Thursday, August 27, 2009

Kitchen Snippets

Here's a few details about my culinary habits. Nothing earth shattering, but whatever...

1. I usually use cucumbers in a big cucumber salad.

Slice and peel the cucumbers. Put them in a bowl with water and vinegar, about 1/2 and 1/2. Add some sugar, about 1/2 a cup. Salt and pepper. and stick it in the fridge.

This way you can have cucumbers any old time you want. Plus, it goes really well with Italian food of which we have been eating a lot of lately.

2. Sometimes I eat cheese. No crackers, just cheese.

And that orange stuff that comes in little squares of plastic that some people put on sandwiches, that is not cheese and I would normally not have it in my kitchen. Fie! Fie!

3. My first starter cookbook is the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook. It's the one with the red and white checkered cover. Everyone should have one even if you are only slightly cookishly inclined.

4. I'm beginning to like Agave Nectar. For one, it's dark instead of white like sugar, which goes with the whole "goth food" thing. For two you can put it in Kool-Aid and it doesn't make you all "g-g-g-g-g-g" the way sugar does. It also is good on cereal.

5. I like to use fair trade cocoa.

6. MSG is icky. Instead of the packets that come with Ramen noodles I use a few broth cubes from the freezer and melt them down to put over the noodles. Plus, it tastes better this way too.

7. I use old bananas and turn them into banana bread. Not too original I know, but you would be surprised how many people just throw away perfectly good bananas just because they are a little brown.

Well, there you go. Just a tiny glimpse into the world of Gothgirl.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Caster Semenya's Got Talent!

In today's world of sometimes blurred gender identity and ongoing discoveries of bizarre medical conditions, it can be confusing how to react to those around us who fall into these categories. But what does it say that when faced with a person of large build with short hair who turns out to be athletically talented, running for a female team, the assumption is made that something must be wrong. Surely someone who looks like this and is so very good at running can't possibly be all girl.

Can they?

Oddly enough, this is a true scenario. Recently, eighteen year old Caster Semenya was declared female after undergoing 'gender testing' the very same day that she smoked everyone in the 800 meter race in Berlin. She is broad shouldered, tall, stocky build and walks with a distinct sway that could almost be described as masculine. Oh, and she runs really fast.

What I can't help but wonder is why did the question arise. Granted, she was not accused of cheating in any way. Rather the testing she underwent had more to do with the possibility of her having a medical disorder which might blur her gender. But the outcome of that test just goes to show how ingrained and pervasive the ideas of what it means to be feminine can be. Was this testing done because of her appearance or because of her ability? Or both? It begs the question. A fellow blogger raised the question would this have been a scandal if she had been a svelte, blond Icelandic girl with long flowy hair and sculpted nails? And ran really fast?

She received a hero's welcome when returning home to probably the biggest show of "I told you so," in recent history. Which leads me to wonder then what if she looked the way she does and couldn't run really fast? What if she was just a regular non athlete girl? Would that diminish her worth in any way? Would she be expected to pretty herself up a bit for the sake of attracting a partner? Or fitting into some Westernized ideology of what a girl is 'supposed' to look like?

I can't help but be a bit outraged by this situation in that she obviously rose to the ranks of greatness within her field, but for whatever reason her gender identity was doubted causing the validity of her ability to come into question. More importantly the situation begs the question where do we perceive that a person's worth is held. Appearance? Ability? Talent? Does the answer change if the person is of a different gender? Apparently, it does.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

"The Graveyard Book"

Okay so the truth is that the Cheesy Bread stuff that I posted turned out kind of gross. It sounded good. It might have even looked good, but nay it did not taste good or sit on the stomach very well. So proceed with caution.

