Monday, September 26, 2011

While I'm ruminating

A thoughtful cow, presumably ruminating. Found here 

I am ruminating on place, connection, community, and other allied topics.  Ruminant as a cow, that's me.  I am also being deeply thankful that I froze all those leftovers last spring.  Coming back from Anchorage has left me with a bad case of not wanting to cook, even though I have kale.  (Which will probably soon be a big pot of kale and potato soup, because it's disappearing from the freezer fast.)

Meanwhile, have a link to a plum cake.  I want an excess of plums so I have an excuse for a plum cake.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

On Quilting (And Other Things I Don't Do)

Bird tells a story about one of her cousins, the one everyone knows makes the best pie crust in the world.*  Before the female relative's mother died, her mother made the best pie crust in the world.  Everybody knew it.  She had the ribbons from the fair to prove it.  The cousin never made pie, because everyone knew her mother's was best.  Until her mother died, then she started making pie, and now she has her own ribbons (and a grandson whose first word was "Pie").

I only mention this because I come from a family of accomplished seamstresses and needle women. My aunt makes quilts that are like beebop jazz played on a French horn -- inventive, exuberant, and elegant all at once.  My Mom makes quilts that are more like Bach-- precise, meticulous, classic, and still playful.  Both of them make amazing clothing.

Mom tried repeatedly to interest me in sewing as a girl.  She failed miserably.  I would begin with good intentions, and get frustrated half way through and go run around in the woods instead.  It didn't help that Mom's sewing machine was on its last legs, and jammed whenever anyone looked sideways at it, and in my case whenever I looked directly at it as well.  Mom eventually gave up. My younger brother took to sewing more readily than I did.  (He also knits, and makes a mean chocolate chip cookie, while discoursing learnedly on political philosophy.  As brothers go, I think he's pretty cool.) I decided that I did NOT sew.  I was accursed in the mechanical department, and too impatient for anything beyond rudimentary mending.  And that was that.  For years.

At the end of my high school career, a friend of mine invited me to her house for a couple of weeks to make a quilt.  She had owned a quilt store at one time, and her stash filled rooms.  So together we pulled the fabrics for a log cabin quilt, in shades of red, turquoise, and blue (balanced by shades of cream and grey).  I didn't do most of the sewing. For reasons neither of us could explain, her ordinarily reliable machine jammed crazily whenever I went near it. So I pressed the blocks, and marveled at the evolving relationships between color and pattern.

Fast forward another four years.  Mom had taken up quilting, bought a new sewing machine, and I had a pregnant friend.  So I decided to make a baby quilt. My one experience with quilting was by this time, a few years old, and I didn't actually know how to use Mom's machine, but I went ahead and bought fabric anyway.  I made a split rail fence quilt (which was ridiculously easy to piece, even though I didn't know what I was doing).  However, just as I was putting the borders on the quilt top, my friend lost the baby, and the quilt went on the shelf. 

Fast forward again, another seven years, Mom found the quilt top on the shelf, and said, "Hey, Sarah, what do you think of finishing this?" And I looked at it, and I could see that it had some problems, but was withall a functional quilt on which to set a baby.  And lo! in the meantime many of my friends and relations were in their early thirties, which meant that there were babies and pregnancies all over the place, and the real problem was deciding who got the finished quilt.  So Mom and I went and bought some fabric for the back and I quilted the sucker while watching the evening news (and an extremely laudatory documentary about James Baker saving the Reagan administration, which I found peculiarly amusing in its bias -- I am sure that James Baker was a fine person and an able diplomat, but the way the documentary went on, one might have thought he invented glasnost and the internet as well as being Secretary of State). Mom helped me with the binding (which is another way of saying that she was the one who put the binding on).

I presented the finished product to a friend of mine, to general acclaim, and thought, "that's it, I'm done.  Never doing that again. I do NOT sew, and this is a fluke."

I came home for Christmas break, and I had still more pregnant friends and relations, and I wanted to do something creative that was nothing like a design class.  So I looked through Mom's quilt books, and came up with the idea that Mom and I would make a quilt for one of the imminent cousinlings in two weeks. My idea was that I would pick out the colors and the design, and maybe occasionally approach the sewing machine tentatively, but Mom would do the real work.

