Thursday, August 26, 2010




Jessi & Patricia

"The "Four-Inch Regulation" or "Four-Inch Law" is a colloquial name for a regulation issued by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 1975, restricting the sale of turtles with a carapace length of less than four inches. Exceptions are provided for scientific and educational use, export, and private sale."
"About 142,000 Americans are infected each year with Salmonella enteritidis from chicken eggs, and about 30 die."

I like eggs. I really do. They are tasty, versatile, nutritious. They're fun to throw at people. You can dye eggs for central Christian religious feasts, and hide them so small children will never find them.
You can fry them. You can scramble them. You can poach them. You can bake them. You can microwave the hell out'a them. A lot of recipes simply insist that eggs go into them. You can cook them on just one side, or flip'em over and cook both sides a little. You can slather them all over bread and make French toast. You can even cut a round hole in a slice of bread and slip an egg in there and fry that! If you blow hydrogen into the empty shells they can be used as floatation devices incase your ship sinks, etc., etc., etc. See what I mean about being versatile!
One egg has 13 essential vitamins and minerals, high-quality protein, unsaturated fats and antioxidants, all for 60 to 70 calories. See what I mean about being nutritious.
Eggs recently were considered little "cholesterol bombs," and people who ate a whole bunch of them regularly were thought likely to keel over from heart attacks. Now they say that's not true, that folks can eat one or two eggs a day without risk.
And eggs are tasty. When I think about breakfast I automatically think about eggs. I don't know why. Maybe it's because I've eaten them all of my life and I've gotten used to them by now. I guess I can blame my parents for getting me hooked on eggs, an habituation I have to this day. Why I had two eggs just yesterday morning, microwaved (my lovely case manager, Erin, goes nuts when I tell her I like microwaved food. I don't know why. She even uses a microwave to heat up her soup for lunch. All a microwave does is make water molecules vibrate really fast. How innocuous is that? She is prejudiced against microwaved cooked food though. She thinks something is lost when you cook anything that way, maybe taste perhaps, or nutrition. She prefers conventional cooking methods, and cringes every time I mention putting something in a microwave. She's silly), with little chopped up onions and mushrooms in them. They were good. I wish I had some right now.
A week ago last Thursday I accompanied case manager Paul to the Vallarta Supermarket just up the street from my box, about a mile or so, on Whittier Blvd. in what is known to some as East Los Angeles. We were there to shop for the upcoming Cooking Club, buying ingredients for "Chilaquiles," which Paul wanted to make. Chilaquiles is an Hispanic dish (The name chilaquiles is derived from the Nahuatl (a branch of the Uto-Aztecan language family) word chil-a-quilitl which means "herbs or greens in chile broth) consisting of fried corn tortillas, salsa, and eggs (we scrambled them). You can add whatever you think might taste good with these as a topping, like onions, cilantro, sour cream, cheese, etc.
Normally my lovely case manager, Erin, would shop with Paul on occasions such as this, but she was off lollygagging at her doctor's office, or something, and was nowhere to be found, and Paul needed guidance and supervision so I tagged along.
The Vallarta Supermarket is a wonderful place. I shop there sometimes to buy frozen burittos, but they have a whole lot of other things there to buy. It caters to a mostly Hispanic community, and appropriately sells a great deal of Hispanic food and ingredients for Hispanic foods.
This was the first time Paul had been there though, and he really liked it. We were there as a direct result of Paul having read in the paper the page with the store's weekly specials, and one of them was 5 dozen eggs for $2.98. That's $2.98 for 60 freaking eggs (medium size). That's almost like a nickel an egg! That's better than the 99 Cent Store, where (1) they sell 1 dozen eggs for a buck, and (2) they often limit the amount you can buy to 2 dozen a customer.
Well our Chilaquiles recipe required eggs, so we bought 60 of the little bastards. We weren't going to use all 60, so Paul said I could have 30 of them. That's almost like half of what we bought! I took those 30 eggs to my box and had to find places in my small refrigerator to store them all. I still have some. I'm looking at some of them right now sitting in my vegetable bin. I'll eat them by and by.
