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The Devil’s in the Details

I once owned a book called “When a Loose Cannon Flogs a Dead Horse there is the Devil to Pay”. It’s a book about popular phrases born out of nautical terminology. On a wooden ship, the “devil” is the name of the longest seam in the hull. This seam (where the planks come together) was generally caulked with oakum and then sealed with “pay” (or pitch). No sailor wanted to be the one to pay the devil, because the job was incredibly grueling. It’s been years since I have worked on a ship, and I don’t associate the word ‘devil’ with caulking or manual labor anymore. When I think of the word “devil” I think about eggs.

Deviled eggs remind me of Easter with the extended family. It’s funny really, that we all gather to consume copious amounts of deviled foods on the day when we are supposed to be observing something “Godly”. Easter is a fusion holiday, where traditional Pagan celebrations of spring meet Christian celebrations of Christ’s resurrection. The mating of the two holidays has resulted, appropriately, in the annual appearance of our favorite fertility symbols: the fluffy-white, candy-carrying bunny, and the Easter egg. I’m not Wiccan, Christian, nor am I particularly fond of greeting card holiday, but who doesn’t love bunnies and candy? Why would anyone in their right mind deny themselves the opportunity to attend any celebration which features the decadent deviled egg?

While preparing these recipes, I got to wondering. Where does the phrase “the devil’s in the details” come from?

According to highly reliable Internet sources (because everyone knows that the Internet doesn’t lie) the statement was originally spoken as “God is in the details”. It was about the virtues of patience and being meticulous and thorough. These are qualities that I simply don’t possess in the kitchen. I love food too much to decorate with it. Every moment spent primping causes a low land flood in my salivary glands, and a crackling drought in my rumbling tummy. Pretty plating is agony for me, and most of the time I simply can’t be bothered. I get why the name changed to “the devils in the details” because details are often, in my opinion, a form of torture (I am sure Martha Stewart would disagree).

Here are a few versions of the appropriately named “deviled eggs”. I have not provided recipes, because these are purely meant to be inspirational (and I think they are pretty self explanatory). If you would like a specific recipe, leave a comment or send me an email and I will be happy to send it to you!

To hard-boil the eggs, cover eggs with water and bring to a boil. Boil for 1 min, then turn off heat, cover, and let sit for 10-12 min. Rinse with cold water and allow to cool before peeling.

 

You may notice that I have not used all the ingredients I have pictured here. Stay tuned for more “devil’s in the details” in the near future…

 

Wasabi and pickled ginger deviled eggs with scallion-pickled ginger garnish

(if you are a detail-oriented person, roll the pickled ginger into a rose shape and use the scallions as leaves)

 

Carrot and parsley deviled eggs with lemon zest

Christina’s favorites

 

Bacon and chive deviled eggs

mmmmmm bacon…

 

Western omellette style deviled eggs

Ham, spring onions, red peppers, green peppers..

 

Pictured together, six in a row, the little devils 😉

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Cauliflower Roots Kiss Winter Goodbye

Cauliflower Roots Kiss Winter Goodbye Recipe

They weren’t the only voices of my childhood, but they were the ones that snowed the hardest and never melted.

Too small.

Afraid of the ball.

No endurance.

Underachiever.

“YOU are a MINIMILIST, that’s what you are!” he said.

“Mr. B, isn’t that an art movement?” I replied. I was in 9th grade and still a total smart-ass.

“Yes, but it applies to YOU” my bearded teacher boomed, while staring at me through glasses the color of pond water. They magnified the heavy bags which flopped under his eyes like the chops of a basset hound.

Naturally, I responded with an outward defensiveness and an inner rearrangement from self-pity to apathy. I have since learned that river of apathy is long and winding, and filled with buttery shores that simply refuse to give refuge to a soul for long. 

Like I said, those weren’t the only voices, just the ones I chose as my mantra. I was too afraid to try something and fail. Too afraid to find out that I wasn’t really an underachiever, but instead a total incompetent. What an absolute waste of time and energy.

It’s never too late.

Every day, more and more people are waking up to realize their true potential. With a resounding pound, awakened hearts fracture icy illusions. The subsequent circulating blood melts the snowy words which were used to build towers of misconception.

It’s time to kiss winter goodbye.

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Winter Quinoa-Tabouli (with Asparagus)

I am heading over to Bachman’s today to give a cooking demonstration (yes, Bachman’s….the flower shop).

The event is sponsored by the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation, and is in honor of heart health awareness. There will be herb gardening demonstrations as well as cooking, so I am planning to make a few dishes using loads of fresh herbs. Here’s the recipe for one of them:

Winter Quinoa-Tabouli with Asparagus

You will need:

1 bunch asparagus

4-5 cloves garlic

1 bunch basil (or to taste)

a few sprigs thyme

a very small bunch of arugula (or to taste)

1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained

2 cups water

3 Tbsp olive oil

1 cup rehydrated sundried tomatoes

2 tsp white wine vinegar

fresh ground pepper and lemon zest

Place quinoa and water in a saucepan, bring to a boil and let simmer for 15 min. Spread quinoa out in a bowl or on a cookie sheet to cool.

