Archive for February, 2011

What you do when nobody is watching is what matters.

February 27, 2011

My brother and his son spent part of this past week in Cincinnati. One of their stops, the University of Cincinnati campus, demonstrated what is good about college athletics.  While “investigating” the football stadium in a way that only a 4-year-old can, my nephew spied a big bus – an instant draw.  He noticed athletes, dressed in sweats with hoods up walking to the bus.

In hopes of finding an elusive college football player, he went to investigate. Much to his initial chagrin, he found the Cincinnati women’s basketball team. They were en route to South Bend and an eventual loss to the #7 Notre Dame program.   Jamelle Elliott, the coach of the Bearcats, is in the process of leading her team through an injury filled season that according to ESPN.com dressed 7 players for the Notre Dame game.

Given all of that, one would expect a wave or a nod to a cute kid. It’s been an exhausting season on the Cincinnati campus for the women’s basketball team. Instead, 3 players (and I wish I knew their names) stopped loading the busses, walked over and talked to my nephew about taking the bus to Notre Dame, and spent a few minutes with a kid who isn’t a Cincinnati fan and really was more interested in seeing a “real football player”.

Evan and Oscar

Evan said good-bye to his new friends “Have a safe trip! Have a good game!” and headed off to see the statue of Oscar Robinson.  A nice encounter with a group of athletes.  For Evan, it would only get better.

He spied a pitcher and a catcher practicing.  He asked my brother about the signs the catcher was going over and why they did that.  Fearlessly, Evan went over and announced he was going to play T-ball in the spring.  Again, many athletes would say something polite and carry on with their workout.

The two ball players asked him if he knew how to throw – and then provided him with an impromptu clinic on the right way to throw a baseball.  My brother said they spent a solid 15 minutes showing Evan how to throw and talking to him. Nobody was watching, simply 2 young men being nice to my nephew.  Brian Cleary, you have some class acts playing for you.

There is a lot wrong with college athletics but there is much more that is right. My brother will always be a Tennessee Vol. I’ll always pull of The Ohio State University.  But when Cincinnati plays? They’ve picked up a few fans; simply by going of their way to be nice to a little kid who was exploring their campus.

The University of Cincinnati president Gregory Williams should be proud.

I yam what I yam

February 17, 2011

So, cooking adventure number two involved yams! Check out the reciepe here.  It’s yummy goodness especially when combined with a salad and a nice glass of red wine!

Bok Choy?

February 17, 2011

One of the benefits of a share in Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is that you often wind up with veggies that otherwise wouldn’t wind up in your refrigerator. One of the detriments, is, that sometimes, you wind up with a LOT of an item.  Right now, I’m over run with bok choy! I think I finally found a stir-fry that I’m happy with: complete with enough heat that also works as a leftover.  Who knows? Let me know what you think!

PB and Oatmeal Cookies: GF style

February 13, 2011

Sous ChefSo, my trusted sous chef informed me today it was time to make cookies. Who am I do disagree with the adorable monster sous chef in my life? Apparently, gluten-free peanut butter/oatmeal cookies were in style in his little diva world. I was wildly happy to agree with his 4 pawed whim.

Now, one of the problems I’ve found with finding GF recipes is that either they require 3-4 extra ingredients or the directions are so convoluted that it would take a degree in cooking to figure out how to make them. 

I was pretty happy with this first attempt – they were a bit dry, my fault after the chocolate chip being too moist. But here is the outline for the recipe.  Feel free to tweak and play.  I made them as bar cookies – simply because I’m far to lazy to keep making them on a sheet. At least I’m honest!

2 sticks of unsalted butter, softened.

2/3c. packed brown sugar

3 heaping tablespoons of organic peanut butter (this could have probably been increased).

2 cage free, organic eggs.

3T of vanilla

1 1/3 c organic oats

1/3 c local, organic honey (could have been increased a bit)

Flour

Pre heat oven to 350.  Blend all ingredients except oats and flour.  Slowly blend in oats.  Add GF flour of choice until you are able to roll into a ball or spread into a baking dish.  You want the mixture to be firm but not crumbly.  My first batch I put in too much flour – I should have kept it at about 1 1/3c or so.  It’s more of a via texture type cooking.  Bake for roughly an hour.

One of the things I’ve learned in the GF cooking adventure is that it is much more sensitive to things like oven variations and you do have to experiment. 

Give it a try . . . I was happy – but in round 2? I’m going to add a bit more moisture!  I’d give it 3 paws.

Not quite Panama, but a plan.

