Cooking Photography Sustainability

Pancakes for Dinner

I have had the perfect pancake recipe right under my nose for at least 4 years and never known it. It only took Gabrielle to make this crazy irrational decision to buy 3 lbs of blueberries. Naturally, the onus falls unto me to figure what to do with the bulk of them. And over the years, I’ve more or less given up on making some pancakes at home. The recipes are always a failure, or ridiculously complicated, or from a box, which is fine if you like your pancakes to be super lame. [Note: apparently this is not always true.] The short story is I used to get my pancakes out to breakfast, but no more! The best pancake recipe that I have ever made personally is in Chez Panisse Fruit, one of the many books by that highfalutin old windbag Alice Waters.

I have a love-hate relationship with the Chez Panisse/Alice Waters empire. While I acknowledge that they have done wonderful things in terms of the dynamics of being a restauranteur, and for food culture in general, I usually find Mrs. Waters pompous conveyance of her ideas to be a total turn-off. I’m sure that it appeals to the well-heeled among us, but if you really want to make a difference, you must appeal to everyone. I’m willing to over-look that kind of thing though because I’m on such a high-plane, aesthetically. And, the truth is, Chez Panisse does have some great recipes.

I actually made these ones with left-over batter from yesterdays breakfast, and they’re still killer. The top one is blueberry peach, and the bottom one is with blackberries. I don’t go in for that fruit-on-top approach. I like my berries in my pancake, dig? (Sorry, I just watched The Mack.) These are pure buttermilk joints, too. None of that mixture of different milks business. I don’t really drink milk, and as I mentioned above, I never really made pancakes, but every time I would make the venture to do so, I would always end up with a spoiled carton of buttermilk and vitamin d both up in the fridge. Forget all of that noise. I’m taking about pure buttermilk pancakes—-with a gang of berries up in ’em.


• 2 cups Buttermilk
• 2 large eggs
• 6 Tablespoons Butter, melted
• 1.5 cups Unbleached all-purpose flour (I use cake flour)
• 1 Tablespoon Sugar
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 2 teaspoons baking soda
• Berries, fruit, whatever you like–look to Kenny Shopsin for inspiration

Beat the eggs into the buttermilk, then stir in the melted butter. Combine the flour, sugar, salt and baking soda. Gently stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, stirring until just combined. The batter should be a bit lumpy.

I’m not going to describe how to cook them, but I will say that I have been using 8″ non-stick skillets to cook mine, and they turn out pretty fucking perfect. I guess I’ll also add that you should add the berries onto the pancake as the first side is cooking, as opposed to the perhaps more logical approach of stirring the berries directly into the batter. Make these pancakes. If you have better ones I want to know about them and I’m dead serious.

Cooking Photography Portland Sustainability Uncategorized

Momofuku Ramen Bowl

Right up front, I don’t know hardly anything about noodle bowls, but come to find out this one is pretty slammin’! During the course of making this, I also found out that there’s ’nuff David Chang haters, but also more than enough folks on the other side of the fence in the clash. I’m not into the war, but I am into sick cookbooks. I’d been toying with the idea of picking up Momofuku for a bit now, but cookbooks cost some serious coin. I’d flipped through it a couple of times, but this last time I flipped to the page with shrimp and grits on it and couldn’t resist. Matter fact, I went out and bought a bag of grits too! But I digress, this post is about the Ramen bowl, which basically consist of the first 7 or so recipes in the book that are all dag easy, excepting that the broth took forever.

I’m about following recipes they way they’re written the first time I do them, so I followed this bugged out criteria that called to bring two sheets of Konbu (dried seaweed paper) to a boil then to let it steep for 10 minutes, before I took those out, and put in two cups of dried shiitake’s, brought it back up to a boil, and let it simmer for somethink like 30 minutes, before I removed those and put a whole chicken in the pot and let it poach for an hour. If someone knows and can explain the logic of doing all this in stages and would like to share their knowledge, I would be pleased to receive it! In the future, I’ma just put all that shit in the pot at the same time and save myself an hour of pot-watching.

