Wednesday, February 29, 2012

the dread pirate roberts is here for your soul

John says my post yesterday was like I was running around kicking random people in the crotch. So there you go.

Well, for those of you who are interested in the results of the egg noodle experiment, it was a success. I made some Pim's quick tomato sauce that I like, stirred it all together, then topped it with some Parmesan. Scrumptious, and I am not joking. I don't know if they would work with pesto, or a cream sauce, or a carbonara, but I'm guessing so. So, without further ado, I will give you the recipe and suggest you try it, whether you're cutting down on refined flours, trying to get rid of eggs, or just want to eat something delicious. This does not make a whole ton--it will serve 2-4 people, depending on how piggish they are.

Egg Noodles
(from How to Cook Everything)

8 eggs
1/4 C water
generous pinch of salt

Mix everything in a blender and cook as crepes over medium heat (I cooked them in an oiled cast iron skillet). Be sure to make the crepes very thin. Stack the crepes, and when they are cool, roll them up and slice them to the width you like. You could also send them through a pasta machine if you want exact uniformity.

Pim's Quick Tomato Sauce
(adapted from Sunset magazine)

2 cans of diced tomatoes
1/4 C olive oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
2 t balsamic vinegar
red chile flakes
basil (fresh or dried)

Heat the oil, then add garlic and tomatoes. Cook until the tomatoes are nice and sweet and the juice is thick enough to leave a mark when you scrape the bottom of the pan. Add the salt, chile flakes, and basil to taste.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

the lamb was sure to go

Here are some more political thoughts, because you love it so much when I do this.

I think the Republican party has been permitted to run untrammeled over Utah for far too long now, and I intend to vote the bums out wherever I am given the option. Opposition--true opposition, not this nonsense where they pretend to hate each other and then go behind closed doors and give each other tongue baths--is imperative for limiting government corruption.

Anyone who looks at either party and sees a substantive difference in the way they practice governance is, I fear, misguided. But I'm a pessimist!

I will vote for a bushy-backed sea slug before I ever vote for Orrin Hatch, and you can take that to the bank. He is a vain braggart, a usurper of liberty, and a skunk.

I hate Rick Santorum for many reasons, including this: anyone who has designs on the presidency needs to be smart enough to know his audience. I'm glad for him that he has such moral certainty; it must be very nice to be totally without flaws (except for his appearance, voice, and personality). But if he thinks it's his job to be the country's moral advisor, and that he can say the things he does to such a varied audience, then he is too stupid to be the president.

The most likable video I've ever seen of President Obama is the one where he shoots that kid's marshmallow gun. They should run it as a campaign ad, because it makes him look like a nice dad who gets excited about smart kids doing cool things. He looks so genuine! Who wouldn't want a president like that? Why is he not like that in real life? Why does he keep secretly monitoring the American citizenry, among other bad decisions? Is it because he is, as I suspect, nominally the president but actually powerless, because he's not really the guy calling the shots? That really it's the Pentaverate running the joint? You can insert "Illuminati" or "Star Chamber" for "Pentaverate" if you wish.

The Romney campaign needs to run more pictures of Mittens with tousled hair. I think he could be a decent president, but who can say? I think the major problem with him having friends who own Nascar teams is that he clearly associates with people who like stupid stuff. But who among us does not have a friend who likes stupid things; like thinking they need a custom paint color, or wearing their hair all bleached and poky even though they're forty-five, or dressing their animals, or crocheting decorative tree cozies, or reading science-fiction romance novels? I don't know that I'd vote for Mitt, but I'd vote for him over either of those other two idiots--but I guess it's just down to one idiot now, isn't it? Isn't Newt out of it for real, finally?

If there was ever a person about whom the Cass Elliot ham sandwich myth should be true, Newt Gingrich is that person. I would take pleasure in it.

I think that's all for now. Except this: yesterday I was at Bombay Bites for lunch (try it, you'll like it, take a tip from me), and there was a group of six people there on their lunch break, and one of them had taken it upon herself to be their Indian Food Spirit Guide for the day. Boy, did she need to shut up. They would ask the server questions, and while he was answering she'd start talking over him to answer the question herself. Also she kept asking the server those kind of questions that are meant to display your superior knowledge of the cuisine, like, "Oh, I haven't seen the Aloo done this way, have you blah blah blah? And what about Blah? I love it when it has this and that and blah." Just egregious showboating, and I wanted her to cram it with walnuts.

