On today's snowy day, way before setting out to make Rapini aka Broccoli Rabe with Chilies and Garlic, I started out by finding a list of the current members of the U.S. Congress on the internet. It was a really good list with links to each congress person. One list was for senators, one for representatives in the house. There were red and blue bullets distinguishing party, years in office, State, and Term end dates.
I started working my way down the list with Republican Senators. I discovered that if you google contact for Senator so and so, the contact form comes up right away. I am a shy person, and I find emailing easier than facing the dreaded phone, though, I thought that after sending all of my emails, I would tackle the phoning next. I also discovered that if you google Senator so and so office locations, you may find all of the various phone numbers by which you may reach the Senator, especially when the Washington office line is all tied up or full. I found a script from a Facebook post by Indivisible, and copied and pasted, and adjusted the text according to which Senator I was addressing my concerns as a U.S. citizen. The script went something like this:
Hi, my name is _______ and I’m a constituent from _______. I’m furious that the senator/rep voted to pass this tax bill.
Only 30% of Americans approve of this proposal because it’s nothing more than a handout for the wealthy at the expense of working Americans—the CBO score shows that it will actually raise taxes immediately for many working Americans, including teachers, students, people with disabilities, and residents of states with high local tax burdens.
Furthermore, cutting corporate tax rates will benefit CEOs, not workers. Reducing the estate tax would benefit only a small group of the richest Americans. As if that weren’t bad enough, repealing the ACA’s individual mandate would cause 13 million people to lose their health insurance and destabilize health insurance markets. Adding $1 trillion to the deficit is reckless and destructive, and not what the GOP claims to stand for.
[ADD IN PERSONAL DETAILS ABOUT HOW THE TAX BILL AFFECTS YOU AND YOUR FAMILY]
I ask that s/he change their vote and vote no on the final version of the bill. If not, I will work with my community to defeat him/her in the next election.
By the way, if you are ever feeling overwhelmed by the political climate, you can find posts on Facebook that are quite informative, and you can save them. You may then refer back to them when you are less overwhelmed and ready to take action, and join the resistance.
So, I did not go to yoga class, but started in on these emails, because I felt that I would feel badly about myself if I did not make any effort toward making a difference.
However, I did need to take a break to pick up my car from the garage. I had brought it in for a service. It usually involves an oil change - and they would change out the spark plugs in the old days, but I don't even think there are spark plugs anymore. It turns out that I needed four new tires, and a new battery, and some other lesser work. I think I love my mechanic. My car is a battered up and filthy 2001 Toyota Corolla, and he treats it as well as he would a brand new Mercedes. Alejandro gave me a number to call to order the tires, and have them delivered to his shop. Totally easy peasy and painless on my end.
When I arrived to pick up the car, Alejandro had a friend, sitting at the desk behind the service counter. They were having a conversation about cooking a hunk of meat for the holiday. I couldn't quite catch the name of the dish, but was informed that it was actually a specialty of Puerto Rico. The man asked if I remembered the opening of The Flintstones, where Fred and family go to the Bronco Burgers and Ribs drive-in after a drive-in movie, and the waitress hooks some meat on the window of the car, and the car falls over. That rack of meat was exactly what this dish was like. The gentleman was searching the internet for recipes, in order to find and then combine the best features from the recipes he reviewed. This is a good practice, when you want to try a new recipe, dear reader.
Timing for having picked up my car was perfect. I drove onto my block just in time to snag a Friday side spot when double-sided parking to accommodate alternate side parking, ended. I was good for another week.
When I got back to the house, I was feeling a bit peckish, and decided to stop being lazy and Cook the Kitchen, so to speak. I had a beautiful head of rapini, aka broccoli rabe, and it was time to cook it. I had chosen the recipe for Rapini with Chilies and Garlic from the "Franny's" cookbook by Andrew Feinberg, Francine Stephens, and Melissa Clark. I learned some things in the makings. Usually, I wash the produce, heat the oil in the pan, and plop all of the vegetable into the pan for wilting. But our cookbook authors instruct us as follows, which I tried for the first time in my life, and found very useful, and surprisingly simple.
Add a handful of the broccoli rabe and cook until wilted. Move the wilted rabe to one side, add the next batch, and cook until wilted; continue until all the rabe is wilted."
