Thursday, April 24, 2008

Frankenstein food

With May looming, the anticipation of our CSA subscription and our own garden planting (that's some of the seedlings, above) is killing me a little bit. I just adore the simplicity of going out to one's backyard or to the farmer's stand up the street to pick up meal ingredients for the week. In stark contrast to that simple is best philosophy, some recent why-is-food-so-complicated discussions:

1. I just got this email from my sister:
OK, to two of my favorite label readers…I’m munching on some yummy Grape Tomatoes for a snack and this is what I read:

“Coated with food grade vegetable, petroleum, beeswax and/or lac-Resin based wax or resin to maintain freshness.”

So – either I have petroleum on my tomatoes or my tomatoes aren’t even vegan since beeswax or lac resin which is from the secretion of the lac bug are both animal byproducts.

I’m still going to eat my tomatoes, but how t weird could our food get?
So, two things. First: I immediately responded, "Yet another reason to purchase your food from local farms," to which she said, "They are local -- Four Seasons Produce in Ephrata." Dang. And Second: Wtf? Tomatoes, a natural whole plant food, not suitable for a vegan? Has anyone heard of such a thing? I know to avoid shiny apples and waxy cucumbers, but grape tomatoes?

2. On MotheringDotCommune, someone posted a link to this document titled, Guidelines for Feeding Broiler Litter to Beef Cattle. Apparently, feeding cows corn isn't cheap enough, as farmers have been recommended to add this collection of chicken "bedding material, manure, wasted feed and feathers" to their diets. Hilariously, there is quite an emphasis on using the correct mixture of dry materials with the bedding as feed in order to avoid mold. You know, so the cows won't get sick.

3. In vitro meat. I am not even kidding.

Seriously. At what point did our food become so complicated and weird?

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Cooking together: Cashew Curry Caserole

Although our original virtual cooking date plans were ambitious, it had been six months since Kelly Ann and I had our first cooking date when we recently logged on for date number two. We went back and forth between a few recipes before finally landing on Urban Vegan's Cashew Curry Casserole. It turned out to be a perfect choice, quick and simple, for our weeknight date.

I went to the market after work, then assembled the ingredients, plugged in the laptop and opened a bottle of local Chaddsford wine.

The recipe called for broccoli and tomatoes (I used ones I jarred over the summer), but recommended mushroom, bell peppers and squash as options. I just love to see color in my food, so I added yellow squash, orange pepper and red pepper preserved last season from Del Val College:

Urban Vegan suggests serving the casserole with a whole grain; I went a coconut-lime brown basmati rice. I replaced the water with a half coconut milk and half coconut water mixture, then mixed in some lime zest at the end and topped it with toasted shredded coconut. At first, I was just going to make brown rice, straight up, but I'm so glad I took the extra time to make this instead. The flavors were a perfect compliment to this fabulous creamy curry dinner.

The casserole recipe is simple to prepare, depending almost entirely on inexpensive whole foods, and is chock-full of nutrition. It's basically two mixtures, one of the veggies and chickpeas, the other of the sauce, combined then baked. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy!

Somewhere, at some point, Kelly and I became un-synced. My rice took longer than I thought it would which was actually a good thing because so did the baking of the casserole. This all can be contributed to the fact that I have a bizarre, innate compulsion to cook for 12. I must have had eight kids in my previous life. Or worked in a school cafeteria. In any case, I doubled this recipe, as I do most, yet neglected to adjust prepping/cooking time. I'm slick like that.

Kelly's a fabulous friend though, and hung in there as long as she could. We chatted online about world peace and astrophysics (or boys and hangovers), checking in on our dinners and sipping our drinks. Eventually, we had to disconnect so she could feed herself and her salivating boyfriend. My monster also got sick of waiting and came into the kitchen to make himself a PB and J.

When everything finally came together, it was pretty incredible. The creaminess of this meal is not-to-be-missed. Seriously. The textures are a great marriage of crunchy veggies and soft chickpeas, the spice is nice and flavorful, but it is the creaminess of the cashew butter mixture that makes this meal. This would be a perfect answer to a cheese craving.

