Thousand Flowers Tart

Thousand Flowers Tart

When Jennifer from The Burley Hen purchased a tiny vial of millefiori, putting a single drop into her pancake batter, she somehow knew, at first taste, that I should have it instead. And so it made a short trip from Queens to Manhattan, a single drop less, and waiting. Most likely waiting for me to turn on my poet-brain. This entire recipe, from thinking it, being frustrated with it, to tasting it multiple times, brought me back to those days I’d fuss over a single poem.

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While I was super excited to have this flower concentrate in the house, I also had no idea what I wanted to do with it, as there are not too many recipes online. Mostly a lot of Pastiera; an Italian Easter cake. (That’s another thing I miss about writing a poem. The researching that comes with it.)

It wasn’t until receiving sunflower flour from Tory that this idea for a tart came to, well, you know, blossom. As she handed the bag of flour to me, along with a spankin’ new tart pan (my FIRST!), it was a no-brainer. I wanted everything about what I create to somehow be about flowers, but in subtle ways. The crust, the filling…and what about toppings? I spent an entire day looking for edible flowers the first time I tested out this recipe and found not a single one. Mind you, they were EVERYWHERE at the greenmarkets of NYC the weekend before. But then it hit me.

FIGS. Inverted flowers. The loves of my life.

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Developing a recipe out of ingredients that were all gifts makes this special to me. The sunflour, which is darker than flour, adds depth to the crust. The crushed graham sweetens it, but also tones down the possibility of a bitter and very dark crust. Look at this color contrast!

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for the crust

– 1 1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
– 1/4 cup sunflower flour (from Hudson Valley Cold Pressed Oils)
– 1/4 cup brown sugar
– few pinches of salt
– 7 tbs unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 225 degrees. (We’re just gently toasting the crust.)

In a medium bowl, whisk your dry ingredients til well incorporated and, using a fork, stir in the melted butter. In a 9″ tart pan with removable bottom, press mixture with hands or the bottom of a measuring cup til everything is nice and compact. Bake for about 8 minutes, til fragrant.

Cool down 1 hour before use.

for the filling

– 2 cups half and half
– 3 long strips of orange zest
– 1/2 cup sugar
– 4 egg yolks, from large organic eggs
– 3 tbs cornstarch, sifted
– pinch of salt
– 1/4 tsp millefiori (flower concentrate)
– 2 tbs unsalted butter, cut

1. Under medium heat, scald milk with orange zest and pour into a measuring cup. Set aside for 10 minutes so that the orange lightly infuses the milk. Stir in the flower concentrate.

2. In a medium pot, whisk together your eggs and sugar and then add your sifted cornstarch and salt. Whisk whisk whisk for about 5 minutes, or until the mixture becomes light in color.

3. Remove orange zest from the milk and gradually pour into the egg mixture, whisking continuously. At this point you’ll turn on the heat to medium and whisk whisk whisk til the mixture thickens. Remove from heat. Let it cool down a couple of minutes before stirring in the butter.

4. Place in a heat-proof bowl and cover with plastic wrap. The plastic wrap should make direct contact with the top of the pastry cream so that a skin does not form. Let it cool down 15-20 minutes more and then put it in the fridge to chill for at least 4 hours, or up to 2 days.

5. When ready to assemble, smooth out the pastry cream into the cooled-down crust, and decorate!

topping suggestions

– figs
– edible flowers
– any berry in season

After you take your photos, “pour on the fruit” as my mother would say. I made this tart right before strawberries arrived at the farmers market. They’d make a beautiful addition to the floral flavors here.

Happy June, my loves!

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Braised Cranberry Beans (Enjoyed Two Ways)

I’ve a confession to make.

I left these beauties in the fridge for at least a week before getting down to business.

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How dare I, I know. It’s just that I’ve been overly excited about Spring’s arrival, and with that comes some major irresponsibility on my part. I am buying way too many things at the farmers market and I can’t keep up with it all. When I looked in the fridge today, I had bags of three kinds of radishes, thyme, chives, forgotten carrots and onions, cauliflower, purple cabbage, ridiculously expensive cherry tomatoes, 5 kinds of cheeses…the list goes on. But can you BLAME ME?

Anxiety started to build up last night. I stayed up late brainstorming what I wanted to make the next morning. Mind you, everything I thought of had zero things to do with cranberry beans, because I actually forgot I had them. I went to bed with more ideas than a solid plan for 8 AM. When I opened the crisp drawer next morning, there they were, a gloriously pink reminder of their existence.

