Nonfiction

The Bread of Kings by Teresa Lust

Fake Pies and Pig Thighs by Rachel Komich

An Essay in Which Pam Greer Oozes Out of Her Clothes by Richard LeBlond

On Pierogi(s) by Mark Lewandowski

Vegetexting by Jennifer Bal

The Benefits of Eating Too Much in the Desert by E. M. Eastick

A Question of Taste by Meredith Escudier

The Beauty of Pizza by Austin Rogers

Marmalade: The Melomeli of Modern America by Michael Pennell

Three Elizabeths, One George, Hot Cross Buns, and Hampstead Heath by Paula Panich

Duck by Eileen Shields

Food for Thought by Kathryn Jenkins

Playing Mass by Catherine Scherer

My Big Fat Orthodox Thanksgiving by Ruth Carmel

The Astrophysics of a Sandwich by Raychelle Heath

Tantric Chicken by Mara A. Cohen Marks

Full by Kelly Ferguson

Monkey Eve by Carolyn Phillips

Capon by Natasha Sajé

The Paella Perplex by Jeannette Ferrary

The Right to Eat by JT Torres

This Isn't Supposed to Happen in the Morning by Heather Hartley

Recipe for Winter by Khristopher Flack

Step One by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich

Flour Fool Meets Great Poet and Pie Instructor by Amy Halloran

Everett by Jason Bell

The Intrigue of Aaron Barthel by Kristy Leissle

Personal Sugar Defense Kit by Sari M. Boren

Kitchen Tirade by Eric LeMay

Eat Dessert First by Iris Graville

Parsley by Natasha Sajé

American Zen Breakfast by Dick Allen

This May Make You [Sic] by Paul Graham

Prisoner's Thai Noodles by Byron Case

Lavender Fields by Susan Goodwin

Ménage à Fongo by Kathryn Miles

All That She Could Make with Flour by Katherine Jameison

Weasel by John Gutekanst

Into the Deep Freeze by Jason Anthony

Defining Gluten by Ann Lightcap Bruno

The Text(ure) of Pleasure by Tara Deal

On the Perils of Food-Buying in a Foreign Land by Tony Eprile

Recipe for Winter

by Khristopher Flack

February 2014    

In preparing the ground for winter, the leaves make no mistakes. Fall as you may!the Earth is a one-pot meal.

Ingredients:
1 ½ qt. dry beans
1 medium sized parsnip, grated (about a handful)
1 bottle of brown ale
2/3 c. molasses
2/3 c. maple syrup
1 qt. Tomato puree
Water, as needed
½ lb. chopped bacon
1 apple, cored and sliced
1 onion, chopped or sliced
½ c. apple cider vinegar
1/2T. mustard
1 tsp. fresh ginger, chopped
2 cloves fresh garlic, chopped
½ tsp to 1 tsp. Black pepper
½ tsp. Ground clove
Salt to taste

The difference between
fallen leaves
and leaf litter
is how and where
they fall.

The difference between dead leaves and living compost is who the fallen leaves meet and lay with on their way into winter.

Soak the beans. Cranberry, Jacob's Cattle, or Yellow Eye all work well, but feel free to experiment with a variety you like most. Soaking for a few hours will work, but soaking overnight will make more tender beans.

Winter is a meadow in the mind,
an overlooked theater of life stoked quietly
all summer and autumn until
that day
when the sky lets her blue robe fall
and a cold breeze blows from the drafty pores of
her borderless gray body,
spreading before you the long, tepid soak
of the months to come,

and you have no choice but to submit
as she curls her hand around your ear, around the base of your skull
and gently,
steadily,
pulls your face into her gray breast,
smothering you
with love.

In a stock pot, cook chopped bacon on low heat. We want to use the bacon fat as cooking oil in this situation and low heat will melt more fat from the bacon than frying it like you might for breakfast.

Wrapped in the embrace of wool and smoldering wood, we celebrate winter as the low-heat season: the season of snowflakes, who melt as they fall, the season for slow-cooking thoughts and visions incubated behind glass fogged and frosted with exhalations, the season you melt out of. As we rake the ashes, we gather the wisdom of low heat in a high heat world and wait for heat to arrive. We wait for heat to arrive and stay on its own terms, as long as we can help it.

Add garlic, ginger, and onion, and cook for 5 to 10 minutes, until onion becomes translucent.

In the crook of my blanket-covered couch

converge the disparate reflections of last winter, the mirages of toiling summer afternoons when I speculated the taste of winter for relief, and the oh so Heavy, Heavy Now;

here converge the surthrival fantasies of winter, the exalting stilts of winter that will keep me above the flood of near freezing wet when it comes;

here converge the less noticeable flavors of winter that will marry splintered nights and lunar mornings whole edible earth.

Turn heat on high for just a minute and don't stir. This will help caramelize some of the sugar in the onion and give a heavier note of flavor to the bacon. But be careful not to let it burn.

This winter

-Write: see “Inventory”
-Read: Life: a User's Manual, Texaco, Monocultures of the Mind, Belonging, The Art of Travel, Things Fall Apart, The Gift, more journals and magazines
-Finish: If on a Winter's Night a Traveler, Spell of the Sensuous
-Study a language (Aim for fluency in Spanish? Start French/Quebecoiz? an endangered language?)
-Learn trumpet/accordion
-Work? Where? How much?
-More culture: dance class with Lizzie, movies, films
-Brickhouse events: film screenings, workshops, continue potlucks
-Make Walk in the Woods happen (early to mid Nov) and plan another pop-up for summer
-Weekend/day trips: Portland/Maine, Boston? New York?
-Longer trip? Latin America (for the Solstice?)

