Category Archives: Uncategorized

Quarantine Cooking II

Quarantine cooking has become a thing and, of course, gay men are giving it a twist when they post photos of their culinary masterpieces. So far, I have not posted pictures of my culinary experiments, but I have posted a few recipes.

While earnest amateur chefs and bakers across the nation are posting photos of their perfect banana bread online, gay men are letting the goods speak for themselves. And they don’t mean the pavlova (in case you don’t know, that’s a meringue-based dessert named after the Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova).

Photos of men holding up the treats they’ve created in lockdown are everywhere on Instagram, from #quarantinebaking to #gaybaking. But what many of them have in common isn’t eggs and aprons – it’s usually abs and pecs.

I’m continuing to try out new recipes. Over the weekend, I made ham and cheese scones. They were so yummy.

Ham and Cheese Scones

Ingredients:

• 2 cups all-purpose flour
• 1 tablespoon baking powder
• ½ teaspoon garlic powder
• ½ teaspoon kosher salt
• ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into cubes
• ¾ cup buttermilk
• 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
• 1/3 cup diced ham
• 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives (or 1 tablespoon dried chopped chives)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat; set aside, or use butter, Crisco, or cooking spray to grease a cast iron scone/cornbread skillet.
2. In a food processor, combine flour, baking powder, garlic powder and salt. Add cold butter, and pulse until the dry ingredient resembles coarse crumbs. (You can also just use your hands if you don’t have a food processor).
3. Pour dry ingredients into a bowl and stir in buttermilk, cheese, ham and chives until a soft dough forms. (You may need to use a little more buttermilk to get all ingredients combined.)
4. Working on a lightly floured surface, knead the dough 3-4 times until it comes together. Using a rolling pill, roll the dough into an 8″ circle, about 1-inch thick, and cut into 8 wedges. (I have a cast iron scone/cornbread skillet that I use)
5. Place scones onto the prepared baking sheet. Place into oven and bake for 18-20 minutes, or until firm to the touch and lightly browned. Mine took about 25 minutes. (I used half the dough and refrigerated the rest to use the next day, which I then baked 30 minutes because the dough was chilled.)
6. Serve immediately.

If you leave out the garlic, cheddar cheese, ham, and chives, it’s a very good biscuit recipe.

I also made some cornbread the other day. While I have made cornbread many times with self-rising cornmeal, it’s just too hard to find while exiled up here in yankee land. So I found a recipe for using regular yellow cornmeal. I again used my cast iron scone/cornbread skillet.

Southern Cornbread

Ingredients:

• 1 tablespoon bacon drippings or Crisco
• 2 cups cornmeal
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1 ¼ cups buttermilk
• 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Directions:

1. Preheat pan with bacon drippings or Crisco and butter: Put the bacon drippings or Crisco and butter in a 9 or 10-inch well-seasoned cast iron skillet and put the skillet into the oven. Then preheat the oven to 400°F with the skillet inside. (If you don’t have an iron skillet, you can use an uncovered Dutch oven or a metal cake pan.)
2. Make the batter: Whisk together all the dry ingredients (cornmeal, baking soda, salt) in a large bowl. Pour melted butter and or Crisco into the the bowl of dry ingredients. Add the buttermilk and stir until combines. It may take a little extra buttermilk.
3. Pour batter into hot skillet and bake: When the oven is hot, take out the skillet (carefully, as the handle will be hot!). Add the cornbread batter and make sure it is evenly distributed in the skillet.
4. Bake at 400°F for about 25-30 minutes, or until the edges are beginning to brown and a toothpick inserted in the center of the bread comes out clean. The cornbread should be a golden brown color.
5. Rest bread in skillet, then serve: Let the bread rest for 10 to 30 minutes in the skillet before cutting it into wedges and serving.

I also tried something completely different, a crab rangoon pizza. I love crab rangoon and this sounded pretty appetizing.

Crab Rangoon Pizza

Ingredients:

• 1 (16 ounce) package pizza dough
• 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
• 6 tablespoons chopped green onions or chives, divided
• ¼ cup shredded Parmesan cheese, divided
• 4 ounces frozen crab meat, thawed
• 4 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
• 2 tablespoons sweet chili sauce

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C). Spread pizza dough onto a baking sheet.
2. Bake in the preheated oven until slightly brown, about 7 minutes.
3. Mix cream cheese, 1/4 cup green onions or chives, 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, and crab together in a bowl; spread onto the pizza crust. Top with mozzarella cheese, remaining Parmesan cheese, fried wonton strips, and remaining green onions or chives.
4. Bake in the preheated oven until cheese is browned and melted, about 8 minutes. Drizzle sweet chile sauce over top.

