Oddities and Obsessions

To say that truffles are an acquired taste for me would be an understatement; I can’t ever think of a moment when these heady gems crossed our family table growing up. Truffles and Tex Mex don’t normally hang out together, you know. It wasn’t until I became an adult that I had my first taste of the powerful fungus, and if you’ll allow me to be dramatic for just one second, it literally knocked me off my feet.

Much has been said about the beauty and rarity of truffles, so I’ll go ahead and leave the praise and culinary history to the professionals. By now you probably already know they are fungi and that they are harvested by dogs and pigs in Italy, France and the Pacific Northwest of the United States. You probably already know that they can fill a room with their aroma, but did you know that I know a Fed Ex driver who curses and swears each time he makes a white truffle delivery? Hey, I could think of worse smells for the inside of a delivery truck, can’t you?

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potatoes-group.jpgLet me just say it right here, with the internet as my witness, "I have a serious addiction to potatoes." There, my secret is out.

It's sad, but I am unable to consume a reasonable amount of potatoes when they are placed in close proximity.

Whether they are mashed, made into gratin, scalloped, french fried, baked, latkes, chips and even tater tots, (I could go on and on), I have a propensity to over-indulge in this tuberous root vegetable.

Even when called a tuberous root vegetable, it still doesn't turn me off. I think I'm a potato ho.

I rank potatoes right up there with butter and mayonnaise.  Spuds and I go way back.

What I don't appreciate is the "unspoken potato rule". Yes, there is one.

The rule is, "we always wait for the main course meal to enjoy this perfect food".

WHY?

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ramenoodles.jpgI've been trying to convince my sons that ramen is good for them. They're both living on their own. They are serious about eating healthily and keeping to a budget. They keep down their costs by avoiding processed foods and fast food joints. They shop at Costco and buy in bulk.

Which is why I've been trying to get them to think about ramen. A package costs under $1.00 and if you make your own soup and add farmers' fresh vegetables, you'll have an economical, nutritious meal.

The problem is when they were kids they ate lots of Cup O'Noodles and Instant Ramen with hot water flavored with artificially flavored soup packets. In no way am I talking about that.

Tracking down a better kind of ramen takes a small amount of work. The local supermarket may only have Top Ramen which is ok but not preferred. If you live in an area with Asian markets, you'll find a wider selection of brands. In Los Angeles, we have Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese, and (my favorite) Korean markets where there are so many choices there's a ramen aisle.

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twinkies.jpghallie ephronImagine life without Twinkies? A year ago Hostess Brands went into bankruptcy. This week, in the wake of a labor strike, it sounds as if they may be winding down operations permanently.

I've never been a Twinkies fan, but I love the word. Just for example, from a Seinfeld show, Jerry describes Newman: "He's a mystery wrapped in a Twinkie." It doesn't even have to make sense to be funny.

And in Blue Man Group, the blue men watch intently as a volunteer from the audience tries to eat a Twinkie with a knife and fork. Do not ask me why this is hilarious. It just is.

And even though I may have eaten four of them in my entire life, just say the word and I can smell those sugary vapors that escape when you tear open the package. I remember what it's like to bite the yellow sponge-rubbery cushions of cake and into white filling with the resistance of shaving cream. I can feel the oleaginous residue left (for hours) on the roof of the mouth.

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tomato-plantYou had the nice. Now here’s the not so nice. I recently wrote about finding peace, love, and deeper friendship through agriculture; specifically, growing tomatoes with my friend Mark. Peace, love and light through Heirlooms. It was a lovely piece. Upbeat and cheery, not too “come to the commune”. Just right for a lazy morning read over coffee.

That was before. Before death and destruction arrived. Before my nightly ritual of spraying Simple Green natural product detergent and decorating the chicken wire fencing with sheets of fabric softener got upped to saving the fort status. Before the arrival of …The Squirrel from Hell.

At first I thought my nemesis was a rat. A canyon rat. Can’t be helped here in the canyons there are actually hill mice (rats to my mind) and we do have to deal with them. So I set about dealing with this one, or two with all of the tools I could muster thanks to Google. SOS aka Brillo pads around every single crevice of my planter that I thought they could squeeze through, was my particular favorite.

The blue grey fat squares mixed nicely with the white sheets of fabric softener which I also was led to believe would do the trick. When our weekly housekeeper came and wondered where her supplies had disappeared to I casually said, forget laundry, forget the dishes, I‘ll take care of you come harvest time!

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