Archive | April, 2011

Spring

26 Apr

Spring. It is time to Garden but I’m late to it this year.   Already the dead, barren dirt is showing signs of rebirth, even without my helpful hand.

The collard greens I never cut down come roaring back from the dead of winter.

Amid dead vegetation and brittle stems, fragrant green leaves of thyme appear

Stiff stalks greet tender shoots in an urban garden.

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Pickles!

18 Apr

I have a new, strange, obsession.

Pickles.

Or, more accurately preserved fruits and vegetables. 

I bought this book as a method of self preservation during a frantic week last week.  I was literally on a conference call (shhh, don’t tell anyone) when I went to the bookstore to find a book on pickles.  The Barnes and Nobles actually had a rather disappointing selection of four books on preserving. I actually had gone looking for a book strictly on pickles, but they didn’t have one (????).

Didn’t matter. This book had me at home cured bacon.  Then they threw in a wine recipe for good measure and the deal was sealed. I merrily bought my book and began dreaming of pickles.

You will be reading a lot about preserving fruits and vegetables this summer–or I will be writing about it anyway.  PreserveIt! included a dizzying array of methods for saving your precious harvest (and slaughter).   As much as I want to make pickles, I actually began with a different method of preservation, one which probably wont surprise you…preserving in alcohol.

Shocked, I know.

My first effort from the book was kumquats preserved in vodka, suggested for serving over bitter chocolate ice cream!  Nom Nom Nom!

The bonus here is that you have two end products, because the vodka becomes a sweet citrus liquor as well!  And it could not have been more simple.  It was simply kumquats, vodka, cardamom pods, and sugar in a sterilized jar.

You let it sit for three months and then viola!

I’m so excited to open my cupboard every day and see these precious little treats just steeping away.

I had really intended to do more this weekend, but I was just toooooooooo tired after last week.  Next I’m planning on making and canning some red onion marmalade.   Though tonight I have pulled pork in the slow cooker and I’m going to make quick pickled apples to go with it on some soft flour tortillas.  I told you, I’m PICKLE CRAZY…shush with the obvious jokes, what are you, 12??

That Steely McBeam has a sense of humor

18 Apr

Shhhh, don’t tell Ginny, but Steely McBeam kind of won me over at the Best Buddies walk this weekend.

I was standing off to the side, alone texting my team for their ETA when I heard a sound behind me.  I turned around and Steely was about 10 yards back, waving and carrying on with some folks off in the distance.

I continued texting.

I heard more sound, closer this time and turned around to see Steely had closed the gap by about half. He was this time looking very purposefully casual. It was clear he was sneaking up on me. Kind of cute.  Granted, it was 8 in the morning on a Saturday, so I was groggy, but I giggled. I turned my back on him again, and got the camera on my phone ready to go.  I sensed he was right behind me so I turned around.  To this…

Yes, that is his hand as he lunges at me. Yes it IS creepy. And yes, I laughed heartily.  It was really funny.

Then I wanted to take a picture of my daughter and her friend with Steely.  They, being middle school girls, rolled their eyes.  He tried to get them to lighten up. He stole Riley’s juice and pretended to drink it.

Nonplussed she was.

They are smiling on the outside, but on the inside, they are too cool for this. Really.

So what does a mascot do?  He makes a farting noise.

Total break in composure.  Awesome! Way to break the composure of middle school girls. Respect.

I am thinking you have to have a sense of humor to be Steely McBeam. He certainly proved that he not only doesn’t take himself too seriously, but he can edit his behavior according to the group and/or individual…(I’m not even going to tell you how group of college girls got him to pose for a picture with that beam!)  So though I don’t think the Steelers really need a mascot, I think Steely–or the guy in the suit at any rate–is a pretty funny guy who is a good addition to public events.

Tempeh even my daughter loved

13 Apr

My son will tell you that raising him as a vegetarian has RUINED him because he wants to eat meat, but he finds it gross.  Or more accurately he’ll say that I have ruined him. My daughter not so much. She loves meat. Meat meat meat meaty meat.  She also loves Brussels Sprouts and tofu so we’ll call it a draw. What neither one of them will eat, is Tempeh.  However last night I made Tempeh that everyone scarfed down. It was faaaaaaaaantastic.

The recipe came from Cooking light and was for Tempeh and Green Bean Stir-Fry with Peanut Sauce

What I made was more along the lines of Tempeh and whatever I had in the fridge Stir Fry with Peanut Sauce.

That turned out to be carrots, shredded cabbage, a very sad looking green pepper, some red onion and cilantro.

I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t have mattered if it was old sneaker tongues and wilted stink leaves the Peanut Sauce was that. good.

