Serenade: a sister poem

January 28, 2019

 

 

 

Serenade

 

 

In brown-skinned summers,
You and I, sun-stung
From looking for tomato bugs
Would run to the rickety ice-house
Where Grandpa would teach us
The secret of watermelons.

Dappled-skinned melons were best.
Grandpa would squint, study, pluck
Only the choicest of suspects,
Rap his gnarled knuckles hard–
Knocking.
Knocking for secrets, seeking the sweet.

Crouch-down anxious, we’d wait
As Grandpa clicked his pocketknife,
Cutting hard circle
Into innocent flesh.
His foolproof method only failed twice,
Yielding dry melons
He fails to remember.

Sunset. Drugged with heat and dust,
We bit into crimson–
Let it bleed down our arms, bugs be damned,
Spit seeds into the evening
Shooting at the gray goose that hissed,
Extra points if we plundered backside.
I loved you then.

Sometimes, over your second
Gin and tonic of the evening,
You will throw your head back, laughing
Pearly picket-fence teeth bared,
And for an instant, I see the girl
Of our watermelon summers
Knocking.

~August 1994

{ 4 comments }

Crack Brussels Sprouts Salad

January 14, 2019

Well, hey there. It’s been a while.

And I feel bad, because I promised the recipe for this shaved Brussels sprouts salad weeks ago, and so many of you were super excited to try it and then my body flaked on me.

Because it is, ahem, me……nothing has been resolved yet. Lots of tests, lots of different doctors, enough blood drawn to feed a coven of vampires. No answers. We’re still looking.

It’s all been pretty bad, especially almost ruining Christmas with this bullshit, and I feel seriously guilty. My body may be cursed but I am familially blessed, because my husband and the girls and my Daddy-o have been incredibly understanding and generous and helpful these past few weeks. Having an extra driver in the family when you’re seeing double of everything is a lovely bonus, as well as having a Dad who is willing to drive a whole 2 hours to pick you up from a party in the MRI machine at an ungoldly hour of the morning.

My husband, poor guy, has been running this sinking ship without complaint and toting me all over town to appointments and doing crap errands and I don’t deserve him but I’m keeping him. Even if I have to lock him in a cage.*

 

Those of you who follow me on Facebook also know that I rang in 2019 by fainting on my stupid face. Who the Hell faints on their face?

Me, apparently and I have a whopper of a black eye, which wasn’t funny at first but now I think it’s kind of hilarious. I mean, it’s just my face, right? Plus, it gives me an excuse not to leave the house.

Bit of advice: if you’re coming off enough steroids to kill an elephant, don’t go strolling around solo in the middle of the night.

 

But back to this salad, yo.

 

 

It’s crack.

I did not anticipate falling in love with this salad but I fell hard and fast. I made this salad right after Thanksgiving and I ate almost the entire batch myself and then made more and jealously hoarded it even though my husband loves it, too. I adore the man, but hands off my shaved Brussels sprouts salad, mmkay? I am ashamed to admit that I have made FIVE more batches of this salad since (and it makes a ton) and scarfed it right down.

A few things of note:

~It is worth it to make an extra trip to Whole Foods or wherever you can find pre-shaved Brussels sprouts. In a pinch, when I could only find whole Brussels sprouts, I halved them and put them through the food processor. It’s a pain in the arse. Especially if you are a lazy cow like yours truly. BUT. If you can get ’em shaved by someone else, do it. If you can’t, buck up and get out the Cuisinart, because you need this thing in your life.

~You will notice that there’s a ridiculous ratio of cheese and nuts to Brussels sprouts. This is no accident. Do not, do not, do not skimp on the cheese and the nuts. They transform this salad into something special and crave-worthy and it’s still a danged Brussels sprouts salad for God’s sake so listen to me and do not be stingy.

~I rarely use bottled salad dressings because they are notorious for containing crap olive oil but if you have a good, favorite raspberry vinaigrette, do it. I’ve listed my favorite below. A slightly sweet vinaigrette works wonders here as a contrast to the sharp, salty cheese.

~This salad is quite accommodating in that it can hang out in the refrigerator for several days and still be delicious. Mine never lasts more than 2 days, but if you’re not a glutton, don’t worry. It will keep.

~Get the criminally expensive, imported, sharp Pecorino Romano cheese. You. Are. Worth. It.

 

All right. Go forth and Brussels, young troubadors. I love you.

 

Crack Brussels Sprouts Salad

serves 8-ish, unless you are a frigging addict

 

2 12-ounce packages shredded Brussels sprouts (I get mine at Whole Paycheck)

1/2 cup thinly sliced shallot

1/2 teaspoon salt + more to taste

1/2 teaspoon pepper + more to taste

1/2 cup chopped flat leaf parsley (or 1/4 cup chopped fresh tarragon)

1 1/2-2 cups shredded Pecorino Romano cheese (I grind mine in the food processor, and advocate for 2 cups, but I am a salty cheese machine)

1 cup roughly chopped toasted walnuts (hazelnuts or almonds would also work, but do toast them)

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (I add more)

2/3-3/4 cup your favorite raspberry vinaigrette (I use Brianna’s Blush Wine Vinaigrette) or balsamic vinaigrette (if you use balsamic, add about 1 tablespoon sugar to the dressing)

1/3 cup pomegranate seeds or dried cranberries (optional but purty)

grated lemon zest (optional)

 

In a large colander, massage the shaved Brussels sprouts and the shallot with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper for a minute or two. Let drain over a bowl for an hour.

