Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Asian Chicken Rice Soup and Daniel again

11/ 9/10: welcome with flowers 
'Hello, Soup Lady, can you move your car?  Somebody wants to pass through'.  I parked in the alley by the gate to Nickelsville, but instead of usual quick going through the kitchen tent in search of soup ingredients and departing with a volunteer to the Lutheran Church kitchen,  I got drawn into discussions about the camp soon leaving the U-district parking lot.

Everybody seems nervous about it, as it is unclear where will they go - the only known factor is the date of leave, this coming Sunday, November 14th, but no place to go.  You can see all around the camp efforts to organize for packing, and joy from probably soon having permanent space, as promised by the city mayor's office, but the people spirits a bit dampened by the immediate uncertainty of their future.

Kitchen tent at Nickelsville 11/8/10
Daniel was standing close to the gate, so I asked him if he wants to help again, and he graciously agreed.
This time we actually 'know' each other, as we are past the first careful encounters of strangers, and Danny lets me see his playful side:  he cracks jokes about being ready 'to pack and depart in 24 hrs', should the Alaska fishing company call him before his scheduled for January 20 assignment.  'Sometimes somebody has to get off the boat, so they call somebody else to work, and the ship is not gonna wait for me'.

He makes jokes about his family 'eaten by greed', his previous jobs as cabinet maker and tells me he used to build websites.  And where did he learn html code?  'I can read', he quipped, 'books and internet, that's where'; it made me laugh, because it's so true - most of the things we learn nowadays is because we learned to read once.

It's obvious that Daniel misses sunny Florida, and the rain in Seattle  is not making his waiting for job easy, but that, too, he dismisses with laughter; he is tough and 'at 37 I'm not very, very young, but still have enough time to do what I need to do'... While chopping he says he really likes chili:  'I bet you never had chili made with the hearts of palm' - surely sounds exotic, and something tells me it's the 'palm' part, and not the chili what makes Daniel sound nostalgic.

This kitty will be moving soon, too...
Took photo of a young cat in the camp today - very playful and hard to photograph as he moved fast, looking at me from different angles and suddenly changing position or climbing the chair's back.  A group of people sitting on the chairs were amusing themselves watching the tricky kitty.

Decided to peak at the Nickelsville container garden and see how it's doing in the rain - still quite well.  While at it, noticed a washroom in front of the porta-potties: a very clever fixture with two stations for washing hands, built-in containers for soap and hand towels and even a mirror attached on top.

'Washroom' at Nickelsville, complete with a mirror
About the soup:  it's the traditional chicken rice soup, made the same way your grandma probably made it, by cooking chicken with herbs (we had fresh lovage, bay leaf and winter savory) and onion, then throwing the rice in and cooking some more.  We additionally chopped in what we had: potatoes, cabbage, carrots, peppers and collard greens.

What made it 'Asian' was the seasoning:  several star anise pods and lots of fresh ginger root pieces while cooking chicken, splash of sesame oil and soy sauce on the end + fresh cilantro and the 'kick', of course: Thai hot sriracha chili sauce, after we turned the burner off -  just to infuse the soup with their flavors, but not really cook it.

For the soup to be a hit in Nickelsville - I learned - it has to be thick, substantial and have a 'character', or a kick.  Daniel and I spend considerable time tasting and trying to give it just the right amount of spice: more sriracha, what do you think?  'maybe just a hint more, it's a bit bland the way it is, and believe me, we see enough bland everyday'.

Here a few links, about Nickelsville current moving situation from Seattle Times:
•  Homeless campers pleased at Seattle's plans but need a place now
Seattle mayor McGinn, citizens panel want homeless camps
Embrace the opportunity for partnership with Nickelsville

“But I, being poor, have only my dreams. I have spread my dreams under your feet; tread softly, because you tread on my dreams.”
- William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)

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