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Your Own Back Yard – Michael Gillan Maxwell

Visual Art – Creative Writing – Social Commentary

Month

June 2016

New Visual Art ~ Column

Column (1)
Column

New Visual Art ~ Erosion

Erosion (1)
Erosion

Lunch Lady Cookbook Trout Amandine

The Lunch Lady Cookbook – Trout Amandine

Jolly Roger profile pic

 

Hey there boys and girls! This is The Lunch Laddy comin’ at ya, straight outta cyberspace and in your face with another sumptuous recipe from The Lunch Lady Cookbook. Today’s recipe draws from a time honored culinary tradition that can be traced back to New Orleans and France. It’s trout season in New York State and the Lunch Laddy had the good fortune to be blessed with a monster filet of Lake Trout from Lake Ontario. It seemed only fitting that this wonderful fish be respected with special treatment. The Lunch Lady Cookbook is honored and proud to present to you Lunch Lady Cookbook Trout Amandine.

I actually received a bit of an education as I pondered this gustatory mystery. I found that I was one of the legions of kitchen hacks who misspelled the name of the recipe as “Trout Almondine” when it is actually spelled “Trout Amandine.” While I am no longer flexible enough to insert my foot in my mouth, I seem to be getting better and better when it comes to acknowledging my mistakes. So Mea Culpa. Trout Amandine it is then. Even though The Lunch Laddy is an old dog, he can still learn new tricks.

This recipe is pretty basic and there’s probably not much that is new and different from other Trout Amandine recipes, but it is new to me and thus, a new addition to The Lunch Lady Cookbook. The most important ingredients are fresh trout and almonds. This is NOT a recipe that would work by substituting fish sticks and beer nuts.

Lunch Lady Cookbook Trout Amandine

Here we go. Marinate filet of lake trout in fresh lime juice, salt and pepper for an hour or so. (Can be longer in the fridge) Lightly sauté chopped garlic and scallions in 2 tbs. butter. Dredge trout filet in flour and add to skillet. Brown both sides and lower heat to medium or lower. Cook each side for approximately 5 minutes or until cooked through. Transfer fish to plate and keep warm. Melt 2 more tbs. butter in skillet and sizzle away until it starts to turn brown. Add slivered almonds with cracked pepper and cook on low heat until crispy and brown. Pour over fish. Garnish with fresh herbs. The Lunch Laddy used curly parsley, chives and sweet basil from the Lunch Lady Herb Garden. Drizzle fresh lime juice and serve on fresh slices of lime with rice and vegetables.

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Before
Trout Amandine (1)
After

Beverage pairing: Bollicini 2014 from Damiani Wine Cellars in the Finger Lakes.

Prosecco style, bottle fermented, sparkling wine with hints of citrus and pear. Weighing in at 1.85% residual sugar, Bollicini is clean, fresh, fruity, DELICIOUS! Serve really cold. To truly realize the medicinal qualities of this wine it is important that you drink all of it.

Music pairing: Drive By Truckers, Ryan Bingham and Old Crow Medicine Show on shuffle.

Until next time, Bon Apetit from The Lunch Lady Cookbook!

 

 

New Visual Art: Fault Line

Fault Line (1)
Fault Line

New Visual Art

Map
Map

The Lunch Lady Cookbook – Chicken a la Fausto

The Lunch Lady Cookbook ~ Chicken a la Fausto

Lunch Laddy at the Dirt Track Races
Lunch Laddy at the Dirt Track Races

Hey there Boys and Girls! This is The Lunch Laddy, comin’ at ya, straight outta cyberspace, with another, long overdue installment of The Lunch Lady Cookbook.

I’ve been away for a while, but now I’m back and I’m bad; and bringing you a mouth watering recipe for a dish that has become a go-to in the Lunch Laddy’s cucina. It is my gustatory pleasure to present to you “Chicken a la Fausto!”

Even if you are vegetarian, or vegan, or gluten free, there are still plenty of delectable delights in this dish for you. Just avert your eyes during the chicken part. Why “a la Fausto?” you may ask? Well, my friends, THAT is an excellent question. It is named after an unforgettable character we knew who called himself by that name. He passed through our lives like a tornado a few years back. He was a drifter, a grifter, a classic flim flam man. He pretended to be many things. He claimed to be an Italian prince, a doctor, a professional photographer, an opera singer, a bicycle racer, a wine distributor and a luthier, among other things. He had a magnetic kind of charm, and very expensive tastes, but never seemed to have his credit card with him or any cash on him. There were also just too many inconsistencies in his convoluted stories and it soon became apparent he’d steal the shoes right off your feet if you’d let him. He was eventually banished from the kingdom and was last reported to be posing as a diamond merchant in Lower Manhattan. Good luck with that. However, he did leave behind a bit of a legacy by way of of a couple of really good, rustic recipes. One was a recipe for baked chicken and vegetables, which I named Chicken a la Fausto.

Here is the variation I made today for The Lunch Lady Cookbook.

Chicken a la Fausto

Place 4 chicken quarters in a baking dish. Season with Worcester Sauce, basil, garlic powder, salt, pepper, barbecue sauce. Tuck in brussels sprouts, yellow summer squash and top with sliced red onion. Oh yeah. Don’t forget. Pour a healthy dollop of dry red wine into the mix. It’s a colorful dish. You got yer basic flesh tones, complemented handsomely by red, yellow, and green, all in one dish. Pop into a preheated 350 degree oven for 1 hour and voila ~ Chicken a la Fausto! Serve with salt potatoes on the side. Let rest and cover with aluminum foil (tin foil) which you can use to make a tin foil hat to wear while you watch Ancient Aliens after dinner.