Monday, February 27, 2012

whole new terrible meaning for "flyover"

There's a bit of a kerfuffle going on in a tiny corner of the internet regarding single motherhood. There were a couple of articles on Slate last week opining that single motherhood is not the society-ending plague it has been made out to be, and the author of the second article voiced her desire to be a single mother, because her experience as a child of a single mother was so pleasant. That's fine. Being an affluent, educated single mother with a strong support system probably isn't that bad--at least, not as bad as it is for a low-income single mother with a GED. She also thought it would be nice to do the parenting her way, and not to have to work it out with another person. Eh, that seems like a childish reason to raise a child alone. I think it's good for kids to see their parents peacefully work out a conflict, or a conflict that starts out calm, goes supernova, then ultimately resolves peacefully. As John says, parenting is not for your kids, it's for you. It's what finishes turning you into a decent human being. So if you never have to listen to an equally-invested peer who disagrees with you, you're going to have a pretty myopic view of how good a job you're doing.

But that's in good marriages, where people aren't selfish and immature. Marriages in which one of the partners refuses to do their job are better off dissolving. I've seen too many necessary divorces to think otherwise. Also sometimes you don't get a choice about whether or not to be a single parent. And remarriage is not something to be entered into blithely unconcerned.

As in all things, sometimes single motherhood is bad, and sometimes it's good. I guess people better make their own well-reasoned decisions.

Against my wishes, I have made a dietary change and am limiting my intake of refined flour and sugar. Sigh. I hate even saying that, because it's so Portlandia (thank you, that show, for providing me with a descriptor that is Germanic in its precision). I don't want to talk about it right now, because I'm still fine-tuning what exactly I'm doing. But noodles are one of my favorite food groups, and I'm not eating pasta, if that tells you anything. So I made some egg noodles and they look like this:
They are composed entirely of eggs and water and salt. I am interested to see what they taste like with sauce.

Here is a picture of Rex and Groceries. They used to be so little, and now they are big fat tubs of guts. I love them dearly. Almost all they do is sleep and eat and get mauled by my children. Tough job.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

what I thought about "narrative of the life of frederick douglass"

What a remarkable man. This book is wonderful and awful, and should be required reading for every human being.

Where did we go wrong, as a species? When did people become things? At what point in history did one human being look at another human being and say, "That belongs to me. That is my property."? And why didn't everybody else tell that guy he was off the island? Why wasn't he exiled into the desert to be devoured by lions? Was there only one guy saying that people were property, and everybody thought if they ignored it it would go away? Or were there already so many people who liked the idea of cheating the law of the harvest and getting something for nothing that they all jumped on the wagon together to oppress the women, children, and people whose skin was a different color? Were we already so corrupt that it sounded like a good idea?

This disgusts me. There is an interesting example in the book of how Frederick Douglass came to a family in Baltimore who had not previously owned slaves, and the effect that slavery has on both the slave and the slaveholder; how dehumanizing it is to both parties. And to think that there is still a vibrant slave trade is so monstrously offensive I don't know how the earth doesn't split in anguish and swallow whole the people who supply and patronize such an abomination. I don't know if it is possible to atone for such willful disregard for human life.

Douglass makes an interesting observation that the more religious the slaveholder was, that is, the more active he was in the outward display of his moral superiority, the more brutal and base and cruel he was to his slaves. This was borne out in Douglass's own experiences, as well as those of his fellow-slaves. Isn't this still so often the case? The world is full of people for whom religion is merely another tool with which to oppress others.

Douglass also demonstrates how vital education is to showing a man the injustice and immorality of his enslavement--that to keep a slave docile you have to keep him ignorant. How heartbreaking, and how true.

Well, I have all kinds of thoughts about this book that I'd love to discuss with somebody. I highly recommend it.

Monday, February 20, 2012

today in boots and concerns both biological and political

Like a total maroon I went to Smithfield Implement yesterday, thinking that their boot selection would be better than R & R Hardware's, but boy was I wrong, and if you're going to start making smart remarks about how I have plenty of boots then you know what, Napoleon? You can leave! I know I have plenty of boots. Some people like to buy outfits for their pets, I like to buy boots, all kinds.

