Thursday, July 30, 2009

Fresh Zucchini Fettuccine

Fun to say. Fun to eat.

Plus it helps to chip into that never ending stash of squash and zucchini that happens this time of year. Hehe.

Just fix one pound of whole wheat fettuccine according to package directions.
Lightly spray a medium sized frying pan and let it warm up on low heat.
Meanwhile, thinly slice one zucchini.
Heat over low to medium heat until crisp and tender. Try not to overcook.
Fix tomato pasta sauce to your liking.
To serve, top fettuccine with sauce and then with veggies. Keeping them separate keeps them from getting soggy.

Eat and enjoy!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Summer Squash and Pesto Dip

In case anyone hadn't noticed, it's that time of year again. When you can't turn around and someone is handing you a plastic grocery bag full of zucchini and yellow squash. You sneak park the car down the street, turn off all the lights, refuse to answer the door, but low and behold the bag o squash turns up hanging on the handle of your front door just the same. Not that I am opposed to them, they're just, you know, everywhere.

Well, here's a little ditty to help you use up some of that pesky squash, and it's actually quite delicious.

Mix together about a cup of flour.
Add seasoning salt, onion salt, and pepper to your taste.

Slice on summer squash into medium slices.
Dip in egg wash (an egg tossed with a dollup of milk, or fake milk).
Dredge in flour mixture.

Fry lightly in heated oil until golden brown.

For pesto dip, I sort of cheated and just mixed mayo and store bought pesto together. A few spoonfuls of each. However my two year old really liked the pesto dip with her number-shaped chicken nuggets. Hehe.

But there you go. The fried squash even came in handy reheated the next day to substitute for potato chips with a sandwich at lunch. I feel healthier already!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Weird Thing of the Day

So I just got back from Target to pick up a calculator for one of my classes, and I stopped over in office supplies to pick up a few items like post-it notes and what not. I followed the sign that said "Home Office". I don't know if it meant Home/ Office or actually Home Office, but it was the only sign for office stuff so that's where I went. The weirdest thing though was that once I got there and started looking around I noticed that everything was pastel or sparkly or covered in kittens or stars. So not only was it feminized, but it was also very child-like.

I stood there in mild confusion for a moment wondering if I had meandered into the wrong section. As a marketing student with a feminist bent I could not help but try to figure out the motivation behind this theme-ology.

My first thoughts were that since more women are starting home businesses now, the powers that be are marketing home office supplies towards women. Then I thought about that and I know for myself I still want to present a professional image and be surrounded by professional looking stuff as a student and WAHP (that's Work-At-Home-Parent), as we do need to interact with others in our profession. But the more I looked at the wares presented the more I couldn't help but wander why everything looked so child-like. It's something to ponder. The only notebooks I could find that looked plain, for example costs nearly twice as much as their sparkly counter parts, or they had TV characters on them. I'm all for whimsy in ones daily life but we should at least have a choice as to what kind of whimsy and how much, and when it comes to office supplies why are the non-whimsical items so hard to find?

Maybe there is a rash of 12-14 year old girls who are starting their own businesses that I don't know about.

In the end I walked out with a small spiral notebook covered in sparkly flowers, rainbows and butterflies. No kidding. I picked it because it cost less. But I was reeeeeeeally close to paying more for the plain one just for the principle of the matter.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Easy Curry Gravy and Pasta Mystery

I made curry gravy. No, you don't understand. I made curry gravy.

And I didn't even measure anything.

Here's what I did.

A dollop of margarine, melted in a frying pan. (about a Tablespoon)
A Tablespoon of flour.
About 1/2 cup of liquid (stock, water, or milk for a creamier sauce).
Stir until slightly bubbly on lowish heat.
Add about 1/2 a teaspoon of curry powder, or more to taste.
Stir just about a minute more until smooth.

Remove from heat. Sauce will thicken.

I ate mine with rice, leftover chicken and a dollup of yummy homemade hummus (yummus?) for lunch today. Mmmm. I still feel sort of like a brain surgeon when I figure stuff like this out. I don't know why it's such a mystery, but it is. I'm sure I can't be the only one who feels this way.