During the hour that the bird’s poaching, you’re meant to roast 5 lbs of meaty, meaty pork bones in a hot hot oven. I came so close to buying some fancy pork bones, at my fancy butcher, but luckily they were out. I went back to the asian market where I should have bought them in the first place, and when I rolled up on the meat case they had a massive, just massive pile of neck bones piled up in the first sub-segment of the case. They looked straight brutal when they were whole. The kind lady saved me a good deal of chopping by insisting that she cut them down for me. The above bag/spread was originally 3 huge neck slab pieces that didn’t even remotely resemble necks. Later when I got home I come to find out the book calls for neck bones as the best possible meaty bones to use, so I was feeling pretty chuffed about that–all the more so as I slid the baking sheet into the oven and the house was quickly over-taken by the aroma of fatty caramelized meat-nugget goodness.

But as shamefully satisfying as that was, the recipe for this broth calls for an equally shameful foil. Yo, they want you to put 1lb of smoked bacon up in this broth for 45 minutes, then toss that shit. For real. Of course, I didn’t throw it out. The bacon slab is just lamping up in my fridge right now. It’s just that I don’t understand so many things about this ramen broth, but I’m doing them anyway! I am blindly making this rich, luxurious broth, and, hypothetically, flippantly discarding huge chunks of perfectly good bacon meat. I feel like writing a letter demanding a rivision!

But that’s what you’re supposed to do—-once the chicken is poached, and the bones are browned, you pluck the chicken from the broth, and the bones take it’s place, along with the bacon. Pull the bacon after the 45 minutes, and set the bones to a gentle simmer for upwards of 7 hours, replenishing the water level from time to time. In the last 45 minutes throw in a halved onion a couple chopped carrots, and a bunch of scallions. Then strain it. That’s the Ramen Broth. The recipe is supposed to yield 5 quarts. Now, I know what your thinking: WTF a boiled chicken. Word, ya’ll. I had one of those on my hands.

As the bones and bacon began to simmer away, I got to work on pulling all the meat off of the chicken carcass, and somewhere along the way I thought: Why. . . Khao Man Gai! We have a fantastic food cart in Portland that’s called Nong’s Khao Man Gai that’s serves this as it’s only dish. Nong’s admittedly blows my attempt out of the water, but it still turned out really tasty as an on-the-fly dish. It goes like this: You poach a chicken, then you make some rice with the poaching liquid. In the meantime, mince up some ginger, garlic, a chili pepper, some vinegar, some sugar, and some miso paste. I did all that in my little mini-Cuisinart food processor. I made some rice with the ramen broth when it was finished and put it together with some chopped chicken, and the above garnish, and maybe an extra small ladle of broth to moisten it up a bit. So good and so simple!

Having cleared the bones of most of their meat, I set to using them to make Taré or Japanese Barbecue Sauce. I love preparations like this because they just look so fucking evil! It a dark, pungent cauldron of broken bones—so visceral! Taré is made by roasting some chicken bones in a hot oven for about an hour, then transferring it to the stovetop to deglaze the fond before, in the case of this recipe, combining and bringing 1 cup sake, 1 cup mirin, and 2 cups light soy sauce to a gentle simmer, allowing it to reduce to a slightly syrupy consistency. It’s finished with a few twists of fresh black pepper. Stated: this is the saltiest concoction of all-time! But that’s what it’s used for here—to season the ramen broth. It lends a rich, smokey quality that is definitely unique, but you have to go easy with it. The saltiness is no joke.

Meanwhile, I had a nice piece of wild boar belly that I’d thoroughly rubbed down with equal parts kosher salt, and sugar cold chillin’ in the fridge. I used boar belly because all my go-to places were actually out of pork belly, which is insane! Pork Belly has been getting soooo popular, but no doubt, ’cause it’s hard to fuck -up because of the high fat content, and is just so so tasty! Any way, my man Dave down at the Hawthorne Pastaworks hooked me up with a 3lb piece of boar belly. I cut off a portion of it to make some bacon, and roasted the rest. The instructions call to roast it at 450º for an hour, then to turn the heat down to 250º, and slow cook it for another hour and a half. I guess you could say it turned out a bit on the crisp side, but I kind of liked it that way. It wasn’t charcoal black or anything, and I thought that once it was in the ramen bowl, and mixed in with everything else, that it lent a nice flavour component. For a further technical discussion on this check here, as well as the rest of the blog. In any case, this stuff is good. A little denser than your typical pork belly, I think, but no less satisfying. On one level, I think it might even be better. It was fine substitute. In order to get precise slices of, it is recommended to put it in the fridge for a few hours after cooking so that it can solidify, then after slicing to fry it up in a pan. Try to save some for the Ramen!