Take one good sip of your brown ale and tip it into the pot to “deglaze.” It will steam and sizzle—that's perfect. As you're pouring, stir/scrape with a wooden spoon. You'll notice everything that may have stuck to the bottom coming off and joining your sauce, making it earthier, smokier, and all the more delicious. Turn the heat back down.

Late January.

The bottom of the year that fell out into the blank and
just
kept
falling

through the elevator shaft
past every floor you've just stood on until you are
back to the ground,
where the self reflects and divides, like
the blinding window panes, though never so evenly,
before opening hopeful to

a street wiped blank,
homes wiped blank
trees muted
and the gentle violence
of pure accumulation
tallying the impact of this
storm of second guessing in drifts
that overshadow the head.

In the corners of sills,
flakes of wanting out, needing in, having too much
gather into the gang glue that keeps
the windows
closed.

From the couch to the kettle I slide
on ice, ankle deep in slush;
I am muddling the mud of mud season
right now.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together tomato puree, mustard, molasses, maple, and stir to combine. Add sliced apple, beans, and enough water to fill the pot (about 2-4 quarts). Leave on the stove on low heat, covered, for the next 4 hours, or place the pot, covered, into a 250 degree oven for the same time.

In October, with the red sky simmering, every flannel on every barstool at the Pie will tell you with a smile and a hand on the nearest shoulder about the time it was 40 below and snowed five feet overnight, when they were livin' in a trailer up there on the old Francis land, near that deer camp past where the road splits and goes down the hill, yeah just offa der, with no runnin wadda or powah, and guy I tell ya, that was somethin' there, oh yeyah. But this? This is nothin'.

In February, talk has left for the winter. The flannel is silent. It holds on to rounded shoulders, like a newborn with no formed features sleeping between the shoulders of an anonymous parent. The performers and audience, once taking turns impressing the other in the gold of 5:30 daylight, just sit in the empty auditorium of a near empty bar whose name and sign and hours have stopped mattering. They stare into pints like atheists staring into crystal balls the moment the end seems near, punishing themselves with the loudest chorus of unspoken “I told you so”s there could be. They knew better this time last year than to be here again, but they knew better this time the year before that, and the year before that, and the year before that. And somehow they're still here, renewing their Vermonter license one more time, which is to say renewing a tacit agreement to dispute (almost) nothing anyone in this room has to say when this moment is recounted 6 months from now with vigor and grandeur and heroism and stubbornness and every other quality of winter that gets purged through the stories of summer. These are the folks who know that no one really likes winter here. But they are also the folks who can recount exactly why, holy men and women and best friends who have seen the white light and been stripped to strangers by it, only to regain their vision when the stories of the experience are recounted, when they themselves become better stories, and more familiar friends.

After 4 hours, remove the cover and give beans a stir. Add more water if necessary to keep the sauce saucy. Test the beans. They should be mostly tender, but will likely need more time. Simmer on the stove, or in the oven, uncovered for another 1-2 hours, testing for doneness.

The first day of 60 felt like 80. I walked to work down Main Street barefoot in shorts. It snowed two nights later.

The following weekend, I woke up smiling at the sun. By the time I got my packets of peas, lettuce, and arugula from the seed box under my bed, the room and the sky were dark and the ground was bubbling over with rain.

The next weekend, on the way to Coutre's sugarhouse, I drove the speed limit on clear roads for the first time in months. After the syrup tasting, it took the thrust of 4 additional syrup slurpers to dislodge my car from the mud.

That night I went to a potluck.

“When is it going to finally be over??”

“I don't know, I put my peas in the other day...”

“You did?”

“What kind of peas?”

“Just your usual old sugar snap peas.”

“Oh I love those.”

“I don't know, I mean, peas are good, but I feel like they never come all the way around in time here, you never really get much from 'em”

“But people keep plantin 'em!”

“You just got to get 'em in early. Elaine has peas every year, more than she can eat. Well you know, you were there last year. How many bags did we end up with last year?”

“Oh goodness...musta been at least 1 or 2 plastic shopping bags full for each of us. And that was after she'd already gone and picked herself.”

“What I'm looking forward to is the asparagus.”

“Oh asparagus!”

“With butter...”

“With butter!”

“If you like asparagus, you should really try knotweed.”

“Stop it...”

“He's serious...”

“If you cut it when it's young, when it looks just like asparagus, same size and everything, and cook it just like you would asparagus, it's delicious. It kind of tastes like asparagus that's already had some lemon squeezed on it.”

“Hunh...”

“It's a totally normal food in Japan. They call it itadori.”

“I don't care what it's called. I can't imagine eating it..”

“You'd be doing the state of Vermont a favor if you did, that's for sure.”

“You would. Plus it's also really high in Vitamin C.”

“Well we got some over behind the cabin. You're welcome to go down and cut as much as you want.”

“Thanks.”

“My daughter was saying a friend of hers told her you can also use it in place of rhubarb.”

“Nooo...c'mon.”

“I've heard that too...maybe next time I'll bring a strawberry knotweed pie.”

By the time the conversation was over, Winter had quietly snuck out the mud room door.

Enjoy.



  Khristopher Flack is a poet and essayist who tinkers with words, food, and possibilities wherever he goes. He is the chef/owner of Perennial, a farm-to-table food project celebrating natural cycles through food and art. Things that make him happy include: brewing herbal beers, reading about bees, and diligently saving his nickels for a few acres of home somewhere on an island in far nothern Cascadia. The parsnip is his favorite vegetable, though he also admires the ground cherry a great deal.

Photo used under Creative Commons.