I Invite You All to Dinner at My Place

NOFA-NY Logo

You're invited to my potluck

Day 17:

Potluck Party, and you’re invited.

From the NONY-NY Locavore Challenge website:

“On a single evening on Thursday, September 23, 2010 groups of people will gather over potlucks across the wide state of NY, from Niagara Falls to the tip of Long Island, breaking (local, organic) bread together.  These groups share a common interest in their concern over the current state of the U.S. food system and a commitment to consuming food grown from local organic farms. We hope to eventually have potluck gatherings in each of NY’s 62 counties, and have thousands of individuals making this stance together, while remaining in their home communities.”

Date: Thursday, September 23, 2010
Time: Starting at 6PM, Dinner at 6:30PM
Location: 3044 Third Ave, Apt 6C, Bronx, NY 10451
Please RSVP

Bring Food. Make sure the items you make are made from “local and sustainable” ingredients. All are invited, but make sure you e-mail me in advance so I know who is coming (space considerations). I will be providing some New York wine and such.

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The Ballet, or Gossip Girl?

Day 13: Someone once said that life is a series of decisions or choice. Something like that. Sometimes quoted sayings are more reality than just cute wit-ism’s.

I had these grandiose plans for Monday: good work day, including a meeting with my academic research partner (I’m wokring on this pretty cool study), followed by a solo trip to Bryant Park  to watch a performance of the New York City Ballet. I already had in mind to bring a few bunches of  locally and sustainably-grown plum tomatoes  I have a soft spot for the ballet (don’t judge!). Such a nice plan, right?

Situation (an event, not the person): today is the season premiere of Gossip Girl. Ballet or Gossip Girl? Dilemma.

Luckily, the choice was made for me: it rained. Rain!

No ballet. Sad

Gossip Girl. Good.

Salad

Salad

Off I went, returning home via mass transit, Metrocard-style. I spent some time cooking when I got home. Chicken, salad, more salad, more chicken. Nice and easy.

The universe, with it’s rain and rain and Gossip Girl and rain made a tre awesome choice.

Chicken in the oven

Chicken in the oven

Trying to get to bed early. Tomorrow is the primary election in NYC and I want to go vote before work.

 I encourage everyone to go vote.

The Lack of Style is So Style! Is Zero Not a Number?

Day 12: I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a bit of a character. A certain flair in my prose, neon in my spoken word, a certain je ne sais quoi in the way I see the world as a series of systems. It all makes for a ‘different’ style. (Notice that I don’t qualify whether this Jorge-style of being is any good. I don’t judge.)

 This style extends to my cooking. Cooking is king in this challenge. It’s so tough to ensure that all the ingredients in a prepared or “value-added” product are sourced to 250 miles from home. On the other hand, raw ingredients are much easier to source. When I’m out shopping, my trusty Driod phone, with Google Maps application, helps me figure out if the Jorge-dubbed “farm of creation” is within the catchment area.

Yesterday’s meal is a great example. Yesterday’s special at El Jorge’s Kitchen was … salad. Yes, you read correctly. Salad.

I’ve never been a big salad eater. I kind of like eating my produce “straight up comma yo.” Unadulterated, uncooked, uncut. (Feel free to enter a That’s What he/She Said here).

  • Head of lettuce, straight up comma yo.
  • Stalks of celery, straight up comma yo.
  • Regular tomatoes, eaten like an apple, straight up comma yo.

This whole salad thing is an adventure into a world semi-uncharted. I was able to pick up some greens and other assorted shrub-like items. And, as one would expect from a man who like to wear bright colored shirts, poly-colors were involved. Outstanding.

Tonight’s meal consisted of New Jersey grass-fed ground beef and local peppers and greens. My camera wasn’t responding while I was cooking. When it finally came-to, I was able to take this shot of the leftovers. Can you say tomorrow’s lunch! Or, if I forget to bring it into work, then dinner.

Leftovers from Day 12

Leftovers from Day 12

As for recipe, I just fooled around in the kitchen with my food. Ok, that sounds wrong, yet scrumptious. What I’m trying to say is that I trial-and-error-ed it. The outcome was taste-tastic. Another successful “locavore” day.

Side Story that goes to the style issue: Every set amount of time, my friends think it interesting to try a different type of challenge. Dubbed the “Guap-tathalon, this multi-day, multi-discipline exercise has others trying to “live a few days in my shoes. Varying success has “befallen” the “Guap-tathalon” participants, with the “being energetic and perky on no sleep” (I sleep an average of four hours a night) and the “make a new friend, a friend til the end: including those no one can stand” as the areas where folks tend to have problems. Silly friends.

Side Story 2: The title for this post came from a conversation with an ex-girlfriend. She questioned my “choices” in the fashion region. Mind you, I’ll never be mistaken for a fashionista, but I tend to think my Jorge-style also permeates my clothing choices. “You have no style,” was the contention. I responded “I have style.” At which point, said ex-girlfriend retorted “the lack of style is not style.”

I found a huge flaw in her logic. The null set is, in fact, a set. Or, said another way “Is Zero Not A Number?,” said Jorge. “It’s science.” Actually, it’s math, but I was making a point.

Side Story 3: As an aside, I’ve been taking in lectures and curated tours of the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology since coming home. You know, emersing myself in a subcultutre of which I’m not a part as a way to learn. It’s real interesting stuff. Check the museum’s public events out.

FYI — In the coming weeks, I’m attempting to visit and review each of the farmers markets in the South Bronx, as well as do a quick Q and A with some of the folks who run two urban gardening/farming areas in the South Bronx. I may also get around to doing something similar with the folks who run the South Bronx Cooperative Market. Stay tuned.

Cooking: It’s What’s For Dinner

I haven’t had a chance to post these over the last several days. Will post all the backed editions.

