When local author and comedian, Bill Snyder, needed a portrait for his laugh-out-loud book of short stories, The Eight-Fingered Criminal’s Son, I was happy to oblige. I think we perfectly captured Bill’s quirky sense of physical humor with this one. And for all you youngsters, that’s an honest-to-God payphone, like in the Maroon 5 song.
In The Spirit Guide Bar, his just released follow-up, Bill takes a slightly more serious path, evoking the likes of Bukowski and Hemingway. Given this, and with South Mountain playing a key role in the book, we decided on something a bit more rugged. Just prior to this photograph, in what can only be described as a Festivus-worthy feat of strength, Bill lifted up the rock to his left and leaned it against the larger boulder. I estimate it weighed at least 1000 pounds. “Papa” would have been proud.
Feijoada evolved from Brazilian slaves who boiled a pot of black beans with discarded bits of pork. In modern Brazil, the meat and sausage are sometimes removed and served separately from the beans along with various other dishes including white rice, kale, orange slices, pico de gallo and farofa. Or you can serve it directly from the stockpot onto a bed of white rice with a sprinkling of farihna de mandioca (manioc flour).
Here is our family recipe with roots in northeastern Brazil.
Ingredients (feeds twelve):
Chuck steak – 3 pounds
Pork or beef ribs – 2 pounds
Smoked ham hock
Smoked Kielbasa sausage – 2 sausages
Smoked Canadian bacon – 1 package
Lemons – 2
Garlic – 6 cloves
Black beans – 3 pounds
Onions – 2
Tomato paste – small can
Salt; cumin; crushed red pepper; Canola oil; bay leaves; balsamic vinegar
Remove excess fat from chuck steak; cut a lemon in half and scrub the steak and ribs while rinsing with water; cut the chuck steak into medium size pieces
Chop garlic cloves; combine with several spoonfuls of salt and crush with mortar and pestle; put in large stockpot
Add 2 to 3 spoonfuls of cumin and red pepper to taste
Add meat to stockpot and cover with garlic and spices
Squeeze in juice from second lemon and add a small amount of water
Cover and refrigerate (typically overnight)
Remove any small rocks or dirt from black beans (you can do this on Day 1 if you like)
Rinse beans and soak in water for at least 30 minutes
Remove meat from stockpot
Fill a teapot with water and heat
Dice onions (and a jalapeno pepper or two with seeds removed for a bit more kick) and put in stockpot
Add 2 tablespoons of Canola oil and another sprinkle or two of salt
Brown the onions on medium high heat
Add 3 bay leaves, the tomato paste, a small amount of water and cumin, red pepper and balsamic vinegar to taste
Add the chuck steak and ribs; slice and add the Canadian bacon
Occasionally turn meat until brown on all sides
Simultaneously boil ham hock for 5 to 10 minutes and add to stockpot
Drain water from and add beans to stockpot
Add heated water from teapot so water level is approximately even with contents
Cover and heat to boil; then lower heat and simmer
Stir every 5 to 10 minutes to keep beans at bottom of stockpot from burning
Add additional heated water to maintain water level
Once beans start to soften, slice and add Kielbasa sausage
Add additional salt, cumin, red pepper and balsamic vinegar to taste
Serve when beans are appropriately soft (usually about 3 hours after beans are added)
Yesterday’s rare Phoenix snowstorm coincided with an extra busy workday so I relied on twitter to keep up with the action. I was finally able to break free this afternoon and took this photograph of the snow-capped Superstition Mountains from one of the iconic photography spots around town – Lost Dutchman Boulevard just east of Idaho Road.
Check out these great shots captured at or near this spot:
Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better. ~Albert Einstein
Obviously, the contrivance of a SeaWorld performance isn’t quite what Einstein had in mind. Still, seeing the majestic orcas up close reminded me of the extraordinary beauty and complexity of this world we live in. And it reminded me that my troubles are the tiniest of trivialities in the grand scheme of things.