Thursday, January 28, 2010

Weeds Growing Influence

The momentum around marijuana legalization is building. A great example are two articles in both San Francisco Weekly and The San Francisco Bay Guardian in the last three weeks. San Francisco Weekly's "Weed Takes Root" focused on Oaksterdam and the growing social entrepreneurial spirit of medical marijuana growers. The San Francisco Bay Guardian's "Marijuana Goes Mainstream" centered on the actual medical marijuana clubs in San Francisco and Oakland, giving reviews of most of the clubs. And earlier this week, Steve D'Angelo, Executive Director of Harborside Health Center, appeared on G4's (that's geek television) Attack of the Show to discuss the implications of LA's new medical marijuana ordinances.

And what's even better...legalizing pot for recreational use might just get on the ballot this fall.  (NBC3 Article)

Amid all of the chaos that is the state budget and unemployment and cuts to education and other vital services, it is a small glimmer of hope. 

Steve D' Angelo's interview on Attack of the Show.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Cuisine: Tex-Mex Cheesy Corn Casserole

Today, was a Margaret day. It meant a good meal and some wandering. I always enjoy these days. After a lovely lunch at Kate's Kitchen and letting Walter back into the house, we found our way to an LGBTQ spiritual gathering that Cindy invited us to. It was wrapping up, and afterwards Margaret told Cindy about our common shoulder aches. Cindy offered some acupuncture at her office a few doors down. We couldn't resist. It was wonderful and healing.

Later, we walked her dog and drank some tea. It was casual meandering with good friends. A perfect unplanned day.

The evening ended with Cindy driving me part the way home. As we rode down Divisidero, she told me about her love of corn chowder. I'm not a huge fan of corn chowder, but her description of it made me crave it or something like it.

I got home and opened the freezer. There was corn. I immediately set to find recipes among the myriad cookbooks on my shelves. After some tinkering, the Tex-Mex Cheesy Corn Casserole was born.

2 anaheim peppers, whole
1 pasilla pepper, whole
3 jalapenos, whole
2 small yellow onions, quartered
1 head garlic, cloves broken apart
3 cubes bullion
2 1/2 cups water
2 tsp tex mex chili powder
3 bay leaves

2 cups frozen corn, thawed

1 cup buttermilk
6 saltines, crushed

1 cup uncooked long grain rice

8 oz munster
4 oz parmesan

Turn the oven to broil. Place the peppers, onions, and garlic in a cast iron skillet or oven-proof baking dish and put it in the broiler. Check every 3-4 minutes turning when needed. Remove when all sides have browned.
Notes on roasting
Onions - Leave the dry, flaky outer layer of the onion on. Place the onions skin side down on the baking dish. Remove onions when outer layer is dark brown. Remove it and one more layer. Cut off tips and roots.
Peppers - Make sure to rotate the peppers frequently. After you remove the peppers, place in a bowl and cover. Let sit for 10 minutes. Peel and remove seeds.
Garlic - Keep the skin on the cloves. The garlic cloves is perfect when it is a nice golden brown color on all sides.
Dice all onions, peppers, and garlic. Set aside.

Boil a large pot of water. Add rice. Boil for 10 minutes. Drain setting aside 2 1/2 cups water. Set the rice aside.

Mix buttermilk and saltines together. Set aside.

Mix bullion cubes, water, peppers, onions, garlic, tex-mex chili powder, and bay leaves together in a large sauce pan. Add corn. Cook covered for 10 minutes. Cool.

Using a food processor, blend one half of the corn mixture into a coarse cream. Pour into a bowl. Place the second half of the mixture in the food processor. Pulse mixture two to three times. Pour into the bowl. Mix in buttermilk mixture.

Grate the munster and parmesan.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9X9 baking dish. Place half of the cooked rice in the bottom of the pan. Layer half the corn mixture on top of rice. Layer half of the cheese on top. Layer the rice. Layer the corn mixture. Top with cheese. Bake for 25-35 minutes until edges are brown and bubbling. Cool for 10 minutes.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The S. Kitchen presents...A Very Mary Queer Year


The S. Kitchen is back on Sunday, January 31st at 4pm. This time the theme is A Very Mary Queer Year! That's right. This is the year that I am bringing my art to life. And if you know me, you know that my art is most definitely QUEER. So to kick things into high gear, this S. Kitchen will be a launching of Queerly Complex, a portal to art, events, news, and more all from a queer perspective.

