St. Joseph's

I am in hospital. Intensive care for right now.  Little problem with heart, lungs, kidneys. They all failed together. Heart surgery tomorrow.

I told the ambulance crew, the emergency crew, the intensive care crew that I am terrified. 

They said,  "You are a seriously complex case, in need of deep sorting. Please do not be filled with worry. We got this. By the way, who is your next of kin? What is their telephone number?" 

Now see, that right there doesn't match. 

Kombu katsuobushi dashi, vegetables, tofu, Nomshin shim ramen

Apologies for all the foreign words. Kombu is the dried dark seaweed, and katsuobushi is the shaved and dried and smoked tuna. Dashi is broth. This is a seafood tea. 

Stand on top of ten means "spicy." 

I thought that stand meant an upright stone lantern. Because it looks like one. It is in the name of Tachikawa. I lived there aged ten. Sign outside the post says "stand + river." Now here it is again in spice. See, now that right there is language insight that leads to ... uh ... nothing actually. 

No to the soup broth. No to the vegetable package. I just now made a seafood broth 50X better than this packaged powder and my vegetables are 100X better than this tiny insignificant package. Why would I mess up my beautiful thing with their junk?

* dashi
* mirin
* rice vinegar
* aged soy sauce

I don't mean to be arrogant but I cannot help it. I AM arrogant. 

This is fantastically delicious. Hits the spot. Satisfies the need. Fills the void. Well balanced, and all the rest. 

This meal was actually difficult for me to make. It took me three days. I did not eat properly the first two days because I couldn't move. Everything around me must help hold me up. Extremely unsteady. I did not fall. I sat down three times to rest while making this, one of those times I fell asleep. Although very simple it took me a very long time.

Worth it. This is the most delicious soup that I have ever tasted. And it is just throwing things into a pot. Things that you like. Because that is all that you have around, things that you like. 


Delivery order from Denver Pizza and Grill

I order from this place all the time for other people. Hundreds of times, possibly five times. Look, I wasn't counting, okay? Although, they are counting and they will give me a free order one of these days. Some time in the future. Maybe. They show me this countdown thing whenever I go to their page.

But this is the first time that I've ordered for myself. So now I get to see what the deal is.

Tiramisu. Apparently. Like nothing I've seen. Maybe the lady fingers got all smashed up. And maybe they used animal crackers. Very light. This was inhaled in .4 second. Boom. Gone. Just like that. I will buy this again. Probably two or three, say, pizza, plus three of these.

This garlic bread is superfluous, although good tasting and welcome. It is an authentic lagniappe. Which is French for "nobody gives a crap." 

Mild. Too mild to be worth the trouble of eating it. The absence of capsaicin heat is insipid and causes the whole pile to be left alone. Now, every little piece must be corrected to continue. With something that can be actually felt. Ate one, ignored the rest. I will not buy these again. And that's a shame because I really liked the idea. See, I can think of half a dozen ways to make these, and this way is not one of them, blank-tasting jalapeños halved and scooped clean of all capsaicin-membrane with blank tasteless cheese and then with deep fried coating. One bite and you go, "No thanks."  

Lettuce with the other things that you see, nothing exotic. By itself, plain as can be. Gyros included separately. The gyros itself is very good but the rest of this salad is nothing without the gyros. I ate it anyway. 

The sandwich is not overstuffed. Mostly bread. A little more meat would be perfectly balanced. I never bought a sandwich as entree before. I think, I hope, the other things are better.

I almost forgot the gyros that goes with the salad. That is a gyros salad. I did not expect the meat to be separate. It is delicious.

Well, I love this. All the way around, it is a very good date. 

It's like a date in which I am not present. Repeatedly. It is habitual. Never mind that I am not there. Now I am just checking out what my date gets.

A little something for everyone. Perhaps a bit complicated. I do not know if this is understood, or appreciated so much as a pizza. 

This also comes with a two-liter container of soda. Which is large. 

A word about the runner. 

I saw him before. I talked to him before. 

Quick as usual. Precise inside the building. Here's the thing in each case lately, each runner wants to be more useful than their instruction allows. They know that they are not supposed to come inside my apartment, no reason to, but they each do anyway to make the transfer easiest for me. Each one breaks their own rule. They see me and they automatically break their own rule. 

In this brief moment the boy implored me to allow him to come in and put his packages in the best spot, he wants to minimize communication because his English is strained. I tell him that I order this stuff all the time but this is the first time that I've actually seen it. He seemed to acknowledge knowing that already. And I thought, "Nice shoes."

