Gourmet Eats at Café McVirgo

After my visit to the farmer’s market on Saturday, I needed some recipes for squash blossoms, and fast, ’cause those little suckers spoil faster than you can say Larousse Gastronomique. I remembered coming across a recipe in one of my cookbooks that had you stuff the blossoms with goat cheese and fry them, which sounded fascinating — I don’t remember if it’s in the Joy of Cooking or Vegetables from Amaranth to Zucchini, but I haven’t unearthed my cookbooks from our sea of boxes, so I took the easy way out and searched online. I found some good
things here, and I used the simple beer batter recipe I found there, but I made a stuffing more like this one. Oh, okay, click Mr. Readmore for the whole recipe, filched from the links above with my editorial comments:
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Detroit’s Eastern Market: Now We’re Talkin’!

I’ve been in a bit of a slump lately. McDoc and I have done lots of fun things since we got here just over a month ago, like 8 Days in June, an outdoor Detroit Symphony concert plus fireworks at the Henry Ford on July 3 (our monthaversary!) various outings with his fellow interns, and an unsuccessful trip to Ann Arbor (did you know that outdoor plays can get sold out? The “Great Outdoors” indeed!) But I had gotten a little burned out after so much running around, and McDoc’s schedule started to ramp up, and then the boxes, dear God the boxes, they won’t leave me alone, make them go away aaagghhh!!! Another trip to IKEA is in order, to get more bookcases and other furniture-type items to hold all of our worthless crap precious belongings, but I dread that somewhat because it’s about a 40-min. drive from here, and wending my way through the fun-house maze that is IKEA tends to leave me over-stimulated and exhausted. And as if that’s not bad enough, last time we went we found the Perfect Item That We Really Wanted, but when we got down to the self-service bin thingy, it was out of stock. I was crushed. Shopping online isn’t the answer, because a) you can’t buy certain items online and 2) they don’t have everything on the website that they actually sell. You have to report to their human hamster tube of unhappiness and shop til you drop. Such is the tragic ennui of our modern life.

I was such a mopey dope last night that McDoc prescribed an outing for me, and I had just the thing in mind: since he had to be at work at 7 a.m. this morning, it was perfect timing for me to head over to Detroit’s Eastern Market district after I dropped him off, just in time for the start of the Saturday farmer’s market. Now, if you know me well, you know that I am Not A Morning Person. But it was pretty neat to arrive just as the market was coming to life. (For one thing, I had my pick of parking spaces, something that never fails to make my heart glad.) The sun wasn’t yet up over the tall buildings (I was nearly blinded as I drove east to get there), so it was still very cool as the vendors set up their stalls.

Read more, it’s very yummy!
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Sicko

McDoc and I saw Sicko last week. He had to nag me into going; I wanted to see it but I was dreading how I knew I would feel as a result. And I was right. I was so sad and angry, I wanted to get up and yell in the middle of the movie.

Michael Moore is a polarizing figure, it seems, so I hesitate to be evangelistic about this movie — but only a little. Whether you like him or hate him, I think the basic premise — that the healthcare system in this country is an absolute disgrace — is undeniable. And I am aware of the accusations of factual errors in the movie — incorrect prescription prices being quoted, etc. I really don’t think that matters. What matters is a little girl from South Central L.A. who died because Kaiser and King/Drew hospital couldn’t play nice with each other so she could get the antibiotics she needed to bring down her fever. What matters is a couple who worked hard all their lives to raise their kids, then ended up living in their daughter’s basement because they had the nerve to have heart attacks and cancer. What matters is 9/11 rescue workers who are slowly dying of respiratory illnesses — and the insurance companies and our government are waiting for them to die so they can avoid dealing with it.

What matters is that we are the only Western, industrialized nation without some form of universal health care.

Many people raise the specter of “socialized medicine” like it’s the ultimate bogeyman. And if you’re one of them and you’re reading this, I love you very much, but you need to get over it. Do you fear “rationing” and waiting lists? What exactly do we have now, when insurance companies issue denials as their default procedure and label anything they do pay for as a “medical loss”? Do you fear paying higher taxes? Well, are you satisfied paying for insurance companies’ overhead and profits instead? Do you like the skyrocketing copays and deductibles? How’s it all working out for you?

I’d honestly like to know because, well, I didn’t have health insurance for the past 4 years, between the time I stopped being eligible for student health services at UCSD and July 1, when McDoc’s health plan kicked in. As a self-employed musician, I just couldn’t afford it. Not smart, I know, but I couldn’t stomach shelling out such a high percentage of my income and knowing that it was mostly money down the drain unless something drastic happened to me. I was so angry at the waste and greed of the insurance companies, I just was not willing to deal with them. I feel very, very fortunate now that I’m covered through McDoc. In fact, I have a checkup tomorrow. That’s right, I’m gonna go to the doctor every time I have a hangnail so I can freeload off the system and drive up your costs! Bwahahahaha! Did I also mention that I’m an illegal immigrant?

Yeah, you know I’m kidding on that last one. Anyway, please consider seeing Sicko. Because I actually still believe that we live in the greatest nation on earth, but we need to start acting like it, instead of letting it go to rot.

Introducing: The Karma-Harmin’ Scale

Here, for your amusement, edification or shock and horror, depending on your point of view, I now present my scale for rating foods and other useful items.

