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Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Hand To The Ear

Today's gripe is regarding cell phones. I don't own a cell phone and have no intention of "correcting" that "lack" in my life.

The observations of the uncellphoned are interesting as there are so few of us. I have a few petty grievances regarding the issue, but my main gripe is a social one.

People drive their cars attached to a telephone, walk through the parks attached to cell phones, they even navigate busy grocery stores with one hand on their cart and one with their cell phones to their ears.

I have come to the conclusion that part of the reason, at least, is the fact that those who are unable to go anywhere not connected to a cell phone are at least partially socially inept.

The cell phone keeps you from having to interact with the human beings around you. it's an effective tool for those who are uncomfortable with people. It's also an incredibly rude tool. It keeps the person with who has it attached to his/her head from interacting with real live people in front of them. It minimizes and is insulting to the person that real live thoughtful attention should be directed at.

I honestly do not want to hear any one's cell phone conversation. I don't. I don't care who they are talking to or what they are talking about. I don't like being trapped into listening to personal conversations or even arguments when standing in line.

Before the advent of the cell phone, there weren't long lines at pay phones. What is so urgent that it can't wait until you are in the privacy of your (preferably parked) car? We survived and lived perfectly efficient lives before this invention.

I'm not advocating the loss of cell phones. I am advocating that the cell phones be used as any other phone is used. In private places where your attention divided isn't endangering me and my family and where I don't have to hear your personal conversations.

So, give us non-cell phone users a bit of consideration, and your fellow world traveller. Turn the damn things off at stores, theaters, meetings and doctor's offices and give some attention and consideration to the real life people standing next to you.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

On Our Justice System

Years ago I became keenly interested in the death penalty cases and the abuses and oversights used to get our poorest citizens executed. We live in a society that does not value all it's citizens, nor does it treat it's citizens equally in the judicial system.

Recently I began reading The Innocent Man by John Grisham and this book has again sparked my interest in the inequities present in our justice system. This book points out blatant abuses, abuses that have destroyed one man in particular.

Before reading this book I didn't realize that the indigent really don't get fair trials. I knew that they sometimes got less than star representation, but I didn't realize how far the inequality went.

I learned in this book that indigent defendants are only allowed what defense the judge allows, not the same level of representation the state has in pursuing the prosecution of the accused. The state can have paid witnesses and experts, the defense can only have such things, if the court allows for it, which generally has a great deal to do with the economy in the area. So, in other words, the prosecution can bring on big legal experts on a very specialized science subject, but the defense very often is not allowed to use the state's money to find an expert of their own to help defend against the claims of the state.

All these things I find very disturbing and am going to research further.

I'm flabbergasted at the lackadaisical attitude so many court appointed defense attorneys face their clients needs with. I'm blown away that in capital murder cases, some of these defendants are not given access to the money nor the people necessary to defend themselves. That's not just not right, it's unAmerican.

Justice isn't served when people accused of crimes are not given the means to defend themselves.

The new Grisham book has inspired me to do some research on the subject and I found a few organizations dedicated to the rights of the accused. And in the face of our current "victim's rights" agenda regarding our justice system, I say...Thank the stars these organizations exist. Organizations such as The Innocence Project
The Fair Trial Initiative
and American Bar Association's Policies and Guidelines on Indigent Defense

and their August 2005 on needed reforms.

This is just one of the many issues I hope to explore in this blog. Feel free to inspire me with some suggestions or comments.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Turkey Day

Turkey is my least favorite of holiday meals. There are numerous points that I find tedious and pointless in it's preparation. I will try to explain my dislike of this holiday tradition here.

Growing up we always had 5 bajillion people at our house for Thanksgiving and of those 5 bajillion people at our house 3 or 4 of them did any preparation, clearing or cleanup of that celebration. I, was always one of the unlucky ones to drudge through the day.

I'd be up early, excited, as children often are during the holiday season. Anticipating mostly, my uncle Jim and his contribution to the party, which was always booze and junk food! We rarely got junk food at our house and this was a treat, treat, treat. We loved Uncle Jim.

That anticipation and sense of excitement would soon die as my mother put me to work (during the Macy's Parade) on the "relish" tray. YUCK. Slicing pickles, opening cans of ripe olives, smashing up the cranberry sauce. Blah! Then when my uncle showed up with the pate' and caviar and exotic I had to plate and make that attractive.

Then on to the cheese tray, another of my duties. Cutting and arranging various cheeses, pepperonis and an assortment of crackers on trays for everyone else to wolf down in five minutes only to be refilled again by me. And again when my uncle showed with the expensive and exotic (at least to my family, at that time) cheeses and crackers I would have to add and arrange those in the display.

All this time smelling a wonderful HUGE turkey roasting in the oven with it's sausage and sage dressing. It smelled so wonderful!

That is until I didn't notice the smell anymore cuz I was busing helping my mom make the rest of the dinner, setting the table and bringing everything into the dining room.

Then, while I had 4 able-bodied brothers in an incredibly socially enlightened house, who do you suppose did the cleaning up and dishes? The females.

