Hunger Strike / Liberal Elitist Succotash

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It’s Women’s History Month! It’s always some month or other, I know, but I noticed this in a newsletter and was reminded that since the 2008 presidential campaign, a friend and I had been meaning to watch a movie about the women’s suffrage movement, Iron Jawed Angels. I’m interested in history, but I happen to have a really miserable memory, so generally historical information is met by me as if I was hearing it for the first time, even if I’ve been privy to it before. My friend R was rightly shocked when I suggested we stage a fancy tea party (complete with finger sandwiches and cakes) for a viewing. “They were called Iron Jawed Angels because they were on hunger strike.” Oops. Guess I should have figured that one out.

Looking for a more humble meal, I settled upon making something with the can of black-eyed peas that I’d recently purchased. I’ve only had black-eyed peas a few times – I’ve never been a huge fan of legumes – so I wasn’t immediately sure what to make with them. I knew I just wanted to spoon something over rice, so I settled on a concoction resembling a hybrid of succotash (peas instead of lima beans) and warm salad. A bit of a kitchen sink approach, and spicy, but filling and satisfying.

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the first incarnation of ingredients. a number were added (including the liberal elitist baby arugula!), one was dropped.

Liberal Elitist Succotash*
(quantities are approximated… it isn’t fussy… but this made about four meal sized servings)

  • a bit of bacon, chopped
  • 1 big handful mini organic smoky pork sausages, cut in thirds
  • 1 can black eyed peas
  • 1 small can sweet corn
  • 1 small butternut squash, chopped
  • 1 very large shallot, chopped
  • 2 fingerling potatoes, chopped
  • 1 chioggia beet, chopped
  • 1 big handful baby carrots, halved or thirded
  • 2 or 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1/2 a large red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 a medium orange bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 handful sugar snap peas, chopped
  • 2 watermelon radishes, halved and sliced
  • 4 small handfuls baby arugula, torn or chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 2 T butter
  • pepper, freshly ground
  • salt
  • a few dashes Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 t dijon mustard
  • juice of 1 meyer lemon
  • a few big splashes Eastern North Carolina BBQ Sauce
  • 2 cups brown rice, steamed (will yield more)

As you can tell, I just sort of threw everything together based on what I had in the fridge. This is more a list of ingredients than a recipe, but if you must know (ha), my basic method was as follows: Roast the squash, potatoes, carrots, beet, and garlic with salt & pepper. Meanwhile, sautee the bacon and sausages until the bacon fat has melted away and the sausages start to brown. Add the butter (I didn’t use much bacon), shallots, celery, and Worcestershire and stir occasionally until beginning to caramelize. Add the black eyed peas and corn and allow the flavors to blend for a couple of minutes, stirring occasionally. Mix the vinegar, lemon juice, and mustard in another bowl. Add the radishes, bell peppers, snap peas, and liquid to the pan and cook for about another minute, adding salt and pepper (and more Carolina Sauce) to taste. Spoon over steamed brown rice with a handful of arugula on each serving, for the diner to stir in/wilt at their leisure. Serve with Mozart Lemonade (tequila & lemonade on rocks).

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The food turned out to be good, but the film didn’t fare as well. Maybe I’m just a fan of period pieces, but I found it really distracting that modern music was used while we were watching something that took place 90 years ago. They marched in Washington to Lauren Hill?! No. I also could have done without the fictional love interest, and though the fictional Senator’s wife worked well with the story, I wished they would have stuck with what happened. As R put it, what happened was drama enough. The biggest problem other than the music, for me, was that someone makes reference to the women being called Iron Jawed Angels before they go on hunger strike in the movie. Bad editing? That seems like a pretty glaring mistake (it had us questioning the meaning of the title).

Poorly executed though the film was, I’m glad I watched it. What an inspiring story about standing up for what is right in the world. I woke up this morning feeling gratitude that a group of women 90 years ago gave up one of my favorite things about life – food – so that I could vote (as it happens, one of my other very favorite things). Thanks, ladies.

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I’d like to give a little shout out to a couple of ladies who are fighting the good fight in current matters of civil rights: Alysia Melnick, Public Policy Counsel at the Maine Civil Liberties Union, and Jasmine Beach-Ferrara (who I had the pleasure of working along side on the Obama campaign) of The Progressive Project. Both of these ladies do so much to (among other things) advance the rights of LGBT citizens, I am at once consistently inspired by them, and reminded that I’m lazier than I ought to be.

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*R, sorry for offending your Southern sensibilities by even using succotash in the name of this dish.

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