Posts Tagged ‘neighborly’

Hoppin’ John

April 5, 2014

My way.

I am not sure what possessed me tonight to decide to make a pot of black-eyed peas, but possessed I was and did become and now there’s this big pot of peas on the stove that needs to cook for another hour and a half or so.

So, come round my place about ten p.m. for a late dinner, it should be just about ready.

I don’t normally cook on a Friday night, I am either eating out with some folks doing that fellowship thing at Squat and Gobble in the Upper Haight, or I have a commitment elsewhere.

But I fulfilled my obligation this afternoon, making my way over to 23rd and Capp Street for a bit and then hitting it back to the Castro where I was nannying.

I got done with work and really couldn’t quite decide what to do.

Then intermittent rain was an encouragement to hie on home as was the need to watch my eating out, I can spend too much too quick and I decided to ride home, throw a Japanese sweet potato in the oven and go grocery shopping while it cooked.

I popped over to SafeWay, where I bought no meat or vegetable products.

Only toilet paper and yogurt and some tea.

Then back to the house to on load and go do the real market shopping over at Noriega Produce on Noriega and 46th.

Carrots, celery, apples, bananas, all organic.

One bag of Stumptown coffee–they have just started carrying it–unfortunately not the Holler Mountain, just the regular house blend.  Which still smells way better to me than  Sightglass or Four Barrel and definitely better than Ritual.  Although is there is no Stumptown I will happily drink any of those.

Heck, I’ll even buy some Philz now and again.

But Stumptown is my favorite and my go to.

It has been for a few years now.

After I got back from shopping I prepped some things and I debated about cooking up the peas but I have never done a pot of black-eyed peas before.

I have never eaten black-eyed peas either.

Something possessed me, like I said, and I bought a bag of dried black-eyed peas at Other Avenues Co-Op on Judah at 44th last week.

And then a piece of salt pork at the Whole Foods in the Castro yesterday.

I don’t frequently make one shopping trip in the week, I make three or four, I have to carry it back on my bicycle in my messenger bag, so when I see something I want, I tend to grab it.

I also will stock up on things that I think I might want to try.

A few weeks ago it was split pea soup.

But I made it my way with organic chicken breasts and carrots and Japanese sweet potato and carrot and broccoli and bulgur.

Split pea soup Californian style.

I think that my black-eyed peas are going to be about the same.

An amalgamation of Southern style peas and my own interpretation of how I want them to be.  I looked up a bunch of traditional black-eyed pea recipes on-line and after sifting through the recipes, just decided I was going to do it my way.

I took the peas and flash soaked them, brought them to a boil with some sea salt then let them sit for about an hour while I ate my dinner and balanced out my check book from the shopping trip.

Then I rinsed them off and covered them with three cups of organic chicken broth, added a few florets of cauliflower, rough chopped fine, some Spike, some chili powder, black pepper, cayenne, and some more sea salt.

While that was starting to simmer I chopped up some organic white onion and garlic and five stalks of celery and then diced the salt pork.

I sautéed that all down till it was lovely and brown and delicious smelling.

While the pork was browning and the celery was soaking up all the juice I minced up two carrots, added a cup of edamame to the pea mix and about a cup of white corn.  Then I took about half a cup of bulgur and stirred it into the salt pork/celery/onion/garlic mix and browned it lightly.

Once brown and toasty, I took the pan of pork and tipped it into the black-eyed pea and vegetable mixture.

Now simmering on my stove top.

I have no idea how this is going to taste, but I hazard it will be good, it smells fantastic.

I also put on a pot of brown rice to cook.

And voila!

I will have black-eyed peas with rice for the next few days.

My version.

I am half expecting a knock on the door from a friend to lay out a bowl of peas and rice.

Oh, there’s an idea, I should can up a jar for my friend up the street who is laid up with his foot surgery.  Nothing says neighborly like dropping off a jar of homemade soup.

I like doing things like that.

Sometimes I think it would be fun to start-up my own little soup label, I would make homemade soups and deliver them on my scooter or bicycle to you.

A little basket of love.

Paula Dean is probably rolling over in her kitchen with the liberties I took making the black-eyed peas, but I find that I have some sort of knack for making things mine.

I am not a chef, just a decent home schooled cook that likes making soup.

And other things too, but something about making a pot of soup soothes my soul.

