Friday, August 19, 2011

Scrambled Egg and Zucchini Burritos

We lost a dear friend to cancer, last Saturday morning. Vince fought the good fight and he really thought he had it whipped, even when it spread from prostate to liver. I felt that his declaration of having whipped it was to keep my husband from worrying and me from crying. The last time we talked on the phone, he could tell by the breaks in my voice that I knew better.And I somehow knew that we would never see him again. The memorial potluck is tomorrow and I expect that alot of people will be there. He owned a business, Dirty Deeds Done Cheap, and many of the locals, including us, were grateful to have his services. If a skunk somehow got beneath your house, his guys would trap and remove it. If you got snowed in, he would plow the path of your driveway so that you could get out and in again. His crew would do the hard work that nobody else could or would do.
Vince was also a songwriter. He was gifted that way. His grandfather was the celebrated writer,
Irving Stone, who wrote the book Lust For Life, which happened to be about my third cousin, who was Vincent Van Gogh. Vince and my husband recorded some of Vince's songs together, as Mr. P is an awesome lead guitarist who just seemed to know what Vince wanted for his songs. We, too, have a home recording studio. And Vince gave Mr. P permission to use any of the songs he wished to use. And as for Vince as a person? He was a mench.
The word 'casserole' comes to mind. My world has been saddened and changed by death many times in the last three years, and not once did anyone ever bring me a casserole. You know, the one that friends bring to the bereaved on family TV movies. But, yes, it dawns on me that casseroles are for the memorial after the funeral, where many people attend, as like tomorrow afternoon.
Some come to mourn, some come to tell stories of the deceased, and a couple will come just to make certain that the old bastard is really dead, along with the secrets taken to the grave. Morbid curiosity was never lost on me. But I never saw fit to keep a casket open for all to see while they stand in line to pass by and view The Dead One while the cameras come out and take pictures, with flash, of...The Dead One. I look upon this practice as despicable....
Music to drink Tomato Schnapps by,...a little old woman wearing sensible shoes pays hymnal organ because that's all she knows how to play. No boogie woogie or rock n' roll. No blues. No jazz or gypsy funk for Granny Grunt. Never mind what the deceased would have wished for.

You think that you really know someone, like your grandma, only to innocently discover she's got a tattoo on her knee when you sit together on the porch steps for a glass of freshly squeezed lemonade. Aw, it was nothing, really. Just her initials. Grandpa did it to prove to her that he wasn't causing their show rabbits any pain when he tattooed I.D. numbers inside of their ears. So, see? No pondering needed there. But, boy, was it weirdly funny when the mortician put rouge and lipstick and eyeshadow on her face. Grandma NEVER wore makeup. This artistic rendering of 'pretty' upon my grandmother's corpse made her look like a clown, and my mother was horrified.She made them wash ot off RIGHT NOW. I had to stifle giggles and snarks while this drama ensued. Because it had nothing to do with a mistake. Uh uh. This upset was about making a pious old woman look like the whore of Babylon. Did you know that there are colleges for corpse cosmetology? I once considered doing that for a living.
Okay. So you can pick your jaw up off the floor, now. I'm over it.

Yet again, the basics of this recipe came from my grandmother Jeanette. I was living with her for a few months and I was a vegetarian, at that time. No meat, no fowl or fish, but I did drink milk and eat cheeses and butter. Basically, I wouldn't eat anything with eyes. Just about every evening when I'd get home from work, I would fry up some zucchini and onions, and put thin slices of cheddar on buttered toast. Grandma couldn't stand this ritual any longer, so she got in there and added egg to it and fried it up so that I'd be sure to get some protein in my diet.She didn't like this vegetarian business one bit. I even used the Bible as reference to that, God forbade us from eating cloven-hoofed animals and shellfish. Therefore, if any meat is unclean then ALL meat was unclean. And if it's unclean to eat shellfish, what makes the other fish so special that we are allowed to eat it? Her explanation of seasonal poison in shellfish was sound, but then, why would God forbid us to eat certain animals and then turn around and say that we could? Truthfully, my diet had nothing to do with adhering to scriptures, but if I wanted to keep Grandma engaged in conversation with me, it had to center around The Lord.

Scrambled eggs and onions and zucchini are wonderful rolled up in a soft flour tortilla stuffed with lots of grated Jack cheese and homemade salsa. It would be ten more years before I would entertain this mixture as a burrito and using salsa with it.

