Looking into the Abyss OR the Pleasure Dome

(Memoir/Fiction)
60 is a very pivotal age for the Baby Boomer. Ten years apres finding that First AARP in the mailbox… the lilting ring of I’m 50 something replaced by the thudding sound of Yeah Man, I’m 60. The reality that there are more days behind you than ahead… and depending on your world view… this could be the beginning of staring into the Abyss or racing into the Pleasure Dome. After all, we were the generation that was going to change the world…baby if I cooould channnge the world…Remember.


So here I am almost sixty (technically I am still fifty-nine) but when the ball drops next month I will be throwing rocks as they say, at sixty so why not claim it now…it will lessen the shock…and make it easier to mouth the words when some Uncoth type asks me my age. Not that I have any problem telling them…but why is it really important? Does it tell them Anything really relevant about who I am, where I’ve been, what I’ve done, and more importantly what I am about to do. Like leave this establishment as soon as I finish this drink because this conversation is boring me to thoughts of suicide or better yet homicide…His.
When did I become so impatient with men…people in general…but especially men in my age bracket…knowing what they are about to say before they engage their brains and let their mouths belie their intelligence. Able to spot an Old Playa from across the room or right up in my face whispering that I should remember his phone number without bothering to ask mine.
I think most Boomer women would appreciate it more if men just knew how to graciously accept their age and flow with it. This obsessing over younger women who see nothing but dollar signs when they look at them and the constant need to put down the women who really are in their age category has made many of my sisters declare that the war is over.

I should be stickaforkinme done but every now and then I allow myself to traverse down that road. Often because of an unexpected gift- a smile- given to a Stranger as I am leaving say… a business mixer.
He said his name was L and the smile on my face made him think I was up to something. I was. Trying to get home after two drinks of Grey Goose from a friendly bartender at the first stop followed by another less generous pour at this place. The silly grin was, I admit, Goose induced and He just happened to open the door as I was trying to gracefully ease out of the place.

     After depositing my distinctive blue business card in his hand and declining to remember his whispered digits, I found myself mildly entertaining thoughts of his phone call and what might ensue. He was charming enough and had the balls to approach me so I was intrigued.
     And then reality set in as day three or four since our encounter and no phone call. I put thoughts of him out with the smelly trash and immersed myself in grading yet another freshman essay about the horrors of abortion, war and gun control.
And then he called – very formal tone- as if he wasn’t sure I would answer. The conversation was brief. He was on his way to have his car inspected and I guess thought he would ring me up on the way. Not too impressive I thought for a first call since I seemed to be part of his errands for that day. And when he abruptly arrived at his destination the call ended and his promise to return the call shortly did not materialize for another 24 hours.
This time it was at my insomniac hour. I guess he didn’t believe I would really be awake but unfortunately for him I was already engaged on the phone with a close friend and ironically at the moment he called was sharing something about Him with her. I told him I would call him back which I did some two or three hours later… all is fair in love and war…and got his voicemail.
      The phone remained silent for the rest of the day and finally later that evening over sushi and a second glass of wine in a new spot downtown, I did break down and call him as he had suggested just to see what his reason was for ignoring me. Yet another voicemail that signaled he was otherwise engaged. This is going nowhere fast and time to pull the ripcord.  So I decide I will not entertain this nonsense any longer because those freshman essays are still piled on my living room floor ungraded.

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Friday rolls around and I decide to treat myself to some seafood in the form of Cioppino which usually is reserved for holidays or special occasions since the ingredients are so costly…shrimp, clams, mussels, cod, halibut, salmon, lots of garlic, tomatoes and of course white wine…but I tire of reserving things for special occasions.

     I trek to Whole Paycheck and purchase the necessary ingredients together with those for Muffaletta, a shamefully greasy salmon /spicy ham/three kinds of cheese and a slathering of olive salad on French bread kind of sandwich that has become my latest passion.
     Armed with these pricey ingredients and a bright yellow blast of daisies, I surrender to the peaceful hum of my kitchen and prepare the succulent seafood stew when the phone rings and surprise, surprise…It is none other than elusive stranger. I decide to just slice through the small talk when he tells me he is on his way to a Sushi joint near my hood. And announce that I am making the best seafood dish ever and invite him over to sample my cooking.

