Tuesday, November 30, 2010

on punctuation

I love words, how words are arranged and lay on the page for my tasting and frolic among them. I am reading "Rose" by Martin Cruz Smith, who is a wordsmith as good as Tolkein or Peter S Beagle, and that is going some. Those little marks between the words are fun too. Read "Eats, shoots and Leaves," or put another way, Eats shoots, and leaves."

Here's a fun little poem I stole from The Writer's Digest, and am sharing with you.

On Punctuation

by Elizabeth Austen

not for me the dogma of the period
preaching order and a sure conclusion
and no not for me the prissy
formality or tight-lipped fence
of the colon and as for the semi-
colon call it what it is
a period slumming
with the commas
a poser at the bar
feigning liberation with one hand
tightening the leash with the other
oh give me the headlong run-on
fragment dangling its feet
over the edge give me the sly
comma with its come-hither
wave teasing all the characters
on either side give me ellipses
not just a gang of periods
a trail of possibilities
or give me the sweet interrupting dash
the running leaping joining dash all the voices
gleeing out over one another
oh if I must
give me the YIPPEE
of the exclamation point
give me give me the curling
cupping curve mounting the period
with voluptuous uncertainty

"On Punctuation" by Elizabeth Austen, from The Girl Who Goes Alone. © Floating Bridge Press, 2010. Reprinted with permission.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Gumbo recipe

Chicken, Smoked Sausage and Okra Gumbo
One large fryer
Three Yellow Onions
One bunch of green onions
One bell pepper
Three ribs of celery
Three cloves of garlic
½ teaspoons of parsley flakes
Two lbs of smoked sausage
Two lbs of fresh okra (or three bags of frozen okra) (cut up preferably)
To taste:
Cayenne pepper
Black pepper
Seasoned salt
Garlic powder
Onion powder

· Cut up the fryer and take the skin off. Wash the chicken and pat until only damp. Liberally put on the cayenne and black pepper with the seasoned salt, garlic and onion powder. Rub it in good.
· Put a couple of tablespoons of oil in a skillet and brown the chicken on all sides. Set the chicken aside.
· Using the same skillet or pot where you browned the chicken, make a roux. (pronounced “Roo, as in too.” (ask anybody from South Louisiana how to cook something and they will say “First you make a roux.”)
Heat half cup of oil with half cup of flour (preferably in a cast iron skillet) until it is deep golden brown. You will have to stir it steadily to keep it from caking up or burning.
· Cut up your vegetables and sautee’ them in the roux (may have to add a bit of oil) until they are softened. (They say melt the onions.) for two or three minutes. I usually take longer until they are no longer crisp.
· Add the sausage to the roux and veggies and heat for another five minutes or so. (In my last batch I only had a pound of sausage, but I could have used some more.)
· Add a can of tomatoes.
· I have a huge cast iron pot. I transfer the roux, veggies and sausage to the pot. (Try not to use an aluminum pot unless absolutely necessary.)
· Add 3 quarts of water, and then add the chicken.
· Bring to a boil and then set to simmer.
· Put some oil in a skillet and dump the okra in, and cook it until all the slime is gone. Try to cook until it is almost dry if you can without burning. You need to constantly turn it to get most of the liquid out. Some people object to the slimy effect if you put it in the gumbo without cooking it like this first.
· Dump the okra in the pot.
· Add seasonings of garlic powder, onion powder, seasoned salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper and about 1 ½ teaspoons of parsley flakes. I add a bay leaf or two.
· Simmer for a couple of hours. Some cook for less time. I like to cook it down a bit until it is soupy and thickened a bit and the chicken and sausage is well done. The chicken will usually shred and be scattered throughout. I sometimes take the chicken out half way through and remove the bones. This will give a good distribution of chicken.
· Taste as you go, keep an eye on the gumbo as it cooks and see if it needs salt or whatever. I like it hot and add Cajun seasoning like Tony’s or some other that gives a little heat and flavor.
· Serve over rice. I usually top it off with a bit of Tabasco or hot sauce to make damn sure it is hot enough for me.
· Gumbo can be frozen, and it tastes even better after kind of marrying up with itself for a time in the fridge.

For ambrosia: Cut up oranges, pineapple, granny smith apples, grapefruit, banana, walnuts, sliced almonds and pecans, tiny marshmallows, cherries, blueberries, and any fruit I can think of. It is a kind of fruit gumbo. Then mix in a bit of sour cream and a lots of sweetened shredded coconut. Mix it all up and it is good to go. Lasts a while in the fridge. Great for a snack. Leave out the marshmallows and put unsweetened coconut if you are feeling virtuous.

On holidays

It’s Friday after Thanksgiving
The world has pressed the pause button
Things are in neutral, except for frenzied shopping in the malls
A palpable calmness is in the air
Life takes time to breathe

Sunday, November 21, 2010

It is easy to begin, again.

It’s easy to begin, again.

There’s no yesterday

Nothing remains.

Except the insubstantial stuff

of memory

that I allow to claim part of my day.

Which is just dumb.

So I begin again every moment

to live, again, and again,

A new chance every moment.

Now, and forever.