When my Rapini aka Broccoli Rabe with Chilies and Garlic was finished and put aside in a bowl, I went on to make quinoa, and started to roast some winter squash. I put together my three ingredients for a simple Buddha Bowl, photos of which are featured at the beginning and end of this post..
Here is the story of what inspired me to make my own Buddha bowl with rapini aka broccoli rabe. Earlier in the week, when I had first dropped off my car at the garage for service and repairs, I wound up wandering around Brooklyn by foot. First I went to the new Apple store close to BAM and the Barclays Center, to have the battery replaced on my iPhone.
Afterward, I walked to DeKalb and visited an area with some popular restaurants. I had not been there in awhile, so it was interesting to see which survived or changed, morphing into something new.
From there, I walked down Atlantic toward the Heights and visited a Garden store I liked, and imagined buying some new pots from them in the Spring, to change up the look of my garden. I perused the menu of the Mile End Deli down the block.
Then I walked back the the area around the Brooklyn Academy of Music, and wound up buying a Buddha bowl for lunch at the Baba Cool Cafe. Baba's is a slip of a restaurant. I had noticed that it was packed with diners the last time I attended an evening event at BAM, a good sign that the food would be good.
While eating and killing time till I thought I would be able to pick up my car, not knowing it would need to stay in the shop for days, I thought about making my own Buddha Bowls. Simple and healthy is what I am looking for these days. And so, here we are, coming full circle to this recipe for Rapini aka Broccoli Rabe with Chilies and Garlic. Enjoy!
In the meanwhile, it is time for me to continue making my voice heard, before the GOP votes in their tax bill, which is "reckless and destructive" in so many ways. I hear that they have the numbers to pass the bill now. But I have persisted and wrote to all the Republican Senators since I started this post. By the way, I leaned that the Representatives of the House do not accept emails from citizens outside their state, which I think is wrong if their vote affects all citizens of the country. So I have started following each on twitter and tweeting my opinion on the tax bill.
Next step, is to write and protest the repeal of net neutrality. As we used to say in the sixties, "keep the faith."
Rapini aka Broccoli Rabe with Chilies and Garlic
- 1-½ tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil plus more for drizzling
- 2 large garlic cloves smashed and peeled, plus 1 clove peeled
- ¼ teaspoon chili flakes
- 8 ounces 1 small bunch broccoli rabe, tough ends trimmed
- ⅓ teaspoon kosher salt plus a pinch
- Juice of ¼ lemon
- Freshly cracked black pepper
- Four ¾ inch-thick slices country-style bread
- ½ cup grated ricotta salata
In a large skillet, warm 1-½ tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat. Add the smashed garlic and cook for 30 to 40 seconds, until fragrant but not browned. Add the chili flakes and cook for 10 seconds. Add a handful of the broccoli rabe and cook until wilted. Move the wilted rabe to one side, add the next batch, and cook until wilted; continue until all the rabe is wilted. Add the ¼ teaspoon salt and ⅓ cup water to the skillet. Bring to a boil, cover and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, until the rabe is tender and most of the liquid is gone but some moisture remains. If the pan looks dry before the rabe is tender, add more water 1 tablespoon at a time as needed. Transfer the greens to a plate to let cool.
Chop the rabe, especially the large stems, into small pieces. Toss with the lemon juice, the 2 teaspoons olive oil, the pinch of salt, and a few turns of black pepper.
Preheat the broiler. Drizzle one side of the bread slices with olive oil. Toast, oiled side up until golden and crisp. 1 to 2 minutes. Rub the oiled side of the toasts with the remaining garlic clove. Drizzle the toasts with a few drops of olive oil, top with the greens, sprinkle with the cheese, and grind on additional black pepper. Serve immediately.
Andrews Note: Because these crostini are so simple, with only two basic elements, rapini and cheese, you want aggressive olive oil to bring out all the flavors. Use the spiciest, grassiest oil you can get; just a drizzle will make a huge difference in the taste. Also, while you can make this with supermarket broccoli rabe and it will be good, it becomes really special when you use a bunch from the farmers' market. It's both sweeter and more pungent, and sometimes there are yellow flowers still attached, which makes for an attractive presentation.