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Archive for March, 2009

–that is the question:

 

Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer

The trials and tribulations of outrageous recipes

Or to take spatulas against this sea of confusion

And by opposing never use them. To chop, to dice–

No more–and by an abstinence to say we end

The scorching, and the thousand natural “oh no’s!”

That cooking is heir to. ‘Tis a consummation

Devoutly to be wished. To steam, to microwave–

To eat out–perchance at 4 star restaurants: ay, there’s the rub,

For in that splurge of money what food may come

When we have refused the use of the stove,

Must give us pause.

 

With apologies to Shakespeare, I couldn’t resist the above when I happened across Kalyn Denny’s blog post, “Where Do You Look When You Are Searching for Recipes Online?” Her information looked very useful, thus my linking to it here, but as a non-cook it led my mind to the even bigger dilemma- “To Cook or Not to Cook”! 

 

 Fortunately there are more and more very speedy and actually healthy items in the grocery stores these days for us minimalists. Steaming veggies, which for most is not hard anyway but for us non-cooks can bring a terror of its own, is now the easiest ever. Many varieties, including my favorite, Edmame, now come in easy, pop in the microwave bags.

 

Combine that with a already hot, roasted chicken, Uncle Ben’s 90 second brown and wild rice, and presto – a meal good enough to serve anyone. Of course adding seasonings and spices to taste – and “to taste” means asking someone what would be good to use here, only enhances the meal.

 

 With having to watch pennies more than ever, maybe even I will use the kitchen more than in the past. But don’t count me out of those restaurants, although maybe not the luxury of a 4 star any time soon.

 

 

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I couldn’t help but feel for Louis Pullen who lost nine members of his family in the recent Butte Montana plane crash, from a total of 14 who died. Watching the Today Show this morning and learning of the family’s loss made me realize I couldn’t even imagine the extent of the pain they must be feeling.

During the story this morning, they spoke of the close knit bond between the families who were on their way to take a vacation. Most of us can relate to having a group of friends, whether as family from childhood, or friends from school or work. To be together, to have fun together is the way it is supposed to be, not to die in a horrible tragedy as this.

I know the authorities are looking for “causes” right now and I hope others will learn from the mistakes made here. But for right now, I’d like to pay tribute to those families and wish the best for those who are bearing the pain of loss. 

In tribute:

Erin and Amy Jacobson of St. Helena, Calif., and their children Taylor, 4; Ava, 3; Jude, 1, 

Michael and Vanessa Pullen of Lodi, Calif. and their children Sydney, 9, and Christopher, 7.

Brent and Kristen Ching, of Durham, Calif., and their children, Heyley, 5 and Caleb, 4.

I know we hear of continual street violence taking life after life; large accidents taking the lives of many; or even acts of war which ultimately take thousands. Evening after evening of such news, you almost become deaf to tragedy unless it’s your own. This time the idea of so much loss in one family made this story stand out, but doesn’t negate the others who don’t get such press time. I feel it important to also give tribute to those families impacted by such tragedy but who never make the news, are never interviewed, written about or even recognized.  While the words are inadequate, the feeling is there – I’m so sorry for your loss.

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The temperature in and around Washington this morning is a crisp 35 degrees, colder than usual for this time of year. We had a late snow not too long ago and clouds have hidden the sun for most of the days recently.

And yet, and yet! Spring has managed to find it’s way to our shores and I could feel the smile on my face even as I could see my breath.  On the way to work, I exchanged an unexpected smile with another driver as we waited for the light to change and both of us were looking at a few early tulips in bloom. Exchange a smile with another commuter on a Monday morning? A miracle indeed.

Here’s  what made us smile – as taken with a cell phone, leaning out of my car window:

Spring Tulips

Spring Tulips

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Well did you see it? If you didn’t the Huffington Post has the full transcript and the video– even before any was posted on YouTube!

I thought the President did ok, although his comment about his poor bowling skills being on par with the Special Olympics is bringing a bit of flack on the news shows this morning. He talked about the hot news of his day, which in this case happens to impact all of us.

People have commented upon his even appearing on The Tonight Show. I think more folks watch the show – or will watch the repeat via the Internet – then read the papers, watch C-Span, or listen to any radio addresses. What better way to reach those folks than this, especially addressing concerns such as AIG bonuses that are fanning the flames of our indignation.

You have to wonder if he realizes that what goes around for him, comes around for all of us. I know  he is a smart man, but for anyone, is just a few months of being responsible for an entire country, with major spill-over throughout the world…well, has it really sunk in?

I did love his comment that being in the Beltway is like facing all Simon Cowel’s of American Idol. But then Simon, arrogant though he is, usually tells it like it is for his public world, and I rarely get the impression that most of the Beltway folks rarely tell it like it really is, albeit doing so arrogantly.

As the day progresses, we’ll hear more and more about Obama’s performance. Wonder if he’ll be asked back 😉

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What’s a “common cold” any way? Is it the sneezing, the coughing, the dry throat, the sore throat, the ears plugged, the higher temperature, the lack of energy, or simply put – all of the above?