A bit of backstory: I’ve been a vegetarian since I was 15 years old, so about 6 years now. 😉 😀 😛 McDoc had spent some time being veg before we met, but found it too anti-social and gave it up. He’s back into it now, thanks to my nefarious influence. He reserves the right to eat what’s available when circumstances become desparate — like when we were in Kansas. (Though when we stopped in Salina, KS [that’s Sah-LEYE-nah, not Sah-LEE-nah, you U.N.-lovin’ commie], we lucked out and found an awesome Mexican restaurant that actually had a vegetarian section on its menu. I was shocked.)

I have it as a goal to minimize my use of products that kill or harm animals. I’ve learned over the years that it’s probably not possible to 100% pure about this, that is without 1) withdrawing from many aspects of society 2) being inconvenienced to a degree that will drive you crazy unless you’re some kind of a saint, and/or 3) being a complete pain in the ass. Did you know, for example, that gelatin is used in the production of photographs? Yes, the stuff that makes a cool and refreshing, not to mention low calorie, dessert, but has the distinct disadvantage of being made from animal bones. As another example, I have managed to minimize my use of leather, but I still buy leather shoes sometimes, because the non-leather ones tend to be non-breathable and of crappy quality. And fake leather products are often petroleum-derived, which is also problematic. There’s always hemp, but it is not appropriate for every occasion, style-wise.

So there’s always the risk of hypocrisy with any ethical endeavor. I have come to the conclusion that we each have to decide for ourselves where we draw our purity line.

Note: in addition to the issue of direct harm to animal life, the Karma-Harmin’ Scale also attempts to factor in environmental and labor concerns. I’m a full-service hemophiliac liberal.

The Karma-Harmin’ Scale goes from 0 (no harm) to 10 (great harm). Here are some examples:

0: Vegetables that you grew yourself, organically, but without killing any insects. If you can manage this, a unicorn will join you for lunch.

1: Organic veggies bought at a farmer’s market.

2: Organic veggies bought at a locally-owned grocery store.

3: Organic veggies bought at Whole Paycheck Whole Foods.

4: Free-range, organic eggs/dairy.

5: Fish that you caught yourself.

6: Free-range, organic meat/poultry.

7: Factory-farmed eggs/dairy.

8: Factory-farmed meat/poultry; over-fished varieties of fish/seafood.

9: Anything at McDonald’s. Yeah, I know they serve salads now. I still will only go into a McDonald’s to use the bathroom. Here’s why.

10: A bacon double cheeseburger with a shrimp milkshake and a side of chicken tenders.

11: Veal.

Of course, this is all very subjective. But kind of fun. I think someone ought to start a chain of barbecue restaurants called Bob’s Karma-Harmin’ BBQ. It would be very postmodern and ironic, don’t you think? 😉

Unpack is a four-letter word

Lessee now — it’s been 3 1/2 weeks since we arrived here, and about 10 days since our furniture and boxes of crap joined us. (We received one box that did not belong to us. I called the moving company to let them know, but they haven’t gotten back to me as to how they plan to get this box to its rightful owner. That’s a bit unsettling.) I had this beautiful dream in which I unpacked for 10 hours a day, every day, and got the whole place arranged and bright and shiny within a week!

Dreams are nice, aren’t they?

Click on Mr. Readmore! It’s tremendously exciting!
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Happy Birthday in Heaven!

Yeseterday would’ve been VirgoMom’s 71st birthday. I like to think she’s swingin’ from the chandeliers up in heaven, so I try not to be too sad, but I sure would like to talk to her again. If you have a spare moment today, look up and wave for me. Here she is at age 25 or so:

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She was a tough broad. Her dad died when she was 4, leaving her mom with 2 kids to raise and very little money. Then her mom turned out to be schizophrenic, so Mom was mostly raised by her older sister and her grandparents. She spent summers on their farm in Illinois, bored out of her mind and thinking, “As soon as I’m old enough, I’m getting the hell outta here!” And boy, did she. She joined the Foreign Service and worked as a secretary at the American Embassy in Paris. In the embassy cafeteria one day, she spotted my Dad with his fellow embassy guard buddies and said “I’ll take that one.” And voilà, the rest, as they say, is history.

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And here’s a song for Mom — The version I know is by Dolly Parton; I don’t know if she wrote it or not. But I know Mom would like it.

I am ready
Oh, my children
When Jesus knocks at my door
I’ll be there come morning
Don’t weep for me
I’ll be with my Lord
There’s my Bible on the table
Read it to me once more
I can hear God’s heavenly angels
Singing me on through heavens door

Hallelujah Lord
I am ready
No more sorrow
Hallelujah, yes
I am ready, I am ready
I am ready to go

Oh, hosanna
Take my hand now
Lead me to the promised land now
I am ready, I am ready
Hallelujah, I am ready to go
Oh, hosanna
I am ready to go
I can hear God’s heavenly angels
Singing me on through heavens door
Singing me on through heavens door
And I am ready

A Very Moving Story

A couple of weekends ago, I posted a harrowing yet good-humored little tale of our last days in San Diego on another blog that I frequent, DailyKos. I was guest host of a weekly feature there called “What’s Your F***ing Problem (WYFP),” where the community gathers together every Saturday evening to whine and moan about anything they want, and offer each other support. By popular request (the populace consisting of McDoc), I’m cross-posting it here.

You can read it in its original context, where it will be followed by DailyKos user comments, here…

Or follow Mr. ReadMore to stay right here at ODO.

WYFP? Things, Things and More Things Edition

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