Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Paradox of Being Awesome

I work in a community theater.  This has lots of perks--dynamic people, an interesting field, literally every day is something new. 

And sometimes, right outside my office door, there is something really awesome going on:
That is literally the view from my office window last night--peeking out from between the slats of the blinds.  If that's not a good enough view for you and/or seems more "creepy voyeur" than "erstwhile employee just taking pictures like she was told to," try this one:

For real.

How do ya like them apples?

And his Quintet.  (And though I should not laugh about this, more than one person asked "How many musicians will there be?")

The performance was amazing.  Every single one of the five (FIVE!) musicians was simply extraordinary.

And while I will be the first to admit that I know close to nothing about trombones and only slightly more about Jazz, it is impossible to mistake the technical proficiency, range, and personality that shone through the music.  Marsalis and his band members created music that was by turns raucous, haunting, joyous, melancholy, and unmistakably funny--sometimes in the same number.

They were also *gracious,* and I do mean gracious, to a fault.  They chatted, signed autographs, and lingered.  Each time someone told them how marvelous the performance was, they responded as if it were the first time they had ever gotten a compliment.  Really?  Thank you!  That is so kind of you!

And it was then I knew we were really in the presence of Awesome.

Because here's the thing about the entertainment industry:  You meet a lot of performers.  Or rather, you meet their handlers or their lackeys or their groupies or their egos.  You meet their insecurities, their lack of basic good manners, and their psychological ticks.  You see a lot of lackluster performances.  Oftentimes, these two things--the lackluster and the bombastic--go hand-in-hand.

And yet here we were, thrilled to host an internationally acclaimed act in our intimate little 48-seat venue.  And they behaved and played as if it were the Royal Albert Hall.  They behaved as if they were grateful to us for the opportunity to play in our venue, and we (Lord, I hope this translated) were absolutely awash in gratitude that they were there.

Of course, they could have been demanding or arrogant or difficult, and we still would have been thrilled to host such great musicians.

But they weren't.  They were just...gracious and funny and kind and utterly virtuosic.

That the mark, I think, of greatness--whether it's great talent or power or whatever.  It's being so confident in your own competence that you let your performance speak for itself.  It's being gracious and kind and generous with your time and talent, treating each performance or audience or individual as if they are worthy of you.

So I wanted to thank Delfeayo Marsalis and his Quintet for that--for their greatness, in every sense.

But instead I babbled incoherently about what an awesome show it was and offered them bottled waters and then slipped back to the merch table to score this:

A little awesome for the road.

Monday, June 4, 2012

My Week In Nature. And Kids.

I was hanging my clothes out on the line and found this:

In one of those quirky fits of charm, one of my daughters had apparently picked a blossom from the pineapple guava tree and hung it on the clothesline.

As if could get any cooler, the next day, closer inspection revealed this:

Perhaps the world's tiniest praying mantis.  If only my cell phone camera had better resolution.

But you'll probably wish I had forgone the cell phone camera altogether when you see what my dog brought me:
Dinner!  AKA, one freshly dispatched pocket gopher.  Pocket still full of grass seeds.  Why are they always so wet when she brings them to me?  I have to admit recoiling a bit from the gift, but then my older daughter chided me, "Mom, you have to remember that in Kona's real family, this would have been like the awesomest thing ever."  Point.  So I made Kona a deal: She gave me the gopher; I gave her a treat.  Good dog.

Thank goodness she was so busy with the gophers that she missed this:
A Western Fence Lizard.  Found by my younger daughter.  In her bedroom.  On the floor.  Under a pair of jeans.  Whereupon it darted under her dresser.  Whereupon we declared Capture.  Fortunately, he was lethargic from hanging out in her cool, dark, and laundry-infested room, so after a few brief chases, he was spent.  I scooped him up and put him outside in the sun where, like a good little ectotherm, he perked right up.

Today, we took a little field trip to the Safari Park.  Afterward, we stopped by the farmstand on the corner, where they have the best Mexican candies--dulces de calabaza, camote, and coco.  Yummers.  I got cash out at the Park just to buy some.

Only they didn't have any candy today.  Instead, they had this:
A baby...crow?  Which had fallen from its nest in the palm tree.  A little boy was carrying it around, until he got tired of it and left it, chirping piteously, on a table.  I tried very hard not to freak out about it.  I had just finished reading - today! - Codependent No More: How to Stop Controlling Others and Start Caring for Yourself.

