Femme Friday – Karen Akunowicz

This post is dedicated to my father, who always encouraged adventurous eating and who taught me how to cook. Happy 87th, Baba!

Karen Akunowicz is the executive chef and partner at Boston’s South End Restaurant, Meyers + Chang, is the co-author of a cookbook, Meyers + Chang At Home. She received three “Best Chef Northeast” nominations from the James Beard awards, and was on Season 13 of the show, “Top Chef”.

Deep gratitude to Karen for teaching us how to whomp up some Sweet-and-Sour Brussels Sprouts, for all the love and hard work she puts into preparing delicious and adventurous food, and for making sure the article about her in Spirit Magazine included the fact that she’s a proud queer femme!

Here is recipe for the Sprouts! There are other great recipes on her website:

http://www.karenakunowicz.com/

And if you’re ever in Boston, be sure to take yourself over to Meyers + Chang for some superior and exquisite nosh!

Sweet-And-Sour Brussels Sprouts

Ingredients
Brussels sprouts (cut in half)
4 Tablespoons of fresh mint (sliced)
1/4 cup of canola oil 2 large shallots (sliced very thin)
1 cup rice wine vinegar
1/4 c salt 1/4 c sugar
1 inch of ginger
2 garlic cloves
1 dried chili
1 cup quinoa (white or red)
2 quarts of water
1/4 c olive oil
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
2 teaspoons of red pepper flakes salt+pepper to season

Directions for the quinoa
Bring the two quarts of water up to a rolling boil and add the quinoa, stirring. Simmer for 8 minutes and drain well. When the quinoa is cool, heat 1/4 cup of olive oil in a heavy bottomed sauté pan. Add the quinoa and stir until crunchy and toasted, season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Directions for the hot and sweet sauce
Place sugar, rice wine vinegar and red pepper flakes in a sauce pot and bring to a boil. Reduce until it is the consistency of thin maple syrup. Set aside. (This is the “sweet” in sweet and sour)

Directions for the pickled shallots
Combine 1/4 cup of sugar, 1/4 cup of salt, 1 cup of rice wine vinegar ginger, garlic and chili in a small pot and heat until sugar and salt dissolve. Cool completely. Slice shallots very thin and soak with pickling liquid. (This provides the sour component to the dish)

Directions for the Brussels
Heat a large flat bottomed sauté pan with 1/4 cup of canola oil. Place the Brussels in the pan one by one, cut side down, season with salt and pepper. When the Brussels brown nicely (on the cut side) add 4 tablespoons of water to the pan and let evaporate on medium heat. Transfer the Brussels sprouts to a bowl and dress with hot and sweet sauce, pickled shallots and fresh mint. Finish with a 1/2 cup of toasted quinoa on top.

Every Friday, I showcase a queer femme goddess with the goal of fostering queer femme community. I want to feature you! Write to me at thetotalfemme@gmail.com and let me shine a spotlight on your beautiful, unique, femme story!

At the Total Femme, my intention is to post three times a week: Meditations for Queer Femmes on Monday, Pingy-Dingy Wednesday on Wednesday and Femme Friday on Friday. Rather than play catch-up in a stressful fashion on those weeks when life prevents posting, I have decided to just move gaily forward: if I miss a Monday, the next post will be on Wednesday, and so on. Thank you, little bottle of antibiotics for inspiring me in this! (“…if it’s almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Don’t take a double dose to make up for a missed one.”)

 

Femme Friday – YOU, Gosh Darn It!

Ok, people, how many times do I have to say it? I WANT TO FEATURE YOU!

I want to share the love by introducing as many femmes as possible here, so there is a place for us to celebrate and honor each other. So that other femmes out there have a place to go when they start to wonder: What does it look like to live a femme life? Who are the other femmes alive right now? Who are the femmes from history? Who are my younger and elder sisters, aunts, grandmothers, foremothers?

I don’t want to guilt you, I want to invite you: if you are willing and able to introduce yourself just a little, and maybe offer a few thoughts for a Femme Friday post, that would be so fucking femmetastic!

Below is a step-by-step, but you can send whatever you’d like, as long as you’re centering it on Being Femme. Living Femme. Loving Femme. Femme Love Heal World!

Deep gratitude to all the femmes in the world, and that includes YOU!

For Femme Friday:

Very short bio. This could be anything!  Example: The Total Femme is a typewriter whompin’, card catalogue lovin’ white girl from back in the day, and I yearn for a time before the covers of trade paperbacks were all squidgy.

Answer one or more of the following questions (these are just examples – anything you’d like to talk about is fine, as long as it has to do with being femme!):

How did you come out as femme?

What does femme mean to you?

Who are your femme role models and why?