Ask a doctor and for lots of money later and a negative throat culture, they will tell you to drink plenty of fluids, get plenty of rest, wash your hands lots and stay low on the stress level. Hmmm, you have to wonder if they realize what they are actually saying.

“Lots of fluids”: ask anyone and they’ll tell you it means clear liquids. Vodka? Gin? They certainly would help you get plenty of rest.  Water? Have you checked the lead levels lately. Chicken soup? What about those hormone levels?

“Plenty of rest”: of a parent, don’t think so; of someone who is employed, don’t think so; unemployed, forget it. Retired? Maybe, unless you read the latest studies showing people have to work a lot longer than 62 or 65 to be able to afford retirement these days.

“Wash your hands”: only if you remember to sing two full rounds of “Happy Birthday” to yourself while soaping, otherwise it does nothing.

And “stay low on the stress level”: maybe it’s time to revisit that “drink clear liquids” and choose the 1st or second listed, since everything else, combined with watching or reading the news, will rise your stress levels considerably.

What’s common about the “common cold”? Just that everyone gets it at some point or the other and good luck when you do – since if you are like me, it’ll take you out for the count for at least a week!

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Watching the news, I have noticed commentators using the word “Depression” in their descriptions of the current economic crises far more frequently than even a few months ago. Most of us have only heard that word as it relates to state of mind when met with seemingly unbearable obstacles:  loss of family member or friend, health issues, relationship problems, or whatever may make you frown instead of smile.

On second thought, many issues today are depression makers, whether economically or emotionally. Loss of job, of home, of ability to put food on the table – those certainly lead to depression or “Depression”.  Since there seems to be a variety of pills ready to cure a person’s depression, it does makes you wonder if people think of having a “quick fix” for the Depression, a few bailouts and everything will be rosy? I have a feeling the term “bitter pill” is more likely to be the case here given the greed, lack of oversight, and prevalence amongst governments, industries, banks,and people.

I recently read Gena Haskett’s blog post, Comparing Facts About 1929 Great Depression and 2009 Part 1, interesting enough to have me checking her blog for Part 2. Another perspective is highlighted in the blog post, Explaining these Chaotic times to a thirteen year old, an earlier reflective piece that helps remind us to make sure all around us are aware of the facts, not just the rumors or headlines.

My grandparents lived through the Great Depression, one set on a farm where they had food and kept working throughout, the other in the military. They talked about the era their entire lives, thinking they were the lucky ones, but always cautious  about what may be just around the corner.

I think there’s been many years now of high consumership, easy access, expectations that make the fall in our economuy harder to realize or deal with, even if it not as severe as in the 1930’s. Friends in their twenty’s are realizing they are not being courted for jobs as they had been led to expect. Older friends on the verge of buying a home are glad they can buy at lower costs than a lot of us who bought just a few years ago, but are shocked to find they can’t get mortgage approval. And many others who have lost their jobs or are afraid of losing their job, for whom the term depression now resonnates closer to home then “Depression”.

With the rest of the world, I’ll be glad to be looking back at these times, when balance has been restored and hopefully improved, when we can once again look forward without fear.

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When I got up to go to work this morning, here in the Washington D.C. metro area, the temperature was a cold 17 degrees, but was -5 if you took wind chill into account. My mind on the weather, I thought to write a post on global warming, not only to remind us to be careful, but to be totally honest, I felt the need to focus on spring !

When I checked into WordPress to write, I took a quick look at sites that are receiving high “hits”, as in number of visitors checking them out. One of the most consistantly popular is Anthony Watts, Watts up with that?, where he provides “commentary on puzzling things in life, nature, science, weather, climate change, technology and recent news.” 

Now, I have followed Al Gore with the  whole global warming trend movement, have practiced energy conservation from a pedestrian level (aware but not as vigilant as I should be) and have tried to be conscious about taking personal action whenever I can. So here I’m reading Watts and immediately discover a post by guest author, Stephen Goddard that points to an actual cooling trend!

A key statement in the post, “It appears that global cooling recognition may be starting to make headway in the scientific community. ” If you scroll down you will see a variety of posts, some more in “science speak” than others, but all of interest and with such a different image of the weather than portrayed in the regular news.

Hmmm. What to believe? As a” non-scientific, trying to practice good conservation” environmentalist, it seems to me that there is truth in both viewpoints, and that there is a lot of scientific “proof” that may not be yet understood. Is mankind impacting the environment with poor practices of high carbon emissions, chemicals in the ground and water, waste of natural resources? You bet and we as a community of global peoples need to step up doing something about it.

Do we see everything melting in fewer years than previous history? Maybe not, according to the posts on Watts. Maybe that can give us hope that we haven’t destroyed everything as much as we think it has – but hopefully not lull us into a sense of “well, we can fix it tomorrow”.

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