Monday, February 18, 2013

Farewell, For Now

I started this blog because I love reading blogs. I wanted to try my out my own voice in the blogging world. I haven't been able to quite crystallize my exact mission here though, and that makes figuring out posts difficult. I don't want to say something just for the sake of talking. Since I don't know what I want to do here, I have decided to leave. I am glad that I had a chance to practice this for a while and I want to blog again in the future. It won't be here, however. I learned valuable practical blogging information and I learned what I like and don't like about blogging. Thank you for coming along with me. Cheers!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Tempeh for one?

I get a lot of weird looks for my brown bag lunches at work. My meals include a lot of chickpeas, black beans, quinoa, kale, and lentils. Sometimes in a pinch, I bring a frozen black bean burger and some vegan cheese with a pita. Oh and Sriracha. Lots and lots of Sriracha.

Based on health, ecological, and moral (is that the right word?) reasons, I no longer eat any dairy nor factory farmed meat or eggs. I've also been avoiding fish until I can figure out which kinds are truly sustainable and fished in a way that does not harm the environment.

This change in my diet means that I only eat meat from my mom's farm and this happens about once a week-tops. I still love eggs, but I will only take them from her farm or from another farm in the area where the chickens are truly free range. Grocery store "free range" eggs largely are not.

Switching over to a mostly plant based diet has not been a huge deal for me. It turns out that I like almond milk or rice milk in my coffee and cereal. Vegan cheese is okay on a black bean burger or a grilled cheese sandwich. Nutritional yeast is BOSS on popcorn. I didn't like cooking with meat anyway and my mom raised us to enjoy things like black beans, hummus, brown rice, and nuts. I know how to get protein from other sources and I really love all different veggies-the greener and weirder the better.

Plus, by omitting factory farmed meat, dairy, and eggs, I am supporting something about which I care deeply. I think that factory farming is horrific. Why do we have laws against animal abuse for pets, yet allow atrocious abuse of the animals we plan to eat? I am not arguing the eventual fate of these animals. We want to eat them as meat. I get that. What I do not think is acceptable is that we abuse them throughout their lives. We should offer respect for the animals we eat; it is the least we can do. I don't think it is okay for people to turn a blind eye to the state of factory farmed animals because they don't want to deal with it. This makes me really fired up.

And yet, here is the dilemma: factory farming produces cheap meat. How can I tell someone to stop buying their inexpensive meat and live the way that I do? They don't have my circumstance. They don't have a mom who gives them farm raised beef (and duck-oh, the duck) and eggs. They might not have been raised to be satisfied with meat-free meals or feel comfortable cooking their own food. So how do I deal with this when I carry my brown bag of weird food? I am opening up more than a container of tabbouleh; I am opening up a Pandora's box of moral, societal, and personal issues. When I get those good-natured laughs about my weird lunches, should I open up about why I make these choices, or leave well alone? I don't know if I can share this without sounding preachy. Do I scoop out some tempeh for all, or keep it to myself?

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Please please please let me get spring

Things have been quiet over here. I have not had much to say. There haven't been too many projects, thoughts, or happenings. Everyone hibernates a little in winter. Mine hasn't been so much the cozy cuddles as the scrunch on the couch, pleading for it all to be over.

Hell is not hot. Hell is cold and much more frightening. Picture Laura spending months twisting straw into burnable "logs" so the whole family doesn't freeze to death in Laura Ingalls Wilder's The Long Winter. A Willa Cather novel, with the depictions of the endless, barren winter landscape under a crushing sky is more terrifying than a Stephen King book. And, ugh, Ethan Frome. Winter can lead people to do crazy things like eat pickles and donuts for dinner and fall in love with their cousins.

As Ma constantly turned the coffee grinder to make rye flour so the Ingalls family could eat during that long winter, I'm sure she repeated the same thing that I have been telling myself every day: Damn you, Charles Ingalls.

Just kidding.

Spring will come.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

I can make it through

Do you know that point in the afternoon when you think,"I just can't go on without a nap/coffee/lobotomy?" Enter pump up music. We all have ours. Mine will forever be Robyn. Seriously, I will listen to this when I am 80 years old and still not be tired of it. 

What do you listen to when you think you might sink into your own black hole?

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Things that are important but hard to remember


In almost every circumstance,
it is more important to be kind,
than to be right. 

Monday, January 21, 2013

New Domesticity?

I really like listening to podcasts. I originally got into them this summer when I was looking for a free option to audiobooks (damn, those get pricey!) to listen to during car trips. Now I listen to them when I exercise, cook, and clean my house. I love the broad variety of information, opinions, and entertainment that podcasts offer.

One of my favorite podcasts is Stuff Mom Never Told You from This podcast offers an examination of different pop culture, historical, and everyday issues from a feminist perspective.

Recently, Stuff Mom Never Told You featured an episode about something called "New Domesticity," which is the recent resurrection (fueled by the internet and social media) in traditional homemaking, handicrafts, family styles, and child-rearing activities that are so prominently featured on online sources like Pinterest, personal living blogs, Instagram, etc. "New Domesticity" includes a broad range of activities: knitting, sewing, cleaning, cooking from scratch, bread making, canning, preserving, crafting, attachment-style parents, raising chickens, homeschooling-the list goes on and on. If you've been on Pinterest, you know what I am talking about.

In the podcast, Cristen, one of the hosts of Stuff Mom Never Told You, interviewed Emily Matchar, who has a blog on the subject and a book (Homeward Bound) coming out in May.

