Masa crusted potatoes with smoky red beans and greens, and honey-lime avocado cucumber salsa

Masa-dusted potatoes, red beans and roasted red peppers, and lime honey cucumber guacamole

Masa-dusted potatoes, red beans and roasted red peppers, and lime honey cucumber guacamole

One of the delightful things about my disintegrating eyesight is that when I read I’m no longer confined to the actual words on the page. When I read without glasses, who knows what the book really says? Not me! So I have a whole new world before me, in which the page contains whatever words I want it to–I get to choose! Sometimes at work I’ll overhear small chunks of conversations, and my brain will fill in the parts that are too quiet for me to pick up. Usually, the resulting discussion, in my head, is very funny (and frequently off-color). And now this effect has sidled over to my appreciation of printed matter. It says whatever I think it says. The other day I was reading the boys’ Rocks and Minerals books, as one does, and I came across a fascinating map of the world. It had little icons to show the various regions where people mine for things–I’m assuming coal and gold and the like, but I couldn’t tell you for sure because the writing in the legend was tiny. According to my eyes, one thing that people mine for throughout the globe is precious stories. Well! I like this idea a lot! I like to think of people traveling all over the world and mining for valuable tales, digging deep amongst the people that live in each region to come up with raw, beautiful chunks of legend. The icon for precious stories seemed to be in some very varied and interesting parts of the world, and in my imagination the stories are found in thick veins, running through all of the people there. People would come and set up camps, and they’d follow the story from one person to the next, probably never finding the end of it, because the myths would be as old as the rocks and would lie deep in the earth. Maybe they’d take it and refine it and polish it, or maybe they’d leave it in its original state, rough and strong. Farther along in the book, I misread a caption to read “metaphorical rocks.” And people would collect these, too, and string them together to make new stories. The metaphorical rocks would be prized and valued above diamonds and gold, which would be deemed pretty but relatively useless, when compared to a cherished tale. People would understand the value of a story to spark creativity, to heal, to transform, with these metamorphical metaphorical rocks.

Masa dusted potatoes

Masa dusted potatoes

I thought this was a really fun meal! First, I sliced some potatoes quite thinly, parboiled them, dusted them with rosemary and masa harina and then roasted them in olive oil. They came out with a nice texture–not super crunchy, exactly, but with more oomph. And they have the lovely subtle flavor of the masa harina. Then I roasted some red peppers, and combined them with red beans and spinach in a smokey sauce of chipotle and smoked paprika. And we added a bright light guacamole-salsa made with cucumbers, tomatoes and avocado lightly dressed with lime and honey. We topped it all off with grated sharp cheddar and pickled jalapenos, which my Malcolm loves! Any part of this meal would be good on its own, but it was very fun to eat all together as well.masa-potatoes-and-beans

Here’s REM with Maps and Legends.

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Happy Halloween!

Halloween in Lambertville

I live in the Halloween-i-est town in the world. You could call it “Halloween Town.” And people have. And made movies about it. Before we set out for a night of trick-or-treating, here’s a spooky Halloween playlist for you!

Rules for a Long Life

Satchel Paige

Satchel Paige was a remarkable fellow in more ways than I could possibly do justice to here. He had some rules for a long life, which I think are wonderful in so many ways.

“Avoid fried meats which angry up the blood.”
“If your stomach disputes you, lie down and pacify it with cool thoughts.”
“Keep the juices flowing by jangling around gently as you move.”
“Go very light on the vices, such as carrying on in society—the social ramble ain’t restful.”
“Avoid running at all times.”
“And don’t look back—something might be gaining on you.”

And here is the Heptone’s beautiful Book of Rules.

Each must make his life as flowing in
tumbling block on a stepping stone
While common people like you and me
we’ll be builders for eternity
each is given a bag of tools
a shapeless mass and the Book of Rules


“She sent for one of those squat, plump little cakes called “petites madeleines,” which look as though they had been moulded in the fluted valve of a scallop shell. And soon, mechanically, dispirited after a dreary day with the prospect of a depressing morrow, I raised to my lips a spoonful of the tea in which I had soaked a morsel of the cake. No sooner had the warm liquid mixed with the crumbs touched my palate than a shudder ran through me and I stopped, intent upon the extraordinary thing that was happening to me. … Whence could it have come to me, this all-powerful joy?

And suddenly the memory revealed itself. The taste was that of the little piece of madeleine which on Sunday mornings at Combray … my aunt Léonie used to give me, dipping it first in her own cup of tea or tisane. … But when from a long-distant past nothing subsists, after the people are dead, after the things are broken and scattered, taste and smell alone, more fragile but more enduring, more unsubstantial, more persistent, more faithful, remain poised a long time, like souls, remembering, waiting, hoping, amid the ruins of all the rest; and bear unflinchingly, in the tiny and almost impalpable drop of their essence, the vast structure of recollection.

It is remarkable how certain sensations can transport you instantly back to a specific time in your life. The taste of Dr Pepper makes me feel like I’m 9 years old, sitting in a country club in Salina Kansas. I’m eating a grilled cheese sandwich and potato chips, trying to figure out what all the adults are talking about.

Music works that way as well – songs are associated with periods in your life to such an extent that you can’t listen to them without all of the pain or pleasure you felt at that time resurfacing in you. When I was a teenager, I used to hear Mozart’s clarinet quintet in my head whenever I felt anxious. I listened to it recently, and, rather than elevate me away from my anxiety, it somehow stirred all the anxiety I had tried to escape. It’s still ridiculously beautiful, though.

Is there some food or some song that works as a time-traveling device for you?