A Fine Dish

dish (v) to emit a ready flow of inconsequential talk... babble, blab, burble... chatter, dither... gab, lallygag... natter, patter, prattle, rattle on... yammer, yawp...also...chew the fat, shoot the breeze, sling the bull.... and (n) a container to serve food -or- the food contained in the dish ....(archaic slang) a hot mama

Location: Rock Creek Township, North Carolina, United States

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Nearest Book Meme

This comes from the incomparable Laurie of slowly she turned fame.

1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the next 4 sentences on your blog along with these instructions.
5. Don’t you dare dig for that “cool” or “intellectual” book in your closet! I know you were thinking about it! Just pick up whatever is closest.

The nearest book to me is The Anapanasti Sutta by Ven. U Vimalaramsi. It doesn't have 123 pages so I am taking this from page 93, the last page in the book.

May suffering ones be suffering free
And the fear struck be fearless be
May the grieving shed all grief
And may all beings find relief.

May all beings share in this merit
That we have thus acquired
For the acquisition of happiness.

May beings inhabiting space and earth
Devas and Nagas of mighty power
Share in this merit of ours.

May they long protect the
Buddha's Dispensation.

Saddhu! Saddhu! Saddhu!

Friday, October 27, 2006

Going to a Hot Place

So some people hint at it, some people just raise a righteous eyebrow, sometimes I get the echo from behind my back but a couple of weeks ago I heard it straight to my face.

"You are going to H - E - double hockey sticks."

Now she was laughing at the time but her point was well taken. According to her tradition my choices, my activities may be firmly planted on that well-polished wide clear path of good intentions that leads to you know where. I am unapologetic. My lifestyle may be influenced by genetics, by upbringing, by society, by socioeconomic factors, by a long drop from the top bunk. But ultimately, my behavior is my choice and I not only accept that, I embrace it.

Ok, so what heinous activity prompted this, what malconted mischief? Could it be, debauchery? Not much time for that these days. Umm, parents still living and well respected--I think that's one of the rules. Lying's a bad job--just not good at it. Actually, it's not even a commandment at all; must be something from the commentaries, an add on in the last century or so. OK. I can own up. Ready.

I shop and cook on Sunday. Yup. That's it. Now 'round here, there's quite the swanky after church crowd picking up pickles and cold cuts on their way home from church. These are the liberal folk. They will use money in a pinch on a Sunday. Then there are those you don't even see in the store (such as my condemning friend). No touching money, no work including housework.

"You should save your Sunday for those things that are spiritually edifying," I have been told.

Well, here's the news, crew. For me, cooking is edifying. It's uplifting. It feeds my soul. And preparing a week's worth of food is the choice that I make so that for the rest of the week my family can enjoy some physical improvement. And so they don't gnaw on my ankles as soon as I get home from work.

I have been promising some people that I would put up a typical Sunday afternoon schedule for awhile so here it goes. Consider this a cookbook case of insanity.

