try to hide our age with botox and other various forms of tweaking and stitching and plumping and pumping- unfortunately there are tell tale signs that no matter the effort cannot be hidden.

i am relieved and glad to be human and not a tree or a sheep. a tree cannot lie- you simply count its rings when it isn't looking and you know.  with a sheep you look at its teeth- the fewer the teeth the older the sheep and if there are no teeth- the old ewe (or ram)_is called a "gummer". humiliating and hard to hide.

with me the obviousness lies in my cooking. it is believed by many (mostly younger folk, in their 20's or so) that the older you get the duller and blander. not so in my life.  the older i get the better my cooking; say a recipe calls for "season to taste" in my mind that means "your age in peppercorns"- need fresh grated nutmeg?   then scrape that baby across the grater the number of years you turn next year.
and alzheimers can be a blessing. today for instance, i couldn't remember if i added ginger to my chai- i could've tasted it to determine the answer, but that would be too easy- why taste when you can re-season?

now you know, when you go for a holiday meal to that attractive woman friend (age indeterminable) of your  brother's uncle's mother's sister's friend,  and the meatloaf nearly knocks your socks off?  she is o-l-d.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

let's talk about ghee, baby

ghee is glorious.
ghee is gnarly (dude).
ghee is gratifying.
we use ghee. alot.
ghee is clarified butter- only better- not so fancy- it is butter with the water and milk solids cooked away; it stores in airtight containers for weeks, it has a higher smoking point than most vegetable oils and it tastes good.
ghee is the base for amazing; transforming the plain (the likes of scrambled eggs, or breakfast potatoes, or veggies) to extraordinary.
ghee makes dry goods moist.
ghee makes me smile..... 

how to make ghee
1 pound unsalted butter (keep in mind the better the butter the better the ghee)
heavy bottomed pot
your attention (no kidding, this is important- because the ghee talks and you need to listen)

place butter in pan over medium fire (heat)
butter will melt and then begin to murmur (sizzle)
like in pond or on the sea, a scum will form on top of the butter (after it bubbles for a bit- this is excess water, nothing gross in that)
do not let the butter murmur too rapidly, but keep in mind it must murmur (don't turn it down too low)
listen carefully
stay in the kitchen
stay present
once the murmuring stops, the ghee is finished
it should be, at minimum, the color of amber
immediately strain through a cheesecloth into a glass or metal bowl- i strain it into a glass measuring cup- for easier transfer to storage containers later. (avoid plastic unless you feel the need to clean up an icky mess- speaking from experience; it isn't pretty and leaves you feeling a bit daft)
before storing the ghee must cool completely
if it is stored too soon- it will sweat (never ever pretty) and the moisture that collects on the inside of the storage container will ruin your ghee.
store the ghee in several containers- this way, if one container becomes contaminated; through double dipping or improper storage you won't lose your entire supply.
keep in mind the ghee will "form" dependent upon the weather/ temperature in your home- 
solid ghee = cooler weather
liquid ghee = summer

the milk solids at the bottom of the pan are, well, quite honestly, yummy- on bread- or on your finger- decadently satisfying

ghee can be used in place of vegetable oil or butter
we use it pretty much for everything- toast, dried out baked goods, eggs, potatoes, sauteing (unless olive oil is called for).

it will change the way you see food.
it will change the way you taste things.

if only there were a way to smear ghee all over the world; what a better place it would be.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

authentic chai recipe

today i would like to share our chai recipe
are you crazy?!
have you gone mad?!
will people be calling me later to ask "are you okay? i noticed you shared one of your "secrets" online- broadcast to the world- should we come right over?" will the calls be so frequent and so many that i will be forced to remove my landline from its cradle (yes, i have a landline, no i don't have a cellphone).
i would worry if there were a readership- sadly, even my semi-retired parents are too busy to read me. last night, during our daily video chat i mentioned something about my blog to my father- ever so subtly he attempted to open a new tab and read the blog while i was talking to him. which was not only sad (and nothing near subtle) but distracting.  i could see his focus had completely shifted- his eyes were scanning something- and although he tried to locate the site quietly i could hear the click click click on his keyboard. to add the proverbial insult to injury, my stepmother joined in; standing behind him reading over his shoulder- so now i was chatting away- in live time- but nobody was listening.

