interstitially, on mustard and memories

Going forward, all my images have hover text. The news clipping has a link to more info.

Today I read a recipe for “Peruvian chicken,” in a British newspaper, which wanted me to use “American mustard.” I had to think about what that is. I remembered how much my mom loved mustard when I was growing up. She loved German mustard most, I think; the grainy kind that tends to come in round glass pots, on a hot dog with sauerkraut. 6f0102b774ad03e9ff0a2038809b5ee9
And there was English mustard, very sharp, French mustard, brown like German but smoother, Dijon mustard, mostly the same as French, to us, and then later there was a sweet-hot one that started to appear at delis. And “beer mustard,” of course, which I think people liked with pretzels. This was back in the 70s, before all the boutique flavors. 15428423934_e8305ebdbe_b

I concluded they must mean yellow mustard is American mustard. D97e520ee06c9a1893b97ce107ecfce5
If here (and apparently Canada) is the only place that’s sold, it makes sense. I thought I didn’t like mustard much at all til I had the sweet-hot kind, because I’d tasted only yellow and German and Dijon. The yellow was sort of briney (like if Chinese mustard was very mild,) and I didn’t like the texture of the German. Dijon was okay in a chicken dish. But these days there is yellow mustard here at the house; it’s okay with a hot dog or ham sandwich, and one of my sons likes it. He likes all mustards, though, like my mom, and now as an adult, I do, too, mostly. I also have champagne mustard in there, a beer one, and Dijon, currently. There might be a grainy brown one in there, too, but I never hear it called German anymore; just brown or "deli." I made some a couple years ago, and I think the recipe just said, "homemade mustard." I think I might try this recipe for spicy beer mustard next, cut down to size. 10.-Pittsburgh_Post_Gazette_Thu__Aug_25__1927_-1-768x900

So if you’re reading this from another country, in case you’re interested, we have many mustards, just like you probably do, since you also live in a culture that was created almost entirely through immigrant migration from every part of the world. And in one of the Carolinas, I never remember which because I guess I don't care enough being from Kansas City, they add it to their barbecue sauce. Barbecue sauce is different everywhere you go, but I’ve been to two decent restaurants that serve a good variety. One of the restaurants was near Times Square in New York, the other next to a motel in an industrial area of St. Louis, Missouri, 950 miles away (roughly 590k; two days into your six day driving trip across the country if you don't stop for anything but food and sleep, which would be silly.) I think it was this place. But barbecue, like mustard, comes in infinite varieties, for infinite personal tastes. Condiments are life. 8c5fad4af99405320c144d0f6ba75622
I think something everyone should realize is that what you see of our culture in ordinary grocery stores is usually just the cheapest and easiest to transport, and it's the same for what we see of yours. But if this is the only country (besides Canada!) that serves mild yellow mustard regularly, certainly that does make it American. At the same time, we have hundreds of different ones we can buy, in various regions. Jungle Jim's here in Cincinnati has a huge selection. And look: there is a National Mustard Museum!

On another note, I read that Dutch and Belgian people have an "American" sandwich spread which resembles steak tartare. The person mentioning it didn't understand why, because "Americans hate that." No, ma'am, they do not, at least, not all 300 million plus of them. They just don't see it as often as they did long ago, because trends come and go here, as they do elsewhere. My grandma used to make it for herself, having the meat ground at a butcher the same day, but I just get it at one of my favorite restaurants here in Cincinnati, as an appetizer. If someone still wants to make it at home, it just takes a bit of nice sirloin (from a good local butcher if possible, but not necessary,) partially frozen and diced by hand. And of course you need a delicious farm-fresh egg for the top. Tartare

