Friday, July 31, 2009
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
½ tsp cumin
1 garlic clove
2 tsp finely grated ginger
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp curry powder
¼ tsp ground coriander
1 tsp of jalapeno, other chili
or Thai curry paste
3 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 large onion, thinly sliced
6 medium zucchini, cut in ½ inch slices
1 can unsweetened coconut milk
¼ cup cilantro
½ cup roasted cashews, chopped (optional)
Smash garlic, chili/curry paste, ginger, salt, coriander, curry powder and cumin into a curry paste. Heat oil in a heavy pot and sauté onion until golden, about 8 minutes. Add curry paste you made above and cook over med-low heat, stirring, 2 minutes. Add zucchini and cook, stirring, until it appears moist, 3-5 mins. Add coconut milk and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until zucchini is just tender, 10-12 minutes. Serve sprinkled with chopped cilantro and cashews.
Comment: I adapted this from a more complicated recipe. It’s a great vegetarian meal. It called for fresh jalapeno pepper but I use a teaspoon of Thai red or green curry paste (use your
judgment as to heat) when I sauté the onion and then just add the garlic and other spices with the zucchini. Use quality curry powder, and it’s up to you if you want to add the extra cumin and
coriander, since these are both in curry powder already. It also calls for another tsp of salt added
with the zucchini, but I usually forget to put any salt in at all!
Sunday, July 26, 2009
The king of all flowers, at least on our prairie, is the gray-headed coneflower. I particularly like it when they're just pushing their petals out, before they fall like skirts below them.
I used the Tallgrass Prairie Wildflowers field guide by Doug Ladd through the Nature Conservancy for most of the IDs. The link is to the second edition... the one we have is no longer available I think. It's really difficult to identify flowers by photo... this one was pretty good, though!
In addition I took photos of the lead plant, purple-headed coneflower, blue vervain, asters, white prairie clover and purple prairie clover, wild bergamot, black-eyed Susans, water hemlock, germander, milkweed, butterfly milkweed bush, prairie coreopsis, golden coreopsis, goldenrod, prairie coneflower, and several things I can't remember at the moment... but which I'll name as I fall asleep.
I don't find this area to be terribly provincial. People are particularly well read, and I don't get much time to read, and I read slowly, and I don't ever look down on anyone for that. I don't know much about classical music, either, but I do have some good CDs and have attended concerts in LA, Chicago and New York. And so it is that every once in awhile, I'm treated to a scene worthy of Sinclair Lewis.
One of my favorite books is Willa Cather's My Antonia. There is a wonderful scene in there where the narrator of the book, Jim Burden, and the hired girl Lena, who has made her way as a seamstress, meet up when Jim is in college in Lincoln, Nebraska. Jim begins by saying that whenever he smells lilacs he thinks of going to the theater in Lincoln with Lena that spring. At the theater they're treated to what is clearly a horribly acted, miscast play, a version of Dumas' Camille. Nonetheless, never having seen "real" theater before, they're utterly captivated. Jim says of the woman playing the lead, "I suppose no woman could have been further in person, voice and temperament from Dumas' appealing heroine than the veteran actress who first acquainted me with her. Her conception of the character was heavy and uncompromising as her diction; she bore hard on the idea and on the consonants. At all times she was highly tragic, devoured by remorse. Lightness of stress or behaviour was far from her. Her voice was heavy and deep: "Ar-r-r-mond!" she would begin, as if she were summoning him to the bar of Judgment. But the lines were enough. She had only to utter them. They created the character in spite of her."
And of the music, Jim narrates: "Between the acts we had no time to forget. The orchestra kept sawing away at the Traviata music, so joyous and sad, so thin and far-away, so clap-trap and yet so heart-breaking. After the second act I left Lena in tearful contemplation of the ceiling, and went out into the lobby to smoke. As I walked about there I congratulated myself that I had not brought some Lincoln girl who would talk during the waits about the junior dances..."
Thursday night we paid too much money to go to an outdoor concert at one of the nearby colleges. It was a performance of Civil War-era music, interspersed with Looney Tunes and Three Stooges shorts set in the Civil War. The musicians were the local faculty classical ensemble.
The music was not Civil war-era. There were two pieces by Dvorak written in the 1890s. One I knew very well, and so my ear was quite bothered by the sawing away of the cellist and one of the violinists. The very large mezzo-soprano did a very dramatic rendering of "When Johnny Comes Marching Home."
But the concert was made very enjoyable-- for me at least-- by the audience, particularly three drunken members of the audience, one a man in a cowboy hat, and two women, one more drunk than the other.
When the cellist came out at first for the first piece (ca. 1892), she began by saying she would not be in her usual spot because she was working hard to keep the instrument in tune despite the humidity. "This afternoon at rehearsal, my D string was just wild!"
To which the cowboy loudly whooped, "You G string? Did you say you lost your G string? Whoo hoo!"
She played the piece, just fine, and when it was over the very drunk woman said very loudly, "Wow. I bet she could play Chopin."
To which the cowboy replied, "Oh, you're going to hear all sorts of good music tonight, alright. All sorts of good music."