Before
Before
After
After

Music pairing: Lazy, laconic, lilting tunes by The Be Good Tanyas, Gillian Welch and Eilen Jewel seemed to fit the mood of this early summer afternoon.

Beverage pairing: I recommend a sassy and splashy little Spanish red called Laya. Vintage 2014. A brash blend of garnacha tintorera and monastrelli grapes that yields a fruit bomb that explodes on your tongue like the 14.5% alcohol bad boy that it is. I have photographed it on my kitchen floor because I figure if you’re gonna end up on the floor, you may as well just start on the floor and stay there.

Beverage Pairing
Beverage pairing

To Do List

To Do List

Before enlightenment

Haul water Chop wood

After enlightenment

Haul water Chop wood

In between

Haul ass

Mister Paul
Mr. Paul

MGM

Summer Solstice 2016

Drive-By Book Review “Spent” by Antonia Crane

Spent by Antonia Crane

Published 2014,  Rare Bird Books, A Barnacle Book

Spent cover

I just finished reading Antonia Crane’s gripping memoir Spent, and I realize it happened again. I fell hard for a book. After inevitably coming to the end, I am, once again, left wondering “Now what in the Hell am I supposed to do?” I end up doing the only thing I can do in a case like this. I talk about it. I used to write book reviews, but it’s something I really don’t do much anymore. However, there are times when a book really lights a fire and truly captures my interest, and the best way for me to process what I’ve just read is to talk about it, and sometimes rant and rave about it. That’s what’s happening here. To be clear, I am not even attempting to write a piece of serious literary criticism. This is just me responding, reacting, processing. This is me just sayin’: “You gotta read this book!”

 Spent gathers early momentum with a depiction of Antonia Crane’s childhood in coastal northern California, the disintegration of her family life and her coming of age in a small town that just doesn’t offer enough to keep her there. She moves to San Francisco and later to LA, where she supports herself by stripping. She lives a bohemian, alternative lifestyle, hits bottom doing hard drugs, but finds connections that lead her to sobriety. She becomes a powerful political activist within the sex worker industry, earns an undergraduate degree and enrolls in graduate school. Crane’s reconnection with her mother is heart breaking as it occurs just as her mother is diagnosed with terminal cancer. At a new low, with no other resources, Crane returns to sex work which leads to an arrest. This serves as a clarion call to change her life. At the risk of sounding trite, the old adage “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” seems to apply here. While the sex industry is the setting for Antonia Crane’s journey, on a deeper level, it is a memoir about the human condition, the search for meaning and finding one’s purpose, and the importance of connection through family and community.

Every so often I’m lucky enough to come across a book that is so well written, so personal, so honest and unflinching and so compelling that I never want it to end. I just want to go on and on, living with those characters in that world. I wish I could say that about all the books I read, but I can’t. It’s not to say that they are not good books or well written, but, for whatever reason, they just don’t command my attention and engagement the way this one does. Spent is a special book, a searing memoir that got under my skin in a serious way and left me hungry and longing for more.

Antonia Crane is an articulate and vibrant story teller and a force of nature as a performance artist. I’ve had the good fortune to actually see and hear her read selections from this book on two separate occasions, once in Boston and again in Seattle, shortly after publication. I was a participant in the reading in Boston. It was my first public reading and I was nervous. There was a timer on the podium to help us keep our readings to the allotted four minute limit. Ironically, it looked like a dildo and started blinking red to signal 30 seconds to wrap things up. I was on the schedule immediately following somebody I’d never heard of named Antonia Crane. The author hosting the reading called her name and I watched as she emerged from behind a pillar across the room. She was tall, blonde, athletic looking, dressed in black leather, with muscular tattooed arms. She approached the podium looking like some kind of Viking warrior goddess and delivered a reading about rough gay bondage sex fueled by crystal meth. She had the audience enthralled. The timer started blinking at the 30 second mark and Crane quickened her pace, picked up the timer and held it aloft as if she were the Statue of Liberty, dramatically finishing her piece just as the timer went off. She tore it up and brought down the house. It was unquestionably the best reading of the event. And there I was, holding a crumpled piece of paper with my staid, little poem, dressed in my tweed jacket with patches on the elbows and I had to follow that. It was like the teeny bopper pop group, The Monkees following a mercurial guitar player named Jimi Hendrix. I’ll never forget it.

Everyone has some kind of story to tell. But not every story is worthy of a written memoir. Memoir writing takes a very unique and special kind of skill. It requires an almost mystical legerdemain to put the reader inside the author’s head and Antonia Crane totally pulls it off. Spent is a memoir right up there with the very best. It goes toe to toe with some of my favorites such as Kate Braverman’s Lithium For Medea and Frantic Transmissions To And From Los Angeles , Ghost Bread by Sonja Livingston, Wild by Cheryl Strayed, Just Kids and M Train by Patti Smith, Things I Like About America and 501 Minutes To Christ by Poe Ballantine and Chronicles by Bob Dylan. These are the Titans of Modern Memoir in my world and Antonia Crane is right up there on Mount Olympus with the rest of them and the best of them.

Antonia Crane is an author, writer and teacher. She has worked as an adult dancer and performer. Her writing has been published in The Rumpus, Black Clock, ZYZZYVA, Slake, Smith Magazine, and The Los Angeles Review. She received her MFA in creative writing at Antioch University. She lives in Los Angeles and teaches in the UCLA Extension Writers Program.

Find links to her publications at http://www.antoniacrane.com

Also listen to a wonderfully entertaining and informative interview with Brad Listi at

http://otherppl.com/antonia-crane-interview/

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