Living in Zenith

“Being a man given to oratory and high principles, he enjoyed the sound of his own vocabulary and the warmth of his own virtue.”
Half an hour spent with “social media” this morning was enough to renew the simmering and dismissive rage of three or four Sinclair Lewis novels, but it does no good. I have neither the talent nor the tenacity to do what he did 80 and 90 years ago, and what if I did? People rarely recognize their own folly; preferring to focus on that of others. I railed for months last year about Buzz Windrip, but I have a tiny voice and this is a real big world.
Along a more pleasant train track of thought, it’s symphony season, so I have a reason to be at interesting restaurants once a month for the next few. First up was Zula, my personal favorite, a rare treat, and just diagonally across Washington Park from the reopened Music Hall. I took pictures of our shared dinner, not to impress anyone, but to reenjoy later as I like. He goes out to eat as a matter of course and told me I should order whatever I like since I don’t, so I chose the yellowfin tuna crudo, haricots vert with escarole and this and that, romaine hearts with a very nice dressing, beef tartare, and duck breast with sweet potatoes and French lentils. LdfkgjLdfkgjLdfkgj
 And I had two Corpse Revivers #2, as well. A sumptuous treat.  Ldfkgj
Over at Music Hall, the symphony played Pelléas et Mélisande, with a dreamy minimalist setting for the singers.
We both needed a touch more from that set and the singers’ movement, to be honest, to make a point or two more clear. But the music was lovely, the reconstruction of the building is lovely, and it was just a lovely evening all around. I sigh with pleasure at the memory of my beef tartare, breaking the lovely golden yolk on top, and the giddy sensation of swallowing a perfect food. Here is a filtered photo I took in honor of my old cookbooks with their creepy attempts at elegance. 20171021_191744_Film4
Back to the real world online, this month’s particular demand for social justice is taking a new ugly turn. And the people who don’t take it seriously will never take you seriously if you employ tactics you decry in others.
All of them perceived that American Democracy did not imply any equality of wealth, but did demand a wholesome sameness of thought, dress, painting, morals, and vocabulary.
Oh, but you think the pressure to conform to society comes only from people who can’t see things your way? The new stereotyping is driving me mad, personally. It’s more rigid than ever through the machinations of people who purport to be freeing us from it all. For one example among several: we don’t need sixteen more labels than we had before. We just need people to stop narrowly defining the ones we already have. That includes both you and the people you think are wrong. History and anthropology would teach you that a few other cultures worked this out a long time ago, if you’d take the time to learn some of it.
The demand for equality for everybody and the recognition that we are not all the same, but that’s really okay, will not be met as long as Smugness and Ignorance battle each other on top of messy straw heaps. “She did her work with the thoroughness of a mind which reveres details and never quite understands them.”
And that’s all I have to say about that except here's something personal. I have a neighbor with a 40 foot flag pole atop of which waves a fading American flag. He never lowers it, but never mind about that for now. Beneath it for months last year waved a big black Trump flag. I shuddered every time I went outside.
He also had a beautiful maple tree in the front corner of his lawn, which he maintains to a heightened perfection the likes of which only a Toro ad man could conceive of, and earlier this summer during a storm, a limb broke off that tree and it was cut up and removed. A week later, the entire tree was gone. I was so sad, wondering whether euthanization was truly necessary or if he just couldn’t bear the imperfection of it.
Or maybe he just liked the excuse that he wouldn’t have to vacuum leaves as often. I don’t know. I haven’t asked him.
He’s got a whole life story, you know. He isn’t just a Trumper, and we are all made up of much more than our individual parts can ever suggest. Maybe his ideas about society are all rotten, but he always waves if we’re both out getting the mail at the same time, so he’s also a person, like I am, who likes to acknowledge other persons around him, and maybe someday we’ll exchange something more than pretty politenesses. These days, a black POW/MIA flag that we used to see pretty commonly sits beneath the weather-worn American flag. 
This final quotation is from Walt Kelly instead of Sinclair Lewis. I can imagine my neighbor, as a young man back from performing his Service to Our Country, reading Pogo and wondering how to get back to the halcyon world of his childhood.
Traces of nobility, gentleness and courage persist in all people, do what we will to stamp out the trend. So, too, do those characteristics which are ugly…Resolve then, that on this very ground, with small flags waving and tinny blast on tiny trumpets, we shall meet the enemy, and not only may he be ours, he may be us.

Notes on a hundred things

The annual landlord visit came and went, rather painlessly. I always get super worked up about it, though, and then need a few days to decompress.

