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Saturday, March 28, 2009

Intro podcast up...

...plus a poem from For Girls (& Others) just warm up the player for next month's festivities.

bloofbooks.com/2009/03/bloof-podcast-player.html (Subscribe via RSS reader or iTunes.)

& the list of podcasters is shaping up. More soon!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Spaghetti Squash with Mushroom Ragout & Swiss Chard

20 minutes
Serves 4

Another super simple but tasty odd-and-ends dish into which you can put whatever vegetables you've got on hand. (Just add them in order of hardest to softest, like I've done below.) Spaghetti squash is mildly sweet and sort of lemony, so lemon juice and thyme work well; doesn't really need much else. Here's today's version.

1 spaghetti squash
2 tsp-1 tbsp olive oil
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 a large red bell pepper, diced
1/2 a large zucchini, diced
2 slices grilled eggplant (leftovers in my case, but you can also just dice a bit of fresh eggplant)
1/2 tsp dried thyme, or 1 tsp fresh
8 oz crimini (aka "baby bella") mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1 large bunch swiss chard, ribs removed and cut into ribbons
juice of 1/2 a lemon
pinch of salt
black pepper to taste
nutritional yeast or Spike salt-free seasoning, optional

Wash and dry the spaghetti squash and prick a few times with a sharp knife. Lay it on a couple of paper towels and microwave it for 10-12 minutes, turning every 3-4 minutes, until the outer shell gives when you press it. (Press it with a towel-covered hand. It's hot!) Remove from microwave and set aside until cool enough to handle.

Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium low heat. Add garlic and saute until fragrant, 1-2 minutes. Add diced pepper and saute another 2 minutes. Add zucchini and eggplant, saute another minute or two. Spread sliced mushrooms over the top of the saute and sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Don't touch it for a minute or so, then add thyme and toss things around. Let mushrooms cook and release juices, another couple of minutes.

When all the vegetables are softened, pile the ribboned chard on top of them, squeeze lemon wedges over the greens, and cover the skillet with a large domed lid. (Borrow one from a soup pot or wok.) Allow greens to steam and wilt for a few minutes. Then toss them with the other veggies, using tongs. Add black pepper to taste, and check for seasoning. (I don't cook with much salt; you might want to add some.) There should be juices collecting from the veggies and greens in the bottom of the skillet. Turn the heat to low and keep the lid on so these don't evaporate.

Slice the partially cooled squash in half, lengthwise. (It's still hot inside. Tongs or a towel will help you hold it.) Gently rake out the seeds, but don't go too deep. Once seeds and seed pulp is removed, rake the flesh with a fork, forming spaghetti-like strands.

Place a bed of squash on a plate, top with greens and ragout, and pour some of the pan juice around the plate. Top with nutritional yeast, Spike, or chopped nuts.

Thursday, March 19, 2009


FYI, we're looking at April as 30 opportunities to stun, amuse, titillate, annoy, confound, flatter, coddle, creep out, harrass, tickle, flay alive, and smooch you. Possibly all at once.

Saturday, March 14, 2009


Spicy* Sweet Potato Black Bean Soup
6-8 large servings
20 minutes

A fast, filling soup that I make in about a hundred versions. Here's today's. It's superloaded with nutrients--especially vitamins A and C, folate, manganese, iron, and fiber. Plenty of protein too. It's definitely not fancy, but it's nevertheless one I crave regularly in fall/winter.

*Regarding "spicy," remember I'm a Texan. So I find this mildly spicy. Adjust accordingly!

1 tbsp olive oil
2-3 gloves garlic, minced
1/2 sweet yellow onion, chopped (you might like more, I supertaste onions)
1 large jalapeno, minced (remove seeds and ribs for tamer heat)
32 oz can tomatoes, crushed or chopped if you get the whole ones
4 cups vegetable stock (or low-salt commercial boxed veg stock, 32 oz.)
2 large sweet potatoes, scrubbed
2 cups cooked black beans (or 1 can, drained and rinsed)
1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp minced oregano, or 1/2 tsp dried
1 tsp pure chile powder (if you use a "chili" powder that has anything other than dried chiles, adjust other seasonings)
juice of one lime
3-4 huge handfuls of fresh spinach, about 10-12 ounces (baby leaves or chopped large leaves; you can also use frozen, but soup will take longer to come up to boil)
4-6 tablespoons chopped cilantro

Heat oil in large soup pot over medium heat. Saute onions until translucent. Add garlic and jalapeno and saute until soft and just beginning to brown.

Add tomatoes with juice, stock, and lime juice. Add frozen spinach now, if you're using that. Bring to a boil.

While soup base comes to a boil, microwave sweet potatoes until tender (prick them a few times with a fork first), approximately 6-8 minutes, turning once. Set aside to cool.

Slice cooled potatoes in half and slip off their skins. Dice and add to soup base, along with beans, chile powder, cumin and oregano. Return to boil.

Lower to simmer. Add fresh spinach now, if you're using that, and cilantro. Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, to allow greens to wilt and flavors to meld. Check seasonings, and salt and pepper to taste if necessary. (If your stock, tomatoes, and canned beans are salted you probably won't need any.)

Serve with warm whole wheat or corn tortilla, or crumble baked or raw tortilla chips on top.

Yes, April is coming.

And I'm a bit trepid. My poetry muscles have not seen much use lately.

Neither have my email-answering muscles.

I'm just feeling a bit quiet. (Working on some nonwriting goals--so close!--and trying not to worry too much about a family matter that will hopefully turn out to be nothing.)

But I'm going to give it a shot.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Xantippe reviews My Zorba

Danielle Pafunda’s poems dissect the body and psyche, revealing equal parts sinew, organ, scientific experiment and theatrical play. At first read, I wasn't sure if the poems in My Zorba were hilarious or devastating; now I think they map the overlap between the two. These epistolary poems are necessarily fractured and they travel at the rapid speed of thought. A huge source of pleasure is that while Pafunda grounds us in the familiar terrain of the body she destabilizes that ground with absurdity, irony and objects out of context. [...] --Jesse Nissim

Read the rest here.

And then pick up a copy here or at any of these lovely retailers.

See also: Josh Corey on Anne Boyer's Romance of Happy Workers in the same issue, here.

Monday, March 9, 2009

The birds are back

That means it's nearly really finally spring.

Also, now's a good time to check Local Harvest to find a CSA (Community-Supported Agriculture) program in your area.

What's better than subscribing to a huge weekly box of delicious, nutritious, local, organic veggies? Only that they're also CHEAP. I've subscribed to a local farm for the last few years at about $14 a week for an Individual Share, which provides more than enough vegetables and Pick-Your-Own berries for the two of us. Since we're vegan, that's the bulk of our grocery bill from May to November! (Family shares generally feed 4 or more, and are priced accordingly.) We donate some of our share to a local food bank and women's shelter, and freeze/dehydrate/can the rest for less abundant months.

Even if you can't imagine a farm being anywhere near you, enter your zip code. In NYC for instance, NJ and upstate NY and LI farms deliver CSA shares into the city, including Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn Heights, DUMBO, Long Island City, etc. You might be surprised!

Monday, March 2, 2009


OK, it was more like a snow half-hour. Freelance job waits for no weather, alas!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Portrait by Didi Menendez

(Flickr copyright settings won't let me display it here so click the title to see it there.)

More portraits at Didi's American Poets portrait blog here.

Thank you, Didi!