Arugula, sliced endive, mandolined Ambrosia apples (just because that’s what kind I happened to have), walnuts, Iberico (break off little nubs with your fingers). If you let this salad sit about 15-20 minutes after you dress it, the apples become rather deliciously pliable. Or just eat it slowly to experience the full range of appleness, from the first crisp bites to the last relaxed mouthful.

Truth be told, I can’t remember what dressing I used (educated guess: usual suspect red wine mustard vinaigrette), because I made this salad back in that Other Time, in the Bad Old Days, before we had a president who could not only form a complete sentence, but have it actually mean something, & furthermore, do sensible shit like shut down Gitmo. Seriously, I had gotten so pathetically downtrodden, so totally used to everything being done wrong all the time that I assumed all this “shut down Gitmo the first day” business was just some fantasy we had, one of those wistful lefty sighs that blows away with the least breeze of reality. Now? Let’s just say I’m feeling Obamalicious! Although tired. Exhausted, actually. My po little brain is working overtime to carve out new neural pathways to accommodate the fact that, apparently, I’m kinda in love with the whole First Family. Never thought I’d hear myself say such a thing in all my born days. I’m so confused, I’ve been taking way more naps than usual.

Not confused, however, about Aretha’s hat!!! (The people who don’t like it, now they’re confused.)

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Okay. Are you having a hard time? Depressed? Struggling through a rough patch? I swear, I thought it was just me, or just me & some of my friends, or how about just me & almost everybody I know? After getting off the phone with yet another pal who had recently fallen into a pit of gloom, I finally realized, hey… something’s going on here. I don’t think it’s just the economy, although they don’t call it a depression for nothing. (Recession my ass!)

I think we are all in some kind of weird anticipatory Bush post-trauma. (Anticipatory, because he’s not actually gone yet.) I mean look, the past 8 years have sucked & we’ve all tried to put a brave face on it & just keep going, because what else can you do, & really I can’t be the only one who thought that if McCain had won the election, it would basically mean the end of the fucking world, & so here we are now like in some action movie where we were dangling over the precipice hanging on by one cracked fingernail for the longest time, & someone finally threw us a couple yards of dental floss, just enough to pull us up & over where we now lie panting & sweating on the ground—just inches from aforementioned cliff, mind you—trying not to faint because [fill in your preferred action flick menace] is rapidly approaching & may end up throwing us back off the cliff anyway. Am I right? How can a person not freak out a little bit in such a situation? (I mean unless you’re Xena or someone of her ilk. Last time I checked, I most definitely was not anything anywhere near that ilk. My ilk is more like this or this.)

So cut yourself a little slack & remember the big picture, if that sort of thing helps you. Way back when we worked in adjoining offices, Michele K-Tel kept her famous Perspective Duck always near at hand. Whenever necessary, coworkers could run into her office, squeeze the duck, & it would dispense its little squeak-quack for us, along with some much-needed perspective. The original Perspective Duck didn’t sound anything like this, but why not give it a try anyway?

If that doesn’t work, make yourself some popovers.

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I’m still all disoriented from the election. Eggbeater comes closest to capturing how I’ve been feeling, though I’ve been perhaps a tad less weepy. Weirder still, then, to fly to Arizona—McCain country!—for the weekend to visit my dear old granny.

Fortunately, it’s pretty much all about food from the moment you set foot in her house.

Beauteous fresh turnip cake:

Even better, fried the next day:

Her real obsession is what our family calls rice buddies, aka Chinese tamales. She cranks them out at a fearsome rate, & we schlep home mass quantities of them every trip.

That blur is her hands wrapping up a bottle of chicken juice. No, not soup or broth or stock. It’s essence of chicken, what you get when you shut two chickens (cut up, skinned & de-fatted) in an enclosed ceramic pot, put that pot inside another pot full of water, & simmer it for 12 hours(!) until all the chicken liquid is released into the bottom of the inner pot & the bones crumble between your fingers.

Granny speaks about a hundred words of English & I speak even less Chinese, so our communication is 90% psychic & contextual—not so hard when the main topic is food! But when she saw Obama on the TV, she asked me, “Is he good?”

I turned to her & beamed, “Grandma, he’s very good.”

Satisfied, she nodded, “ok good” & settled back to watch some more. I sat there in baffled wonderment at being able to give her such strange, hopeful news.

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I love election cartograms!

I am so exhausted. Are you tired? Everybody seems to be in a kind of election hangover. Months of stomach-pretzeling anxiety, then all that euphoric weeping delirium when Obama won, & the catharsis of finally giving the Republicans the pounding they deserved—well, actually they deserved much worse than that, but let’s not get into that here—now I can barely do anything. The Prop 8 disappointment throws a weird contradictory layer of angst into the mix; rather emotionally confusing. I was in my pajamas last night before 7pm.

Good thing I had this recipe up my sleeve for y’all. I’d been working on it for a while, & on the 4th try it worked well enough to share with the Witch for Halloween (her favorite holiday, of course). The Witch is the most food-limited of my friends, by which I mean there’s hella stuff she can’t eat without getting walloped by a migraine. Luckily she’s a great cook & not afraid to experiment with obscure alternative ingredients. I was really proud to come up with a dessert she can eat!

Chocolate Coconut Tapioca Pudding
aka Pudding of Earth & Eyes of Newt (no sugar! no dairy! wheee!)

Throughout this recipe, whisk pretty much constantly!

Soak 1/3 cup small tapioca pearls in 2 to 3 cups of water for a few minutes, then bring to a gentle boil & simmer for about 15 minutes.