So, our second virtual cooking date was a definite success! In addition to "hanging out" with one of my favorite people EVER, the night resulted in leftovers that served as several dinners and lunches for Jase and me. I'm excited for our next one... which, according to the standards we've now officially stated, should be sometime soon!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

I heart maps!

I heard on BBC this morning a piece about a new wiki, The site was created by Professor Vasco Furtado from the University of Fortaleza in Brazil with the intent of addressing underreporting of crimes:
"We have a problem in Brazil, in that crime data is a monopoly of the police. There are a lot of debate if there is a manipulation or not of the data." -- BBC article
Like all wikis, the site relies on the integrity of its reporters. For some reason this just feels like a bigger issue than it does on say, a wikipedia article about Britney. Still, I love the integration and juxtaposition of technology with real-life street-level reporting. I mean really, who can have too many stand-up-to-the-man movements?

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Simple is best.

One of my 43Things is to kick ass at work. This particular goal has become more important recently as I'm preparing to move to a four-day-per-week telecommuting schedule. My new hours will begin next week, and so have been on a mission to get my desk cleared and to-do list to-done ;) I’m really excited to start this new phase, even though I have no idea what to expect. In fact, I believe that it’s somewhat because of the unknown that I’m excited.

Against my Virgo nature, I’ve decidedly not gone the way of plans and schedules, and instead have embraced the change as it’s been occurring. I know that if I stay on top of things by simply keeping track of my to-do list in a notebook, this transition will be fine. This is not the time to tie myself down to complicating tracking systems or always-on-call expectations. Simple is best. Right, kah ;)

And by reminding myself of that and the fact that I will be in the office at least one day a week, I’ve been able to actually experience this transition as it unfolds another layer each day.

Go, me!

Wednesday, April 09, 2008


My monster turns 11 today. Eep! Of course, I can hardly believe it.

He brought in fruit kabobs for a class snack, and we put together favors for each of his classmates that includes a pencil case, some tchotchke and a party invitation. He was going for a penguin/sports theme, but alas, we were hard-pressed to find any skateboarding penguin pencils. Shocking, I know.

Tonight, we're off to a Sixers game, to which he we told him, he could invite a friend. We also invited that friend to sleep over. That's right, ON A SCHOOL NIGHT. Because we're awesome like that.

Sunday, we'll do the traditional dinner, gifts and cake at my mom's house. By the way, despite the awesomeness we JUST acquired with the school night sleepover, we're actually really mean because he has to wait FOUR WHOLE DAYS for his gifts. Poor baby.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Sasha & Digweed

My brothas' from anotha' motha', Sasha and Diggers. Uuuhn, so tasty!

The crackcrew was well-represented at the show by Mikey, Jess, Justin (who gets the I'm-old-and-leaving-REALLY-EARLY award), Brian, ChrisLe, Leah and L (who was imported especially for the occasion). I also ran into a blast from the past (always interesting), was totally impressed with the light show, and realized that I had not been to the TLA since a Violent Femmes show in like, 1994.

And listen, I know everyone everywhere should already know this, but on occasion a reiteration is in order:

L + M = awesome

We danced our totally sober asses off for nearly five hours, and were among the last to leave.

God damn... why exactly did we stop doing this every weekend?

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Friday, April 04, 2008

MLK <3

Nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral questions of our time; the need for mankind to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to oppression and violence. Mankind must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression, and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.

Photo via

I got an email from a friend today, in remembrance of Martin Luther King, Jr.:
Forty years ago today, Martin Luther King Junior was assassinated. I remember growing up and wondering what the world would have been like if he hadn't been. He would have turned 79 years old this year. In remembering him, I want to share with you one of my favorite quotes of his: "Those who are not looking for happiness are the most likely to find it, because those who are seeking forget the surest way to be happy is to seek happiness for others."
Amen, sister. Here's to happiness :)