In totally other news however, I did recently finish reading "The Graveyard Book" by Neil Gaiman. I have been a fan of Gaiman ever since his Sandman (genius) Graphic novel days, and he has only evolved since then. When he was promoting "American Gods" I had the life-completing opportunity to attend a book signing at Jo-Beth Cafe. Ever so much fun. Of course scads of people attended dressed up like his Sandman's Endless characters, myself included. Three guesses as to what character I picked. Of course there are about twenty more girls dressed exactly like me, plus a handful of Deliriums, and a very few Desires. No Dreams anywhere in sight. Bummer. So anyway, I make my way up to the line where he is signing the books. He is handed my books "American Gods" and "Death: the High Cost of Living". He pauses, his hand poised over the book cover. His eyes flick up to me as the lady next to him tells him my name. He looks me over solidly taking in my black clad get up, the ankh necklace, over sized belt, and combat boots, and says in his I'm-so-British accent "Well, I've never seen that one before," and proceeds to sign my book.
It was all I could do not to jump up and down and squeal.
As far as all that goes, it remains one of my favorite celebrity memories, right up there with David Carradine, and Amy Grant.
But back to his most recent endeavor. Gaiman is such a skillful story teller that you get plunged into the tale without even realizing that there is a moral. He is a master at asking the question "What if?" and then following through until the story is complete. The Graveyard Book is a story of Nobody, young Nobody Owens who escaped murder as a toddler and is thereby raised by a family of ghosts in a nearby graveyard, including a non-ghost mysterious guardian by the name of Silas. Answering to the moniker Bod, he grows up an anomaly, a living boy among the dead. The apparent macabre nature of the story is quickly balanced out by the innocence of the boy and the genuine affection that the disembodied souls have for him. The story of Bod, beginning when his a little boy jumps forward every few years. He is befriended by another living child at age five, a girl whose family lives nearby. Along the way he meets ghouls, werewolves, thieves and assassins. Ultimately the story culminates when Bod must inevitably confront his would be murderer, when he is a young man of fourteen.
One thinks this is just a story at first. The answer to the question "What if?" And while in many ways this is true, it is also very much a story about potential, about finding ones true self and being who you are. The story of Nobody Owens teaches that things do not always turn out the way you want them to but that that is also okay.
I cannot give anything by Neil Gaiman a bad review and so with that I must admonish all of you to go out and read "The Graveyard Book".

Friday, August 21, 2009

Cheesy Bread Pudding

This little ditty is actually something I made up. I sort of modified a bread pudding recipe until it was no longer sweet and had a bunch of cheese and meat in it. Yum. You will need:

1 lb. ground meat, I used turkey.

4 eggs

3 cups of cubed bread, I used the saved up heels of loaves of bread.

2 1/4 cups milk

3/4 cup cheddar

3/4 cup mozzarella



Measurements are of course completely arbitrary. First I toasted the bread cubes in the oven for about 10 minutes at 300. This actually sort of over toasted them so maybe five minutes. Meanwhile I mixed up the eggs, milk, cheese and spices. Here you can also add red pepper or whatever you want to. Then I mixed the meat and bread cubes tossed together in a 2 quart, oven safe pan. Pour the egg mixture over this and bake at 350 for about 40 minutes. When a knife comes out of the middle with a clean blade, then it is done. That is a knife that you use yourself. It's not going to magically produce a knife like Harry Potter's hat or anything.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Writers, right?

So I just got back from a thing at the library where a bunch of writers get together to do writey stuff. These are actual writers, people who submit stuff to magazines and contests and take part in poetry nights, and know what a Seven Crown Sonnet is and stuff like that. My friend who told me about it has actually written and PUBLISHED an actual book. I haven't read it yet, but I will and then I'll have to review it. So here's little ole' me, peering out from behind my notebook saying, "Um, I have a blog?"

The thing is, I felt both wildly exhilarated and completely intimidated at the same time. If I start to go to this regularly then that means that I'll have to actually BE a writer. And write stuff. And let other people see it.


But then again, come December I am also going to have a Master's degree. Which means I'll have to do Master's degree stuff. I don't even know where to start with that one.

As far as being a writer goes, I don't know what intimidates me more, the idea of flexing my creative muscles or having to exercise my intellect a little, or both. I feel like the kid who has been bragging that he can bench press such and so amount and is now standing next to his brother's weight bench surrounded by his expectant friends who all have their arms folded and giving the look that says "Oh yeah? Prove it."

Thing is, I've always been a writer. I wrote in the fourth grade when I thought I was reformatting "Cinderella" into a novel, and on through college when I wanted to first be an English major, then took a brief foray into acting which turned into a career for a time. And now, oddly enough, a marriage, two kids and an almost-degree later, I am back to writing.

I always thought that writing was just like acting except it's on paper.

