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Posts Tagged ‘New York’

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Now that I’m outta there, I could fill volumes with thoughts on New York living.  But I won’t.  For now.  Be grateful.  All that matters at the moment is a story about how I came to appreciate sunshine more.

The Boy and I lived in a small studio in New York City for a while.  At first, I didn’t even notice how little sunlight I was getting from the two small windows we had–both of which faced brick walls.  In fact, it probably took about six months for the reality of our dark existence to hit me, when I decided it might be nice to have a few plants to supplement our other unmet need–FUCKING OXYGEN.

Before long I came to realize that I couldn’t support as much plant life as I like to (which, granted, is a METRIC SHIT TON), and then I had to wonder if The Boy and I would one day crumple up  in disappointing heaps just like so many seedlings.  Dramatic, I know, but you’ve come to expect that from me by this point.  I’d hope.

Well anyhow, when we moved into our new place in Chicago–an apartment with real windows and air that doesn’t feel like a biohazard–I just couldn’t wait to get back to growing serious amounts of my own food.  Have a look at this year’s results so far…

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The other day I had to wonder if I was getting out of hand (“Oh, hee hee, haha OH HONEY THAT SHIP HAS SAILED.”) As I was passing by the windows, I spun to face The Boy and oozed, “You’re so cute–I love you!”  He thanked me but then turned pink and said, “Wait…were you talking to me or the plants?”

Okay, so occasionally we talk.  I mean, I talk to them.

When they’ve done something cool, I fluff their leaves like I’m ruffling up the messy head of a mischievous five-year-old.  When one of them looks worse for the wear, I drop everything, apply organic fertilizer, and organize a pagan vigil.  And when I feed them, I’ve been known to ask, “Which of my wittle misfit plant babies wants some bat guano and earthworm castings todaaaay?  Hmmmmm?”

But really, it’s not the plants that I love so much–it’s what gardening represents.  Self-sufficiency.  Diligence.  Give-and-take.  Efforts that actually pay off.  Working with nature for spectacular results.  When I garden, I feel like I’m privy to a special form of mysticism.  Exotic knowledge.  I feel powerful.  But more often than not, I feel humbled.

When I stand before something I’ve planted that’s approaching my height (and which will probably eclipse me entirely in one sunny week’s time), I have a sense of smallness that makes me feel, of all things, safe.  We think we have so much control–and we do, to an extent.  But really, we just help things along, manipulate them a bit to our liking–the potential for greatness has always been there.  It will show itself whether or not we make a move.  And even if we act against it, cut it down, it will come back.  Not to defy us–just to be itself, as we all should be.  Its only purpose is life.

Except maybe for the tomato plant–its other purpose might be destruction.  But that’s another post.

So I guess we would’ve been okay even if we’d stayed in that New York apartment.  Significantly paler, more cramped, and perhaps a little worse for the wear, but we would’ve made it.  Still, I’m glad to be here.  Glad to be able to stretch out.  Glad to be able to take a deep, clean breath.  And glad to look over at the windowsill with pride and say,

“OMFG THE BOY RUN FOR YOUR LIFE THE TOMATO’S BECOME SENTIENT AArggHH-GAAAAA!”

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You know, to watch a recession happening in New York is to watch a shit-show full of contradictions and neat little twists.  There are a variety of opinions on the topic–the alarmists, of course, wonder if this is the beginning of the end for New York (at least for the fun side of NYC-style decadence and excess).  Others claim that this is just what we needed–something to bring the i-bankers and heroin-chic fashionistas down a notch and restore New York to its former, more accessible blue-collar glory.  What does your Bad Mama Genny think, misfits?

Whatever, man.  I say it’s time to put your hard-earned cash back in your pockets, get trashed, and make a tortilla.

A SPANISH tortilla thingy, that is–not that flat corn flour thingy.  The thingy I’m talking about is five classic ingredients, all of them inexpensive:  eggs, salt, potatoes, onions, and oil.

Oh, right, THAT thingy.

“But wait!” you’re saying.

“Haven’t I seen that on the menu at fancy tapas bars?” you’re saying.

“About four 1-inch cubes speared on toothpicks?  For, like, 11 bucks?” you’re saying.

