birds of paradise.

Today I am making my own chipotles en adobo. I'm not smoking the peppers or anything, I'm just taking dried chipotles and simmering them for
an hourtwo hoursthree hours with vinegar, onions, garlic, lots of water, and a top secret tomatoey ingredient, after which point I should have the equivalent of a couple cans' worth of useful chipotles.

Today's a good day to do it b/c Mara is out of the house, and though she likes chipotles, she's quite sensitive to chile fumes. I myself am not, so I'm always surprised when she starts coughing and spluttering like she's just run out of a burning building.

Normally this re-ack-tion happens even when I'm doing things correctly in the kitchen, but the last time was especially bad, actually one of my worst kitchen fuckups ever: I was toasting a whole sheet of guajillo chiles in the oven. And for some reason, I still don't know what happened, I set the timer for 8 minutes instead of 2 minutes.

Um, don't ever do this. Dried chiles are...dry. And thin, and prone to blackening very quickly if unattended, and the smoke they emit could be classified as a chemical weapon.

Pictures later. For now, I give you a photo of the two men who opened my mind to the pretty profound amazingness of seriously well-written modern poetry: the oft-cited Terrill Soules and my 2nd-favorite poet, Mark Strand. Here's an MP3 of a nice interview with Mr. Strand that begins with him reciting one of his poems from memory (after he talks about not being able to remember many poems anymore), and then he reads a fucking ruthlessly ruthless poem by May Swenson at the 17-minute mark that you shouldn't listen to too late at night.

Also: I present one of my favorite of Mr. Strand's poems to you here.



Always so late in the day
In their rumpled clothes, sitting
Around a table lit by a single bulb,
The great forgetters were hard at work.
They tilted their heads to one side, closing their eyes.
Then a house disappeared, and a man in his yard
With all his flowers in a row.
The great forgetters wrinkled their brows.
Then Florida went and San Francisco
Where tugs and barges leave
Small gleaming scars across the Bay.
One of the great forgetters struck a match.
Gone were the harps of beaded lights
That vault the rivers of New York.
Another filled his glass
And that was it for crowds at evening
Under sulphur yellow streetlamps coming on.
And afterwards Bulgaria was gone, and then Japan.
"Where will it stop?" one of them said.
"Such difficult work, pursuing the fate
Of everything known," said another.
"Down to the last stone," said a third.
"And only the cold zero of perfection
Left for the imagination." And gone
Were North and South America,
And gone as well the moon.
Another yawned, another gazed at the window:
No grass, no trees...
The blaze of promise everywhere.

~Mark Strand


: I give you a picture now, but not of the chipotles, which took forever to soften. The adobo itself was ready after the first hour, but I had to keep adding water and simmering in order to get the chiles to become even remotely unleatherlike.

The picture I am giving you now is to remind me of this great little Asian bite I've been eating lately when I find myself thinking something fried sounds good. I also think that it's completely servable to guests, which is worth my noting because we always have a hard time thinking of bite-size appetizers.

Basically, it's fried tofu or tempeh with okonomiyaki sauce. Or tonkatsu sauce, or even oyster sauce mixed with a little ketchup. Or ketchup with ketjap manis added. Basically you're looking for a thick sweet sauce with a vinegary component. Though tofu and tempeh are both soy products, they have very different flavor profiles: tempeh heads in a more nutty mineral direction, while tofu makes for the creamy blandness side of things.

So for this reason tofu needs a bit of an assist that tempeh doesn't. Enter furikake, the Japanese sesame seed/seaweed/infinitely diverse other ingredient sprinkle that we tend to use a lot of around here (eG thread here). Really the way to do this is to fry your tofu, blot it, give it a brushing with whatever sauce you're using and then sprinkle it with furikake. I myself was having this snack while my morning coffee was brewing and therefore did not have the foresight to sauce-then-sprinkle. I sprinkled-then-sauced (tee-hee).

And of course since there was a component that had a fish element in it (furikake), the royal taster showed up to make sure I didn't need any help.

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