Thursday, June 28, 2007

love when cnn stops hyping war and paris hilton long enough to be "progressive"

(Do they really have to start every segment with that "on the surface, they're a typical american family" line?)
Clearly, so much in awe of parents who can be that understanding. But I still have this urge to sit everyone down, from the little kid to paula zahn, and in very. small. words. explain that girls can like trucks too. Too soon for the hot-button issue of unisex toys?

CNN Video: Transgendered 7-year-old

"Believe it or not, it's just me..."

Well folks, looks like KT did not take the hint to post (nudge nudge). I can tell you I received some "LOVE from Israel" in postcard form, so all signs point to her not lying about her trip. That's all the breaking KT news, now back to the regularly scheduled programming of me me ME!

At least there's lots of happenings to post about, as opposed to my standard: "in my copious free time, I was reading such and such article which probably will bore you to tears."

Suddenly the above-mentioned free time is elusive, everything is coming together and the other day I was all in a panic fitting everything on the calendar and making sure I hadn't overcommitted. School MWF of course. Saturdays I have a regular shift at the bookstore, 9-5. I've been tutoring through the local Literacy Volunteers. Ahh, I can feel the rust coming off those English teaching skills, and I've got a great student - young Japanese environmentalist surfer dude. Since he's only in town for a short while, we're meeting a couple times a week. When he leaves, now that I have a real schedule I can pick up a normal long-term committed student, like Karina in Middletown.

Also, I'm suddenly not lacking for singing! I've been able to go up to Palo Alto on 2nd/4th Sundays, and then on Tuesday we celebrated the return of local Santa Cruz singing! woohoo! Living somewhere with singing right in my own neck of the woods... it's been too long. Hmm, if at all... had it sort of in Middletown, but that was always a hassle on my part anyway. Oh Summer 05 when I was an honorary haydenville resident! (though I never got roped into any town meetings, zoning related or otherwise.) Ah, those were the days... Anyway, the singing here is surprisingly strong, all kinds of local singers I'd never met at Palo Alto or the Golden Gate came out of the woodwork. For once I wasn't the only one with pent-up singing-energy... I usually feel extra overeager amidst the laaaaaid. back. california crowd. I've been all self-conscious about that, but I decided my Sacred Harp just does not do "laid back", damnit. Anyway, 1st and 3rd Tuesdays from now on! (Sadly we don't start until after 10 ET or we could have some lovely cross-country vibes.)

Err, non-singing readership? Still awake there? My most exciting recent development is I finally got around to filling up those externship hours. Starting today, I'm cooking for the Homeless Garden Project on Thursdays. If you're too lazy to click on the link, they provide job training and support, run an organic farm, and involve the community in lots of ways. I had some reservations, like their "kitchen" is a little shack with a propane burner, and I was warned some of the guys complain about the lack of meat. But I showed up at the farm on Tuesday to check it out and meet some of the crew, and it's just sort of exactly what you'd imagine. The place and the people just bubbling over with happy santa-cruz-non-profit-organic-farm vibes, and sooo welcoming. The Tuesday cooking volunteer is this great 70+ woman who said she needs to take a sabbatical because she's been cooking there for 9 years and "I want to have erotic dreams, not dreams about spaghetti!"

So, I just jumped to it. I got free reign of whatever they've got harvested at the farm, and a surprisingly high quality pantry of donations (organic eggs from the local natural foods store, grains and beans from local organic suppliers, olive oil / balsamic vinegar, lots of random asian stuff like vats of chili paste... hmm...). Took some home and whipped up soup and oat/peanut butter cookies in my Kitchen with a capital K. Then got to spend the beautiful sunny morning out at the farm while the crew harvested wildflowers. One of the guys in the program is really interested in learning about cooking, so they pulled him out of the field and I get a little assistant! It's a lot of fun to just throw things together from whatever they have leftover in the cooler (chard, limes, lots of bread) + whatever random donations show up (ginger, yogurt, power bars) + whatever I want to harvest (basil/lettuce for the salad). And everyone was sooooo enthusiastic about the food and sooooo overjoyed to have me there, and sooooo positive about eating healthy food and asking me about my school and nutrition, etc. And they sent me off with a fresh bouquet of flowers. Um, I have to proclaim it the most rewarding thing EVER. (And the meat-eating hecklers? Totally my buddies now. When it comes down to it, they're just two more in the long and proud tradition of misbehaving little boys.)