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It was clearly time to sit down, and start shelling. I had no idea what would happen after I revealed what was inside each pod. That’s what makes this recipe special to me. I felt how I used to when writing a poem. The first step is to begin. Begin somewhere, anywhere, and let it transform into something unexpected and beautiful. That’s what happened here. It began with a braise.

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And then it became a salad of some of the things I couldn’t bare to neglect any longer.

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Braised Cranberry Beans

for boiling them first
-fresh cranberry beans, shelled, about 1 1/2 cup
-1 garlic gloves, smashed
-sprig of thyme or other herbs

for the braise
-1/4 cup good quality olive oil, or enough to cover beans half-way in small pot
-1 tsp toasted cumin seeds or powder
-1 garlic clove, smashed
-orange or lemon peels (optional)
-generous amount of Aleppo pepper (or other red pepper)
-salt, to taste

for the Braised Bean Salad (basically, your market haul) I used:

-braised cranberry beans with oil
-cherry tomatoes, quartered
-3-4 radishes, all the colors
-small bunch of fresh chives
-leaves from 1 thyme sprig
-salt and pepper, to taste
-fresh drizzle of olive oil
-fresh squeeze of lemon
-ricotta salata cheese (or other cheese)

Directions

Braised Beans: After the beans have been shelled, put them in a sauce pan with enough water to cover, and let it simmer for 20 minutes with aromatics. Drain. In the same pan, heat the olive oil and begin to saute the garlic, cumin, and red pepper for about a minute. Add the beans and cover, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes under low heat (or until the beans have softened and some have turned a golden color.)You want that braised-crisp look on the outside, but creaminess on the inside.

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At this point, you can serve as is. Spoon it over beautiful bread. Maybe add some grated parmesan.

But if you’re lookin’ for something more, continue on and make the salad. Add all the spring things and toss. Season with salt and pepper and dress it with fresh lemon juice. Use what you have on hand but be sure to have something in there that provides a good crunch. I love the addition of radishes in here for that very reason. Maybe uncooked green beans! Parsley would make another nice, green addition.

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And here’s a friendly reminder: keep an eye out for the beautiful at your local market. They may come in very tiny bundles. The stuff of poems.

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When Friends Ask You to Pick Up Their CSA Share (Part 2)

When Friends Ask You to Pick Up Their CSA Share (Part 2)

You wonder if there is a poem out there that celebrates this moment. Between friends and between yourself and all the veggies, is there a poem? If not, perhaps you could write one, in the same breath as Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude, about every saturated-in-color vegetable and fruit that comes home with you on the first Saturday of September–this year and last.

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But if there is a chance you’ve been feeling less like a poet these days, meaning, you haven’t broken a line in a long while for the sake of sound, silence, and meaning, then you become–you are–a poet in your kitchen, roasting tomatoes with whole cloves of garlic. The woody scent of thyme and rosemary from your garden when met with high heat can make you long for the long, deliberate drizzle of rosemary-infused olive oil, and flaky salt, which you know your tomatoes love. You’ve a mind and heart towards Tory and Jon, who shared their share with you as they made their big move into Corona. Think of all the dinner parties and PICNICS, and sneak peaks into their first garden out back.

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Your first thought, after all this gratitude and daydreaming, was roasted tomato sauce, which you learned to make in Valerie’s kitchen a couple of summers ago. This is the way you will make sauce forever. The flavor is tomato multiplied by tomato, on the savory-sweet side. But as you peel each one, you begin to crave soup.

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You never made tomato bisque. I don’t think you ever had tomato bisque so you’re not entirely sure where to begin, but to begin. It started as your favorite sauce, with the addition of chicken stock, cream, carrot and celery, pureed til silky. Doesn’t the same happen in writing a poem? You never know how a poem will end til it begins to unfold itself, line by line, and if it ends on bisque with warm slices of bread instead of tomato sauce, then you take slices of your warm, roasted garlic ciabatta and you dip dip dip it into the creamy broth.

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It almost looks like your favorite carrot soup, which you’ll write about another day. The local farm feta, and micro-cilantro which was part of the share, didn’t just provide this bisque with good looks. It went amazingly well together. Having had Brooklyn Grange’s micro-greens quite a few times, you think you’ll just start picking your cilantro from the garden earlier than usual, because after a week, you honestly want to give up with their eagerness to bolt.