What is meant by queer? Good thing ya asked (or well...are at least reading this). Queer is as queer does. It is a way of life. It is about living outside the box. It is expressing who you are and loving who you will. It is not giving a damn and being open to possibilities. It is honoring and promoting voices and experiences of folks that identify as LGBT and the spaces in between. It is being present amidst the chaos of past and future.

How does this all relate to the theme and food? That part is actually very very simple. This time around, I will be focusing on foods that are traditional new year's foods from a variety of cultures. Think black-eyed peas, noodles, collard greens, dumplings, grapes... Then make it your own! This could be a different way of serving, adding that secret spice that you don't tell anyone, buying it from a store and calling it your own. The possibilities are endless!

To get you started with ideas, here is a great resource:

And in my tradition of New Years, we will be doing a white elephant gift exchange. That's right it is white elephant, so...DON'T SPEND A DIME! Find something tacky, broken, unused in your home, wrap it, and bring it to the shindig. Hilarity will ensue.

Hope to see ya'll there!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

SF Weekly's Weed Takes Root

The S. Kitchen brings people together around food to connect, celebrate, and chow. It is about cuisine, camaraderie, and conversation. The core of these events are friends and family. Sure, we eat, but we also transform a space (right now my home) into something more than just walls. It is a space of love, laughter, and liberation.

John and I have been very intentional in how create this space. It looks effortless, but that supposes no physical or mental exertion. And that is most definitely not the case. In fact, it is full of effort.

Effort from the Latin is the combination of ex- "out" and fortis "strong". Therefore, when I read this week's SF Weekly article "Weed Takes Root", I thought "I better let people know about this and how it relates to the S. Kitchen."

You see... The S. in The S. Kitchen stands for "stoner". Now, I know many of you are not really shocked by that. You may even be one. But I haven't actually addressed the real intention behind effortfully making this about stoners (even though John doesn't even smoke). The reason is simple: to change public opinion about a supposed "drug", we need to be "out" and "strong" about our personal usage. The S. Kitchen is a place to be out and strong. And you don't even have to be a stoner to get behind that.

I have been a stoner for almost 12 years. It has changed my life for the better. Sure, it's easy to brush that off and dismiss it as typical of an addict or alcoholic to say, but that is only looking at a pattern not at the quality of life.

I was diagnosed with ADHD when I was 21. It was something that always got in the way. Sure, lots of people have it and they function perfectly fine in the world. For some of us, not so much. In fact, my inability to pay attention directly resulted in going to two different colleges, flunking out of one and bailing on the other. I just couldn't keep it together to stay in school.

I dabbled with pot when I was in Minnesota and at school at Antioch. It was just a recreational thing every now and again. I had fun with it at parties or at bars, but that was about it. Then, I moved to San Francisco and found something different.

My ADHD diagnosis happened when I was home for two weeks before moving from Antioch College (in Ohio) to San Francisco. The doctor prescribed me Adderol, and then I hopped on a plane. A few days later after settling in to my new surroundings I decided to start my medication. I was up for three whole days. That may sound like a great time, but I love sleep. So I had to quit my medication.

I didn't have insurance or a doctor, so there was no way to get other medication. My head spun and spun and spun. All of the pent up hyperactivity kept threatening to eat away at any semblance of peace and quiet. At home alone, I felt like I was on speed even when I was completely sober. It made doing almost anything to completion impossible.

My occasional usage started increasing out of pure indulgence. Hell, I was 21, queer, and in San Francisco. Who wouldn't indulge? But things started slowly changing over time. I noticed that when I woke up in the morning, I could actually focus for a longer period of time. The voices that kept pestering me as I tried to fall asleep quieted. Sure they weren't silent, but I could tune them out. The nervous energy that made me zip from corner to corner would subside after a puff. Once again, it didn't go away completely, but it did make being me more manageable.