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

To tide you over until KT recovers from jet lag

Random topics:

1) I think I suffer from inverse SAD. When it's sunny and beautiful all the time I start feeling extra grumpy and guilty for being a hermit unworthy of the natural beauty around me. Bleh. (For some reason this reminds me of the sonnet I had to write in 8th grade - mine was to "darkness." They really shouldn't let 13 year-olds write poetry.)

2) On the plus side, I finally used up the $100 in amazon rebates that have piled up from my credit card. I only went $19.71 over, and managed to pick up:
- a non-crappy blender
- 2 cookbooks
- subscription to Selecciones (Reader's Digest en espaƱol)
- my favorite ESL book of reading selections
- 2 100-piece tubs of Xylichew (Short of giving up my gum habit, the best alternative I’ve found to my past of rotting my teeth or poisoning myself with icky sugar substitutes. I bet I can work myself up to a good rant about this someday :)

3) Sat nite shifts are the best. No tourists buying beach novels or locals buying guidebooks for Costa Rica. And lots of time to catch up on magazines.

Thank you, Wired, for this.

Welcome to Fatworld! Experience Refreshing Moral Discomfort!

Ian Bogost likes to play with failure. The 30-year-old Georgia Tech professor designs popular Web games powered by sarcasm and social commentary. In his latest, Fatworld, players navigate a consumer paradise, rule their own empire of restaurants and convenience stores, and enjoy food allergies, diabetes, heart disease, and death.

Most games with social themes are built around tiresome moral lessons. But the titles created by Bogost's development studio, Persuasive Games, invite us to be ruthlessly greedy, helplessly incompetent, and breathtakingly rude. The goal of Airport Security, for example, is to relieve infuriated passengers of prohibited items in accordance with continuously changing carry-on rules. In Bacteria Salad, players grow veggies for profit and try to avoid poisoning too many people. And in last year's Disaffected!, we assume the role of a Kinko's employee struggling to deliver print orders as lazy coworkers shuffle papers into the wrong stacks. Bogost proudly cites this user review: "I could actually feel myself getting angry and depressed and my sense of self-worth going right through the floor."


Monday, June 25, 2007

Home again home again jiggity jig

Hi everyone - wanted to send a quick note to say I'm safely back from the Promised Land and looking forward to catching up with you all... The trip had its ups and downs, like any 10 days spent in a bus with 39 people including a substantial minority of former frat boys - but it was, overall, amazing. I'm still processing everything (and probably will be for quite a while) so I won't get into much here - plus, it's 3:57 am here on Long Island (almost lunchtime Israeli time) and my body doesn't have any idea whether it wants to go to bed or wake up. So I guess I'll go take a little nap... meanwhile, hope you've been getting along okay without me, and I'll write more when I'm back in Texas!!



Friday, June 22, 2007

Random food shoutouts

1) I made "clean out the fridge" soup tonight, and WOW are beet greens tasty! Why have I been throwing these away????? I'm not a huge greens fan, I'll eat kale and chard and what have you but rarely cook them for myself. But these are sweet like the beetroot. mmm! And unsurpringly, the greens are more nutritious than the roots.
Here's a good picture. (Aww. I have such a warm squishy place in my heart for religious vegetarians after the last year of eating in almuerzo places covered in bible verses.)

2) The amaranth salad I made for my homework turned out to be a terrible recipe. But on the plus side, in researching the nutritional benefits I found the answer to a question I'd forgotten to ask for the last 6 months - what the hell is kiwicha? In Peru they love them their native ancient grains, like quinoa. (Not so much in Ecuador, where they got the proper colonial mindset, and it's not a meal without a hefty portion of rice.) When I was traveling there, something called "kiwicha" kept turning up on all the ingredient labels, especially in cereals and these ubiquitous puffed grain bars. Somehow it slipped my mind until I read this line:
Amaranth, also known as kiwicha... is frequently popped like popcorn and glued together with honey to create a bar that is eaten like a granola bar.
Awesome, I can't wait to pop some myself. And to make the amaranth-blackberry muffins from my the Uprisings baking book, with the "olallieberries" that all the locals keep raving about and are just now in season. Other suggestions from The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods:
"Add 1/4-1/2 cup seeds to your favorite soup recipe. It will expand and thicken, adding a rich, nutty sweetness to your soup."
And just for Lauren - "Amaranth seeds make a hearty breakfast porridge. Add 1 cup seeds to 3 cups cooking liquid, bring to a boil, then lower heat to medium, cover, and cook until seeds are mushy, about 20-25 minutes."

