1970s Music

I get to drive my husband’s car on Thursdays and Fridays. This means I get to listen to XM radio on those days. Which means I get to listen to THE SEVENTIES STATION (#7 if you’re interested.)

There is so much good music I’ve never heard before. Even if we’d been allowed to listen to mainstream music, I’m not sure I would remember anything from the 70s. I can identify a few songs from the 80s, which I heard in stores or other public establishments; we were forbidden from “that kind” of music even then.

I grew up with classical, and south american folklore. We lived and breathed it. But somewhere in my 30s I cracked. I don’t think there is any recorded classical music I haven’t heard multiple times. I got sick of it. So I ventured to the dark side.

Supertramp! The Eagles! Led Zeppelin! Where was this stuff all my life? Furthermore I discovered lesser known music, particularly from the 1970s- that was extraordinary- like the “hippie” christian music of Keith Green or All Saved Freaks Band.

Which is all to say, I keep finding excuses to jump in my husband’s car to “buy something.” A gallon of milk, chicken thighs, baby diapers. And I tune to the XM 70s station, and 75% of the time I love what is played.

Having been absent from the musicality of the first three decades of my life, I can say this: there is something special about 70s music. 1980s music sucks. 1990s is tolerable.

So what exactly is so striking about 70s music?

Here’s my classically trained answer: they were actually talented. They had real voices, real instrumentality, true pitch. By the time you get to the 80s it’s all about marketing and “packaging.” Take Madonna for instance: her voice is average at best, yet she managed to market herself to a phenomena, though a talentless one. Yeah, she was slutty. Yeah, she was pretty. So what?

Here you have a recent find from my peregrinations. Sonny and Cher- you have to love the 70s set and hair. I adore Cher’s dress! If I could still sew, which I could once do as well as a Bangladeshi kid, I’d create an exact replica. I’d peg her at BMI 17 in this video, but still beautiful.

Bach on Harp

On the ancient contraption known as radio I heard some interesting harp music recently, which led me to investigate harp music- especially harp “covers-” in general. I eventually found this lovely rendition of J.S. Bach’s famous Toccata and Fugue in d minor, rendered by the beautiful Amy Turk (for some reason most harp players are beautiful women. Maybe they are immortal sylphs.)

Egg Beaters Taste Disgusting

I’m not one of those people who think cholesterol and fat are bad for you. But one low carb food I never tried is egg whites. Of course I’ve eaten eggs: hard boiled, slow boiled (huevos haminados), poached, frittatas, omelettes, scrambled in bacon grease or butter. But I never tried cooking just the whites. I’m not egg crazy per se, though since eating low carb I’ve grown less egg averse, and my favorite style is poached or slow cooked.

After passing by egg beaters in the costco refrigerator many times, and knowing that egg whites are one of the most calorie efficient forms of protein (I once watched a documentary about an anorexic woman who ate nothing but egg whites and cottage cheese) I decided to give them a chance in my kitchen.

I tried several “mug scrambles” described on the egg beater site. I tried to be creative and poach them, and make omelettes from them. They tasted like mushy soy crumbles (ah, memories from days of vegan). If you took sawdust and slime, liquefied it, and packaged it in cartons, you’d have something akin to egg beaters.

So don’t bother! This product is a sin. If you want to eat eggs without fat, poach some in chicken broth or slow cook them whole on LOW for seven hours in a bath of water. The yolks aren’t bad for you anyway.

eggbeaters
breaking up is not hard to do

I marched these puppies down the Costco return line this morning. Costco is gracious on returns; rarely do they even ask for a reason. But the girl at the counter looked at the egg beaters, looked at me, and asked: What was wrong?

Instead of explaining that these are a vile, disgusting culinary blight, I instead said there was a weird smell when I opened them, and I was afraid to eat them. Which is only halfway a lie.

 

 

 

 

Pretzels From God

I’ve been making homemade pretzels for the kids recently. No, not the kind you heat up from the freezer. The kind you make from strange items like flour and yeast.

pretzels

My fourteen year old said they taste like they were made by God. Well, if ever a cook has received a compliment, that is it! I used Alton Brown’s recipe but tweaked it a little. I used vegetable oil instead of butter, paid more attention to the dough texture than his ratio of ingredients (the texture is incredibly important since you have to shape and boil these) and eventually shaped them differently– the above picture shows Alton’s method. Good but not great.

My picky eaters devoured them like locusts and my oldest daughter has begged me to make them every day.

The irony is that I can’t eat them, as I have type 2 diabetes! I did try one bite to verify their verdict, and yes they are delicious. So go ahead and give these a try, you’ll never buy regular soft pretzels again!

First Comes Love

First Comes Love is a 2012 documentary from Nina Davenport detailing her desire to conceive a child sans husband, as she has failed to find Mr. Right by age 41. Having yearned her whole life for motherhood, she enlists the sperm of handsome gay friend Eric and we’re off to the races.

I watched this documentary twice. The first go-round it rubbed me the wrong way. Nina and her vast social network are cringeworthily solipsistic and emotionally stunted. I began to wonder how this small army of navel gazing intellectuals manage to pull their pants down in the morning to pee. And half of them, including Davenport, went to Harvard! I even stated aloud to my husband: “I can’t review this; it would be too cruel.”

Yet when I watched her film a second time I felt far more empathy for Ms. Davenport’s plight. Despite copious dating, no relationship grows to fruition. She even dates when she’s pregnant, to a charming film critic named John (note to Nina: if you ever read this review, get John back!). I had to wonder if these aging men and women, after so many years of ill-fated prospects, simply lack the ability to connect to one another long term. Nina even has to attend couples therapy with her best friend Amy to navigate their interactions.

