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Monday, February 2, 2015

Beams by Audre Lorde

**This blog is retired! However, this poem is unpublished online and deserves to be, so here it is.**

Audre Lorde

In the afternoon sun
that smelled of contradiction
quick birds announcing spring's intention
and autumn about to begin
I started to tell you
what Eudora never told me
how quickly it goes
the other fork       out of mind's eye
becoming a stone wall
across possible
outlined on the shapes of winter
the sunset colors of Southampton Beach
red-snapper runs at Salina Cruz
and we slept in the fishermen's nets
a pendulum swing
between the rippling fingers
of a belly dancer with brass rings
and a two-year-old's sleep smell
the inexorable dwindling
no body's choice
and for a few short summers
I too was delightful.

Whenever spring comes I wish to burn
to ride the flood like a zebra goaded
shaken with sun
to braid the hair of a girl long dead
or is it my daughter grown
and desire for what is gone
sealed into hunger       like an abandoned mine
nights when fear came down like a jones
and I lay     rigid with denials
the clarity of frost without the pain of coldness
autumn's sharp precisions and yet
for the green to stay.

Dark women clad in flat and functional leather
finger their breastsummers    whispering
sisterly advice   one dreams of fish
lays her lips like spring across my chest
where I am scarred and naked
as a strip-mined hill in West Virginia
and hanging on my office wall
a snapshot of the last Dahomean Amazons
taken the year I was born
three old Black women in draped cloths
holding hands.

A knout of revelation      of a corm of song
and love       a net of possible
sourrounding all acts of life
one woman harvesting       all I have ever been
lights up my sky like stars
or flecks of paint       storm-flung
the blast and seep of gone
only the peace we make with it
shifts into seasons
leangthening past equinox
sun      wind  comes round again
seizing us into her arms like a warrior lover
or blowing us into shapes we have avoided for years
as we turn
we forget what is not possible 


Saturday, September 3, 2011

Nablus cheese, a Palestinian farmers cheese

This is a quick post but i wanted to share one of my new favorite things. This cheese comes in squares and is heavily salted. I think one of the reasons I like it is because it is almost inedible straight from the package. I rinsed it and tossed it with the juice of half a lemon, always a foil for oversalting. Delicious with crackers or as a topping on soups or stews.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Lebanese style dandelion greens

Another great summertime Lebanese dish...hindbeh! Dandelion greens are occasionally available at farmers markets or even supermarkets. Cultivated, they are longer and scarier looking than there wild, puff-bearing cousins. In fact, if I had another blog, it would be one about plants that give me the creeps. The first post would be the Ailanthus tree. The second would be large dandelion leaves. I think I watched Kurosawa's "Dreams" one too many times on one too many drugs in college.

Regardless, dandelion green are surely a superfood, and their bitterness is tempered by a million onions and generous glugs of olive oil. Boiling them in salted water softens the greens and helps with their strong flavor.


1 bunch dandelion greens
2 onions, sliced into strips
1/2 c. olive oil
3 cloves garlic, macerated with salt in a mortar and pestle
lemon juice

Boil greens in salt water for 5 minutes or until bright. Drain. Heat olive oil and fry half the onions until brown and crispy. Set aside, and in the same oil, heat the garlic until just fragrant, then sautee the remaining onions until they are translucent. Toss in your chopped, drained greens and sautee for 10 minutes or so. Finish with plenty of lemon and top with the crispy onions. Serve with pita or rice.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Loubieh b'zeit

Loubieh (LOO-bee, rhymes with Ruby)  b'zeit are green beans stewed with tomatoes, onions, and olive oil. 

This is one of my favorite things to cook in the summer. Juicy, dripping "bathtub" tomatoes that muck up your salads are exactly what you want for Loubieh and exactly what a good tomato looks like in August. Piles of green beans should be snipped and snapped whilst sitting in a rocking chair on your front porch chatting with your elderly neighbors. Maybe chewing hay, if you have some on hand.

This recipe, like many Lebanese dishes, is so simple it is hardly worth writing down. But with so much fruit and veg available this time of year, it is easy to run out of ideas. Come home from work, spend 15 minutes on the prep, go weed your garden while it simmers, and come back for a steaming, delicious pot of beans.

Loubieh b'zeit

1 pound fresh green beans, trimmed and cut
2 whole, ripe tomatoes, diced with juice
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 cup olive oil, plus a drizzle for finishing

Fry onion in olive oil and a bit of salt until fragrant and translucent. Add green beans and saute until tender, about 7-8 minutes. Add tomatoes, salt and spices and stew for 20-30 minutes on low heat. Serve drizzled with olive oil over rice or with pita bread.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Free Market and Obesity

Well, it's a new year, new moon and my 30th birthday and, given my love for ceremonial fresh starts, the right time to breathe a little life into this broken and discarded thing. My actual resolutions, those that are sane and measurable, are nothing without my anti-resolutions, those that will drive me crazy for the next 365 days no matter how hard I resolve not to obsess over them. My anti-resolutions include eating healthy and keeping up with this blog, both of which I know are doomed to imminent failure if I try too hard to make them happen.

