En Route to Idaho — Day 4 : North Platte – Rock Springs

En Route to Idaho — Day 4 : North Platte, Nebraska – Rock Springs, Wyoming IMG_1892

It was very rewarding to jump in the car at 7:28AM with ambient temperature at  7ºF /-14ºc & embark on another spectacular drive. First the sun rose in our backs as we left Nebraska & then huge gorgeous clear skies welcomed us into Wyoming.

 

Shortly after our gas-&-trucker-materials pit-stop, we made a further stop at a look-out to catch the views. We were surprised to meet up with a very famous tree that grows out of a boulder of pre-historic rock. The Tree Rock is located right between Cheyenne and Laramie plumb in the middle of Interstate 80, literally hugged between its east- and west-going lanes.

The tree grows out of a crack in a pre-Cambrian pink Sherman granite boulder formed anywhere from 1-4 billion years ago. (The granite that is, the tree is somewhat younger, but that species of pine can live as long as 2,000 years.)

As read on one of the The Tree Rock —a.k.a “the lone tree”— tourist-info tablets, the transcontinental railroad tracks of the Union Pacific Railroad lie a short distance to the west, as lies the Ames Monument, erected to commemorate the highest point of the railroad’s route  honor the Ames brothers.  I remembered very well that Augustus Saint-Gaudens had chiseled the bas-reliefs —from Quincy, Massachusetts, granite! — & architect H. H. Richardson designed the pyramid (as well as the Albany City Hall!) I have worked on several project on Augustus Saint Gaudens & even though this is not my favorite work of his, I was delighted to find his work here, since I have seen almost all ASG public works.



We continued our journey towards Rock Spring thru more beautiful landscapes where the speed limit went up to 80 miles p/h! I will never forget the golden pale yellows of the endless prairies illuminating the snow, the light blue sky & the pinkish granite boulders.

Our picnic at the Ames monument was a little less fancy today —since we are starting to run out of provisions— but was still nourishing: hummus, bread, cheese, apples & nuts. Tonight we went out to dinner at a local restaurant (attracted at first by the name, The Coyote Creek Steakhouse) where Pierre had a decent sirloin, turned down all five of the offered potato-versions, settling for green beans while & I had a bison burger — sans buns but with more green beans.

Today we also passed the 2000 miles marker. One more day on the road before Boise.  Tomorrow through Pocatello to give a thought to Pierre’s old friend Ed Dorn & on to Blackfoot to visit the potato museum.

En Route to Idaho — Day 3 : Des Moines – North Platte

Day #3  Des Moines, Iowa – North Platte, Nebraska: 400 Miles 644Kms
We left Des Moines a little after 9AM since we opted for a lighter driving day . It was 19ºF /-7ºc when we left Iowa. The light fog wrapping the windmills was beautifully quixotic. The fog had cleared by the time we reached Nebraska and clear skies accompanied us to North Platte.

We filled up the car & had breakfast before leaving so we stopped only for lunch. No rest stop extravaganza today, au contraire we opted to lunch at the Mormon Island State Recreation Area conveniently located off I-80. Named for the winter stopover used by Mormon emigrants heading westward we enjoyed lunching by the frozen lake and watching some locals ice fishing.

We then headed to North Platte where we had a blast visiting the Buffalo Bill residence’s outdoors grounds since the location is closed for the winter. On this Sunday afternoon North Platte was a pretty empty town and very few of its 24 000 inhabitants were visible. But the world’s largest Rail Yard sure was! After spotting the longest train we had ever seen going through town, we decided to visit the train yard and got there right on time to climb to the top of the The Golden Spike Tower and Visitor Center & what an amazing view!

This location was chosen because of its close proximity to the Platte river and to Grand Island. Nebraska’s been a railroad center since the Union Pacific Railroad first reached here in July 1866 & that first train rolled through what was known at the time as “Hell on Wheels” town. Today Bailey Yard, named for former Union Pacific president Edd H. Bailey, is the world’s largest train yard. Covering a massive 2,850 acres, each day Bailey Yard manages 10,000 railroad cars. Of those, 3,000 are sorted to make sure the cargo reaches its final destination. We sure did see some action from the Golden Spike Tower. We watched a gorgeous sunset and went to find our motel for the night.