In other news we at the Gothgirl household have a tendency to nibble in the evenings while watching out winding down TV for the day. However last night for dinner we had a lovely pasta dish with some ground pork, mushrooms and spinach. The difference between this dish and our usual fare was that this time the pasta was whole wheat pasta instead of regular pasta. Yum. As the evening progressed I realized I still felt quite full and satisfied and had NO urge to nibble or graze or whatever you want to call evening snacking. Hm. I am wondering if there is a connection between the whole wheat vs. white pasta and the full tummy feelings. I shall research and report back.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

More Harry Potter Perspective

Here is an article that gives a very eye opening view of the Hogwarts Gang. I have always found it curious why Hermione is perceived as "unpretty" merely because she's the smartest student at the school. I don't know if it is an American phenomenon or what, but the idea that a smart girl can also be naturally attractive seems to be an alien concept to many. I think part of the reason behind this is that we are inundated with images of attractive women who are one dimensional and oversexualized, in the media, advertising, movies, print, anywhere you turn. The concept of an attractive woman not using her looks (on purpose) to her advantage is simply not a reality to many people, which is unfortunate and lends itself to the school of thought that "women are.... (fill in the blank)", instead of accepting that women are each complex, individual humans, with separate goals, dreams, and motivations. It's really a simple concept, but for some it's still quite a head-scratcher.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Top 5 Reasons for picking Ron Weasley

Of course there has been a great deal of media lately about the new Harry Potter premier of the Half-Blood Prince, and as such there seems to be several banner ads about who is 'hotter' between Harry Potter and Edward Cullen, the sparkly "Twilight" vampire. I for one choose Ron Weasley and here's why.

It would seem like the obvious choice would be the brooding, dreamboaty Edward Cullen or the Famous Boy Who Lived, being so misunderstood and desperate for a normal existence, Harry Potter. Between the two you have the perfect offset of the sparkly, eternally beautiful prince, and the down to earth scholar with the bookish charm.

And then there is Ron Weasley, the often overlooked sidekick. He's not quite as smart or as funny as his older brothers and his best friend is not only The Famous Harry Potter, but also star of the Gryffindor Quiddich team. If anyone has a reason to carry a grudge it might be Ron. But he does not. Aside from the occasional tiff he is loyal to Harry nearly to a fault. There were times (like when Ron was made prefect) that I thought Harry was being a bit of a baby, by letting jealousy rear its head, whereas the times that Ron was feeling left out I could not help but empathize.

And so without further ado, herein lies the top 5 reason to pick Ron Weasley over those other guys.

5. He has an even temper.

Both Harry and Edward both have a tendency to throw raging fits if they get upset, which by the way ladies, happens to be a warning sign for being abusive in the future. In "twilight" Edward rips up trees and shouts about his own dangerousness at Bella. Harry, blows his top mostly towards Dumbledore, on several occasions. But he does succeed at trashing his office more than once. When Ron gets upset he merely slinks away, storms out the door, works it out, and then comes back to apologize. Time and time again, he removes himself from the volatile situation, takes stock of his own ire and lets the situation diffuse.

4. You can't accidentally or on purpose get killed by hanging out with him.

Again, between Harry, Edward, and Ron he is the least likely to get you killed. His family has that nifty multipley-charmed-protected home that they live in, making for a great hideout place. Nobody is out to kill Ron or his loved ones, except in relation to his bff, Harry. Then with Edward Cullen there is that somewhat awkward dynamic of having to avoid certain, um, urges (which is an obvious metaphor and will be discussed in a later post), lest one accidentally get ripped asunder by Edward himself, what with him being a vampire and all. (I just wanted to use the word "asunder" in a sentence.) Plus, they both have big evil, scary, deadly, bad guys after them. Harry has Voldemort and Edward, the Volturi. Funny how both bad guys names start with "Vol". Hm.

3. The Weasley family.

You would get the family discount at Fred and George's joke shop. Sign me up. Plus his mom welcomes anyone into her home and makes that yummy Onion soup.

2. He protects his sister.

He steps in and gives Harry a good verbal what-for when it appears that he is pressing his advantage (really it was the other way around) towards his sister, Ginny. It was one of those moments that made readers go "Aw." Because a reasonably protective older brother is just so darn cute.

