CONFESSIONS OF A MACRONEUROTIC — I LIVE IN VALLEJO – MY CUP RUNNETH OVER


By Carol Pearlman

 

Forget safety. Live where you fear to live. Destroy your reputation. Be notorious.
― Rumi

HaHaHaHaHaHa HaHaHaHaHaHa HaHaHaHaHaHa HaHaHaHaHaHaHaHa
— Carol

Had the best day of my life on Sunday – worth every one of those thousand-dollar bills forked over to the bank for my condo – when I finally got to experience my beloved San Francisco family enjoying my new home in Vallejo. There was eight year old Nico, lounging in the swivel chair in front of the fire, doing homework on his iPad, his beautiful mama relaxed, leaning back on the fainting couch in front of the window, watching the sky change colors behind the cranes of Mare Island, my son comfortable on the sofa, engrossed in the New York Review of Books, and me and nearly-three-year-old Mila looking at books at my desk in the library, and drawing pictures on every page in my notepad.

 

We’d had an early dinner, which I spent the morning preparing, hoping they’d love it & enjoy it, and that it would make them happy – and it did. Mostly, I used what I already had in the house, except the pork, which I ran out specially to buy at Seafood City. I’ve been looking at this Philippine specialty in that shop for a long time, but never could buy such a big portion just for myself. Oh yes, this Jewess loves pork.
I made Quinoa Latkes, pureed purple yams, sautéed Dover sole, and heated up that fabulous, succulent, Seafood City “family size,” deep fried pork shank, which I served with a dribble of coconut vinegar. Last minute I made a salad of lettuces, plucked from my little garden planter, with avocado & one of those brown high-in-lycopene sweet hot-house tomatoes that come in a long package with cellophane.
Dessert was ready made, also from Seafood City: flat cakes of sticky rice steamed in banana leaves, with a coconut caramel sauce, another Philippine specialty, which they devoured so fast I had to fight for a taste. Drink was coconut water & fresh eau de Vallejo gurgling up through a GE filter under my sink.

 

seafood city nov. 2014I’m grateful to the Philippine Community in Vallejo who has brought a whole new culture into my life, with new people, tastes & experiences. And, I’m eternally thankful for that precious moment with my family, that I’ll never forget, & which will hopefully get the kids to ask to return to grandma’s house in Vallejo. Halleluja! I don’t need to wait until Thursday, Thanksgiving is now.
I walked over to the City Clerk’s office last week and found this sign on the reception desk: You, the customer, are the most important person in the service we provide. Not an interruption of our work. You are the purpose of our work. You, the customer are not an outsider. You are a fundamental part of our service. You, the customer, are not dependent on us. We are dependent on you. Bring us your needs, and we will do our best to satisfy you.” Below that, “City of Vallejo, CA,” with a simple graphic of a tree and a sailboat, in front of a big sun, over a green field & blue water.

 

Isn’t that the way all business should be run? Imagine if your telephone company adopted that policy.

 

I’d gone to the City Clerk to apply for a position on the Board of Beautification & Design. I have no special qualifications, but I’m a worldly old broad with a lot of experience, well-traveled, and call myself a poet. And, I want to be involved with this city that is so accessible to its citizens, and participate in making it a better place. Let’s see what happens. If no one else applies, I might have a chance.

 

While I was there, I walked over to the library and got myself a library card. Did you know the Vallejo public library offers homework help? And tutoring services, as well as a book group? What a town!
By popular demand, and by invitation only, I’m teaching “Healthy Cooking for One” in my home, starting in December. And, for VIB readers, right now, hereby offer cooking instructions for 2 of the dishes I served to my family on Sunday, and one more delicious cold weather dessert.

 

Those who say I see my cup half-empty need to learn how to read. I suggest the library’s tutoring services. And, btw, buy my book.

RECIPES

Quinoa Latkes
About 2 – 3 cups of cooked quinoa, 1 med. Brown onion, chopped fine, 1 egg, a big handful of fresh parsley, chopped, salt & pepper.
Put quinoa, onion & parsley in a bowl. Beat the egg in a cup with a fork & add it to the mixture. Add salt & pepper, mix well.
Heat a couple of tablespoons of coconut oil in a large frying pan, when hot drop about 2 heaping tablespoons full of the quinoa mixture and flatten out a bit so it looks like an oval pancake. Put as many of these into the frying pan as will fit without overlapping. Leave them alone for the first few minutes, then peek underneath to see when the cooked side is golden brown. Flip with a spatula & fry until golden brown on the other side.
Place on a folded paper towel to drain while you cook the next batch.
When used as a side it needs nothing else. As a main dish, you could serve it with sour cream & apple sauce.

 

Purple Yam Puree
Wash & chop 2 big yams into 1 inch pieces, throw into boiling salted water, boil until tender when pierced with a tooth pick. Drain, return to the pot, add a good heaping tablespoon of butter, a nice splash of cream, a dash of salt & pepper, and mix. Use an immersion blender to turn it into a creamy, delicious deep purple puree. If so inclined, grate a little bit of nutmeg over the top. Serve with any meat, fish, or poultry.

 

BAKED APPLES
Wash & core medium sized apples, or cut larger apples in half & core. Sprinkle with salt, lightly dust with cinnamon, and stuff each one with approximately one teaspoon of crunchy peanut butter, or for a change of pace, try coconut jam, which can be found in Seafood City. Pour about half an inch of water, or leftover wine & water, in a baking pan, add apples, place in pre-heated 375 degree oven for about 45 minutes, or until they are tender & melting. Serve hot or cold with cream – or without.
General advice: Use the freshest, best ingredients you can find, organic, if possible. Enjoy!