Then there is the tenderness of toy choi, which you just discover and are fond of.

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But with something so tender, you need to put it to use almost immediately. By 9PM the first day, they were wilting. So the next morning, without getting all fancy and having a panic, you whip up a fine breakfast in which you sauteed their small, cabbage leaves, along with their flowers, with smoked kielbasa and red onion. Served it with egg, heirloom tomato salad with local feta, and a blueberry muffin your mom made.

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Everything else will come together, slowly, as the week goes by. You’ll think Jen was making use of the fairytale eggplants because the bowl was getting emptier and emptier as days went by. You’ll soon find one in almost every corner of the house, courtesy your cat, Loonz.

You’ll take what’s left of their most adorable selves (you make a note that you’ll grow them next year, seriously this time), and you roast them with warm spices (garam masala) and garlic.

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You’ll want to stuff the beautiful, red peppers but never find the time to, so you add them in salads and stews. You do the same with the two onions.

You’ll blister shishito peppers, finishing them with smoked salt.

You’ll share arugula with mom, because everything about this is about sharing.

You’ll eventually find the time to write it all down. You’ll feel exactly as you feel when a poem has ended. Which is the same feeling you’ll get when every tomato, herb, oil and cream came together in your pot one afternoon, and again when the last bit of bisque is gone.

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my harlem lunch hour

my harlem lunch hour

slabs of seedless watermelon
lush pink and bright yellow next door

i’ve never had the yellow but i want yellow i want
something close to sun

heirloom tomatoes all the way from his garden in Jersey
sit on storefront windowsills sunning til a red he is fond of blooms

to then be chopped along with cucumbers and parsley
a salad sold for simple souls at a shop called 7 Grains

i order my usual no matter how hot of a day it is
split pea unlike any other split pea with it’s
ham-less, Moroccan flare.
he takes out a bottle of all natural soy sauce and
taps it over your legumes tap tap tap 3 times exactly.
“we don’t use salt here.” but they sure use spice.
i taste cumin. cayenne. garlic. paprika. “do you want
a spoonful of brown rice with that?” yes.
and then a final finishing tap of cayenne before
it gets it’s lid and i hand over $4.50.

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back at work, i asked my boss’ son what he’s having for lunch.
it’s become a ritual, before sharpening pencils and binding books
and sorting papers and making calls,
i must know what everyone is eating.

“marco polo,” he says.
the name of a sandwich that was
poorly selected for him to choose from on
a menu with 20-something other poorly-named sandwiches.
no, what is in your sandwich?
he doesn’t know he says with a shrug.
i place the lid back on my split pea and push it aside.
i tell him to take a big bite, chew slowly, and name what you can taste.

after a long moment, eyelids fly open and he names
lettuce
tomato
turkey?–no, chicken.
he’s smiling as he stares deeply between two slices of Italian bread and says,

“marco polo, are they serious?”

One of Many Ways to Eat Spring

One of Many Ways to Eat Spring

When Spring returned to us in all its young green finery,
I wanted to eat it. To squeeze a little lime on it
in broad daylight and find my way, past
the beefsteak tomatoes,
standing strong on the sides of heirlooms,

the tall, bruised green of the earth.

The day before Easter, I grabbed the first asparagus of the season at my mom’s local farmers market and decided I was going to create a spring feast, highlighting these thick spears along with other bright and deep greens, such as peas, spring onions, cilantro, thyme, arugula. I wanted fava beans but I couldn’t find any. I stopped by my favorite kielbasa vendor and he handed me the cutest, smokiest ham I’ve ever held, and tasted. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with it then, but knew I had to leave with it.

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“You can use it as decoration for your Easter table,” he told me. I politely shook my head no. I can–and will–use it in everything throughout the week, beginning tomorrow. After tomorrow, then they’re going in omelets, slow-cooked beans, etc. But it was tomorrow I wasn’t exactly sure about.

Before bed, I cracked open my notebook and brainstormed dinner, which I’m doing more often these days before dinner parties. It relieves stress knowing that I’ve some idea as to what I want to accomplish the next day. I’m very used to just winging it. Once dinner is over, I return to the journal and jot down what I actually ended up doing, which helps me to better understand my kitchen-mind. Here’s how it stormed that night! I actually made everything on this, with some minor changes.