Oh yes, lots to be thankful on Thanksgiving. Shit, I'd love it if I had someone completely cook my dinner, supply me with appetizers, set the table for me, serve the food and clean up.

Unfortunately, that isn't how it worked in my house growing up.

Thanksgiving SUCKS!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Jell-o Pastel Cookies

I made these earlier this week. Very easy. I made cranberry cookies with cherry jell-o sprinkled on top. The recipe made quite a few and they were very tasty

Jell-o Pastel Cookies

3 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 cup sugar
2 pkg. any flavor gelatin, divided
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Mix flour and baking powder; set aside. Beat butter in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until creamy. Gradually add sugar and 1 pkg. of the dry gelatin, beating until light and fluffy.

Add egg and vanilla; mix well. Gradually add flour mixture, beating until well blended after each addition. Shape dough into 1 inch balls. Place cookies 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets. Flatten with bottom of clean glass.

Sprinkle lightly with remaining pkg. of dry gelatin. Bake 8-10 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Remove from baking sheets to wire racks. Cool completely. Store in covered container at room temperature. Makes about 5 dozen cookies.

That Special Yearning

Ever have the nagging feeling that you have something in your life that you are supposed to do or be?

I've always had that feeling, then I found that I am supposed to be an owner of a diner, cafe or catering truck. Now, that dream is still a few years off, but I know it is to be. The thrill I get when I see an old fashioned cafe or diner, the way I feel when I eat somewhere and think "I can do better than that".

I just yesterday watched a show on Foodtv about great Diners in the U.S. and that old feeling came flooding back. The "I can do that" and "I know I'd be great at that" feeling. The feeling that motivates me.

I often wonder if fellow life travelers have those same feelings? Those feelings of just knowing that you are "supposed" to do something special?

I know how nagging that feeling was for me, and how much it made me crazy until I figured out what it is I was supposed to be and until I started taking steps to get me to that place.

Now that I've identified that thing I'm supposed to be, it's not quite so bad having those feelings, especially knowing that I am working toward that goal.

Food to me, is not just nourishment, it's love, it's not enough to satisfy, I have to inspire the senses.

Now, I'm not a fancy-schmancy cook, I'm not all about presentation, though I am pretty good at that too, I am about the flavor and the comfort. The velvet smoothness of a good cheese sauce, the texture of the perfect meatloaf, the warm feeling of an exception chili or soup. The just the right ratio of mash to potatoes. That's what cooking is to me.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Today's Offerings

Today I made a chocolate mint cookie. I used a basic chocolate chip cookie recipe to which I added 2/3 cup of Ghiradelli cocoa, min extract and Ande's Candies Baking pieces. Easy peasy

This week has been hectic and full of drama. More on that later

Thursday, October 19, 2006

A quandary

As I was sitting on a bench in a local park, watching my 8 year olds team practicing soccer, I'm listening and occasionally participating in the conversations of 2 of the moms. They were discussing "teaching homosexuality" at school. Now, I was busy dealing with my 4 year old, who was meandering too close to the road and only caught bits and pieces. But the parts I did catch were disturbing.

Mom, number 1 who is an avowed conservative, says "Yeah, in California, they even make kids do homosexual role playing". Where the other mother, the avowed christian, says "Gosh, I hope they don't teach homosexuality here too". Mom #1 replies "Oh, I'm sure they do, but I don't think it's as bad as in California".

Within a few moments of this conversation I point out a young couple walking down the road, saying (being the smartass that I am) "Well, isn't that an attractive couple?". To which Mom #1 replied "God, look at the wiggers". I had absolutely no comment I could make that wouldn't start an argument in front of little kids, so I pretended I didn't hear it. My reasoning for pointing out the young couple was one of purely cosmetic issues, they were sloppily dressed and none too clean. I'm a snob about stuff like that, but her's was of a totally racist and personal nature. I just didn't get it.

So, my quandary is now, how do I deal with mom#1. She's very bright and funny and edgy, but she's a total pig too. Mom #2 is a religious nut who doesn't know any better so I can kind of blow her silliness off. But Mom #1 is just a blatant bigot.

I'll be blogging regarding my issue with this woman and how I react to it over the next few weeks. It should be interesting.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Apple Pies

As I type this, in my oven is an apple/cranberry pie. We bought the last of the apples at our local stand. The stand is closed for the season now and that is rather depressing, no more fresh veggies.:(

Today I am also making an icebox type cookie, the recipe follows. It really is a very, very tasty and easy recipe. I originally got the recipe from a Southern Living cookbook, but have tweaked it a bit. I hope you enjoy

Cinnamon Pecan Icebox Cookies
1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/4 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup finely chopped pecans
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsps cinnamon

Cream butter gradually adding 3/4 cup sugar and brown sugar, beating well. Add egg and vanilla, beat well.

Combine flour baking powder, and salt, add to creamed mix, beating well. Stir in pecans. Cover and chill 2 hours

Shape into (2) 6" logs. Wrap in wax paper and freeze until firm.