Yes, my friends, yes!  But don’t be foolish and fall for such…such…foolery!  For the price of said cubes, you can purchase the ingredients for your own tortilla AND enough liquid bravery to get you through the process!  And if it doesn’t work, said liquid bravery will ensure that you and your own The Boy or The Girl hit the sheets to console one another and wake up with foggy memories and enough of a mess in the kitchen to convince you that, yes, yes, we DID eat a tortilla last night, and it was flawlessly executed and fucking amazing!  We are awesome!  Guess we didn’t leave any leftovers!  Hey, what’s that smell?  Were we smoking last night?  Why are the curtains on fire?

So ANYWAY, The Boy and I have made the tortilla part of our own recession repertoire with fantastic results.  Really, the only thing keeping most people at bay with this recipe is ignorance as to how it’s done.  Fear not–it’s excruciatingly fun and easy, just like your BMG!

What?  Who said that?

Okay, so what isn’t easy is filtering out the passive-aggressiveness that so many fancy schmancy chefs deem necessary.  Go ahead.  Google “spanish tortilla.”  I’ll give you a moment.

See?  The average resulting link will start off by saying how the tortilla is a very individual dish and everyone makes it differently and there is no wrong way, blah blah blah.  Then when they’ve got you all high on the warm fuzzies they smack you in the face with a warning that if you use too little oil, or too much oil, or maybe cook it for 30 seconds too long, your tortilla will be a failure, you’ll lose all your money in the stock market, everyone will stop loving you, and then you’ll die alone.

Really now.  This is all just a tad.  too.  dramatic.

If you should happen to commit a mortal sin and break one of the tortilla commandments “they” swear by, will you go to tortilla hell?  No–it will be completely edible and probably nobody will notice (you ARE on your second bottle of homemade red wine…right?  RIGHT?!).  And anyway, tortilla purgatory can be quite pleasant.  All the cool people have been there.

So go on with your bad selves, misfits! Have a glass of wine!   Get over your fears!  Have a glass of wine!  Embrace the recession!  Have a glass of wine!  Celebrate the disintegration of your 401(K)! And then, have one hell of a tortilla!

…and another glass of wine.

Spanish Tortilla (Tortilla Española)

Ingredients:
8 eggs
1 tsp. salt, divided
2 large potatoes, very thinly sliced
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup olive oil (oh, don’t have a heart attack, you won’t really use all of it)
We left ’em out this time, but I love to throw in a handful or two of chopped green olives…try it! It’s fun and all the cool kids are doing it!

Directions:
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When it is sizzle-hot, drop your potato slices in. Stir them nearly constantly-you don’t want them brown at any point (just soft and cooked through). When they’re about 5 minutes short of done, add your onions to the skillet and season the whole thing with 1/2 tsp. of salt. When the onions are done and the potatoes are soft, turn off the heat.

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Crack the eggs into a bowl, whisk them lightly with the remaining 1/2 tsp. of salt, and use a slotted spoon to transfer the potatoes and onions from the oil to the egg mixture. Gently press the potatoes down to be mostly submerged in the egg mixture, and let it sit for about 15 minutes.

In the meantime, discard the leftover oil in the pan (or save for another use) and pour yourself a second glass of wine.  Okay, third.  Let’s have no secrets between us.

Wipe the pan with a paper towel to leave only a skim of oil.  Heat the pan over medium-high heat. When it’s hot, add the egg mixture, making sure the potatoes and onions are evenly distributed throughout.

Using a spatula, check the bottom every now and then. You want it to be fluffy and golden, but still light, with the top of the tortilla still very liquidy. Here comes the part that requires a bit of finesse.

By now you should be drunk, and finesse will be your middle name.

Place a plate that is larger than the pan upside down over the pan. Gingerly, but quickly, flip the whole thing over. When you lift the pan from the plate, it should all come out neatly and in one piece.

Hooray, you did it!  Or if you didn’t, you’re too drunk to really care!  All right!

Now put the pan back on the flame and gently ease the tortilla back into the pan, liquid-y side down. Cook this side as well, using your spatula to push the sides of the tortilla down, creating a frisbee-like curved edge to your tortilla.

Mmm…frisbee.

Don’t overcook it-when the other side is done, remove the pan from the heat and slide the tortilla onto a cutting board for serving. It’s really. that. easy.


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