They will call you crazy (eat Tomato Soup)

When you make houses for the elves to live in, between the roots of trees behind the school, they will call you crazy.

They will call you crazy when you kiss boys in the bottoms of parking structures, shirt pushed up, back against a wall, not sure how much you even really like them but liking that they like you.

When you dance even though people can see you, even though everyone else has a partner and you are alone, they will call you crazy.

When you decide to go to London, on a whim, in November, they will call you crazy and watch you go. And when you get there, the people who are with you, they may not call you crazy but they won’t really understand, either, when you stop and look at this:
Carrots and beets at broadway streetmarket
or this

or this

or this

or this

But when you stop and look at this,

they will sort of understand. Or at least, you can explain, and it will make some sort of sense. And certainly, the face there, metal and ancient and familiar as a friend, he understands.

I built houses and I kissed boys I took walks and I love street markets as much as I love art and I love nonvascular plants (that’s moss) as much as I love trees which is a lot. I was never a king of anywhere, and I’ve never done anything to warrant being buried with my ship and all of my armor, but maybe I’ll do something in this world that counts.

I am figuring out how to be a Grown Up, or something like it, and there is nothing more crazy than that.

It has me thinking about what I do that I think is worth doing, and worth sharing, and what I come up with is mostly food. I like creating stuff, and so do other people. Share a photo or a poem or an essay or a thought and while it may inspire creation it cannot move seamlessly to created to creating to destruction to recreation again. Food does that.

And we all need to eat.

Every-Wednesday-except-when-I-don’t, I cook for a rotating cast of wonderful people, and it is the most or least crazy thing that I do.

I’m thinking of sharing these things, adventures if and as we have them, jokes we make perhaps that can be conveyed past context, flashes of brilliance or intuition, but mostly: food. Lovely food. Every body needs to eat.

With luck there will be lots more pictures, because pictures help recipes along. There isn’t for this one, but that’s what you get for not planning carefully. It is a recipe for tomato soup, and given that tomato soup is one of the simplest things you can think of to eat, the sheer complexity of this recipe makes it one of the craziest that I know. It is heavily adapted, because it wasn’t written very well the first time.

Chef Jonathan Michael’s Crazy 3-Pot Cream of Tomato Soup

Serves: 5-7, depending on how hungry they are.*

Time: Probably an hour and a half, with chopping and everything.

Hardware:

  • Small saucepan (big enough for 2 cups plus a bit)
  • Medium saucepan (big enough for 4 cups plus a bit)
  • Big pot (big enough to fit the contents of both the small and the medium saucepan, with room to stir)
  • Whisk
  • Wooden spoon
  • Knife
  • Cutting Board
  • Measuring spoons & cups

Ingredients:

  • 4 tablespoons (that’s 1/2 stick) butter
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups milk (plus some extra for thinning)
  • 1 large onion, quartered (you can leave the skin on, if you like) PLUS
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 or 3 cloves of garlic (peeled)
  • 4 cups tomato puree
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped celery (a stalk or two?)**
  • 4 teaspoons brown sugar

Steps:

  1. Once all your chopping is done, put the milk, the quartered onion, the garlic and the bay leaf into the smallest saucepan and bring to a simmer (go with medium heat for this). Once it starts to bubble, turn off the heat and let it sit for 30 minutes while the milk infuses with the aromatics.
  2. While the milk is infusing, heat the olive oil in the middle-sized sauce pan over medium to medium high heat, then saute the chopped onion and celery until translucent but not brown. (You may want to add a pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper, here. If so, no one will blame you.) If you see them starting to brown, just turn the heat down.
  3. When the onion and celery look right, add the tomato puree and brown sugar and simmer for 30 minutes. CAREFUL: Tomato puree is very thick and “simmering” can quickly turn into “large bubbles of molten hot tomato bursting all over your kitchen.” You may want to keep the heat at low, for this. Or even thin it out with a little water.
  4. While your milk finishes up its infusing time and your tomato puree simmers gently away, get your largest pot over a burner and get into a position where you can easily see into it and stir it. Melt the butter in this pot over medium heat, and then add the flour, all at once and whisk it vigorously with your whisk. Keep whisking until the mixture lets of a sort of nutty aroma, but don’t let it brown. It should be bubbling, but will still be pretty thin (about like crepe batter, if you’ve ever made crepes).
  5. Remove the onion, bay leaf and garlic (if you can find it easily) from the milk and, when you’re ready, pour the milk, in thirds, into the flour-and-butter mixture (which is called a roux). If you can have a friend do the pouring, let ’em, because this is going to get VERY thick, VERY quickly. It will think out a little bit with the third addition of milk, but as the flour particles expand to soak up all that liquid, you’re gonna need all your strength to whisk. Chef Jon says “Make sure the milk is fully incorporated with a smooth consistency after each addition, before adding more.”
  6. Once all the milk is in, do the same thing with the tomato puree. Pour it, in thirds, into your milk-flour-butter-mixture (which is basically a white sauce, called b√©chamel), stirring in each third completely before adding the next. If you’ve got a friend to help, let ’em help.
  7. That’s it! If it looks too thick for your liking, thin it with milk. You will probably want to add some salt, and maybe some pepper.

