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Friday, December 31, 2010

Lentils and Yet Another New Year

Jacob who became the father of Israel by virtue of a bowl of lentils, which he'd been preparing, and used to buy his elder brother's birthright (and, by the way, went on to wrestle an angel) filtered that patriarchal event through many centuries so that the food became an Italian New Year's tradition: a required item on the New Year's menu -- Eve or Day, their shape brings to mind tiny coins and people eat them in the hope that they won't want for anything for the coming year.

Lentils are very versatile, and, not to mention, nutritious. Therefore, two recipes are offered -- one more traditional than the other along with young gentlemen who seem to be quite versatile themselves. While it wouldn't be right to refer to them as nutritious, it seems they may know a thing or two about nutrition and wrestling angels

Zuppa di Lenticchie (Lentil Soup)

2 tablespoons fruity Olive Oil
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 medium onion, diced
1 small fennel bulb, diced
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup lentils, rinsed, etc.
2 teaspoons sea salt
pepper to taste
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

1. Heat half the olive oil in large pot.
2. Add garlic, onion and fennel. Saute until soft [5 minutes]
3. Add the broth and lentils. Bring to a boil.
4. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until lentils are tender [about 45 minutes]
5. Serves 6 people. Drizzle olive oil over each serving and garnish with fresh basil.
[Romano or parmesan cheese]

Lentil Tapenade

One Cup Lentils
20 ounces of Broth
Chopped Garlic, 2 tablespoons
Sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained, dried and slivered
Aromatic Olive Oil
Anchovy paste
Capers, three tablespoons
Olives, any Mediterranean type, pitted, chopped, 1/2 cup
Fresh Lemon Juice, two tablespoons
Sea salt and ground pepper
Chopped Italian Parsley
One Lemon Slice

1. Rinse and drain the lentils
2. Simmer the lentils in the broth
with the garlic and tomatoes
in a large saucepan from 30-45 minutes
or until they are cooked
3. Place the saucepan ingredients
in a processor for about 30 seconds,
scraping the sides several times.
4. Add the oil, a couple drops of the anchovy paste,
capers and chopped olives, lemon juice and salt/pepper to taste.
Continue processing until smooth, once again scraping down the sides
5. Add 1/2 cup of the parsley; pulse several times to blend.
6. Transfer to a serving dish, garnish with lemon and parsley.

This is for crostini, or fresh bread, or pita chips
and the recipe is a variation of Julee Rosso's
who probably knows a lot more about nutrition than wrestling angels.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Gay Thursday: Odds 'n Sods

Something a little different. Still mostly vintage, but not couples.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Wednesday Word: Love the One You're With

There are many tags and names for temporary liaisons: tryst, one night stand, trick, and, of course, oh-christ-was-I-drunk-last-night. In Italian it is an avventura, an adventure. The less evolved experience is nothing more than glorified masturbation. The best experiences are truly adventures in creative love making. This post is in praise of that kind of promiscuity.

Part of the liberation that came about on the threshold of the 70s and well into that decade meant for many gay men that it was time to openly participate in finding the love of life, even if it meant only temporarily. While that may sound offhand, it is very true.

There's something to be said for the sweet and sad emotional recollection of a memorable hour, afternoon or night spent with someone. This speaks to a different kind of morality--one which reminds us to celebrate humanity in all of its expressions. It is possible to love someone temporarily.

The 80s crashed with the reality of safe sex. Still safe sex does not mean that the loving need end. This week's music is headed by Joan Baez's hymn to the beauty of loving a stranger. It is followed by Stephen Stills exhortation sung by Jean Terrell with The Supremes and Four Tops. Evie Sands' claim to fame rounds it out, reminding us that love in the traditional sense may have nothing to do with it, but it is love in the end.