And the number one reason why one should pick Ron Weasley over Harry Potter or Edward Cullen is: (drum roll)

1. He's in love with the smart girl!

It might have taken him seven books to realize it, but ultimately what's not to love about the pairing of Hermione and Ron. He is the perfect foil for her if-its-in-a-book-she-knows-it-ness. He does carry a certain cluelessness about girls, but what he lacks in smoothness he makes up for with sincerity and genuine caring. The fact that he doesn't even realize what a great catch he is just makes him that much more adorable. From his truly tragic attempt at asking Hermione to the Goblet Ball, ("Hey, Hermione! You're a girl, right?") right up to the moment of declaring his concern for the Hogwarts House elves, the dynamic of will-they or won't-they kept me rivetted. And once the deal was appropriately sealed, I couldn't help but do a little happy dance for the besotted teens.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Mt. Rushmore

For the past little while we have been teaching our daughter about the states. We have a gigantic floor puzzle that we put together with her which depicts the USA and each state is a puzzle piece. (Except for the teeny ones up by Maine and they are all glumped together into one big piece.) Each state has a tiny picture on it with something to do with that state, so of course South Dakota has a picture of Mt. Rushmore. We also have a Curious George story that involves Mt. Rushmore. M gets a kick out of matching that sort of stuff up together. For example if we are putting the puzzle together, she will find the South Dakota piece and point out her book on the shelf and knowingly nod at us and say "Mhmh!" It's really quite cute.

I don't know all that much about Mt. Rushmore, but it has occurred to me that at some point in time somebody somewhere had to have said, "Hey! Let's carve some giant faces into the side of a mountain!"

And the best part is that more than one someone had to have replied, "That's a really good idea!"

I feel like we are loosing the ability to have ideas like this. We live in such an age where everything has to be bigger, faster, better, more, go, go, go!!! But we don't actually take the time to enact quality or even to think about what we are doing. Change takes time and commitment, dedication and planning. I am sure that the face carvers didn't get halfway across George Washington's forehead and say, "Well this is too hard. Let's do something else." Even just small choices made regularly can have a big impact.

Funny thing. Since our "mishap" last summer we haven't bought beef at the grocery store. We have received some homegrown, grass fed beef from a family member who raises cows, which is in a whole different category. And I have been slowly integrating more natural ingredients into our diet, trying to reduce our chemical intake (MSG and whatnot), and electing to shop locally whenever possible. But it takes time. Time and commitment and dedication. Like the people chipping away at the mountainside hoping that what they are doing will eventually start to resemble a face. But one thing I am pretty sure about. I know it took more than one person to carve Mt. Rushmore, and I am curious how our collective landscape would change if we all lived what we believe regardless of how difficult or impossible that task might seem.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

My Own Thoughts

So that's really what started it all (See previous post.), this obsession of mine with natural foods and ingredients and what not.

Dinnertime should not be a game of Russian Roulette. Our food supply has become way too massively toxic and our health care system is not much better, in fact what happened to us is, in my opinion criminal.

Since that time a year ago, I can recall (no pun intended) at least three national food recalls that I have seen on the news. Not to mention the ones we did not hear about. Just within the last month there have been two in the local news.

That being said, food and cooking has always been rather a mystery to me. I understand how to follow a recipe in the sense that if I follow the directions, stuff turns into food. But what I don't understand is how to make substitutions or what to add if I want this to do that or whatever. So the cooking blog seemed like just the right medium for me to explore the cooking phenom and to see what I can do. I figured why not? Everyone who wants to can go on this little journey with me and we can all explore cooking together. Of course I would like to take a moment to encourage everyone to shop locally, take advantage of farmer's markets and co-ops, and buy fresh raw ingredients.

About a Year...

For those of you who didn't see it on FaceBook, my DH posted this under his notes:

This coming week will be one year since we almost lost our daughter, Milla, to E. Coli.June 26th 2008 I purchased ground beef from Kroger. July 10th 2008 we found out that there was a beef recall because of E. Coli on the beef I bought. Of course we had already eaten this beef. July 12th 2008, Milla woke up sick, fever of 103 and above, and diarrhea. After a couple hours and a half dozen diaper changes we called the pediatrician’s office. I talked to a nurse and told her what the symptoms were. I also told her about the recalled beef. She told me it wasn’t E. Coli but a virus going around.

