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.


'Tis the season for sickness. The news makes it sound like flupocalypse out there. It's enough to make you throw on a mask and bathe in antibac gel.

Well, if you are scared of germs, stay away from me. Luckily, it is only a cold virus that is surrounding me like a halo of snot and sadness. Still, colds just stink.

Here is an Rx that helps me out a little:

1. Food

When I am sick, all I want is spicy, brothy food and hearty greens.

This week, I made a simple soup. I caramelized one small yellow onion on medium/low heat in a little olive oil. Then, I added a little cumin, salt, and pepper and thew in 2 chopped celery stalks and 2 chopped carrots with a little bit of water. I let this simmer for a little (5 min) and then added a vegetable bullion cube and more water. Finally, I tossed in some noodles for the last 5 or so minutes. I topped the whole thing with a hearty dose of Sriracha. When you are sick, subtle flavors don't have much of an effect. I mostly was going for something to warm me up and clear out my head with a healthy dose of veggies.

I also really like kale. This super green is awesome at any time. When I am ill, I have a strong desire to load up on nutrients and I am not interested in those vitamin mix-in packets-too unnatural. I heard this simple kale recipe on the podcast The Splendid Table. I am a huge fan of this program-so much inspiration. I took a stalk of kale and ripped out the fibrous, tough spine. Then, I chopped it into thin strips and added a splash of olive oil and salt as suggested on the podcast. I wanted a little acid in the dish, so I squeezed a little orange juice over the whole thing. I later tried this again with lemon juice and it was horrible. Go with orange for a subtle acidity and flavor (and fresh, not the stuff in the carton).

2. Tea

I have a ridiculous collection of tea. PG Tips is the coffee of tea, so I drink this in the morning. I like Lady Gray tea from Twinings all day long. Genmaicha is also a delicious all day drink (Japanese green tea mixed with brown rice powder). For a special treat, I am obsessed with Davids Tea in Movie Night. Shipping is a bummer, so I try to ration this one. This tea tastes like apples and popcorn. It is naturally sweet and amazing. Anyone in NYC-I wouldn't mind you picking me up some. I will pay you and love you forever.

You can also make your own throat soother out of honey, lemon, and fresh chopped ginger root. This is a super awesome DIY cold treatment. The lemon strips of mucous (ewww). The honey soothes and is a microbial and the ginger is warming.

3. Steam

Get your humidifier fired up. I like to put in a drop or two of Eucalyptus essential oil to help me breath better. Keeping a humidifier in your bedroom works wonder for sleeping well. If you don't have a humidifier, sit in your shower for a while or just steam up your bathroom and read a magazine.

4. Soft Tissues

I forgot about this one and now my nose is red and looks terrible. I think the lotion added tissues really help. Also, putting a little Vaseline on your schnoz at night is a nice plan. Ugly, but nice.

5. Rest

I haven't worked out since I got sick. Of course, I feel the normal worry: What if I don't start up again? What if I get all out of shape? Ultimately, I had to put these worries aside. I know I will run again when I get better, even if I start a little slower. I want my body to put its energy towards fighting the virus, so I take a rest from working out.

6. Love

I feel a lot of self-pity and sadness when I am sick. I think the low energy that comes with colds makes me more susceptible to this. If you can find someone to brave the germs, have them give you a hug or pat your back. Feeling loved is pretty good medicine. I know that a cold really isn't a big deal. However, getting a little babied is more wonderful than anything else.

If this post is a little lackluster, that is because I feel like a gray, worn-out version of myself. I will be back with inventive vocabulary and novel posts soon. Just a little more sleep, broth, and back pats is all I need.

Monday, January 14, 2013


I refuse to leave this carpet for the next 5 months.

Some days you get knocked out by life. Those days, you think to yourself,"If I had known about today, I would have refused to get out of bed." Then you think, "Ah, yes, bed. When can I return to You?" You wonder if you could just hole up in your house for the next 2 or 15 years or so until you can just bear to face life again.