By far the trickiest part of all this was the technique for poaching eggs in their shells, which works, and works well. I had to shoot a bunch of runny egg oysters before I got it right, though. The book says that they need to be in a water bath between 140 and 145º for about 40-45 minutes. As you can see, my thermometer is basically spot on 140, maybe 139º, and that’s where I held it for 45 minutes, but when I cracked my first egg to check it out, the damn thing was a runny mess. I ended up letting them bathe for almost an hour and a half, fidgeting with my (electric) stove’s nob until I hit on a number closer to 145. Eventually, I popped one open and it was perfect. I think those few degrees make a huge difference! So if you try this, err closer to 145º! But it works, it works! You can have perfectly poached eggs right from the shell!

This is the killer. I will probably always have this in the refrigerator now. This is beyond simple: Take a piece of pork shoulder as big as you like, and rub it down completely with an equal mixture of kosher salt, and sugar—and any other spice you think might be good, if you want to. Put it in a baking dish covered with plastic overnight in the fridge. In the morning, dump out any of the juice that way have accumulated, and and set the oven to 250º. Put it in the oven, and go to work or something. It’s got to be in there for about 6 hours. When you come back to it, just tear a piece off the salty-sweet crust and say it’s not killer!

That just about covers everything on the cooking side, except for a fresh veggie or two. I used some sugar snap peas because I had them. The other components used for garnishes are scallions, nori paper, sliced bamboo shoots, which the book calls to stew in a bit of sesame oil and light soy sauce with a chili (but I don’t think it’s worth the effort. They’re still bamboo shoots outta can. I’m not really feeling them, myself)—and that weird fishcake stuff, that I’m usually NOT down with because it often comes in these humongous slices, but I was OK with this time because I found a slim, little bar of it only about as wide as a nickel. It’s the thing with the pink swirl, which is also nice. Also, I didn’t make the noodles from scratch, and I bought a bag that may or may not have been authentic ramen noodles, but they looked the most ramenish of all the many noodles that were on display. As can be seen in the pic above, I’ve got everything ready to go, I just have to throw it in the bowl. Bow! Boil the noodles! Drain the noodles and put a huge portion in the bowl, and ladle 2 or more cups of broth into it, then add all the other components: 3-4 slices of pork belly, a good mound of pulled-pork, a helping of sliced scallions, and the bamboo shoots, your delicious seasonal vegetable of choice, a few rounds of the fish cake, a couple sheets of nori paper, and your perfectly poached egg. Also, and perhaps most importantly, make sure you’re hungry! As in straight-up starving, because this is so much food! Finally, I went for a run about 4 hours after I ate this, and that was a big mistake. Plan on being ridiculously full for the rest of the time that your awake if you ever make this—matter of fact, it will probably put you to bed!

Cooking Nature Portland Sustainability

Pan-Roasted Halibut Fillets with Morels and Spring Vegetables

Mmmmm . . . Morels!

From Top to Bottom: Sugar Snap Peas, Garlic Scape Pesto, English Peas, and Fava Bean’s

This squirrel had it’s eye on my Favas!

Arugula Salad with Tarragon & Orange Peel Pickled Beets and Shallots, Tangerine, and Goat Cheese

Cooking Nature Portland Sustainability Uncategorized

The River Cottage Meat Book by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

A few years ago, I worked in the produce department of Abundance Co-op in Rochester, NY, and, during that same period I also worked for a brief stint at Dinosaur BBQ, which I believe holds a modest renown in the smoked meats world. In preparing this post, I began thinking about my history as a meat-eater, and this admittedly small moment in time stood out due to the conflicted nature of the work involved, and the environments themselves. At the time, I really couldn’t have cared less where my food was coming from, and I held both jobs simply because they furnished paychecks and I needed to pay the bills. The co-op is where I first encountered anyone who was even remotely passionate about food and quality nutrition, and to be honest I found the more zealous of them gratingly obnoxious, not because of their passion, but because of the application of their beliefs towards myself and others who didn’t understand their values, or the logic of paying at least twice as much for just about everything. One of my co-workers told me explicitly that she absolutely would not under any circumstances have a sexual relationship with anyone who she even suspected of eating meat. The reason why was simple enough: because it’s gross, duh. Sadly, this sort of sentiment drowned out all of the other sound, reasonable arguments for why it was important to actively think about food and it’s origins, and what you put into your body, in general. In hindsight, I wish I would have listened more closely to the wiser folks at the co-op, but instead I used to get a real kick out of working at Dinosaur and the co-op back to back, flipping my bbq tee inside-out before beginning my shift at the co-op, and walking around there smelling like a dang smoked brisket!