i guess the power of the nearly non-existent readership is that i can write about anything or anyone i want to- honestly and boldly- without worry of hurting anyone's feelings- it is therapeutic to know i can rid myself of bottled up unwanted thoughts and fear no retribution, criticism or consequences.
tomorrow i will write about robes and how very much i despise them and how i truly feel about people who wear them- especially in the middle of day.

back to the chai.
indian chai is a spiced milk tea- in its original form it is made with rich black tea (not green, not decaffeinated- not 1/2 decaf & 1/2 green- it is made with black tea) 
the spices and sweetener are integral to its authenticity- if you don't like milk- you probably won't like chai-  f.y.i.- sweet n' lo and equal are not sweeteners- just thought you should know.
two of my biggest pet peeves?:  (a)when someone is given a recipe and the person takes it upon themselves to omit something from the recipe- "oh, i didn't have any garlic- i didn't think that would matter in the scampi recipe" and then they have the nerve to call you and tell you the outcome wasn't "quite right" and (2) when you ask someone for a recipe and they purposefully omit something like the baking soda or the cooking temperature- if you are unable to share a recipe honestly, why do you breathe? what must your life be like that you feel the need to hide your recipes away like some spoiled child at the playground with all the toys?

let's repeat for clarity: indian chai is a spiced milk tea made with rich black tea, spices and sweetener- each ingredient is necessary; other than the amount of spices you find pleasing, nothing else should be changed.

back to the recipe, which i will now share, apparently, with no one
depending on where you live, some of the spices will be easy to acquire- for others not so much- conveniently the chai kit is available on our site (simply click on the picture and voila! you are there!)

rude eve's chai tea
black peppercorns (45)
black cardamom (7)
green cardamom (30)
cinnamon sticks (3)
star anise (2)
whole cloves (20)
 freshly grated nutmeg
ginger powder (heaping tablespoon)
milk (3c)
water (2c)
sweetener (we recommend jaggery- but sugar or honey will work in a pinch) (if using jaggery - 2 heaping soup spoons)

please note, the spice amounts are a very personal thing- i like my chai spicy- hence, the number of peppercorns and amount of ginger- this is just a jumping off point- this is one recipe where you should customize to satisfy your own desires- i love to start my day with a spicy flush of decadence. 
the beauty of this drink is that it does become a personal morning ritual- not only does it make your house fragrant- it becomes an extension of yourself- requiring complete focus and attention-  a form of meditation; a morning's gift to others.

start with the hard spices in a heavy bottomed pan 
turn the pan to high 
once spices begin to <!pop!>
add hot water
and milk
add ginger, nutmeg and sweetener
leaving the temperature on high
bring the chai to a boil

do not leave your kitchen 
seriously, don't do it
i have made the mistake of walking out to use the loo and have returned to a sticky milk disaster- an over-boiled mess that is horrifying to clean up - requiring dismantling of the burners to access the "underneath part" of the top of one's stove

turn down and simmer covered for 15 minutes
add tea
turn off- cover and allow to steep
strain with a cheesecloth or teeny strainer
any leftovers can be stored in the fridge and enjoyed over ice or reheated later

a special shout out to the douchebag who lives in our building and has the privilege of illegally parking in our alley- for ignoring the fact that your car alarm has been going off for about 10 minutes. thanks for cutting into my early morning worktime- thanks for taking your sweet ass time to locate your keys- or your keychain- or whatever is necessary to shut the freaking thing off. thanks for waking up my 3 year old. i think the best remedy for this is for me to follow you to work tomorrow- where i will then join you, lying across your desk or sitting in the corner of your cubicle, through a bullhorn i will make annoying alarm noises while you try to get your shit together. 