Again we were able to make our lunch, dinner, coffees & teas. Lunch was a tuna fish salad into which I mixed the last of the grains — faro, rye & oats mixture — diced daikon, carrot, celery, red pepper, dressed w/ PJ’s Meyer lemon vinaigrette. Pierre had cheddar I had goat cheese with bran crackers,nuts & a clementine. For tonight’s dinner we finished the lentils as a soup, made a salad & used the last of PJ’s dressing, Blue Iowa Maytag plus apples & walnuts for dessert. Tomorrow a longer ride: trying to get to Rock Spring Wyoming!

And now if you have travel so far with us you might want to watch a freight train passing by for almost 3 minutes — and that is not even the full train. Mesmerizing!

En Route to Idaho — Day 2 : Maumee – Des Moines

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Day #2  Maumee, Ohio – Des Moines, Iowa: 558 Miles or 898 Kms

After drinking Pierre’s prepared cup of warm water with lemon & cayenne pepper water & our travelling green magic juice we hopped in the car at 7:50am to resume our journey West on I-80.

When we stopped for gas in Greenfield, Indiana we were reminded that if we wanted a soda, we should ask for “pop”! The lady at the Hardee’s was eager to take our order but we had our solid breakfast of pumpernickel bread, butter & cheese & we made coffee in the car.


Second stop was in Morris, Illinois & the R-Place Restaurant with its collection of antique toy displays, including a wonderful puppet show kept me busy filming & photographing for a while. I did ask for 4 quarters to play the puppet show. The clerk was proud to tell me that the puppet show grossed $80 per month, that was 320 plays.

Again we didn’t get any food though I considered the Strawberry Pillows for a solid minute — but by looking at the thing intensely I could almost taste it & that was enough to feel the sugar rush!

We left Illinois, crossed the Mississippi, & drove into Iowa.

I had noticed on the Waze app that the World’s Largest Truckstop was coming up on I-80 at the Walcott Exit. We stopped there & lunched on Romaine lettuce with carrots, celery, left-over pork roast, sardines, cheddar dressed with Pierre’s delicious Meyer lemon & olive oil vinaigrette & concluded with our usual plain yogurt with cinnamon, stevia & grilled seeds.

Then we had molto fun visiting the amazing World’s Largest Truckstop. We didn’t make it to the adjacent truck museum but we had a lovely time talking to several truckers who were trying new truck seats. Pierre joined them for a tryout of new-fangled special rubber seating. We exchanged our destinations & they advised us that road conditions between Cheyenne & Idaho can be very bad & told us to make sure to have a full tank of gas when starting this portion of the trip. Another trucker & his wife from New Orleans gave us the price of some of the chromes on display. “A $1000 for that apron. I’m gonna put some on my truck soon”. The sword & knife window display was open & a family was deciding what kind of knife to buy; a lady bought a mini gun. Pierre checked out the library section & considered buying a Louis L’amour Western audio book but since we had just started listening to the Lewis & Clark journal diaries  available free here,  we decided to pass.

Settled into our comfy Sterling Hotel suite —with terrible internet, after a quick trip to the Wholefood to pick up a salad & some cheese (a chunk of excellent! Iowa Maytag Blue — same family making blue cheese since 1941!) we had dinner, i.e. yesterday’s lentil salad turned into a stew to which I added some grains (farro & oats), followed by apples, nuts & cheese — the Iowa maytag, of course. & now some zzzz before heading to Wyoming. From here on out the route is new, for Pierre too who had driven this part of I-80 only to turn south here in Des Moines to visit with Ken Irby in Lawrence, Kansas. But that was in 1987, & this is today. Onwards! Let the wagons roll…