     Within minutes he appears at my front door, not as dashing as I remember from the dim lights of the club doorway but congenial enough and anxious to see if I can really cook. Since he appeared without so much as a bottle of wine, I offered him some  Sauvignon that I was using in the stew.
The conversation was pleasant, informational, non threatening as I put the finishing touches on my shellfish feast. He had never had Cioppino and as I instructed him how to sop up the broth with the Italian bread, I could see the pleasure spread across his face… that look which tells the cook he has eaten something truly divine.

     Before I had a chance to offer him some fruit and cheese for desert –organic pears and buttery smooth Havarti- He announced caveman style that he had other plans for the evening and had to get home and prepare himself.
    I smiled sweetly to cover up my agitation. A smart guy would never have been this rude and a young guy would have been anxious to see what was for dessert. Schmuck!
Now I could really see him for what he was…an old has been who needed a good hearing aid instead of that earring in his ear. Who fancied himself a Playa when Senior Citizen more accurately described him. I quickly closed the door on both the cold winter night and him. (Note: This is My Version of Fiction. Your Comments Appreciated!)

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Hacking Recipes

Reader, This is part 2 of my abbreviated Foodie post from last week in which I shared some thoughts/pics on Foodism ( not a word).

Lest you think I am only a Restaurant-goer, here are some pics and back stories representing my own home cooking abilities ( all the single men gasp and drop their remotes…dang a woman who can rattle those pots and pans…where is she?)

A few years ago, I learned how to batch cook . In fact, I had been doing this for years, but didn’t know there was a term for it. Simply put, it is the idea of preparing several meals at one time, usually done on the weekend to eliminate that running-in-from-work-at-the-last-minute-trying-to-prepare-a-meal syndrome.

I have learned that in some Foodie circles, it has been elevated to a social event complete with wine pairings where folks gather at individual homes and batch cook and socialize at the same time…kinda like an old school red/blue light in the basement party..but not really).

This ratatouille is a recent product of a batch cooking tequila fueled session. Back story: I was alone. I had insomnia. Food Network episodes ended at 3:00am. I had a crisper full of one week old summer veggies. Voila!

This cinnamon peach bread pudding is actually part of a video I taped for an audition tape to the Food Channel. The recipe was courtesy of one of the Food Network guys and I was attempting to demonstrate how to make this yummy dessert by substituting some of the called for ingredients for those I actually had on hand. What the hell is a cinnamon chip? Who has peach preserves..I thought they only did that with strawberries? 6 eggs..guess they never heard about garbanzo bean juice. Remember cholesterol clogs and kills. Half and half? Okay, here’s some coconut milk… This is, after all, the mark of a good cook…

 

And I must say, it was scrumptious…my taster friends practically licked the pan.

That same batch cooking session ( started as a cleaning the refrigerator moment) yielded a huge pot of creamy black bean soup, fiery jerk chicken wings, a heavenly Greek moussaka, and a baked crab/zucchini dish I would give my first borne for… just kidding T, maybe the second born.

Writing about food, always makes me hungry…guess its a Foodie side effect…so I need to put this tablet down and go rummage through the fridge before I become h-a-n-g-r-y…another Foodie term. Hey, maybe there’s a market for a Foodie dictionary…

I digress…often

Bowls of food have become the latest food phenomenon. I think it has its origins in Asian fare…but all the ethnic food folks are starting to make their version of this space saving, visually appealing, can-be-eaten -with -one -hand -while driving/texting meal.

Even fast food giants have gotten into the act with a glop of potatoes, topped by a glop of corn, topped by those poor genetically manipulated bird parts…all smothered in heart stopping gravy…hmm yum.

Here is a healthier , life giving version. This mound of fresh veggies and soba noodles became a steaming bowl of stir fry sans protein and seasoned with a mixture of Hoisin, ginger, garlic and red chili oil.

Bon appetit!

 

 

EATING OUR FEELINGS


Like many others, I am a Foodie.

Not sure what the official Webster or Wikipedia definition is, but I define it as someone who simply enjoys eating. This is NOT food addiction leading to obesity and a starring role on Reality TV kind of thing.

