Category Archives: Uncategorized

11.12.16

As a Christian, I am heartbroken. Being a disciple of Christ means working within oneself to extend compassion and love to all human beings and especially to vulnerable people – in 2016 United States that means refugees, women, religious and ethnic minorities, LGBTQ, mentally ill, the homeless, the undocumented. Being a Christian to me means possessing a responsibility to make this world a better place for all people in it, not just people who are like me. And this country, one that claims so many other followers of Christ and worshipers of the God who is pure love, has spoken out and voted in defense of myopic self-interest at best, and at worst, the opposite of love: hatred, bigotry, sexism, and xenophobia.

That’s how  I updated my Facebook status on Wednesday, the day after the election. Before this week, I’d sign onto Facebook maybe once a month or so. Since Wednesday, though, I’m on it constantly and putting up multiple posts per day, reading news articles people link to and checking their statuses. I’ve been on Facebook more in the past four days than in the past year. The first day or two were posts like mine, which encouraged me to post my own. Saddened that bigotry won. Unbelieving. Angry and fearful for the LGBT and Muslim and Black and Latino people in their lives. I hoped I’d wake up Wednesday morning, Thursday morning, and it would all be a dream and go away. I felt empty inside, like I had lost something very dear to me. And I had: I’d lost my belief that good would prevail in America, and that we as a nation would act in the best interest of everyone who lived here. After the grief (or rather, concurrent with the grief) came posts about how to fight his policies. How to get active in politics, organizations to donate time and money to, Change.org petitions for the electoral college to follow the popular vote, rallies and marches and community conversations to attend. I donated to Sierra Club and ACLU and shared my story with Planned Parenthood and urged my Facebook followers to do the same. I attended a peaceful protest last night in New Haven, and read the notes for a community conversation that I missed.

The Facebook conversations are changing now to report violence and hate-filled actions. The friend of a friend, an academic in South Philly, had her car keyed and “it’s our pussy now, bitch” or something like that carved into it. Black students in the area of PA where I get up are being bullied and called names. Teachers’ students have gone from asking if their parents will be deported to reporting classmates telling them that their parents will be deported. Somebody opened fire on a protest in Portland. And Donald Trump is silent on the violence that has been condoned by his speech over the past year and that people feel they can come out and say now that he’s won the election.

I understand how the whole “Make America Great Again” message could have resonated. It’s the same reason folks got swept up in Obama’s “Yes We Can” eight years ago. And I treat it with the same deep skepticism that I did Obama’s 2008 campaign. It’s an empty promise with no real path forward. But anyway, Trump was a break from politics as usual, and I know lots of people voted for him as a protest against Hillary Clinton. And in a normal election, protest votes are usually fine. But you can’t deny the racist, sexist underpinnings of his speech, and I cannot forgive those non-racist, non-sexist Trump voters for implicitly giving the green light to the ones who are spray painting swastikas and saying “you’re next” to brown men and women. Especially since his racist and sexist rhetoric was always 1) illegal or 2) unconstitutional. The young, college educated Republicans I know believe the Constitution is a near-sacred document, but lots of them came out and voted for a candidate that doesn’t seem to give a lick about the Constitution. And who endorses racist practices and sexually assaults women. And is a fascist.

I also can’t forgive myself for not fighting harder than I did. I thought we had this. The “sensible” people I talk most with, and the media I consume, told me they and others were going to come out and vote against Trump. I thought I had done my part by participating in social justice stuff at my church and letting some people know about it, posting my photos of a service trip to Nicaragua and sharing a fundraiser link right before our Syrian refugee family came over in July. I should have talked to my grandmothers about how sweet and polite the kids are, and how the parents are desperate to learn English and find work, and how they have shown immense gratitude and hospitality to me and members of my church. I shouldn’t have worried about appearing holier-than-thou if I talked about it. I should have checked the box for ‘Democrat’ instead of ‘Unaffiliated’ when I registered in March so I could vote in the primaries and get on mailing lists to help make phone calls and canvas my town. I should have tried to talk more with my stepdad about what I encountered in Black neighborhoods in Philly, Chicago, and New Haven. I should have convinced my apolitical mom to go out and vote. I should have pushed people to recognize the racist code underpinning some of the phrases they’ve picked up from the political sphere. I should have checked in with my liberal friends and made sure they were registered to vote.