It would be about another two years until I started to put any real thought into what I was consuming as an eater, and the transition came through reading two wildly popular books that I am sure made a great deal of people think twice. The first was Barbara Kingolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle which presents a seasonal approach to eating as well as a basic, extremely readable overview of modern industrial farming practices and its effects on individual communities, and the ecosystem as a whole. The second was Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma, which is so pedestrian a gateway book, that it needs no introduction. For me, one of the most distressing things about reading these books was learning that the meat I was eating was not what I thought it was–to be sure, I didn’t think it was anything but “meat”, a ribeye, some bacon, whatever, but now things were different. I began looking at these gigantic meat sections, all vacuum-sealed and almost sterile, and I would start to think about these cows being force-fed a diet of antibiotics and corn, which they can not adequately digest, resulting in enormous ulcers, standing knee-deep in there own feces, often enough collapsing to there deaths from disease before making it to slaughter, and it just started to become such a horrible canvas. I’m not an animal rights activist or anything, I just find those practices irresponsible, and disgusting. Thus, I was faced with a dire conundrum: how to continue to eat meat and still feel good about it?

Shorty thereafter I found an essay in the Best American Essays 2007 edition, edited by David Foster Wallace, titled A Carnivore’s Credo by Roger Scruton. This essay (which I am sorry to say is not available online for free, but can only be viewed if you are a subscriber to Harper’s) did a great deal to help me reconcile this moral problem of meat-eating. Essentially, he argues that if one is in favor of ethical, and respectable farming and treatment of animals, than one must eat them. He writes: “I would suggest that it is not only permissible for those who care about animals to eat meat; they have a duty to do so. If meat eating should ever be confined to those who do not care about animal suffering, then compassionate farming would cease. Where there are conscientious carnivores, there is a motive to raise animals kindly.” So the key, then, was to find a meat producer who raised their animals in a sustainable, humane way, and to support them by purchasing their products. A simple enough idea, but in certain places there are surprisingly few alternatives to the grocery store. However, that became my ideal, if not always my course of action. But now, having moved to Portland, OR last spring, things have changed, and I try in almost every circumstance to find out where the meat I am buying is coming from, and to buy as local as possible.

I love to eat meat. It is an activity in which I might admittedly overindulge from time to time, but finding a thick, delicious pork chop, cooking it to perfection, and savoring all that it is, well, that’s just my thing. I don’t even know nearly as much about it as I’d like to, and that is one reason why I’ve chosen to cook my way through The River Cottage Meat Book. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall is an outspoken advocate of traditionally raised meat that has been produced in a local community, and using this book as a guide, my intention is to discover all the fantastic meat resources that this area of the Pacific Northwest has to offer, and hopefully inspire others to do the same in there communities. This book contains a great deal of information outside of recipes, and my coverage of the book will be the same. While I definitely will be cooking all of the recipes, I also plan to visit farms, meet framers, showcase butchers I use, and learn and present butchering techniques, in addition to many other things, I am sure. I have a lot of hope for this project, and I believe it will lead to a number eye-opening and educational experiences. Here’s to Meat!

* Note * : I have started another blog which will only feature this project, and it can be found >>here<<. I will, however, be including all posts on this blog as well. The distinction is just for those that may not be interested in all of the other minutiae that goes into this blog.

Cooking My Favorite Sandwiches Portland Sustainability Uncategorized Work

Brioche & Etc.


I have finally had a successful attempt at baking a bit of bread! Randomly deciding to have another go at it the other day, I found that the only recipe I had on hand was the Brioche in my copy of the French Laundry Cookbook, and so that’s what I made. Above is a photo of all the ingredients required, with the exception of the yeast, which I didn’t realize had been excluded from the photo until deep into the rising process. It’s OK, though, as it was just your run of the mill yeast. In the past, I have tried and failed to make a decent loaf of bread approximately once a year, for the past five years, and have previously been so dismayed by the results that it would take the ensuing year for me to build up the courage to try again. However, that epoch has now passed. As can be seen below, it is basically perfect– the crumb, the crust–what more can I ask for? This is the bread that the Croque Madame is intended to go on, but in the past instead of just biting the bullet and making my own, I would spend hours trying to find a decent loaf at some bakery or another (a surprisingly difficult item to find.) Nevermore!