Slice asparagus into small rounds. Pan fry in 1 Tbsp olive oil with the garlic (minced) (add a pinch of salt).

Chop herbs and sundried tomatoes.

Dress the salad with herbs, sundried tomatoes, olive oil, white wine vinegar, lemon zest, pepper, and asparagus.

 

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Thinking in Internet speak

There is no turning back.

The Internet has completely altered the way I think.

Literally

I used to have a holding tank somewhere in my brain, a place where curious inquiries could gather. They would mix about up there until such time as I happened upon a set of dusty, gold-lettered encyclopedias. Gone are the days of paging through Abraham Lincoln, Asteroid, and Architecture. Asylum can now be accessed directly through the tap-dancing click of my fingertips. That is, provided I don’t get distracted by Lindsay Lohan’s court outfit or the latest sneezing panda video (I wonder how many views it takes to get people to click on something just to find out why it is so popular?).

There is no need to hold my questions in anymore, no need to keep track of the answers to previous inquiries. I carry the internet with me everywhere I go, and when I feel the need to look for answers, I fire at will.

Weather Saint Paul?

Symptoms achilles tendonitis?

internal temp chicken legs?

food rationing world war 1?

Who invented peanut butter?

Why (copy paste: invented peanut butter)?

Treating the experience as though communing with a magic eight ball, when I happen upon an answer I don’t like, I just re-search.

Should I run with a cold?

If you get a cold, it is best to rest for a few days.

Backspace. Scan down. Click.

distance running can compromise your immune system and lengthen the time it takes to recover.

Backspace. Scan down. Click

As long as your symptoms are above the neck, go for it

refresh

It seems that even when away from my phone or my desk, I now think in searchable terms. For example, when I opened my closet door to find the cat rolling around in my sweaty running clothes, I didn’t think to myself  “How odd. I wonder why my cat is attracted to the smell of human sweat?”. Instead I thought “cat attracted human sweat?”.

Incidentally, the weather is currently 20 degrees and cloudy, the symptoms of achilles tendonitis are.. well.. pain in the achilles tendon (not sure what I expected with that one), the safest internal temp for cooking a chicken leg is 165, wheat, sugar, and meat were rationed during world war 1 to save the “good” nourishment for the soldiers (haha I wonder what we would consider “good” nourishment were we to ration food today?) and what Americans have come to know as peanut butter was invented by a doctor Ambrose Straub in the 1890’s. He was looking for a protein source for elderly people who struggled with eating meat due tooth loss. Interesting, because during the middle ages when people had notoriously bad teeth, the culinary solution was to cook meat into a soft, saucy stew that could be gummed down.

As for cats and human sweat? Rather than filter through pages of cat-lover websites, where humans post comments for their cats (with meows interjecting) and I decided that some mysteries are better left un-searched.

But if you want to know more, you know what to do.

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Healing cabbage: desperate measures

Winter Cabbage Rolls Recipe

“I’m sorry, what was that you said.. cabbage?”

George and I were slogging along the river road, 7 miles in and relaxed into a comfortable talking pace.

“Yes, okay, I know this sounds strange, but trust me. Continue reading Healing cabbage: desperate measures

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Coco-nuts, but are they crazy?

I glanced at the clock. 30 minutes to go, and the nerves finally settling down. Before I had time to click through to the next slide, a hand shot into the air.

“There seem to be mixed suggestions about whether or not coconut oil is healthy. What do you think about coconut oil?” Continue reading Coco-nuts, but are they crazy?

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La Luna

Coconut Shrimp and Broccoli with Macadamia nuts Recipe

“What do you mean you don’t see it? It’s right there!” Christina shouted through the phone. I was driving along the crunchy, iced-over roads. The cars in front of me rolled along slowly, a quiet steam pouring from their tailpipes into the crisp, blue morning. I frantically scanned the horizon. A gentle sloping hill covered with naked, wiry trees obscured my view to the North. To the West the road was littered with condos, houses, and the occasional strip mall. To the South was a river, topped by bridges, which were lit up like runway strips that sloped upwards. To the East was our towering city, the one we had just left behind.

We had parted ways in the elevator, briefcases in hand, freshly dressed in business attire. The phone call in the car was to continue a conversation which had been interrupted when a couple of residents two floors down, dressed in pajamas and winter coats, entered the elevator.

“Beautiful dog” Christina said, to the woman who was tethered to the small jacketed terrier.