Do you feel invisible? Why or why not?

What do you do to nourish your femme?

Is femme a role or lifestyle? Why or why not?

Do you have femme friends? Do you all agree on what “femme” means?

What is your favorite femme art or literature?

Who or what inspires you?

AND/OR

Include artwork, prose, poetry or anything else you’d like to share with an audience of other femmes for our edification, celebration, amusement, etc.

Email me with questions or just send your contribution right along to: thetotalfemme@gmail.com. I can’t wait to hear from you! Oh! You could also recommend other femmes to me, both real people and characters in literature or the media. That would be fun!! Thank you, sweet sisters!

Every Friday, I showcase a queer femme goddess. I want to feature you! Write to me at thetotalfemme@gmail.com and let me shine a spotlight on your beautiful, unique, femme story!

At the Total Femme, my intention is to post three times a week: Meditations for Queer Femmes on Monday, Pingy-Dingy Wednesday on Wednesday and Femme Friday on Friday. Rather than play catch-up in a stressful fashion on those weeks when life prevents posting, I have decided to just move gaily forward: if I miss a Monday, the next post will be on Wednesday, and so on. Thank you, little bottle of antibiotics for inspiring me in this! (“…if it’s almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Don’t take a double dose to make up for a missed one.”)

Femme Friday on a Saturday (Because That Happens Sometimes!) – MadFemmePride

There’s nothing like stumbling upon your people in person or online or both, which is what happened to me with MadFemmePride. I met some of the fabulous members, in all their glory and glitter, wielding their groovy signs, at a Dyke March many years ago, and then I hooked up with them on meet up.

Here’s what these amazing queers have to say about themselves:

MadFemmePride (MFP) is a queer, femme-centered community that is PRO-trans, PRO-woman and PRO-femininity for all folks who support femme-positive queer space.

We are open and welcoming to anyone on the queer, questioning, LGBTQIA spectrum who wants to meet new people, mingle, and experience a little bit of the MadFemmePride friendly magic that makes our diversity-conscious, radically-inclusive community so special.

We are based in and around Boston and organize in-person events primarily via meetup.com.

Read more about MadFemmePride in the most recent Boston Spirit Magazine, where they were recently featured!

Deep gratitude to MadFemmePride for their big hearts, delicious politics (not to mention the vegan cupcakes!), book groups, picnics, marches and more! May every town grow groups such as this!

In fact, if your town does have a group like MadFemmePride, the Total Femme wants to know about it, so hit me up with a comment or an email!

Every Friday, I showcase a queer femme goddess. I want to feature you! Write to me at thetotalfemme@gmail.com and let me shine a spotlight on your beautiful, unique, femme story!

Published in: on January 13, 2018 at 10:03 AM  Leave a Comment  
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Meditations for Queer Femmes — Brilliant

For a really, really (and I mean really) long time, the light in the basement laundry nook was broken. Even though I went down there multiple times a day, early in the morning, in the evening and at night, we just never got around to tending to the light. I would forget about it, Tex would forget about it, and for a really, really really long time, I did laundry with little to no illumination.

Finally, the stars alligned, I managed to clear enough space in my brain and perhaps the Goddess gave me a bit of a kick in the butt to where I managed to call our electrician and she came over and fixed the light. It was amazing! I could see what I was doing!

Even now, though, I’ll go downstairs to do the laundry and start feeling my way around like Femme Magoo. Then I’ll suddenly remember that I can turn on the light, and…ah!

So many of us queer femmes can get to feeling incredibly isolated with our knowledge, our wounds, our desires, our work, our relationships, our families, and all the rest of it. It is a kind of unrelenting spiritual darkness. And while the dark certainly is a place for renewal, growth, and rest; a place where we can connect to spiritual mysteries, at a certain point, you have to let the sun in.

We can turn on the light for our queer femme souls by reaching out to each other. By insisting that others see us for who we are, by which I mean letting people know how we identify, even if you’re sure the person won’t get it. I mean, they can go home and look it up! We can relieve ourselves of the responsibility of educating straight people and even other queers. We can turn off our work brains and allow ourselves a little R and R. We can spend time with children, animals, out in nature, looking for silly and fun local events that honor food, community and the changing seasons. In this area that might include watching a 400-pound wheel of cheese go rolling by (The Cruocolo Cheese Parade of Concord, MA), a road trip to Orange, MA for the North Quabbin Garlic and Arts Festival, or getting your butt over to Nantucket for the Cranberry Festival.

Queer femmes, burst forth like fireworks into the fall! Shine the light, turn on the light, be the light. Sparkle, glitter, flame. Laugh. Laugh some more.

You are so brilliant.