The pool is still leaking, but we can call for that and have done whatever needs doing. 20170704_211625

I’m on Day…24 of this 28 day eating plan. The purpose of it renders it no longer a necessity, but if I stopped, my family would be all, “ooh, you didn’t do it right.” Whatever. Here’s the thing. I wanted to reset my eating thinking, and I have largely done that. So that purpose has been met. At the same time, I have fouled up my enjoyment of simple pleasures in the kitchen, I have no more energy than before, am still sleepy after lunch, have lost no weight and have seen no skin improvement. The book assured me everyone sees all that happening, and it is true in most cases; a no sugar diet will cause you to gain or lose weight as needed. But it has not been true in my case, though I have eaten many fewer calories and exercised more. At the same time, I was supposed to have withdrawal symptoms, headaches, etc., and I had none of that. I was in a bad mood only in regard to having little to enjoy the first few days, and not from sugar deprivation itself.

Looked at that way, I think 24 days has been enough to move forward to “maintenance.” But I’m not going to just eat cake today or anything like that. I’m still going to eat an apple most days; I like their thinking there, though every single day might be too much apple for me. I’m still going to drink a pitcher of water every day, sometimes with a green tea bag in it. I’m still going to do better at snacking when I can, and I might retain their notion of eating a little dark chocolate every day, though I still don’t love it. I have rediscovered my taste for freshly-ground peanuts, however. The red wine recommendation, meh. I’ll try to remember to have some sometimes, and I’ll also think very carefully about what else I’ve eaten in my day before having dessert, which is something I already do before I decide whether it’s a cocktail evening or not. 20170626_120731

I never craved dessert these past few weeks except sort of once. I really wanted rice pudding the other day, for a reason I just cannot say. When do I ever eat rice pudding? And I can’t say I’ve craved bread, but I’ve missed it a lot. Like to have a little with my olives and ricotta, or to put bread crumbs on top of the baked eggplant. And to eat noodles with eggs for lunch now and then. A natural part of the day, not an overwhelming part. I want that back.

In other areas, I’ve been sewing lots of things. I made a baby quilt top a couple days ago, and yesterday I made this log cabin block with some of the scraps. 20170704_103538

The garden isn’t good at all this year, but is not fully hopeless. There will be a fair number of hot peppers, cherry tomatoes, and lemon cucumbers. A few pickling sized cucumbers, some amount of snap beans, three delicata squash, and a few other tomato varieties, including black prince and…I forget which golden variety. But the Brandywines, which I grew from seed, are sick, and I might have to pull them out later this week. Something ate my meatball eggplant plants, but the baby eggplants on the deck seem okay. I’ll have some carrots soon, and at least a few sweet peppers. I have about twenty garlic bulbs curing in my paint room. 20170704_091241

I’m so in love with Twin Peaks: The Return, I can’t always think about anything else.

The kitten staying here is doing very well. Blood tests next week when she’s old enough for them. 20170628_174341

Yesterday I took some accidentally-purchased "lightly sweetened" peach cups (who thinks peaches need sweetening? this is our problem, people,) and turned them into popsicles.
20170704_132539please to ignore background laundry, etc.

And I made frozen yogurt thusly: one large container Greek Gods plain yogurt into the food processor with an entire cup of sugar (this amount will be reconsidered later,) juice lazily squeezed from two lemons, 2 tbs amaretto, and a touch of salt. I whirred it and then put it into a large ziploc bag in the freezer. Later after it started to freeze, I squished it around every hour for a few, then put it into a container to enjoy…in a few days, I guess. Same with a popsicle. It can wait.
Finally, here is the pictorial saga of my frozen vegetable dumplings and the sauce that would never end. 20170704_144203
20170704_151011Enough apple already. Wouldn't a piece of flat bread have tasted good with that sauce?

grocery luxuries for birthday week

499 words is all, I promise. I went to Jungle Jim’s today, and got four big full bags of groceries. And the thing is, I got a lot of things specifically for me to enjoy. For the past three months and more, I’ve been eating noodles and eggs, and two or three good dinners a week, and just not a lot else, and I gained ten pounds. It really is like that, when you don’t have any money. And exercise vigilance is nearly impossible as caloric energy wanes.

I saw at least six people riding on electric shopping carts. All of them were very, very large, of a size that would have been incredibly uncommon to see when I was a child. I knew a few fairly heavy people, but they still fit into chairs and could push a shopping cart in a store and did all the other usual things people do. You thought, “that’s a large person,” not “that’s kind of unbelievable.”