My taste in colors can run up against the bounds of good taste, and go reeling off in directions that are even more unsuitable. So Mom had a job convincing me that Purple, Blue, Turquoise, Red, Orange, and Yellow, might not be the most graceful combination of colors ever conceived. In fact, she failed.  The quilt is so...vibrant, that it took me until recently to realize that the block I'd used, was ordinarily called Buckeye Beauty and one I'd admired greatly in more traditional settings.  Despite this, the quilt was not dire despite the fact that I did all of the piecing and most of the quilting, although possibly a bit more stimulating to the visual centers of the brain than one might expect. It all went together in a fashion almost devoid of sturm und drang.  But I was clear, I do NOT sew, and I don't quilt.  I just really love my cousins. 

So this summer, again home in Alaska, I found myself poking through Mom's stash, and thinking that a quilt might be a fun project to take on.  Once again, I had an excess of pregnant people, but they all knew each other, and I worried about hurt feelings if I only made a quilt for one of them.  But I really wanted to make a quilt. (A clear sign that my anti-sewing resolve was crumbling.) As I was flipping through Mom's quilt books for the millionth time, admiring things that are clearly not for someone as scatterbrained and imprecise as I am, I found something I liked in one of Marsha McClosky's books, a nine patch. Nine patches are unintimidating. The sort of thing that I could do with minimal supervision, even if I wanted to do something kind of scrappy, which would not allow for strip piecing.  And those colors in that pile over there were Bird's sort of colors.

I'm certain Bird needs another throw for her couch.

Next thing Mom knew, her sewing room was awash in hundreds of 2.5" squares (approximately -- among my quilting handicaps is a failure to fully grok the zen of a rotary cutter, with the result that at least thirty percent of the time, I fail to cut straight lines, despite the assiduous deployment of a really large ruler) of blue, teal, cream, and the occasional burst of red.

I discovered that coming home and sewing was a nice break from the general public at work, and suddenly hundreds of squares became a slightly more reasonable number of blocks, then rows of blocks, and then slightly inexplicably a nearly twin size quilt top (since a nearly twin size quilt is pretty perfect as a throw on a couch).  Not long after that it became a full blown quilt, in which many of the seams matched more or less.  I did in fact operate a sewing machine in the process, but it still seems astonishing and improbable to me that I must use the passive voice. 

There are problems with making a surprise quilt for a really close friend.  One of them is that people like that are prone to asking dangerous questions like, "what have you been up to this week?"

I am terrible at dissimulation.  "Um, I've been quilting. (OfcourseasyouknowIdon'tsew.)"

Bird, knowing about the bumper crop of babies in my social circle, asked,"Do you have a recipient in mind?"

"Er, yeah, but I might decide to keep it." (Which is always theoretically true, but not very.)

"I see."

After I get off the phone, "Mom, I blew it, Bird knows what I'm up to."

So now Bird has a quilt, and I seem to be planning a quilt to tackle when I go home for Christmas.  I'm thinking of combining log cabin blocks with little tiny variable star blocks (the aunt that does wild and elegant jazz quilting is going through a phase that involves sending Mom books by Gwen Marston, who has interesting ideas, even if her taste in colors is even more over the top than mine).  Which means that I will have to figure out how to make variable star blocks, and well, it should be interesting.  And if I get bored, I can call it a baby quilt and hand it to someone who's pregnant. Or if I really decide I'm in over my head, it will be a wall hanging and I'll give it to someone who has a wall.  I guess I might sew after all, or at least I quilt.  Even if I make quilts like punk rock -- sloppy**, loud***, and finished quickly.****

*Everyone is wrong about this.  Mom makes the best pie crust in the world.  Everyone is invited to practice, especially if I get to try the results, but Mom's crust is best.
**Although I'm getting better at sewing straight seams with practice.
***Although actually, Bird's quilt is closer to the quietly elegant end of the spectrum than one seeing my more normal output might expect.  Anything that is mostly cream, is probably elegant.
****Inarguable.  I will probably never hand quilt anything bigger than a pot holder.

Monday, September 19, 2011

More Exciting Things to Do with Bacon, and Miscellany

There are two kinds of people in the world, the ones who complain that fish tastes fishy, and the ones that think tuna salad is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy. Which is another way of saying that lunch made me happy.  