 

 

En Route to Idaho — Day 1 : Brooklyn – Maumee

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January 1 2016

Nice first day on the road to Idaho. Smooth ride with with very little traffic . We left Bayridge, Brooklyn  at 7:56 & got to Maumee, Ohio 5:58PM. We drove 566 miles (910 kms) out of 2475 miles (3983 kms) to get to Boise Idaho. We crossed New-Jersey, Pennsylvania & two third of Ohio.
We made our coffees, teas, lunch (Braised d’Artagnan Berkshire Pork; Lentil Salad; Greens, Goat Yogurt w/ Cinammon/Stevia & Roasted Seeds) & dinner (Red Miso Soup with Oats,Rye & Farro; Pumpernickel Buttered Bread; Hard Boiled Egg, Carrot & Celery, Cheddar w/ Apples & Cashew Nuts.
We listened to France Culture, NPR, John Coltrane, Matthew Ship, Michael Bisio & Cheikha Rimitti.
Below is the photo reportage, stay tuned!

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Pennsylvania

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Mooch-o-colat for Valentine’s day (Eng-Fr)

MoochocolatSérie: Recettes pour Jean & Renée Peyrafitte —Français en suivant—

Just in time for Valentine’s day: the ultimate healthy chocolate dessert made with unsweetened 100% coco organic chocolate bar. I call it Mooch-o-colat. Its very creamy texture & the crunchy orange zest will never let anyone guess that there is no dairy  & no added sugar. Voilà! A low-carb delight very easy to make.

4 small ramekins

2 oz of unsweetened organic 100% cocoa bar
1/2 scraped organic vanilla beans
1 teaspoon of chia seeds
1 lb of silk tofu
1/4 cup of cashew nuts
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon drops of stevia (this the one I use)
1 organic washed orange for roasted orange zest
1 teaspoon of rasted seeds (flax, sesame, pumpkin, sunflower)

Melt the chocolate in a small pan.
Important: in order to be smooth, silky & homogeneous chocolate must not come into contact with any liquid. So place the chocolate ONLY in the pan & melt it very slowly. You can also melt it in a double boiler to avoid burning.
Add tofu, cashews, chia seeds, cinnamon & stevia into a blender. Mix thoroughly & add the melted chocolate. Fill the ramequins and keep in the fridge for a few hours.
Peel the orange with a good vegetable peeler, remove the white inner skin (see pix below), slice very thin, pat dry. roast them gently in a pan or in the oven until dry. Roast the seeds the same way. Garnish just before serving.

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EN FRANÇAIS:
Juste à temps pour la St Valentin, voilà un superbe dessert au chocolat 100% cacao —sans sucre ajouté, sans produit laitier, sans cuisson, pauvre en glucides et en calories. Je l’ai baptisé Mooch-o-colat; la texture onctueuse se marie magnifiquement avec le craquant délicat des zestes d’orange et des graines grillés.

4 petits ramequins

55gr  100% chocolat noir
1/2 gousse de vanille — coupez la gousse de vanille en 2 dans le sens de sa longueur. Séparez la gousse en 2 et raclez l’intérieur
1 cuillère à soupe de graines de chia
450 gr de tofu soyeux
35 gr de noix de cajou
1/3 de cuillère à café de cannelle moulue
15/20 (1.25ml) gouttes de stevia
1 orange pour les zestes rôtis
quelques graines grillés (lin, sésame, citrouille, tournesol)

Faire fondre le chocolat à sec à feu très doux— le chocolat n’apprécie guère la chaleur directe. Vous pouvez très facilement le brûler et en altérer le goût et la consistance; si vous avez peur de le brûler faites le fondre au bain marie.
Dans le mixer ajouter le tofu, les noix de cajou, les graines de chia, la cannelle moulue & et la stevia.
Une fois le tout bien mixé — laisser tourner un moment pour donner le temps aux noix de cajou de devenir onctueuses — ajouter le chocolat fondu. Remplir les ramequins et réserver au frigo quelques heures.
Peler une orange avec un pèle légume. Pour éviter l’amertume ôter la peau blanche avec un couteau à plat (voir photo ci-dessus). Couper en très fines lamelles et faire griller soit dans une poêle à sec soit au four jusqu’à ce que les zestes sont “secs;” faire griller les graines de la même façon. Décorer au moment de servir.
Bon Appétit et Happy Valentine’s day!