Love Song To A Stranger lyrics

(Words and Music by Joan Baez)

How long since I've spent a whole night in a twin bed with a stranger
His warm arms all around me?
How long since I've gazed into dark eyes that melted my soul down
To a place where it longs to be?
All of your history has little to do with your face
You're mainly a mystery with violins filling in space

You stood in the nude by the mirror and picked out a rose
From the bouquet in our hotel
And lay down beside me again and I watched the rose
On the pillow as it fell
I sank and I slept in a twilight with only one care
To know that when day broke and I woke that you'd still be there

The hours for once they passed slowly, unendingly by
Like a sweet breeze on a field
Your gentleness came down upon me and I guess I thanked you
When you caused me to yield
We spoke not a sentence and took not a footstep beyond
Our two days together which seemingly soon would be gone

Don't tell me of love everlasting and other sad dreams
I don't want to hear
Just tell me of passionate strangers who rescue each other
From a lifetime of cares
Because if love means forever, expecting nothing returned
Then I hope I'll be given another whole lifetime to learn

Because you gave to me oh so many things it makes me wonder
How they could belong to me
And I gave you only my dark eyes that melted your soul down
To a place where it longs to be

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Come Visit Between the Holidays

One can only hazard a guess regarding Anthony Catanzaro's Italian origins. Sicily may quite possibly be part of it. There's no doubt that many would like to call one thigh "Xmas" and the other "New Year's" and would love to come visit between the holidays. This time of year as we all know is rife with all sorts of sweets. Here is a recipe for something sweet other than a testosterone laden one that comes from the Meditrerranean. It is unique and it does the trick.

Something Sicilian: Cucidati/Cucurreddi

Pasta Frolla:
4 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces
4 large eggs

Fig Filling:
12 ounces (about 2 cups) dried Calimyrna figs
1/2 cup raisins
1/3 cup candied orange peel, diced
1/3 cup whole almonds or pine nuts, chopped and lightly toasted
3 ounces semisweet chocolate, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1/3 cup apricot preserves
3 tablespoons dark rum
1 teaspoon instant espresso coffee granules
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Egg wash:
1 large egg, well beaten with 1 pinch salt


Confectioner's sugar emulsified with orange juice

Multi-colored nonpareils for finishing before baking

2 or 3 cookie sheets or jelly roll pans covered with parchment or foil

1. To make the dough, in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Pulse two or three times to mix. Add the butter and pulse repeatedly until it it finely incorporated and the mixture is cool and powdery. Add the eggs, all at once, and continue to pulse until the dough forms a ball. Scrape the dough onto a floured surface, then place it on a piece of plastic wrap. Press the dough into a square about an inch thick and wrap it. Chill the dough while preparing the filling.

2. For the filling, in a large bowl, stem and dice the figs. If they are hard, place them in a saucepan, cover them with water, and bring them to a boil over medium heat. Drain the figs in a strainer and allow them to cool before proceeding.

3. In a bowl, combine the diced figs with the rest of the filling ingredients and stir them together. In the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade, pulse to grind the filling mixture finely. Scrape the filling back into the bowl used to mix it.

4. When you are ready to bake the cucidati, set the racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 350°.

5. Take the dough out of the refrigerator, unwrap it, and place it on a floured surface. Knead the dough lightly to make it malleable again and rollit up into a cylinder. Cut the cylinder into twelve equal pieces. One at a time, on a floured surface, flatten each and make it into a rectangle 3 inches wide and 12 inches long. Paint the wash on the dough and evenly distribute 1/3 cup filling down its length. Bring the edges of dough up around the filling to enclose it, then press the edges of the dough together firmly to seal in the filling. Use your palms to roll over the filled cylinder of dough until it extends to 15 inches, then cut it into 3-inch lengths. Set the filled cylinders aside while filling, rolling, and cutting the other pieces of dough.

6. To finish shaping the cucidati, use the point of a sharp knife to slash six or eight diagonal cuts in the top of each filled cylinder of dough. Place each slashed cookie on one of the prepared pans, and curve it into a horseshoe shape. Leave about an inch all around between the cookies.

