A finicky guy's exploits in finding gustatory (and other) satisfaction in his kitchen, his neighborhood, and beyond.

Monday, March 28, 2011

In which Michael tries to butch it up with a big pot of okra

I wonder if it's possible for a male couple to become too gay?

I mean, all stereotypes aside, our lives are mostly similar to that of any other family — well, maybe any other slightly kooky family of outside-the-box-thinking, artistic mavericks with demented Chihuahuas.  But our proximity to the nucleus of gay American culture — Chelsea 10011 — brings us into frequent and intense contact with all sorts of queer influences.  (I'm using that Q-word in its co-opted, political sense.  You aren't allowed to use it in this way unless you're queer too.  Oh, and please stop using "gay" to mean "stupid," as in "That's so gay."  There I am, on my soapbox again!)

Following on the (high) heels of last weekend's fabulousness — attending the opening and after-party of Priscilla, 50% of us in a dress — Peter and I were given tickets for this past Saturday night's "Big Gay Sing 3D" concert of the New York City Gay Men's Chorus.  (One of my voice students is in the chorus and had an extra pair of tix.)

This choral extravaganza — actually more of a variety show — made Priscilla look like an NFL football game by comparison.  The evening was chock-full of everything gay men (well, ones like me anyway) hold dear: hunky tenors, drag queens in beaded gowns, showtunes, emceeing by a huge out Broadway star, a diva songstress with pipes of gold, hunky men in pleather shorts, hunky baritones, hundreds of costumes and wigs, hunky men in Prince Charming outfits, campy humor, bawdy humor, hunky basses, Donna Summer songs, sequins, sequins, sequins, and hunky men in the audience.

(Oh, and hunky men wearing MPB apparel and the Debbie shirt, respectively.  I gayed up Debbie's gorgeous creation with my tightest skinny Levi's and a pair of motorcycle boots.  If only she'd made me a gingham codpiece to match.)

OMG, that hunky dancer in the pleather shorts.  I found this pic of him on the web, but it doesn't begin to do justice to the sight of him in those shorts:

George, my obsession of the hour
On Sunday, Peter and I woke up and engaged in a variety of activities that may indicate that we've finally gone irretrievably over the top: ripping gathers out of a rose-print skirt, flea market shopping for costume jewelry, walking Chihuahuas attired in designer jackets (the dogs), working out at David Barton Gym (second home to gay celebrities and porn stars and Michael) and gossiping about last night's concert in the sauna with fellow attendees, shopping for flowers and artisanal cheeses, watching sewing videos on Youtube, and singing "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" over and over until we got the lyrics down.  (I believe there were a few choruses of "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" in there as well.)  [Interesting side note: my spell check recognized that lengthy made-up word.  I tested it by misspelling it on purpose — yep, the little red underline appeared!]

I could barely remember what sorts of things straight people do.  I seemed to recall that they ate, just like us, so that must mean that they cooked too.  I decided to celebrate my openness to experiencing straight culture by cooking and eating my own meal.  So, without even putting product in my hair, I waltzed strode out of the gym and over to Whole Foods to gather ingredients.

"Oh no!" you're thinking — he's going to the grocery store straight (!) from the gym again?  He'll end up with a cartful of Dove Bars for sure!

But no, mistrustful readers, this time I came prepared to thwart my hunger-induced impulsive shopping tendencies.  I had drawn up a list and was determined to stick to it.  I had even specified the number of desserts (1) and cheeses (3) I was allowed to pick up.  And, you know, this simple precaution did the trick.  My only impulse purchase was a deodorizing bathroom cleaner with lime juice that was even on sale.  (Our toilet has been evidencing our unwillingness to use harsh chemicals to clean it.  'Nough said.)

All right, those of you still with me after the toilet allusion, it's time to cook!

In the instructions below, I've printed the names of all the ingredients in Magenta, Queen of the Colors,  to help you prepare your own shopping lists in case you want to cook along.  (All the ingredients are simply what I had available and you can feel free to substitute at will.  In fact, I insist that you come up with your own personalized variations.)  We'll be making a dish of ground meat and okra which can be served over pasta or with your favorite starch.  I was planning to serve mine with some Kitcheree I'd made the day before in my slow cooker using short grain rice and masoor dal (red lentils, but they turn light yellow when cooked).  My recipe serves four generously.

Heat enough extra virgin olive oil to cover the bottom of a heavy large pot over a medium high flame.  When the oil is hot, put in half an onion, sliced; 6 garlic cloves, chopped; and a 1-inch block of peeled fresh ginger, cut into tiny julienne strips.

Saute these ingredients until they brown lightly:

Add a quarter teaspoon of ground asafetida. . .