You want to eat this with grilled cheese sandwiches, which anybody can make but if you can’t, here’s the easter-egg recipe:

For one sandwich take two slices of nice white bread, 1 slice of sharp cheddar and 1 slice of mild cheddar. Put a maybe a quarter tablespoon of butter into a heavy skillet over medium heat till it foams and then the foam subsides. Put your sandwich, all made, into the butter, and weigh it down with a second frying pan. Or a brick. Or just push on it with your spatula, you know, whatever it takes. When the time is right (Only you can tell. Check too early.) flip the sandwich, trying to get side number two just as much in the butter as possible. Re-apply the weight. When the time is right again, and the cheese is appropriately melty, remove to a plate or directly to your bowl of soup.

The soup is crazy, the sandwich is not (unless you go the iron-method of cheese grilling, which I fully support).

They will call you crazy. Feed them, for if you have good luck, they are saying it with love.

* This soup is too complicated to make for fewer. Also, it would require tiny saucepans.

** to get a nice size piece, take each stalk of celery and cut it in half horizontally, and then lengthwise, so that rather than having little half moons when you slice it, you have pieces that look like wedges with a bite taken out of their tip. Then chop in 1/8 inch slices.

I never wanted a flying car that much, anyway…

UPDATE:

If you happen to look below, you’ll see that this post sparked a lot of commentary, not all of which had to do with the post itself. Some of it did – and I want to say I’m so grateful for the words of encouragement and understanding, and for everybody who shared a story of figuring out their place and climbing a mountain. Also, thanks to friends who go to bat for me, and thanks to those who are brave enough to share their feelings honestly. Although it can stand some tinkering, honesty is a pretty great policy, even when it can be a bit of a bludgeon and cause some bruising.

I believe what I said here, and I believe in the people I mentioned. One of those people is Sarah Dopp, who helped me step into my futuristic world, and who I promised myself in March I would give thanks for on Thanksgiving (and I did), and who is amazing every day.

She said what I wanted to say, and you can watch her say it. She made me cry.

***

The other evening I was with a friend and I looked at him and said “We live in a ¬†wonderful world.” And he laughed at me and said I was a cornball.

Which is true, I am. But that doesn’t make what I said untrue, either. We live in a wonderful world. For all intents and purposes (and as a girl who grew up on Science Fiction from every era of Science fiction writing, I’d know) we live in the Future.

I, specifically, live in the Future. When I say I have a meeting, what I mean is that I will have a video call. Like that have on Star Trek, when they’re talking to Star Fleet Command! My clients live all over the country, I can do work from all over the world, I schedule my work around time differences, I store my important information in the cloud. There’s a cloud of information, and massive amounts of the knowledge of humanity, not all of it but so much of it, is available instantly. I wanted to find a poem about blow jobs, for instance. Now, I failed – forgot the name of the poet, you know. You still need to know what you’re looking for. But with a little information, now, I type it into Google and I don’t even need to hit enter to get the result. (Google’s algorithms are easily fooled by poetry. They can try to block porn all they like, but castles and honey slip right by.)

I can learn about meteorology. I can help build communities. I can listen to Rachmaninoff. I can find out how to spell Rachmaninoff. I can find the right people to help me take over the world. I follow the Dalai Lama on twitter, you know, and somebody who does nothing but tweet quotes from the Dervish poet Rumi. I get my reminders to walk the earth and face the sunlight when I am sitting still facing my computer.

I know people who do this, and I know of people who do this. Amanda Palmer, my current rubric for how to be Very Alive In The World, does this. She has an army on twitter. She can raise hundreds of dollars, thousands of dollars, on kickstarter in a matter of hours. She can make magic happen, she can take beautiful things and broadcast them to the world, she can up the signal, she and her magical band of web-savvy friends, they can do anything. And they know it, and they do, and they make the world more beautiful, and they give away music for free and broadcast shows live over ustream, and I sit there watching the Dresden Dolls from my living room drinking wine and thinking ok, this is the world I want to live in.

If you go to her blog you will see that her army of admirers, the brilliant crazy people who feed on her and who she feeds on in utter symbiosis, are there. In the comments. Sharing the stories of what she’s done for them, which she takes and uses to do more for them. Her feelings, their feelings, raw and amazing, a whole community of art-punk-cabaret-we-never-fit-in-anyhow-now-we’ve-got-eachother folk, there. A community I never thought to see.