They really are nice. Shoes chosen with thought. Nice slacks too. Tan and red is the theme. But the thing that killed me is the only part of his face that shows is so symmetric, so darkened and round and so impressively imploringly expressive as the boy strained to communicate a simple idea in this strange unwieldy language.

I cannot find a photo that is perfect. All the boys have straight eyebrows. I must change the nearest one to have rounded eyebrows. Really really rounded eyebrows. Perfect semicircles. That dance around in the space between his hairline and his mask as he expresses. Now this is exactly what the guy looks like.

Except older. And trying hard as he might to be an American. It is awesome to see it. Someone becoming American. And it makes me wonder what I can do in these interactions, how I can help him fit into his chosen new world. I suppose converse. And make it not be so awkward. I could at least compliment his shoes.

Chicken katsu, French fries, chicken gravy

Not shown: a bowl of panko Japanese breadcrumbs and a bowl containing a beaten egg.

Today I am using a different technique because of the panko. No flour. I want the coating to be lighter than usual so the first flour-step is omitted.

We cook types mess with fundamentals all the time. It's how we are.

Chicken gravy was pulled out of thin air. 

It's like magic.

* Great butter * flour * microwaved to bubbling.

I was going to use shelf-stable liquid chicken stock, I have cartons of that, pumped up with half a teaspoon of powdered chicken stock, but the half teaspoon turned out to be enough chicken flavor so I used milk for liquid instead. That turned the whole thing paper-white. Flavor and color adjusted with drops of liquid smoke and Worcestershire. Drops, not teaspoons. I could have used soy and a few other flavor-things to adjust further and to darken but I am keeping the whole thing simple. 

And now, just like that, the whole thing is gone. 

Tuna, green beans and mushrooms, lettuce

This package of tuna put me off already a few times. Too big. Too fat. Not red enough. 

But it turns out to taste very good. It turns darker red as it thaws.

It's very good.

Soy sauce aged for three years in barrels. Very mellow. Makes all the difference in the world. Because of that it is much more expensive. Another brand aged for four years is even more expensive and way too mild. So we must ask ourselves if the difference in quality is worth the difference in price. From my point of view, yes. In fact, this soy sauce makes a very good gift. I think. Presently I have three bottles. I hand them out like nobody's business. Because I want to spread the soy sauce joy to people who can perceive and appreciate the difference. And women really dig the packaging. That alone is win. Even though it is irrelevant. Inside is an ordinary bottle and regular label.

I make 1/4 cup rice in a regular small pot the old fashioned way and it comes out perfectly every time. 

I forgot to check if the cucumber is still good, or the zucchini. Either of those would work nicely. 

Omg, I must sound like such a nerd. Perfectly. Nicely. When we first moved here to Colorado that is one of the first things I noticed about all these Levi-wearing, cowboy hat having, cowboy boot kicking westerners, they refused to acknowledge adverbs. "Ly." All those adverbs have "ly"ending. They never said the "ly" adverbial suffix. And that makes them sound so risibly western. Country. I thought, straight from Louisiana were everyone speaks so clearly and straightforwardly. 


The sentence that stuck out, "Did the bride wear a wedding dress and did the groom wear a tuxedo? " 

     "Everyone was dressed up real proper." 

And I was sitting at the science table with them cracking up inside, silently laughing my butt off, thinking how insanely county this sounds. While moving to Louisiana involved developing a whole new speech patten, rhythm, vocabulary, colloquialisms, vocal tics, y'all. Just to fit in. All dropped immediately upon moving here. No longer useful, not good camouflage. Other than this one blatant adverbial suffix omission their western speech is actually crystalline. 

Now I say, "Howdy." 

That's western for "How do you do?" 

If it's a dog then I say, "Howdy, pooch." 

Macaroni and cheese with bacon and serrano chile

If I had common sense then I would stay out of the kitchen.

This morning I looked for two packages of Gruyère, with one hand on the refrigerator door, poor choice, and the other hand re-stacking a bunch of little crap when I lost balance and fell backward. I had a container of leftover in my left hand. The moment I realized I was going down I also aimed myself best as I could. I did not know that I would roll all the way backward, far as rolling backward goes, my head passing right by the butcher block table, all the way down to the floor touching the leg of the tripod with a new camera and a new lens way up there, all the way to the floor with my head just 1/2 inch from the sink cabinet. Impressive save. Whatever, whoever angels eased me into a rolled position backward in slow motion so gracefully, thank you for that. 