The entire interview was very thought-provoking for me because I had never considered the things I like to do and learn about (creating my new home, cooking, and baking) as a "new" concept. I also had never really considered them a feminist concept. I love cooking food, so does my mother, so too does Mark Bittman. I like creating my new home, but my father also strives to do this too. I have always considered creating a home, cooking in it, and cleaning it not as an issue of feminism, but just as one of those things that grownups do. I've never looked at my role as a woman cooking and cleaning, just as a person.

Likewise, there was another aspect of the episode that has had me thinking for the past couple days. This was one piece that I have really been pondering because it makes me feel a bit uncomfortable. In the interview, Cristen asked Emily if she noticed a trend in the type of women who embraced this new domesticity and who avidly shared it on social media. Emily replied that she did notice some common aspects of these women: (1) they were intelligent, creative, and highly educated and (2) they did not have careers that challenged them creatively (either because they had forgone their careers for motherhood, were underemployed, or were not in jobs that challenged their creative minds).

Here is what has really been bothering me about this: I don't like the implication that domestic tasks are something women seek only when their careers don't work out for them. I don't embrace the concept that domesticity is a fall-back activity. I think this mindset perpetuates the feminist claim that domestic tasks, those traditionally done by women, are less valued. Do women seek out these traditional "women's work" activities only when they have exhausted the superior employment of building a professional career? Is this causation, or just correlation?

On this subject, I am going with another interpretation. New domesticity is not the refuge of a failed career, it is just another creative outlet that allows women and men to be constructive in their immediate surroundings that is just as important as career-world work. I do not see it as a transfer of energy from career to home, from the outside world to the inside world, that happens when things don't go so well professionally. Instead, it is just another outlet for creative energy to thrive in a very palpable (and palatable if cooking is your thing), observable way that many people, men or women, find intrinsically satisfying and comforting. New domesticity isn't something you retreat to as a second choice, it is just another medium for expression that is just as valuable and enjoyable as heading off to work Melanie Griffith style.

I don't think that I like to refinish furniture, find interesting ways of including more kale in my diet, or more natural cleaning alternatives because I don't like my job. I believe that I am creative in my career and at home, that these two separate factions in my life just call for different kinds of creativity-both of which are equally important.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Prune-Err-Plum Sauce

I cleaned up my fridge this evening and I had to throw out a bunch of slimy asparagus. Tossing uneaten food fills me with guilt. As a penance, I decided to do something with a very odd item that has been hanging around my fridge: Prune juice.

Now, now, now, before you cast aspersions on my gastrointestinal health, I want you to know that I originally bought this juice for a healthy muffin recipe (read: hockey pucks). What the heck does one do with prune juice? I didn't feel like baking tonight, so using it as a natural sweetener in muffins and breads was out. I started trawling the usual internet suspects like I briefly considered something Moroccan. Perhaps, I pondered, I could cook some couscous in the juice, add some chickpeas, a little cumin, and a dash of cinnamon  But, then I realized that what I thought was couscous in my cupboard was actually quinoa. Plus, I didn't have any fresh mint.

Then, instead of searching "prune," I typed in "plum" and found some recipes for Asian-style plum sauce. Now, I have never had plum sauce before. Most "Asian" sauces that you can get in restaurants around my area are brown and vaguely menacing. However, I liked the look of the ingredients and I decided to do my own adaptation with the items that I had readily available in my fridge and pantry. Most of these recipes called for actual plums or whole prunes, but using prune juice instead worked out fine.

I looked at a couple different recipes to get a general idea of the flavors that are supposed to stand out. I also considered my current food cravings. I have a cold, so I really wanted something spicy and bold. As I sometimes say, I wanted some food that would punch me in the face. And this sauce does, in a good way.


1/2 tbs. lemon juice
1 tsp. olive oil
1/4 c. apple cider vinegar
1/4 c. of non-packed dark brown sugar (a very light 1/4 c.)
4 c. prune juice (the kind that only had prunes and water in it-they usually keep it on the bottom shelf at the grocery store so the little old ladies can reach it easily)
1/4-1/2 tsp. cinammon
1 small yellow onion, roughly chopped
1 inch piece of raw ginger, minced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 tbs. tamari (or soy sauce, if you wish)
1 tbs. (or more) Sriracha sauce (you could sub in cayenne pepper)

First, I caramelized the chopped onions in a saucepan until they were very brown. I found that they were getting too dry (maybe I had the heat on too high), so I added a little prune juice for the last 5 minutes or so. Then, I threw in the garlic and ginger and gave it a stir. After that, I added the apple cider vinegar to deglaze the pan. Finally, in went the rest of the ingredients. I let the whole thing cook down until it was very reduced (under 1 cup). I think I reduced mine a tad too much. You want it to be thick, but not look too syrupy. After I let the whole thing cool for a bit, I threw it in the blender to turn it into a nice smooth sauce. I poured the concoction in a small sterilized (boiled) glass jar and will be storing the sauce in the fridge.

I think that this would be really good on some tofu and greens. It would also make a nice dipping sauce.

After I had decanted my sauce, I still had some residue in the saucepan. It was suddenly time for dinner (8:30, where did the time go?), so I decided to make something of that too. I added some water to thin out the quite solidified remnants, boiled some brown basmati rice (I cook mine like pasta), and threw in some arugula at the end. I did not use the tender baby arugula that you get at the store for the price of your first born. My mom has a hoop house and a bumper crop of arugula that is slightly past ideal. This older, more experienced arugula is still good sauteed or wilted. The bite of the arugula paired very nicely with the sweetness of the sauce. Great success.