Remember, I told myself.  You didn't cause it.  You can't cure it.

But my girls hadn't read that book, and when it came time to leave, Andrea blurted, "Isn't there anything we can do???  That little bird is just going to die!"

Then the world went black, and the next thing I know, I'm driving back to Temecula while my girls coo over the baby crow starling in the backseat, feeding it half-masticated strawberries and chicken tenders and keeping it warm by cuddling it in my now-guano-covered jacket.

Flashforward  a couple of hours, some frantic googling, the resultant bowlful of improvised "corvid hatchling food," and--at long and glorious last--a phone call to a beautiful woman whose house it just so happened was both near mine and a satellite center for Project Wildlife, and the little invasive species baby bird had a new home.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

First Aid at Knott's Berry Farm

Sunday was our first Knott's Berry Farm trip of 2012.  I greeted it the way I do every trip to KBF—with a mixture of panic-induced diarrhea and anticipatory nausea.  See, I don’t really dig most of the rides, and that alone makes me feel like (to quote King Julian) “a giant pansy.”  I used to looooooooooooove rides, especially roller coasters, but now…  I basically spend the entire time praying for a quick and painless death as an alternative to the grisly end that surely awaits me if I try my luck on the Silver Bullet one more time. 

(If you listen closely, you can still hear me screaming obscenities.)

Plus, the entire place is kind of sticky and loud and, well, last time I got to explain to my daughters what was meant by a young woman’s rather tight-fitting T-Shirt that said: 

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Tostones and Other Debacles

I learned to make tostones from a Puerto Rican abuelita who would probably shake her head in dismay if she could see the mess I just made:

But there’s something about learning how to cook “ethnic” food from people who actually are said ethnicity, and it goes like this:  They lie.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Dear Beautiful Girl

Dear beautiful girl,
We were sitting in the hot tub, you, your mom, and I…You and your mom (one of my best friends) were arguing in that awful, heartbreaking, essential way unique to a woman and her adolescent daughter, or an adolescent woman and her mother.
I could see each of your points so clearly: your mother’s quite reasonable fear regarding your inexperience in handling all of the crazy slings and arrows that life--or more specifically, certain people that you hang out with--will undoubtedly throw your way.  And your completely reasonable indignation at your mother habitually, insistently, overlooking all of the good decisions you have made so far in the face of those slings and arrows.
And I wanted so badly to connect those two skew lines, to pull them into some common plane where they might intersect, that I started telling you stories.
Stories of my own life, of my own stupid mistakes, of the catastrophes I so narrowly avoided (by talent, divine intervention, or dumb luck) that looking back on them now gives me retroactive gray hair.
Because, like you, I was a good kid.  I was a “straight edge,” as you called it.  Like you, I was smart and talented and funny and kind and had already survived so much crap that—like you—I imagined I had earned a pass, or at least a shield, against the rest of it.
I was wrong.
And so I told you about the time I had unprotected sex with a virtual stranger.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

I Void Warranties: The Roomba Edition

Yes, I have a Roomba.  Yes, I am embarrassed to admit this.  And yes, I get that being forced to face one’s own incompetencies in order to restore a non-operational Roomba to working order is a First-World Problem.

Monday, April 9, 2012

98 Pounds of Courage: My grandmother, remembered.

My grandmother was courageous.
I lost sight of that fact too often.
It was easy to do, especially when she was pushing more food in front of me (despite my protests) or sneakily shoving a $20 bill into my pocket (despite my protests) or telling me about her latest malady (I wish I could have protested).
She was a tiny woman, barely up to my shoulder by the time I was 12.  She was a little crazy, prone to hypochondria, and a hoarder before there was a show about it.
The first time she met my ex-husband, she gripped his hand in her gnarled, arthritic fingers and stage-whispered to him, “My urine was dark as coffee today.”  He married me anyway.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Afghans and Other Sources of Warmth

I am a knitter.  Those of you who knit, or have some corollary obsession, might relate to what I’m about to write.