Incidently, amaranth turns out to be RIDICULOUSLY nutritious. Forget all-american whole wheat. Amaranth has similar or higher levels of nearly EVERY nutrient. For example, 25% higher in fiber, 5 times the iron and calcium. Not to mention low glycemic index and gluten free. Geez.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Belated recipes!

Oh my, these recipes are starting to back up. Better get some posted. This is from 2 assignments back, where the focus was on protein. I give you:

White Bean and Yellow Pea Soup
Green Egg Salad
Tofu Mayonnaise (If nothing else, from this assignment I learned that mayo is spelled with 2 Ns. Heh.)

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Father's Day Coupon

What's that Dad? Not interested in taking advantage of the special offer? Well, I'll just go with a classic:
Happy Father's Day!

Friday, June 15, 2007

Visitors, and more Cash

To cap off a non-stop week. Sittin on the porch of an evening with my mom and Sue, polishing off my macrobiotic leftovers, and listening to Johnny Cash. Latest library acquisition, the second American recording Unchained. Knew my mom would appreciate it since it's the one with backup by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, and assorted other guests. Sure enough she grabbed up the liner notes. JC liner notes are pretty much the best thing this side of his music, and it's generally hard to restrain myself from quoting them in their entirety. As KT can attest to. Err, she would if she weren't AWOL in Israel. But seriously, these open with The veggie burgers were really good at the sessions. I never did know where they were brought in from, but when they asked if I wanted one, I ordered two. It's no good to say "without pickles," because you are going to get pickles. Ever since Moses brought them out of Egypt, the world is infested with cucumbers. And end with original poetry. And with apologies to Reese and Joaquin, no Hollywood movie can hold a candle to the bit about June that comes somewhere in the middle.

But my mom picked out these lines in particular:
I love songs about horses, railroads, land, judgment day, family, hard times, whiskey, courtship, marriage, adultery, separation, murder, war, prison, rambling, damnation, home, salvation, death, pride, humor, piety, rebellion, patriotism, larceny, determination, tragedy, rowdiness, heartbreak and love. And Mother. And God.

Well. You heard the man.

Tomorrow brings: farmer's market featuring the first figs of the season, fig salad for lunch, hike from this book Richard gave me for Christmas, concert and fireworks at the beach.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

The best places to be a poor student earning minimum wage. Oh, wait.

wrong list...

The five most expensive cities in which to live are:

1. New York, NY
2. Santa Ana, CA
3. San Jose, CA
4. Santa Cruz, CA
5. San Francisco, CA

--Source: Forbes. Rankings for the 200 biggest metro areas (populations over 231,000). Living costs measure all household expenditures.

The best part is that getting out of #4 is easy, but generally involves a trip to #3 or #5.

At least, unlike its neighbors, SC didn't end up on in the top 5 OVERPRICED cities. Soooo even Forbes says I'm making a sound investment. Yes...

Zombies, the new pink? Or the new flag-burning? Discuss.

What. Is the deal. With the zombies. Lately everywhere I look people are on and on about ZOMBIES. They even took over the world today.

(What's that now?)

Seriously, did I miss the memo on this? Are zombies officially the new anti-establishment mascot? Or is there some hit zombie movie I'm unaware of? Something in the water? Whatever, I don't care how many zombies come knocking on my door, as long as those "LOL cat" things stay far far FAR away from me.

Monday, June 11, 2007

progress shmogress! up with analog!

Ok now, I'm not even a faux Luddite like KT. I like the technology. But I'm also an "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" kind of gal and if there's anything I can't stand, it's the constant need to upgrade everything. BIGGER FASTER SHINIER MORE EXPENSIVE.
Doesn't The Man have better things to do than take away my one sad little staticky channel? And really, since when does the government have 80 bucks per family to spend at Best Buy?? Aren't we at war or something? What's that about a health care crisis? Global warming? Failing schools? Grumble grumble.

Rabbit ears will soon be clipped
At midnight on Feb. 17, 2009, the rabbit ears and the rooftop antennas that still guide television signals into nearly one of every five U.S. homes will be rendered useless -- unless they are tethered to a new device, including two versions unveiled Wednesday, that the government will spend as much as $80 a household to help families buy.

On the use of my time in a productive manner.

Well, I've got about an hour before my bedtime, and I have three options.