And the people I met today seem most like the kinds of people who would say, you have to start somewhere, and would be supportive even if all I can do is one sonnet at a time, or one chapter at a time, or even just one segment at a time. I'll just have to see where all this takes me. In the mean time I have an outline I need to finish.

And that's how it starts.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

November, sung to the tune of Annie's "Tommorrow"

New Moon'll come out, November!
They told us at the ComicCon that November,
Brings New Moon...

Just thinkin' about November,
Makes me want to reread and remember,
Till they're done,

I'm sure that the day was gray and lonely,
When Bella Swan lost her one and only,

The movie comes out, November!
Relive all the drama in November,
Come what may!

November, November! It's too far, November!
You're only three months away!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

I Can't NOT Say It.

Something has been nagging at me for the past week, ever since that tragic shooting in a fitness class in Pennsylvania, near Pittsburgh. It seems that for the most part, the story was reported by the news, a few snippets here and there have emerged about the shooter, but other than that there seems to be radio silence in response to the event. Where is the outrage that usually accompanies this sort of thing? Why is no one shouting their solidarity with the women who were horrifically victimized by this criminal, as we did during the Virginia Tech shootings? Why does it seem that no one is truly disturbed by the actions of this man?

Not to long ago a famous incident occurred in which music icon Rhianna was brutalized by her then boyfriend Chris Brown. The response to that occurrence seemed to have been "Well, what did she do to provoke him?" or whatever.

Jump ahead to: Old-what's-his-name decides to take an automatic weapon into a room full of women, shuts off the lights, and starts shooting, killing four and wounding many. One of which happened to be an ex-girlfriend. It has since been found out that he planned this for quite some time, even chickening out at one point, to the extent that he felt that women in general owed him the time of day because he was a "nice enough guy" and he was "clean cut and wore a touch of cologne". (Paraphrased quotes). One could conclude that if some one had expressed an interest in him to the extent that he was seeking that this would not have happened. By that conclusion one could deduce that somehow it was the women's fault. So what did the ex do to provoke this kind of response? I'll tell you what:

Nothing. Period.

The reason this happened is because one man made a choice. That choice had nothing to do with anyone else's actions or lack there of. Chris Brown made a choice. That choice had nothing to do with Rhianna's actions or lack there of.

Are we afraid to align ourselves with the victims of this shooting? Or is the hidden truth that we fell into the trap of thinking that certain things are owed to us if we do our part? Are we afraid to examine the motives and thoughts of this mass murderer lest we find something similar to our own?

The news of the shooting is disturbing. The shooting reflects the motives of one man, but the media silence reflects the possible motives of an entire society, and that is what I find truly disturbing.

Monday, August 10, 2009


Was anyone else bothered by Miley Cyrus's performance during the teen choice awards? First, she rolls out on stage on a platform with a huge pole sticking out of it. Then she sashays around singing about the US of A, wearing hoochy shorts and a sassy little hat that she keeps flicking. Then as the song ends she sends a shout out to all of her fans for voting for her, a thank you to so-and-so who wrote "the Climb", and then she thanked God the Father for putting her on this stage. Then the camera pans over to the ever-so-proud Billy Ray who is beaming and clapping and standing. What?

Can we say mixed message anyone?

I don't know, I just found it a little disturbing.

Just to clarify, I wasn't actually watching the teen choice awards. We had just flipped it over to see if the Twilight stuff was on. =)

Saturday, August 8, 2009

A do over, this time with pictures.

The exact recipe as it is written on whatever long lost website I found it on, goes like this:
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3 eggs
water as needed.
Incidentally, the dough does freeze pretty well and the following is from a thawed out wad of dough from the freezer. It took about two days to completely thaw out in the fridge. Once it was thawed I put it onto a well floured surface, like so:
Let's see, next I divided this piece up into two smaller wads, took a rolling pin and rolled the first piece out as flat as possible. Once that was done I took the pizza cutter and cut the dough into this strips which might resemble fettuccine, like so:

Once this was done I transferred the strips onto a plate, covered with a paper towel and placed it in the freezer for just over an hour. In the mean time I defrosted some frozen leftover chicken soup. That took about an hour. During this time I also started some salted water boiling. One thing I learned recently is that I have been making the mistake of under salting my pasta water. You want the water to resemble sea water and be just slightly murky, maybe a couple of tablespoons per 4 quarts. Or so says Rachel Ray on some episode that I don't currently remember. Once all this was ready I took out the frozen dough strips and snapped them in half as to be more manageable and to fit into the pot of water more efficiently. Now it looks like this:

I transferred the noodles by quick handfuls into the rapidly boiling water and stirred frequently for about 3 minutes to prevent sticking. I then drained the noodles the usual way and added them to the now simmering chicken soup. This was enough for a light dinner (2 small helpings, or 1 large helping) for me, my hubby and my toddler daughter, who picked out the noodles and didn't eat any of the chicken.