Well on Sunday, I had to come up with something to do while the bread was rising, so Gabrielle and I decided to venture on over to Mississippi Ave. (Portland, OR). We were delighted to happen upon the new food cart village, the Mississippi Marketplace that has sprung up over there. I had heard about it peripherally because a lot of folks were stoked about Jesse Sandoval’s cart Nueva Mexico being there, but I didn’t really give it much thought beyond that. However, the digs are pretty sweet. There’s a huge canopy tent down the center with tons of tables for adults and children, and the whole lot is out-fitted with some pretty incredible looking carts. I ordered the Carne Adovada Sopapilla from Nueva Mexico, because the suspense was killing me, and I just had to get it over with. Naw! The real reason was that last winter I tried to use ‘sopa’ as a word for a kind of sandwich in a game of Scattagories and was denied by a one Christy Linden who stated, if I remember correctly, that it was soup! Honestly, I didn’t know what a sopa(pilla) was either, but now I have to say that it could pass for a type of sandwich in a game of Scattagories. It’s basically a piece of fried, lightly sweetened dough that’s filled with things. It might depend on what your definition of bread is. I hear someone around here has a cheeseburger on on a glazed VoodooDoughnut, so where does that argument end? Anyway, it was a pretty good plate, all and all, but what really made it for me was the pinto beans. Those were killer. What happened was that now I’m going to have to chill out on all these canned beans and get off my duff and make some fresh beans from scratch. Simply incomparable.

Gabrielle visited the cart named Ruby Dragon. They served up a pretty awesome never-ending cup of maté, and the special that day was very tasty—ginger quinoa blueberry gluten-free pancakes with a side of yammies. However, I have to say that if circumstances dictate that your costumer will have to wait upwards of 30 minutes (1 of 3 costumers at the time), and then only receive a single pancake (for $8), thus rejecting almost everyone’s idea of the term ‘pancakes’, then in my opinion a bit of a strategic overhaul is in order. Gabrielle thinks that what happened was that they had run out of her first choice, and then she decided on the special as her second choice, and that they didn’t want to admit that they had run out of her second choice also, and therefore scrambled to make more, instead of simply admitting that they were out of the pancakes as well. My take is that if you are out of something, at least as a food cart, then that is a good thing. It means that people are buying your food in numbers greater than you expected them to, which is a totally awesome scenario for a couple of reasons, but one that stands out in these circumstances is that you will be able to exuberantly tell costumers that arrive after you have sold out that they were so popular that you SOLD OUT of them! Anyway, it was really good, but took way too long to arrive, and we were expecting at least two. That, and excellent maté.


Next we meandered down Mississippi weaving in and out of specialty shops, reading menus here and there, wandering through the ReBuilding Center (which helped us realize that we know nothing about houses, among other things) with our ultimate destination being The Meadow. Ahhh, where to begin with this one. Gabrielle is still mulling it over. We learned many things about salt on Sunday at The Meadow, a salt specialty shop, but specifically we discovered that the universal acceptance of kosher salt (an agent of dessication) as Salt was equivalent to the universal acceptance of, say, “infanticide”. When asked if that might be a bit of a stretch, Mark Bitterman, owner, Selmelier, and crusader for overexageration replied with a “hmmm. . . I don’t think so.” Later on we learned from a second source, a one General Patrick Ripton, that “people who use kosher salt are indeed not like Hitler, but in fact are Hitler.” I’d like to remind everyone that we’re talking about salt here, or rather, Salt and Sodium Chloride. Where does that leave us? From now on, every time I blanch vegetables or boil pasta will I have to face the consequences of essentially being a baby killer? That’s a lot of guilt, and I’m so desperate that I actually bought some of the fancy salt.

