jacktellslies: (this machine)
I eat fish constantly, but meat infrequently. This has much to do with availability, but also ethics. The industrial farming of livestock has been something I've been boycotting since I was fifteen, but more recently I've been wondering whether local farms that treat animals and the labourers who raise them humanely might be something I could support on occasion.

The Fair Food Farm Stand has been tempting me with red cabbages all season. (In general, I'm of the opinion that if food can be purple, it ought to be.) But they finally went too far: they offered me a tiny one, precisely enough cabbage for one or two people. Cruel bastards! How could I resist? And cabbage, for me, can only mean Irish food. I've apparently never recovered from my genetic predisposition to want to throw whatever edibles I can find in a cauldron and ignore it for five hours. Reading Terminal Market is filled with butcher's stalls, but I asked the volunteers at my farm stand if they could recommend something locally and fairly produced. I think the girl who sold me the cabbage was a vegetarian who really wanted to be helpful; she floundered for a moment before calling over a friend. She suggested Halteman's and cheerfully shoved me in the right direction. I ordered a cheap pork shoulder from a Pennsylvania Dutch girl. She was pretty in her bonnet, her slightly bloodied apron, and she seemed happy, unusually happy for someone who was at work. I feel good about the exchange.

It's all cooking now. I'm delighted to find that the cabbage and I may have accidentally turned the meat purple. And my house smells fantastic.
jacktellslies: (sebastian)
Today I stayed in bed with my partner until one. I then had a proper, civilised lunch of exciting cheeses, some good bread, honey, olives, roasted peppers, and grapes. I went outside to play in the dirt and do the first work on my new community garden plot. The edges were straightened and expanded to encompass the full space allowed, weeds were pulled, and I did what I could towards improving the soil, although I'm not yet done on that front. Now I'm having a simple dinner of salmon sautéed in good balsamic vinaigrette and brown sugar, asparagus, and cider I brewed myself. This was an exceptionally good day. I'm about to curl up with a gardening reference book and some dark chocolate with orange zest, and I'll sleep absurdly early so I can wake up in time to start work tomorrow at five. Goodnight, lovers.

Edited to add: goodness, but the cider I made is a bit strong!


May. 1st, 2009 10:33 am
jacktellslies: (bear girl)
My garden is small but good. My mother just gave me a gift of herbs growing in a pot far nicer than the ones I usually manage to salvage. I spent a couple of days recently cleaning up the abandoned lot next to my house. I found construction materials from the people who refurbished my house, cement and paint poured onto the ground, beer bottles and cans from neighbours, children's juice boxes, and useful things: bricks and cinder blocks I'm using for other projects, snail shells I kept, pretty bits of glass and metal, and enough empty and untorn trash bags to fit all of the junk that I cleaned up. And I found so many worms! My niece came to visit me one day, and we collected them in a cup and put them to work as slaves in the mines of my compost pit. The lot looks far better now. I plan to put down some pretty groundcover in the front part in hopes that it will prevent people from dumping things there again, and maybe building some raised beds in the back.

I had my first couch surfing guest come to stay with me. He is an American, from farther North than I am, and hoping to move to Philadelphia. He's a terribly sweet anarchist named Bobby who likes spending time in the sun on his roof, and writing poetry, and hoping to learn to build furniture so that he can move with almost nothing but tools and build what he needs when he gets here. We liked one another immediately. I took him on a walk through my city, almost an accident of good streets and local markets and parks on our way to meet some of my friends. He was so thrilled with all of it, and liked my tribe so much. The next day Whitney and I started to plan for our early Bealtaine celebration, and he joined us, first coming with us to our favourite stalls at Reading Terminal Market. Then we had a good adventure, searching for firewood in the city for the evening's bonfire. I wore a big backpack, and sticks and twigs and lumber stuck out of the top of it, making me look like a proud wicker man. We carried seed bombs with us while we explored, dry little balls of compost and clay and seeds, and tossed them into empty patches of dirt that needed some flowers to fill them. We collected huge quantities of moss, too, which I later fed to my blender along with beer and yogurt and sugar. We painted it on the walls of my back yard, sharing what was left of the beer, toasting with the moss. Now we mist it and wait for it to grow.