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I’ve such a fondness for this time of year. Easter morning I ran some errands, grabbing the last of the ingredients that I needed to complete our dinner. It felt like the first, true warm day of the season and I was at peace. Outside the supermarket, an older woman asked me if I could walk her a few blocks to the bus. While I held her hand, we talked about family dinners. She’d cook for a family of 10. She’d make 3 different salads, 2 different cakes, she’d roast a fish and a chicken and sometimes, on special occasions, would make brisket. She had zero help because she never asked, and she thought it was beautiful I was going to spend the day in the kitchen with my mother making a meal for a family of 7. There was so much we agreed on in those three blocks: we love the farmers market, springtime awakens a hunger for healthier things, and food is love.

When I returned to mom’s kitchen, I moved around with such light feet. What I ended up doing with the greens I have since done often.

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I am calling this a Spring Pilaf and rice will never be boring to me again. You can add anything you want to it. It can be made fresh, or made with leftovers. This one is smoky due to the ham I purchased from the market, and the shredded carrots truly makes this a festive-looking dish. I used jasmine but now only use basmati.

After I made this one, I started toying with the recipe and included seasonings I love most.
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Here’s my Indian-Spiced Spring Pilaf.

1/2 cup Basmati, cooked with a pinch of turmeric and salt, butter.

I like more veggies than rice so eyeball amounts according to your preference. I used green beans and asparagus, corn, sliced mushrooms, a small red onion, 3 garlic cloves, grated carrot (towards the end), quickly stir fried in cumin seeds & powder, garam masala, 4 cardamom pods (cracked open a bit), fresh herbs such as cilantro and thyme, pepper and salt to taste. Use whatever herbs you love!

I made this again for Valerie’s Poetry & Coffee BBQ yesterday, just because I want to feed people as much of spring as they can get. And then they’ll have to deal with my summer pilaf shenanigans.
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A few days ago I went with my love to the Queens County Farm and saw rows of asparagus shooting from the earth. It was a beautiful sight, how they stood, perfectly, like soldiers we hold in our hearts today, every day.

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a free-form shine

I’m right here

sunlight opening up the sidewalk,
opening up today’s breakfast black&white,
& I’m about to be
born again thinking of you

–Ted Berrigan, Many Happy Returns

Let’s keep this simple.

There’s no sun. I need sun. Imma slice sweet gold, dress their light in citrus, hug all their yellow tight with buttery, flaky pie dough and call it a damn good day. Don’t forget the green. Never ever forget the cheese.

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Golden Beet & Feta Galette

1 chilled pie dough (adapted from Justin Chapple)

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • Kosher salt and cracked pepper
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, frozen
  • 1/3 cup ice water
  • tiny bit of orange zest if you’d like. that was a last sec decision for me and i loved it.

In a large bowl, combine flour, salt and pepper, zest. Grate frozen butter over the flour and gently toss together. Stir in 1/3 cup of ice water until the dough is evenly moistened. Knead super gently and quickly. Pat into a round disc and chill for 1 hour. I sometimes make-ahead the dough the day before and keep it in the freezer. In the AM I leave it in the fridge til ready to use.

Filling

3 small Golden Beets
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
olive oil
1 orange, (for juice and zest)
good quality feta (softer kind)
dill
salt n pepper to taste

Boil beets, skin-on, til tender, about 35 minutes. Peel with hands under cool water. The skin should slide right off (this is my favorite part). Slice semi-thin and toss beets with a couple of squeezes of fresh orange juice, a bit of it’s zest, olive oil, salt and pepper, just enough to coat everything. Then add the sliced red onion along with as much dill as you can stand and toss once more.

Roll out your chilled pie dough, placing everything at it’s center, add feta everywhere, and fold. SIMPLE. I love it.

At 375 degrees, bake til dough seems golden. Everything must be golden. We want sun.

Top with more fresh dill and feta. 🙂

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where you are planted / bloom

I was a little
tipsy on the dance
of the velvety heart rolling
in my mouth

I was dumb-tipsy on the day.

Connie and I didn’t know it yet, but walking first into Wave Hill’s Sunroom before lounging in all of it’s unabashed green was a high-five moment.

We actually high-fived each other.

I am writing about a summer day, nearing Winter, because of the chicken pot pie I had during this visit (I’ll get there soon).

Anyway, if you know anything about my love of playing Skyrim (in which I live through my character who hand picks her flowers and shrooms for alchemical, kick-ass purposes), then you may begin to understand my excitement when I found this station of roots and flowers:

That’s Connie, not hiding HER excitement whatsoever. What is there not to love about a hands-on, minds-off exhibition?