I’d been planning to make this 3 weeks ago so I had Tempeh and the natural peanut butter, but almost everything else was substitute. Even the Siracha called up a pinch hitter (some sweet chili sauce and Frank’s Red Hot).

Didn’t matter. It was great. Also very fast, maybe 30 minutes start to finish and came in at around 9 weight watchers points for a hefty portion.

 

Really the peanut sauce was the belle of the ball. You could use any number of veggies and even meat.  But I would argue that Tempeh is the perfect vehicle for this (as a diet food) because the grainy quality means you don’t really NEED rice to go with it.  All in all delicious!

Tacos!

12 Apr

It’s no secret I’m dieting.

<GRRRRR>

Who wants to eat diet food though? Certainly not me. But I think maybe I’ve found the perfect diet food, and it isn’t what you think…

Ok, it maybe it IS what you think, you saw the title of the post, but you are SURPRISED, No?

Of course the magic diet food is Tacos, and I am in love.

Recently I’ve been experimenting with taco-esque concoctions and they are MAGIC!

Just follow the formula:

Meat/protein + vegetable/fruit all dressed up for prom

Viola! Fancy, exciting, yummy tacos!  Oh, and best of all they take like, 20 minutes to make, unless you get very fancy!  Double win!

We’ve made several variations so far, and none of them were anything less that tastegasmic.

We started with a simple taco made with  flour tortillas with beef (spiced up with cumin, garlic cayenne) plus mango salsa (even better because the tortillas came from the store in the strip that sells delicious homemade tortillas!)

Solidifying my love for pork, we made a version that included lime marinated pounded pork and caramelized onions (with Greek yogurt) on top of fresh corn tortillas, also from the strip.  The corn tortillas are my favorite!  We toasted them right on the fire of our gas stove.

and tonight I made these:

Pork tenderloin tacos with apple slaw

Basically I took a pork tenderloin and cut it the wrong way as Chef Rob informed me when he came down stairs thusly relieving of meat cutting duty. Once the pork was returned to my custody I marinated it in lime zest, lime juice (yes, it’s a favorite) cumin, salt, garlic and pepper and let it sit while I made the slaw.

The slaw was pre-shredded cabbage, half of a granny smith apple, half of a fuji apple, and red onion tossed with a dressing of cilantro, lime zest, lime juice and Greek yogurt.

The tacos were corn tortillas toasted over the flame, the pork cooked in a very hot cast iron pan (with only a touch of pam, no oil) and then topped with the completely guilt free slaw!

DELICIOUS!

In the car coming home from swimming lessons, as my daughter dreamed of having seconds, we fantasized about other tacos we might make create…the possibilities they are endless!

My favorite two we came up with:

Salmon cooked in our smoker, caramelized onions and apples and topped off with kale steamed and tossed with Barbecue sauce.

And….(this will be made in my house soon)

Pulled pork on a flour tortilla topped with a fast pickled apples.  Drool.

I’m thinking pickling toppings might be a way to fancy up some veggies and fruits, twist the flavors past the expected, and make me excited about dieting.  Yay.

Also, my daughter’s computer? No spell check. So though it may look like my blog has been hijacked by poorly educated hillbillies, I assure you, its just me and I’ll fix it tomorrow.

Update: The spelling has been fixed, thank you for your patience. 🙂

Yay Doyle, OMG GOP WTF?

8 Apr

So, my little blog caused a bit of a stir yesterday!  If you called Congressman Mike Doyle’s after reading yesterday’s post, or wandered over here after his response, then you know that Rep. Doyle in fact OPPOSES HR-3 and HR 358.  In fact, he opposed them from the start, no pausing, no pondering, no prevarication.

He writes (about HR-358) “You will be happy to know that when this legislation was considered before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, of which I am a Member, I was vocal with my strong opposition, and voted against it.  Despite that, H.R. 358 passed out of the Committee by a vote of 14 to 9, and will next be considered before the entire House of Representatives.”

According to the Congressman’s office, an intern got his facts wrong, and thus learned a valuable lesson on three very, very important words: “I don’t know.”  I hope they weren’t too mad at the young man. I am encouraged that anyone still wants to go into politics these days.

Also, I spoke with Doyle’s office and they were very nice.  They could have been jerks (even though I DID do my due diligence) human nature is often to lead with anger and indignation.

So it’s all good, right??

Wait…what did I see this morning?  In the swirl of getting myself and the kids out the door on time I could swear I heard CNN say that the Budget deal to avoid a government shutdown hinges on….funding for Planned Parenthood.

Really?

REALLY????

Oi. Vey.