. . .and then a few seconds later, a mixture of ground spices that started as 5 cloves, a teaspoon of cumin seed, and 2 teaspoons of coriander seed:

Stir and cook the pot for a minute, then add a pound of ground meat.  I used turkey this time, because that's what we'd had delivered from the Amish farm last week.  It has that odd cylindrical shape because the farmers package and freeze it in tubes of plastic:

Stir-fry the meat until it loses its raw appearance:

Then add a few tablespoons of yogurt, 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring after each addition until the yogurt is incorporated.  I used a couple containers of spiced yogurt left over from a take-out Indian meal.  I think it contained a small amount of salt, pepper, cumin, and cayenne.  You can use any yogurt, but low-fat versions tend to separate and don't add much richness.

When the yogurt is all incorporated, toss into the pot a parsnip and a turnip, diced.

Stir well, cover the pot, and let it cook over medium heat for 10 minutes.  Then remove the lid and add a pound of fresh okra, capped and sliced into 1/3" slices.  I also added the greens from a bunch of radishes (optional).  Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste.  You could also put in some chopped fresh chili pepper (optional) if you wanted a more fiery dish.  I did not, on this occasion.

Stir well, cover the pot again, and let it continue cooking for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove the lid and add some chopped fresh herb.  I used oregano.

Stir and heat through (1-2 minutes).  Remove from heat and serve with some form of starch and perhaps a spicy condiment like mango pickle.  Drink a nice manly beer with this meal and wear a simple, masculine thermal undershirt to the table:

Have a wonderful magenta week, everyone!


  1. If you had your shopping list sorted into sections based on what part of the store the items in question were located in (e.g. all produce listed together, then all meats, then dairy), then you would be grocery shopping exactly like my (hetero) husband does!
    The man has no whimsy when it comes to groceries...

  2. Guess what? That's my method too. I'm sure your husband understands that organization is no enemy of whimsy.

    Don't try to understand this. It's a guy thing.

  3. That's exactly how I shop too, and I'm not a guy

  4. Hmmmm. Maybe I'll just play it safe and rescind my former generalization. I guess there are 2 types of people in the world: those who formulate their shopping lists in the order in which the foods are displayed in the store and those who do it the wrong, I mean other, way.

  5. "If only she'd made me a gingham codpiece to match"

    Size Large or X-Large?

  6. If I said medium would suffice, would that be TMI?

  7. My understanding is that codpieces only come in Large and X-Large, no matter what the actual package underneath. ;-)

  8. It's "vanity sizing," like how they now have size 0 for women, which is presumably just a renamed larger number size that had always existed.

    Gimme a huge.

  9. Ahem, When I shop from a list, my husband calls that "shopping like a man." He also calls it "hunting."

    As for "green" housecleaning, you might check out a bunch of books on that topic from the library, although my favorite (I know it's my favorite because I actually bought it) is "Green Housekeeping" by Ellen Sandbeck. Just so ya know.

  10. My sister is convinced you also liked me in the pleather shorts-but George is by far the better dancer! Also, my best friend Shantelle Whitehead was the defying gravity soloist saturday. Glad you loved the concert, and thanks for writing about us.
    Jeffrey Michael Meyer

  11. Apparently one of my blog readers is the sister of a pleather-shorts wearing hunky baritone! (Is this how you found out about my write-up, JMM?) I thought the pair of you Cruella henchmen were the cat's meow, but I didn't know either of your names. I started by google-imaging the dance captains, and voila — George Smallwood. But I didn't have time to google every other dance listed. Thanks for identifying yourself!

    Please tell Shantelle that my partner, Peter, and I have been fantasizing about all the songs we'd love to hear her sing. She has something very special. (And if she's ever looking for a NYC voice teacher, tell her to check out my website!)

  12. I truly enjoyed this blog post. My daughter labels(I dislike that word) herself 'queer' and most if not all of her friends could easily live in your neighborhood. She has given me many tutorials on all things 'gay' and they always make me smile.

  13. Hi, Sassy Lassie! Give your daughter a big Chelsea hello from me. P.S. Your roseprint dress is looking lovely. Can't wait to see it with the matching green jacket.

  14. I mentioned your comment about 'organization is no enemy of whimsy' to my husband last night. His says that's true, and he has plenty of whimsy. He then implied that Whimsy would be an excellent name for a woman working in one of the horizontal professions. So thank you for providing us with an amusing topic for dinner conversation.

  15. It is my deepest wish that my writing be discussed by couples all over the world. Thanks, birdmommy (and birddaddy (?)), for bringing me a little closer to my dream!