So far, Mr. P is the only one I know who doesn't like it. It seems that, lately, just about everything I want to bake or cook gets a sneer of disapproveal and a firm,"I don't like that and you can't make me eat it. I told you I don't like it, but you go and make it anyway". But you see, I'm a seasoned veteran of care-and-feeding psychology, and you would be surprised by what can be achieved when you answer sweetly, "But, who said it's for you?"

Pink Elephants coffee Cafe

First, make your salsa, or mine:

1 14.5-oz. can petite diced tomatoes (do not use fresh tomatoes) and the juices
4 to 5 Tbsp. vegetable oil
splash of sesame oil (optional)
1/3 cup water
1 large clove elephant garlic, minced
5 green onions, sliced thin (use only if eating all the salsa in three days)
1 medium-sized yellow onion, finely chopped
1 leek, thinly sliced (soak first, to get sand out)
5 serrano chilies, thinly sliced
3 yellow wax chilies, thinly sliced (ripe peppers will be dark yellow, or turning orange)
1/2 to 1 tsp. garlic salt, to taste
8 shakes of black pepper
1 tsp. regular chili powder

1. Put all chilies in a collander, rinse well and let drain.
2. Empty canned tomatoes into large bowl, including juices. Add water, vegetable oil, and a shake or two of sesame oil and stir to combine.
3. Add minced garlic clove (you can quickly fry it in oil to toast, if you like). If using, add thinly sliced green onions, and finely chopped yellow onions, and the thin slices of the leek. Stir it up to combine.
4. Slice all the chilies quite thin. Discard the seeds, but it is desirable to have a small amount. They make the salsa hot, but the serranos are very hot as is. The full heat won't be evident until the next day, when all of the flavors have married well. However, this salsa is tasty enough to use the same day it's made.
5. Add chilies to bowl mixture and stir it all up to distribute them well.
6. Add garlic salt, garlic powder, salt, pepper and chili powder. Stir it all up and taste to see if you need to add anything to taste. You shouldn't, but it's okay if you want to.
Keep in refrigerator in a big glass jar with an airtight lid. If you use green onions, it should be eaten in three days. If not, it should keep well in fridge for up to 3 weeks.
Note: I don't use fresh tomatoes because they go bad and mushy, and they don't flavor well.

For the burrito mix:

3 medium sized zucchinis, chopped into 1/2" cubes (skin on)
1/2 medium-sized yellow onion, chopped roughly in 1/4" pieces
4 eggs, beaten with a fork until all yellow
1/2 to 3/4 cup salsa, as you like
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil for frying

To add in burrito:
1 cup Jack cheese, grated
1/4 cup salsa
Large flour tortilla (I use Canteca burrito-sized)

1. Clean zucchini. Leaving skin on, cut into 1/2" pieces or cubes.
2. Put into saucepan filled two thirds with boiling water and boil for 5 min..
3. Meanwhile, put chopped onions into large frying pan with the 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil. Fry just until clear. Remove from heat and set aside.
4. Drain zucchini, making sure most of the watery juices drain out. Then pat with paper towels until dry.
5. Turn on heat under fry pan and add the zucchini to the onions. Stir until hot on low heat and then add the hand-beaten eggs, stirring it up to coat all of the egg/zucchini mixture. Add the 1/2 to 3/4 cup salsa and stir it up. Remove from heat when the egg is cooked through.
6. Grate the Jack cheese into small bowl, 1/3 to 1/2 cup, as you like.
7. Heat both sides of a flour tortilla over the stove burner (gas is best, but electric will do on low). Place on plate, heap on the grated cheese, then the mixture, then the salsa with as little juice as possible. Roll it up (as seen in pictures below). Enjoy with sprinkles of salt, a bite at a time, if you like.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Licorice Tea Sorbet