A lady said a funny thing on Diane Rehm yesterday. She was talking about politics and the ugliness of the presidential campaign, and symbolized it this way: if you want people to buy your mayonnaise you don't keep talking about how greasy the other brand of mayonnaise is, because pretty soon people say, "Hmm. I don't think I want any mayonnaise."

I bought a few red bananas at Harmon's today, trying to show the banana companies that American consumers will be accepting of whatever comes after the Cavendish, and they can take a chance on us. They're a delicious banana, but then I looked them up and found out that the red banana is in the Cavendish group! Susceptible to the same diseases! I want to go on a banana-tasting expedition before they're all extinct from Panama disease or Sigatoka virus or Bunchy Top or whatever new, horrible thing is coming our way.

The guinea fowl are becoming tyrannical. This morning on my way home from grocery shopping I had to stop and wait for the whole big herd of them to take their sweet time crossing the road. There are probably at least thirty of them, and they just walk around like they own the place. If they don't watch out I'm going to birdnap a pair of them and make them have baby guinea fowl for me. Just as soon as I figure out which ones are boys and which ones are girls.

Did you know that mushroom stems will sprout new mushrooms if they're not trimmed?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

what I thought about "banana: the fate of the fruit that changed the world"

This book didn't hold my attention as well as I hoped it would. But I did learn some cool things from it, like what "banana republic" really means, and why bananas are so difficult (hint: they are clones). Our variety of banana is called the Cavendish, but our grandparents ate something called the Gros Michel. The Cavendish is dying, which is terrible for us, but unimaginably terrible for people elsewhere in the world.

According to this fellow, the real Forbidden Fruit, the one that Eve ate, was most likely a banana, not an apple. Sure, I'll buy that. Why not? Then he says something dumb, which makes me think he didn't even check his sources, because he says that mankind was not condemned to a life of struggle when Adam and Eve ate the fruit and were cast out of Eden, but later, when Cain killed Abel because God didn't like that Cain gave vegetables as a sacrifice.

Well, sir, in the KJV it says this (Genesis 3):

17 And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed [is] the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat [of] it all the days of thy life;
18 Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field;
19 In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou [art], and unto dust shalt thou return.

I mean, I'm no Biblical scholar or whatnot, but "in sorrow shalt thou eat of it" and "thorns and thistles shall it bring forth" and "in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread" all sound pretty struggley to me. I bet he doesn't even read the Bible. Which is understandable, because the Bible is a trip.

Moving on. This book made me more appreciative of the banana, and is [SPOILER] the only argument I've heard in favor of genetically modified food that didn't make me want to throw things.

Hope you can get used to the Lacatan banana. See how I know the names of different kinds of bananas? It's because I read this book. You can borrow it from me if you want, but don't buy it.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

pretty pretty pretty pretty pretty pretty girl

Here's the countertop story. We used to have laminate, because we are Poors. When we moved into this house we spent all our money right out of the gate on replacing the 1920s wiring and installing kitchen cabinetry. By the time we got to the countertop we couldn't afford marble, so laminate it was. It split and molded and swelled just like the countertop people warned me it would, but it was all we could do at the time. This year one of the things we wanted to do with our tax return was get a new countertop, and we did. I chose concrete because I still can't afford marble. The end.

That isn't a very interesting story. I could say that I disagree with the environmental cost of marble, or that I think it's so played because it's what all the magazine people have, but the fact is, I love marble, and if someone gave me a 12-foot piece of it I would install it in in two shakes of a lamb's tail. But I like the concrete, and I think it fits the house.

It's taken me a long time to get my act in gear, but I finally got it together yesterday and watched the whole first season (or "series," for y'all limeys out there) of Downton Abbey. I loved it. The costumes really do make me feel smarter. There is ample meat for discussion in the gender and class roles portrayed. I hear season/series two is a real clunker, though. I'll watch it anyway. What else am I going to do?

Monday, February 13, 2012

why do they gotta front?

One of the disadvantages to gradually becoming a fairly decent cook is that you get really snobby about what you eat. Fuji apples are no longer good enough for me, because they lack complexity. I was eating one this morning and thought, "This is a boring apple. It's too sweet, with nothing else going on." As I reflected on the bite of apple in my mouth, I realized, to my horror, that it tasted exactly like a Red Delicious, only slightly crisper. Same shallow flavor, same bitter skin. This makes sense, since the Red Delicious is one of the Fuji's parents. It was a sad awakening, because I hate the Red Delicious apple--the glossy, poisonous-looking one you find in the stores, not the ones that grow on actual trees in your own backyard. Doesn't it seem that those are actually two different types of apple? I love the Cripps Pink/Pink Lady, but how long until I've decided it, too is lacking some vital nuance of flavor?

