Chickpea and sweet potato tacos

Sweet potato chickpea tacos

Sweet potato chickpea tacos


I’ve been thinking lately that hope is some sort of involuntary muscle. We have absolutely no control over it. You can tell yourself not to get your hopes up. You can believe that you’re not getting your hopes up. You can lie to yourself about it so cleverly that you don’t know you’re doing it. But when you’re disappointed, and you feel your hopes crashing to great depths, you realize that you’d been hopeful all along, despite your best intentions. And when your hopes come to rest, down there in the deep depths, you can tell yourself that you’ll keep them down this time, you’ll suppress them and block their every attempt to rise again. But it won’t work. You can’t keep them down any more than you can stop your heart beating just by thinking about it. Your hopes will rise again all around you, though you can’t see them and maybe even can’t feel them, and before you know it you’ll be working on something again. You’ll forget the rejection and disappointment, and you’ll try to make connections. You’ll try to give your hope something solid and substantial to float on, something not so easily dashed and capsized. This must be true for everybody, however cynical they are, however much success and riches and love they have. They must feel the same cycle of hopes rising and falling and rising again, for all things big and little in their life. It must be involuntary for everyone. Doesn’t it seem sometimes that hope is necessary for survival, as necessary as air?

Sweet potato and chickpea tacos

Sweet potato and chickpea tacos

These tacos are very autumnal! Warm colors, warm flavors, smoky sweet and spicy. Quick and easy to make, too. We ate them with warm tortillas, grated sharp cheddar, shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, sliced avocado. All the usual suspects! And basmati rice of course. You could just eat it over rice, as is. Or you could add some broth and make it saucier, and eat it as a soup or stew with crusty bread. Vegan if you leave the butter out!

Here is Jordil Saval with Good Again by Tobias Hume, which comes after a song called “My hope is decayed.”

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“Mediterranean” white bean “chili” with avocado corn salsa and pesto

White bean chili with pesto and avocado corn salsa

White bean chili with pesto and avocado corn salsa

Godard’s 1967 film La Chinoise is full of words. The characters talk constantly, the walls of their apartment are painted with giant phrases and mottos, and the screen flashes with intertitles in a strange and jarring rhythm. And, of course, we don’t speak French, so we were also reading subtitles, as all of the dizzying layers of text were translated for us in rapid succession. The film is a loose adaption of Dostoyevsky’s novel The Possessed, and it tells the story of five university students intent on violent revolution. They discuss ideology, they discuss art, they’re very well-read, and they talk about literature and theater and music. They discuss their plans, and for most of the film we suspect they’ll be all talk and little action. They discuss their love for one another, or their lack of love. They talk about class struggle, they talk about the workers, but they never work. Except for Yvonne, one of two women in the group, who is constantly cleaning, and tells of her part-time work as a prostitute so that she can afford things. The film is shot mostly in the claustrophobic world of their apartment and their minds, both teeming with ideas and words so beautifully layered and confused and constant that they start to make a strange sort of sense. I think the film must have been one of Godard’s first color films, and he’s beautifully aware of color. Everything is red, white and blue, with Mao’s Little Red Book appearing in shifting stacks and patterns, becoming almost a character. The film is full of humor, it’s an affectionate satire. The students are foolish, even frighteningly so at times, but Godard loves them even as he disparages them. In one long beautiful scene, which finally breaks out into the world beyond the apartment, Veronique meets her old philosophy professor, a former revolutionary for the Algerian national liberation movement. She talks about her deeply-held political beliefs and she sounds like a child: she wants to close the universities, but she talks about how her one summer of actual work caused her to do really well on her exams. She talks about using bombs, and she says the word like a child would. As in Masculin/Feminin, the violence is off-screen, botched, dreamlike. It’s hard to know if it really happened or if it’s all in their heads. The whole film is like a dream, floating away with humor and words and sixties pop style, but grounded with the idea that these students are discussing real people and real problems that continue to affect people around the world.

avocado corn salsa and pesto

avocado corn salsa and pesto

Do you like all the quotation marks in the title?!? It’s because this isn’t really mediterranean, and it’s not really chili. It seemed mediterranean because it has olives and beans and rosemary and pesto and harissa. It’s like chili because it has chili paste and beans and it’s a spicy sort of stew. Whatever you call it, it was very tasty. The chili is warm and rich and savory, and the salsa is light and sweet, and the pesto adds a real kick of flavor. We ate this with zucchini corn bread, but you could warm up some tortillas and eat it as tacos instead.
White bean chili

White bean chili

Here’s Mao Mao, a poppy punky song by Claude Channes from La Chinoise, which pretty much sums up the whole film.

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Power! and hurricane chili with sweet potatoes, red beans, kale and pumpkin ale

Clio sleeps on Malcolm

The Ordinary has power!! POWER! All the lights shut off the evening of the storm, and yesterday, on DAY TEN (!) they came on just as the first snow started to fall. I cried like a baby! First of all, I know we’ve been very lucky in many ways. Our home and our family are safe and sound. But it’s been such a strange week and a half! So memorable – certain vivid moments glow in my head – and yet altogether such a blur, each day melted into the other, and now it all feels like some strange dream. We had some fun, even euphoric, moments, but mostly it was stressful. I’m exhausted, despite having done very nearly nothing for ten days. I spent ridiculous amounts of time sitting and waiting. We went for lots of walks, and played games and wrote stories and read a little. We stayed a few nights with our kind warm-homed, warm-hearted families. But I felt foolishly incapable of concentrating. And then it got too cold to hold a pen. I was embarrassingly frazzled by the whole situation. It was as though without electricity I couldn’t do even simple non-electrical tasks like cutting my nails. I spent a lot of time sitting and thinking, and you know you’re going to hear all about that! The past day and a half have been spent trying to catch up – cleaning out the tank of dead fish and the fridge full of spoiled food, scrubbing down the toilets after two little boys have peed in the dark for more than a week. And then filling the fridge with good food and baking anti-depressant oatmeal-chocolate chip-spice cookies to warm up our kitchen and fill it with good smells. I missed cooking! I missed writing! I missed writing about cooking! So I’ll tell you all about everything, eventually. Whether you like it or not!

But for now I’ll leave you with a recipe for the chili I made last Monday before the power went out. It has sweet potatoes from the farm, red beans, yellow split peas, kale, corn, pumpkin ale, sweet spices, spicy spices. I started it early in the afternoon in case the power went out, and it sat on the stove for a few hours, but we could have eaten it sooner. I kept throwing other things in as the day wore on, so it ended up with quite a few ingredients! Use what you have! We ate it with basmati rice and cheesy garlic bread. The next day we spread some inside of tortillas with sharp cheddar, folded them over, wrapped them in foil, and cooked them in a fire in the back yard. Good as well! I didn’t take a picture of the chili, because I was worried about batteries in the camera, and I was just too off-kilter to remember! So you get a picture of Clio lying on Malcolm’s head instead, during the storm. He makes her feel safe, and she was protecting him, too, I think. She fell asleep like that!

And here’s a list of songs about power and electricity. Can you think of any I should add? Some of the songs might be a little sweary. Listen to the first one, at least, though. Curtis Mayfield with the demo version of Power to the People. (Who gave me that? I love it to pieces!!)
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