7. After all the cucidati are on pans, paint the outsides lightly with the egg wash and sprinkle them sparingly with the non-pareils.

8. Bake the cookies for about 20 minutes, or until they are a light golden color. Slide the papers from the pans to racks.

9. Store the cooled cookies between sheets of parchment or wax paper in a tin or plastic container with a tight-fitting cover.

Monday, December 27, 2010

And the Word Was Made Flesh: John the Beloved

Et Verbum Caro Factum Est et Habitavit in Nobis. And the Word was Made Flesh and dwelt among us. The Word that came forth from God was made Flesh. Exegesis of ancient philosophy and thought places much emphasis on the power of the word. The Word that came from God took form in humanity. That’s what Jesus is supposedly all about: God and humanity as one and the same entity.

John, the Beloved Disciple is the attributed author of the above quote which is essential to the Liturgy of the Word in Roman Catholic ritual, and is part of that ritual on Xmas. John was the one whose head rested on the chest of the Lord during the Last Supper. John was the one to whom the Lord entrusted his mother when he was dying. John is usually depicted as a young handsome man. He is the Beloved above and beyond the rest of the disciples.

A type of intimacy was attributed to and recorded about John's relationship to Jesus. Let it be said here and now that Jesus Christ, according to the accepted Sacred Gospels, one of which was accordingly written by John the Beloved, said absolutely nothing that directly condemned same sex relationships.

The theology that John’s writings exhibit has to do with the Divine inhabiting and becoming flesh and eventually overcoming the mortality of the flesh. It is the cornerstone of Xtianity.

It is John who is the only disciple who survived martyrdom and lived to a ripe old age. It is John who had numerable mystical visions that gave the world the Book of the Apocalypse, a.k.a. Revelations. It is John who points the way to overcoming the ravages of the Beast upon humanity. It is John and his relationship with the god-made-man that may very well point the way to acceptance of all human beings being exactly what God made them in all their glory.

John’s Feast is December 27th and celebrated during the Octave of Xmas.

Speaking of beloved John, was Jesus gay?

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Your Sunday Stud: Love Is All You Need

There's your beefcake homily.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Your Saturday Beefcake Xmas Stud

Not Jacob Marley

The model is Osiris Cruz. His name brings to mind the very Christlike legend of the Egyptian God Osiris:

Osiris grew and became a mighty king. He went about the job of civilizing his people. He taught them agriculture and animal husbandry. He gave them a code of laws to live by and showed them the proper ways in which to worship the gods. Egypt became a mighty land under his kind and gentle rule. His subjects gladly worshiped the ground on which he walked. When Egypt was civilized, Osiris left to bring his teachings to other lands...read more here.

Come Into the Light

As Above So Below

As Without So Within

Peace and Merry Be,


Friday, December 24, 2010

Xmas Eve and Fruits of the Sea

This is planning ahead for the tradition that calls for the eating of seven fishes for Xmas eve. This recipe comes from the Ritz-Carlton and the young men, of course, can be considered sea worthy bounty or something like that.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Wednesday Word: Being Gay is a Gift from God

Here are two posts from the past:

Gay love is good because all Love is good in spite of what some of the ignorance on Oprah's message board purports. Go here. If you believe in a benevolent God, which is what the Xtian god is supposed to be, the smiting and the fire and the brimstone is of an unevolved era, a bygone era when Hebrews were slaves to the mighty Pharoahs. You may have noticed that it's no longer the case. Jesus Christ never mentioned homosexuality in the New Testament. The Old Testament writings come from another era. They are writings not unlike the thinking of terrorists. Yes, homosexuality is a gift from Creation. Homosexuals feel just as good about what they do as non-homosexuals, maybe even better about it, because we have learned to celebrate it.

In the days when one saw hope for conventional, global religions reaching out to real people and making an impact on the real world, there were two publications that were de rigueur for the progressive, professional Xtian: Your God is Too Small by J.B. Phillips and Malcolm Boyd's devotional poetry in Are You running With Me Jesus?

