Posts Tagged ‘cooking’

List: Good Things in the Greatest Season

Monday, May 4th, 2009

I can’t think of many better things than springtime. Summer’s great but it cheats because it comes after the cushion of spring which makes the transition easier. Spring, of course, follows (what always seems to be) a death-march of a winter season.

This winter wasn’t so bad, but it was long and it was gray and it’s nice to see the sun again.

So in that spirit, here’s a list of some great things to do and check out in the Greatest Season.

1. Chesapeake by James Michener. More than 300 years of life along the Chesapeake Bay. Good thing to sit outside with and feel the sun while you go deep into some historical fiction.

2. 40s. Winter for me was all dark, dark red wine. It’s spring so I’m starting it off with a big bruiser like the one in the photo below.

40 on the dead Xmas tree for winter

40 on the dead Xmas tree for winter

3. Haircut. Give yourself one. Clear-cut your skull and nurture some new-growth forest. (Same goes for your face. How long have you had that beard? Do you even remember what your face looks like Will you look like your dad when you shave it off? Facial hair will always grow back; it’s good like that. Check in with your real face.)

4. “The Gentlest Gentleman” by My Brightest Diamond. Been listening to this on repeat. The MOKB version.

5. Make Your Place by Raleigh Briggs. DIY home-life book. (“Affordable sustainable nesting skills,” says the front cover.) Build a compost heap, make a planting bed, mix up a tincture, beat the Great Depression #II blues.

6. Ditch the bummer music. Look for these HI-NRG positive vibes punks: White Fang. Their album on Marriage Records is called Pure Evil and it’s a party straight through. Especially the track “Green Beanz.” When I hear Erik sing, “I will sing until the day I die/yes, I will sing until the day I die” I’m, like, “YES YES YES.”

Erik from White Fang celebrates t-shirt weather

Erik from White Fang celebrates t-shirt weather

7. Potatoes. Hardly anyone I know has a real job these days and we’re all looking for new ways to get through the same ol’ hard times. Potatoes. They’re cheap, filling, nutritious, and you can add a couple bucks worth of fresh vegetables and make a feast for 10. Last night I collected everybody’s spare change and bought a bag of 30 russet potatoes for $1.79. I added a handful of spinach, two cloves of garlic, and two tomatoes and fried up a massive supper for a bunch of really hungry people.

8. Fresh ginger. Clears your head. Heats up your chest. Easy to shoplift from mega chain stores. Go spring-clean your body.

9. Foxfire book series. Collected Appalachian folk-wisdom, ancient DIY tricks, and general cheap-living how-to’s handed down by people who were alive during the Civil War. Read up on haint and snake lore; build your own dulcimer; learn to keep bees; make soap, etc. First five books (1972-’79) are the best.

Foxfire, holy Foxfire

Foxfire, holy Foxfire

10. Anything by Frederick Douglass. Pure reason and calm-minded eloquence from a time in American history that was anything BUT. Start off the season with a big hot flashlight of genius (1818-1895) that’ll illuminate everything in your path.

Oh, and go outside.

BIO: Adam Gnade's (guh nah dee) work is released as a series of books and records that share characters and themes; the fiction writing continuing plot-lines left open by the self-described "talking songs" in an attempt to compile a vast, detailed, interconnected, personal history of contemporary American life. Check out recent writing here and songs here. Contact: adam@asthmatickitty.com

Joshua Ploeg’s Life-Changing Cooking

Friday, February 27th, 2009

Photo from Diana Arens' flickr

Photo from Diana Arens' flickr

Joshua Ploeg’s cooking blows my mind. It blows my mind so much that a secret door opens in the back of my head and white doves, musical notes, and winged horses fly out. His cooking is transcendent, dangerous, strange, and perfect. It’s full of colorful tastes that explode in your mouth like Pop Rocks; flavor combinations you never thought possible, crazy alchemy, freaky magic. Joshua’s the Traveling Chef; you make an appointment, he shows up at your house with a load of groceries, makes an incredible multi-course vegan meal using your pots and pans, and then he’s gone like the Lone Ranger riding into a big Texas sunset.

Joshua’s been in a bunch of hardcore bands (Mukilteo Fairies, Lords of Lightspeed, the latest of which is called Warm Springs) and he brings all the good things punk rock gave us—risk, passion, creativity, weirdness—and applies them to his meals.

I randomly lucked into a Joshua Ploeg dinner last year in Oakland. The menu was:

1) Spinach-Mushroom Nutty Cheezy Fingers

2) Wild Mushroom Pasties with Wine Gravy

3) Spinach, “Bacon,” Avocado, Onion, and Oranges in Watercress Vinaigrette

4) Avocado Mousse with Wild Mushroom Mince, Spiced “Cream” and Shaved Chocolate

5) Spiced Cinnamon-Tomato Rice Ring with “Lamb” and Vegetable Stew

6) Plum and Pistachio Crisp with Ouzo-Lemon “Ice Cream” and Rose Syrup

I usually eat really fast and kind of mindlessly—good food turns me into a wild boar—but I had to take this one slow and let all the flavors develop and do their respective stuff. Each had its own distinctive note, its own voice that rang out to let it be known that it was something special and unique. It was an experience in the finest sense of the word, like taking a submarine trip, reading Huysmans in the original French (not that I can do that) or getting in your first-ever, lip-bustin’ fistfight.

I was in the Bay Area for a few days and Richard and Amy from 1984 Printing took me and Joe Biel to some incredible places to eat, but nothing topped Joshua’s meal. I still dream about it months later.

Says Joshua, “A sample dinner party menu [would be] roasted eggplant roulades with green olive and almond tapenade, pistachio-coated deep-fried tofu with tangerine sauce, cannelloni and roma tomato salad with mint and arugula, vegan ‘chicken’ and escarole soup in ginger broth, tempeh ‘fish’ with orange herb sauce and garlic linguine, baby carrots in spicy tomato sauce, deep-fried chickpeas with lemon-chili sauce, almond sheet cake with lemon custard, rosemary lemonade.”

You can book a Joshua Ploeg meal by emailing thetravelingchef (at) gmail (d0t) com.

You should also check out his cookbook zines, most of which you can find online. His next one, In Search of the Lost Taste, will be his first full-on book. Look for it from Microcosm Publishing later this year.

BIO: Adam Gnade's (guh nah dee) work is released as a series of books and records that share characters and themes; the fiction writing continuing plot-lines left open by the self-described "talking songs" in an attempt to compile a vast, detailed, interconnected, personal history of contemporary American life. Check out recent writing here and songs here. Contact: adam@asthmatickitty.com