Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Walking the Walk - March 2011

Herd Instinct

Anyone trying to organize anything in Point Roberts will soon come to one, clear conclusion; people in this town are like a herd of cats. It's not a bad thing, just a fact to be considered. For starters, nobody runs the place. There is no block with enough clout to tell other people what to do. Everyone you meet has an opinion and is usually glad to express it. If you're a billionaire, or a rocket scientist, no one is impressed. What you do, and the way you treat people; that's what really counts. That's one reason why I like this place.
As one of the herd, I do what I can to make things work. It's not easy, especially this time of the year. February is so impractical. Starting with Groundhog's Day, the whole month seems tilted toward goofiness. On the 3rd, Chinese New Year ushered in the Year of the Rabbit, a yin, metal, rabbit to be exact, the year 4709, 4707, or 4648, depending on who is counting and how you count. Then comes the 14th, when grown men get mushy, or pretend to, and spend lots of money on wine, roses, and chocolate. Whatever it takes to get laid, or whatever. Then, roll two famous birthdays into one and call it President's Day, and for a finale, end the whole thing two days short. It's February, and the garden is tossing in her sleep.
So, here I am, having taken on the monthly challenge of writing something clever, wise, or at least practical, and all I can come up with is none of the above. Yes, I wrote my wife a poem for Valentine's Day, and, with the help of my grand-daughter, painted a watercolor picture of a heart. Yes, I read the Chinese astrology for the Year of the Rabbit, and it looks pretty good on the economic front. We could all use that. It would also be helpful if there was a little less saber rattling this year, and maybe some real forgiving and forgetting, although I'm not holding my breath.
Judging from current events in North Africa and the Middle East, those whose power is enforced by violent repression are feeling the sand move beneath their feet. It's obvious something is happening, something very large. From here, I sense a worldwide urge for positive change that won't go away. The hundredth monkey has picked up a stick and is busy prying open the door to the future.
It's time to pay attention to the Earth. It's time for people to take charge of the machine and get it running right again. We have all the technology we need. What's required now is wise action. It's time to clean up the tools, sort out the seeds, find a few like-minded friends and start putting together a plan. I've done some of that, and the road ahead looks good, a little rocky, but good.
As far as organizations go, I admit I'm better at gardening than cat herding. Everyone has to find his or her own direction. That's human nature. And, in spite of everything, some of us here in this funny town will actually end up working well together. I'm sure of it. Call it herd instinct.

Note: February days are perfect for what I call the Root Cellar Special. What you'll need is cabbage, onion, garlic, carrots, a beet or turnip, pork tenderloin, or lean ground beef. Depending on whether you use pork or beef, you'll want a half cup of either white or red wine. Dried basil, oregano, sage, and tarragon are my herbs of choice on this one.
Don't be skimpy with the herbs, since their flavors make the dish. I sometimes add a pinch or two of curry to the mix.
Slice half a cabbage into finger thick chunks, not too fine. Cut the carrots into 2 to 3 inch logs, then quarter those lengthwise. Use a medium onion roughly minced, and two or three cloves of garlic pressed or finely chopped. Grate the beet or turnip, and if using tenderloin (my favorite), cut into large, bite-sized chunks. I sometimes marinade the pork in white wine and garlic for an hour or so ahead of time. If using ground beef, break the meat up into small, tablespoon sized clumps as you add it the mix.
Use a wok or the biggest covered frying pan you have. You definitely need a lid. In an ample amount of olive oil, saute the onion, garlic, and the herbs until the onions are translucent. Turn up the heat slightly and stir in all the veggies, making sure everything is covered with oil. Splash in two tablespoons each of balsamic vinegar and tamari.
Lacking tamari, a little season salt will do. Cover the pan and let cook for a few minutes before adding the meat and wine. Stir the whole thing well, cover, and turn it down to simmer. Sit back, sip a good-sized glass of the wine, and let the magic work. When the cabbage and the carrots are tender, it's ready. I usually top this dish with my favorite dressing, a little grated sharp cheddar or parmesan , and serve it with brown rice or quinoa. Have fun with this one!

George Wright

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