Bobby had to pack up and get on a bus before the party. That evening more friends came, and we lit a big fire with sparking pine branches and the things that we'd gathered. Whitney made a salad with strawberries, raw goats' milk cheese, excellent balsamic vinaigrette, and caramelised pecans. She made asparagus and mushrooms too. I always admire the local royal trumpets and oyster mushrooms at my market, but I usually settle for the far cheaper criminis. It was nice to finally have reason enough take a few of the fancy ones home.
jacktellslies: (this machine)
I work long hours, and that does not trouble me much. I dislike it, however, when I must rush from work to some other thing, or leave when my shift is done but there is yet more to do because I have another appointment. I run home from work or fencing in order to catch something barely approximating enough sleep before I dash off to work, or yoga and then work again. I hate the feeling that when I rest there is some other thing I ought to be accomplishing.

I suppose this means I'm doing too much. I've weighed my options, and scaling back seems preferable to developing an unsavoury addiction. I may change my mind later.

However, for now, for my own reference, my priorities would seem to be the following, in no particular order:

Cook and learn about food. Brew closet booze.
Spend time with friends.
Breathe. Take baths. Sleep.

I'd been rather excited about gardening, but for various reasons, not least of which being lack of sufficient sunlight, I'll have to abandon my grand hopes and content myself with my houseplants. I like sewing, and I'd like to improve, but I think for now it shall have to be an occasional experiment rather than a course of study. Knitting, playing the accordion, I'll long for you a little, but I can wait. I'll have you eventually. I'd hoped to write here more often, too. Ah, well.
jacktellslies: (opium den)
An unexpected side effect of eating local food is that those things that I eat that come from far away have developed a strange connotation. There is something of the Silk Road about them. Tea, from China! Spices, from India! Chocolate, from South America! The occasional box of macaroni and cheese, from the midwest!
jacktellslies: (crow)
Timing her arrival with a marvellously dramatic sunset, the amazing [livejournal.com profile] westlinwind found me at the train station and stole me away to a whiskey tasting. The event was a fund raiser for the Colonial, a theatre that hosted Houdini when it was a vaudville venue, and later, as a cinema, was featured in the film The Blob.

Our whiskey expert, Riannon Walsh, began distilling at the age of six. We were provided with excellent cheeses and breads and chocolates; I'm not often fond of dark chocolate, but apparently I do seem to enjoy it when it is combined with citrus, ginger, or whiskey. We were given six kinds of whiskey to try. One was an American variation produced in the same way as it would have been made in the West in the nineteenth century. (I didn't entirely approve. Cowboys: they're doing it wrong.) Some smelled of vanilla, caramel, the oak in which they soaked, and, some claimed, the sea. The best was a Scotch that tasted of peat. All six were better than anything I deserved to touch. Unopened, the bottles from which all six came were as like to be investments as they were to be a toast. I'm not often permitted to taste investments, so I enjoyed the experience a great deal. Several of the gentlemen in my life are whiskey drinkers. My father was one, too. So it always tastes a bit sentimental, even, especially, when it's kicking me in the teeth.

Earlier in the day I'd found a magnificent little bakery in Old City called Tartes. One couldn't go inside, but would instead appraise the offerings from a window. Beyond the window there was a small group of women making little cakes. After a moment one noticed that I was watching them and walked over to work the register. It was perfectly small and charming, and their deserts were beautiful things. It's difficult for me to resist a pretty girl wielding a cupcake. I also like supporting local businesses. And, most importantly, I like pastries. So I ordered two of their signature dishes: one with apples and cranberries, and one with sweet potatoes and pecans. They were quite good, but perhaps more important than that is the fact that, as Krys noted, yes, I am Jack, and sometimes I do arrive with tarts. (I tend to think of myself as the Jack of spades, actually, but so far as I know, the Jack of spades doesn't concern himself with dessert nearly as often as I do.)

Before going home we went to visit Bernie and Linda and Loki. We admired vultures and planned knitting and dreadlocks. And then, with very little time to spare, Krys delivered me safely unto my train.
jacktellslies: (geroges barbier mermaid)
When living in the Netherlands, I was regularly unable to tell whether my Dutch friends were behaving in a way that was typical to the country, or instead merely a cultural attribute of people who do a lot of yoga and eat organic foods. All of my Dutch friends moved in that same social circle, so I had no way to judge the difference.