 

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!


'CONFESSIONS OF A MACRONEUROTIC — I LIVE IN VALLEJO – MY CUP RUNNETH OVER' have 5 comments

  1. November 28, 2014 @ 8:33 pm Doug

    Good for you Carol for signing up for some Civic Stewardship! Everyone has the ability to make a difference, even a worldly old broad with a lot of experience. But as far as doing it on a Board? I had visions of the same sugar plums that you did when i signed up for a Board:) You know, get involved, participate in a larger scale, make a difference. Someone told me back then, “its not what you think it is Doug”. I thought, well, those folks may not have tried hard enough to make a difference? Hmmmm…

    If all you want is a seat at the Dias, have a meeting every 2 or 3 months, get along with everyone and maybe have a smore or 2, then hey, you will love it. But if you want to make a positive impact in your community by serving on a Board (especially the Beautification & Design), than buckle up, cause your not there to make Vallejo a better place, your just a tool for City Staff to leverage as needed. As much as i would hope Boards and Commissions had some flexibility to get some work done for the better of the community, they just don’t, at least not most of em. The ever lasting Mantra of Underfunded and Understaffed is the top excuse, its here to stay. It may outlast the “everlasting gobstopper”

    You would think the Beatification gig would have the most ability to impact our community, well, it isn’t, instead it is ruled under the iron fist of Planning Manager Ouse. This Board is nothing like it was years back, back when community projects were encouraged, today, they are shunned. I don’t mean to burst your bubble, rather just to give you a heads up about what you might expect from this or other Boards. If you like a challenge and are willing to take the gloves off, then hey, this just might be the right place for you! But if your just seeking some passive activity that could support or improve the community, i would suggest one of MANY local organizations that serve our community in a rainbow of ways!! MANY of them get more work done than any Board could.

    Sadly, Boards and Commissions just don’t provide the service of “making Vallejo a better place” like they used to:(

    If you wanna know more, you will have to pick up the tab for the coffee:)

    Meanwhile, keep on writing and hey, enjoy that view!!!

    Reply

  2. November 29, 2014 @ 8:08 am tramky

    Doug has it right. You are not a true citizen of this town until you hear an assistant city attorney explain in all seriousness that the City of Vallejo will not approve or act on anything that can cause any degree of “liability” to the City. This is to be understood as “do nothing and you can not be sued.” And not being sued is the mantra of the City Attorney’s office. Since this town is in California a City is subject to lawsuits for anything or nothing, so perhaps you get the picture.

    Reply

  3. November 29, 2014 @ 3:36 pm wharf rat

    Sage advice for Carol from both Doug and Tramky , community service is an honorable pursuit yet can have it’s share of hurdles to jump over
    as well as many municipal ‘catch 22’s well described in the last two posts ..

    For a free spirited Writer/Author wishing to contribute to their community there might be some more engaging / enjoyable options
    Vallejo suffers from a journalistic vacuum ‘VIB excluded’ , Writers/ reporters who have the time and really wish to learn this crazy town have a cornucopia of content right in their own backyard .. We once had a great food editor for the Times Horrid , Jean
    Silverman an old school, shoe leather – flashbulb – notepad , beat Reporter her food column was a fun retirement job ..

    I remember one expose She did on the Taco trucks of Vallejo ‘a brilliant piece’ describing the regional / Family specialities She encountered, replete with some of the Family history behind the delicious fare … Stalking the best mole and tamales could be an engaging adventure , not to mention the best ramen in town , Vallejo is fertile ground for a ethno – epicurean food Writer as well as a roaming Reporter wishing to have many diverse beats to cover , the possibilities are endless , we have the Machiavellian School Administration beat ,not to mention City Hall ‘an oft Orwellian’ experience , in fact for a Writer Vallejo is rife with material, to quote Our Editor ‘ya couldn’t make this stuff up’ … Stuffy Board/commision meetings jack-booted by City Staff and shackled-gaged by the Brown act is no place for a creative Writer , ‘this Town is your Oyster’ -raw with Tabasco sauce recommended ..

    PS; have you been to Mi Pueblo , like to read a review ‘it’s porkalicious .. Will Rodgers said ‘I don’t write jokes I just report on politics’ food for thought….

    Reply

  4. November 30, 2014 @ 10:03 am julie McDonald

    Ahhh, Carol.. You write like the best of them. So evocative, so visceral.. Yes, I pictured your perfect Sunday with your family and tasted your divine food. Yum.. Thanks for sharing the recipes .

    Sitting at my computer, listening to Billie Holiday. Getting ready to go to NY tomorrow for a week.. seeing many shows…. BRRRR.

    I had a beautiful Thanksgiving in Malibu with friends. It was 85 and gorgeous. Walked on the beach after a scrumptious early dinner.. I roasted brussel sprouts and carrots and make homemade cranberry relish.

    Love julie

    Reply

  5. December 10, 2014 @ 1:32 pm Publicus

    Check out Food4Less on Solano Boulevard! It is owned by Nugget Markets, an upscale chain, and the offerings are pretty much the same at lower prices. Last time I was there, I picked up Italian 00 flour for pizza dough, real maple syrup, some wonderful butternut squash raviolis, Arbequina EVOO with the Nugget logo and my favorite high test Red Rose tea. I should not mention the organic vanilla ice cream that is $2 more at Raley’s. The veggies are fresh, excellent quality and cheaper than anywhere else. Plus they have a complete organic section. The meat market will order whatever you want including a locally grown fat leg of lamb at Easter. Plus I love the diversity of the clientele, the friendliness of the staff, the fact that it is spotlessly clean and the unobtrusive guard that watches the parking lot.

    Reply


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