Tag Archives: writing of place

Friday – Food and Faith in America

The number for today is 27…Almost there.

There is a magical time of night that seems to call me on a regular basis…It’s 3:33am. I can not recall how many time I have rolled over in bed at night and opened my eyes and seen the three threes glowing there in the dark. It happened again last night. 3:33…3:33…Night after night my internal clock causes me to roll over and see the numbers…Glowing in the dark, staring back at me from the face of the alarm clock.

Not too long after dozing back off I awoke again to the sounds of the great percussionist enjoying himself in the predawn outdoors. Thunder rolled…Rain fell…Sleep returned. As I sit here typing these words, hours later, I hear the beginnings of another overture. This has to have been one of the wettest summers in my memory…Hopefully we will get a break soon since I hate to try to mow in the rain.

Every week my iTunes pulls down the current episode of Krista Tippett’s radio program Speaking of Faith. This weeks podcast started playing just before I had to run from work yesterday. Her program was titled Ethics of Eating and had as it’s main interview the author Barbara Kingsolver. I have been hearing very good things about Barbara’s new book and look forward to listening to the entire program today…

I have been a fan of Krista’s show for quite some time. She covers some very thought provoking subjects and the guests she has on are of the highest caliber. Past shows have covered the gamut from Buddha to Einstein’s God to Voodoo and beyond. Insights abound on each and every show….I tend to revisit them with some regularity to catch new nuances that I missed on earlier listenings.

Here is a quote from Krista’s Journal for this weeks show…

The Ethics of Eating | Krista’s Journal [Speaking of Faith® from American Public Media]
The Pleasurable Choice Is the Ethical Choice
I was happy to be reminded that Lady Bird Johnson, who died this month, started the campaign of “beautification” that brought Americans to stop littering. This memory is useful not just for the story it tells about her, but the story that it tells about us. Once upon a time, not that long ago, we thought it was normal to throw empty Coke cans and hamburger wrappers out the windows of our cars. My children hear this story with disbelief, as though I’m recounting a tale of primitive pre-humans.

This helps me take in one of the hopeful ideas of this conversation with Barbara Kingsolver. She says that however grim the man-made crises of our time appear, we do keep getting same things “more right.” And, Kingsolver advises, we must treat hope itself as a renewable resource, something we put on with our shoes every morning.

As I read the rest of Krista’s Journal, I find myself agreeing with her about the challenges we need to face, even the very fact that we must begin to face these challenges now and not in the next generation. We appear to have taken the very soul out of the raising of our foods. We industrialize the processes and we wonder why we end up with the results we do. There is a quote about wisdom being the ability to see that you don’t know everything, we seem to be lacking greatly in wisdom these days…Go read her Journal for yourself…Krista says it better than I can.

In the show Barbara reads from her book…the chapter “Zucchini Larceny” from Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life starts out like this…

By mid-month we were getting a dozen tomatoes a day, that many cucumbers, our first eggplants, and squash in unmentionable quantities. A friend arrived one morning as I was tag-teaming with myself to lug two full bushel-baskets of produce into the house. He pronounced a benediction: “The harvest is bountiful and the labors few.”

I agreed, of course, but the truth is I still had to go back to the garden that morning to pull about two hundred onions—our year’s supply. They had bulbed up nicely in the long midsummer days and were now waiting to be tugged out of the ground, cured, and braided into the heavy plaits that would hang from our kitchen mantel and infuse our meals all through the winter, I also needed to pull beets that day, pick about a bushel of green beans, and slip paper plates under two dozen ripening melons to protect their undersides from moisture and sowbugs. In another week we would start harvesting these, along with sweet corn, peppers, and okra. The harvest was bountiful and the labors were blooming endless.
Source: Zucchini Larceny

If I can make a suggestion…Go, download the mp3 of the show, read some of the additional materials on the website. If you like the program as much as I do, sign up for the weekly email, subscribe to the weekly podcast. If you really find it worthwhile…support the program either through your local station or, if they don’t carry the program, support them directly..

My morning email brought the latest Ladybug Letter from Andy and Julia out in California. I found this quote fitting in to this post’s subject quite well…

When Julia and I struggle to get supper on the table for our kids at the end of a long day, and they reject it, I ask myself how, year after year, my parents cooked for my sister and I.

One way, of course, was convenience-my parents weren’t burdened with the ideology Julia and I have adopted of making home-cooked meals with fresh ingredients from producers we know and trust. We had dinner when I was growing up, not cuisine. The meat loaf was sauced with ketchup, the hamburger got “help” from a packet purchased from Safeway, and the chicken wasn’t an heirloom breed, it wasn’t brined, or free range- it was just baked. My parents didn’t cook with passion, but they cooked every day whether they wanted to or not, and I understand now that they cooked with love.

I always look forward to each issue of the Ladybug Letter, you should check them out.