When we got back home the brioche was bursting over the rim of the bread pan, begging to be baked, and so I obliged its need. For the next 35 minutes I drank a cup of coffee, and did a lot of nail biting. You’d think I’d reinvented the zipper or something, I was so ecstatic to pull such an awesome loaf from the oven. To celebrate, I made this Grilled Ham & Cheddar Sandwich on it:


1 This isn’t actually the first full slice from the loaf it’s the 3rd. With the first full slice I tried something that had intrigued me when I saw it on the daily board at Addy’s Sandwich Bar: Chocolate, Sea Salt, and Olive Oil. While the bread was still warm, I broke off 3 pieces of a Chocolove Toffee & Almonds 33% Milk Chocolate bar (a brand of bar which comes packaged with a love poem), laid them out width-wise along the bottom of the slice, drizzled them in Olive Oil, and sprinkled a bit of the fancy salt, namely the Fleur de Sel de Guérande from my Finishing Salts starter kit from the Meadow, folded it in half, and ate, polishing the half-sammy off in three bites, one for each chocolate square. The experience was sweet, and savory with just the right amount of textural crunch from the toffee bits and salt. Addy prepares hers on a small baguette from Little t bakery, which I suspect is probably a better bread match for the combination, being that baguettes are much chewier and crustier than a brioche could ever hope to be, the chewiness and crustiness of which I can’t help but think would lend a textural component that would be unparelled in this paricular combination of ingredients.

2 The cheese used here is Black Diamond White Cheddar, the sharpest that was for sale at Pastaworks. It was good, but not any different than Tillamook, really, which I think I’ll stick with in the future because it has a better price point, and is a bit more local than Canada.

3 The onion slices are from a Purple Torpedo, which I could not help but try because of it’s fantastic shape. Surely, these must be a cross between a shallot, and a red onion, because indeed it resembled a shallot multiplied by a factor of 4 or 5, and sported a coat somewhere in between the purple skin of the red onion, and the bronze skin of a shallot. The flavor profile leaned more towards that of a shallot, however, being quite strong, and pungent. Recommended for those who truly love a powerful onion.

4 A good smoked ham is hard to find. I can’t even count on three fingers the times that I have eaten truly unforgettable ham, and here I’ve been able to purchase some of the best caliber from the butcher at Pastaworks, just across the street from me, and I hadn’t even realized it. In the past I have bought Boar’s Head, which is fine, I guess, but nothing special. It’s your basic deli meats. The difference is that the ham pictured above is extrordinary, and it is less expensive. It’s sourced from Voget Meats in Hubbard, OR, a mere 30 minutes outside of Portland. I’m tempted to make a trip down there on my next day off work, but I’d be hard pressed to eat a 16 lb smoked ham on my own. But still, I am indeed tempted.

5 I try not to buy too many products sourced from other countries (with the exception of salt, haha), but in the case of this avocado, I was hoodwinked. The sign said it was of Californian variety, but later on as I peeled off the ‘Purity’ tag I read there in tiny font that the source was instead Chile. I’m don’t feel as much guilt about this misstep as I do about my decidedly suspect support of infanticide, but there is a pang, meaning that I think about it, but then let it fall from concioussness, and try to do better next time. I did a search in order to try and find the correct term for the outer layer of the avocado, be it the skin, or peel, or what have you, and came upon this page, hosted at, “dedicated to the dissemination of avocado knowledge” (this being the type of statement which always kills me, because it never ceases to amaze that there is always someone to disseminate any information that you could ever dream of.) In the article they refer to the avocado as a berry, which surprised me a great deal, and that the scientific term for the outer layer is the exocarp, but the skin or rind are acceptable for layman’s terms. What struck me most in the article (from the 1940’s) was that there was a participant by the name of Haas A.R.C., and what I thought was, well, Haas, that is the leading seller of avocado’s right? The Haas Avocado. But right now, I’m having trouble coming to terms with the idea that a ‘Haas’ Avocado doesn’t exist, and that I am just one of many, many people who have fallen for the common misspelling, as the ‘Hass’ Avocado wikipage, and website are leading me to believe. There is an incongruity here that I need to solve, and only close observation at the grocery stores will be able to solve this for me. In any case, I web searched the ‘Haas’ avocado, a search I made because the study lists 5 varieties of avocados that were included in the research, and in my mind, I can only think of one variety by name (the Haas), and the first hit was the Hass site, a company whose flippant motto (for any one who cares about seasonality, or at least the grossly absurd idea of a winter tomato) , or slogan, is “Always in Season.” Is it? Are they. . . always in season? They can’t possibly be, and if they are, at what cost? The avocado season is spring. That means that in the Northern hemisphere they fruit and ripen sometime around April, give or take a few months. I just learned that myself, so we’re together here, unless of course you are a seasonality wonk. For the normal, everyday grocery shopper, the idea of seasonality doesn’t exist. If it’s in the store, it means that it’s growing somewhere, and that’s the end of the thought process–it’s available, so lets eat it. Which brings us around to the fact that the avocado I bought was shipped here from Chile, a distance of 5,500 miles by sea, where it is Spring now, so that I, and many others in this hemisphere, could eat one in the fall. Is all that matters is that it is in season somewhere?