There are, admittedly, a lot of that type living in and around Amsterdam. And I'm aware that Holland is culturally rather different from the rest of the Netherlands. Still.

Once Flora told me a story about my roommate Dagmar, the beautiful German dancer. Dagmar had said something about tea made from fresh sprigs of whole mint being the Dutch national drink, and Flora laughed and laughed, explaining that, no, it's Moroccan. I blushed and laughed with her: I'd thought it was a Dutch custom as well! We were both right, after a fashion. It's available in every restaurant and every house in Amsterdam. It's more Dutch than the clogs and other cheap symbols still in use only to sell souvenirs to tourists.

Another food that will always, perhaps inaccurately, stand for the Netherlands in my mind is the large tub of plain yogurt. Most humans add some extra texture or flavour to their yogurt, but the Dutch treat it as a vehicle for experimentation. For either breakfast or desert we'd all join at a table on which we'd collect the available options. Anything we could find in the house that might possibly taste good with yogurt would be gathered: bananas, apples, raisins and currants, all available forms of granola, nuts, flavoured maple syrup, honey, and brown sugar were all options, but there were others as well. Bowls and spoons would be distributed, and we'd set to work, concocting something interesting and tasty. The yogurt was meant to evolve as it was consumed. Midway through, one might decide that it also required dried cranberries and walnuts. It was always a fun experience as well as a good snack.

I've been making my breakfast in this manner recently, and it makes me smile every time. I suspect that there is more of the organic market than the Dutch in it, but it still makes me feel as if I'll wander out my front door to the sound of bicycle bells, that I'll soon find a canal to stroll.


Dec. 10th, 2008 11:17 pm
jacktellslies: (tea)
Flour, salt, butter, water, a red onion, a portobello mushroom, two purple potatoes, one parsnip, half of an acorn squash, and some spices were all combined in such a way that a vegetable pie was the result. Vegetable pies are better than messes and inedible lumps by a vast margin. And I barely bled at all! I'm most pleased.
jacktellslies: (crow)
I fell asleep after coming too soft for trying for too long. And I dreamed it dirty, and graphic to a hard fault. I've only had two such dreams, now, and both were of people I'd never want to touch, and both sickened me. Usually these dreams could have been true, or fail. They are soft and lack sense, like dreams do. But these ones are reasoned, and I know I won't forget them. I hate the things I know I won't forget. I wake up breathing hard and moving to it. I've come back from sleep coming, but only when I'm crushed breathless with disgust before it has even had the grace to end.

There are bits of mirror and tile in the alleyway closest to my street. It started as faces on plates, then lines, and then today, all at once, a little broken world found its way onto the walls. I passed them working in the rain as I walked home. "You did so much today! Thank you for decorating my block." Isaiah was there, and his wife (I sell her fish!) and some others. "Just keep walking here," he told me. I changed the way I walk as soon as the faces were there to watch. It is beautiful. It goes south. We do not deserve it, but we need it.

I finished The Book Thief, finally, after years and years (or something more like a few months). And this whole time I couldn't bear the thought of it ending, although I'd always known where the end would be. I cried until my bed was wet, until my boat slipped under everything. I'm holding it with me, although it isn't mine anymore. And despite that, four pages are creased, for remembering. I'll keep them, although you won't hear them. Not yet.

The Word Shaker. )

Megan Etzel, thank you. Thank you. It will go to the next one. We should talk. I am cain son of eve. Thank you.

She worked so much today and yesterday: she is out of my bed by six thirty. She'll only be leaving the shop at midnight. I've made a midnight picnic: good rosemary bread and strawberries and apples and goat cheese and roasted tomatoes and even chocolate cake. I hope that she is awake for it. I hope on strong arms and on body scent for her happiness tonight, even if it is the exhausted kind. I hope hard.

I posted to [livejournal.com profile] vintage_sex today for the very first time, I believe. It won't at all surprise you, or if it does, it will be a matter of your confusing your history; it won't be me.

Oh, yes, this is fun. I'll play this once. Have I interests you do not understand? You should ask me. And then you should ask, too, if you like.


jacktellslies: (Default)

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