20 January, 2010

It is winter, work is stressful, the nights are long...and so I have a renewed enjoyment of cooking. It is so nice to come home, close the door, put my purse and any reminders of my professional self to the side, and start creating something nourishing.

I love the sense of anticipation that comes with pulling out vegetables, garlic, chicken, spices, wine...disparate things requiring different preparations, combined together at various times and temperatures...Will something coherent (and -- please, God -- delicious) actually come of this? Each time it's still a little surprising to me.

This recipe is one that has become a favorite of ours over the last few months. I must admit, we use chicken, not being huge tofu junkies. The recipe calls for peanuts to sprinkle over top, but I also love to top with shaved coconut. Best enjoyed with a good Riesling and good company.

04 January, 2010

stammering fragments

I read it in your word, learn it from the story
of those gestures with which your hands
cupped themselves around each fledgling thing -
warm, encompassing, wise.
You pronounced live strongly and die softly
and ceaselessly repeated: Be.
But before the first death murder came.
With that a rent tore through your perfect circles
and a scream broke in
and scattered all those voices
that had just then come together
to sing you,
to carry you about,
their bridge over all abysses -

And what they have been stammering since
are fragments
of your ancient name.

-Rainer Maria Rilke, from The Book of Hours (1905)

03 January, 2010

Milk's leap toward immortality

One of the best gifts I received for Christmas was a giftcard to the Cowgirl Creamery, a DC cheese-lover's mecca. This is a small wonderland of [live and active] cultural gems from all around the world...As I walk in and am overwhelmed by the air's pungency, I am at the same time mesmerized by the wheels of cheese on the counter. Each one is distinct and beautiful...Some distract with their lightning bolts of blue and green mold rippling through them. Others are rubbed smooth and conceal a creamy pure interior under deep red or grey rinds. They come from England, Italy, Wales, France, Switzerland, Spain, the Netherlands...Diverse manifestations of human exploration of the possibilities in milk, curds, whey, air...

So in the photo above, starting with the top right:
-Red Hawk, one of Cowgirl Creamery's own cheeses. It's a pungent triple-cream cheese that is only aged for 4 weeks, during which time it's rinsed in a brine solution and develops a lovely pale orange rind.
-Wilde Weide Gouda from South Holland. Normally we think of Gouda as a smoked cheese, but this was not -- the girl in the shop used the descriptive "butterscotch" when she recommended this to us, and it did indeed have a wonderful subtle sweetness. I did pick up on a butterscotch or caramel sort of taste. I liked this one quite a lot!
-Pecorino Ginepro from Emilia-Romagna, Italy. This was very intriguing! The rind is rubbed with balsamic vinegar and olive oil, then covered with juniper berries, giving it the very dark rind you see above. One of my friends smelled it before tasting, and recoiled in disgust, saying that it smelled like a foot....I must admit, it did...But as we all tried what was subsequently dubbed "the foot cheese," we were surprised by how mild, pleasant, and smooth it was. Cheese is a deceptive food, indeed.
-Stilton from Nottinghamshire, UK. Very strong, very rich, very delicious!
Wensleydale with cranberries (not sure where this was made...a friend brought it)

The two favorites of the evening seemed to be the Gouda and the Pecorino, although each cheese was greatly enjoyed by all! I might ask for another giftcard for my birthday next month...because there is so much good cheese in the world, and so little time!

01 January, 2010

We are quiet most nights. There is much that we need to say, but our words are too childish for the task. So our eyes meet and apologize, and we hope that just being together is enough. We hope a lot of other things, too. It is the day for arranging hopes into lists and resolutions and daydreams about a year from now. Even the trees are supplicant, stretching their naked branches to the clouds for covering until spring comes to relieve their shame.

We hope that our parents are proud of us. We hope that our siblings do more with their youth than we did. We hope that sorrow teaches us to love more, not less - to open our arms to all of life rather than follow the urge to bury our faces in our hands 'til it's all over. We have these big hopes and we have small ones, too: we hope that we will read all of the books on our lists, that the blue jeans won't be quite so snug someday, and that spring will come quickly to bring blossoms to the apricot tree and color to our father's cheeks.