Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
I love the end of August and September, shorter days, crisp cool mornings and evenings, the changing color of the leaves. But most of all I love the activities of setting up my fall pantry. The harvest season. I must have been a pioneer or a farmer in my previous life, working the land to make my home and feed my family.
I am wired to wake up at the crack of dawn, even before then on most days. Heading out in the dark early morning to the farmers market to gather my tomatoes, green beans, corn, and basil
I have a fall routine, a ritual if you will of getting our pantry ready for the fall so that all it takes is cracking open a can of roasted tomatoes, opening a bag of fresh corn off the cob, slathering in the pesto, tossing in a can of my own garbanzo, black or pinto beans, adding some roasted red pepper, a dollop of homemade apple sauce, rubbing a roast in my own spice blend. I can, I roast, I toast, and I freeze. I love it
If you were to visit in the cold dark months of December or January you would have a sensory experience and a meal you would never forget. I am likely to make authentic Hungarian Gulyás with my canned fire roasted red peppers, shrimp tossed with pesto, smoked pork butt rubbed with my own Latin spice rub with real black beans and caramelized onions, roasted tomato soup or a cheddar corn chowder, a sandwich on sourdough with homemade pesto, homemade mayo layered with roasted chicken and gouda. And if you liked Indian food you would experience the aroma of complex toasted spice blends that are made in small batches just so they stay fresh. You probably wouldn’t even notice that you were eating gluten-free
It is a major undertaking and consumes my every waking moment for nearly 6 weeks and I have not even mentioned the honey harvest that we hope for every year. It is the only time of year you are likely to find me awake past 10. I occasionally have a gluten-free pizza delivered if the canner is running late into the evening. I pop over to the Minnesota State Fair for safely fried French fries in between canning runs. There is plenty of coffee, fresh squeezed lemonade and tonic water to carry me through the days.
Thabo Lama would have loved these days, so much to do in the kitchen, so much to smell and test. I think he would have been particularly partial to husking 100 ears of corn and removing the kernels from the cob. I miss him dearly but it seems he rubbed off on Ziva Jane. We are only into day two but so far she seems to be keeping her ear to the rattle of the pressure canner and checking it all out. She is easily distracted however and likes to screw up my small kitchen T.V., pressing buttons in such a manner that getting the signal and CNN back is a frustrating undertaking. I am grateful for her company even if she is a little trouble.
My go-to pesto recipe is easy and freezes well. I tried many variations and suggest you do to. Personally I like toasted pine nut but you can use any kind of nut. Regardless of what you choose, toasting is worth the effort. You can back off on the garlic or hold back on the pepper. I freeze small portions in various sized airtight containers and even use ice cube trays for really small portions. I do cover the top with a thin film of olive oil and plastic wrap
4 cups fresh basil, tightly packed
½ cup toasted pine nuts, cooled completely
5 cloves of garlic, minced
2/3 cup freshly grated parm
1/3-cup good olive oil
In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade puree the toasted nuts and garlic. Add the basil, salt and pepper and puree for about 30 seconds after the basil has become incorporated. Slowly add the olive oil and then add the cheese, mixing together.
Monday, August 22, 2011
’In the short walk of this life
We have had our share of joy.
Let us hope to meet again
In the youth of our next life’
Sixth Dalia Lama
It started out as an endeavor to boost Tina's spirits after her Sophie died this past Christmas day. Two kittens, Ziva Jane and Thabo Lama, litter mates. They were born on October 24th and joined our family in January. It turned into a kitten, Thabo Lama becoming something to me that I never imagined possible. Tina says I was Thabo's special human, and it is true. I became his special human in no short order.
Perhaps it was the time of year, cold, dark and lots of snow that helped the two us hunker down and forge this special relationship. Perhaps I was finally ready. I don't know. All I know is that I loved him dearly and he filled my days with joy. I love Ziva Jane too but she took to Tina like white on rice. We spent hours in the kitchen and every evening after TIna came home from work the four of us played and cuddled in bed. Tina would put them in their room every night around midnight and I would get them up at 5:00 am. We had long days filled with endless fun. I am grateful to have so many wonderful memories and photos of him and while this one is perhaps not the best, it does portray his character and his enthusiasm for human food. I have written about this little personality of his many times but here he is standing guard of the turkey I roasted. He kept this position for the better part of 6 hours staring at the oven while the turkey roasted and then watching it cool for at least 3 hours, without moving!
I always knew there was something not right about Thabo Lama. I couldn't quite put my finger on it but it went beyond his crazy clamoring for people food and his relentless medical problems that took us to the vet week after week after week. He stayed kitten like for way too long, both physically and developmentally. But it didn't matter, I was completely attached to him just as he was.
Thabo Lama was liberated to his rebirth during the early hours of this morning. I received some unforeseen Karma just before his passing. I spent Sunday evening surrounded by my Tibetan American friends at an event for The Venerable Palden Gyatso, a Tibetan Monk and freedom fighter who spent over 33 years tortured in chinese prison camps. It is only because I saw my friend Nancy that I was able to give Thabo Lama a fitting send off to his new life. Nancy reminded me that I had some Mani Pills which I had received directly from His Holiness The Dalai Lama. She told me I could use them for an easy, swift and auspicious rebirth and good health in his next life. It wasn't easy, but I felt so much better after giving Thabo Lama the Mani Pill and reciting Om Mani Padme Hum. I will be forever grateful for my connection with Nancy the night before Thabo Lama was liberated.
I am grateful too for my loving wife and partner who empowered me in my new found connection to this kitten. We would have never gotten these two kittens were it not for her. Patrick and Trudy, you will never know how much your support has meant to me in the past week. I am imbued with your kindness. So many others that have buoyed me this past week, Sherri, Helen, Kristen. . . And Paula for being with me this morning to help me tend to the logistics of Thabo's death.
We have donated Thabo to Dr. Greene and the University of Minnesota in the hope that he may help them better understand the rare condition of Feline Pituitary Dwarfism. In part because Tina and I are both academics, while Tina is the only practicing academic in our home I have been on the faculty of several colleges in the Twin Cities over the years, teaching nursing. We both value education and research and hope that Thabo Lama can further that endeavor.
We had a great team of people behind us, our breeder Lauri who never left our side and has extended herself way beyond reason, the folks at Grand Ave Vet who loved this little guy as well and especially Dr. Joe Greene, from the University of Minnesota, who was able to diagnose Thabo Lama in a matter of moments and guided us through the last two weeks of his life.
All of you are the best I am grateful to have you in my life and on our team, even if only for a moment.