Meanwhilst, after intense discussion, in which many epithets were floated as possibilities, and some laws as unchangeable as those of the Medes and Persians were laid down ("absolutely nothing with 'chicken' in it"), JVW has a new nickname on this here blog. She will not be known as Xuan De (even though it means 'righteous virtue'), nor will she be known as Biker Chick, Evil Cajun Twin, nor yet Optimistic Gardener.  And she insists that Squid Girl is an honor that I should keep to myself.  Instead, she will be henceforth referred to as Bird (as in Isabella, the nineteenth century travel writer, and also a category of vertebrates she gets quite excited about), until I decide that really I can do better. 

Not only that, but Bird has contributed an explanation of one of my all time favorite appetizers to this blog.


Bacon Wrapped Dates as Explained by Bird

All you do is get dates of moderate size, not those great huge ones.  (At least, if you used the huge dates you’d probably need a whole slice of bacon per date, which would make a big mouthful that would be difficult to bite.  The smaller dates are easier to eat.)  Then you cut slices of bacon in half (so that you have two short strips, not two long skinny strips).  You wrap a date in a half-slice of bacon and secure it with a toothpick.  When you have wrapped all you want to cook, you put them on a broiler pan under the broiler.  In my oven, they are usually crispy-looking after about 10 minutes, when I then turn them over for another 10 (but you would want to watch them carefully, what with variations in broilers and potential variations in distance between broilers and dates).
Then you take just a bit of butter, like perhaps as much as a tablespoon if you have used up the whole pound of bacon, and less butter for less.  Sprinkle in some garlic powder and squeeze in a bit of lemon, then microwave till the butter is melted and drizzle it over the dates.  And voila, bacon-wrapped dates of profound yumminess and pleasure.  Just as good microwaved the next morning. [Or cold if you're running short on time, and need to get to work in an expeditious fashion. -- SE]

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Cookies

Said to Jackie this evening on the phone, "These cookies are really good.  Unfortunately, that means I need to remember what I did so I can blog it."  With that in mind, I offer recipes for the two kinds of oatmeal and STUFF cookies I am making at the moment.

Regular People Cookies
1/2 pound (or two sticks) of butter, softened
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup of granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 Tablespoon vanilla
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon salt (unless you use salted butter)
1/2 cup wheat or oat bran
2 1/2 cups oat meal
1 cup dried cherries, cranberries, or raisins
1 skimpy cup chocolate chips
1 cup walnut halves chopped

Preheat oven 350.

Combine ingrediants in order, mixing well after each addition.  An electric mixer is best, unless you have biceps to rival my brothers. 

Drop by teaspoon fulls on ungreased cookie sheets.  Bake for ten minutes, or until golden around the edges.


Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies of the Revolution

1/2 pound (or two sticks) of butter, softened
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup of granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 teaspoons of brandy
2 teaspoons espresso powder (no, 2 teaspoons of really strong coffee will not work, it will just make you long for the coffee taste that you feel ought to be there)
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon salt (unless you use salted butter)
3 cups oat meal
1 cup dried cherries, cranberries, or raisins
1 skimpy cup chocolate chips
1 heaping cup walnut halves chopped

Proceed as above.  These recipes are after all closely related.


Other than that I can say that zucchini, onions, garlic, walnuts and spinach sauteed in bacon fat is my family's new favorite vegetable experience. Especially with cod baked after being sloshed with olive oil, lemon juice, and sprinkled with dill, pepper, and gorgonzola.

The bacon fat was leftover from the bacon wrapped dates I wrote about last week.  I really ought to write up a recipe, or rather get JVW to tell me what she does, since she is the official bacon wrapped date maker.  Bacon wrapped dates are splendid, and make a fantastic portable breakfast.

Things on the Mind

1) Enchiladas -- namely cheese and green chile enchiladas, bulked out with black beans, potatoes, and smoked almonds (which I could feed to various and sundry Seattle veggie-types).  There are times when I don't have enchiladas on the brain, most of them involve anxiety dreams about showing up to sing somewhere without rehearsals or functional sheet music.

2) Smoked salmon wraps may be the world's best nearly instant meal.  Too bad I'm headed back to the land of exile and not enough salmon, especially not the smoked kind. 

3) Moon cakes -- someday I will understand Asian pastries that aren't hum bao. It's probably not today.  For now they are on the list of foods that I find deeply inexplicable, like horchata. I feel I have had a nearly intuitive grasp on the true place of hum bao in my life since my first one, when I worked upstairs from Charlie's Bakery, and one was a buck seventy-five, which made it an even cheaper lunch than going to Taco King for tacos.  At least you can get hum bao  in Seattle.  I should check out the tacos at Rancho Bravo sometime soon.  I have a feeling that they might be an acceptable substitute.  (After all, they serve horchata, which I don't like, but it is a good marker for Mexican joints that might make me happy.)