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Tourin or Quick Open Fire Soup

 

The night before I left for a workshop with rhythm master Bernard Lubat in Uzeste, I made a tourin in our fire place. This soup of humble origin is mostly known as tourin à l’ailsopa de ajo in Spanish or garlic soup in English. Many variations are possible & in this case I used the ingredients available in the house: 1 tomato, 1 head of garlic, 1 onion, old bread & goose fat.


In a cast iron dutch oven I thoroughly sauteed the thinly sliced onion in goose fat. Meanwhile I crushed 3 cloves of garlic & a sprig of fresh rosemary in the mortar. After adding them to the pot, I removed the latter from the heat to avoid bitterness — over-sauteed garlic becomes bitter. I crushed the tomato in the mortar & added it to the onion garlic mixture. With no stock available, I added plain water to obtain the desired consistency. Coarse sea salt, freshly ground pepper & a dash of piment d’Espelette are added for seasoning & then the pot is returned to the open fire for about 15/ 30 minutes.

With thick slices of old country-style bread rubbed with garlic & drizzled with goose fat lining the bottom of the plate, hot soup is poured in et voilà! le tour est joué & you get a magnificent & most satisfying soup. A beaten egg is often added before serving; this is especially enriching if you have only garlic to make the soup. Whoever needed canned soup? Pas moi!


Photos Pierre Joris & N.P

Petit Rôti de Wild Boar

As I was picking  meat for the week at the Park Slope Food Coop, the “Wild Boar Mini Roast,  Distributed by d‘Artagnan” looked like the perfect piece for Pierre and I to make into one of our  celebration dinner sfor our 21st anniversary month —neither of us remembers the exact date, so that’s a good excuse to have a few celebration throughout the month of January.

It would have been better if I had let the cute little roast marinate for a day or even a few hours, but when I came home after shopping I sat at my desk and didn’t get up until 7:30 pm. Pierre said: “It takes about three days to make one of the boar recipe from Luxembourg.” Well, I took on the challenge and with great anxiety I turned it into one of my fast dinners. I first went to the d’Artagnan website to check out the product information:

The D’Artagnan Wild Boar Mini-Roast is made from the knuckle and is pre-tied to hold its shape and allow for even cooking temperature. Simply brown in a hot sauté pan with sliced garlic and rosemary to seal. Then place in the oven about 375F to finish the cooking or until internal temperature reaches 155-160F. Remove from oven and let rest before slicing. Serve either hot or cold. Great on sandwiches!

D’Artagnan Wild Boar come from a large free-range ranch outside of Quebec. The animals graze freely on nuts, acorns, and grasses while being supported at times of need by whole grains. You’ll find the meat leaner than large-farm pork and richer in taste, but smooth and succulent in texture.

Alright, sounds good, though I don’t like the “pre-tied” device, which is an elastic trussing net. I discarded it  and replaced it with some d’Artagnan bacon and decided to just braise it in the oven. Voilà the procedure:

Preheat oven to 375F.
Take one sliced onion, 1 cup of sliced celery root, 1 sliced carrot, 6 slices of chopped  bacon, one cup of unsweetened cherries and about a dozen heads of shitake mushrooms, and place it all in a roasting dish. Generously coat if with olive oil, add salt pepper. Mix  well.