But life seems like something else these days. One of them in particular was of an astounding size. She didn’t fit into the cart and rode it side saddle. Her belly reached her feet. I am not exaggerating. And she made the cart go way too fast, if you ask me. It didn’t seem safe for anyone coming around a corner. Maybe she was the impatient type. Her husband (in his own cart) might have been the “I will go slower to make you more calm when in fact it will agitate you instead” type. I’ve known men like that.

So anyway, I indulged myself for birthday week. This was also produce delivery day, so the larder is quite full now, and the only guilt would come if any of it goes to waste. Here’s some of what I put in the bags. I bagged the groceries myself. The cashier was not going to be up to doing it correctly, and I can do it much faster, anyway, plus use fewer bags. I brought in five, and used only four, weight evenly distributed.

First, mark-down meat! This should last a good while, going to freeze most of it tomorrow. I got the regular-priced ground round to go with the ground pork for meatballs. And I couldn’t pass up the jowl bacon; guanciale, during birthday week. It is de rigeur for Amatriciana, but I don't know what I'll use it for this time. Meat
Next, things I will enjoy for lunch. I couldn’t remember the name of that eggplant stuff I like from the Indian section, but they didn’t seem to have it, anyway. Frozenstuff
A few miscellaneous items also for lunch and this and that. Misc
And a few bonus items that were good prices. Cans
Oh, and I got cherries yesterday! Don’t you love when it’s cherries season? Cherries are great because you simply do not buy fresh ones in October or March, except frozen. You buy them in June. June really is the best month.

Regarding Breaded Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches

You can get proper breaded pork tenderloin sandwiches in Indiana, Missouri, and Iowa. You might think they're okay elsewhere, but they are not. An exception might be if someone from one of those places brought their cook and pigs to some other place, but not really.

We never got a breaded pork tenderloin during our recent road trip to Kansas City, because we ran out of eating room. So soon we're going to drive to Indiana for one.

There are two real kinds of pork tenderloin sandwich, and one of them is sort of a fancier version, of which I do not wholly approve. It is acceptable, but I'm not driving two hours for that kind.

It's properly served in a plastic basket lined with paper, and accompanied by french fries, onion rings or potato chips, and/or sometimes a little disposable cup of cole slaw, and also sometimes a pickle spear. But it's okay if it's on a plate these days, instead. People don't seem to go in for plastic basket lunches like they used to.

The pork tenderloin circumference should be several times the size of the bun, and it should be hand-breaded or at least coated in bread crumbs.800px-Pork_tenderloin_sandwich
This also looks okay.Paul & Jack's
Sometimes people make them thicker so that they are not as big around, and use a batter, instead. I don't think that's right, but it can still be a good sandwich that way. Thumb_600
If it's Sunday, you can eat it with gravy and mashed potatoes and green beans, instead of on a bun. I guess. You're really just eating pork schnitzel at that point, aren't you? D3ab6489455e21f322b2beeda5e7ff84
But if you go to a place where they have breaded pork tenderloin which is formed into a neat round patty, don't order that.

I get the senior citizen discount at Goodwill, though.

There I was, mustering energy to make sloppy joe—thing, with my Kirkland organic ground beef, fresh bell pepper and onion, and basic seasonings, and I got to thinking about the Homefront. Which is a thing I do pretty often. This would be food you could throw together and eat later or whatever, but you'd probably have to grind the meat first, and add soy flour, or use ham, or who knows? You got what they had to sell you, unless you grew it yourself. I had no energy for the cole slaw I was going to make, so the boys are having carrots tossed their way, along with blackberries and unsweetened applesauce. Cole slaw will be good with something else tomorrow. Choices. Anyway.


As it lurched toward time to drain the fat and liquid before adding the tomato sauce and seasonings, I remember having read women would save that liquid to use for soup broth. Of course, if there was fat to skim, that was saved for the butcher, who paid for fat by the pound so the government could use it for explosives. But they’d save the liquid, and they’d deglaze their pans to take advantage of cooked goodness, and make room in their tiny freezers so it could be used later. I am not sure what they saved it in. Maybe those weird old ice trays I never understood.

Did you know that rationing here in the U.S. actually got more strict for awhile when the war was over? That’s because even more food had to be sent overseas to feed starving citizens whose previously depended-upon fields and livestock were destroyed or reduced severely over the past six years.

