In St. Louis, late summer is menopausal. Temperatures drop to sunny California 70s before ricocheting back to the high 90s. One minute Mother Nature turns the thermostat down to 68, the next she’s stripping down to skivvies in a suburban bedroom. Tuesday I’m cannonballing into a blue backyard swimming pool, Wednesday I’m running through the first wisps of fall leaves. Living with a golden age Gaia isn’t easy; I want autumn in full force, not just the barest teases of calm. Continue reading
Tag Archives: Dinner
Molasses Braised Carrots
P-Bougie Down with Tilapia and Tomato Stew
Here’s a truth that few in the mommy-food-media machine readily acknowledge: cooking well requires money. That “well” needs an asterisk, or footnote, or italicization, or some other distinguishing mark to differentiate between “well” for a privileged group of DSLR obsessed bloggers (and their food porn gobbling audiences) and “well” for the economically disadvantaged or otherwise disinterested non-foodie nation. Whereas foodie “well” often means refining and sophisticating home cooked meals to the point of distortion—the food more resembles a Thomas Keller townhouse, many microgreens and swirls of nouveau-French sauce, than food for families, or worse yet, it looks like food for families run through the food-stylist mill and beautified to the point of skankiness, the kind of lewd overfecund bursting of preteens playing pop whores, except it’s supersaturated color photography of a perfectly sculpted cupcake—the alternative “well,” this other “well-cooked,” implies a home economy of cooking: extracting maximum flavor at minimum cost over optimal yield. Instead of passing a kidney stone of ideological proportion, I merely suggest that it is disingenuous for cadres of cash flush bloggers to avoid mentioning their cooking costs. If you run a food blog and use immersion blenders and organic lemon thyme, or if you run a blog and pretend to be poor in order to boost your faux soul food cred, or if you gastronomically masturbate to images of pistachio-rose macarons and passion fruit caramels and turbot—and if you also pretend that cooking well in your style of cooking well does not require money, then you are a liar. Please, refrain from obsequiously fondling the mountain oysters of our so-called culinary gods. Market yourself as entertainment, equivalent to a trashy haute couture rag, and restrain your “Quick and Easy™” babblings, stifle “cheap, cheap, fun, fun.” There is no quick and easy in curing wild boar prosciutto or pulling dragon’s beard candy in a rotting prefab ranch, est. 1952, lost between Vicksburg and Natchez. Continue reading
Filed under Recipes, Theory and Criticism
Smoked Pork Shoulder, Skillet Cornbread, Cauliflower
Sunday morning, we rubbed down a pork shoulder, started a fire, and let smoke slowly coax meat into submission. With all afternoon to while away (over Scrabble games, teen garden party supervision, and other such petit-bougie tasks), we prepared a skillet cornbread (complete with sun dried tomatoes and mushrooms on the top) and steamed a head of cauliflower. When dinner takes all day, anticipation reaches a breaking point. As the carving knife slid through bark and smoke ring and collagenous flesh, I could barely contain my appetite. In this video, we demonstrate how to make Sunday dinner last from morning till night, no sweat necessary.
Look for our short documentary, In the Most Unlikely Places: Eating Somewhere South, coming soon to a computer near you.
Triathloning: Swimming to Nowhere
In my last triathloning column, I discussed heat acclimation.
On Monday, I irritated my iliotibial (IT) band, and now my left knee hurts bad enough to keep me off the streets. I’ve previously written about eating through injuries, and this time, I at least have an alternative form of exercise available: swimming. The worst part about running injuries is not not (excuse the double negative, not) being able to run; the second worst part is confinement to the treadmill during rehab. Treadmills pervert the very purpose of running—instead of moving forwards, the treadmill forces the runner to remain stationary. In fact, treadmills originated as a method of disciplining prisoners. Following a 1779 prison reform act, English prisoners were required to perform “labor of the hardest and most servile kind.” To meet this strange regulation, William Cubbitt designed an ingenious device that forced inmates to walk on belted platforms, simultaneously operating a mill. Sydney Smith described the 19th century treadmill as “irksome, dull, monotonous, and disgusting to the last degree.” In The Ballad of Reading Gaol, Oscar Wilde puts it a bit more poetically: “We banged the tins, and bawled the hymns / And sweated on the mill.” Since the mid-19th century, the word treadmill has also meant any exhausting work that leads nowhere. Unless you have a lake, sea, ocean, or similarly expansive body of water within easy reach, swimming resembles running on a treadmill. Moving back and forth across the pool, you endlessly traverse the same territory—the illusion of progress merely disguises a kind of numbing stasis. Continue reading
Triathloning: Freestyling to Dinner
The word “marathoning” is of dubious validity; triathloning just seems made-up. In order to continue my Friday series on endurance sports though, I needed to adjust the name to reflect the new subject matter. My next race will not be a marathon. Instead, I plan on completing a triathlon in August—something under the half-Iron Man distance, most likely a one mile swim, 40 mile bike ride, and eight mile run. I’m a capable cyclist and an experienced distance runner. Unfortunately, I’ve allowed my swimming skills to lapse over the last six years. Struggling to complete a seemingly mediocre workout is a humbling experience; it is easy to forget the initial difficulties of a new exercise regimen. Hopefully, in six weeks I will have become a significantly more proficient swimmer. Continue reading