Boar Roast

Boar Roast

Coat the meat with oil, salt pepper. Wrap with  uncured apple wood smoked bacon. Place roast on top of the veggies and that’s how it goes into the oven.  As we read above, the legit internal cooking temperature is 155-160F, but that is too much for me. Our roast was 1.31lb, I cooked it for 40mn, the temperature reached 144F and this was a little over cooked for us, but that is a matter of taste and choice. In the same oven cook fingerling potatoes in another roasting pan,  lightly coated with oil and seasoned with salt and pepper.

Once the meat is cooked to your liking, let it rest and transfer the vegetables & cooking juices into a sauté pan with one tablespoon of melted butter and a dash of oil. Sauté the veggies and flambé with  Armagnac.

Boar Roast

Finish up the fingerlings potatoes with fresh butter and parsley.
Slice the meat, keep it warm, pour the juice into the veggie pan, add  another dollop of butter in the pan to give it a shine!
Set up you plate and serve quickly.
Really simple, delicious and if you are a Park Slope Food Coop member, not  expensive either ($10.10 for the roast, a little more if you order at d’Artagnan but you don’t have to work for the discounted price and it can be delivered to your house!). Though very tasty with a rich and lightly gamy taste, I have to confess that the meat was a little tough, the marinade would have certainly ‘cured’ the problem, but other than that it was amazing. The hints of tartness (unsweetened dry cherries) combined with the distinguished taste of celery root, the shitake mushrooms’ texture, the sweetness of the carrots & onions, the mildly wild taste of the boar and the hint of Armagnac, plus the bottle of the inexpensive, but good Côte du Rhône Les Garrigues to wash it down, made it a very pleasing experience indeed.

It took me only 15/20 minutes to prepare it, 40 minute to roast it, and 10 minutes to finish it up. We had a few slices left over that will make a great sandwich for lunch. Enjoy le sanglier!



Fast Poulet


Hilh de puto or OMG! I had so much fun with this project. Truly a spontaneous affair. We had been so wrapped up in our respective working spaces that when dinner time came around Pierre & I realized that neither of us had roasted the chicken. He started by serving the aperitif and plugged WBGO via his iPhone into the stereo system. In a way I was happy we hadn’t roasted it because I wanted to film the cutting up of a chicken as I wanted to post it on the blog. While I set up the camera the radio played a piece that really caught my ear. I couldn’t place it in time; the pianist was so free and at the same time the arrangement was traditional. I got so excited, & high listening to this music — & no! I was not drunk, I just had one sip of my glass of wine!

It was “Luyah! The Glorious Step” the first track of  Cecil Taylor Quartet’s CD Looking Ahead recorded in 1958. Besides the maestro himself, the personnel includes Earl Griffith on vibraharp, Buell Neidlinger on bass, and Dennis Charles on drums. Well, I went on line and ordered it immediately, I had to have it.  The 1958 liner notes are by Nat Hentoff and conclude by saying:

Cecil hasn’t worked out all his style yet, but what he has already done is important and makes him, in one sense, ‘in the avant garde of everybody,’  as Martin Williams puts it. Most important is his emotional message. Much of the musical history of the Negro in America is in his work, but not as an anthology. He’s a new user of that basic language with his own additions to make.

Yeah! Emotional message for sure. I could feel it through my entire body.  Also, for me this recording sheds a light on how the “avant garde” music I love so much happened.  Never had I  heard such an absolutely clear articulation of both ideas and form — and all the while I was  cutting up my chicken!  A metonymic epiphany of our “domopoetics” that feeds on explosive & uninhibited  energies. And to counter-stretch  with a metaphor (you must see the video to get that one) it is unequivocal to me that Cecil Taylor knows about finding the joint & firmly cutting down through it!

Poet’s Lunch

Since Pierre‘s commute to Albany is a little brutal this semester, I try to alleviate it by packing him lunch. I always loved packing food to take away, and when I worked in Manhattan I packed my lunch everyday.
I also have very vivid memories from the time when I was  a child and we were packing picnics for the hotel residents going on day trips. The family hotel being a 4-star establishment, you can imagine how elaborate that was. Prepackaged item didn’t exist, so for salt, pepper, sugar, mustard  & cornichons, we would make cute little pockets out of parchment paper.  The beautiful cuts of salami, jambon de pays (prosciutto), jambon blanc (cooked ham), roast beef, chicken, cheeses — yeah! lots of proteins— were carefully wrapped in parchment paper attached with butcher string. Seasonal fruits were added on top, a bottle of wine, bottle of mineral water and a fresh baguette stuck to the side of the basket.

