Monday, September 30, 2013

Eating Goober Peas

Peas! Peas! Peas! Peas! Eating goober peas!
Goodness how delicious, eating goober peas!.

From a popular Civil War song
We left the South about 11 years, and while we love being up north, there are some things that we miss. Naturally, our families, sunshine all year, and lower taxes top the list. However, boiled peanuts are also pretty high up there for me, too.

Down south, you can find big advertisement signs (my favorites being the ones that say "Boiled P-nuts") all over the place -- gas stations, truck stops, roadside stands... In certain places, even grocery stores will have big pots of them simmering. Usually, you get a choice of peanuts. There is the tried and true version boiled in simple saltwater. There is also Cajun-style for the bolder palate. Additionally, you can choose a small or large styrofoam container of nuts. I always go for large. And usually buy one container of each kind because I can't see limiting myself.

When most people think of peanuts, something crunchy comes to mind. Boiled peanuts, though, couldn't be more different. Texture-wise, they are much more like cooked beans, so it seems understandable that most people either love them or hate them. I'm most decidedly a lover. There is something irresistible about cracking the shell with your teeth and then sucking out the salty brine before nibbling the delectably creamy peanuts inside. The spicy, lip-numbing Cajun-style peanuts are even better.

To make boiled peanuts, you need green peanuts. I've heard you can use the raw peanuts, too, but they take a lot longer to cook (like 24 hours). I don't know about that because I've never tried. Actually, green peanuts are also raw, but they differ from "raw peanuts" in that they are fresh from the field. "Raw peanuts" are dehydrated. Green peanuts are not. In the South, I think I remember seeing them in stores during the summertime, but I've never seen them up here in the North. At least not until this past Friday when I scored big time at a local Korean grocer's.

Green peanuts

If you want to try making your own boiled peanuts, here's a basic recipe:
  1. Wash the peanuts in their shells to make sure there isn't any dirt on them. Rinse until the water coming off of them is clear.
  2. Put your peanuts in a crockpot. Fill the pot about 1/2 to 2/3 full, leaving plenty of room for water.
  3. Add water to fill the pot. 
  4. Add about 1 Tbsp for every pint of water you add. (The water should be about as salty as the ocean.)
  5. Cook the peanuts on high until they are tender inside and have a consistency that you like.  
  6. At this point, you can turn the crockpot to warm and snack on them all day. Or you can take the nuts out of the pot and put them in the fridge. However, the longer you let them soak, the more flavorful they will be.
Altogether, the cooking time is probably around 6-15 hours depending on how tender you want the nuts. (Around 12 hours is how I like them.) But they are so worth it! Especially since the crockpot does all the work for you.

Ready to cook. When they're done, the peanuts
start to fill up with brine and begin to sink down
into the water.

If you want Cajun peanuts, add some crab boil seasoning, garlic powder, red pepper flakes, and cajun seasoning to the pot along with the salt. Some people add jalapenos, too. If your Cajun seasoning contains salt, though, adjust the amount of salt accordingly.
Ready for shelling!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Love and Puke

It's official. My daughter is the world's heaviest sleeper.

Last night, I awoke to a horrible retching sound and found Babygirl lying on her back, in bed, puking up bucketfuls. I was terrified that she might choke, but she never even woke up. She just continued sleeping. Even when I roused her, she barely opened her eyes, and she was still half asleep when I put her in the bath.

Of course, while she was soundly in bed within seconds of her bath, I couldn't sleep the rest of the night. Between cleaning sheets, floors, tubs, toilets, sinks and a general insomnia, I've had hardly forty winks since yesterday.

I suppose I got two lessons out of this. The most obvious one is that mom is always the one who deals with dirty stuff in the middle of the night. The other lesson took me a bit more time to figure out.

There was vomit in Babygirl's hair, on her face, all over her body. She was swimming in it, completely oblivious, and unable to help herself. Although I tried to be as gentle as possible and to keep her comfortable, she looked so pathétique shivering in in the bathtub, vomit swirling around her feet and encrusting her small body. My heart was moved with pity for her as I bathed her tiny shoulders and washed the puke out of her hair.

It seems obvious that one would feel compassionate toward a sick child. The truth, though, is that she stank so much I thought I would be sick, too. Every muscle in my body wanted to run away and leave her in the tub! (How is that for a maternal instinct?) It's only love that made me stay.

So I've kind of taken the long way around to my point, but here it is. Lately, I've seen a lot of young girls (and boys, for that matter) in church, on the streets, in the media, etc. who are metaphorically covered in puke. They've made some really bad choices and have been met by one of two responses. Either, society (in the name of love) castigates them until they can adhere to a certain standard of acceptability. Or it views them (in the name of love) with a lack of involvement that kindly casts no judgment at all, but this kindness leaves them to follow a path of self-destruction.

Real love, I think, is somewhere in the middle. Indulge me for a moment if I compare love to a stray dog. Would Love see a stray and leave him outside the door until it could clean itself up? No, that would be harsh. Would Love drown a stray to get rid of its ticks? Of course not, that would be unreasonable. But neither would Love adopt a stray and leave it with all its fleas and bad habits. That would be foolish and ultimately untenable. So it saddens me to see young people who are being destroyed by these two extreme responses. There are the well-intentioned who nitpick at and punish young people until they drown in criticism, and there are the well-intentioned who don't want young people to "feel bad" so they approve of everything. But nobody is doing these kids any favors. The critic loves his own opinion. The "tolerant" person loves creating a persona of benevolence. Nobody is truly loving these kids.