We bought a whole bunch of other things as well, like about 200 corn tortillas (we only used about 70 of them), Mexican cream (whatever that is) and queso fresco cheese from the Meat Dept. Avocados, limes, ancho chilies, and so on.
I bought a little jar of mayonnaise for my personal consumption. I'd wanted one for a long time but no one would buy one for me. Not even Erin.
I would have bought her a little jar of mayonnaise if she had wanted one.
I also bought some chicken nuggets. Not very Hispanic of me, I admit.
We took all of our purchases to the Olympia Hotel just in time for the 11:30 Cooking Club as luck would have it. Patricia was there, Charlotte, Watson, Johannes, a few others. The Cooking Club regulars. I'm the only one from the Las Americas who shows up on a consistent basis, and I only do that to support my case manager in her endeavors so she won't lose her job and turn into a crack whore (hence my resentment concerning the mayonnaise).
Erin had finished her business with her doctor. She of course was on a special diet due to her tender throat and would not be able to eat what we were preparing, but she helped us make it.
At first I was put in charge of peeling the avocados and slicing them length wise into manageable pieces. I did this with cool aplomb.
Next I was asked to fry the corn tortillas. I cut each in two, immersed two of the pieces at a time into hot olive oil until they began to turn brown and crispy, at which point I took them out of the oil, setting them on a paper towel to drain a bit before transferring them to a large cooking pan where the final assembly of the entire chilaquile dish was to occur. I did this for about 70 tortillas, or 140 individual pieces, until Paul cried, "I think we have enough tortillas, Rick. You can stop now."
"But we have so many more tortillas," I explained to him. Indeed, we had many more and I wanted to fry them all!
"Yes, Rick, I know, but I think we've got enough."
So he wouldn't let me fry anymore, and what has happened to the remaining 130 corn tortillas... well, only Paul and Erin know, and they're not talking.
Next, I helped Erin scramble those 30 eggs. It is relatively easy to scramble eggs, even 30 of them all at one time. You just throw them in a pan and cook them until they're done. Erin and I made quick work of it (she did most of the work actually, and I'm proud to say she is a fine egg cooker).
I shoveled out the eggs on top of the tortillas. Paul and others dumped two types of salsa on top of that and we were ready to eat.
At this time Erin's mom, the lovely Patricia, who we've met before (see, Meeting Patricia 1 & 2, from last September), her lovely 15 year old step sister, Jessi, and her step dad (I don't remember his name, who cares?) arrived. They were visiting from New Jersey, and had recently been to Reno Nevada and Yosemite National Park. They were in L.A. for a few days to visit Erin. All of them would soon leave to spend the weekend up in Sequoia National Park.
Apparently they like trees. Perhaps there are none in New Jersey.
Jessi is adorable, with wide, bright eyes, and Patricia, is gorgous and, well, lovely, as you can tell for yourselves, dear readers, from the above picture.
Erin's step dad I can take or leave.
So all of us dug in and enjoyed Paul's chilaquiles. They were good. I put cheese, Mexican cream (Mexico's answer to sour cream, I guess), and avocados on mine. Erin ate some skinless chicken and veggies she had left over from the night before, while her family took up our Mexican fare.
I talked to Erin's family about the weather.
After eating Erin took her family on a tour of the Olympia (whoopee!). I ducted out with the 30 eggs that Paul had given me, and hurriedly made my way to my box to hide them.
Rarely do I consider what eggs actually are, or where they come from before I eat them. A lot of people don't. But eggs are actually cells, used by birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fish to reproduce. I wonder if the "Right To Life," people eat eggs.
Last week, eggs gained a prominent place in the national news as outbreaks of salmonella had been reported with about 1,300 people getting sick from the bacterial infection. A recall of nearly half a billion eggs had been ordered.
And then I wondered why Paul and I had gotten our eggs so cheap...

To be continued.

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