I also remember my grandfather Joseph packing my picnic for the end of the year elementary school field trip. I requested sandwiches & Coca-Cola. Bon-Papa Joseph went along with the sandwiches but absolutely vetoed  the Coca-Cola telling me that that stuff was so efficient in cleaning metal surfaces that he didn’t want my stomach to be subjected to the same treatment. Instead, he filled an empty bottle with some wine, water and sugar.  I was around 9 or 10 years old and I remember like if it was yesterday that after eating lunch, my friend Françoise Gerdessus and I took a pedal boat ride and I felt pretty funny and happy… I was drunk! I lost my wallet that day and I never forgot that Françoise shared her pocket money with me. Anyhow, Pierre’s lunch made me travel back to childhood and my unconscious might be thinking of that crew of school friends that are going to gather soon for a school reunion that I will not make this year!

Voilà! Pierre’s lunch is a little more balanced:

Cold oven roasted chicken
Cuke salad
(with no rice)
Apple sauce (Pierre’s ultimate comfort food)
2 slices of Amy’s bread

All packed in this cute lunch box my daughter in law got for us in Korea, where packing lunch is a serious affair… but no room for the bottle of wine!

Cuke Salad

Do you like cucumbers? I do now, but it is a taste I acquired over the years. Cukes were popular in my family only in cornichons form (tiny cukes pickled in vinegar). I don’t remember if it is my father or my grandfather who used to say “les concombres, ils me reprochent,” meaning not he didn’t digest them well, but that he would hear from them under the form of burbs for hours after ingestion, hence the “reproach” to have eaten them! So, for years I was prejudiced against cucumbers and assimilated them to reproaches & English sandwiches — and thus they had no place in my cooking repertoire! But once I was able to look beyond my Pyrenean mountains for culinary inspiration, I realized how widespread cucumbers were in many Mediterranean cuisines and how delicious they are.
This summer I am eating a lot of them as I am trying to eat “cold” foods as recommended by my good friend, poet & artist Yuko Otomo. She gave me a few ideas on how to eat them with seaweed & tofu, which I liked very much, but my favorite version is the one I am featuring today. Most of you will recognize it’s direct source. Yes, it is a sort of Tzatziki, in Greek or Cacık
in Turkish, usually served as a mezze, appetizer or used as sauce for souvlaki & gyros. In order to make it more filling for my lunch I added some brown rice and gave it a twist with the addition of a touch of mustard. Another healthy, cheap, refreshing lunch brought to you by Voilà Nicole! By the way, do not miss Trialogues (Pierre Joris, Michael Bisio & moi) this coming Monday August 23rd 8PM, part of Evolving Voices Series, at Local 269 (269 East Houston NYC).

Recipe:
Peel, cut lenghtwise, then empty out seeds of 2 organic local cucumbers (avoid the ones individually wrapped in plastic)

Options:
1-soak cukes in salted ice water for 30 minutes. drain for 15 minutes
2-In a glass bowl sprinkle them with salt (coarse salt), cover , let drain in a colander for 30 minutes. Rinse and pat dry.
3-Simply use them, right off the bat, skipping either of these options — that is what I do most of the time. They are a little more watery but I read that the juices are actually very good for you.

In a bowl mix:
1/2 tbs of mustard (Grey Poupon type)
1 cup of goat milk yogurt
Mix & add:
1 grated clove of garlic
1/4 cup of finely chopped onions
1/2 cup of chopped fresh mint
1/4 cup of cooked brown rice
Mix & add:
cucumbers
salt+pepper to taste & mix well

Voilà!