Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Covid Cafe: Drying Barrel Cactus Seeds + More Homemade Bread

Come in and sit down, friends, and pour yourself a cup of strong coffee with cream. Today the Covid Cafe is featuring food projects, poetry, and music.  

First, check out this photo sent by our friend Jane, who lives north of Tucson. During self-quarantine she's drying barrel cactus seeds.

Jane's story goes like this: Here in the desert, the fishhook barrel cacti have fruited and it's time to harvest. They are abundant and I've decided to collect them, dry the tiny black seeds, and roast them. If you read this website you can also find recipes to make chutney from the fruit.

(Click here for more photos of this remarkable cactus in fruiting stage.)  The fruits look like tiny pineapples (photo via).

I'm gonna guess Jane might be the only person we know working on this food project. Talk about making good use of a local resource. Thanks, Jane. I learned something new today.

Like father, like daughter
Remember brother Chris's sourdough from yesterday's cafe menu? Well his daughter Carly, working remotely for Disney in Orlando, sent a photo of her first bread-making effort. What an outcome!
Carly says she'd been cooking frequently day-to-day, but is definitely cooking a lot more now that she's self-isolating.

She used the no-knead approach for this loaf and baked it in a Dutch oven she received as a gift at her bridal shower last month. 

(And yes we made her wear my sister's vintage wedding veil through the entire lunch.)

Let's share a blub for Carly and Rahul's now-postponed wedding, formerly scheduled for a month from now in the Dominican Republic.

Nicely done!

This is pretty much how every first meal starts for us. We're still following the neurologically protective and nutrient-dense Terry Wahls eating plan (though happily including eggs and dairy because we tolerate them well). At right is some succulent ground lamb from a farm down the road here in SW Michigan.

Chicago Little-Free-Library-Turned-Pantry
"To help our neighbors affected by the COVID-19 crisis, this Little Free Library is converted to a Little Free Pantry. Take what you need and if you can, please donate what you can spare!"

Music, made remotely and sung together

More Songs Around The World.

Here's an uplifting poem. I pasted it in from and the line breaks are wrong, but the spirit remains:

Gate A-4
By Naomi Shihab Nye - 1952-

Wandering around the Albuquerque Airport Terminal, after learning
my flight had been delayed four hours, I heard an announcement:
"If anyone in the vicinity of Gate A-4 understands any Arabic, please
come to the gate immediately."

Well—one pauses these days. Gate A-4 was my own gate. I went there.
An older woman in full traditional Palestinian embroidered dress, just
like my grandma wore, was crumpled to the floor, wailing. "Help,"
said the flight agent. "Talk to her. What is her problem? We
told her the flight was going to be late and she did this."

I stooped to put my arm around the woman and spoke haltingly.
"Shu-dow-a, Shu-bid-uck Habibti? Stani schway, Min fadlick, Shu-bit-
se-wee?" The minute she heard any words she knew, however poorly
used, she stopped crying. She thought the flight had been cancelled
entirely. She needed to be in El Paso for major medical treatment the
next day. I said, "No, we're fine, you'll get there, just later, who is
picking you up? Let's call him."

We called her son, I spoke with him in English. I told him I would
stay with his mother till we got on the plane and ride next to
her. She talked to him. Then we called her other sons just
for the fun of it. Then we called my dad and he and she spoke for a while
in Arabic and found out of course they had ten shared friends. Then I
thought just for the heck of it why not call some Palestinian poets I know
and let them chat with her? This all took up two hours.

She was laughing a lot by then. Telling of her life, patting my knee,
answering questions. She had pulled a sack of homemade mamool
cookies—little powdered sugar crumbly mounds stuffed with dates and
nuts—from her bag—and was offering them to all the women at the gate.
To my amazement, not a single woman declined one. It was like a
sacrament. The traveler from Argentina, the mom from California, the
lovely woman from Laredo—we were all covered with the same powdered
sugar. And smiling. There is no better cookie.

And then the airline broke out free apple juice from huge coolers and two
little girls from our flight ran around serving it and they
were covered with powdered sugar, too. And I noticed my new best friend—
by now we were holding hands—had a potted plant poking out of her bag,
some medicinal thing, with green furry leaves. Such an old country tradi-
tion. Always carry a plant. Always stay rooted to somewhere.

And I looked around that gate of late and weary ones and I thought, This
is the world I want to live in. The shared world. Not a single person in that
gate—once the crying of confusion stopped—seemed apprehensive about
any other person. They took the cookies. I wanted to hug all those other women, too.
This can still happen anywhere. Not everything is lost.

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