July 13th 2008, more of the same.

July 14th 2008, more of the same and Milla stops eating and drinking. We called the pediatricians office to make an appointment. I talked to another nurse. I told her all of the symptoms, how long it had been going on and I told her about the beef with E. Coli. Once again I was told it was not E. Coli and just a virus. No appointment made.July 15th 2008, Milla is really sick. Diarrhea and throwing up. I called the pediatrician’s office again. I told this nurse the exact same thing, including about the E. Coli. She told me the same thing as the other two nurses. I told her I wanted Milla to be seen by a pediatrician today. She said “If you really want to.”We saw a familiar Pediatrician. Told her everything and yes about the beef. She said no it’s not E. Coli. It’s a virus going around. She did not do even one test and sent us home.This same pediatrician saw Milla the year before for a fever and a runny nose. She ordered every test there possibly could be. I know this to be true because I have Milla’s medical records. There are three pages of tests from that visit. (side note: The company I worked for went out of business in January ‘08. Along with losing my job, I lost my health insurance on the family. After a few months of looking for a job without luck, Rebecca and I decided to get Milla a medical card through the state) Lesson learned. As long as you have medical insurance and not a state medical card you will get decent medical care, and the physician will treat and look at you like a human being.

July 16th 2008, Milla is really sick. She hasn’t had anything to eat or drink in two days. I called again and told the nurse the same things. Got an appointment. Different pediatrician. We told him everything…the same thing. Once again, not E. Coli, but a virus. I asked him when we should start getting concerned about Milla not eating. He said in a condescending tone, “Last Thursday. Come on, do you feel like eating when you sick?” Then he gave Milla a lollipop. She held it to her nose and smelled it. He said, “Oh she’s fine. If she hadn’t done that I’d be worried. So she’s not that dehydrated. She’s fine. Just give her fluids.” We said, “She’s not eating or drinking and when she has tried to drink she has thrown it up.” “Well, if she throws it up, wait two hours and try again.” he says as he’s walking out of the room.Visit done…no tests…but at least Milla got a lollipop she wasn’t going to eat.

July 17th 2008, Milla can’t move. She’s not sleeping well. She can’t walk, she is so weak. We called back to the pediatrician’s office. I tell her (the nurse) everything we’ve been going through…and the E. Coli. I told her I wanted a straight answer about when we should be getting concerned about Milla not eating. Because everyone has told us not to be concerned because she just doesn’t feel well. She told me if Milla didn’t eat breakfast in the morning to call back.

That morning didn’t happen like that. We took Milla to the ER at St. Joseph East that evening. Where Dr. Anderson took us seriously and listened. He started the tests. He came back and told us Milla was severely dehydrated and she had kidney failure as a result of HUS (Hemolytic-uremic syndrome), a strand of E. Coli. He transferred Milla to UK Hospital. Milla went right to PICU (pediatric intensive care unit). Within minutes of Rebecca and I arriving at the hospital a DR. comes out to talk to us. We were informed that Milla would not have lived through the night. Her kidneys were not the only organs failing. Her liver, spleen and pancreas were all starting to shut down. She went into surgery the next morning to have a catheter put in for kidney dialysis. She wasn’t conscious for several days. When she woke up they had to strap her arms down so she wouldn’t yank the IV’s out of her. Seeing my 19 month old daughter lying there with all of this happening…I was angry. How could this happen? Letting a baby suffer because her parents had the damn poor man’s insurance.

Milla was on dialysis for 8 days and was recovering nicely. She was finally moved from picu to a regular room at 10 days. August 1st we got to take her home. Milla is doing great. The only way you know she was ever sick are from the scars on her belly, from the surgery and the scar on her neck, where she had an IV put in.I would like to thank everyone who helped us through last summer.Also, thanks to Dr. Anderson at St. Joseph EastThanks to UK hospital, Dr. Bernard and Dr. Chisti and all the nurses in picu, Ashley, Tara and many more. Thank you!

For more information on E. Coli more information on HUS

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