The crab rangoon pizza did taste remarkably like crab rangoon; however, if I were to make this recipe again, I would roll out the dough and cut into individual small triangles, circles, or squares and serve it as a party hors d’oeuvres. I also have to say that I found the sweet chili sauce a bit difficult to find, but that may be because I am in Vermont; however, it is worth finding for this recipe. One other thing, the original recipe called for frying wonton strips but I skipped that step. I hate deep frying anything. I’m not particularly fond of frying many things at all, only country fried steak, pork chops, and chicken.

I also made a very good medium well steak. I started with a marinade. This recipe makes enough for cooking steaks several times. It’s also good on chicken or pork.

1 1/2 cups soy sauce
¼ teaspoon liquid smoke
¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoons sugar
1 dash black pepper
1 dash paprika
½ teaspoon garlic powder

Simply mix all the ingredients together and then pour over steaks. Marinate steaks for a few hours then your ready to cook your steaks.

Perfect Oven Baked Steak

Ingredients:

• 2 beef steaks, 1-inch thick (any type will do, I prefer New York strips)
• 1-2 Tablespoons canola oil
• 1-2 Tablespoons butter
• Salt and pepper for seasoning

Directions:

1. Remove the steaks from the fridge and bring to room temperature, about 15-30 minutes. Trim any excess fat.
2. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Place a large skillet in the oven while it is heating. Remove pan from oven and place on the stove over high heat.
3. Dry steaks with a paper towel. Then rub the oil over the steaks and generously season with salt and pepper. Once the pan is very hot place the steaks into the pan. Let each side cook for 1 minute, or until seared. Use tongs to flip.
4. Then place the pan in the oven for 4-6 minutes. Flip and cook the other side an additional 4-6 minutes (see notes below for instructions on doneness). Check the center with a meat thermometer or slice with a knife to check for doneness. You want to remove the meat 5° before it reaches the desired temp. Temperature will continue to rise while resting.
5. Remove pan from oven and allow to rest for a couple minutes. Add a slab of butter on the top of each steak or make a pan sauce.

Pan Sauce:

Place cast iron skillet on stovetop with temperature on medium high. Add a tablespoon or two of marinade to the pan along with 1 cup of beef stock. Add a few sprigs of fresh thyme. Then add three tablespoons of butter one at a time melting each before adding another. Let sauce reduce by half. This should take about 5 minutes.

A Few Notes:

How to test your steak for doneness:
Rare: 125°F (red): Sear outsides then bake about 4-6 minutes in oven until temperature is around 125°F and color is red.
Medium Rare: 130°F (deep pink): Sear outsides then bake about 6-8 minutes in oven until temperature is 130°F and color is deep pink.
Medium: 140°F (light pink): Sear outsides then bake about 8-10 minutes in oven until temperature is around 140°F and color is light pink.
Medium well: 150°F (slightly pink center): Sear outsides then bake about 10-12 minutes in oven until temperature is around 150°F and color is slightly pink center.
Well done: 160°F (little or no pink): Sear outsides then bake about 12-14 minutes in oven until temperature is around 160°F+ and color is little or no pink.

With this steak, I suggest twice baked potatoes and a simple green salad. If you’ve never made twice baked potatoes, they are very simple and oh so very yummy.

Twice Baked Potatoes

Ingredients:

• 2 large russet potatoes
• Canola oil to coat
• Kosher salt
• 2-3 tablespoons butter
• 2-3 heaping tablespoons sour cream
• ½ cup shredded cheddar cheese
• ¼ cup bacon bits
• 1 heaping tablespoons of dried chives or 2 tablespoons of fresh chives
• Several slices of your favorite cheese (I like American for this)
• Salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste

Directions:

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees and position racks in top and bottom thirds. Wash potatoes thoroughly with a stiff brush and cold running water. Dry, then using a standard fork poke 8 to 12 deep holes all over the spud so that moisture can escape during cooking. Place in a bowl and coat lightly with oil. Sprinkle with kosher salt and place potatoesdirectly on rack in middle of oven. Place a baking sheet on the lower rack to catch any drippings.
2. Bake 1 to 1 ½ hours or until skin feels crisp but flesh beneath feels soft.
3. Let potatoes cool slightly and split in half. Scoop out potatoes leaving about ¼ inch of potato on the skin.
4. Mash potatoes and mix in sour cream, cheese, bacon bits, chives, and salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
5. Line potato skin with sliced cheese and bacon bits, leaving enough sliced cheese to top potatoes.
6. Spoon ¼ of potato mixture in each potato skin half. Top with sliced cheese.
7. Place potatoes on a baking sheet and bake an additional 5-10 minutes allowing cheese to melt.


Too Much Hotness

 

Ok, I just had to share this. As the tweet says, “Best 12 seconds this week.” I’m not for sure I can really explain it, but damn this guy is all kinds of sexy. I think during times like these, we need an escape occasionally, and he’s mine right now. I can watch this over and over. I don’t know if he’s gay or straight. Honestly, does it matter? He’s just nice to look at, and that smile drives me crazy.


I Cannot Sing

I Cannot Sing
by Edward Nathaniel Harleston

I cannot sing, because when a child,
My mother often hushed me.
The others she allowed to sing,
No matter what their melody.

And since I’ve grown to manhood
All music I applaud,
But have no voice for singing,
So I write my songs to God.

I have ears and know the measures,
And I’ll write a song for you,
But the world must do the singing
Of my sonnets old and new.

Now tell me, world of music,
Why I cannot sing one song?
Is it because my mother hushed me
And laughed when I was wrong?

Although I can write music,
And tell when harmony’s right,
I will never sing better than when
My song was hushed one night.

Fond mothers, always be careful;
Let the songs be poorly sung.
To hush the child is cruel;
Let it sing while it is young.


The Train

I made it to New York City and got settled into my hotel room. I’ll be here until next Monday. I took the train down. It takes a while, but at least I don’t have to drive. It’s about a seven hour trip. I don’t mind the train. It’s relatively comfortable. It’s easy to get up and walk around. My only complaint about trains is the motion of them rocking back and forth. I usually get a little motion sick. This trip went pretty well though. It started with heavy snow in Vermont which turned to rain the further south we went. Eventually, the rain stopped and it was pretty nice in New York City. Now I get to spend a week with my friend Susan.


Hot Tub

 

Hot Tub
By Miguel Murphy

A tryst.
That ends
in a nightly dose.

A contradiction,
emptiness
refused by starlight,

the dark
enflamed with error.
Tell me again

what crime you are
so guilty of?
The hot tub,

26 Seconal—
the moon
like ejaculate.

Delicate.
Poor
Barlow,

you felt
so alone;
you were

the only queer.
January 1, 1951.
In the semantics of

your translation
you intend, in Náhuatl
a long while,

to abandon
your cadaver.
There.

About This Poem

“Robert Barlow, aged 16, was either the 43-year old H. P. Lovecraft’s lover for a summer in 1934, or just his disappointed protégé, who in his own middle years would overdose on Seconal after a student threatened to expose him for being that medical monster of the age, a homosexual. The diagnosis, the name of the disease. In 2019, I sit in my hot tub, but the freedoms of this era feel illusory. A single pill a night makes a frightening plague a kind of historical footnote. Such starlight. The backside of the century.”
—Miguel Murphy

Miguel Murphy is the author of Detainee (Barrow Street Press, 2016). He teaches at Santa Monica College and lives in southern California.


Pic of the Day


The West Coast LGBTQ activism that predated Stonewall

la-1561685690-bgpa8kqbda-snap-image.jpeg

By Julia Wick

It’s simple and powerful to say that the gay rights movement began 50 years ago today, when the first brick was thrown in the early hours of June 28, 1969, outside the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village.

Movements are unruly, with ragged edges and a penchant for flaring and sputtering in many directions. But the weight of history has a way of condensing things. And the spin cycle of time will slough off the footnotes and find the linear narrative.

The three nights of rioting sparked by a routine police raid at a New York City gay bar and the even more routine police harassment of the gay community were unbelievably important and symbolic. But they also followed years of organizing and numerous previous eruptions against police harassment in community spaces. Much of that groundwork was laid in California, particularly in Los Angeles and San Francisco.