“Thanks” the woman said, flashing an obligatory smile which caused her puffy, morning-eyes to squint closed. Her hair looked exhausted from what must have been an all night wrestling match with her pillow. The young man fidgeted with his pack of cigarettes, and brandished a ceramic mug of what smelled like hazelnut-flavored coffee. When the elevator reached the first floor, Christina left with the two of them. I continued on to the basement where I entered my chili car, and exited the parking garage.

By the time I had hit the first stop light, my phone began to vibrate.

I pushed the talk button. “Elevators are so awkward” I said to Christina immediately, skipping the part of the conversation where pleasantries are exchanged.

“I know” she replied, and we continued our conversation about this and that until..

“OH MY GOD” she said.

“What?” I replied.

“That is UNBELIEVABLE”

“What? What?” I pleaded.

“It looks so REAL”

“What does, tell me!!” I was beginning to get agitated.

“It’s like I could touch it, right here”

I rolled my eyes. Clearly she had forgotten about me. “TELL ME WHAT YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT” I demanded.

“THE MOOOOOON” she cooed. She sounded like she was in a trance. I was reminded about the long list of facebook posts from the night before.

check out the moon’,

beautiful sky‘, and

la luna‘ people had posted.

Some had just written flowery poetry, or quotes about nature and her majesty. People were checking in from all over the map to share their moon fever. I remembered that even my mother had taken a moment to mention the moon when she had called from New Jersey the night before.

“It’s just so incredible, I’ve never seen anything like it!!” Christina continued, she was more speaking to herself at this point, as clearly she had left the planet and was now in full orbit around what I imagined to be an orange globe of pure beauty.

“I WANT TO SEE IT, WHERE IS IT!!!” I shouted, as though it were somehow her fault that the drive between our home and my work required going straight through a valley.

“IT’S RIGHT THERE!!” She replied, equally frustrated with me. “WHY CAN’T YOU SEE IT??”

“I don’t see it!”

“What do you mean you don’t see it? It’s right there!!”

I started to laugh. I was reminded of this quote:

Think how it is to have a conversation with an embryo. You might say,

“the world outside is vast and intricate. There are wheat fields and mountain passes, and orchards in bloom. At night there are millions of galaxies, and in sunlight the beauty of friends dancing at a wedding”

You ask the embryo why he, or she, stays cooped up in the dark with eyes closed.

Listen to the answer.

“There is no other world. I only know what I’ve experienced. You must be hallucinating.” -Rumi

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Who’s Ready?

Zucchini and Mushrooms with Grass-fed Beef Recipe

The closest grocery store is at least 16 nautical miles west of your current heading. The crew is a hungrier one than you had anticipated, and if you are not careful you will run out of perishables. Your mind is keen to the ripeness of every banana hanging from your netted basket, to the crispness of every pepper, to the smell of sweet potatoes buried in the galley storage bunks. You smell for them to give off the hint ammonia, signaling the slightest threat of turning the corner from food to foul. You simply can’t afford to lose them.

There are many approaches to successfully tackling the demands of cooking on a tall ship. Some people plan out each meal carefully, making up spreadsheets and shopping lists. The advantage to this is that you can, once in awhile, send the crew out to do the grocery shopping for you so that you can have the opportunity to explore when pulling into port. I never quite learned how to do this, opting instead for the death by fire method. Buy as much food as possible, and then become a psycho stalker of the food, visiting it many times each day to check on it. There are a few advantages to this approach. One is that you become an international grocery shopping expert, knowing the ins and outs of the markets; from the piggly wiggly to the Fulton street fish market, you know where to find the freshest foods. The second advantage is that you remain flexible as a cook. “What’s for dinner?” people ask (although they are technically forbidden from doing so since it has been known to drive cooks to a repetitive rocking type of insanity in the past). To this question I would respond “I have no idea” and most often, I meant it.

One skill that I picked up from cooking on the ships, and I continue to use to this day, is incorporating leftovers into new dishes. The key is to create simple meals the first day, and then allow the meals to get more complicated. Example: Day 1 chicken breasts topped with carmelized onions. Day 2 chicken burritos, Day 3 chicken salad (lunch), and sesame noodles with chicken stuffed egg rolls (dinner).

I was reminded of the ship as I put together tonight’s dinner. I didn’t plan it, I just came home from work, opened the fridge and asked the question “who’s ready?”. It seems crazy to talk to vegetables, which is okay because the important thing is not that you actually talk to them, the important thing is that you listen. Tonight the meal turned out to be pretty good, and satisfying. There is a recipe for everything that is in tonight’s recipe on this blog, and I have included links to them for convenience sake should you decide to make something similar to this meal.  ~Enjoy!

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The Paleo Palaeo Burger

Palaeo Burger Recipe

“What are you trying to be European or something?” Dave said, pointing and leaning back in his office chair to open my line of sight to his screen. I even have to look in order to know exactly what he was teasing me about. Continue reading The Paleo Palaeo Burger

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