Anyway, Babygirl just woke up, and I see I missed some icky spots in the dim lighting last night. So we're off for another bath, but I leave you with these words from C.S. Lewis who always says everything a hundred times better than I could ever hope to.
Love, in its own nature, demands the perfecting of the beloved; that the mere 'kindness' which tolerates anything except suffering in its object is, in that respect, at the opposite pole from Love. When we fall in love with a woman, do we cease to care whether she is clean or dirty, fair or foul? Do we not rather then first begin to care? Does any woman regard it as a sign of love in a man that he neither knows nor cares how she is looking? Love may, indeed, love the beloved when her beauty is lost: but not because it is lost. Love may forgive all infirmities and love still in spite of them: but Love cannot cease to will their removal... Of all powers, he forgives most, but he condones least: he is pleased with little, but demands all. 
from the Problem of Pain by C.S. Lewis

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Two Different Pestos

Growing up, I have always loved radish leaf kimchi, a type of Korean pickle made with the young leaves of daikon radishes. As a result, I've often wondered what I could do with the leaves that come attached to the red radishes one buys at the store. Now I know -- radish leaf pesto.

A couple of weeks ago, I found a great recipe for radish leaf pesto online, which I'll recap below:

Radish Leaf Pesto

  • very fresh, bright green leaves from a bunch of radishes 
  • a clove of garlic 
  • a handful of pistachio nuts (btw, I prefer the kind you have to shell to the pre-shelled kind)
  • extra virgin olive oil 
  • a pinch of salt 
  • grated Parmesan cheese
First, I cleaned the radish leaves and removed the tough stems. Then, I put everything except the cheese into a blender and pureed it. 

Of course, I can never leave a recipe alone, so I also added some tender young mustard leaves and an additional clove of garlic. Then I removed it from the blender and set aside some pesto without cheese for me. I stirred the cheese into the remaining pesto for my DH.

It was fantastic! The pesto was such a vivid, gorgeous shade of green, and the flavor was light, but pleasantly piquant. Delicious! 

Sadly, we devoured it before I remembered to take photos, so I'm showing you a photo from the blog where I got the recipe. Mmm...

Image of radish leaf pesto from:

Sorrel Pesto

A few days ago, I had a huge bunch of sorrel. I used half of it to make a potato and sorrel soup. (Divine!) Then, since the radish leaf pesto was such a success, I decided to make pesto with the remaining half. Basically, I used the same recipe as for the radish leaf pesto, but I also added in a tiny bit of lemon peel to complement the lemony flavor of the sorrel. Another homerun!

If you try either of these recipes, I hope you'll let me know how it turned out! Buon appetito!

One day I wrote her name upon the strand,
     But came the waves and washed it away:
     Again I wrote it with a second hand,
     But came the tide, and made my pains his prey.
Vain man, said she, that dost in vain assay
     A mortal thing so to immortalize!
     For I myself shall like to this decay,
     And eek my name be wiped out likewise.

                       from Amoretti, Sonnet 75 by Edmund Spenser 

I love underground and offbeat tours, so when we visited Montreal a couple of weeks ago, I was all over a visit to the Pointe-à-Callière Museum.

One description read:

Pointe-à-Callière is a national historic site rising above the actual remains of the city's birthplace. It takes visitors on an authentic archaeological tour from the 14th century, when Natives camped on the site, right up to the present. They'll see Native artefacts, the city's first Catholic cemetery, its first marketplace, and lots more. Cutting-edge technology and a multimedia show bring Montréal's past to life in a whole new light. The Museum's contemporary building is linked by an underground passage to the Ancienne Douane, Montréal's first Custom House, leading through an archaeological crypt safeguarding more than six centuries of history, beneath the raised portion of Place Royale.

It sounded really cool -- go underground (literally) and view remains of the city dating back to the 14th century. We couldn't wait.1

The remains of one of the buildings struck me particularly. It was the broken foundation of a building described as a house that was once five stories high. I could imagine it -- quite a grand house for its time. Quarrying, cutting, and moving all the stone used to build it must have been a monumental task. I wonder about the man who ordered its construction. To build a house that big, he must have invested a lot of time and care in designing and building it. And now, a few centuries later, there's almost nothing to show for all his effort.

Seeing the rubble, it made me wonder what exactly it is that I'm building with my days. I've never even attempted to undertake a project even a fraction as grand as that house must have been. Most of my time is spent so mundanely -- packing lunches, wiping fingerprints, mopping messes. The efforts I make rarely last even thirty minutes. I might as well be writing my name in the sand. The tides can make my pains its prey because I don't feel like the wise man building on the rock. More like the fool.

I suppose that every mom goes through the blahs like this. The sun will probably come out tomorrow.


1 Now that I've made the museum seem like some kind of great experience, I feel compelled to provide a caveat to the would-be traveller. If you plan to see it, don't. Overall, it was not nearly as awesome as I'd hoped. In the museum's defense, we opted to skip the guided tour because it's really hard to keep a 3-year-old patient and non-disruptive. Possibly, a guide would have made it much more interesting. Exploring on our own, though, we concluded it was indeed the dullest, most uninteresting museum we've ever visited. They had a Beatles exhibit as well, which was lame. Seriously, how does someone make the Beatles boring? I was so disappointed I actually considered asking for my money back.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...