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Volume 41 Issue 9 • July 7-13, 2011
now in our 41th season

Waking Lazarus

by Jenn Farmer - Chef and Food Fancier

I have a one friend that is my favorite to invite over for dinner parties.  He is very interesting, smart, and funny, with diverse interests.  He is a bit of a “loose cannon,” so there is never a dull moment.  He always comes bearing delicious foods to prepare, and adult beverages to consume.  More importantly he joins in with the cooking AND the cleanup.  There is only one uncomfortable catch to this flawless scenario.  He feigns narcolepsy.  I think that he does it to get leftovers.

Maybe narcolepsy is dramatic, but please let me explain.   He always ends up sleeping at my house whenever a particularly great meal has been prepared.  It is nearly always the same scenario.  Plying me with delicious wine and conversation till my eyes won’t stay open any longer, he sneakily shakes me down like some intelligence agent, finding out if there is any space for him to stay over.  He helped with the dishes, so he knows the quality and quantity of next day’s vittles.  Then the “can’t keep my eyes open,” and “I shouldn’t be out and about after drinking” act begins.  The inevitable request to stay over happens next.  He bartends and is a seasoned veteran at this sort of dubious task. 

The first time it happened was winter.  A couple of friends and I were making menudo and watching one of my favorite movies Harold and Maude.   Soon after the movie was over, the other guests left.  One stayed.  In retrospect it all makes sense; the stage was perfectly set.  The weather was cold, the house was empty, and after a few adult beverages, I felt it was a bad idea for him to wander off in the snowy darkness.  He qualified my stance.  “Are you here all alone?  Can’t have that.. it is snowy, and dark, who knows what could happen?” Of course I put him up for the night. 

The next morning was a little awkward, I didn’t know if I should awaken my friend or not.  So I let him sleep, as the day got longer and longer, I began to vacuum, do dishes, and laundry.  I didn’t hesitate to run the blender, and dish machine.  I acted like a cryptologist trying to figure out what would rouse my sleeping pal.  The only sign of the snoozing signor was his coat, hat, and phone on the kitchen table.  I began to wonder, and perhaps worry a bit about him.  I realized how hungry I was, so I decided I would check on him after I got some food warmed up.  As soon as the soup began to simmer, he materialized in the center of the room. 

Rubbing his stubble covered scalp he simply said “Hi”

I looked at him a bit incredulously; the moment would have been a lot less uncomfortable had he not been wearing my fluffy, white, chenille bathrobe. 

Stunned, I inquired, “Uhhhh, is that my robe you are wearing?”

He sort of looked down at the fabric, tugged a bit on the long belt, and shrugged with indifference and said “Uh, Yeah.”

Somehow his haphazard demeanor put me at ease.  We had a cup of tea, and finished the leftovers.   Menudo is considered a cure all in Mexican culture, good for colds, hangovers, broken hearts, and apparently waking Lazarus.

I was entertained, and had to invite him over again, and again despite this odd habit.  Only when the dinner was mediocre, or there were no scraps left, did he go home after dinner.  Once, I proceeded to inquire how he could possibly be so tired or sleep so long.  That is when he then tried to convince me he had a sleeping disorder similar to narcolepsy.  His argument was heavily flawed and inaccurate, but amusing.  The next day (over leftovers of course) he recalled only some of the previous night’s conversation, trying to chalk it up to the gin.   After that fateful conversation, I began to refer to him as “the narcoleptic.” 

So if you come over to my place in the middle of the day (incidentally according to my friend, narcoleptics sleep very late into the day), don’t be surprised to see an irascible bald man in a fuzzy white bathrobe drinking a cup of tea, and hunkered over a bowl of soup.  Just say “Hi Clyde” then politely ask if there is any menudo left.  

Cure for Narcolepsy (aka Clyde’s Menudo)

  • 3 # honeycomb tripe- cleaned with lime and salt
  • 2 veal knuckles or pig feet-cleaned with lime and salt
  • 2 cups hominy
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • Red bell pepper+ equal parts hot red chili (fresh and dried if possible)
  • Garnishes of fresh cilantro, scallion, oregano, lime,
  • and crumbled queso seco

Cook chills in a pot with cold water and a lid-medium heat, Drain chili, Blend in blender until pureed, strain and add the oil, vinegar, sugar and salt and set aside.

Slow cook the tripe for 20 minutes shock in ice bath.  Cook the pig feet  in same liquid but skimming scum.  Remove and rinse.  Cut tripe into bite size pieces, Place pig feet and tripe in low heat or in a slow cooker, adding water to cover.  Add chopped onion and garlic.  Cook for three hours (replenishing liquid when necessary).

Skim scum, and fat, then strain the liquid.  Chop trotters; remove bone shard and fattier pieces.  Bring defatted stock to boil add the red pepper puree.  Add meat and hominy then season. Serve with your favorite garnishes.  Eat with warm tortillas.  Serves 4-8

Avocado Salsa

  • 2 avocados, pitted and medium diced
  • 1 half cup red onion, small diced
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1 hot chili pepper, minced
  • Fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients together (adding the chili pepper to taste), and enjoy on fresh chips or on grilled meat of your choice with fresh tortillas.  Serves 2-4

Easy Lamb Kebabs

  • 1 pound plain yogurt
  • 1 quarter cup olive oil
  • 2 lemons zested and juiced
  • 4 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • 1 half teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 pounds lamb, (top round is traditional, but I like fattier cuts)
  • 1 red onion, cut into small wedges

Cut the lamb into about 20 pieces.  Combine yogurt, lemon juice and zest, herbs, salt, and pepper.  Put lamb into the marinade, and let sit for at least 3 hours, refrigerated. 

Meanwhile soak bamboo skewers in water.  Preheat grill. 

Thread the lamb and red onion wedges onto the skewers alternating them.  Sprinkle both sides of the kebabs with a little salt and pepper.  Grill the skewers, for 10-15 minutes, turning until the lamb is medium rare.  Cook longer for more well done lamb.  Serves 4-8

 

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