Tuesday, August 19, 2014

"Cooking with the [Grateful] Dead" & "Eat, Drink, and Be Kinky [Kinky Friedman]" - The Best Black Bean Burrito in the World and Popeye Salad

Date I made these recipes:  August 17, 2014

Cooking with the Dead – Recipes and Stories from Fans on the Road (with the band, The Grateful Dead) by Elizabeth Zipern

Published by: St. Martin's Paperbacks

ISBN:  0-312-95483-2; copyright 1995

Purchased at Bonnie Slotnick Cookbooks, NYC

Recipe:  The Best Black Bean Burrito in the World – p. 103

Eat, Drink, and Be Kinky – A Feast of Wit and Fabulous Recipes for Fans of Kinky Friedman by Mike McGovern; Introduction by Kinky Friedman

Published by:  Simon & Schuster

ISBN:  0-684-85674-3

Purchased at Bonnie Slotnick Cookbooks, NYC

Recipe:  Popeye Salad – p. 39

"...By the time we got to Woodstock, we were a half a million strong,

and everywhere there was song and celebration..."

from the song, Woodstock, written by Joni Mitchell, sung by Joni and also covered by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, ©1970, Reprise Records

In general, watching CNN tends to drive me a little batty, but I do give them major props for their series, The Sixties, that covers a whole host of topics and events of note from the era, including Woodstock, a three day (music festival) bash on Max Yasgur's farm in White Lake, NY near Woodstock, NY. 

This past weekend (August 15-18) marks the 45th anniversary of Woodstock – Holy Hannah, time has flown! Some of the finest musical acts of the 60's and beyond played Woodstock, including: The Grateful Dead, subject of today's cookbook selection; Jefferson Airplane; The Who; Canned Heat; Jimi Hendrix; The Band; Joe Cocker; Janis Joplin; Melanie (Lay Down – Candles in the Rain is a favorite)...and on and on and on.  I could cry at how awesome of a list this is!

Probably the most memorable and best known member of The Grateful Dead was Jerry Garcia who played guitar and vocals.  Interesting Factoid:  "Cherry Garcia," named after Jerry Garcia, is still one of the most popular Ben & Jerry's ice cream flavors ever.  Jerry, along with Bob Weir, Ron "Pigpen" McKernan, Phil Lesh and Bill Kreutzmann were the founding members of this group that played a pretty eclectic mix of music –  rock, blues, bluegrass – you name it, they included it in their music.  Drummer Mickey Hart, eventually joined the group and played with them for many years before starting a solo career.  I remember best his CD, Planet Drum. Other members of The Grateful Dead were Tom Constanten, Keith Godchaux, Donna Godchaux, Robert Hunter, Brent Mydland and Vince Welnick. 

All members of The Grateful Dead were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994 along with other powerhouse musicians and bands such as: Elton John; The Band; The Animals (hubby's favorite band); John Lennon and Rod Stewart. Rounding out the inductee class were Duane Eddy (guitarist who put the "twang" in the rock and roll sound), Johnny Otis (bandleader - R&B) and Willie Dixon (songwriter - R&B). 

Let me tell you, I could spend all day looking at all the inductees on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's website, it's just that fun.  And speaking of time-wasters, a couple months back, I saw a very brief clip of The Grateful Dead in concert on TV but of course, I failed to make note of the song they were singing and which I loved.  So today, while looking up information about The Grateful Dead, I decided to see if I could figure it out and boy, there goes a good couple of hours of my life I'll never get back!  The Grateful Dead's song list is quite extensive and I gave up after listening to about 12 or so.  Still, I will tackle it again some day as I am determined to figure this out.  It may just not happen in my lifetime, that's all.

Anyway, CNN's last installment of The Sixties was called "Sex, Drugs, Rock 'N Roll" and let me tell you, Woodstock was the embodiment of that title.  Alas, or maybe "to my parent's relief," I was too young (age 11) to attend Woodstock and so videos as well as music CD's are going to have to do the trick and go where no "Ann" has gone.  And although I am not a betting woman, I can say with reasonable certainty that I could bet the farm ( as in Max Yasgur's farm) that even if I had been old enough or even in the vicinity of the music festival, my dad would have had a billy fit if I would have wanted to go.  And so it was a no go and that's a bummer, man.

As to The Grateful Dead, I am not among the "Deadheads," i.e. major fans/followers (stalkers?) of the Dead but I do like some of their songs.  I think if I had to declare a favorite, it would be "Ripple," which just tugs at me every time I hear it.  Favorite line is "Let there be songs to fill the air."  Amen, brothers.

And so speaking of "Deadheads," author Elizabeth Zipern "spent nearly five years following the dead" and recreates a lot of foods that The Grateful Dead, the Deadheads and other "crunchy granola" lovers would have eaten back in the day.  Actually, what goes around, comes around and so many of the foods of that generation are coming back into popularity – tofu, tempeh, lots of vegetables and even some fruit smoothies.  But alas, kids, can I just share my disappointment/slight disbelief that there is not a pot brownie recipe in sight?  Not that I'd make it or anything but pul-lease this IS the Grateful Dead we're talking about.  Sex?  Drugs?  Rock 'n Roll? Check, check, triple check! So I'm going to have to ding the author for that little oversight.  (Although for all we know, the publisher hit the ceiling and said "Oh hell to the no!" or whatever it is publishers say.)

There were a lot of good-sounding recipes in this book but I decided upon "The Best Black Bean Burrito in the World" and am glad I did.  It's all vegetarian (and if you omit the cheese, vegan) and we felt so healthy eating it!  And given the amount of garlic (3-6 cloves??) we should feel healthy because heck, if garlic doesn't kill what ails you, then nothing will.

