Sunday, March 30, 2008


I have loved Jorge Luis Borges since I first set eyes upon his work in Spanish class my junior year of high school. I couldn't understand him nearly as well in those days, but I still loved his stories. I am currently rereading his collected short fictions in English, as translated by Andrew Huxley and published by Penguin. One of the things I love most about Borges is that he challenges me, but without making me feel stupid or ignorant, as so many writers tend to do. Whether or not it's intentional, writers are sometimes too intellectual for their own good and it creates an aversion in the reader. But not Borges. Rather, his stories are so compelling and the context so unique, I am eager to pull out my dictionary and look up both the meaning and the subtext of his words.

I shall give you a particularly awesome example from a story called "The Cruel Redeemer Lazarus Morell." The word is alluvium. (who's definition in this case is more complete than my usual standby cites the primary definition of alluvium in two parts: (1) a deposit of sand, mud, etc., formed by flowing water, and (2) the sedimentary matter deposited thus within recent times, esp. in the valleys of large rivers. However, in a subsequent definition, #5 of 6, it states "Sand, silt, clay, gravel, or other matter deposited by flowing water, as in a riverbed, floodplain, delta, or alluvial fan. Alluvium is generally considered a young deposit in terms of geologic time." The latter part of this will be praised for its relevance and cleverness in just a moment.

Now, in the case of "The Cruel Redeemer Lazarus Morell," Borges begins the story by introducing the peoples of the Mississippi River Delta during the height of slavery. Specifically with alluvium, describing the relationship of Christianity (which is crucial to Morell's character) and the slaves: "In the early nineteenth century (the period that interests us) the vast cotton plantations on the riverbanks were worked from sunup to sundown by Negro slaves...Onto an alluvium of beastlike hopefulness and African fear there had sifted the words of the Scripture; their faith, therefore, was Christian...The Mississippi served them as a magnificent image of the solid Jordan." I cannot stress enough how much I LOVE the use of the word alluvium here. It ties together everything that he is speaking to. Literally, the Mississippi Delta probably had its own alluvium, as alluvium often collects in a delta or floodplain. Metaphorically, the youngness of alluvium "in geological times" referring to the newness of Christianity to the slaves, and their own newness in America as a country. Then symbolically, almost as though in the way that alluvium is a natural substance, and force, that cannot be contained, so religion was forced (either culturally or literally) upon the slaves. And then of course I love it purely for it's rareness and unconventionality. The word is just so multi-faceted in its use, and it's amazing.

Borges, I love you!!!! :)

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

New Recipe and a Good Hair Day

I am having such a good hair day today! And those of you who know me well know that "good" and "my hair" almost never go in the same sentence! For pretty much my whole life. Maybe at some point in the future I'll post a hair retrospective. So anyway, I tried to take some pics in the bathroom mirror, and they came out ok, but I forgot I still had the outdoors white balance on, so they are REALLY yellow. Plus, while I may be having a good hair day, I am having a bad face week, and got a little overzealous with the poking, prodding, and popping yesterday. Dang. Anyway - pictures!



So now for the recipe!

Flounder Baked with Tomatoes

POINTS Value: 7
Servings: 2


* 8 oz cherry tomato(es)
* 1 small onion(s)
* 3 tsp olive oil
* 1 leaf bay leaf
* 1/8 tsp kosher salt
* 1/8 tsp black pepper
* 2 Tbsp Progresso Plain Breadcrumbs
* 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
* 2 fillet flounder fillet(s)


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Take out a casserole dish.

2. Combine the tomatoes, onion, 2 tsp oil, and the bay leaf (torn in half), salt and pepper, and toss. Distribute evenly along bottom of casserole pan.

3. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the tomatoes have started to collapse. Take the casserole out of the oven and turn on the broiler.

4. Combine breadcrumbs and cheese. Once the broiler is good and hot, lay the flounder on top of the tomatoes, strew with the cheese mixture, and drizzle with the remaining 1 tsp olive oil. Broil for 3 to 4 minutes, until the crumbs are browned and the fish is bubbling a bit. Let sit for about 5 minutes for the fish to finish cooking before serving. Serve hot.



Thursday, March 13, 2008

Two New Recipes

I've been having a hard time on the program lately, and I decided that part of the problem was being in a rut with my food. I got comfortable with 10 or 15 recipes, knew how to shop to prepare those recipes, and ceased trying new ones. Then, being bored of eating the same food all the time, I strayed whenever out of the house. So I made a pact to try two new recipes per week for a month. Here's the product of that for this week. I had some coconut milk on hand, hence the eastern bent of these recipes:

Pumpkin Curry Chicken
Serves: 2
Points: 7

pumpkin curry chicken

1 tbsp red curry paste
2/3 c. canned pumpkin
1 tbsp fish sauce
8 oz boneless skinless chicken breast, cubed
1 tsp unpacked brown sugar
6 leaves basil
1/2 c. coconut milk
2 tsp vegetable oil (I used Olive because it's healthier)
1/4 cup fat free chicken broth

1.) Boil coconut milk in a pan over medium heat until it starts to reduce.

2.) Separately, heat oil in a wok, add red curry paste, stir for 2-3 minutes until cooked. Add chicken, stir until meat is cooked.

3.) Add boiled coconut milk, chicken broth, and pumpkin. Simmer 2-4 minutes.

4.) Add fish sauce, sugar to taste. Add basil leaves. Simmer 1 more minute.

5.) Serve over steamed rice.

Vietnamese Curry Soup
Serves: 4
Points: 5


2 tsp olive oil
1 cup onions, chopped
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp ginger root, chopped (I used powdered ginger, didn't have fresh on hand)
1 tbsp curry powder
1 tsp lemon zest
1 medium sweet pepper, seeded and chopped
2 medium carrots, chopped
8 medium cremini or button mushrooms, sliced
14 oz vegetable broth (I used chicken)
2 cups water
2 bay leaves
1 tsp table salt
2 red potatoes, scrubbed and chopped
4 oz rotisserie chicken (pulled off one of those supermarket pre-made ones)
14 oz light coconut milk, canned
4 tbsp cilantro, fresh, chopped

1.) Heat oil in a large stock pot over medium high heat. Add onion, garlic, and ginger, and saute 2 minutes. Stir in curry powder and lemon zest and cook 2 minutes, until curry is fragrant. Add pepper, carrots, and mushrooms and stir to combine. Add broth, water, bay leaves, and salt, and bring to a boil.

2.) Stir in potatoes and coconut milk and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook until potatoes are fork-tender, about 10 minutes. Half way through the 10 minutes, add the chicken.

3.) Remove the bay leaves. Ladle soup into bowls and top each serving with 1 tbsp of chopped cilantro. Yields 1 1/2 cups per serving - generous!