I laid there amazed.

Then, the most aching thing ever. Achingly I rolled onto my side. Then onto my knees. That are absolutely not made for that. I had to get positioned in front of the sink to pull myself up onto my feet. This took a very long time. Like a robot making tiny ineffective motions because it is broken. After all that, I fell to the floor again. I just dropped when my knees met their angle of doom. This time with gallon of milk in one hand. That was saved. Again I was unhurt. Nothing hurts. Except my knees crawling to the carpet then crawling to a stool to pull myself up. 

Now those two things right there together say to a sensible person, "Just stay out of the kitchen." 

Honestly, sometimes I got no common sense.

This meal was difficult to make. I lost balance dangerously three times. At one point I was just standing there when I suddenly stepped backward and downward. I flailed with both arms and caught myself on two surfaces and pulled myself up. There were two other very close calls involving losing balance that altogether caused me to be exceedingly careful about always touching solid things, moving around, shifting weight, reaching and so on. 

My mother used to issue the imperative in the form of interrogative, "Will you please learn to be careful?" 

She berated me with that repeatedly. 

I didn't know what that even means. "How can I do that? How can I be expected to think about being careful every second of every minute of every single day? I have to think of other things. I cannot think about being careful every single second." 

        "It's a good start." 

Dad: "Situational awareness." 

        "Every second of every day." 

Ever see a boy walking forward but looking sideways completely unaware of his immediate environment? And you think, what a little dope. That was me. I got yanked out of the way, pulled to the side, jerked sideways quite a lot. My poor little arms were nearly ripped off.

        "When are you going to learn to be careful?" 

How did I collapse straight down then roll backward with feet off the ground and tucked right into the only tight available space between butcher block, tripod with camera and lens, and kitchen cabinet without crushing the container or even flicking an ear. No hurt backbone. No bruises. No elbow shock. No pain at all. It felt like hands slowed time and helped me roll backward. I am not nearly that graceful.

Or else I really was ace in two different tumbling classes. One on an AFB and the other during summer in a regular school.

I really was ace. We did that kind of crap all the time. How to fall. How to roll. Protect the head. It is a great skill set for kids to internalize.

Especially little dopes with no common sense.

Screwy pasta with green chili sauce


I've been living off this green chili, bowl after bowl.

This same thing happened the first time I made chili forty-five years ago. I did not know what I was doing but that did not matter. I thought green chili meant jalapeños so that's what made my first chili green. It was hot as heck and eating it made me sweat. I'd finish a bowl and fill it back up and I kept doing that until the whole pot was gone.

And now that same thing is happening again.

Strawberry milkshake


Green chili, breakfast burrito

This is a problem. I never intended to buy anything this big. Only 1/5 of this is cut off and used. 

Bone was stuck into the smaller portion. Left with the larger portion and re-frozen. That means this smaller portion was cooked without the bone that goes with it. It is bone-deprived. 

This is one piece bent in half.

The intention is to make a pork-heavy stew.

The tomatillos are the largest I've seen. Their size is throwing off the whole thing.

These vegetables were roasted nearly completely black.

Pathetic lack of photographs. The chili was taste-tested and adjusted.

* 1 Tablespoon fish sauce 
* 1 Tablespoon rice vinegar
* 1 Tablespoon brown sugar
* 3 frozen Hatch chiles
* 1 oz sake. This was the most convenient wine.
* butter

The chili is done.

A small potato was microwaved until done then fried in butter. A single egg was fried in butter in the same pan. 

* This chili, inside the burrito and on top.
* 1 small potato for hashed browns
* 1 large egg
* grated Irish cheddar cheese

Homemade fettuccine in cream sauce, curried cauliflower

* 50% bread flour
* 50% semolina flour
* 1 egg yolk
* 1/2 egg shell container of water

* extremely dry 
* rested for 1/2 hour
* texture changed completely

* cooked separately with commercial curry powder plus a few extra spices; cinnamon, cumin, garlic.

* really super good butter
* salt / pepper
* teeny-tiny bit of cumin
* garlic
* teeny-tiny bit of mustard
* quite a lot of cream

* nutmeg

The cauliflower is cooked in the microwave separately from the butter and cream sauce. They are combined in the pan with the noodles. That's two separate flavor worlds combined; a complex curry and an easy-peasy cream sauce. Still separate. Eventually by pulling noodles from the bowl the two flavor worlds are combined completely. The two sauces go together very well. 

No cheese this time. But there is nothing against it.

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