This is a day for a sulk. I am not a proponent of always sinking into sorrow with every setback. I employ a multitude of coping techniques for stress/blues/yadda yadda like running, going outside for a walk, cleaning out a closet, ironing everything slightly wrinkly, cooking and baking, playing with my dogs, doing DIY house projects, etc. these are the things that work for me to diffuse and distract.

Nope, won't move.

Sometimes, however, you just need a good wallow. You don't want to move around like an efficient chipmunk. You especially don't want any jerk telling you that other people "have it worse" (I know they do-are you trying to add guilt on top of all these other poop emotions?).

What you want is to totally sulk. You want to sit on the couch in your robe or pajamas, cover yourself in blankets, and mind zone to a tv show that requires very little from you (my choice right now is old episodes of Frasier). Then, you want to warm up some dinner (no cooking. I was glad that a previous stress rush made me freeze a bunch of prepared meals).

Maybe you can get someone to come over and rub your back. Maybe that someone is your cat, dog, or a really soft afghan blanket.

You can't make me.

Feel free to listen to music that makes you sad. For tonight, I chose "Change Gonna Come" by Sam Cooke, "Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out" by Bessie Smith, and "Look At Me" by John Lennon. But your sad songs will probably be different. Karen Carpenter always makes me cry too...even the happy songs.

Choose a comforting movie with a good sob scene. I didn't have time for it tonight, but I always go for "Little Women." Oh my god, when Beth is just totally beyond what is acceptable. Don't even let me look at the cover of "P.S. I Love You." I cried from minute 2 until the next week with that one. When I was seven "Showboat" had the same effect (my weeping kind of frightened my grandmother).

Maybe have a bowl of raspberry sorbet with Hershey's syrup. Lay on the floor. Stare at the ceiling for a while.

Congrats, you now have had a good solid sulk. You took the time to swim around in your grump and grumble. You have given your brain the chance to process the crap that was your day.

Now go to sleep. Tomorrow will probably be better. Probably. Hopefully. Maybe

Anyway-I still have 11 seasons of Frasier to fall back on.

Fine. I will go to bed. Tomorrow should be better. 

Post Note: Tomorrow held a cold...

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Hair Hair Everywhere

foil time=tabloid time

I have had every hair color: light blonde, dark blonde, brown, black, red. I have had feathers in my hair (remember that silly trend?). My hair has been bobbed, chopped off totally into a pixie, medium length, somewhat long, and even mulleted in a terrible incident in college.

I admire people with untouched hair that has never seen a bottle of dye. Their hair is much healthier than mine. Dry ends and fragility are the hallmarks of often altered tresses and I have spent a fortune on deep conditioners (Aussie 3 Minute Miracle remains a cheap perennial favorite). Plus, touch ups are a bitch on the wallet.

So my hair gets a little stressed. Sometimes I need to get some cut off to combat this. However...I doubt those virgin hair people have as much fun as I do.

When I change my hair, I feel like a whole new person. It is exhilarating. As a blonde, I feel fun. Red hair makes me feel mysterious. Brown and black hair makes me feel like I get taken more seriously.

Of course, hair color and cut does not actually equal real personality change. Obviously, I am still the same person and no one besides me really cares all that much.

I think that frequent hair changes are my adult expression of my childhood love of dress up. I loved playing dress up and slipping into another character for a while. Dress up was an integral part of my childhood play. My sisters and friends and I had some awesome pieces: a one shouldered pink sequined prom dress, a purple Oscar de la Renta full length skirt with a black velvet waist, pink jellies, long Little House on the Prairie type skirts. It was so much fun to throw on an 80s velvet and gold spangled gown and become a secret princess.

Now, I don't dress up as a princess, or Laura Ingalls, or a fantastic movie star, or a put upon Cinderella type (my dramatics have deep roots, apparently). Now I get to feel a little like Zooey Deschanel (my girl crush on her shows no signs of abating), Florence Welch, or Goldie Hawn in the 70s (love her bangs). It's silly and fun and one of those little joys that combats those life yuckies like Sallie Mae (I hate you forever), car insurance payments, winter, and real housewives.

So cheers to a new look for a new year and the continued celebration of playing dress up.

The new do