There were bowls full of chrysanthemums, damiana leaves, angelica root, hops, lavender, rose buds, hibiscus and mugwort root. We were to take a mortar and pestle, fill it with whatever we chose from the bowls, grind them all together and then place them into a pouch. We were to walk around the space with this pouch full o’ flower and roots and then leave them on a shelf where other visitors have put theirs to rest.

I’d like to note that Connie chose more flower than root, and I, the opposite. There was an urgency about it. I’ve noticed a bright blooming about Connie. Me? My recent break-up made me want to root myself somewhere, anywhere, inside and out. There was a journal in Wave Hill’s gift shop that says to bloom where you are planted. I couldn’t agree more.

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LIKE THIS:

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Wave Hill was quiet on this day. While Connie meditated on waterlilies and fish, I spotted me a dad who was playing hide-n-seek with his two daughters. It wasn’t a quick play either. They must’ve been playing for at least 45 minutes and my heart filled up with joy and a sudden sadness I couldn’t grasp til recently.

We found ourselves a bench and she cracked open Ross Gay and read me the first poem in the book, To the Fig Tree on 9th and Christian. It reads like a happy run-on. Twice, lines from this poem rang true as I stumbled upon trees and plants I wanted to show everyone around me (or just Connie, who had to deal with my enthusiastic “LOOK!” every so often.)

and soon there were
eight or nine
people gathered beneath
the tree looking into
it like a constellation pointing
do you see it

Do you?

And then after all that fig talk and all our long walks, we grew hungry. It was a very hot day but I couldn’t resist a rustic, chicken and root veggie pot pie. There were cute fingerling potatoes in it, skin-on, that made me think of Glasbern. It sounded so comforting to me and today was all about healing. Connie ordered a beet burger with a side of beet chips. That’s ma girl. Go beet or go home. I would’ve ordered that, too, had I not seen this as an option. What stood out to me about the pot pie was that a puff pastry was used, and the broth itself was packed with so many different herbs. I already knew I’d be making my own version of this later on during the week.

We spent the rest of the day lounging on the grass, reading and journaling and talking up a storm. You could smell lavender in the air. We stayed til it was literally time for the place to close down. Wave Hill has made it onto my list of green places I’d like to visit during each season, to photograph it’s changes and growth; even when not-so-green.

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Next week I wanted to make my version of the rustic chicken pot pie, but with beef. I baked a puff pastry and topped it with butter and fresh rosemary that I grew. I made sure the broth was rich with fresh herbs. The star of it for me were the English peas I used that I had just gotten from the farmer’s market. So sweet. Sometimes it makes me sad to cook just for one person, I always want to share, but I loved having leftovers of this. It’s the perfect time of year to make this once again, and I promise to write up the recipe when I do. You pretty much just throw everything in a pot and simmer.

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Needless to say, I am ready for 2016 to come to a close, but not without getting what I can out of the lessons I learned throughout the year. Especially remembering this day that kept reminding me of the importance to grow and bloom right where you are, even when, at times, you think the soil is not right or the days are too ugly for personal growth. But that’s right when we do grow, yes? Even Ross Gay entered our day with that message, which I will leave right here for you today:

c’mere baby,
he says and blows a kiss
to the tree which everyone knows
cannot grow this far north
being Mediterranean
and favoring the rocky, sun-baked soils
of Jordan and Sicily
but no one told the fig tree
or the immigrants
there is a way
the fig tree grows
in groves it wants,
it seems, to hold us

Dal Recipe & Poem

Dal Recipe & Poem

In July, I was asked to read poems inspired by my neighborhood: Jamaica, Queens. I was even part of a panel, guys. WHAT!? I saw this as an opportunity for me to write about my favorite vegetarian Indian eatery (Annam Brahma), as well as my new love for cooking Indian cuisine right in the heart of home–my kitchen. The first kitchen I’ve felt the most comfortable in.

I only started to mess around with these beautiful spices once I moved here, as they are sold in my nearest market and I can smell their warmth coming from the windows of various neighbors on my block.

Love is another reason. Once I found out that Butter Chicken was Danny’s favorite, I wanted him to come home to the rich broth set to simmer on my stove. In the oven would always be a head of cauliflower that was doused in 1/2 a cup of olive oil, seasoned with turmeric, garlic powder, paprika, a generous amount of salt, roasted with slivers of jalapeño and garlic. It’s my favorite, adapted from a recipe I saw in Saveur magazine.

