Beet dogs

Beet dogs

I love sleeping. I’m not very good at it – I never have been! I’ll wake up in the middle of the night and my brain will start buzzing, and I can’t quiet it down. It’s like the little people in my brain that have the middle-of-the night shift are working over time. I used to panic that if I didn’t get enough sleep I’d go crazy. I mean, there’s only so much of being with myself that I can take! I need a break, man! Of course, panicking about not being able to sleep is a rookie mistake; all the seasoned insomniacs know that it only makes things worse. Having children has put some sleepless fears to rest. I get along fine without much sleep. Yes I’ll be tired and blurry, but it won’t last forever. But a good night’s sleep, or even a good few-hours of sleep, is one of life’s greatest pleasures. I don’t consider this a lazy attitude, because with sleep comes dreams, and dreaming is one of the most active and creative activities that a mind can engage in. I love dreaming! Perhaps because I’m a filmmaker that hasn’t made a film in over a decade, I consider every dream like a short film – I’ve even have a dream that I make a film, and it’s always a perfect and beautiful film, which I lose when I wake up. David’s alarm goes off at 6, and I’ll sleep for another hour or so, and this is when you have all the best dreams – or at least you remember them best. Dreams about old clothes, dreams about flying, dreams about falling, dreams about houses that have unexpected rooms and passages, dreams about climbing trees, dreams about my dog, dreams about people I’ve never met, dreams of swimming, dreams of drowning, dreams about water, dreams about glass, dreams about darkness, dreams about school, and about schools with unexpected rooms and corridors. And lately, of course, dreams about food. This recipe came to me in a dream. And part of me, upon waking, thought, you’re not really going to try that, are you? And another part of me thought, why the hell not? These are a sort of version of vegetarian hot dogs. They’re made with beets, pinto beans, garlic, smoked paprika, a pinch of nutmeg, and a pinch of allspice. They have some flour and eggs in them. They’re very simple and easy to make. They look funny and a bit embarrassing while you’re making them, so if you have boys in your house I suggest you banish them from the kitchen, unless you’d like to hear rude jokes and titters. The jokes stopped when they tasted these, though! Everybody was dubious, but everybody loved them. We all ate more than we planned on. Isaac sat with his chair tilted back, one beet dog in each hand, talking and gesturing, and ate every single bite. (Being allowed to eat them with their hands was part of the appeal!) Malcolm declared them better than store-bought not-dogs. I tried them two ways. First, I just fried them in butter (which is the way I make not dogs.) Second, in a flash of inspiration, I had the idea to boil them first, like gnocchi (which they resemble in some ways!) and then fry them in butter. I thought these came out better. Less dry, with a nice sort of chewy texture. They really are unlike anything I’ve ever eaten, but in a good way. Try them! Why the hell not! They’re very easy to make. I think that the boiled ones would be grillable, too. I’ll try it and let you know!

Here’s Big Mama Thornton with Hound Dog
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Pupusa with pinto beans & spinach


I had a rough week, and for some reason I found it comforting to watch videos of old women making pupusa on youTube. It’s one of those foods, like stuffed grape leaves, and many others, that you like to think about a group of women making together. The process is all made with hands, it’s repetitive and circular and almost hypnotizing. And I have a new fascination with stuffed flatbreads, which goes so nicely with my fascination with savory pastries! I’m also starting quite an impressive flour collection. I’ve got toasted barley flour, rice flour, semolina flour, chickpea flour, tapioca flour, buckwheat flour, wheat flour, and now masa harina. I’ve been intrigued by this for a while, and now I’m a big fan!

Back to pupusa – it’s a Salvadoran dish made with masa harina, and it’s stuffed with cheese or meat or refried beans. It’s cooked on a hot, ungreased griddle. I’m sure the version I made is not like the real deal, but it was so tasty! David said it’s like a combination of tacos and mashed potatoes – it’s got a very comforting quality, the taste and texture as well as the process of forming and cooking. You make it by taking a handful of dough, and turning and pressing, turning and pressing, trying to keep the edges neat. I love the idea that the pupusa will be the shape and size of the palms of the maker. You can fill it with anything you like. I chose pinto beans, spinach, and sharp cheddar. Just substantial enough not to be mushy, just soft enough to provide a comforting contrast to the crispy outside. This is one of my favorite things I’ve made in a while – to make and to eat.

It’s also gluten free, as far as I know! And it would be vegan if you left the cheese out.

Here’s Espiritu Libre with A Mi Me Gustan Las Pupusas.
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Roasted butternut pies with a beer crust

Butternut beer pies

These pies are crisp and flaky on the outside, and soft and yummy on the inside. They combine roasted butternut squash, roman beans, and pistachios. The squash is sweet, the beans are earthy, and the nuts provide a nice flavor and a little crunch to the proceedings. There’s beer in the crust and beer in the pies. So use a beer you like! Roman beans are very similar to pinto beans, in appearance, taste and texture. They’re largish, and you partially mash them here, so you have a nice contrast of refried-bean texture and the occasional solid yet tender bean.

These pies have sharp cheddar, which holds everything together and adds an edgy yet melty flavor. And they’re seasoned with thyme, sage, rosemary, paprika, nutmeg and fennel. They’re nice to take to a party, because they transport well, and they’re substantial enough that they can make a meal. That’s it! I’m done talking about them! I’m going to tell you how to make them now. Except that I should mention that I took them to a party, and as I sat with them on my lap – they were warm and fragrant, and they smelled like butter and beer, and it made me think of butter beer. That’s from Harry Potter, right?

Here’s Roman Blue by Danger Mouse and Daniele Lupp. I’ve just heard it for the first time, but it’s lush and Ennio Morricone-y, and I think I’ll listen to it again!
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