I didn’t though, and now this election started a fire in me to start fighting back as hard as I can. I need to keep that anger to propel me, because once I start waking up in the morning and I don’t feel that burning inside right away, once I no longer want to shout with my husband about injustice, I still need to keep this fight going. For at least the next four years, and throughout my life. It’s only the last two or three years of my life that I’ve realized the sort of power that I have, that I can be the change I want to see in the world. Now it’s time to stand up and do it.

Feast Your Eyes (What I’ve Cooked Lately)

My phone has been yelling at me for the last two months about storage getting full, so here I go with a photo dump. So here are all the food photos I’ve taken since August!

First off is the ever-present homemade pizza. I did a pizza-making demonstration at work and had TONS of dough (using a modified recipe off Jim Lahey, maybe the easiest recipe ever) and fresh homemade ricotta sitting around, so I threw it together with some summer veggies. I think this was three different doughs actually, since I made a few different flour ratios and rising times with my demo doughs. Anyway, zucchini and tomato and ricotta and herbs = goodness.

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Five days later and I was still not sick of cheese and veg.

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It was a side for beef hot dogs – one with mustard, celery seed, and pickles as a poor easterner’s Chicago dog, and an Asian dog with ginger pickled watermelon rinds and sriracha (not as good as the pickle and mustard).

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That pizza dough still wasn’t gone and there was only like 12 ounces of parmesan that I felt bad keeping for myself since I’d purchased it for work, so… cheezy bread was made and sacrificed to the break room gods.

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And then I decided to show off my new trick with silken tofu. If you blend it with salt, garlic, cracked pepper, a pinch of nutmeg, and some oil, you have a really fine vegan alfredo. It makes a killer spinach-artichoke dip base, too. Here I threw it with some chicken, Trader Joe’s asta, and some spinach for a nice supper.

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I had lots of extra veggies one day that needed to be used up and it had been too long since I’d last made an egg casserole, so in it all went with zucchini, orange pepper, onion, and some broccoli / carrot / cauliflower frozen mix. Here it is before going in the oven, in all its veggie glory.

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But before enjoying that for lunch, collard green quesadillas with fresh smoked buffalo mozzarella and guajillo salsa, blistered under the broiler.

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It was a nice day on my lunch break when I got to lay in to my egg casserole, so I enjoyed it at the bench outside with a cup of tea.

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We had a September wedding in New Jersey and stopped to visit friends, sharing the new pizza dough technique (and some beer) with them.

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On the way back home we stopped at Mitsuwa Marketplace, and really, really stocked up. Plum wine, shochu, calpico, tea, and ramune were our drinks (really enjoyed the lychee calpico), baby bok choy were way too cute to pass up, enoki and shiitake mushrooms were as irresistible as the red shiso leaf that my farmer friend had introduced me to last year, we got bean sprouts, noodles, squid (!), squid snacks for the hubs who enjoyed them in Moscow, pickled ume, gigantic soup bowls and chopsticks with which to enjoy our acquisitions, and all the fixins for okonomiyaki – okonomi flour, kewpie mayo, sauce, bonito flakes. Plus some chestnut candies (really great, they taste like butter), chocolate mushrooms, and some daifuku mochi. Forgot the nori flakes for the okonomiyaki and had to order them off Amazon, but oh well. We had a good haul.

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Which we then made into some delicious meals. Kevin made udon with squid rings and adorable bok choy.

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I used some silken tofu to make mushroom soup and a salad. Enoki have a delicate little sweet taste, almost like underripe watermelon. They’re really delicious.

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And of course, the okonomiyaki I’ve wanted to try since I was a little pup reading Angelfire websites about Ranma 1/2. And it was sooo delicious. It took me a while to figure out what size to make them, and these were monstrous (albeit mostly cabbage).