And I found a community of stoners. These people, these friends and family, are a unique bunch. Here is some of what I have noticed:
  • generosity
  • kindness
  • love
  • openness 
  • dreams
  • love
  • an ability to think differently
  • munchies
  • love 
  • slowness (as opposed to laziness)
  • green, green, and more green
  • love
  • laughter and humor
  • compassion
  • love
Now, this doesn't go for all stoners. There certainly are slackers out there. But in my experience those actually are far and few between. We get a bad rap thanks to Pineapple Express, Up in Smoke, Harlod and Kumar, but some of the hardest working teachers, grocers, librarians, artists, writers, business people, techies, youth workers I know are stoners. And a lot of times it is something that is kept in the shadows or whispered outside circles for fear of what revealing being a stoner might do to a career.

That fear is understandable. We live in a society that has many negative perceptions of drugs, alcohol, and sex. But the tides are turning. SF Weekly's "Weed Takes Root" chronicles the shift not only in perception but also policy.

The Stoner's Kitchen is my attempt at helping continue this shift one meal, one conversation, one family at a time.

Cuisine: Carrot Pear Gingerbread

I bought some pears today that smelled amazing and were incredibly ripe. I was eager to have them tomorrow as a snack or part of my lunch. They were in the bag with other vegetables for dinner and ended up getting crushed. I, too, was crushed. So I ended up making up this tasty dessert instead.


1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground clove
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup molasses, dark
3/4 c boiling water
1 stick butter, softened and sliced
3/4 cup brown sugar, dark
2 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 carrots, shredded
2 pears, pealed, cored and sliced
1 tablespoon ginger, crushed

Heat oven to 350.

In a bowl sift together flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg.

In a separate bowl, whisk together molasses, water, and butter. Add sugar, eggs, and vanilla.

Add flour mixture to molasses mixture and combine. Slowly fold in carrots, pears, and ginger until fully mixed together.

Pour batter into a 9X9 buttered pan. Bake for 45-55 minutes.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Stories from the Recipe Box

What does your recipe box say about you? That is the premise of Utne Reader's article "Uncovering the Past Through Recipes". It is a great question to ask. I actually did two winters ago when I visited my grandparents in Arizona. My granny has an old recipe box and a binder of recipes she's made throughout the years. It speaks of Swedish and German ancestry, 1950's white middle class foods, and lot's of love. I even copied recipes for classic Swedish Potato Sausage, rosettes, and crispy rolls (the latter of which I still can't make...Dang baking).

Collecting recipes and stories here at The S. Kitchen, I wonder what it says about me. My collection is a weird amalgamation of cuisines from around the world. It boasts lots of spicy flavors, and pork seems to be a key ingredient. And the format isn't your typical recipe box. It's not about secret recipes and ingredients. It is about sharing, connecting, and loving through food.

Please let me know your thoughts and stories about your families cooking traditions or the recipes posted here. It is always a pleasure to hear from you dear readers and friends.

"Uncovering the Past Through Recipes"

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Cuisine: Spicy Veggie Chili

This just came together. I started cooking not knowing what I was about to prepare only that I wanted something with...even that I wasn't sure of. I selected an onion and looked at it. It looked lonely, so I added another. Then, the soyrizo, carrots, jalapenos, and garlic said "eat me", and the jar of pepperocinis and the half eaten bag of frozen corn said "finish me". I had a lone can of El Tapo tomato sauce sitting on my shelf and one can of diced tomatoes. They seemed as lonely as the onions and seemed a very fitting companion to these other fine flavors. I looked at the simmering stew, and it looked almost naked. Something was missing. I opened the cabinet and there it was. One last can of white beans. Perfecto! This spicy veggie chili was born. And with it a new recipe to pass along.

3 to 4 T olive oil
2 onions, diced
2 carrots, diced
1 can diced jalapeno
5 cloves garlic, diced
1 soyrizo
1/3 jar pepperocini including garlic cloves, diced
1 can El Tapo Tomato Sauce
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup frozen corn

Heat two tablespoons olive oil in a large pot over high heat. Add the onion and saute for five minutes. Add carrots and saute for another five minutes. Turn heat down to medium high and saute for another five minutes. Add the jalapeno and garlic and saute for five minutes. Add the rest of the oil and add the soyrizo. Fry for fifteen minutes. Add the pepperocini and saute for five minutes. Add the tomato sauce and entire can of tomatoes and bring to a boil. Add the corn and beans. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for about 45 minutes. Serve with your favorite starch.

This was served with Orzo Casserole from Epicurean.