I think about all they did to plan and make do and substitute, just as things had begun to turn around after the Depression, and the government’s ongoing push to get people to eat carefully from all the food groups, and then I think about the extra money they had after the war suddenly being spent on Wonder Bread and Swanson TV Dinners and the new McDonald's Hamburger Restaurants. And they forgot, or wished not to remember, how hard things were. My neighbors remember the war, but they refuse to recycle because they don't want to rinse out cans and bottles. They'd rather spend their (our) energy blowing individual leaves from their yard nine months of the year. It’s hard not to be sort of depressed by that.


The liquid I drained isn’t really very fatty, and it smells good, beef cooked with onions and peppers, so I added it to a three cup plastic freezer container to use for something later on. It suddenly seemed silly not to.


30 in 31: day eleven: stuff I enjoyed eating this year

Here are seven things I enjoyed eating this year, and three from before this year, because I was in the mood for ten.

20140807_134356_16136932841_oI had these tacos last year. I was in the middle of Southern Ohio somewhere.

20151029_182348_21963946073_oHere's some fettucine I enjoyed. I don't remember everything I put in it, but I know it was good because I put it in one of my square bowls.

8781854253_fce68319ca_oThis is some kind of bruschetta I had at a restaurant in Montgomery in 2013, at least, I was on Montgomery Road, and I don't know whether that part is called Kenwood, just east of the odd shopping center with the big Half Price Books store.

Crispy-skin-walleye_17267817522_oI had this tasty walleye at a restaurant near OTR last spring. It was on a corner, and I will remember the name pretty soon and add it here. They had fun odd cocktails.

Dsc_2806_18314043834_oThis is steak tartare and ceviche at my favorite (probably) restaurant, a block from Music Hall on the other side of Washington Park. They were both very good, and we had good cocktails that night, I might edit and add that photo.

Dsc_3688_21097458421_oThis is a delicious sandwich I made recently. Basically, I guess I like meat to be either cured or raw or for it to be seafood.

Dsc_3891_21007315064_oHere's some good stuff I made; pita chips, white bean dip, and bruschetta.

Dsc_4017_21709493240_oI don't remember everything on this pizza. I see red onions, roasted red peppers, artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomato bruschetta (from a little jar,) and probably goat cheese.

Noodle-lunch_16088860981_oFrom 2014: udon noodles with hard-cooked egg, homegrown snow peas, chili-garlic sauce.

Spaghetti-with-sauteed-vegetables-and-eggs_17031137747_oSpaghetti and eggs! My favorite lunch except for the photo above and probably a couple other photos above. This time it had leftover roasted vegetables, as well.

Thanksgiving days begin

Part one of shopping done; indigenous foods, check. I didn't prepare fresh pumpkin this year as I sometimes do, but it's one product that is completely fine bought in cans. Good for babies, too, as I've mentioned before.


Of course, we always have these foods because they're truly American, as is maple syrup, which I add in small measure to the sweet potatoes. So are pecans, and this year I'll probably make a second pumpkin pie with a pecan topping, rather than pecan pie on its own. I'd rather make pecan tarts at Christmas. Anyway, what I mean is, these are the most important usual Thanksgiving foods to me, but I don't prepare most of them in the ways many other people think of as traditional, because I really never liked them that way, and I'm in charge of things, since 1990. Mostly. (If you are also in charge and don't like a lot of mushy or sticky or etc., you are free! Let it go! Cook the things as you like them best.)

Sometimes we have cherry pie instead of blueberry, but when we do, I like to still include blueberries in another way. This year it'll be pie, though.

Besides the indigenous foods, there'll be sweet potatoes, of course, mashed with holiday maple syrup sweetness, and a little butter and zest from the orange that goes into the turkey, and we'll go on Wednesday to pick out our green vegetables. Most commonly I steam fresh green beans in a pan with very simple seasonings. But we might do different things this year.

Also to buy on Wednesday, sherry for the turkey gravy, Zinfandel for the table, and bourbon for the pecan topping. The bourbon is indigenous, too, of course!

You might have noticed my turkey is not frozen. It costs a whopping $1.99 that way, but that is still definitely bargain meat. If I bought a frozen one for less, chances are I'd have to buy a larger one than I like to cook. So, 18-20 dollars for giant unwieldy turkey we'll never finish, or $27 for the size I prefer to prepare and fit into a pan in my oven. No contest; there are still weekend leftovers, a good carcass and neck for broth, and giblets for the dog and cat.