The Churches lagged far behind many forward thinkers of those times who had no choice but to pursue their paths outside the realm of those organizations.

It was with great pleasure to discover that Malcolm Boyd came out publicly with his sexuality and that he partnered up with an equally forward thinking spiritual gay person in Mark Thompson, the editor of an anthology first published in 1987, Gay Spirit: Myth and Meaning. Go to his website to get more information on this and other books.

Gay Spirit calls gay people back to the Circle of Life as full participants in the dance of survival and joy…this anthology is like the rains of spring hastening our unique growth, flowering and fruition.” --Gay Community News

It seems that as we rapidly tumble toward another presidential election [or in the aftermath of a modterm election], that the issue of gay rights remains upfront. It comes up all over the place in North America and gets put to a vote. Asking people to vote on it with their respective Churches looking over their shoulders puts the issue at a disadvantage. After all, Jennifer Hudson who apparently loves gay people still will declare that it is a sin. While, Europe seems to just allow rights for gay people, since unions there can be simply civil and the separation of Church and State is finally being taken seriously there after centuries of turmoil and persecution. Perhaps religion is being relegated to a less important role in daily living. Governments provide benefits for all their citizens, including those who love and live with members of the same sex. Religion does something else. It does not govern. It renders all of that to Caesar.

Religion in North America is paramount in peoples' lives if one were to believe what politicians seem to be acknowledging and pandering to. It seems that the latest Xtian crusade is to save the world from evil homosexuals.

In his brilliant introduction to Gay Spirit, Mark Thompson wrote:

In a world so used up, where even hope has been betrayed as a disposable commodity, there stands a vision of the future as magnificent and shimmering as the silver sword plunged into stone. The sword is known by many names. For some people its name is 'gay,' and it has released them from a long buried past. Sustained by a sexuality as old as humankind but mired in the depths of Western consciousness, which has tried either to colonize or to destroy them (as it has so many others), these gay people finally stand at the edge of our time, resilient and resourceful, tending to the new life necessary for the future ... Gay Spirit, the psychic and creative energies generated by people we now call 'gay,' has always existed on the outershores of our culture's collective consciousness ... In creating new myths for themselves, gay people need to return to the questions ...: Who are we? Where have we come from? What are we here for?

They are questions that religion attempts to answer. Religion also attempts to help define one's identity in terms of one's beliefs.

Perhaps in the silliness evolved around religion in North America and its privileged status, it may be time for a gay religion. Institutionalizing homosexuality as a religion and forging a gay identity via that institution may be the answer in establishing gay rights.

Above and beyond the tax exempt status it will provide protection for couples and their households. It is not so absurd an idea as one might think. It would suffice to focus on the dogmas and tenents of the major religions as well as a few minor ones, in comparison to those that might be associated with a gay spirituality organized into a religion. Maybe not so crazy. Just a thought.

If God didn't create Adam & Steve (pictured), it's also very possible that he didn't create Adam & Eve either. If there's a belief in God as Creator, then that God created Adam, Eve, Steve and every other kind of being in the garden of humanity.

God bless us, everyone.

-- Tiny Tim

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Happy Solstice: Merry Be This Yuletide

In the Northern Hemisphere, the Winter Solstice occurs on December 21, 2010 18:38 EST.

'Tis the shortest day of the year, yet it is out of the darkness that we celebrate and await the light.

We are forever on our way.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Monday Music: Darlene Love

We do this every year just like David Letterman:

Darlene Love continues to make her mark on David Letterman’s yearly Yuletide show with her perennial hit, “Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home)” which made its debut in the watershed year, 1963.