I have a friend.  A good friend.  He lived here for quite a while.  While he was here, we spent a lot of time together.  We went jogging (with him egging me on, because I am more of a “whiney limper” than a “runner”).  He made my kids potato tacos and apple salad and some amazing concoction of mango, chiles, and lime juice.  (And he gave one of them the aforementioned Piscivorous Turtle of Longevity).  He was a core part of my salsa-dancing group, shielding me from dancing with whatever random lecherous guy might have taken a shine to me and valiantly, if ultimately unsuccessfully, trying to teach me to cumbia.  He explained to me--with that perspective that only comes from having lived one's whole life somewhere much, much, less pleasant than the U.S.--why southern California traffic is simply not worth stressing out.  Or using bad language.  He was, in short, an integral part of the fabric of my day-to-day life.

And then, rather abruptly, he was not.

When it became apparent to me that I quite literally might not ever see him again, I did the only thing I could think to do:  I knit.

I had an idea for a blanket.  A blanket that would keep him warm, a blanket he could snuggle up in with his son, a blanket I could fill with warmth and color and good wishes.

I made it out of leaves, long chains of leaves, in every color a leaf might be, from “nature’s first green is gold” to “boughs which shake against the cold.”  I arranged the chains so they pointed in both directions—coming and going, beginning and ending and beginning anew.

I knit as meditation.  I knit as prayer.  Each stitch, a memory, a wish, a thanksgiving.

Eventually, I finished it:

Technical knitting specs, for those of you so inclined:
Needles: US 10
Yarn: Traveller, DK-weight 100% superwash wool.  280 yards/4 oz.  Available from Cephalopod Yarns, Verdant Gryphon, and Dragonfly Fibers.  17 skeins, yarn held double. Cascade 220 would be a fine replacement. 
Gauge: One leaf, blocked: 8” long x 4” average width

The pattern is available for sale through Ravelry—you do not have to be a member of Ravelry to purchase it.  Through the month of April, I will be donating $1 from every sale to Cruz Roja Mexicana, the Mexican chapter of the Red Cross.

Friday, March 16, 2012

New Parenting Strategy: Give 'Em Something to REALLY Rebel Against

The adolescent is doing her homework.
Cruel and unusual homework, involving being forced to read books of questionable entertainment value, and math that she is never going to use, and history that is totally irrelevant.
I try to be sympathetic.  I remember what it was like to feel like you were squandering your precious youth slogging away under the dictatorship of institutionalized education.
But then it starts.  The Tirade: “I hate school!  And I hate homework! And this is stupid! And I hate reading!”

Friday, March 9, 2012

To Celebrate Women's Day, Beyonce Covers Breast with Baby

Singer Beyonce’s breasts are once again causing commotion.  While she and husband Jay-Z were dining at New York's Saint Ambrose Cafe and Espresso Bar in the West Village, the no-longer-single-lady incited a near-riot among the city’s famously conservative and discreet residents by exposing less of her breast than she has in most of her music videos while engaging in the protected-by-law action of public breastfeeding.  Coupled with the recent solar flare activity, the non-controversy sparked a firestorm of media attention.
Sharp-as-a-tack CBS-2’s reporter Kristine Johnson exposed the singer’s obvious faux pas: She didn’t “opt for the privacy of the bathroom.”

Monday, March 5, 2012

Whales and Other Buried Treasures

As I might have mentioned, I grew up in northeastern Ohio.  Not the best place for (among other things) whale watching.  The very thought of whale-watching seemed impossibly exotic to me.  I mean really.  Which is why it took me off-guard yesterday when I heard myself casually saying to someone who solicitously offered me a spot at the railing of a whale-watching boat, “Oh, don’t worry about me, I do this every chance I get.”
Have I become blasé?
Not really.  But…I do do this every chance I get, and I want everyone else to get a chance to do it, too.
I saw my first whale (outside of the confines of the Ohio Sea World) when I was 27 or so, and my older daughter was a baby.  It was my first Mother’s Day, and my husband had arranged for us to go whale watching.  We saw orcas, a huge matrilineal family of them, in their native habitat.  In a year clouded entirely by a post-partum depression so severe I wasn’t sure I would survive it, that one sun-lit day gave me hope.  (It also convinced me that I would never again patronize a Sea World.)

Friday, March 2, 2012

Recipe, uh, Whenever: Sardines. For real.