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He made naan, of course. Not because I couldn’t. But because I’ve always loved watching him work dough. I started serving both cauliflower and naan along with my dal, with a tiny bowl of basmati rice. But sometimes I still need to head to Annam Brahma just for a bowl of their own dal, and to be surrounded by all the loving people there. Just sitting at one of their tables (I prefer the corner) feels like a much-needed hug.

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I have used the spices that were a gift to Annam Brahma customers on their anniversary for ALL these dishes, and it’s mostly the spices and all the bright blue houses in Jamaica that inspired this poem. I’m not sure what to call it yet. Turmeric-light?

The names of cafés alone open you wide with hunger.
The Smile of the Beyond,
Panorama of My Silence-Heart,
Annam Brahma meaning “Food is God” meaning
not commodity meaning—
what I understand food to mean—

heart.

And if the names alone do not turn your feet into curious movement,
let’s talk about color.
Each storefront is more like
homefront and they are all painted blue, not just blue
but bright baby but
2pm sky on Parsons with sun-Up-blue.

And on 164th,
right there, between bodega and Greek Orthodox Church

the blue beyond smile.

Walk in and sit
anywhere / but always by flowers and packets of brown
sugar that say things like
“A moment’s peace
can
and shall
save the world.”
Pick up a totem to be kept in your wallet,
which Chinmoy may—or may not say— “I must love
the unloved ones—I must.”

You must order their Dal.

If food is God these lentils are well-seasoned turmeric-Light
where Oneness is
what’s what from the pulse?
Perhaps chopped onion, minced garlic, ginger, sautéed
with the seeds with the seeds with oh glorious round
mustard seeds and coriander rounding off the taste of
cumin and chili,
maybe a single wooden clove
in a simple vegetable broth

is that cilantro? Tomato? Jalapeno together simmered long til

wholeness takes the shape of bowl
and naan takes the shape of spoon
and mind takes the shape
of silence.

It is where I go in my shut-the-fuck-up moods.
Where I went when I learned
my landlady IS trying to kill my cilantro,
I mean, why else do they bolt?

And how am I different, bolting towards blue, craving
beets so hard I
SWOONED when the day’s special was
Cream of Beet soup.

Acknowledging my excitement,
she came over,
spooned leftover juiced beet into my bowl
like honey
and her smile smiled me right into

silence-heart.

And you and I,
we sat there for three hours,
interrupted only when she stopped to say
“It is beautiful
how you are helping each other.”

We watched Sri Chinmoy paint in the background as we sipped chai,
we spoke but we were also not speaking.
We breathed in spices that lingered in the air and
came out with hair smelling of raw Indian sugar,
curry and cumin
curry and turmeric
turmeric and coriander and wait a minute!
On an anniversary,
we were each handed a packet of such spices Thank you.

Suddenly, walking past homes marked with similar shades of blue,
you are home making Dal. Roasting
a head of cauliflower with sliced jalapeno and garlic tossed
in olive oil

their white heads draped with a glossy turmeric-light.
Your neighbor is making butter chicken.
Your landlady, a dish out of the bok choy that hung
upside down on laundry lines
air drying this morning,

And your cilantro
wilted, but waiting
to seed.

After Transmutations came to a close, my loves and I went to Annam Brahma (to order their dal.) Connie told me that my poem was very Ross Gay-esque (Catalog of Unabashed Gratitudes) and I broke out into smiles ❤

Next day, I made dal. I made it exactly the way I made dal for the very first time. Danny said it was even better than Annam Brahmas’s, but that could’ve been because of my rich chicken broth (or because he loved me). I did, after all, use the very spices they had given me as a gift during their 42nd Anniversary. To this day I want to know where I can order the turmeric they use, as well as cumin and coriander seeds.

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Do not be intimidated by all the ingredients and spices I list here. This is really a simple recipe, you just gotta have these spices around. Everything comes together in less than 10 minutes! I love love LOVE the simplicity of it. The warmth of it. It’s also very inexpensive to make.

I should add that I mostly use whole seeds and pound them to dust in my mortar and pestle. If you get them already grounded, do not purchase them from your regular supermarket. Nuh-uh. They are dull cooped up on those shelves. You can find them online if you’re having trouble locating the good stuff.