This one needs to simmer for a bit longer, but if you’re hungry and in the hood, you know where to go.

Soup’s on.

I Am Here to be of Service

March 29, 2014

That doesn’t mean I’m gonna give you a blow job, I told my friend.

Who doubled up in laughter.

Super happy that I was able to help him out, I will probably be helping him out for a bit, he just had a pretty big surgery and has to be on crutches, in a cast, resting for a bit.

I live a block away.

Today all I did was bring him some soda for his tummy which was upset from the anesthesia and the pain killers he was on.

But I will be doing more and I like that.

I am playing it forward.

I told him as much, don’t be proud, let me help out.

I am a busy girl, I got things to do, but when a friend is a block away, I can stop by and bring groceries, plan on dropping off some homemade soup tomorrow, it’s the least I can do.

When I think about all the help that has been given to me, the couches, futons, attics, and beds that I have crashed on, the money that people have quietly slipped into my pocket when I was going through financial straits, the cups of coffee bought, the meals, the endless streams of love that I have gotten to be a part of, the least I can do is go run down to the 7-11 and buy my friend a couple of liters of soda.

It really, also gives me a great sense of being useful.

Which I think is one of the most satisfactory things to fill my emotional life.

My brain wants to know, “what’s in it for me?”

My heart, knows better and when I can help out, I am going to.

The feeling of doing a small thing like emptying another’s trash, really is the best high.

Yeah, I know, hard to believe that.

But there’s a deep gratitude here too, I remember, well, what it was like when, it’d be about nine years ago this very month, when I hurt myself horribly at work and for three months, three, I could not lift anything over five pounds.

I could not bend from the waist, which meant that I could not shave my legs, because I could not reach them.

I could not walk without using a cane.

And I could not walk very fast even then.

I could not make my bed or do my laundry.

I could not buy groceries.

And I was destitute at the time, I had very little income following in.

I ate a lot of ramen noodles and when I was feeling rich I ate cheddar cheese sandwiches on country bread with Best Food mayonnaise.

I was given money for groceries, rides here and there, mostly on MUNI, a friend gave me his monthly pass that he got from work and he rode his bike all over, people showed up at my house and gave me pep talks when I had to sell my record collection.

When I had to sell my two Technics turntables.

I cried.

I cried when I sold my music collection to Amoeba.

I remember a friend telling me to buck up, it was just stuff, and the records and cds that I sold kept me in food for another month.

I cried anyway.

I remember when rent was due and I did not have rent and some one out of the blue asked me to edit a history on Russian politics and gave me a check made out to me for $500.

The amount of my rent.

Those were the days, when rent in San Francisco was $500.

Not so much anymore.

It was cheap then, it was rent controlled, and though my room-mate turned out to be kind of a freaky person, he helped me out a lot.

Bought me take out pizza from Zante’s Indian on Courtland at Mission Street, did laundry, bought me groceries, made my bed.

So, this, helping a friend out, is just me playing it forward.

I look forward to getting to know him better too.

Sometimes you know someone peripherally through connections to a lot of other folks, six degrees of separation and all that, and you know you like them and they are cool, then you wind up in the same neighborhood and hey, neighbor, how can I be neighborly?

I get to help and I get to grow in my relationships to another human being.

I need people.

I cannot live in a bubble, despite not wanting to go out and socialize tonight.

I was invited to a little shindig over in Potrero Hill and another in the Upper Haight and I just wanted to head back to my hood, do some writing and chill the fuck out after the week of work.

Then as I was riding my bicycle down Lincoln Ave with the wild wind off the ocean invigorating my senses, I remembered the photograph my friend had posted up on his Instagram feed of himself in a cast and feeling stircrazy.


I knew what I needed to do.

I hopped off my bike, sent him a text, got an immediate response, got some soda and for a couple of hours kept him company until the Chinese food take out brigade and Friday night video gang buzzed at the gate.

It was perfect.

I felt alive and helpful and needed.

Isn’t that what everyone wants, to feel needed and appreciated?

I don’t know that I can count my acts tonight as estimable acts, since I am writing about them and I consider an estimable act one in which you don’t toot your own horn, but I will say this, being of service is sweet and rich and brings a kind of depth to my life that I don’t get anywhere else.

It makes me a better person and if I get to help someone out during a challenging part of their life, then bring it on.

I am here to serve.

With pleasure.



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