And there are others. Think about Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog. A bunch of people who worked in the television business and didn’t want to break the Writers’ Strike but also didn’t want to stop doing what they loved or making people happy got together and took to the Net. Just like that, and their fans rallied around them. They’re just a group of friends, Mr. Nathan Fillion and Mr. Joss Whedon and Mr. Neil Patrick Harris and and and, and they make us smile.

A few years ago I would have seen all that and been sort of inspired and also sort of sad, because they could do those things and I couldn’t. But then I realized that was all the lies we tell ourselves. I had help. Maymay taught me first that computers and the Internet are made to be used, even if they’re not made well, and that I was smart and I could figure it out. Sarah Dopp taught me how to reach out and connect to people, and I watched her make her dreams happen, and make other people’s dreams happen, at Genderfork. And when she noticed the way that she brought people together, and realized that she loved it, she took to helping other people do that very same thing. When she knows where she wants to go, she jumps, and she falls, and she believes in the net (the Net) that will catch her.

I don’t believe in the net, though I haven’t told her so. I believe that when she falls, she flies.

What more is there to want? If you learn the tools and have the resources (and I must mention here that in so many towns across America and so many places across the world, people don’t have the resources. There isn’t broadband access everywhere. We can’t all look things up on Wikipedia. I speak from my privilege here) then you can do anything that you think needs doing. You can help other people get the resources. You can improve the resources that people have.

If you want to. If you’re interested. If you’re driven. And if you’re happy.

And if you’re not happy to do what you’re doing, if you’re not full of that belief that you are living in this wonderful future world and you can take it by storm, well, this isn’t anything new, but you can’t. You can’t do what you don’t think you can do, and I suggest that you walk away from all the poison that is there in this Future (non-Utopian), the addiction of TV-on-the-Internet, the things that can break you apart, you turn away and you actually look at the sunlight.

Find your belief. Find your joy, right? And when you’re all jazzed up on happiness, come back and do what needs to be done, because by that time you’ll know what it is, and because we live – corny though it may be – in a wonderful world, you can do it.

(NB: I do realize that we do not have flying cars and are not transported Jetsons style up through our high-rise sky-towers via pneumatic tubes. Whatever, that wasn’t really the cool part of the Future anyhow.)

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-11-07

  • Show's over and done, but I'm still in the chatroom at live.kinkontap.com, because it's full of #awesome #people. Stop by & join the party! #
  • What time is it? Is it #drunk #Emma tries to #code time? I think it is! Threaded comments, here I come! #
  • Or, maybe I could just click that button saying that comments can thread. I could do that, too…. Durr. #
  • @browneyedgirl65 So glad you were able to listen! Hope you enjoyed it! in reply to browneyedgirl65 #
  • New blog. The truth in images (a poem): https://followsthesun.com/what-i-see-when-i-look-up/ #
  • @johntunger Now I want pizza. What does that say about me? At least I don't want pumpkin pizza. in reply to johntunger #
  • Dear Internet I love my best friend and red wine and and the pillow I put in the microwave that stays warm so I don't need to get a cat. #
  • Dear @AmandaPalmer you're in concert right now, rock on. Wanted t'thank you for "The Truth," the #anthem of my #now You said it right. #AFP #
  • Internet, I realized – when they say "sweet," I hear "pathetic." I managed to learn to hear "cute" for what it was; how do I learn this one? #
  • @Adisson89 N'aww, that one I TOTALLY get. It's the "you're sweet" that I struggle with. in reply to Adisson89 #
  • @Snoil Cute means adorable; attractive in a way separate from sexy, pretty, or beautiful. I know I work at it, so I'd better accept it! in reply to Snoil #
  • @siniful This is not to judge your language – I want to get better at hearing that in the word, instead of what I get from it, y'know? in reply to Siniful #
  • @musingvirtual I realized that I project a lot of cute signals, so when I get "cute" back as a compliment, I needed to take it for that. in reply to musingvirtual #
  • @siniful I think everybody does. Wherever possible, though, I want to hear what people are trying to tell me, not what I am prone to fearing in reply to Siniful #
  • @siniful Right, me too. I heard "cutesy," which I hated to think of, and also "not beautiful." Both were hard. in reply to Siniful #
  • @katiesalt I think you mean me? I'm @helio_girl! #
  • Oh mediawiki, mediawiki, why can't we be friends? I want to be your friend. I want to feel good around you. Don't you like me, mediawiki? #
  • @johntunger Is it people? in reply to johntunger #
  • I *AM* The #Wiki #Queen! Look at me format! For Great Justice! #
  • @johntunger Awesome! Then yeah, best name ever. in reply to johntunger #