 
Kitchen Chemistry

Kitchen Chemistry

Day 10: I like to cook. I started cooking for myself when I was in the 9th grade, I suppose. At first, my mother would leave some food semi-prepared for me to do some cooking. As she saw I could handle feeding my sister, she’d leave me just the fridge.

She’s trained me well. See, I’d learned to cook by watch her. Visually memorizing what she did and how the resulting food tasted. My mother’s not a cookbook sort of person. Her kitchen chemistry comes from trial-and-error in which so much of our basic science is rooted. It is in this tradition that my culinary leanings were honed.

She made sure we grew up having eaten a little of everything so we knew how stuff tasted. “Quiero que ustedes estan listos para la gera.” A Spanish idiom meant to say she wanted us to be ready for whatever happened, for any situation.

One time, before leaving for my first year at Dartmouth, I surprised my parents by cooking for them. The student had become the master … kind of. My mother upped her game after that. She has always been a great, patient cook. Now, her cooking is more like a fine wine. Not to knock mine, of course. These skills make this challenge much easier.

I Almost Felt Like Chicken Last Night, Almost Like Chicken Last Night

I haven’t had a chance to post these over the last several days. Will post all the backed editions.

Day 9: Almost. It’s one of those words that lives in the world of possibility, probablilty and unknown outcomes. Much like nearly, it’s on the more negative side. You know, like, “didn’t make it, buddy” or “if only you’d tried harder, you would have been successful at your endeavor.” Almost.

Almost happened to me. Yesterday (link to last post). Chicken. I arrived at the vivero after work to find that they were sold out of chicken. This left me out of luck for dinner. Almost.

Dejected from my retail experience, I sulked to the “parent’s vertice” of the “Bermuda Triangle of Family,” the isoscelian area created by the symbolic edges of my parents, grandmother (father’s side) and my homes. Each side measuring about one city block, it’s home. Pop culture-reference-wise, we’d be Tupac, Amelia Earhart  and Elvis. (Grandmother would so be Tupac).

Almost’s strike was stricken down by a vert-tastically triangular blade. My mother eye-spied and, more importantly, purchased some ground beef at the local supermarket. Sustainable, local to 250 miles beef. My mother had saved me from a peppers and peaches dinner. I had something to cook!

She also had also proved the “zeroth law of my mother”, linear algebra style:

Almost + My Mother –> Positive Outcome.

We’ve Found Chickens!

I haven’t had a chance to post these over the last several days. Will post all the backed editions.

Day 8: I know how Columbus must felt! (the discovering something that already existed part, not the bad stuff.) A co-worker of mine prior to her holding her current position worked as an auctioneer at an animal auction center in Schoharie County. Knowing I was of the South Bronx, she mentioned that one of the folks who would come up to purchase was from my ‘hood. And, that they tended to buy out as many free-range chickens as possible, as their clientele are all sorts of Halal keeping or liked having their chicken raised in a manner similar to how they would have been raised back in their home country (the Bronx is the only borough in the City where the Latino population is the majority).

These Bronx guys were the answers to my prayers. Finally, something different. Why didn’t I remember this earlier? Probably because my co-worker made this mention, in passing, about three years ago. I remember wacky information. Silly Jorge. In this case, the wacky information is going to provide me sustenance.

These chickens are purchased live and transported live to places know as Viveros. The word derives from the Spanish verb vivir, which means to live. By extension, a Vivero is a place where you purchase live things. The consumer picks out which chicken they would like to purchase. The chickens are then “prepared” for you. Defeathered, cleaned up, cut, etc. Or not. It’s your choice.

I remember going to a number of these places with my dad as a kid. There was one for a while underneath the Manhattan side of the Williamsburg Bridge, and another reliable one up on like 118 street in East Harlem. And, of course, the good ones in the Bronx on Southern Boulevard, 3rd Ave and the Lower Grand Concourse. There are also some in Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island, but I digress. (There are rooftop and urban garden chicken coups in the Bronx. That’s a story for a different time.)

 These Bronx guys were actually only a few bus stops away. Victory, Viking Quest-style (or, in the real world, Legend of the Seeker). I totally felt like chicken tonight.

Side Story: A while back, I was hanging out with mother and the young lady I was dating at the time when we happened upon a vivero. I walked in when my mother stopped me. She said “esta no es su cultura. Ella no crecio asi. Espera aqui.” Translated from the Spanish, my mother was telling me that the young lady was raised differently, with different customs and points of view. And, that the view of a place like this may freak her out. Usually, I’m pretty perceptive and responsive to these sorts of situations. My mother saved me, and her, from what may have been a culturally awkward situation.

Also, some might find that weird, but, to me, it’s actually a lot of fun to spend time my parents and whoever I’m dating at the time, as it is fun for me to spend time with the young lady and her family.

(For full disclosure, I suppose I should mention that while that didn’t work out, I’m still friends with the young lady from the Side Story. I’m single now. Maybe TMI, but whatever. I live a very public life. Notice, though, I use no names or identifiers for the folks mentioned in this blog. I try to respect my friends’, family’s privacy.)

I’m The Worst

I haven’t had a chance to post these over the last several days. Will post all the backed editions.

Hudson Whiskey

Hudson Whiskey

Day 7: I’d heard good things re: a whiskey made in Hudson, NY. I procured some at the local spirits place. Quite tasty. Makes for an additional item to place in the “local adult beverages” list, along with the local wines and beer. Thus, expanding my beverage options.

(Remember folks: when consuming “adult” beverages, do so in moderation. Otherwise you end up the next day feeling physically aweful and emotionally mortified, as well as having to apologize to those who were around you. You’d have to utter the phrase “I’m the worst.” And, I’m not talking liver or braut. Those feeling for you and others are not pleasant.)