-direct children in unpacking groceries
-toss last weeks bread ends and an onion in food processor
- drop grapes in salad spinner and spray with veggie wash. Set aside
- dump ground beef, veal and pork in bowl and add eggs, bread crumbs and onion, some buttermilk and get a kid to mix it up
- put chickens in sink
- cut big nasty hunk of cheap beef into parts, put chunks in ziploc bag with red wine--hand to kid to put in freezer, then put strips in bag with soy sauce, a little sugar, rice wine, grated ginger--hand to kid to put in freezer
- trim center portion and put in dutch oven on stove with some oil
- chunk mixed meat in loaf pan and put in oven (hose off kid)
- grab bag of walnuts before someone eats them
- wash, peel and chop carrots, celery, potatoes, onions, garlic, shallotsm mushrooms
- turn meat
- cut up a couple chickens, put back, etc in big pot for stock with celery leaves, onion excess, carrot stubs, egg shells (you get the idea), wrap breasts in plastic and hand to kid to put in freezer then brown the rest in heavy pot
- take out beef, add oil, put in some chopped carrots, celery, garlic
- grab kid by collar and ask nicely to chop nuts in food processor, mush up last weeks leftover banana and dump in a bowl with some buttermilk and eggs; hand said kid sifter and sift flour, sugar, baking powder over banana mixture
- think about rinsing grapes
- take cereal, crackers, pasta, etc and seal in plastic boxes (so as not to encourage mouses)
- show youngest how to line loaf pans with waxed paper
- divide banana batter in two pans and put in oven
-hand over sifter and put in dry milk, cocoa poweder sugar to sift into large bowl then transfer to quart containers
- turn chicken pieces
- skim scum from stock, add some whole cloves, peppercorns, celery seed or whatever you feel like smelling
- put beef in pot with vegs, add beef paste and water, potatoes, cover
- put rest of vegs in with chicken, add last of last week's stock
- pull out meatloaf -- put beef pot in oven
- grab two kids to wash, dry, and put away dishes
- heat stainless steel frying pan, chop up two one pound tubes of sausage and add to pan
- take banana bread out of oven
- cover chicken and put in oven
- heat two tablespoons butter in frying pan
- stir sausage
- add two tablespoons of flour into melted butter
- wish you had already washed the grapes
- add two cups of milk to butter and flour and stir with whisk
- ask kid nicely to shred pound of cheddar cheese
- stir a handful of flour into sausage, pour over half-and-half (try not to gag) and stir until thick
- remove from heat and put large pot of water on
- dump two cups of shredded cheese into white sauce and stir until melted, set aside
- stir elbow macaroni into boiling water
- rinse grapes, take off stems, spin to dry, eat a handful and put rest in bag in refrigerator
- strain macaroni, reserving hot water to transfer water back into pot and add potatoes
- stir half cheese sauce into macaroni, stir in grated cheese, top with grated parmesan and bread crumbs then put in oven
- make some juice for dinner
- wash broccoli, fit steaming tray over potatoes and layer cut up broccoli to steam
- ask kid to set table for dinner
- tell complaining kid to forget table, wash pots and get other kids to set table
- check beef , chicken stew
- ladel out a cup or so of beef broth into small saucepan and put on stove
- remove broccoli, cover, keep on top of warm stove
- strain potatoes, mash then stir in rest of cheese sauce
- add some corn starch to hot beef broth to thicken
- serve meatloaf and gravy, mashed potatoes and broccoli for dinner
- put some olive oil in large stainless steel pot, chop variety of peppers (red, yellow, green, orange) and add to pot
- slice banana bread, wrap, put in plastic bin
- add cumin, cinnamon, whatever to peppers, peel butternut squash and cut into chunks
- remind kids to wash their dinner dishes
- add corn, squash, quart of plum tomatoes and vegetable broth to pot and set to simmer
- put cooled sausage gravy in plastic bin in refrigerator
- take chicken stew out of oven, strip meat from bones, add bones to stock
- poke beef to see if tender (it isn't--very cheap cut of beef)
- add black beans and handful of rice to squash stew
- put sausage gravy in plastic bin in refrigerator
- divide veg stew into plastic containers
-check beef again, take out and put in garage to cool
- at some point, take the chicken stock off and stash in the garage to cool

Okay, so what does all this add up to?

The kids can dip into the sausage gravy with biscuits from the freezer for breakfast. This time of year they have hot cocoa as well. They make their own lunches with juice, banana bread, a sandwich and fruit. I eat the squash and pepper stew for the week. And any of these dinners takes about fifteen minutes to put together--

1-Chicken Stew with dumplings
2-Pot Roast
3-Chicken Tenders with macaroni and cheese and whatever vegetable
4-Beef Hash from the leftovers of the pot roast
5-Chicken Pot Pie with the leftovers from the chicken
6-Stir fried Beef with broccoli and rice
7-Grilled beef chunks and cut up raw vegetables

So, am I going to hell? In the Buddhist tradition, one of the many 'hells' is the land of the hungry ghosts. Everyone there has a big appetite and a really, really small mouth. I suppose if I must go somewhere, I will take a rest and go cook up very, very tiny portions.

Astral Projecting?

Steven has been restless of late, tossing in his sleep. We are in a change of seasons and the heater kicks on, the room is hot and dry. I have not been sleeping deeply although I do rest.

Last night between the clock tolling two and three I heard footsteps in the kitchen. This is not unusual. Chris has reverted to his infancy with feedings every 2 to 4 hours. Better he sneak into the refrigerator for some milk, a sausage, a leftover dumpling then wrap himself around an empty belly. This has become a comforting noise, these footsteps in the dark. Besides growing he is growing more independent.

After the shuffling, the scarfing I heard footsteps crossover from linoleum to hard wood. He was coming in my room which is unusual. I can't remember the last time one of the children actually came for me in the night. I turned over and propped myself on my elbows.

"What is it Chris? What do you need?" I asked the silent shadow.

He didn't say a word but my eyes, accustomed to the dim, could make out that he was facing me. As I watched him the light changed until it seemed he was in a column of light, actually a different timbre of darkness, like a beam from a black light. He raised his arms at an angle from his body with his palms cupped upward as he made three quarters of a turn. The light began to shimmer like dust motes in a sunbeam only larger. His chin was tilted up and the sparkles distinct and rectangular, like metallic confetti.

"Chris?" I asked and he turned his head slowly toward me and just as slowly a wide grin spread across his face, his eyes and mine locked. He lowered his arms and dissipated.