4) The woods in Anchorage September smell like home.  This really may be the most beautiful place on earth.  (If you ignore the urban architecture, mostly.) We saw a moose. Another downside to Seattle: no moose.  (Or bears, wolves, coyotes, or lynx.  Oh well.)

5) It's been a very short time, but I am going to miss my coworkers at the UAA bookstore.  All that bouncy youthful energy.  All those interesting conversations with international students about what it's like to be a long way from home.  YU being unearthly cheerful even in the morning. 

Sorry, this post is short on literary merit, but I have to be up early tomorrow, and I want to go bond with Peter Fleming.  Peter Fleming, being the much funnier brother of the more famous Ian, wrote travel books, in which he deploys British imperturbability in the face of the insane, the outrageous, and toads hopping through his sleeping quarters all night long. I offer this quotation from the beginning of News from Tartary as an amuse bouche (because really everyone ought to read him):
It was time to take stock of the situation, and this, with a kind of luxurious incredulity, I did.  It was a sufficiently improbable situation. I found myself the leader of a party of four people who had left Peking the night before with the undisclosed intention of proceeding overland to India ( a distance of some three or four thousand miles) by way of North Tibet and Sinkiang.  For the latter province, which had until recently been rent by civil war and which was virtually closed to foreign travellers, we had no passports. Apart from a rook rifle, six bottles of brandy, and Macaulay's  History of England, we had no equipment or supplies worth mentioning. Two of us were women; and our only common language was Russian. I felt extremely cheerful nonetheless.
He goes on like this for hundreds of pages. Cheefully. Currently, I am not reading News from Tartary, but rather Brazilian Adventure which outlines an expedition at least as mad.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A Minor Offering

1)The Tall Guy characterizes the following as "a funny read, with astonishing revelations about what Allen Ginsberg ate for breakfast". I would characterize it as a funny read with hilarious discussion of unexpected gastropods. I was raised by granola smoking hippies and very little surprises me in the way of breakfast food. These two facts are not unrelated. Either way, fun: The Meal That Ended My Career as a Restaurant Critic.

2) I cannot blame the following link on my altitudinally enhance friend, but I think it's awesome: T-shirt of Awesome.

3) JVW should start a blog, because I keep wanting to post snippets of her emails.  Today she is trying to convince me that YouTube stardom is around the corner, if I just coupled my dubious singing and, I also assume, her considerably less dubious singing with carefully chosen pictures of chickens. She also shared some unorthodox experiences of the apple harvest (such as it is) in Anchorage.  The thing about Anchorage's growing season is that it is short but intense, and when apple trees are blooming elsewhere there is still snow on the ground here.  This does not make for happy apple trees, although there are few optimistic souls, and hardy trees that make the attempt. 

4) Biological accuracy about charismatic megafauna is important to me, even if the megafauna in question is shy and retiring in the forests of central Africa.  In other words, an okapi is not an antelope.  Other than that, I do recommend The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time, even though I am probably just about the last person to read it. I blame the author's interview I heard on NPR about his second book.  Too much adultery in suburbia, without a really strong narrative voice to balance it out.  This has adultery in suburbia, but it also has a reasonably well done Autistic narrator.

5) Because one needs more beautiful astronomy: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-14792580

Sunday, September 11, 2011

It's that time of the year again

I was going to attempt to write something trenchant about  That Anniversary but I got too angry and burst into tears instead, which is a problem when one is wearing glasses as this one does these days.  Also that post was a hair more serious and self revelatory than I am willing to be in this medium. And the audience in my head -- sundry relatives and close friends has probably heard me say all I really have to say on the topic, and yelling online won't help anything, especially when others manage to say what I want to say and keep some shreds of civility. So instead I will talk about the week which was totally a red letter week as these things go -- except for intermittent episodes of yelling at Leon Panetta and Congress which is pretty much par for the course.  (To the best of my knowledge Leon Panetta  does not read this blog and does not know that every so often he says something that causes me to yell at him in the privacy of my car*)

In the course of this magnificent week, I got to spend time with three of the four people who know way too much about me**: Skadi, the Tall Guy, and JVW (who I really need to come up with a better nickname for).  Spending time with any of them is exciting, but getting to see three of the four in a week is almost too much to hope for (especially as it's the three of the four that I am usually at least a thousand miles away from at all times, and even when I'm home in Anchorage, one of them is persistently in the Midwest***).  I made up a new recipe.  And I went for a hike.  And I finished a quilt. I am exercising great restraint.  If I were to truly demonstrate my happiness any one of these things would be occasion for all caps, bold, and hot pink, flashing type.  As it is, I merely point out my excitement, so that people who know me well can say, "indeed, Sarah is very happy about all this." Also any one of these things is enough and more than enough for a blog post, and may yet prove to spark one. I kept writing the one about how I don't sew in my head while I was, in fact, sewing.