It was the year before the arrival of the Beatles and the memory which serves well brings to mind “Heat Wave,” “Anyone Who Had A Heart,” “Cry Baby,” “He’s Sure the Boy I love,” and “One Fine Day” among so many other hit songs that year. President Kennedy provided the world with its first movie star world leader with his classy First Lady. The Cuban Missile Crisis and The Bay of Pigs Invasion were behind us. Oh it wasn’t idyllic but the young baby boomers at least had everything in its appropriate place and were optimistic.

Darlene Love was hard at work on what was to become a Christmas music stalwart with the above standout original piece. Here is what she herself tells us about its inception in her autobiography, My Name Is Love:

The summer of 1963 was especially hot, and we were holed up in Gold Star almost the entire time, until two, three, four in the morning. For one we all welcomed Phil’s slave-driving schedule. The more we did the songs, the more the whole project took on its own life, personality, and history. We didn’t know we were building monuments in those days, except when it came to the Christmas album. Early on we knew that this was a landmark, that once in a lifetime opportunity that God bestows on some to change the course of events.

Jeff [Barry] and Ellie [Greenwich] really delivered the goods … proving one more time that the best Christmas songs, like the best love songs are about loss … “Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home)” was so good that I just assumed it would go to
Ronnie [Spector, of the Ronettes].

But poor Ronnie didn’t have enough circuits to handle the high voltage that Phil [Spector] wanted, and so he gave [the song] to me, and it turned out to be the record I’d been waiting to make with Phil in the year I’d known him. This song was even more powerful than “He’s A Rebel,” and this time it would have my name on it. As with all the sessions Phil didn’t want us to be too prepared, so we never even knew what keys we were going to sing in until we got to the studio … The more we worked the greater it all sounded. One night it got so late that my head just dropped behind me and my big old red wig fell off! All the musicians were happy because that finally ended the session.

…. Leon Russell was on the piano, and by the last takes he was playing so hard it was almost like a concerto. He played himself right off the bench and onto the floor and kept on playing. Cher was on background and has this to say: “Darlene started to sing and the hair stood up all over my body. It was a performance that made time stop. When she finished Fanita [one of The Blossoms] fell over with both her hands up in the air.”

… We didn’t finish the album until the end of September … Phil was going to make his first concept album a classic. It was set for release on November 22, 1963, a Friday. A little late in the game, but Phil was banking on an out-of-the-box smash that would sell for years to come.

… in the kitchen, cooking dinner, doing some ironing with the TV on in the living room … I froze over the stove, wooden spoon in hand. … And even though the reporters didn’t say that the back of his head had been blown off, I knew … that it was pretty bad. I probably picked up a napkin to wipe away some tears, and with them all thought of the Christmas album.

Darlene goes on to explain how the album was released and then withdrawn because of the dark cloud that hovered above the nation. The album, of course, has gone on to be released and re-released resurfacing every year as does Darlene’s magnificent performance. Darlene continued to work throughout the decade but those who admired her and her talent had to look hard for her. There was never enough of her.

Phil Spector's Christmas opus emerged as America journeyed across a piece of time that changed it forever. America was on the threshold of the British Invasion and the Vietnamese Escalation. Five years down the line 1968 would explode. Then as now there is the yearning for those who are far away and the loss that makes for classic artistic expression. The album and Darlene's song persist as does the loss that dogs us across generations

"Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home)"

It's Christmas

Baby, please come home

The snow's coming down
I'm watching it fall
Watching the people around
Baby please co
me home

The church bells in town
They're ringing a song
What a happy sound
Baby please co
me home

They're singing deck the halls
But it's not like Christmas at all
I re
member when you were here
And all the fun we had last year

Pretty lights on the tree
I'm watching 'em shine

You should be here with me
Baby please co
me home

Baby please co
me home
Baby please co
me home

They're singing deck the halls
But it's not like Christmas at all
I re
member when you were here
And all the fun we had last year

If there was a way
I'd hold back these tears
But it's Christmas day
Baby please co
me home

Baby please co
me home
Baby please co
me home
Baby please co
me home
Baby please co
me home
Baby please co
me home