Combine 1/4 cup sugar and cinnamon on a shallow plate. Unwrap frozen logs and roll in sugar.

Slice frozen dough into 1/4" thick slices, place on flat edged, cookie sheet and bake at 350 for 12 - 14 minutes. Cool on wire racks

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Why I don't feed my kids supermarket meat

I recently found this article in YahooNews and it was not news to me, but I added it to my reasons for not walking into Walmart and buy their meat.
FRIDAY, Oct. 13 (HealthDay News) -- Could a turkey sandwich or a bowl of chicken soup be hazardous to your health?

Poultry has that potential, according to research that suggests people who eat drug-treated poultry may be at increased risk of developing antibiotic resistance.

Still, the findings are preliminary and shouldn't make anyone stop eating chicken or turkey, the study's lead investigator said.

"We don't want to suggest to anyone that they should alter their diet based on this," said Dr. Edward Belongia, director of the Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation's Epidemiology Research Center in Wisconsin.

But federal regulators should consider the results as they make rules about the kinds of drugs given to poultry, the investigator added.

Now take that and imagine what they are feeding your kids in school lunches? Your children might even be ingesting this shit at home.

I was looking for a way to segue into the Whole Food, Organic aspect of my blog and I think I just found it.

If you don't find this sort of situation frightening, you are obviously not paying attention.

There are very simple ways to combat the feeding of your children (or even you)this sort of thing. Don't buy your meat at chain grocers (unless it's an organic or whole food chain). Find a local meat monger, get to know him, ask him about the source of his meat? is a good place to start and they sell to many chains and mom and pop stores. Their chicken, while a little smaller than your average SUPER market chicken, is so much more tasty.

The same with your veggies, know where they come from and in the summer months seek out local organic farmers. AND FOR CHRIST'S sake support them! They need you to survive and your bodies will thank you for not adding pesticides to his/her diet. And if you can't find Organic local buyers, at least buy local produce and ask them for a list of pesticides they use.

That is all for now, I shall be researching a good source for finding local, organic farmers and ranchers.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Gingerbread Biscotti

Number 2 cookie on my agenda today is a Gingerbread Biscotti. Biscotti is a twice baked cookie that sounds one heck of a lot more complicated than it is. There is relatively little clean up and people are overall impressed with the results. Again, I use as many organic products as I have available.

If I am short on the spices needed for this recipe, I just use 3 teaspoons Pumpkin Pie Spice in place of the other spices listed.

WARNING - this recipe will make your house smell like a bit of heaven.

Gingerbread Biscotti

1/4 cup butter
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/4 cup molasses
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup finely minced candied ginger (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large mixing bowl beat together butter and sugar until there are no lumps of sugar. Beat in the eggs, then blend in the molasses. Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. Blend until smooth. Fold in the almonds (and candied ginger if using). Divide the dough in half onto a lightly greased baking sheet. Spray your hands generously with nonstick spray (dough will be sticky) and form each half into a log about three or four inches wide and one inch high. Place them two inches apart. Bake dough for 35 to 40 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Lower oven temperature to 300 degrees F.

Cool logs for 10 minutes on the sheet, then transfer to a cutting board. With a serrated knife, cut each log into one-half-inch slices. Place the slices cut-side down on baking sheet and return to oven to toast. Remove after 10 minutes and flip all of the cookies over. Toast an additional 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.

Day One Cookie List

I woke up bright and early this morning and decided which two cookies were on the agenda for today. As I write this, the first batch of Chocolate Chip Cookies w/pecans have hit the oven rack. It was a basic Chocolate Chip cookie recipe that I used, the only difference being that I use mostly organic ingredients, that is...With the exception of eggs (my supplier was out of large). I sometimes switch out 1/2 cup of peanut butter for 1/2 of the butter and use peanuts instead of pecans. My kids really like this version. The other cookie for today is a Gingerbread Biscotti. One of my husband's favorites. I will be sharing that recipe with you. Oh well, gotta go pull the cookies out of the oven. I'll be back on soon with the Biscotti recipe

Well, spellcheck does not appear to be working this morning, so I'll try again with that later, bear with the spelling errors please!

Monday, October 09, 2006

Holiday Cookies

Tomorrow will be my official start day to holiday baking.

Every year I bake and send cookies to family and friends. Though I have found that in the last few years I've slacked off quite a bit due mostly to rising postal costs.

I have however, made a promise to myself this year to send cookies to at least my immediate family members. So few people anymore actually make a variety of cookies and I find that most people truly do appreciate the effort.

I usually start with the basics...Chocolate Chip, Chocolate Chip w/nuts, Oatmeal, Snickerdoodles and after the mood hits and my baking gene really kicks in I move on to more complicated and elegant cookies. I try to stick with ones that travel and freeze well.

I will keep this blog updated with the cookies I bake daily. And I do tend to bake and freeze at least 1 batch a day.

I look forward to sharing and to suggestions!