And because it wouldn't be my life without heaping helpings of absurdity, I also explained my beauty regimen to a Japanese student, who didn't believe that I was as old as I said I was. (Dear readers who have never met me, I look more or less  my age, which is almost thirty-one.)  Upon producing my driver's license, he (yes, dear readers who have not already heard the story, the student in question was and is male) asked what I did to have such wonderful skin.  I stared at him as if he had gone completely mad, and explained that I took a multivitamin, and walked a lot. I believe that the main thing in my beauty regimen is beyond his reach.  Namely, at this point in his life, he is unlikely to be able to be related to both my grandmothers (and possibly my grandfathers as well).  Certainly my complexion is one of those things for which I can take no credit. 

But I mentioned a recipe, and I have one, albeit with almost no measurements, because if I'm not baking I rarely measure.  JVW has opined that my recipes are funny.  I have no idea why she thinks this way.

Smoked Salmon Pizza

First off you need a recipe of pizza dough.  Use your favorite, or use this one. If you use my recipe, I strongly suggest leaving the herbs out of the crust.

I actually suggest making the "sauce" the night before so that the flavors have time to meld.  I, of course, did not do this.
1 box cream cheese (full fat, or neufchatel if your definitions of virtue run that way. Although the results will not be quite as over the top.)
A handful of fresh dill or to taste, snipped up with kitchen shears
A handful of fresh parsley, like wise
A clove of garlic or so, minced, mashed or smashed, or a teaspoon or so out of a jar
A couple of green onions minced
A sizeable pinch of sweet paprika
The zest and juice of a quarter lemon
A tablespoon or so of milk
Salt and pepper

Use a hand mixer to mix everything.  You might consider nuking the cream cheese to render it easier to work.  Chill overnight if you have time to do that.

Toppings for the pizza

Smoked salmon, not lox (lox is a fine thing in its way, but it lacks the force of smoked salmon)
roasted red peppers
grape tomatoes
feta
pine nuts (I forgot that I had meant to put pine nuts on the pizza, until I was eating the leftovers.  It didn't suffer from the lack, but I suggest them, if you like that sort of thing.)

After the first baking of the pizza crust (see the linked recipe), spread the pizza thickly with the cream cheese mixture.  I have a hard time thinking of it as a sauce, because in the main, sauces pour; however it fulfills the role of sauce.

Sprinkle on the toppings in quantities that seem right to you.  The feta should probably be added with a light hand.

Bake the pizza for 5 minutes or so, or until the cheeses are a bit browned.  Serve with a large green salad, bacon wrapped dates, red wine, and most importantly good friends. I fed this to JVW, the Tall Guy, and his girl friend (who seems like still another delightful person, whose perversity of location I shall regret).  No one complained, and everyone had seconds and in some cases thirds. 

*Some people watch football and yell at the tv.  My family treats politics the same way.
**I really dislike the term "best friend," with its exclusivity, and in any case my relationships with all of these people are so different.  But they do all know more about me than I find entirely comfortable, though sometimes it is comforting.
*** Repetitive to the point of annoyance announcements that the friend in question ought to move to Seattle or Anchorage have so far not been productive, but hopefully my brainwashing attempts will eventually bear fruit.  Also, my friends are incredibly tolerant.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Limitations of My Method

I intend to write about smoked salmon pizza with cream cheese sauce.  It would be a lot easier if I'd measured anything while making it.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Not really about food (much)

Acerodon celebensis
Except for the recipe for sweet potato pancakes, which the Tall Guy wondered to me why I didn't post here.  Since I didn't have a good reason at the time for not posting it, three weeks later I have gotten around to it. Anyway, the Tall Guy and I get to spatially intersect this week. And I expect to feed him dinner tomorrow. (Early forecasts are smoked salmon with a chance of pizza, with scattered bacon wrapped dates clearing off before the entree. If what I am thinking of really works, I am going to be blogging the meal in gratuitous detail.) So I really had better post the recipe. 

