Month: April 2014

April is National Poetry Month


I was in the car with my mom this past weekend and I mentioned that April was National Poetry Month.  In response she began recounting snippets from poems that she’d learned in her youth. My mom has a great memory. I just love listening to her lilting, accented voice. When N and I were young my mom had us memorize poems from the “Treasury of Golden Memories” poetry book. Most of the time I sat down grudgingly, though I dare say at the end of the hour, or however long it took me to memorize the work, I felt oddly accomplished, and deep, deep down I may have realized that poetry was beautiful and enriched my life. It wasn’t a conscious thought at the time; more a hint of realization that has grown more and more concrete as I’ve matured.

Just the other day a friend emailed to tell me that he heard someone speak of a ‘vorpal blade’ and so he thought of me. I don’t recall the time we spoke of it, but I’d obviously mentioned Lewis Carroll’s “The Jabberwocky.” The same friend had once unknowingly quoted “If” by Rudyard Kipling during a department meeting. Astounded that he quoted one of my favorite poems without knowing the original source, I later emailed a copy to everyone who was present at the meeting. And last November when I was walking in the back yard with our landscaper he suggested that we could plant daffodil bulbs in our newly cleared woods. I mentioned the poem by William Wordsworth and when he challenged me to recite it I did so, on the spot. He gave me a quizzical look but I think he was pretty impressed, given that when Spring rolled around he held a contest at his nursery where anyone who came in to recite “The Daffodils” walked away with a free tree or shrub to plant in their garden.

My life is more vivid, filled with amusement, and clearly enriched with poetry in it. Of course poetry doesn’t have to be so highbrow to be enjoyed. I am partial to limericks, be they clever or crude. The good Dr. Suess and his silly rhymes were a particular favorite when I was a child. And so, to celebrate, I’d like to share my favorite poem about food with you. It is by the charmingly whimsical and immensely funny Shel Silverstein.

I Must Remember

I must remember…
Turkey on Thanksgiving,
Pudding on Christmas,
Eggs on Easter,
Chicken on Sunday,
Fish on Friday,
Leftovers, Monday,
But ah, me—I’m such a dunce.
I went and ate them all at once.

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Happy National Poetry Month everyone! I would be delighted to hear your favorite poems in the comments section, even if they have nothing to do with food. And should you ever ask me, I would be happy to recite “The Daffodils” for you.

Yum Pang

I am a theater fan.  I love straight plays, but I adore a good musical.  This love was cultivated at an early age by my parents who would borrow movie musicals from the library to watch with N and me.  I vividly remember snuggling under a blanket on our brown plaid couch with my mom in hysterics after listening to Eliza Doolittle trying out the new “small talk” at the Ascot races.  I recall the look of pure enjoyment on my dad’s face when Captain von Trapp sang Edelweiss.  To this day, one of the things that I love about my dad is that he unashamedly enjoys musicals.  I don’t recall when it started becoming uncool for guys to like theater or musicals, but the men in my life better be on board with this passion because my love for theater runs deep.  Being a huge theater fan, I am lucky to live less than an hour away from “The Great White Way.”  Brooooaaaaaaddwaaaayyyyyy!  (Imagine me belting that out in an Ethel Merman voice).