How can something simultaneously be an Important Topic but also A Vain, Privileged Affectation? Context, my friends. Also I suspect the merits of Fuji vs. Cripps Pink is never truly an important topic, unless you are an apple farmer.

Well, it beats the heck out of tilting at windmills.

We set up a projector and looked at some family pictures last night, and many of my children's reaction comments were, "Wow, mom. You were fat back then." Ha! Kids are so candid. It's embarrassing when they do it in public and ask why that mom looks like a dad, or why that boy looks like a girl, or why does that man's breath smell like poop, but we are a very frank and honest family, so it serves us right.

Here's what our countertop looks like now:
It goes like that to the other wall, but there are dishes on it and in the sink, which destroys the pristine appearance implied by the above photo, and I don't feel like doing the dishes to take a picture. I love this countertop, and I wish I had done it in the first place.

Friday, February 10, 2012

instead of dreary who you were (are)

A long time ago I was given a Liebster blog award by Baba Capra reader Eric, who is an inspiration. His blog makes me ashamed and tired, but also impressed. I in turn was supposed to name five blogs with fewer than 200 followers that fit the description of the German word Liebster, which they tell me means dear, sweet, kind, nice, good, beloved, lovely, kindly, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, and welcome.

Do you love Germans or what?

Anyway, I regret to inform you that I am an Internet hermit. I read very few blogs, and those I do you know about already, because they're on my sidebar. There are a few others that I check in on, but they all have more than 200 followers. Rock and hard place. So I have nothing to offer you. I am sorry. I will appease you with this video that made me laugh.

Werner Herzog on Chickens from Tom Streithorst on Vimeo.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

what I thought about "cinderella ate my daughter"

I have a testimony of this book. Should you read this book? Let's ask some questions.

1. Do you think the princess culture is nauseating, and do you think that a person who buys clothing for a girl child with "diva" or similar messaging on it, thereby rewarding and encouraging toxic behavior, should be Shunned?
2. Do you think that pageant parents are pimps in everything but name, and should also be Shunned?
3. Do you think that eight-year-old girls are not cognitively the same as twelve-year-old girls, and that twelve-year-old girls are not cognitively the same as twenty-one-year-old girls, and they should all therefore have different rules regarding what is appropriate makeup and attire?
4. Do you hate the commodification of human beings, and sex being used as currency?
5. Do you want to raise a strong-minded, assertive daughter who knows that her value comes from her behavior, not her appearance, and are you concerned about your ability to do so?
6. Do you think that the kids today with their rock music spend altogether too much time immersed in a shallow, consumerist virtual world that is eroding the pillars of common human decency?

It turns out that I think all these things. I am STILL dealing with the fallout from #1 with the twelve-year-olds in my class. It is bizarre and off-putting. Also #3 is a REAL PROBLEM. I vehemently agree with almost everything Peggy Orenstein says in this book. I am so firmly in its intended audience. So if you're like me, you will love this book. Even if you're not like me, if you have a daughter you should read this book.

I like that she recognizes that there are typically differences between the sexes--males often think and behave in certain ways, females in others. But I also like that she emphasizes that there are more differences within the sexes than there are between them. That's true, my friends. Grant and Emmett are much more unlike each other than Grant and Willa are, for example. (That is code for "Grant and Willa have made me cry much more than Emmett has. Ike might end up a Furry. Not the sex kind of Furry, you perverts.")

She does have what I think is an error in her telling of the real Rapunzel story--she says that the prince fell onto some brambles, which blinded him, but in my book of children's stories the witch (Mother Gothel) scratched his eyes out. I guess it depends on whose retelling you fancy. I think the eye-scratching is probably more true to the original story.

it may have been a knockoff, but addams family was the superior program

John has now been to two city council meetings. It's fun to hear some of the inner workings of the city. Note: cronyism is a thing, but not as big of a thing as it might be. And it's not nefarious. Except where they won't let me be on Planning and Zoning, gosh, I wonder why. I think I helped appease the current city rulers a little when I helped with the park, though. A good attitude goes a long way. Because John is in charge of Parks and Cemeteries I'm going to help him figure out some good short trees or tall bushes to plant on the street side of the cemetery, because Rocky Mountain Power wants to come and cut down all the tall evergreens that are already there. Evidently they pose an arcing danger to the high-voltage wires or something electric-sounding. Power companies are so tyrannical!