Every Monday, I offer a Meditation for Queer Femmes, in the spirit of my maternal grandmother, Mimi, who was fabulous, and from whom I inherited her Meditations for Women.

 

Meditations for Queer Femmes — Nice to See You!

“Nice to see you!” says Rhea, an elderly resident of an assisted living facility. The greeting is not reserved solely for the people she knows, but for everyone. At the facility, attendants, visitors and residents are quite diverse. Skin colors, religion, class, sexuality, gender presentation, ability – there are many differences among them. Doesn’t matter. “Nice to see you!” says Rhea, smiling her sweetest smile, cheerfully and generously including us all.

Because of oppression and isolation, all stripes of queers are forced into a position of spending inordinate amounts of time and energy constructing and defending our identities. This is certainly true for queer femmes. It can take such a long time to feel a sense of belonging. The femmes who stay silent, watching and listening and never contributing to a conversation; the loud femmes, who talk so much with such authority that you never see their vulnerabilities. All of us reaching for that sense of community, a place where we not only see but are seen. We are always coming out to straight people as queer, lesbian, whatever we decide to say (really, how can they be expected to understand femme and who has the time and spiritual energy to constantly be explaining?) and, almost as often, to our queer kin, who have their own ideas and prejudices about femme.

Identities, all identities, evolve as we age. This is a human birthright, to be able to continue to discover yourself as you gain experience and wisdom. Our wider culture does not generally feel elders have much to contribute, and our own queer culture – or rather “cultures” – is so separated by age that we don’t often have the opportunity to interact with one another across generations.

There are times when, damaged by hate, all our energies must go to daily survival. There are times when, bolstered by community and art and laughter, we can reach out without being depleted. At all times, we can grow stronger by imagining a lifeline connecting us. Let us recommit, femme sisters of all ages, to casting that lifeline, one that links us and sustains us, that holds us and uplifts us. Where we can rest in the love.

Let us be generous with each other. Let us help one another. Reach out a hand.

When Rhea says, “Nice to see you!” you get the feeling she’s saying, “We’re still alive! Different people are interesting! You’re obviously a fine person!” and perhaps most profoundly, “Where would we be without each other?”

Every Monday (or Tuesday), I offer a Meditation for Queer Femmes, in the spirit of my maternal grandmother, Mimi, who was a fabulous straight femme, and from whom I inherited her Meditations for Women.

Meditation for Queer Femmes: On Being Grown Up

“No one ever prepared me for it…or for the experience of feeling different even though you don’t appear different to other people.”* This is a gay male character speaking about being gay, but it could also specifically refer to the experience of many femmes who love butches.

Not only are we not prepared, we often don’t know what’s wrong with us. We may go decades trying to fit in to the straight world; after all, we look the part, don’t we? Over and over, we search for a partner whose masculinity awakens our hearts and bodies. Over and over, if our search is limited to cis men, we are disappointed, and in being disappointed, so often blame ourselves. We watch our straight female friends fall in and out of love, finally settling on a man who fulfills them. Without community, guidance, role models, room in which to move and experiment and become more fully ourselves, often our only recourse is to assign the fault of our own lack of romantic fulfillment to bad luck and personal failure.

How many of us are still waiting to grow up? Even those of us who came to their femme identity as a younger person were denied a chance to fully explore the wide world of sexuality, either because we felt compelled to grasp our identity close as a talisman, as protection, or because it was not safe, or both. For a young person bursting with hormones and curiosity, being expected to explore your sexuality with, say, the only other two out kids in your high school, is limiting, to say the least.

And then, once we’re busily out in the world, away from high school at last, it can be so easy to set our femme aside for a moment so we can do our other work: daughter, teacher, leader, parent. Perennially marginalized and infantilized, queers of all kinds struggle with “being grownup”, and we femmes occupy a unique place in that struggle. This is not simply about “putting on your big girl panties” but a much graver, deeper task of allowing yourself to be an adult, despite the myriad forces, historical and present, shrilling at you that you’re a child, pathological, unclean, undeveloped, immature and selfish.

Grown ups – healthy grown ups – gain strength and peace from incorporating their sexualities inextricably with their daily lives. In order to do this, we femmes of all ages need to know each other. We need to see each other at all different stages of life, to understand the many, many ways we can flourish and become. We must open a conversation with each other, mentor each other, tell our stories and make femme-only space. We must find each other.

Who are your femme mentors? Who are your femme sisters? Who are you, sweet, grown up femme?

*Hugh Paris, a character in Michael Nava’s first mystery, The Little Death.

Every Monday (or Tuesday), I offer a Meditation for Queer Femmes, in the spirit of my maternal grandmother, Mimi, who was a fabulous straight femme, and from whom I inherited her Meditations for Women.