Once the teacher…Always the teacher. Fred First caught a spelling mistake in my post from Wednesday. Evidently spell check did not think I wanted to type lye so it substituted rye, two substances that are very much alike only in that they share 66% of the same letters and sound remarkably like two words which belong together in a poem. Which leads to this…

The word for today boys and girls is Nixtamalization:

Nixtamalization is the process whereby dry maize grain is soaked and cooked in an alkaline solution, usually limewater, to cause the transparent outer hull, the pericarp, to separate and be removed from the grain. This process has several benefits including enabling the grain to be more effectively ground; increasing protein and vitamin content availability; improving flavor and aroma and reduction of mycotoxins.
Source: Wikipedia

Bookstore for today

Do your shopping early…

A Quote For the Day…

“Food is the rare moral arena in which the ethical choice is generally the one more likely to make you groan with pleasure.” Barbara Kingsolver

Well, It’s time to go play on the freeway in the rain…Y’all stay dry today wherever you may be.

The footsteps in my mind…people I remember…

We carry with us these footprints of vanished places: apartments we moved out of years ago, dry cleaners that went out of business, restaurants that stopped serving, neighborhoods where only the street names remain the same.

Verlyn Klinkenborg – Remembered Spaces – New York Times

Today’s number is 24…One of the oddities of these treatments is the way they burn the throat. That has led to a change in breaking the morning fast…I find that one of the things that really helps ease the soreness is having grits for breakfast. I can hear all of you northerners groaning all the way down here on the Texas coast…Grits! Yuk! I’m going to gross ya out even more…I have been eating “Instant” Grits…Yes, ground up hominy. Corn soaked in rye lye (thanks Fred…see comments) till it swells up, dried and then ground into meal, cooked then dried again…just add water or milk and microwave until dead…What a quick breakfast with absolutely no nutritional value. But it speaks to my sharecropper roots.

Email Time…

My other hobby (you know besides blogging) is genealogy. Family history research…There is nothing like thumbing through 100-200 year old, dust covered, oversized bound record books looking for something on ancestors who had a hard time even spelling their names the same over the course of their life. One of the things I always liked about doing this research is the wandering through the basements of old 19th century courthouses pulling the old deed books out and trying to decipher the ancient handwriting in the faded ink. I have a couple of favorite courthouses scattered across the nation, most in Texas but a couple in Indiana, that I try to stop in at whenever I am in the neighborhood.

One of my favorite stories relates to the Marriage License to the left, it was issued to my paternal grandparents in 1902. When I stopped by the courthouse in 1997 to see about getting a photocopy of the record in the courthouse records the clerk asked if I would like the original if they still had it. Of course I said yes and they did so now I do. It seems that in those days when the Marriage License had been recorded they held it until the couple came by to pick it up, it wasn’t mailed. Needless to say my Grandparents never went to the courthouse and picked up their copy of the official document.

Not to long ago I signed up with one of the big name genealogy sites to access their data. The easiest way to do that is by uploading your own data and letting them search it on line. Since I already have a site with my data on the internet I did not make this batch public…they still search it and if someone wants, the provider will forward a message on their behalf requesting additional info. Every time I get one of these messages I reply with a link to my genealogy site. A lot of time the person requesting the info on a name in my data is looking for someone else of the same name…sometimes they actually are cousins, far removed in time and blood. I probably average a dozen or so of these requests a month and they help to keep the interest up in a hobby that has reached a bunch of brick walls while I wait for new databases to come online.

Time to move for the day…later.

TGIF – We draw near to another week ender…#22

Well, I meandered thru my email, read the headlines and opinions of the paid opinion makers, and finished my morning muse cup of coffee. The news was full of the latest on Bush, the Congress, and Iraq…None of which I want to think about this morning.

The weather has been hot here, but, not as hot as elsewhere. They say the “heat index” was about 105 yesterday…Makes you wonder what the heat index is in Arizona when the temperature hits 120. We have actually spent the past few days drying out. ‘Cept for the fact that when we don’t have overall, county soaking rains along the coast here in the summer we get these nice little town sized gully washers moving across the landscape. On Wednesday two of those “localized heavy” thunderstorms rolled past my home, both missed. On Thursday two more came rolling in from the southwest, both hit.

The wife and I spent some time out back watching the clouds build up and listening to the rolling sounds of the thunder. We didn’t stay out and wait for the rain though as the teenagers were clammering about sustenance or some such matter. I had already decided it was going to be  “taco” night and had fresh tortillas for the rapping. Who would have thought the day would arrive when every upscale grocery store would have an in store tortilla shop turning out fresh, hot tortillas as you shopped? Needless to say lettuce, tomatoes and onions needed to be chopped, filling needed to be cooked, spanish rice and refried beans needed some work…supper was good, not great, but good. Oh, and yes in this part of the world the evening meal is supper, dinner is reserved for Sundays around noon or for company occasions only. While the rest of the week the midday meal is lunch…South Texas language lesson for the day…

So much for my daily muse…time to hit the highway…catch ya down the road.

Chapter 16 in my continuing saga of radiation…

The rain falling again this morning almost lulled me back to sleep after our wet and rainy 4th. I finally dragged myself out of bed…But, now that I am through with the first (pre-commute) cup of java and have read all of my email the coffee muse isn’t musing and I need to get move on for another wet drive to work.

For a much more verbose and readable version of water play wander over to Roundrock Journal and read about Pablo’s last trip to the woods…Time to run…I’ll try to free the muse with another cup later…