Yes, sardines.  Really.  I feel like I should say, “They’re not that bad!” but—truth be told—sardines are like many other foods—quite tasty when prepared properly, potentially emetic when not.  (If you doubt this, just think about canned peas versus fresh ones.)
Anyway.  I mention sardines not just because they’re an under-loved source of protein and Omega-3s.  Sardines are, as far as animal protein sources go, one of the most environmentally friendly choices around.  And they’re usually cheap.
You see, most ocean fisheries are being critically overharvested—many marine scientists now fear we are verging on the collapse of global fisheries.  For many Americans, this means little more than righteous indignation at the price of shrimp cocktail; for much of the developing world, this means disaster.
Wild-caught Pacific sardines make the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s “Super Green List,” which includes seafood choices that are low in both mercury and PCBs, high in Omega-3s, and sustainably harvested. (The Aquarium also produces handy, regional, downloadable “pocket guides” listing the best and worst seafood choices.)
So what do you do with sardines?  Try this easy, simple recipe to get started:
Faux Lox
For each serving, you’ll need:
½ bagel (go for whole-grain if you’re feeling all healthy)
1 T. cream cheese
1-2 smoked sardine filets
Thinly sliced red onion
Chopped fresh parsley
Lemon wedge
Salt & pepper

Toast the bagel. Spread the cheese.  Layer on the sardines.  Garnish.  Et voila! A high-protein, high-calcium, lots-of-random-minerals breakfast.  Just brush your teeth before you go about the rest of your day.  Just sayin’.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Recipe Wednesday: Fiesta Black Bean Salad

Fiesta Black Bean Salad
Colorful, tasty, high in fiber, protein, vitamins A & C...  This a great dish for so many reasons.  It’s healthy, delicious, and infinitely adaptable to whatever you have on hand—you could use other beans, or different veggies, or a different oil or a different acid.  It’s also infinitely adaptable in terms of how you serve it—cold on a bed of lettuce for a great hot-weather salad, or warm as a side dish, or in a big bowl with chips on the side (I guarantee that any vegetarians at your Superbowl party will love you if you have this on the table)…  You could fold this into a quesadilla, or layer it with shredded cheese, lettuce, salsa, guacamole and sour cream for a great party dish.  The possibilities are endless.

Monday, February 20, 2012

A Retrospective on Transitions

While I'm on vacation this week, I thought I'd pull one out of the archives.  The following blog post was from an old blog of mine, and a lifetime ago.  I was a military wife, an at-home mom, a marginal homesteader, an organic growing activist, and a freelance writer.  My kids were wee.  We were living in rural Connecticut, and I had recently learned we would be moving here, to southern California. 
I share this because sometimes, it's interesting to open time capsules.
Between Homes
Military wives know better than to plant perennials.

But I went ahead and did it anyway.

Friday, February 17, 2012

8 Ways to Maximize Your Energy + 2 Quasi-Recipes

I recently had the pleasure of teaching a six-week wellness workshop.  We talked about ways to maximize what I call “broad-spectrum wellness”—wellness that encompasses your mind, body, spirit, and interpersonal relationships—in order to achieve concrete goals.  Since achieving anything is so much more difficult when you’re feeling sluggish and foggy, I put together a list of quick energy boosters.  Enjoy! 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Recipe Wednesday: Chocolate-Filled French Toast with (or without) Strawberry Sauce

This is one of those delightful recipes that produces results waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay more impressive than the amount of work required.
French Toast:
For every two servings, you’ll need:
4 slices white bread, crusts trimmed
1 egg
2 T. milk
Splash of vanilla extract
2 oz. grated or chopped chocolate*
Oil or butter for cooking

Strawberry Sauce:
1 c. fresh strawberries
Sugar, honey, or agave syrup to taste
A squeeze of fresh orange juice (optional)

Heat a griddle over medium-high heat. 
In a bowl, beat the eggs, milk, and vanilla until well blended. Take two pieces of bread and place about 1 oz. chocolate between them, leaving a ¼” margin of chocolate-free bread around the edges.  Hold the two slices together and gently dip both sides of the “chocolate sandwich” into the egg.  (It will greatly reduce the mess you make if you do this right next to the griddle.)  Place the egg-dipped chocolate sandwich on the heated griddle and cook until golden brown on the first side (2-4 minutes), then gently turn over (“flip” implies too vigorous of a motion) and cook the second side until golden brown.
While the French toast is cooking, puree the strawberries and orange juice (if using) in a blender.  Taste and sweeten if necessary.
Dust the French toast with powdered sugar and serve the strawberry sauce on the side.

