Well, after being somewhat maudlin last week about Georgia opening up vaccines before we did, things have turned around very quickly: Kaiser opened up its vaccine supply to those of us in the coveted “fat enough to get shitty comments from doctors but not to qualify under state Covid restrictions” demographic, and then the state opened up vaccines to everyone for later this month anyway, and I was able to schedule one at the Kaiser by my house. (You may remember it from the “that time that my neighborfriend drove my ass to the emergency room at 4am in a pandemic because I thought I was going to die” installment of this newsletter. Smell ya later, gallbladder.)
It was the furthest away from home I’ve been on foot in basically a year, which felt very, very strange as someone who doesn’t own a car and normally spends a lot of time on LA’s public transit and my own feet. Everything was familiar (most stores and things have survived, and I have been driven by it a few times by kindly friends as we went to the park and such) but strange; I had forgotten about which side of the street is more comfortable to walk on, which I used to keep top of mind in a place whose defining weather feature is sun.
Because it’s Los Angeles and I live near Big Blue (which is in and of itself next to Kaiser, because I guess that’s what happens if you sell a hospital to Scientologists—another one winds up next to it), I wandered through their weird little campus and tried not to think about how there’s definitely a prison inside of it while I walked through the little open air dining pavilion they’ve set up. The buildings are beautiful (if blue) and it makes it extra weird that everyone there is dressed like a cater waiter and also in a spooky, spooky cult that has so much money.
The vaccination process itself was uneventful. It reminded me that I like hospitals, because they seem efficient and they’re full of people who are paying attention to things. I am at my happiest when some person with a clipboard and scrubs is asking me perfunctory questions about my medical history. I got Pfizer. I did not, aside from feeling like I got punched in the arm the next day, have any side effects (for which I was grateful, because it’s been a rough week at work and would have been rougher with a fever).
I ran into neighbor friends on the way home, themselves off to get the vaccine. When they returned home, one of them posted a picture of some stained glass on the walk which I had admired myself on the way over; we learned from the comments that the artist was an elementary school friend of the neighbor who drove me to the hospital. It was a nice reminder that even though everyone has been locked away and sad and weird this whole time, people are still here and interconnected and making public art. It feels surreal that five weeks from now I’ll feel a little safer being around people again.
Shit to read
When Ask Polly is good, she’s good!
I was not a huge Beverly Cleary or Judy Blume kid (I read some of the Ramona books but I don’t remember them; I feel like at some point I was just routed onto 1970s fantasy and stayed there for 15 years) but I loved this piece about being an asshole kid and seeing that reflected in Cleary’s work.
Thinking about Paradise Lost while stuck the fuck inside.
Yes obviously I am obsessed with the Annie’s story, particularly the Smartfood connection.
Big boat is unstuck now but still: oh no! big boat is stuck!
Shit to eat
For full experience, first buy an entire chicken and then break it down for parts, which will allow you access to a) schmaltz b) fried skin c) stock, but also, not everyone has my stupid hobbies and you can just buy a couple of thighs and take the skin off.
Chop the chicken up into bite-sized cubes.
Make a slurry out of egg, soy sauce, and corn starch. It should be pretty thick—brownie batter-ish.
Remember to turn on the rice cooker. Do that.
Toss the chicken in, coat everything with the slurry, and let it sit in the fridge for half an hour.
In the meantime, break down a head of broccoli (or just buy frozen florets, whatever) and blanch it in boiling water for like 4 minutes.
Drain and ice it.
Finally, make a sauce by adding zest from an orange, juice from an orange, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, and grated ginger into a jar plus a tablespoon of cornstarch. (I mean you can also just mix it in the pan later but I liked shaking it in the jar.)
After the half-hour is up, heat a small frying pan over medium-high with a half-inch of oil in it. Make sure the pan is hot enough to cook the batter immediately so you don’t just get weird separate eggs.
Drop the chicken in in batches, cooking it for 3 minutes on one side and 2 on the other.
Once done, clear out a large pan and saute some green onions and red pepper in the pan. If you have chicken fat from previous chicken breakdown, hell yeah. If not, oil or whatever.
Add in your sauce, and cook until it thickens. Corn starch is magic.
Toss in the chicken and broccoli, coat everything, dump it on rice, and have an excellent dinner.
(Adapted from Pro Home Cooks’ orange chicken recipe.)
Shit to listen to
I am unclear on why Yo-Yo Ma and the guy from Nickel Creek are in a band together but it’s good.
Shit to buy