6 More cheese, with a sprinkling of fancy salt.

7 I butter the bread before it goes in the pan. I did the same with the first slice, too. I used to heat the pan up and butter it just before I laid the sandwich into it, but those days are gone. It always led to inconsistent toasting, and to rebutter the pan in between the flip was always a pain to me. Once I discovered the joys of spreadable butter, that antiquated technique fell from the repertoire.

8 The consistent result of pre-buttering is pretty evident in this photo

9 Sometimes I have trouble deciding what I’d like to go with my sandwiches. In this case, I went with a handful of Kettle Chips, and fresh black radish chips paired with a sprinkling of Turkish Black Pyramid salt. I think that in reality it should be one, or the other. Choosing both is a product of my inability, at times, to make simple, sound decisions, instead opting to bounce between one option and the next until they become so blurred and indistinct that the only course is to choose either all or nothing. So I’m left considering all my choices in an interminable debate with inconsequential results. Gabrielle thinks that this carries over into a lot of my blog posts, her prime example being the one concerning our cat, Rigel. In other words, she called me long-winded. So in response, I decided to footnote this post so that I could further articulate some of the things that were on my mind without them impinging on the general trajectory of the post-prime. I think that there are readers who read footnotes, and readers who don’t, which is surely an important distinction in readers, and an important decision that those individual readers have made for themselves. I had a roommate who read Dave Eggers’ A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, and skipped all the fancy parts, and loved it, where as I found the book an unreadable bore, and I’m a fan of footnotes. One of the reasons that I’m doing this, I think, is that I just read The Mezzanine by Nicholson Baker, and it renewed my admiration for the footnote. I had been living under a false assumption (perhaps the second that I’ve recognized this week!) that David Foster Wallace revolutionized the use of footnotes, but how untrue. While he certainly didn’t invent the footnote, it would seem that Baker is reponsible for elevating them to a higher status as a literary devise. DFW simply took it and went fucking crazy with the idea.

bicycle touring Photography Sustainability


“I confess that I am angry at the manufacturers who make these things. There are days when I would be delighted if certain corporation executives could somehow be obliged to eat their products. I know of no good reason why these containers and all other forms of manufactured ‘waste’—solid, liquid, toxic, or whatever—should not be outlawed. There is no sense and no sanity in objecting to the desecration of the flag while tolerating and justifying and encouraging as a daily business the desecration of the country for which it stands.

“But our waste problem is not the fault only of our producers. It is the fault of an economy that is wasteful from top to bottom—a symbiosis of an unlimited greed at the top and a lazy, passive, and self-indulgent consumptiveness at the bottom—and all of us are involved in it. If we wish to correct this economy, we must be careful to understand and to demonstrate how much waste of human life is involved in our waste of the material goods of Creation. For example, much of the litter that now defaces our country is fairly directly caused by the massive secession or exclusion of most of our people from active participation in the food economy. We have made a social ideal of minimal involvement in the growing and cooking of food. This is one of the dearest ‘liberations’ of our affluence. Nevertheless, the more dependent we become on the industries of eating and drinking, the more waste we are going to produce. The mess that surrounds us, then, must be understood not just as a problem in itself but as a symptom of a greater and graver problem: the centralization of our economy, the gathering of the productive property and power into fewer and fewer hands, and the consequent destruction, everywhere, of the local economies of household, neighborhood, and community.”
— from the essay Waste by Wendell Berry 1989

The above photograph is from the tail end of the Delaware & Raritan Canal State Park just outside Trenton, NJ. That’s right, this is sponsored by the State of New Jersey (although, in fairness the rest of the canal trail was extraordinary.) It gets worse further on into the actual city, though. The whole “urban nightmare” is in effect. I took this picture last summer while Brie and I were on our bike tour, and I regularly go back to look at it, and try to reason how it made, and makes, me feels to see all that trash, with the turtle presiding over it all like it’s his kingdom. As I was reading the essay from which the above quote is copied, I realized that Wendell Berry had articulated my comparably rudimentary thoughts some 20 years ago in this powerful injunction. I challenge every one who reads this to go a single day without consuming something that comes pre-made or packaged.