February 6, 2011

So, I was engaged in a FB discussion with some friends over the cost of today’s Super Bowl ads (up to 3M for a 60 second spot). In-freaking-sane.  In our economic system, the market can charge what the market can bear.  Still, I think it is reckless corporate spending (Frito Lay alone is spending upwards of 9M USD for their ads), GM in particular springs to mind on this issue! (hi, we bailed you out…how about NOT reminding us of that.)

After some back and forth that has been brewing for some time, I’m going to live off the grid as much as possible. What does that mean? Not buying from boxes and chains where possible. If I do have to buy from a chain, then a local one that pays fair wages. My goal? To see if I can go to the next Super Bowl (or this time next year if a lock out occurs).

A few friends brought up good points: Yes, Frito Lay employs a  lot of people in the middle of the country. And, they use genetically modified food, keep prices artificially low for farmers and receive their food from industrial farms: all are bad for our economy, our bodies and our country moving forward. There is a reason junk food is cheaper here than in Asia and Europe: they tax it to death for recognizing that is poison to our bodies.  It doesn’t mean I don’t like Oreos: I do! I’ve realized that spending money on a good which is both toxic *and* the product of big business doesn’t serve anybody.

Can I do it? Who knows. I’ll be using what I have in the house and any replacements will be locally sourced. If there is not a local sourcing option: then from a local business, preferably a small one then a regional chain.  Will it cost more? Probably. But what are the benefits of one person doing this in a mid-sized New England community? Isn’t it better all the way around? I’m not doing this from a position of wealth but as a conscious decision to see how much frivolous spending is eliminated, how much I can return to the economy of my community and state.  It will be an interesting adventure. 

I simply can’t support companies that spend millions for short ads: donate that time to causes and say who sponsored the ad.  And it will be interesting to see if Fox/Pepsi discuss their new arrangement today….after all, Frito Lay was the #1 ad buyer in the Super Bowl this year.

Yummy goodness!

February 5, 2011

So, I had one of those look in the refrigerator and see what you can eat nights. Most of the time, that results in an uninspired, unoriginal cheese and egg omelette. Today? A snap quick recipe of organic yumminess.

One container of Trader Joe’s pre-made polenta.

One bag of Trader Joe’s organic spinach (raw)

1lb of Italian Mild Sausage from the fantastic 8 O’clock Ranch

1lb of Raw Milk Cheddar from the Neighborly Farms

I spread the polenta out on the bottom of the pan, layered with cooked sausage, spinach next then the cheese.  Cooked for about an hour at 350.  Yummy goodness.  Even have leftovers.

Didn’t have to be McGyver to make it. . . and everything is organic.

Oh, and in the did you know this? Jean Lafitte was Jewish. I told Lafitte this….and decided we lived in an interfaith household. Good thing I bought him that Hanukkah stocking this year on clearance.

If you must. . .

February 2, 2011

So, on 1/8, I posted a blog about my thoughts on the Pepsi Refresh Challenge project. I stand behind every word of what I’ve written. (I’m sure those who monitor this blog might take offense, but quite frankly, I don’t care).  Here are some reasons why contests like Pepsi’s are bad:

1) They are technology dependent – this automatically favors individuals or organizations that are able to leverage technology through either the means of delivery through their organization OR because of socio-economic status.

3) Pepsi, or more specifically, it’s parent company Frito Lay, is using profits garnered from selling junk (hey, I like the junk, but it is JUNK to our bodies) to “do good” in various communities. Frito Lay made 845 million (USD) for the quarter ending 7/10.  The amount of money they are giving away per month pales in comparison to the long-term costs to the wider community and in proportion to the quarterly profits.

3) Forcing organizations into “popularity” contests benefits nobody. Allegations of magical cheating, IP re-routing, and on and on and on.  While conceptually, it is a good idea to allow people to select which ideas should be awarded grants, if Pepsi is committed to using some of its substantial profits to make a difference, the programs should be evaluated by professional grant management/event planning firms (there are plenty who specialize in work with non-profits) in conjunction with a popular vote.

A lot of what Pepsi is doing is too dependent on a critical mass: a program in Bismark, ND stands less of a chance of winning than a similar program in St. Louis, MO just due to population and the ability to “vote by region”.

Pepsi might bring back there challenge. If they do, I hope that those who opt to participate act like adults, win and loose with grace and vote for causes *they* believe in – not that they are pressured to vote for because that is a voting alliance. Then again, I wish Pepsi would just get rid of the project and force organizations to write grants and donate money based on the proportion of their profits to region.  After all, that would *really* be giving back to the Pepsi community.

But what do I know? I’m a Diet Coke girl!