Although, I confess, I sometimes watch those shows when I find myself thinking about Chunky Monkey in the pre dawn hours of an insomnia riddled night. I also sometimes channel surf to Hoarders and Catfish when I feel my depression turning to obsession.
Watching those shows is more of a preventative measure on how to avoid a pleasurable experience becoming an addictive one. (Note: This is probably where the mind doctors pick up their pads, raise their eyebrows and start scribbling furiously).
Most Foodies are not threatened with obesity simply because Nature has provided us with a high metabolism, a treadmill or good genes that keep us from tipping the scales. Girl, I am tired of you skinny b*****s talking about how you can eat Anything and not gain weight.
What the world doesn’t know is that we are… eating our feelings.
My journey as a Foodie began back in the lazy hazy days of Black hippiedom when eating natural was all the rage. Back to Earth was our slogan and Vegan/Vegetarian restaurants, Juice Bars, and Farmers’ Markets abounded in the city of Lost Angels. These were not the trendy places seen on Food Network and Travel Channel today, but often little patchouli scented neighborhood joints with a few Goodwill cast off tables and a well worn counter. And like Cheers, everyone really did know your name.
Fast forward to Real world adulthood-jobs, taxes, Xanax. Being a Foodie became a form of entertainment where an otherwise boring, mundane evening could be transformed by a trip to the local market or, if funds allowed, sampling the offerings at one of the ever increasing ethnic restaurants sprouting up across the City.
For a Southern born grits and gravy girl eating out was sheer heaven. And according to many of my fellow Foodie friends can be something akin to orgasm.( Or at least will cause you to break out in the foot happy dance where your feet literally start tapping the floor).
Girl please food aint never been as good as sex.
Today, Boomerism and Foodie are synonymous for many Golden Girls/Guys. Eating out, always a big part of any family gathering, now takes on an elevated meaning for ladies/lads of leisure. It has become the alternative to a date and often takes the form of meet ups, food/wine/beer tasting, food truck rodeos, etc .

And like the proverbial kid in a candy store, there are so many eateries to choose from…a plethora of tempting sights, smells and textures all designed to satisfy any craving/fantasy/heartbreak/disappointment/joy life sends your way.
Eat, drink, and be Merry!

BRAGGing RIGHTS

Okay, I hope this doesn’t sound like a commercial, but I’ve been spreading the word about the benefits of the Bragg Vinegar drink to my friends near and far, so I’ve decided to share this with you my dear Readers.

If you find yourself tired to the bone, sluggish, out of sorts, dread getting out of the bed, can’t put one foot in front of the other, wish it was Friday when its only Monday, then you need to learn about Bragg Vinegar. This product has been on the market well over 100 years-since 1912-and is the forerunner of the healthy products movement.

I won’t belabor the point here and bore you with the history, but Reader this is a product you need to add to your grocery list Today. Once you have it at home, the simple recipe to make it into a palatable, energizing drink can be found on the back label.

In a glass, stir together One to two teaspoons of Bragg +8 oz filtered water+ honey+ lemon juice, and chug. Take this upon rising, at lunchtime and for those of you who need an afternoon pick up (instead of heading to the office vending machine), down a glass of this drink.

The results are immediate. You will feel lighter, energized, clear headed. I suppose its that action of the unfiltered apple cider vinegar scrubbing your organs and releasing the antioxidants in your blood stream. Since the time of the Egyptians, ACV has been used for its amazing natural cleansing, healing and energizing health qualities.

I started drinking Bragg vinegar back in the 70s during my heady, almost a Black hippie, what sign are you, free your mind days of L.A. I was in my 20s and working three part time jobs And attending Paralegal School. Bragging as we fondly called it back then was at the forefront of the back to nature movement. And any bonafide card carrying member of the natural food/vegetarian/potsmoking movement was slurping this concoction at least 3 times a day.

As a Baby Boomer, the need to eat healthy, exercise, take supplements ( to avoid purchasing one of those lil pink pill box) has become a constant refrain from the media, AARP and Dr. Oz. I have always subscribed to a healthy lifestyle because it was ingrained in me from childhood. Having a grandmother who lived to be 100 plus and who drank vinegar daily and fasted on Fridays was something I took note of early. And while I would occasionally fall off the wagon (I am a Foodie and luv a good Restaurant), that small still voice would always bring me back to reality.