Drain off the gloopy water & reserve about 1/2 cup of it. I do this by pouring through a sieve into a bowl, then dumping the tapioca pearls from the sieve back into the pot.

Add about 1/2 can of coconut milk to the pot, whisk to distribute the tapioca, & simmer for another few minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk together in a separate bowl:
the rest of the coconut milk
2 T. good cocoa powder (I use Green & Black’s)
1/4 c. maple syrup
1 t. vanilla
pinch salt

Add the chocolate mixture to the pot, along with 4 to 6 T. of the reserved tapioca gloop. Continue to simmer & whisk another few minutes until tapioca pearls are completely clear. At this point the pudding is still quite liquid but should have thickened ever so slightly. If not, add a little more of the gloop.

Remove from heat & let cool a little, then refrigerate for at least 5 hours.

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The phonebankers are HUNGRY! If you’re not cut out for talking to strangers about politics, consider feeding the folks who are. I know myself well enough to realize that it wouldn’t be doing anybody any favors to put myself on the phone—or knocking on doors, eek—with the intention of swinging votes toward Obama. But I also realized that I’d better do something in order to 1) not be a nervous wreck during this crazy pre-election moment & 2) not hate myself if, goddess forbid, the election goes the wrong way.

So. I can’t call & I can’t knock on doors. They also need people to do data entry, but that’s a really bad idea for my hands. So what can I do? Well, I can cook. (I can also carve punkins, apparently, but who am I kidding? Every available surface of Berkeley is already plastered with Obama’s name or face.)

Pasta for Obama:
2 lbs. dry rigatoni (on blowout special at the Bowl!)
3 small yellow onions
most of a bunch of celery
most of a pound of carrots
2 enormous zucchinis
a bag of mushrooms
1 large can of Muir Glen crushed tomatoes
1 can tomato paste, also Muir Glen
8 or 9 fat tomatoes from Plastic Lam’s aunt’s garden (thanks!)
olive oil, salt & pepper, oregano
flat-leaf parsley, chopped & sprinkled on top for garnish
fresh grated Parmesan (optional)

Grocery bill: $13.94, plus $3.28 for the cheese

Follow usual tomato sauce procedure (in short: onions, celery & carrots first, then mushrooms & zukes, then all tomatoes, then simmer up to 2 hours, boil pasta & combine). To save time I cheated a little & used the food processor for the onions, celery, carrots & tomatoes. I had to boil the pasta in 2 shifts. When it was all done it was too heavy for me to lift, so Donna slid a cutting board underneath it & helped me schlep it off to the Obama office along with bowls, forks & napkins raided from our party supplies. Don’t forget the cheese, & a serving spoon!

When we got there, the place was stuffed full of about 100 people sitting cheek by jowl with a phone on one ear & a finger plugging the other. Some folks had been there all day, nibbling on nothing but scones & leftover Halloween candy. About what I had suspected. I ladled out the pasta & Donna walked around delivering it with the Parmesan in her other hand: “cheese?”

27 small servings vanished so fast it made my head spin. People were very happy to get real food & tickled at being served. (That’s where the cheese pays for itself. Donna sprinkles it with a lot of care & love—sorta fancy waiter meets storybook mom. You think I’m kidding!) We probably coulda brought twice as much. They also said that sandwich fixings would be very welcome, so if you don’t have all afternoon to simmer tomato sauce, just drop off some cold cuts & bread & I’m sure they’ll be thrilled.

Today I think I’ll bake taters, steam broccoli, fry bacon, bring cheddar & sour cream & let people assemble their own. Just two more days!

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OMG! Kitty Burns Florey tried to diagram Sarah Palin’s sentences. I loved Florey before this, but now… !!!

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What are we going to do to stop her from posting salads all the time?
Do you think an intervention is in order?
What if we ask her to post some flowers or something? She likes flowers. Probably as much as she likes food.
As much as she likes salad?
Yes, I think so.

The last sweetpeas of the season.

They kept going all the way into October! Pretty cool.

Red leaf lettuce, treviso, Warren pear, red onion, Iberico cheese, sherry vinaigrette….

Hey! What happened?
She may be beyond help.
I think it’s her coping mechanism. She’s just trying to make it to Election Day without having a nervous breakdown. Like the rest of us.

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I’ve been so distracted—by various foods, effin Republicans, & little sewing projects—that I almost forgot to mention the Road Trip show at San Jose Museum of Art, on view now through 25 January 09. I’m tickled & humbled to have my Chinese restaurants included alongside some really great artists’ work. If you’re a museum member, maybe I’ll see you at the reception later in October.

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Perhaps not the best thing for those of us trying to minimize mouseclicks, but so irresistible… Barack Obama wanted you to have some cupcakes.

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A big THANK YOU to Linda Burnham for her excellent Obama & Clinton: the Tightrope & the Needle.

Must say, I’ve been a bit taken aback by how many white women assume I will agree with them that supporting Hillary is somehow obvious because she is a woman. Um… did you forget that I am a woman of color who thinks race is kinda important? Never mind that I have a degree in it. Never mind that an awful lot of my work is about it… but hmm, I guess in some folks’ brains, the Obsessed With Chinese Restaurants Department isn’t necessarily next door to the Excited About a Black President Department. Well, Burnham’s article explains it.

Thanks to Lani for forwarding!

Oh, & by the way? Most of the white women I know are all about Obama.

You thought I wasn’t gonna say anything about this election, huh? Don’t worry, back to salads next time.

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