Dig My New Casserole

Yesterday afternoon Gloria stopped by.  I'm putting together for her a video slide show of her life she can screen at her retirement party this weekend.  She's leaving the IRS, which she fondly refers to as “The Service.”  We spent two or three hours putting a hundred and fifty photos in her preferred order, and choosing some music.

She was kind enough to treat me to dinner at Tito's.  I like Gloria.  She has a feisty, playful sense of humor.  She and Ramon divorced a long time ago, but they remain very close friends.  And as such, I know many people who Gloria knows.  We were getting a bit into some bitchy gossip, and then I realized how much a folly it is to engage in this sort of discourse in such a small town as San Antonio when you're sitting in a restaurant with your back to the door.  Especially when you're talking about arty people while dining in an arty neighborhood.  I did the wise thing.  Sat in the booth with my back to the wall and my feet along the padded bench, so that I could see who might be entering.

After saying goodnight to Gloria, I stopped by my neighbor Phil's place.  He wanted to show me how far his new contractor had progressed in his kitchen.

More than a year back, Phil had gotten irritated at the sloping floor in his kitchen.  He's a furniture restorer by trade.  Works on wood all the time.  He decided to do the floor job himself.  So, with the help of a friend, he began ripping up an area of the floor to get to the support pillars.  But he discovered all sorts of rot down there.  Eventually he had half of the kitchen floor torn up.  He suffered through the summer, because he couldn't cool his place off.  I mean, there was this gigantic hole in the floor.  Same problem in winter.  Freezing.  And, as I am his official dog-walker when he's spending quality time with his girlfriend up on the far north-side, I got to see the absolute lack of progress in the repair work.  Every so often, I would have to hop down into the hole to pull out one of his clumsy aging dogs who had fallen into the gaping wound in the kitchen floor.

Finally, at the beginning of the year, Phil hired a contractor to finish up the job.  The guy went in gangbusters.  Tore out all the floorboards in a day or two.  Then he started making excused.  He had other jobs across town.  He wasn't feeling well this week.  He needed more money to buy hammers or something.  Finally Phil had to fire him.  He's brought in this guy who's doing it right.  There is a floor now in the kitchen.  The back of the house has been gutted and reframed.  There will be a new bathroom.  A new bedroom.  As Phil gave me the tour of new work, I made the expected agreeable grunts which I assume men expect from other men when matters of construction is involved.

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Today I sent in my application to Christy in hopes of being part of her up-coming Dada Dinner Party.  Again, if anyone is interested, drop me a line.

In the application there is a space for “dish suggestion.”  One of the stipulations is for vegetarian dishes.  And, because of this notion of dadaism, I came up with a meatless art-related dish.  Experience my Kasimir Malevich's White on White Seven Layer Casserole.  (Malevich is best known for his most static work, white squares on a background of white — visually boring as hell, but conceptually … it was pure brilliance.)

Kasimir Malevich's White on White Seven Layer Casserole:

“In a lightly greased casserole dish place a foundation layer of steamed white rice.  Next, arrange a layer of slices from boiled or baked potatoes.  Atop the potatoes, scatter a covering of pine-nuts.  Add a layer of tofu slabs which have been fried with crushed garlic and peanut oil.  In the same oil, saute minced white onion and add them as the 5th layer.  Crumble a generous layer of ricotta cheese.  And finish with white bread-crumbs.  Bake in a pre-heated over at 325 F for 40 minutes.  Serve with a single large marshmallow as a garnish.”

I'm thinking that it might be a bit bland.  Probably the ricotta should be substituted with a mixture half-and-half of gorgonzola and ricotta.  Maybe I should prepare it myself and see if it's works.  Perhaps it needs some green leafy vegetables.  But that's just me thinking of what my mother would say.  It's white on white, dammit.  And probably it should be served by pulling it from the casserole dish with an ice-cream scoop and placed into a paper snow-cone thingy.  Food on the run.  Portable.  Dive right in!

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