“The spark of Stonewall goes exponentially beyond what the actual events created,” Terry Beswick, the executive director of the GLBT Historical Society and museum in San Francisco, explained over the phone earlier this month. “At least in the popular culture, [Stonewall] swallowed up a lot of the very real and even more significant organizing that was happening for decades before that — and afterwards.”

In San Francisco, police raided a 1965 New Year’s costume ball organized by the newly formed Council on Religion and the Homosexual. Officers sought to photograph all the attendees and made two arrests. The event galvanized organizing in San Francisco’s gay community and helped draw broader attention to the police harassment gay people faced.

“That was really what most of the pre-Stonewall real spontaneous actions were about — police harassment of our gathering places,” Beswick said.

“In the 1960s and back into the ’50s, gay bars were our community centers,” Beswick said. “They were where we found each other. They were where we found fellowship and emotional support, as well as sex.”

In Beswick’s view, those bars were “like homes,” sometimes “even more so” than the places where their denizens actually lived. “For police to invade those spaces really fought against the notion of any kind of self-determination and safety for us,” he said.

Two and a half years before Stonewall, the Black Cat bar in Silver Lake was raided just after midnight on New Year’s Day 1967. Police beat patrons and arrested more than a dozen people. Several weeks later, hundreds peacefully gathered outside the bar in a protest — a demonstration that was considered a seminal turning point in the early gay rights movement.

[Go deeper: “Before Stonewall, the Queer Revolution Started Right Here in Los Angeles” by Jason McGahan in Los Angeles Magazine]

And nearly a decade before Black Cat, a group of transgender women, lesbians and gay men fought back against police harassment in what turned into a melee outside Cooper Do-nuts in downtown Los Angeles. That was May 1959, and it’s believed to have been the first LGBTQ uprising against police harassment.

“Stonewall, at least in the rear-view mirror, has become a place of demarcation for historians, where we can sort of measure our progress,” Beswick said.

“But it’s important for us to resurrect those stories around other events. It’s important for the pride of LGBT people in San Francisco to know that the New Year’s Day ball event happened and that Compton’s [Cafeteria riot] happened,” Beswick said, and he didn’t stop there. He listed off the names like a litany of early organizations and leaders and places that have been turned into symbols by virtue of what happened there.

“The same kind of stories can be told all around the country, in Philadelphia and D.C. and Chicago,” he said.

 

From Joe:

What marks the Stonewall Riots as most significant in the Gay Rights Movement is that it became a catalyst for more action. The next year was the first gay pride parade and there has been one ever since. Activists in California may have laid the groundwork for Stonewall, but Stonewall lit the fire that became the Gay Rights Movement and we can’t let that be slowed down. Pete Buttigieg did us proud in the debates last night. He’s my frontrunner candidate. He’s eloquent and always has an answer. I have yet to hear him give an answer to interviewers or moderators question that I did not agree with him 100 percent. He is obviously a brilliant man and one that we need as president. If Biden wins the nomination, as I suspect he will, he would be fortunate to have Pete as his vice-president.

 


Tinderbox

UpStairs_Lounge_Marker-e1529467315579.jpg

I’ve passed by this plaque in the sidewalk at 141 Chartres Street. A wave of grief always washes over men when I see it.

Author Robert Fieseler‘s book “Tinderbox” looks at the 1973 fire at the UpStairs Lounge, a gay bar in New Orleans, which killed 32 people and put prejudicial beliefs against gay men in sharp relief.

Here & Now‘s Jeremy Hobson talks with Fieseler (@wordbobby) about the book.

Book Excerpt: ‘Tinderbox’

by Robert Fieseler

June 25, 1995

There was a fire, the minister of the Metropolitan Community Church – a gay man named Dexter Brecht – preached to his small flock of gays and lesbians. It was a fire so horrific that Courtney Craighead, the church’s deacon (who was standing nearby), couldn’t even speak about his memories of the event. It was a fire set intentionally on June 24, 1973, resulting in the death of one-third of their Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) congregation at the time. This fire, which had happened twenty-two years and one day before, at a hangout called the Up Stairs Lounge, remained so disturbing a memory that it never existed in the pages of American history. This tragedy, congregants knew, was in fact the only reason that the New Orleans Times-Picayune had opted to send a reporter to hear their minister that Sunday. “We gather here this morning to remember,” Brecht continued. “Remembering, whether we like it or not, is part of the human condition. It is good as a way of acknowledging our grief.”