 My weekday theater routine has been to catch the Metro-North train into Grand Central after work.  The challenge then, has been to find a spot for dinner that is conveniently close, tasty, and inexpensive – because honestly, Broadway tickets ain’t cheap.  I’ve discovered a place that fits the *ahem* Playbill nicely.  (Ok.  That was terrible pun.  I apologize).  Num Pang is a chain of Cambodian sandwich shops in NYC.  There are currently 5 locations, and the most convenient one when attending a Broadway show is the one in Times Square.  It’s an energetic little place with hip hop music pumping and graffiti-decorated walls.  You can grab a stool or stand at the high counters that ring the seating area.  The sandwiches they are churning out are DELICIOUS.  Bon Appétit, The Village Voice, Zagat and many others happen to agree with me.  A fulfilling meal is inexpensive, it’s fast and boy is it tasty.  You basically choose your main filling which gets piled onto a toasted semolina baguette, topped with pickled carrots, cucumber, cilantro and homemade chili mayo.  There are year-round classics, and seasonal sandwiches.  I’ve had the Grilled Khmer Sausage seasonal sandwich twice recently because it was that good.  I tried the Blood Orange Lemonade once… but it was a little bitter for my palate.  I LOVE that N and I were able to eat here on a Friday in Lent thanks to options like the Roasted Cauliflower sandwich, Peppercorn Catfish sandwich, Coconut Tiger Shrimp sandwich and even a Spicy Organic Tofu sandwich.  There are salad options for the carb conscious.  A few soups and some sides round out the menu.  I read on their website that they’re working on dessert offerings. 

No pictures for this post kids.  Sorry about that.  You can find plenty of pics on Yelp or at http://numpangnyc.com/.   Anyway, I’m fairly certain that I’ve started hoovering my sandwich before I’ve thought to pause and snap a pic.  The only thing I may have paused for would be to drizzle my sandwich with extra Sriracha – oh yeah, bottles of the stuff dot the counters for your drizzling pleasure.  Cash is king at the Times Square location, so stop by the ATM before you go.  Then, enjoy the show!

 Xx,
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 p.s.  You know my penchant for a pun by now… so you get the title of this post right?  Tee hee!

Sweet Corn and Chicken Soup

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Everyone likes chicken noodle soup right?  I do too, but this ain’t a post about ubiquitous chicken noodle soup.  This is a post about my favorite soup in the whole world… my mom’s Sweet Corn and Chicken soup.  Whenever I taste it, I am transported back to our tiny apartment kitchen, sitting at the white and blue kitchen table with the steam reaching my face as I contentedly sniff the soup in front of me.

I was shocked to discover many years later how ridiculously simple this Indo Chinese recipe was.   The soup itself is give or take 5 ingredients.  The thing that really puts it over the top though, are the condiments and they are super simple too. 

But hey, if you wanna get fancy and add more ingredients, feel free.  Do you think some sautéed onion would be good in there?  Add some onion.  Think carrots would be delicious?  Add some carrots.  Many recipes call for a lightly beaten egg to be added.  I usually can’t leave a recipe alone without adding my own twist… even if it is just to finish up left over something-or-other from the pantry.  Soup is good for that. 

The most tedious part of this recipe for me is cleaning and shredding the rotisserie chicken.  I don’t know of an elegant way to remove the chicken skin (because ewh… who wants chicken skin in their soup.  *shudder*) and then shred the meat.  I suppose you could always roast some chicken breast on a sheet pan, like the very proper Miss Ina Garten does for her Chicken Salad Sandwiches.  It might be a tad neater than my current process.  But I’ll leave that decision up to you.  Here is the easy peasy recipe.

1 cooked rotisserie chicken, about 2lbs, skinned and shredded
1 can of creamed corn
1 box (4 cups) of chicken stock
1 garlic clove mashed or finely diced
1 – 3 cups of water, optional
Salt & pepper to taste
Condiments:  soy sauce, white vinegar, finely diced green chile

1. Put the shredded chicken and stock in a large pot.  Simmer until chicken is warmed through.

2.  Add the can of creamed corn, and the garlic.  You can add extra water here if you find that the soup is too thick.

3.  Add 1/2 t salt and pepper to taste.  (It’s best to avoid over salting so that you can add soy sauce to each individual bowl.)

4.  Serve with condiments:  a teaspoon of soy sauce and a tablespoon of white vinegar.  Sprinkle on finely diced green chile.

Trust me when I say that the condiments really make this soup pop.  Don’t skip them!  If you make this simple recipe let me know what you think.

Xx,

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