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Masoor Dal

1 1/2 cup red lentils
5 cups chicken (or vegetable) stock
Olive Oil
3 cloves garlic, chopped
Ginger, 1 tspn or more, chopped
1 jalapeño, diced
1 tspn Cumin Seeds
1 tspn Mustard Seeds
1/2 cup onion, diced
1 tomato, diced
1 clove (fish out) or ground
1 tspn ground coriander
1/2 tspn (or more) turmeric
Pinch of cinnamon
Salt and Pepper to taste

In a pot with a little olive oil and under high heat, add mustard and cumin seeds. When the mustard seeds pop (they always pop! be careful) add your ginger, garlic, and jalapeño. After about a minute, add your onion and lightly caramelize ’em.
Now you just have to add the tomato, stock, lentils, and ALL the spices. Let it simmer, covered, for 20-30 minutes. It’ll thicken. You may add more water if it’s too thick. You can play with the spices, too. Top it with freshly chopped cilantro.

Sometimes I add chickpeas when chickpeas are around because why not.

With the temps going down soon, I’ll certainly be welcoming more spice in the kitchen, in food and in drinks. Ohhhh, Autumn! ❤

Poetry & Coffee Picnic: 8/21/16

Poetry & Coffee Picnic: 8/21/16
…I was gravy in judgment,
which might not mean much
unless you’ve taken a spoon
of it and poured it back over a dumpling
shaped like your heart
                       –Tomás Q. Morín
Once a month in Queens, NY, Valerie G. Keane has us talk poetry. Not our poetry, but poems written by poets we love and don’t love and/or don’t get. Poets whose name just popped up on our search engine once the month’s theme is established, too. I love Poetry & Coffee. If 15 people show up with a poem, I am going home with 15 poems I either never read before, or poems I haven’t had the opportunity to talk about, and that is pretty bad-ass, no? You cannot possibly be a better poet or HUMAN BEING without having read as much as you can read. You just can’t. I can’t. But it’s not just the reading part that triggers growth. It’s most definitely the sharing. I do not want to keep a good poem to myself and so I never do. Going to Poetry & Coffee is my way of doing more than just sharing a poem via Facebook or Instagram or email. I get to discuss these poems with people who genuinely want to be there. I always take home with me a feeling of hunger once the event is over. I want MORE poems. I want to write more. I want to connect.

I also wanted some freakin’ figs on my cheese board and in my mouth so Yes to this latest gathering!

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This month’s theme was food and we threw ourselves a picnic. I immediately saw this as an opportunity to whip out my slab of cherry wood where cheese can only belong. But I also went a little overboard on bringing poems. We are generally supposed to bring just one. I brought 4. One for reading. The others were given as small offerings towards the end.

As for the cheese board? I went simple, which brought me as close to Summer as I needed to be.

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For the board, I made a small thing of Tristar strawberry jam. I had to. During my latest walk through Union Square’s Greenmarket, these tiny, red loves were EVERYWHERE like new blooms.

I paired the jam with a creamy, sharp cheese that was a cross between cheddar and parmesan, and of course my favorite peppery toscano from Trader Joes. There were figs (there NEEDED to be figs!), heirloom and cherry tomatoes from Valerie’s backyard, ciabbatta, grapes. Simple. Valerie made a gigantic sandwich with smoked mozzarella and layers of summer vegetables. Others brought homemade brownies, cookies, a cherry tomato and corn bow tie pasta that I honestly want to make when I get home, and then there were poems. Delicious poems. A poem about the disrobing of artichoke (Robin Robertson, Artichoke.) A poem called From Okra to Greens that Connie felt spoke to my deep connection to cooking (she nailed it.) The one I read aloud was Dorothea Lasky’s poem about–and not about–canning. Some were funny. One, Parkinson’s Disease by Galway Kinnell, made everyone deep-breathe and cry.

There was one other poem that got to me right in the gut. Thankfully P&C offers a safe place for crying, though I don’t think anyone saw that I did. It was Salad Days by TOMÁS Q. MORÍN. (Thanks, Joan!) It made me think of the one thing I’ve been missing for weeks, which is the cooking I’d do with my love who is no longer with me. In fact, I felt him most when I was putting together the cheese board, and I felt him most in this poem, where the drizzling of honey onto turkey bacon comes into play with it’s sweetness, and when there was Light:

It’s all happening now,
you liked to say, and I agreed,
though it was not the news
from the outside I relished,
but the daily Extra! Extra! the light
of the morning brought to my attention
every time we woke in your house
or my house and my heart
— salty, risen — was warm
again in a way it hadn’t been for years.
Organ of passion, organ of righteousness
that has never had a single flavor cross its lips,
how could you know
how much I would miss the honey of those days,
her drizzle of it on the turkey bacon,
my cracking pepper up and down the pan,
the sweet meat of happiness
I would no longer let pass between our teeth.