It was a horrific scene to relate: a fire in a busy bar on the fringe of New Orleans’s French Quarter that was set with lighter fluid. On that evening, flames had invaded a sanctuary for blue-collar gay men. The fast-moving blaze overtook the second-floor bar with deep ties to the MCC faithful, but the destruction would extend well beyond church membership, claiming the lives of thirty-one men and one woman.

Although it raged out of control for less than twenty minutes, the blaze left a fallout that shocked Carl Rabin, the coroner who would struggle to identify the bodies using jewelry and hotel room keys. Fingers and faces and bones were scorched beyond recognition. “They were just piled up,” he said. “People in a mass. One falls, then another falls. It’s just a mass of death. It’s sickening.”

Then the story went silent. After a mere blip of coverage, it fell off the front pages of newspapers, and then from interior pages entirely. Local and national television channels would dedicate just a few minutes of on-the-scene coverage to the Up Stairs Lounge, in which survivors were interviewed with cameras to their backs, due to reporters’ fear of legitimizing the gay lifestyle and victims’ fear of outing themselves. Yet, in fact, the tragedy had affected nearly every segment of New Orleans’s closeted gay community, estimated a month later by the local Gay People’s Coalition to be from 40,000 to 100,000 of the city’s then 600,000 residents. Most of the dead—educated and illiterate, young and old, white and black, including a hustler, a minister, and a dentist—perished within the fire’s first 360 seconds.

The Up Stairs Lounge, Brecht related to his flock, represented a moment that exposed a majority of citizens as at best apathetic toward homosexuals while also revealing that civil rights movements of the era were tone-deaf to homosexual plight. Indeed, civil rights and feminist constituencies in the 1970s did not leap to the defense of the Up Stairs Lounge victims. The tragedy was not noted in Distaff, New Orleans’s feminist magazine—it was a time when lesbians themselves were marginalized from “mainstream feminists”—nor was there any mention in iconic black newspapers like The Chicago Daily Defender, despite there being a black victim.

“This fire was a holocaust,” Brecht intoned. “Perhaps not in the millions like in the forties, but surely just as devastating to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans-gendered community.” The immediate aftermath of this blaze—occurring on the last day of celebrations marking the fourth anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall Riots—became a chilling moment of loss for those gay Americans who actually heard the story, who were long conditioned to the reality that their sorrows were quarantined from the heterosexual American dream. In a cartoon in the August 1973 issue of The Advocate, which was then a somewhat ragtag alternative newspaper in Los Angeles, a man in a hospital bed was bandaged up like a mummy; in the background, his chart read “Up Stairs Bar Fire Victim.”

With its physical and emotional toll, the Up Stairs Lounge fire sat in stark contrast to the legendary riot that had taken place outside of the Stonewall Inn in New York City on June 28, 1969. On that day, homosexuals, transsexuals, and street kids had joined forces to resist New York Police Department officers who were raiding a gay bar and arresting the patrons. This act of defiance had become a wellspring for gay political recruitment.

In the wake of the Stonewall Riots, a new movement called Gay Liberation arose. It was a “radical thinking” and “militant” crusade—according to a newsletter distributed by the more conservative Homophile Action League—whose stated goal was “complete sexual liberation for all people” through the abolishment of institutions that forced homosexuals to “live two separate existences.” Gay Liberation was a departure from the so-called homophile movement (the term derived from the Greek words homo and phile, meaning “same love”), which had led the fight for homosexual rights up until then. Standing in an oblique shadow of the Stonewall Riots, the Up Stairs Lounge fire would be a major test of Gay Liberation: Could the movement steward its people through a crisis? Would gay people recognize its right to lead?

Yet, as Dexter Brecht addressed his congregation twenty-two years later, the Up Stairs Lounge remained forgotten.

Excerpted from the book Tinderbox: The Untold Story of the Up Stairs Lounge Fire and the Rise of Gay Liberation by Robert W. Fieseler. Copyright © 2018 by Robert W. Fieseler. Used with permission of the publisher, Liveright Publishing Corporation, a division of W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. All rights reserved.


Late Post

I was up late last night, so I wasn’t able to write a post. I will do so after I wake up.