1) Work on my overdue homework assignment.
2) Post the pictures and recipes from the assignment before THAT for your viewing pleasure
3) Write this significantly less interesting post, and then watch another episode of Heroes.

Yes, you guessed it. Number 3 it is. Let's see, possible news of interest:

- Starting in a couple weeks I'll have my very own permanent shift. Saturday 11-7. Which is fine by me... that still leaves Tue, Thu, Sun work/school free, it's not like I have any attachment to the weekend per se. In fact I'd rather have time off during the week when the town is less flooded with tourists. And I wouldn't say no to a second shift... If I don't have Real Life commitments to get me out of bed, I don't ever accomplish anything no matter how much "free time" I have.
- I spent lots of quality time today with m's birthday twin! He can sort of say "duck" and is a little SPEED DEMON. The second he stopped being interested in holding onto alto pantlegs, he was across the square and heading up the steps before you knew it. I can't believe both m and o are almost a whole year old!!
- Tomorrow is our second field trip, here. With baby goats!

And I'll leave you with this silly picture from Memorial Day at the Bridges.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Midterms, iron chef style

Yikes, can you believe we already finished our midterms??? Of course, being at hippie natural foods cooking school, we didn't have any kind of written. Just thrown in the kitchen with a bag o mystery and 90 minutes to create. We ended up with some of the best food all semester. And I was totally blown away by the creativity of my classmates - this is a side we haven't really seen because in class we are always following set recipes. For example, I was assigned to help out Stacy, who got millet, fennel, and strawberries. We made millet/fennel croquettes with goat cheese and a delicious fennel/fruit topping. And strawberries in a parfait glass with chocolate mousse - made from avocados, cocoa powder, coconut oil, and a pinch of cayenne! whoooa. am drooling just remembering.

My feelings about my own performance are kind of mixed. I wasn't nervous going in, but wasn't terribly inspired by 2/3 of my ingredients and was really unorganized and unfocused putting together the recipes. (Uh, not that my lack of time management/multitasking skills are coming as any surprise here.) Definitely a good experience though, and I liked how it does challenge you to use the techniques and pantry ingredients we've been working with.

I got cauliflower, sugar snap peas, and leeks. All good things but unless I wanted to go the generic salad route, not the best combination. So I ended up doing 3 separate dishes.
1) Roasted cauliflower with nut/herb topping - which is my favorite way to prepare cauliflower, and I've made several times since I first made it for Labor Day at the Mahoneys. This dish I was really happy with - got exactly the "wow, cauliflower that isn't bland!!" reaction that i was looking for.
2) Felt that sugar snap peas are best as a fresh snack, so I just blanched them to bring out the color, and served them with a bean dip. The dip could be improved upon, but I was happy with the idea and it looked beautiful.
3) I like leeks a lot, but was kind of at a loss of what to do with them, and ended up making a soup puree with leftover beets and cabbage. It was tasty, not incredible or anything, but stood up to the job of cleaning out the refrigerator. Which is really more my goal in life, rather than gourmet cuisine.

More pictures of food and silly chef getup here!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

On the beauty of intellectual discourse with small children

Spent last night babysitting my classmate's son, that adorable 4 year-old red headed bundle of hyperactivity.

G: (possessively eating chicken/cheese tamale) This is MY tamale.
R: Awesome. I actually don't eat chicken because I'm a vegetarian, so I don't eat any meat.
G: Do you eat cheese and stuff?
R: Oh yeah, I love cheese. (Explains difference between vegans and vegetarians.)

5 min later, while eating second tamale...
G: I'm a vegetarian AND a vegan!

If Wil Wheaton told you to jump off a bridge...

Wil says:
After finishing Monster Nation, I find myself in this joyful place, where I decide which book to pluck from the pile. Where will I go next? Into the past? Into the future? One thing is for sure, I'm tired of the present. All the nonfiction books I've accumulated over the last year, all the investigations and polemics and expert insights are as unwelcome as the evening news. In fact, I took them all and put them in a box in the garage. Maybe I'll read them at some point in the future, when I want to visit the past.

I realized this morning, while I opened and closed and considered and abandoned book after book that I want to read purely to escape this world, even if the world to which I flee is overrun with zombies.


Thanks, wil, for your timely validation. All day I've been waiting to run away from the bestselling copies of The Secret History of the American Empire taunting me at work, and cuddle up with my dogeared copy of The Kid Who Ran for Principal.