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Using up the last of the enoki in my ubiquitous soba noodle soups. Took this one for lunch and threw in spicy firm tofu and spinach.

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Later I tried my hand at soy sauce eggs, which I saw in a Momofuku cookbook. They were awesome, and I put them in more noodle soups as the weeks went by.

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The bag of okonomi flour said you could put whatever you want in it, so we did pulled pork and provolone okonomiyaki from leftovers from Philly-style pork provolone green subs.

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When our anniversary came around, we decided to go Caucasian. Kevin made Azeri-style stuffed veggies with lamb, and I made Georgian walnut-stuffed eggplant roll-ups and a little side salad. We also had some wine from our anniversary the year before.

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Fall brings fall veggies and new pizzas! The silken tofu sauce wasn’t as good on here as the feta, but the roasted brussels sprouts, butternut squash, Balsamic roasted caramelized cipollini onions, and hot Italian sausage were great.

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I can’t help but make those soups. Another attempt at medium-boiled soy eggs with pork and soba noodles, with raw sweet peppers from a farmstand, green onion, and fresh vinegar and salt-brined thin cucumbers for crunch.

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We weren’t sure what to do with some leftover jalapenos, but we managed. Spicy cornbread-stuffed jalapenos with a little meat inside, Mom’s salsa, and a lovely yogurt-avocado sauce I threw together.

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We still had peppers and lots of onions, so another pizza with spring mix wilted on top!

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And then in early November, I finally figured out a flippable portion of okonomiyaki and the world was at peace.

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Squash sauce had been intriguing me, and it gave me an idea for healthy mac and cheese sauce. It’s mostly butternut squash and some half-and half with nutmeg and probably a little cumin (and the last of those cipollini onions), and I baked it with Trader Joe’s whole wheat shells and a small bit of cheese chunks mixed in – cheddar or gouda or both or something similar – and sprinkled with lightly buttered breadcrumbs. It really was great, and thankfully I made extras!

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On the side, collard greens made with onions and thick-cut Trader Joe’s applewood bacon.

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Beef and eggplant became khoresht-e bademjan, a Persian stew.

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We really felt like Southern night, so pulled pork sandwiches with light creamy coleslaw (and probably a little Provolone cheese on the bottom), cornbread, pie-spiced kabocha squash, and tomato-onion collard greens. Or turnip greens maybe. This was the year we discovered that turnip greens are lovely.

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Too many greens? That’s okay, we’ll make pies with pizza dough and kidney beans.

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Another nice batch of yogurt-avocado sauce topped a tostada-like thing. Meat and mushrooms were under there I think…

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Early December, and this is how you do stock – simmering for hours so all the gelatin comes out from those turkey bones leftover from the Thanksgiving sale. They make for a rich noodle soup that stays in the shape of its container until you heat it.

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We had a friend up that Kevin met in Moscow, and it seemed like a great time to try our khachapuri – we got smoked mozzarella and some solghuni from the Russian store, but I think it might have been too watery (or the recipe we used called for egg in the cheese mixture and that might have been the off part) and I shaped it well but the insides weren’t as delectable as I’d hoped. Oh well, there’s lots of time to play with it. Here they are after shaping and before the oven.

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And the finished product, topped with jiggly egg, and served with more eggplant roll-ups! (And beer, always beer. This comes from Thimble Island.)

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And the last really interesting concoction for now – falafel burgers with green bean fries! I dipped them in a spicy batter and roasted them until the beans collapsed, and topped the burger with lettuce, tomato, and tahini yogurt dip. That’s red pepper hummus for dipping, by the way.

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New Year’s Resolutions

Last year, I had a list of resolutions I wanted to attain, including:

  • do a pull-up
  • get down to a certain weight
  • get health insurance
  • get a full-time job
  • write something that gets published

None of that happened in 2014. So this year, instead of focusing on random numbers or things that are beyond my control, my resolutions are a little different:

  • have a better work-life balance
  • continue doing the healthy things I’ve been doing all along, and work on minimizing the unhealthy things
  • don’t try to do ALL the things
  • don’t do things that make me unhappy
  • do things that make me happy

Have a great 2015, everyone.