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

cauliflower & collards

yesterday was one of those days- one of the uninspiring ones- it started cold & dank- i tried to get out early, before the rain- and was pelted with sleet. all the while walking i thought "this isn't good" and i longed for my warm bed (never that relaxing during the day as our 3 year old lurks about ('lurk' isn't the right word either- more "lives loudly about" would better describe him) our home- but a girl can dream that it would've been warm & quiet and relaxing).
it was only the second day of daylight savings and already i've had enough of bright sunny mornings - really what's the point of a bright sunny morning when it is so f'ing cold you can't go out into it? i despise the bright sunny mornings- they are a tease- and just when you get yourself into the bright sunny mindset- 5pm rolls around and the sun, like your spirits, is sinking.
sly & i spent part of the day, as we do- planning- reading- pouring over articles in old magazines and cookbooks-  working on new ideas to add to our repertoire. the subject of dinner came up; which one would think in a house where two people love to cook- would be the subject du jour. "dinner? yes, how lovely, i was thinking, capers sauteed in butter- with root vegetables and garlic" and a response "really, because i was thinking something lovely and roasted in the oven with fresh bread and greens".
no. uh uh. no way. nyet. nein. non. it isn't like that.
dinner is a topic we like to avoid; apparently, too early in the day, every day, i make too big of a deal out of it. and sly doesn't love to talk about it- he likes to just let it happen. i don't like living that way- the "just go with it, let it find itself way" but i am really really trying.
so sly doesn't love to plan dinner and he isn't usually the one to say "hey, lets go out today!"
as i began, yesterday was weird- and the next occurrence made it doubly so. around 2 o'clock sly got dressed and said "i'll be back". normally, like a small child watching their favorite parent ready to leave, i would panic and quickly try to dress so that i too could go, but as i mentioned, yesterday was strange- i didn't really care that he was going.
sly left and i stayed - with the kid- we did blocks and puzzles and colored- we played computer games and i actually had a moment where i thought "okay, the winter won't be that bad" until i looked at the clock and realized it was only 2:45.
sly got home around 5- in a flurry with bags he was excited.- he had gotten two new 1/2 sheet pans- which is exciting (any new equipment is always fun & inspiring) and he had gotten cauliflower and collards.
honestly? two years ago, i probably would've gone into our room and quietly cried- or i would've been bitchy- and said something smarmy dripping with sarcasm, like "oooo, cauliflower & collards- yum, thanks for including me in tonight's dinner plans".- but i held my tongue, when it comes to food and life, i've learned to trust sly. plus he was excited.
i left the kitchen- i always offer to prep for him- an excuse to just be around him- to be close to him- but he said 'no thanks'- so i went to find my 3 year old playmate and we "did" trains.
i heard chopping 
and the burr mixer
and then i smelled heaven.
sly had burred garlic &  olive oil, fresh thyme and scallions- he quartered the cauliflower and made a rub with the fragrant puree, finishing with salt- he put the cauliflower on the new sheet pans and into the oven.
he julienned onions and minced more garlic and ginger- in a hot pan of sesame oil he sauteed the collards with tamari & rice wine vinegar.
we took frozen homemade kalmata & marmarbirlik olive focaccia from the freezer- and i made kasmati rice. 
we feasted like royalty.
the house smelled amazing
the food was fragrant and divine. the roasted cauliflower was nutty - and not ever my favorite vegetable- not even a top twenty- i cleaned my plate and the serving bowl with bits of focaccia and then my fingers.
it was comforting. 
as i got up to do the dishes i thought, maybe winter won't be so bad, afterall.

Monday, November 8, 2010

a little bourbon is good for the soul

today i awoke feeling slightly askew- indescribably as if i were leaning a bit to the right (no political meaning here- leaning to the right couldn't be farther from who i am). i attempted to do my daily yoga- but struggled through every pose; unable to hold anything requiring one leg off of the ground- i kept teetering and then falling to the right.
i had this feeling- that i needed to be straightened out- and i don't mean like when you were a kid and your cousins were visiting and little tony was acting out and your dad would say to your mom after they left, "leave him with me for a week, i'll straighten him out". - i meant it in a chiropractical sense- i longed for someone much taller than me (not hard to find that person- my 3 1/2 year old nearly qualifies) to stand behind me; placing one of their large hands flatly on either side of my head they would firmly lift me up off of the ground a few inches and give me a good shake. that is what i needed; to be shaken up and out.
i realized, once i snapped out of my straightening out fantasy bubble, i was starving.  i went to the kitchen to make some chai and lo & behold i noticed, sitting in a ray of morning's light beaming as if from heaven shining upon our counter was one the wee pumpkin breads baked last night. it was as if god were speaking to me- willing me to pick it up and eat it.
i complied.
it was a celestial morning treat- traditional and new; pumpkin, crunchy pepitas, drunken cranberries- and a light topping- a simply tasteful marriage of jaggery and warm autumn spices.
with the very last bite, i felt adjusted.  could it be the bourbon soaked cranberries i wondered as i opened the fridge and reached for another? no matter, i simply know that moments before i was feeling lousy- out of sorts- off kilter and askew- then i ate one of our miniature magnum opuses and now i feel as right as rain.
true. story.