Rex keeps coming into the parlor and looking at me pleadingly. It's not going to work. I am not going to give him any more food today. He is already a big fat tub of guts, and I don't want to send him into an early grave and have to bury him in an apple box. If I'm going to dig a hole that big, it had better be for a goat. If he weren't so dominant and greedy, and would let Groceries eat first once in a while, maybe he would be sleek instead of doughy.

We had our 2012 Goat and Bee Summit last weekend. It was very illuminating, re: all the bees are dead now. We did a post-mortem on Brian's (of the Magic Neighbors) defunct top bar hive. It was so sad to see the little bee carcasses, some of them hewn down in the midst of performing a task, their little bottoms sticking out of a honeycomb tunnel. We're going to try again this spring, but with better insulation and better placement of the hive. I am determined to have my own honey. Maybe part of the reason my bees left is because I didn't have any equipment; no veil, no coveralls, no hive tool. They probably thought I wasn't really committed, so they bailed on me for someone on BeeHarmony who was ready to settle down and start a family. Ha! That joke is terrible.

Our new countertop is almost finished. I will show pictures when it is done.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

I don't wanna hurt nobody but the bee has got to sting

I bought a juicer out of the classifieds this week. It's a Champion masticating juicer, for the discerning consumer, but I'm going to call it the Juice Tiger. I bought it for all of us, but I think the person who will (hopefully) benefit the most from it is Willa. She needs the live juice of real, actual fruits and vegetables like you would not believe. Willa, as I may have mentioned before, is the worst eater in our entire family, maybe the entire world. The absolute worst. She would subsist entirely on sugar and Crisco if it were available to her. She only begrudgingly eats here (while whining about how cold and hungry she is), and is able to fast like a camel in between visits to houses where she can eat junk, where she binges like she's going to the Bulimia Olympics. I hate to think what she would look like if she lived next door, because WOOF. I can't let her go over there anymore, because whenever I do she eats Doritos and Twinkies by the bagful, and watches videos of vampires and werewolves having sex, if her last visit over there is an indicator. Sometimes I really wish we lived in the absolute rear end of nowhere with no neighbors whatsoever.

If any of you are good at internet faith healing I'm interested in having my hips not ache anymore. I don't know if it's rheumatoid arthritis or what, but I'm not getting all gnarled and deformed, so probably not. Dr. Internet has given me very few plausible diagnoses.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Ginger Carrot Soup

In answer to Amy's question, this recipe is not Thai, it is Vita-Mix, which is very exotic. You don't need a Vita-Mix blender, though. Those things are so expensive! I used to think they were a needless extravagance, but Magic Wendy (from whom this recipe comes) loves hers, and she is not a frivolous person whatsoever. Then recently my sister-in-law Sarah got a Blendtec, which I think is the same sort of animal, and I saw it in action, and now I am sorely tempted. They fit a lot of stuff.

Moving on. The original recipe calls for tofu, but neither Wendy nor I use tofu. Our lunatic fringe explanation for that is that the way they process soy in the U.S. is a surefire way to give you breast cancer. If you're going to be eating soy, it needs to be fermented, not in milk or tofu form. So Wendy uses cashew butter, and I usually use peanut butter, because it's what I have on hand. I like it both ways, but the peanuts are definitely more assertive than the cashews.

Now, regarding the measurements: you need to know that I look upon them as mere guidelines. I don't know if I've ever made this soup exactly according to spec.

Ginger Carrot Soup
(serves 5)

2 C carrots
1/4 small onion
4 small garlic cloves
2 T oil
1/2 t salt
pinch of pepper
1 T fresh ginger, grated
1/3 C nut butter of your choice
2 C vegetable or chicken stock

Saute carrots, onion and garlic in the oil. When they are soft add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a simmer. When the carrots are perfectly tender blend with an immersion blender. Serve hot with a dollop of sour cream, if you wish.

The instructions on the recipe are blender instructions, but I find them to be the small appliance equivalent of a recipe advertisement, in which all the ingredients are Kraft-branded ingredients; in other words, a way to get you to use their product more, even though it would work just fine using the equivalents you have on hand.