Because of the garlic, you may be tempted to skip making the Pico de Gallo but go ahead, live dangerously and make it anyway.  It's very tasty although my preference would have been to substitute white onion for yellow.  Just a taste thing.

And if recipes aren't quite your thing – WHAT? – then take in the stories and the photos – what a hoot!

And speaking of "hoot," the second featured cookbook is Eat, Drink and Be Kinky – A Feast of Wit and Fabulous Recipes for Fans of Kinky Friedman. I'm guessing that the vast majority of you are saying "Kinky WHO?" and that's okay.  Kinky flew under my radar for a long time and I couldn't tell you when or even how I came to know of him but much like The Grateful Dead, he's sort of an institution – part comedian, part storyteller, part singer, part politician all rolled into one.  Although he's best known in Texas, word spreads and pretty soon we were all getting our Kinky on. ;) 

Kinky, who is 69, is quite the character.  He ran as an independent candidate for the office of Texas governor (and lost), was in the Peace Corps for a couple of years and hilariously (at least to me) was a member of a fraternity in college.  I'm not seeing it.  He's perhaps most known for his song, "They Ain't Makin' Jews like Jesus Anymore," a riff on racisim and bigotry.  Kinky's band was called Kinky Friedman and The Texas Jewboys; fear not, folks, Kinky is Jewish.  The band's name is hilarious. I love it. 

Like Cooking with the Dead, this book contains great Kinky quotes and great recipes (alas, no pictures).  I was "this close" to making a watermelon salad with vodka to go with the burritos and even contemplated "Saddle Up Burritos" (something my dad always said) before landing on "Popeye Salad" which is as close as I can come right now to an ode to the late actor, Robin Williams, who passed away last week.  The movie Popeye, staring Robin, is one of my husband's favorites and so he picked this salad with that in mind.  Although Robin Williams was not a true "child" of the 60's (he was born in 1951), he just seemed like he would have made the perfect hippie.  He was all about love but unfortunately, he was also all about drugs and alcohol and struggled with them for most of his adult life.  He was brilliant though, even when he was as sober as a judge. As Robin himself used to say – "Peace out!"  He is missed.

Now, you may think that between these two recipes, black bean burritos with homemade Pico de Gallo and Kinky's salad that I would be on vegetable overload but I'm not.  In fact, I'm kind of on a roll.  Better late than never, right?  That said, the next couple of recipes I intend to make might take me slightly off-course so I have to reevaluate things.  While I'm at it, I'm going to challenge myself to see if I can find one recipe without a chili pepper in it; I'm 3 for [the last] 3 recipes so we'll see.

So one last thing:  I found these two cookbooks on my recent visit in July at Bonnie Slotnick Cookbooks in the West Village (NYC).  When I finally decided on my purchases, Bonnie tapped a fingernail on my stack and said something like "You manage to find cookbooks (like Cooking with the Dead and Eat, Drink and Be Kinky) that nobody else ever finds."  I told her their loss was my gain.  Bonnie has great cookbooks and it's not like they are hidden so I don't get it but let me tell you, I was downright giddy when I found these books.  And now they are mine, all mine – bwahahahahahahaha!  (And by the way, she could not have said anything that tickled me more because I do think I have an eye for finding great books like this for my collection.)


The Best Black Bean Burrito in the World – serves 4


1 cup long-grain white rice

2 cups cooked or 1 can black beans (Ann's Note:  if using black beans, you might want to rinse them first—at least that's what I've read)

36 medium cloves fresh garlic

2 or 3 T. sweet basil

Sea salt, to taste

2 T. olive oil

Pico de Gallo

3 fresh roman tomatoes diced chunky

2 yellow onion, diced chunky (Ann's Note:  I think you'd also get great taste by using a white onion)

1 jalapeno pepper, diced chucky

¼ cup cilantro, minced

2 T. lemon juice

1 T. vinegar


4 12-inch tortilla shells

Monterey Jack cheese, shredded

Lettuce, shredded

Pico de Gallo, homemade

Sour cream

Start by boiling the rice.  Add black beans, fresh-minced garlic, basil, sea salt, olive oil, and mix.  Let the spices blend in. Put the mixture down the center of a 12-inch tortilla shell and roll up.  Top with cheese, lettuce and pico de gall. 

To make the pico de gallo:  Dice up the vegetables.  Add cilantro, a little lemon juice, and a touch of vinegar to keep it preserved.

Popeye Salad – serves 4

The Dressing

2 tablespoons honey

2 scallions, minced

2 large white mushrooms, minced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon rice vinegar, or to taste

Freshly ground black pepper

The Salad

2 plum tomatoes, seeded and diced

1 cup julienned red and yellow peppers

½ cup diced carrot

½ cup stemmed spinach leaves, washed, patted dry, and torn into bite-size pieces

½ cup thinly sliced peeled jicama

Ann's Note:  if you are lucky enough to live near a Trader Joe's, they have a great little veggie try that continues slices of jicama, baby carrots, grape tomatoes and snap peas.  I used all but the snap peas in this recipe.

Prepare the dressing:  Heat the honey in a saucepan until warm.  Add the scallions, mushrooms, garlic, and pepper flakes, and simmer for 5 minutes.  Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the mustard, vinegar, and black pepper to taste.  Let cool.

Prepare the salad:  In a medium bowl, toss together the tomatoes, peppers, carrot, spinach, and jicama.  Add the dressing and toss gently to combine.

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