When I know there'll be more than six to give dinner to, I'll add duck or another meat dish, rather than buy a much larger turkey.

Finally, exciting dressing news this year. I get to make most of it mostly fruity, to suit my taste and my visiting daughter's dietary needs, and I'll just leave a section of it quite plain and bready for the son who kind of demands it that way. But with indigenous sage, of course!

I thought this was funny. My turkey has a special wrapper, and printing to inform me that it is.20151123_105032

I got some sunshine

I love lemons and lemony things, except not sour lemon candy because that is an oxymoronic disappointment. I particularly adore and treasure Meyer lemons.

And if you think perhaps I ought not to have bought New Zealand ones because of how that’s super far away, well, I want you to stop eating bananas, coconuts, mangos, and everything else that we get from the tropics where we do not live, and then we’ll talk. 20151025_165118_22284701048_o

If you are also in Southwestern Ohio and so committed to local food that you eat nothing all winter but kale and yams, that’s really terrific. I guess. I’m still going to enjoy these lemons. 20151025_165159_22285586469_o

In winter, Meyer lemons come from California and Florida, rather briefly. And I’d have expected an NZ harvest to maybe appear earlier than now, but what do I know about that? Nothing. Only that I have five whole Meyer lemons on my table to gaze upon lovingly and then use in things. 20151025_165134_21851196563_o




About your social media medical degree...

I can't tolerate prescription pain reliever or strong anesthesia, but have never had the least trouble digesting any food. So when people say, "That item of food is bad for you, etc., you must never eat it," it really irks me.

When someone carries on about having been prescribed "the good drugs," which are absolutely bad for me, I do not tell that person not to take them because bad for me = bad for everyone. Wouldn't that be a very silly thing for me to do?


There are some people in this world with a serious illness caused by certain enzymes in foods. I take their needs and concerns very, very seriously. But I do not have time for anybody who says gluten turns to glue in your stomach, or tells me what I should eat because of an article they read in HuffPo three years ago.

As for my own concerns, I do not believe that red meat is bad for people in general, though I share the idea that we should eat it from as healthful a source as possible. For me, it will be best to mostly eliminate it from my diet, partly as a compensation for enjoying a little cream in my coffee, and partly because the best way for me to add in more of something I need is to subtract something else I don't need. And if I'm limited to 12-13 grams of saturated fat per day, I'd rather have it from dairy than meat. DSC_3520

I've never been a big meat eater. When I was a child, I could hardly bear ground meat, and I found the rest of it annoying to chew. As an adult, I prefer my beef tartare or tataki-style. It would be much more difficult to give up Genoa salami (which rarely has veal in it these days,) though I can easily live without ever eating another hamburger or cooked steak. I've been counseled by a paid professional to have no more than two servings of salami (or ham, etc.) per week, but I know what she really meant was, "if you must." So I'll think of it as a treat only. DSC_3688

A medication I am currently taking requires me to consider the sugar question much more carefully, and thus, alcohol, as well. I can retain my two cocktail a week habit only if I make sure to eat well and monitor my sugar usage. IMG_0002

I do not drink sweetened soda or tea, but will sweeten a morning mug of coffee unless I am having espresso and cream made by an expert. That's something to consider. And I have an exaggerated relationship with cookies (something like being perpetually 19 with a cute boyfriend with a motorcycle)


but I keep lightly sweetened biscotti around to enjoy occasionally when I make dessert for the boys, or am enjoying a long slow Sunday morning (see above.) I love steel-cut oats in the evening, but will learn to enjoy that with fruit instead of honey.

The point is, we have our own personal balances to maintain, and they are not subject to hashtag keyword seasonal facts in possession of a lofty notion collector. They are subject only to our own understanding of our own bodies, and information from our own medical tests and consultations.

tl;dr: Don’t assume an air of authority and/or make concrete pronouncements to an INTP, or to anyone else if that person is nearby, or how about just don't at all? myob.

PS: I'm not into the label thing most times, but never have I read such a complete and accurate description of my basic personality as at the site linked in the previous sentence. I don't know if people possessing the other types think they nailed it so completely for them, all sorts of variables in play, but if that sort of thing interests you, maybe take the test and see if it's so. And if you read through the INTP one or at least a lot of it, you will know me to a fairly scary degree.