Tada! Pasta from scratch. I think this is a good thing to make ahead so it will all be ready and not be overwhelming when you have nothing to eat and end up ordering Chinese food. The point is to NOT order Chinese food because you already have something yummy and easy to make in the freezer, thereby saving yourself some money. Nothing against Chinese food. Maybe I'll track down a good homemade Pad Thai and try that next.

And yes, I know Pad Thai is not Chinese but Thai.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Homemade Pasta

Yes, folks. Homemade pasta.

I have always considered pasta something that one buys, or comes from a tree or whatever. I just never put that much thought into it. But some time ago, I began to wonder just what would homemade pasta entail. How much work goes into it? I mean it had to originate somewhere besides a pasta factory. So I did a little online sleuthing and came up with the following recipe for egg noodles:

2 cups of flour
a few dashes of baking powder
and 2 largish eggs
Some water and salt

Many recipes say to do this part on the counter but I chickened out and did this part in a large mixing bowl. Combine flour, baking powder and a dash of salt. Make a well in the center. Add eggs. Mix with a fork from the center until dough becomes sticky. Then work it together with your hands, adding water a little at a time until dough is pliable. This part is supposed to be part of the 'magic' or 'art' or 'science' or whatever it is that separates magical cooking type of people from those of us who eat cereal a lot. Anyway, when the dough "feels right" roll it into a ball.

In several recipes this part calls for the use of a pasta machine but, my favorite recipe said that Italian grandma's have been doing this just fine with their bare hands for generations, so that's how I elected to do it. On a well floured surface knead the dough until smooth. Divide into three or four small segments. Roll one section as flat as you would like for it to be and then cut with a knife or pizza cutter into long or short, flat strips. These strips can be laid out to dry or hung up on a wire rack. They can also be plunged immediately into fast boiling water, but this part is tricky.

I wanted to go ahead and use my pasta so I already had a pot of salted water boiling rapidly. Once I sliced up my pasta into small rectangles I took my large spatula and scooped it up off the counter and into the hot water. The directions said to stir keep the water boiling and stir frequently to keep pasta from sticking, and only to boil for about 3-4 minutes since pasta is already soft.

When I felt like the pasta was done, (more 'magic cooking art') I drained it out. This yielded probably about 1/2 of pasta or two helpings.

I ate mine with some chicken soup that I had made with leftover chicken and veggies in a chicken broth. It was quite tasty. Even my husband approved, saying that they seemed a lot heartier than what you would buy at the store.

While the turnout of the noodles was nowhere near the store bought kind (they seemed more like dumplings), I did enjoy the process and hope to set aside a day for pasta making sometime in the near future. This way we can have some on hand, I will get practice at it, and most importantly I WILL KNOW WHAT I AM EATING!! which is really what this whole experiment is about.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

By Popular Demand...

The Yummus recipe!!

Take one can of Garbanzo beans, (I know it's not very real or whatever, but it's what I had on hand), throw them in the blender.


2 tablespoons of Olive Oil
2 tablespoons of Lemon Juice
1 garlic clove
a dash of cinnamon.

Blend well until mushy. If you have a food processor use that instead. I kept having to take a spatula and scrape the sides down to make sure it all got chopped, but it still turned out pretty chunky.

Also, I made mine too garlicky and I ended up feeling gross all day after eating it. I will probably experiment with roasting the garlic next time to try to get a milder flavor. Incidentally, I did pick up the garlic at the fabbo little veggie stand on Southland Drive. I think I have mentioned them before...

One can also add Tahini, but we don't have any and I don't really know what it is either. That's why I am not Paula Deen but the Gothgirl. =)