The confluence of the aforementioned subjects, however, is too rich not to share, given my morning meditations on food, wellness and money spurred by this article and corresponding blog post. The article cites a study linking obesity to free market economies. Leaders in the fat acceptance movement are not buying it--the last paragraph of the post sums up their point of view:
This article is Diet Season incendiary crap meant to do little more than advance an agenda by taking advantage of a vulnerable population. It doesn't even touch upon the relationship between size and socioeconomic status, and if it did it would still ignore the elephant in the room---genetics---in its attempt to frame fatness as a social problem to be 'fixed.' It's time to take back our fat identities---we aren't problems, we aren't symptoms of a broken economic system, or a broken planet, or broken health, or a broken morality.
While my allegiance with the fat acceptance movement typically trumps my trust in professional academics, my personal experience has led me to believe that this broken economic system has much to do with obesity, though maybe not in the ways the researchers suggest.

Food, weight, and overeating are part of a complex web of individual, interpersonal, and societal influences. Genetics plays a role, as do psychological well being and socioeconomic status. The parallel obsessions of obesity and nutrition are two sides of the same coin: the free market doesn't care if you are buying vitamins or cheeseburgers, as long as you are buying.

Obesity is the cause celebre of many a politician and academic. It's made the City of Philadelphia $25 million, and scores of public health researchers are employed by grants to tackle the underlying causes of the "public health nightmare". Weight, diet, obesity, health, wellness and nutrition, when lumped together, is certainly multi-trillion dollar industry, one that profits greatly off people hating themselves. Profit is generated by people buying low-cost, high-calorie food, and profit is made off the same people working to lose the weight those foods cause. In a system who's entire purpose is maximized profit, the "obesity crisis" is a perfect storm.

Genetics can and does play a role, but reducing obesity to genetics leaves out people who legitimately suffer from the more insidious aspects of the free market economy:  loneliness, desperation, and the self-reinforcing cycles of punishment and reward, best aided by consumption of consumer products (shoes or twinkies, choose your poison). Advanced free-market societies are rarely champions of human dignity, unless of course, human dignity is profitable.

Sunday, August 29, 2010


If you are wondering why I haven't been blogging lately, it's because I've been SEWING! Typical to my tendency toward unrealistic ambition, I decided that my first real sewing project since the 7th grade should be a dress for my best friends wedding. Thanks to some beautiful and forgiving fabric, and a little help from my mom (though not without excessive rolling of the eyes), it turned out okay! Maybe, even in fact, a little bit cute!

The pattern is adapted from McCall's M5752 View B.

I should say loosly based on, which is partly the cause of my mother's excessive eye rolling. She also hounded me for cutting off all my notches, which after sewing the midriff on completely sideways, I will never forget again.

Overall, despite the headache, it was such a fun project. Dressmaking is a terribly logical process, not like pants, which confound me every time. There are many, many more in my future and I'm eternally grateful that I have a friend that trusts me enough to let me make my dress for her wedding!

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Monday, March 1, 2010

Zucchini Ricotta Toasts

Ricotta cheese is the latest addition to my ever-growing list of products I will never buy again. Like most suburbanites, I grew up with the notion that homemade treats are great fun if you are retired or independently wealthy, but the rest of us schleps will buy our ketchup and pancake mix, thank you very much. There was a time in my life where I did not believe it possible to make baked beans from scratch. I wish I was kidding.

There exists a vast conspiracy, perpetuated by the General Mills and Krafts of the world, to convince the public that home cooking is tedious, difficult and tiresome, and that the survival of the human race is dependent on a pantry full of mixes, cans and boxes. I am here to tell you that it's not true: this week I made my own jam, spaghetti sauce, hot sauce, yogurt and ricotta cheese. Yes, I am employed full-time. Yes, I have friends. Sometimes, I even watch movies.

Ricotta is incredibly easy and fun to make. True, the fact that I enjoy watching milk curdle makes me a very cheap date, but the two minutes it takes to boil milk, yogurt, vinegar and salt makes a $4 tub of cheese seem mighty silly. I could eat Ricotta with everything, as it has the salty tang of hard cheese, but lacks the often overwhelming goo. I made these toasts for dinner, but I imagine they would be great on a brunch menu, next to peppery bloody marys and a bean salad. Once this cursed city starts to thaw, these will grace the table of many an outdoor breakfast.

Check out David Lebowitz's post on homemade Ricotta

Zucchini Ricotta Toasts

4 English Muffins, sliced open
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 whole zucchini, grated
2 plum tomatoes, sliced
1/4 cup Parmesan
2 cups homemade Ricotta cheese
1 egg
salt and peppa

Salt grated zucchini and let sit for 30 minutes in a colander. Wring out as much water as possible. Sweat onion with garlic and parsley until fragrant. Toss in zucchini and saute all together until soft. Mix ricotta, Parmesan and egg in a separate bowl. Add in vegetable mixture. Layer sliced tomatoes on english muffins, and spoon over the cheese and veggie mixture. Top with fresh ground pepper and bake for 15 minutes. Brown in the broiler for 1-2 minutes.
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