And according to this blog (and you know Blogs are the most reliable source for information right?) only Harry Reed and John Boehner can come together strike a deal and avoid a shut down. (Actually lots of outlets are reporting that it is the issue of funding for Planned Parenthood holding things up.)

We are doomed.

Just kidding.  Actually we are

DOOMED.

I could spend hours out of my day which I don’t have writing about why this is so immoral and mean spirited.  Many people will face many crises if the government shuts down, from families not getting a paycheck, to government safety inspections being put on hold (and for those of you who say we have too much Government, Government BAD, there are families in China right now grieving because Government regulations failed).

Then take the issue of Planned Parenthood.  Planned Parenthood is literally a life saver for many women.  Their cancer screenings, STD (which are now called something else that I can’t remember b/c they were still called venereal diseases when I was in High School) testing, and family planning services are the ONLY HEALTH CARE many low income women get.  Make no mistake, without Planned Parenthood women will die.

Now put the two together. Republicans want to shut down the government because they want to stop women from getting health care and they want to let hospitals choose when to save a woman’s life and when to let her die.

KABLOOEY. That is the sound of my head exploding and all hope for the United States evaporating from my little Pollyanna heart.  (Update:  Infy does a much better job of rationally talking about this subject today without his/her head exploding.)

So Today you have two jobs.

The first is to start making calls to tell various and sundry leaders that Planned Parenthood provides vital health care to under-served women and that holding up an entire federal government’s operations over women’s access to health care is the most misogynistic thing you’ve ever heard. Here’s a few you can start with:

Harry Reid  202-224-3542

John Boehner (202) 225-6205

Sen. Casey  (202) 224-6324

And then, if you have any energy and desire, drop Congressman Mike Doyle a note and say thank you for his support on this vital issue. The thing is, we need Dems like him that tend to be a little more conservative on social issues to step up here. Rep. Doyle, Sen. Casey, and others need to put those values to work and stand up for protecting women’s lives.

So get on the horn folks and start making some noise.

OMG Rep Doyle, WTF?

7 Apr

UPDATE:  Check out Congressman Doyle’s response in the comments or look at today’s blog post, Yay Doyle, OMG GOP WTF

 

Spurred on by something that showed up in my Facebook stream, I called my Congressman, Rep. Mike Doyle to ask about his stance on HR-3 and HR-358.  The nice young man who answered the phone told me that Rep. Doyle has yet to take a position on these bills….

Really?

REALLY??????

HR-358 is the bill that would allow hospitals to let a woman die rather than performing a life saving abortion.  So the scenario is this…a woman, most likely pregnant by choice and excited to become a mother suffers some monstrous, unimaginable injury or illness or complication. The only way to save her life is to terminate the pregnancy.  A devastating and horrible choice for an expectant mother to make.  This bill would let a hospital choose (note that the hospital and doctors seem to have a choice in this matter) to refuse to perform this LEGAL and NECESSARY  medical procedure and allow the mother to die.

And Doyle doesn’t have a position on this yet????

SHAME. ON. YOU. Congressman Doyle.

Along with all the other anti-woman, infantalizing, misogynistic provisions in these bills (including the redefinition of rape)….I totally forgot where I was going with this sentence. My vision is blurring in a haze of outrage…oh, along with all these other provisions this is some of the worst and most damaging legislation for women and their families we’ve seen in a long time.  I cannot support anyone who votes for these bills. Ever.  I understand we all make compromises, and I have voted for anti-choice legislators before because they are the best choice overall, but these bills aren’t just anti choice, they will result in the deaths of women. These bills, if they become law, will condemn women to die from cancer, botched back alley abortions, and whatever you call it when a hospital watches a woman die (I call that murder.)

Please call Rep. Doyle now and urge him to “take a position” AGAINST these bills. If he wont, I can suggest a few other positions he take, starting with retired.

202-225-2135

Don’t even get me started on the defunding/ACORNING of Planned Parenthood which would actually INCREASE the number of unplanned pregnancies and women seeking abortions and the OUTRAGEOUS State Laws being proposed around the country.  (In case you hadn’t heard Iowa, for a brief moment considered a law making it justifiable homicide to kill a doctor who performs abortions. Very pro-life of them, doncha think?)

Also consider calling your Senator. You can do so through Planned Parenthood’s website which also has nifty talking points if you are nervous.  I called. I was nervous. Until I saw Rep. Doyle (DOYLE!) had not position, then I was just ANGRY.

I am so passionate about this I’m even going to include a very unflattering picture of me declaring my support for Planned Parenthood (WHO by the way is the fiscal sponsor and distributor of products for On the Spot, the evil plot to over throw the world by making sure middle school girls have access to menstrual products)