With the wacky weather being late bringing summer to this neck of the woods and going to three digits, I look for refreshing food to gnosh, "a little something" to "tide me over". Oh gosh, the cliches again. How much of our lives mirror the cliches of old women and Jews? I can spot an old wive's tale from a fart away. A bruha doesn't share his words, while the circle of grannies cluck away over the clicking sounds of knitting needles. Cluck or cauldron, take your pick, they seem to possess the ancient wisdoms, from glass cleaners and floor wax to rashes and remedies and female concerns.
I have learned that a fresh cut on the finger can be sealed and healed by wrapping a spider web around it. And many skin problems, including skin cancer, can be dealt with by using a black shea salve. I have the recipe for the salve and will be mixing up a batch to try on myself. And I will let you know how that works out. No, I don't have cancer. I'm one of the few who don't have it. I have skin lesions which the doc says are pre-cancerous.
Mr. P and I have been using a black shea soap, and a goat's milk soap that I make, and we are both elated to finally have a soap that doesn't leave a film and cause itching. It contains no detergents, chemicals or fragrances, and it lathers beautifully. More and more people are developing allergies to fragrances, and the itching from their bath soaps and handbars. For those of us with sensitive skin, almost all commercial soaps have detergents, chemical additives and fragrances that give us itches and rashes, and they smell like the "make a memory" of aromatherapy. Cheap men's cologne comes to mind, like rotten road apples. Mine don't smell and the stuff leaves us "squeaky clean" as They Who Say used to say.

Mr. P hates licorice. But he did like the licorice macarons with chocolate ganache filling that I made for a Christmas reception at the gallery, last year. And even the reception attendees who didn't like licorice enjoyed the macarons. So, I figured it a safe bet to experiment with licorice again when the idea popped into my head to try my detox tea as a sorbet. After all, sorbet is wonderfully refreshing and none too filling. But licorice? Why not! As like aromatherapy, taste memory is an interesting thing. I associate licorice with wealthy older gentlemen wearing soft leather Italian loafers and grey silk Italian suits with tobacco green shirts,...oh my, I have just described my Dutch grandfather. He was a gorgeous man with white hair, lizard eyes of cold, translucent blue, and had a thick accent that was music to my ears. He passed away in 1961. Not a day has gone by without thinking about him and missing him. I did adore my grandpa.
The first try with this sorbet came out strong and too sweet. Mr. P said it tasted exactly like Good n'Plenty candy. He liked it! I like sweet, but not icky-sweet. So, in this next batch I reduced the sugar and used only 6 tea bags. Next time, I will use 7 bags. Upon opening the container after removing it from the freezer, I could definitely smell the licorice. And yet, the flavor wasn't overpowering.
Note that this recipe uses Every Day Detox tea by Traditional Medicinals. I use that by necessity. But, a detox sorbet? How cool is that! If you like, you can use plain ol' licorice tea. Or you can purchase roots and twig crushings by the pound (or less) at a health food store. Using a coffee bean grinder or mortar and pestle, you really don't want to make a powder, so just give it a couple of pulses to make the pieces small and to wake up the flavor. Cheesecloth will work just fine as a "bag". Use 1 Tbsp. of it per "bag". Frankly, I like the convenience of already-made tea bags. Consider that you will be using 3 1/2 cups of water, and since you will be freezing the tea, you'll want it strong.

Pink Elephants coffee Cafe

Yield: About 1 quart

3 1/2 cups water
7 tea bags, Every Day Detox by Traditional Medicinals (plain licorice tea will suffice)
3/4 cup white granulated sugar
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
2 tsp. pure anise extract
1 Tbsp. kirchwasser (optional)

*If tea bags have strings, tie them all onto one string. In a non-reactive saucepot, bring the water to a full boil. Place tea bags in the boiling water, cover with lid and remove from heat. Let steep for at least 4 hours.
*Remove tea bags, gently squeezing any excess out back into the pot. Discard spent bags.
Add sugar to the tea and stir on low heat until sugar is dissolved. Turn off heat. Let cool completely.
*Add lemon juice and anise extract and stir to incorporate. In a covered container place sorbet mixture in refrigerator overnight. Remember to place the container for the ice cream maker in the freezer. It's best to chill the container for 24 hours, although I have found that 15 hours will suffice.
*Remove from fridge. If using, add kirschwasser or other flavorless alcohol, to help keep the sorbet from freezing too hard and becoming unscoopable. The sugar will take care of that, mostly, but I have found that adding the kirschwasser helps with that. It's a little tip from David Lebovitz.
*Pour into your ice cream maker and follow the manufacturer's instructions. Pour into freezer-safe lidded plastic container for at least 4 hours. Overnite is better, but 4 hours will do.
*Approximately 40 minutes before serving, remove from freezer and let soften, lid off.

Listen up: As stated on the box of detox tea, don't drink it or eat it if you have gallstones.