A few numbers later, a pianist took the stage, James A. The cowboy knew the man: "Piano Jim! There's piano Jim! Oh boy, he's good. Wait until you hear this."
Piano Jim was probably the best of the musicians, but he was having a bad night. He started the first piece and after about 30 seconds, cowboy said, "This sounds like something from the Wizard of Oz, don't it?" It very soon afterward left the "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" theme that was faint to say the least. The song took off, but Piano Jim had a little difficulty keeping up with it. Afterwards, despite the very enthusiastic applause, he somewhat stormed off the stage, disappointed and frustrated with himself.
There were other, less memorable, outbursts by the trio of fans during the first act. Every time one of them made noise, a very indignant 13-year-old girl in the front row with her parents would turn around and glare. She was no doubt a student of one of the musicians, and had seen how classical audiences, outside or no, were supposed to behave during performances.
After the break we moved back and I got an Adirondack chair to sit in. I was behind some very well-behaved Asian girls who may have been on campus for a camp. It was dark enough to show the Looney Tunes short, which one of the girl taped in almost its entirety on her tiny digital camera. As I watched, the three Asian girls took an average of 5 photos a minute of the performance. I would have to say their experience was almost completely mediated by their digital cameras.
By the time the Three Stooges started, the mosquitoes had arrived. I have never understood what makes the Three Stooges funny, and so, eaten alive under the darkening Minnesota sky, we decided to forego the last tune.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Today I read chapter 4, and at the end of the chapter she names the "essential questions" of our time, a time of upheaval in the underlying systems of meaning that have guided Western humanity for the past 500 years, questions that we ask because of Darwin, Faraday, Freud, Jung, Einstein and more recently Joseph Campbell. The three essential questions are:
"1: Where, now, is the authority?...
2:What is human consciousness and/or the humanness of the human?
3: What is the relation of all religions to one another-- or, put another way, how can we live responsibly as devout and faithful adherents of one religion in a world of many religions?" (Tickle, pp. 72-73).
Well, I thought to myself, those are the three central questions addressed in my second book of poetry. Those are exactly the questions that I've been thinking about and asking myself about for most of my life-- certainly since I was twelve years old and we converted overnight from Catholicism to the Assemblies of God. And, in fact, the authority question is the one question hanging over all the women's religious orders of the United States at the moment, because Rome is attempting through an Apostolic Visitation what seems to be a "slap down" of their individual authority for what seems like no good reason at all. And personally, not speaking here in any way for the monastery or any of its members, I suspect Rome has overstepped and will find out that the "people in the pews" don't care what Rome thinks. I think it will be, if not the end, a blow to that particular authority. And don't take my word for it-- read the 420 comments posted to the New York Times front page coverage of the Apostolic Visitation and two other investigations and criticisms of women religious by American bishops and Rome.
In the discernment process, the community is asking: "What do you believe the Holy Spirit is calling us to given what we know?" It is a question that can only lead to boldness, I think, in facing the future and in walking into whatever new world we find ourselves in.
Monday, July 20, 2009
Susan's Sesame Chicken Pasta Salad
10 oz. short pasta (gemelli, rotini, bowties, etc)
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup vinegar: half rice wine and half white wine
3 Tbsp canola oil
1 Tbsp sesame oil
3 Tbsp sugar
4 Tbsp sesame seeds, toasted
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 chicken breasts, cooked and chopped
2 cups snow peas, savoy cabbage or spinach (chopped)
3/4 cup sliced green onions
3/4 cup cashews, chopped
1/2 cup fresh parsley
1 thinly diced roasted red pepper would also help add color
Cook pasta according to package directions. In a jar with a lid, combine the soy sauce, vinegars, oil, sugar, sesame seeds, salt and pepper; shake well. Drain pasta and rinse in cold water to stop cooking; place in bowl. Add chicken and half of the dressing; toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
Just before serving, add the snow peas or cabbage (steamed to wilted stage or fresh and crunchy), green onions, parsley, cashews and remaining dressing. Toss to coat.
Sunday, July 19, 2009
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Sunday, July 12, 2009
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
Sunday, July 5, 2009
Saturday we went to hear Garrison Keillor do his 35th anniversary show in Avon, seven miles up the road. It was crowded but well-organized, so not at all difficult to get in. And they were selling rhubarb pie at the Fisher's Club stand. It was hot, but we had very good seats. The show was sort of a last-minute affair, so none of the actors were there. Instad Keillor had politicians reading patriotic poetry, and two local WWII vets telling their oral histories. The Catholic priest was very good on the fly, and the Lutheran pastor must have had stage fright or never have heard the show-- so, Catholics win! It was very local, which was fun, and St. Joseph got several mentions. It was also fun to see how the show worked, the set-ups, the transitions, the notes being passed back and forth, and the ease with which Garrison more or less just talked, sang, and talked some more.
Today we went to Quarry Park and Munsinger and Clemens Gardens in St. Cloud. Local fun walking along the piles of quarry slag and through a nice restored prairie, and then in the formal gardens along the Mississippi River. Finished up with a good barbecue with everyone on the farm. Good until next year!