Yet beneath Nina’s whiny exterior burns a bona fide desire to be a mother, and this is an urge none of us can criticize. After all, the maternal instinct is what transformed us from slimy fish to land dwelling mammals: concerned mother fish flopped in the mud for safer ground to lay eggs, and eventually that led to legs.

And oh does Davenport flop around. Between awkward conversations with the sperm donor, viscerally painful battles with her father- who perpetually hides behind a print New York Times and barks that she “Get an abortion!” after her pregnancy announcement- and her floundering sense of self, I began to feel maternal toward this poor creature and wondered if perhaps I could adopt her.

The filmmaking is choppy, neither here nor there, and the docu is fundamentally not about Davenport’s burgeoning motherhood, but rather her tumultuous relationship with her family of origin. In that respect I was disappointed to see details of pregnancy glossed over: she goes from taxi with sperm donor to suddenly third trimester pregnant, though the birth scene, which handsome Eric decides to avoid but later attends, is not to be missed.

All in all First Comes Love is a confused and confusing enterprise that nonetheless affirms the beauty of motherhood. And despite their flaws, Nina and Eric manage to produce the cutest baby in human history- but you’ll have to watch the film to see him!

Currently First Comes Love is available on Netflix streaming.

Catholic School

Some views from the caverns of Catholic school. When I walk into my younger children’s school I feel I’ve been transported back in time. Case in point:

phonebooth
Neo?

Despite growing up in a Christian environment I still find it bizarre to see Christian iconography in a school.

stjoseph
supernatural hallway monitor

infantjesus
infant jesus of prague, backup for checking hallway passes

cagethe cage where they lock up naughty children. JUST KIDDING! this blocks access to the roof.

lastsupperthe last supper in the auditorium

francisPope Francis looking humble and communist.

nrdame
the virgin at my older daughter’s school.

Port Richmond, Staten Island

Port Richmond, derisively coined Puerto Richmond by some Staten Islanders due to its massive influx of hispanic immigration, is a neighborhood spanning roughly from Forest Avenue to the south, Richmond Terrace to the north, Clove Road to the east, and Morningstar Road to the west. Originally an Irish neighborhood (at least I think so) it eventually turned predominantly African American, and over the last decade has transformed into a Hispanic neighborhood with a dominant dose of Mexico.

The commercial areas host restaurants, storefront churches, fly by night shops, and natural healers (known to Spanish speakers as curanderos or botanicas). You don’t see much else beyond that. Here and there are a few holdouts from the anglo era, including Ralph’s Famous Italian Ices and Ice Cream.

ralphs

In fact when we moved to Staten Island, the first thing the realtor advised after we sealed the deal was to visit Ralph’s. This ice cream shop is a Staten Island landmark and has withstood the environs’ decay. Denino’s, a pizzeria consistently ranked as some of the best in the country, is right across the street (if you click the above picture you can see it in the background).

As you head north things get dicey but my end goal was a live poultry butcher on Richmond Terrace. North of Castleton is especially decayed, so I gave myself the option of abandoning the endeavor if things felt unsafe.

There were few people out on this early, chilly Sunday morning. And those who were: all men. It was weird. There was not a single woman (other than me) to be seen. Most of the men traveled in pairs and were carrying coffee. In retrospect that should have been a warning sign but I soldiered on, taking pictures of anything that caught my eye. And a lot caught my eye.

guadalupe
eat, pray, comprar

virginmaryla virgen gets ready to mop

pushbutton
do these things serve any purpose?

postoffice
Port Richmond post office

postalparkingonly
lock without a cause

iglesia2
one of many, many storefront churches

iglesia
another storefront church. the power of tax free income!

abogado
abogados (lawyers) for when Trump takes over

lawyersteps
the lawyers’ front steps. business must be bad.

coconutjuice
a discarded can of coconut juice in the lawyer’s front lawn

twitter
twitter and facebook meet graffiti

restaurantauction
a restaurant that bit the dust

restaurant
another restaurant: “The Western Cowboy.”

lostdog
lost dog… sniff. But $1000??

automotive
an abandoned auto shop

caseyspublichouse
a holdout from days of anglo

inca market
…that is now next to Nando’s Inca Market

compramosoro
one of many signs offering to buy gold

Calories in Squirrel Meat

[essentially spoiler free]

Early in season 5 of The Walking Dead we see Daryl enter stage left adorned with a mantle of dead squirrels. This made me wonder: exactly what caloric or other nutritional value does squirrel meat offer? Even a fat squirrel is a small creature, so how much nourishment could a single squirrel provide our band of survivalists?

Most meat has roughly the same caloric and protein content: about 50-70 calories, and 7ish grams of protein per ounce (interestingly, the same applies to a single chicken egg). Squirrel meat, according to the internet, is no different- clocking in at approximately 50 calories per ounce.

But how much meat does a squirrel yield? There are a surprising number of sites dedicated to the slaughter and preparation of squirrel. And eyeballing some of the pictures, like this one:

squirrel
(source)

…I’d guestimate it’s 4 ounces of meat, maybe closer to 3 when you pick out the bones. (I’ve been weighing everything I eat for two years now, I’m a good gauge of portion size.)

So poor Daryl expends all that effort, and all those arrows, for 150 calories per squirrel. I bet he uses more energy hunting those critters than he obtains from them. Also I’m fairly certain his manly crossbow would rip apart a squirrel on contact, but his squirrels are perfectly intact and bloodless

All this begs the obvious question: if squirrels can flourish in the zombie apocalypse, why not other animals like bears, boars, deer, rabbits, even cats and dogs! Hell, buffalo could make a comeback with their prairies no longer relegated to modern agriculture. Surely Daryl could utilize his epic crossbow skills to conquer larger, more practical game? One is reminded of Little House on the Prairie where a single bear sustained the family through winter.