Sun Ra - Column for 10/1

It's Not Honey if it Doesn't Come In A Bear

Well, I was going to write more about poor Thomas Blue, or 'Purple Tom' as he may come to be known (in a Schroederingian sense), but the response to my little comedic souffle was, though gratifyingly extant, less than clamorous, so I'll shelve ol' Thomas for this week and slide smoothly into non-fiction.

Hey, all one sentence. I see my writing habits have not substantially altered since this whole 'Cant' project began.

At any rate, I think I shall devote the rest of this week's entertainment to a discussion of food. I have just polished off a couple of pieces of pumpernickel bread with honey, which were remarkably yummy. It's interesting, isn't it, how truly diverse the world of taste can be. Pumpernickel, and rye in general, is a very unique sort of flavor, and not one that lends itself to mixing with other tastes. However, a generous dollop of honey, and hey-presto you have a fantastic if non-obvious combination.

Of course, the famous (at least, in America) rye bread combination is with corned beef or pastrami. In this case, as there is at present a pork roast in the oven upstairs, I needed to abate my hunger but not vanquish it. Nor did I have any pastrami. I do have some borscht in the freezer, though. I made it last week - and speaking of taste combinations, borscht and sour cream is another duet from epicurean heaven.

Borscht is easy enough to make, but it requires cutting up the beets (and some carrots, onions, and cabbage, but mostly beets) very fine. I cleverly decided to use my cuisinart. Well, it seemed clever at the time, and the results are quite tasty. But for a while there, it looked like Barney had exploded in my kitchen. My hands were purple, the kitchen counter was purple, the cuisinart was purple on the inside and the outside, my shirt was purple, the ceiling was purple... You get the idea. Remember, kids, "cuisinart" shares at least one crucial syllable with "quisling", and if there's ever a decision between what the food wants to do, and what you want the food to do, don't doubt for a second that the machine will side with the food.

However, Russian is only one theme in our kitchen recently. I'm a big proponent of stir-fry, for instance. This is because, until our current domicile, I never had a functional dishwasher after I left my parent's house. Thus, I tried to use as few dishes as humanly possible to cook my meals. Stir-fry has an obvious advantage, in that it uses one pan for the whole meal. Two if you decide to make rice. And I'd use the same spoon to ladle out the ingredients, stir the stir-fry and the rice, serve the food, and eat it. In fact, if I could have cooked the food in that spoon, I would have.

Now, happily, I have a functional dishwasher. Which has, I confess, caused me to go a little crazy. I foresee a day, perhaps next week, when my fiance catches me dipping a spoon into whatever I'm cooking, stirring once around the pot, taking out the spoon, putting it in the dishwasher, giggling, taking out a clean spoon from the drawer, stirring once around the pot, putting it in the dishwasher, etc, until either I notice her watching me or I run out of spoons, at which point I will start stirring with the forks.

Indian is another cuisine we've had a fair bit recently, due largely to circumstance. Namely, my finding an Indian grocery store, and stocking up on curries. Not that I have any idea what these curries taste like, mind you. But they are exotic, and (again) I can cook almost everything in one pan. I've got cans of lotus root and "chili pickle" in my cupboard right now, just because they looked odd (in an edible sort of way). Actually, the "chili pickle" I threw out. I was going to add it to a "Masala" curry last week, and after I opened the can I asked my fiance to taste one of the rather innocuous, cut-green-bean-looking things. I took her spitting the "chili pickle" into the sink and rinsing out her mouth to be a bad sign as far as "chili pickle" edibility went. But I'll try and use the lotus roots this week.

We've had remarkable success with chili, the old American staple. If you ever need to cook something in about half an hour, and you want it to be yummy, go for chili. I also make a good cornbread, although that pushes the total cooking time to maybe forty-five minutes. And we've been having steaks, mostly on my weber grill, a fair bit. Here the key is the marinade. The night before, put the steak in a zip-lock bag with (1) an oil (2) an acid and (3) a flavoring. So, for instance, we've done: olive oil, lemon juice, and cumin; canola oil, white wine vinegar, and worchestershire sauce; sesame oil, apple vinegar, and soy sauce. And others! Easy, and it eliminates the stress of "so what are we doing for dinner tonight?" because you have already committed.

Well, I think the pork roast is done. Time for some eats.

Columns by Sun Ra