The ravishes of high cholesterol almost brought me to a crashing halt some  years ago when despite my regime of working out daily at 5 a.m in a fight gym (to fight the menopause 10 (pounds that is), before going off to teach a raucous group of middle schoolers, followed by feasting on copious amounts of bbq at the Extra Billy , I had chart topping numbers. No amounts of niacin, garlic, coq10, red yeast rice, policosanol, would bring those LDL number down below 200. I dreaded the thought of taking statins…the commericals listing all the side effects…that followed the glowing pictures of the healthy couple rowing a canoe… were frightening to say the least.

After much prodding by my trusted physician, I did, however, venture into Lipitorland, then Zetialand, then Pravastatinland only to have my body reject each of these manmade concoctions.

Finally, I had an epiphany…hmph wonder if she saw stars.. returned to my senses and embarked on a regime of healthy eating: more vegetables, less meat (Restaurants only once or twice a month), growing my own seasonal vegetables (fat tomatoes ,hot habaneros/jalapenos, crispy kale/collard/spinach, juicy romaine and spicy arugula, topped off with  fresh herbs- oregano, thyme, sage, lemongrass, mint and MORE),  together with exercising 3 times a week at the local Y or daily walking of the dog …you remember Lucky…and a  glass or two of Bragg every day, I was able to reduce those LDL numbers and keep them down.

Now that’s what I call BRAGGing rights. Feel free to comment with your thoughts/experience on BRAGGing and thanks for reading!

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HOT JAM

Some like it hot.

Boy, there so many ways I could go with that opening. But lets keep it PG for now. I’m referring to my penchant for hot, spicy foods.

No doubt, I inherited the gene from my dad’s side of the family. I still marvel at his 10+year old jar of peppers and vinegar aging in the kitchen cabinet, which he sprinkles liberally on just about everything he eats.

Must explain why he is approaching 94 in remarkably good health. And still drives, watches TV/ reads without glasses,takes the stairs,  refuses a cane even though he has arthritis in his knees, and has mastered email, searching, Skype and how to delete the history ( just in case snooping relatives are using his prized pc). But I digress.

The subject of this post is not my IwasaBuffalosoldier father, but rather hot foods and more specifically, hot peppers.

Many of you know, thanks to Dr.Oz and other health promoters, that capsicum is widely believed to be a “cure for much-of-what-ails- you.”

Hot peppers,particularly, are touted as a good source of Vitamins A,B, C, and high in potassium, magnesium, and iron.

A number of studies show a correlation between a person’s intake of foods containing capsicum and the decreased risk of certain cancers and diabetes.

Hmph.. I knew this child had a paralegal background, but now she  done gon and got some medical learning!

At any rate, as part of my quest to eat healthy, I have long satisfied my need for hot, spicy foods by cooking with a variety of peppers; selecting the starred** items on the Chinese, Mediterranean, Carribbean, and Indian restaurant menus, and, of course, growing peppers in my beloved jardin.

This summer’s bounty was unrivaled after I found some varieties of peppers beyond my usual habanero, jalapeño, and Serrano staples on a trip to No VA. I returned with a box of healthy seedlings that included: Tabasco, super hot chili, and a habanero guaranteed to light your fire.

I planted these among my perennials because the soil was richer in that area and it received the most sunlight (a few went in pots). Within 2 months, the Tabasco and Hottest Habanero had turned into 2 foot bushes and by August, were producing bucketfuls of these hot gems.

I decided to freeze some of the brightly colored heat bringers so I could use them in the winter and also experiment with some pepper recipes, namely hot jam and Tabasco sauce.( My foray into jam making thanks to my co-foodie JB aka flyboy was documented in my previous year’s blog).

A pic is worth a thousand words. The habaneros became  Pineapple mango hot jelly spread, and the tabascos that took the form of a science project (fermenting them for 30 days in a jar with salt/water in a dark cabinet) resulted in a hot sauce so hot I am almost afraid to eat it!

A few hardy friends and family received these treats for Christmas gifts. Most of them are used to getting my to-die-for banana bread and/or lemon blueberry bread as gifts, but this year I thought I would stimulate their palate and help ward off the Big “C” and”D” so pervasive among our community.

Dad even remarked on my last visit that… Its good on bread and chicken and everything ! When are you making some more?

Bon appetite, Readers

 

 

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