A few weeks ago I had leftover mashed sweet potatoes to contend with. I now know what to do with leftover mashed sweet potatoes.  This is not a normal problem, leftover sweet potatoes.  They pretty generally get eaten up with enthusiasm around here, but the other day I made a bunch, and there was a giant salad, and hamburgers, so I ended up with sweet potatoes.

I made pancakes.

Sweet Potato Pancakes
Call it a cup and a half of mashed sweet potatoes (mine had butter, garlic, and too much nutmeg* in them), 2 eggs, 1/3 cup flour,1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp baking powder. Fry at a lower temp than you otherwise might do pancakes, because they come out kind of thick. Maple syrup and butter are just dandy on them, but I couldn't help wishing for something a bit sharper like plain yogurt or chevre.

So my informal recipe for sweet potato pancakes is now revealed.  However the real reason for this post is that JVW and I were emailing each other one night recently and for reasons that I attribute to the lateness of the hour and the general ambient silliness of the people involved in the correspondence, we began writing parodies of Romantic verse with fruit bats inserted willy-nilly.  JVW has asked me to post them here.  I suspect that this is a ploy to get me blogging more regularly again.  For reasons that I find utterly obscure, she thinks my recipes are funny.

In this outbreak of pastiche, Byron and Shelley were probably the most deeply wronged, and you are about to see. (If one clicks on the titles, one will be whisked to the original poems.)

It Flaps in Beauty

 It flies in beauty like the night
Of muggy climes and buggy skies
And only stops to take a bite
As past the mango tree it flies
Though you may wish it on a plate
Upon a bun and edged with fries
One wing the more, one wing the less?
Deeply impair'd the nameless grace
Which soars on tropic ev'ning breeze,
  Or, clumsy, crashes into place
among the dense papaya trees.
  How pure, how dear its little face!

That furry cheek, and mark├ęd brow,
  So soft, so calm, yet eloquent;
The the feet that grip, that cunning toe, 
  that tells of days unconscious spent;
A mind at peace with all below,
  A heart whose love is innocent!

That was a joint effort.  What follows is definitive proof that JVW is not only sillier than I am, but she is also better at formal verse.


The Destruction of the Orchards

The fruit bats came down like a wolf on the trees
And their membranous wings sang their song on the breeze
The sheen of their claws was like sun on a pond
And their fur was bright auburn or brownish or blond
Like the locusts of Joel of each separate kind
The fruit bats flew down for the fruit they might find
Their goal was to gorge on those mangos so sweet
Then roost in the trees, hanging on by their feet
But behold! for the villagers had quite enough
They wanted to keep their papayas and stuff
Their nets were in place in the branches aloft
To catch all the fruit bats, so darling and soft
And then one by one all the fruit bats were caught
The cleverer primates had captured the lot
The fruit bats did tremble, their eyes got as big
As the eyes of the Chinese Prohibitous Pig
And some of the people said, “Stir-fry the bats!”
And some said, “Slow-cook them in monstrous great vats!”
And some said, “Fillet them and put them to freeze
And then we can eat them whenever we please!”
And while they were arguing, the fruit bats broke free
And on the night wind far away did they flee
They swore they would no more rob orchards of men
At least not until they got hungry again
The following can also be squarely blamed on JVW.  Well JVW and Percy Shelley.  (Shelley makes me want to smack him on grounds of both verse and biography, so this effusion particularly pleased me.)

I met a traveler from an antique land
Who said, “Two vast and trunkless wings of stone
Flop in the desert.  Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered muzzle lies, whose crown
And outsize ears, and look of silliness
Tell that its sculptor knew with fear and dread
The hunger for papayas and the stress
Of having such a great big furry head.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
‘My name is Batymandias, King of Kings;
Look on my fruit, but don’t you even dare
To steal a mango.’  There is nothing more:
Behold the ruined giant frugivore.”


*My relationship with nutmeg is intense and complex. I can't stand the flavor, when I can taste the flavor.  When it is a faint trace, setting off all the other flavors in a dish, I adore it. When I explained to my friend JVW that I hated nutmeg,  she responded in tones of deep bemusement, "but you put it in all sorts of things." This is true.  As I said, it's a complex relationship, and the line between love and hate is very very fine indeed.