Saturday, January 16, 2010

Redemption Through Haiti; Fuming in the Rain

The Daily Beast, Tiny Brown's news blog had two fascinating stories, both involving Haiti and both the redemption of two men seeking forgiveness at the expense of this country's terrible woes. First "Baby Doc" Duvalier, the military strong arm who is credited with thousands of deaths during his reign of terror and excess in Haiti, which he fled from twenty-five years ago along with the country's treasury, now wants to give an $8 million trust established in his mother's name (and which he has no control over) to Haitian relief efforts. The story says that the Swiss bank which controls this trust, is unlikely to do his bidding. So an empty gesture.

Then in another item buried at the bottom of The Daily Beast home page is the news that Tiger Woods has pledged $3 million in support of Haitian relief. This was leaked by Russell Simmons, presumably a friend? This has a whiff of a PR campaign aimed at restoring Tiger's shattered public image. Rather than feeling good about his generous offer, it seems that Haiti is once again being used to improve the lot of someone else. Otherwise why leak the news of this offer to the public via Russell Simmons?

And while we're the subject of Haiti, I'd like to know how that big, fat blowhard, Rush Limbaugh, uses his money in support of charitable causes. He criticizes Obama's support of Haitian relief making incredibly insensitive and tone-deaf remarks that we already give to Haiti in the form of taxes. So what does Rush Limbaugh do to "give back to the little people"? I only ever see him chomping expensive cigars and living large in big houses and on a big boats (well something has to support that big, fat, bloated frame of his). This odious pile of blubber and bluster makes millions from his bully pulpit picking on people much smaller than he will ever be. Rush Limbaugh is indefensible on any level. He is about as Christian as the Black Plague, and ought to be declared by an act of Congress, a national disgrace. For my birthday, I'd love for someone in my name, or in the name of a grateful nation to build a glass silence chamber and entomb Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter and Pat Robertson together in perpetuity. They should have able to be seen by the public arguing, and screaming in silence as they are passed by, ignored by everyone. Perhaps for Rush's redemption, he could do his show live from Port-au-Prince, so we could witness what the suffering people of Haiti really think of him.

I think at this point, I'm really going to have to get serious about getting a car. Last night I had two social items on my calendar, both of which are not too far from my home. But it rained most of yesterday--a steady, unwavering medium-weight shower. But armed with my Trimet Planners, I could take buses to my destinations. Starting out at 4:30 for the first appointment, and following directions, My promised 36 minute trip turned into an hour and 10-minutes and took me through four different neighborhoods. As I boarded a connecting bus, I asked the driver, "do you do stop at SE 32nd Ave. and Rex."


"But your bus sign says via 32nd and Rex," I replied.

"I don't stop there," he mumbled.

"So how do I get to 32nd and Rex? The Trimet schedule tells me this is the bus I need to take," I countered, becoming testy.

"That another #19 bus," he grunted.

"How the hell am I supposed to know the difference?" I was now morphing back into my old belligerent New York persona.

The upshot here is that there are two #19 buses, neither one marked to differentiate their routes. And I was saddled with a bus driver who could have cared less (to be fair to Portland bus drivers, I've experienced mostly courtesy and a genuine desire to help). I got off his bus and waited for the next # 19. I arrived at my destination relatively dry and was fortified with two glasses of an excellent French chardonnay before proceeding to my next appointment. Armed with my schedule, I headed for the bus stop. I had timed it for a wait of no longer than 15 minutes. I waited and waited and waited and no bus. At 6:40, I called my friends to send a taxi. But my hostess insisted on coming to rescue me. Five minutes later the bus arrived. The driver, another mono-syllabic moron, couldn't explain the delay when I asked her why the bus schedules show a bus due every fifteen minutes. "Sir, I'm only the bus driver." Clearly this was an indication of the way our taxes are being spent.

Transportation-wise, it wasn't my night, though both social engagements were very pleasurable. I've been trying not to extend my "energy footprint" in Portland and yes the choices of subway, bus or taxi made me fleetingly nostalgic for New York. It seems to me that Portland's Trimet management could offer a more realistic schedule. If your schedule says 15 minutes, then mean 20. If it says 30 minutes between buses, than mean 35.

I took a pear pie with me for dessert (actually, my hostess picked it up that afternoon so I wouldn't have to schlep it in the rain). The Bosc pears were still hard when I peeled them, so I melted some butter and sugar and sliced the pears and sauteed them in this mixture until the pears became a golden color and the butter and sugar caramelized. I left them to cool with fair amount of freshly grated nutmeg and the zest of an orange before adding them to the crust. At the last minute I realized I need another pear. So I sliced up my last pear in thinner pieces and added it to the pie. My friends were raving before I had a chance to sink my fork into a slice (I had arrived late, so they had all eaten, and I was trying to catch up). I must say the combination of the cooked pears with the slices of raw which were less cooked in the pie, made for an interesting texture. Both were fully cooked but at different degrees of doneness. There was less "juice" and the pre-cooking of the pears had set the sugar and butter into a nice thickness. I have to say in all immodesty--it was a great pie!

It's always instructive to compare grocery shopping between the coasts. The various style of meat cuts and preparations are fascinating. For instance: I couldn't find turkey parts to make stock at Thanksgiving. The markets here sell sliced or ground turkey breast only. It drove me nuts. I finally found turkey wings at New Seasons market. Blade chuck roasts are cut thick and make for wonderful stews and braises. In the east, we get thin, unappetizing cuts of chuck blades sold as "steaks," which is the worst thing you would ever want to eat because this cut very tough. When I first arrived in New York, I saw boneless chicken breasts for the first time and was fascinated by them. They didn't exist in California at that time. In Portland, I have encountered freshly ground chicken thighs, which alone or with the addition of sausage, make for an excellent meatloaf. Italian sausage here has been disappointing in flavor. I don't know why. This week I discovered "pork cubed steaks," a variation on the classic beef cubed steak, for the first time. I bought two small ones, and decided to prepare them like the classic Italian breaded veal cutlet, fried and then showered with a cold salad of endive and tomato in a vinaigrette. The combination of hot breaded cutlet with the cool chopped salad made for a mighty tasty meal.

I found a demo on YouTube for making homemade red wine vinegar. I've got a jar brewing on my kitchen window sill. I'll let you know how it turns out.

Backyard photo taken from my kitchen back door around 7:00 AM during a two-day
dry spell from the rain. Beautiful. Makes me realize why I'm here.

1 comment:

  1. Yes...time to get serious about those driving lessons and a car!