Dangerous Compassions

day of the dead

day of the dead

Like previous years, Ming is helping paint ofrendas in preparation for the Winchester cultural center Day of the Dead festivities.  He paints at our friend T’s house.  They will paint through November first–please get in touch, if you would like to help.

Please note that it’s not a sober environment.  Alcohol is consumed by others, but Ming and I are not pressured to drink.  The dogs are rambunctious but not very loud.  It’s a beautiful time of year to be outside in the desert, and the huge eucalyptus tree is a friend.  I love the creative environment.

day of the dead

day of the dead

The blue tarp, foreground bucket, unpainted paper mache heads are so pretty here.  Also Ming was using a stencil to give a wood look to the edges of these huge guitar sculptures.


Nice use of long shim!

An artist was playing the Doors really loud as he airbrushed a portrait of Jim Morrison in one of the huge guitars.  Wow, way to channel his spirit for Day of the Dead.

break on through

rice and beans

I made some rice and beans for Ming to bring over.  I thought the people building the Day of the Dead ofrendas might be hungry.  I’d made arroz con gandules the day before.  This day I made rice with canned red beans and coconut milk, and wow, it was amazing.  Let me tell you about it.

I put a cup of rice in the rice cooker with salt and some water.  More water than usual.  I added a can of red beans and a can of coconut milk.

I chopped a bell pepper and onion, threw the bell pepper in the rice cooker, and sauteed the onion in my wok.  Chopped three cloves of garlic and put them in the wok too.  I let those brown a little.

Then I added salt, pepper, berbere spices, and chili powder to the onions–a lot.  I let the rice cook a while, then added the onion spices mixture into the rice pot and stirred it.

I decided there was not enough water, so I added another cup of water.  There was a small chile from our garden that had been on the counter for a few days.  I washed it and used kitchen shears to cut it as small as possible into the rice cooker, seeds included.

When the rice cooker dinged, the rice looked a lil opaque still.  So I decided to let it sit, covered, for ten minutes and see if it finished cooking.  I got distracted and let it sit more like 20 or 30 minutes, and when I checked–wow, it was perfect.

too spicy

I dished some for myself, but it was too spicy for me to eat much.  The small chile was a kicker.  But the flavors were freaking delicious–I ate a few bites.  Then Ming came home and ate some–he was thrilled.  He wanted more and chowed down.

But there was still a good quantity for him to bring over to T’s house.  When he handed it over, Ming told T, “It’s vegan.”

“What, I need to eat vegans now?” T joked.

I want to make rice and beans that way again soon.  For a year or more, I was avoiding canned food, but now that it seems ok for me, some things are easier.


The plant by our door that the chile came from was covered in cute little white down flowers recently, and now the chiles are growing.  So I’m glad we have more of those chiles for me to cook with.

Ming said they get much bigger than the little one I used.  He only brought in that small one because the dogs that came through in the night and trampled everything knocked it off the plant.

What kind of chiles are they?  Who knows.  Jalapeno, serano, hybrid?  Whatever kind, they have a great flavor.  Maybe later they will be less hot, or I can exclude the seeds.

I hope you’re eating good food, reader.  Your garden may not be growing chiles right now.  The desert is a trip you should take.  Happy almost Day of the Dead!

By Laura-Marie

Good at listening to the noise until it makes sense.

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