Discard any liquid in bottom of bowl.

Add parsley, cheese, red pepper flakes and 2/3 cup vinaigrette and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Taste for seasoning and add more salt, pepper or vinaigrette to your liking. Depending on how fresh your Brussels sprouts are, you might need more vinaigrette but tread lightly. Toss in nuts and pomegranate seeds.

 

This keeps well in the refrigerator for a couple of days, if you can keep yourself from Hoovering it down.

 

* Okay, okay, you’re right. My husband deserves his share of the dang crack salad. I’ll be better.

 

{ 9 comments }

 

I have no idea how it’s already two weeks until Christmas. I always think I’m going to be so organized, so prepared. I especially thought that I’d have my crapola together this year, since Thanksgiving came relatively early in November. An early Thanksgiving is a gift, am I right?

You don’t want to see the mammoth freakshow scramble that happens over here when Thanksgiving falls on, say, November 28.

It’s not a pretty sight, folks.

On years like that, I’m tucking the freshly carved turkey carcass under my arm, bolting through the dining room, hucking it into the garbage like Tom Brady and hollering, “Run down to the basement to get the tree skirt and the fig wreath, STAT.”

I don’t like myself much those years.

Despite the extra days of padding this year, I’m not faring much better.

Good News:

~most of the gifts are purchased, since I shop online for everything. I’d rather be slathered in hog fat and forced to wrestle Tonya Harding than face the Megamall during the holiday season.

~Miss D. is racking up the service hours for her leadership club by wrapping gifts this year. Mein Gott! Magnifique! Bien! Yee-Haw Dawgies! I’ll still have to wrap her gifts, but that is why God made gift bags.

~The house is decorated, which is so, so hard for me since Mama died. I dread it now and get all Scroogey and pinch-faced about it. Miss D., bless her soul, took pity on me this year and helped me finish the job in record time. I am not going to pretend that it’s anything fit for Southern Living Magazine (maybe White Trash Living Magazine?) but it’s done and it’s enough for us.

~Since the girls get out of school so late this year (December 20), we decided to streamline holiday baking. We’re only making two kinds of holiday cookies this year. And honestly, if you add some ice cream, do you really need much more?

~A perky, adorable little foster kitten. This tiny ginger fluff is giving us lots to laugh about right now. Is there anything cuter than the antics of a kitten?

 

 

Bad News:

~A perky, adorable little foster kitten. This tiny ginger fluff thinks all of the Christmas decorations are his personal playground. He’s broken three things and counting. Sometimes there are cuter things than the antics of a kitten.

~Panic attacks, insomnia, other physical stinkery. It’s boring so I’m done talking about it.

 

Good News:

~Christmas comes anyways, even if you are not quite yourself. And hopefully it makes all woes fade for just a bit.

~Wrangling with the energetic kitten, the physical/personal bullshit and the general insanity of the season has led me to the following decree: Until Christmas Eve, we are eating the simplest, most basic, plant-based, nourishing food possible.

It has been decided.

Well, 3 out of 4 members of our family will be doing so. Littlest Minx wants nothing to do with this plan and that’s okay. Enjoy that chicken nugget, child.

I’ll start us off with this slow cooker loaded cauliflower soup. It’s not utterly austere, given the lovely garnishes of cheese and bacon, but you can’t have a “loaded” anything without those two flavor bombs, and the rest of the dish is virtuous as heck, so allow yourself a little room for fun.

This thing is drop-dead easy and quite tasty, although I will say: it’s not going to fool you into thinking you’re eating that loaded baked potato calorie bomb soup that you get at a restaurant. You might as well eat a cheeseburger if you eat that stuff.

This will ease you into the Season of Excess quite nicely. It’s yummy enough to savor but you won’t hate yourself in the morning. Not a bad bargain.

 

Slow Cooker Loaded Cauliflower Soup

serves 6

slightly adapted from Cooking Light

 

6 bacon slices, chopped

1 cup chopped leek, white and light green parts only

1/2 cup chopped celery

4 minced garlic cloves

8 cups chopped cauliflower florets and stems (from a 2 1/2-pound head)

3 cups low sodium chicken broth

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

3/4 cup half and half

2 ounces extra sharp cheddar cheese or white cheddar cheese, shredded

chopped chives

 

Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium, stirring often, until crisp, about 5-7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to a paper towel to drain. Discard all but 1 tablespoon drippings.

Place 1 tablespoon drippings in a slow cooker with leek, celery, garlic, cauliflower, chicken stock, salt and pepper. Cover and cook on low for 4 hours or until tender.

Remove 1 cup vegetables from slow cooker and chop into chunks.

Pour remaining mixture into a blender and add half and half. Vent blender to allow steam to escape, cover with a towel and puree. Alternatively, you can use a stick blender to whirr everything together until smooth. Transfer mixture back to pot, add reserved vegetables and warm through.

Top each serving with bacon, cheese and chopped chives.

{ 2 comments }

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