This brings me to Frank O’Hara’s Having a Coke with You, the poem we did not get to discuss, but one I had given to everyone as a gift. It was certainly a gift to me many years ago, and today. It is where the 4 o’clock light in some of my poems comes from.  It’s the poem that ALMOST made me want to name this blog Eating with You. Because it’s my favorite thing to do, it is.

it is hard to believe when I’m with you that there can be anything as still
as solemn as unpleasantly definitive as statuary when right in front of it
in the warm New York 4 o’clock light we are drifting back and forth
between each other like a tree breathing through its spectacles

Kohlrabi Zested Cilantro Salad + poem(s)

I woke up angry the other day. A lot like how I appeared in this poem the moment I wrote it:

i drove plate movement the other day. it was subtle.
radio telescopes received signals from distant galaxies
and this, alone, measured my move.

a part of earth’s face changed the other day. i was angry.
it was subtle.

during the quick shake from underneath,
a dandelion lost her head.

Slow Show, published in Newtown Literary, Issue 5

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I had an unexpected Thursday off from work and I just happened to be very newly single, a combination that could’ve easily meant not getting up from bed. But unlike previous angers felt, this was the sort that made me want to kick all sorts of ass out of the day, and I couldn’t do that in my unlit, basement apartment. I went for a long walk and hoped I’d magically stumble upon a farmer’s market. Or a Mage whose restoration staff I could steal (ok, borrow.) I didn’t. My mom told me there’s a green market at the Jamaica Hospital nearby (there isn’t), so I walked some more, an additional 22 minutes to Kissena Farms where I knew I could find me some beautiful vegetables. I so did.

I didn’t go into this knowing what I’d be making today. I went into this with the simple desire to pick things out that spoke to me. Like green kohlrabi I was secretly wishing was purple, kumquats I never had before, chioggia beets, and a bunch of rainbow carrots (wtf is it with the ONE purple carrot in each bunch? same thing for cherry tomatoes.) I wanted color and sweetness. I wanted refreshing.

On my way home, a flower flew into me, forcing me into smiles.

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When I got home, I went on my pinterest and started viewing kohlrabi recipes, just to get an idea of what direction I may take. It came down to 2: kohlrabi chips or salad. Salad, I went. I needed inner soul cleansing, and I already had lime, orange, tons of cilantro at hand.

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Kohlrabi Zested Cilantro Salad

kohlrabi (green or purple, about 3 big bulbs)
cilantro, eyeballed
1 lime (for juice and zest)
1 orange (for juice and zest)

Dressing

olive oil
tspn honey (i used raw)
juice of 1/2 orange
juice of 1/2 lime
salt n pepper to taste

Peel these hard core kohlrabi and match stick ’em. Roughly chop cilantro according to how much green you like. I also threw in some chives my neighbor gifted me. I eyeballed my zest according to color, too. I wanted more orange than green (I friggen love orange on anything). Then for the dressing, whisk all together and taste. Make any changes you see fit. If you want less sweet, cut the sweetness with more lime and/or salt. I tossed everything together. Refrigerate for about a half hour before serving. You’d want that dressing to settle. Tastes even better the next day!

Suggestion made by Jen, who I live with: dash of hot sauce, “it’s how we Mexicans would go about this.”

I caught Angie, my baby niece, happily chewing on one stick of kohlrabi. She’s my toughest critic, rejecting anything and everything she truly does not like, so, if my day wasn’t already made, this done did it for me.

I’m pretty proud of myself. I kicked some serious ass, and will continue to kick if that’s what it takes to turn almost-sinking days around.

Hard Core

BY TOMAŽ ŠALAMUN
TRANSLATED BY BRIAN HENRY

Yeah. It’s only a matter
of environment if
I’m a genius.

A genius is
kohlrabi in a turnip in
kale in

cellophane
in the freezer.
In

files they descend on
the white skin and
converge in the corner’s

follicles.
The ants are illuminated.
Basta.