*The quality of the chocolate really matters here.  I use Trader Joe's Bittersweet and Milk chocolates that come in the huge bar.  (Helpful, I know.)  Then I break off chunks and chop them with a big chef's knife.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Really Hard Thing About Writing

Sometimes I think the hard thing about writing is coming up with ideas, but then I go for a walk or look around my kitchen or reflect on some random event in my life and suddenly, I have more ideas than time to write about them.  Sometimes I think it’s finding a way to express my opinions without offending people, specifically the people whose opinions I value even though they differ from mine.  And that is hard, but then I consult a thesaurus and do a little mental calculus and strike the best accord I can.
The really hard thing about writing is that I want to write about what matters most to me, and right now what matters most to me is being the best parent I can.  Writing about the challenges of parenting helps me to sort things out, and get perspective, and make connections I can’t make just by whining or obsessing or bitching to my friends.  I also like to think it might help, or at least amuse, some reader somewhere who is going through something similar.
But the people I am parenting don’t necessarily appreciate this.  Not yet, anyway.  I cling to the comforting illusion that someday, they might look back on what I’ve written and find the value, the tenderness, the love, or at least a little humor.
By all indications, however, that is going to take a while.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Goldfish and Other Abominations

We have goldfish.  It’s a long story.  It starts with a turtle, which is an even longer story, involving a dear friend of mine who, miraculously, is still a dear friend even after he gave my daughter a Red-Eared Slider for her birthday. 
A Red-Eared Slider is just what every parent wants for their child: a high-maintenance, emotionally unavailable pet that will outlive them.
After a few months of turtle ownership, I decided he needed a little enrichment.  A second turtle was out of the question, because it turns out you need at least two females for every one male, plus 10 gallons of tank space for every inch of shell length.  The turtle book recommended aquatic plants, but the he ate them faster than they could grow.  I consulted the book again.  Recommendation?  “Fast-swimming fish.”  Solution: “Feeder fish.”  At $.19/each, they were way cheaper than the aquatic plants.  And, as it turns out, less edible.  The turtle had no idea what to make of feeder fish, but dinner never occurred to him.  (Exhibit A in the case against releasing pet turtles into the wild.)  Which was a very good thing, since—despite my pre-fish introduction briefing to the children (“You do understand why they’re called ‘feeder fish,’ right?”), my younger daughter had formed an emotional bond with them before we even let them out of their pet store baggies.

Saturday, February 11, 2012


My older daughter’s school recently took a field trip to the Museum of Tolerance in LA.  When she brought home the permission slip, I almost didn’t want to sign it.  She’s a sensitive girl—the sort who has nightmares when she sees a scary movie—for example, Finding Nemo.  I can relate; I still shudder when I think of that barracuda (spoiler alert!) snapping up Nemo’s mom and siblings.
I’m not trying to shelter her from the horrors of the Holocaust, or the reality of hatred in the world today.  She’s read the diary of Anne Frank.  Twice.  We’ve talked—in oblique terms—about the situation in Darfur, and in not-so-oblique terms about the history of slavery and racism in the U.S.
But the Museum of Tolerance, I feared, would be a little too…real. I want her to learn, but I don’t want her to be scarred.  So I showed her the Museum’s website, and I talked a little about my concerns, and I left the decision up to her.  Ultimately, she decided to go.  Her friends were going, and if she didn’t go, she would have had to stay home (Oh!  The horror!) and do homework (salt, meet wound).

Friday, February 10, 2012

Recipe Friday? Salmon Hash

Where oh where did Wednesday go?  Or for that matter the first 1.5 months of 2012? 

OK—focus, Erica.  It’s a quick blog post for a quick dinner recipe:

Salmon Hash
(Serves…4? 6? Leftovers are good.)

Friday, February 3, 2012

...That Saved a Soul Like Me...

I'm not, by any means, religious.  And of all the means of religious I am not, Evangelical Christian is probably in the top three.  But I'll happily take wisdom wherever I find it, and I really, really, liked parts of this prayer from evangelical minister Scotty Smith.  I don't know anything about Mr. Smith--I haven't perused his blog beyond this one page, which I found via a friend of a friend's blog's know how it goes.  So I offer this with the disclaimer that he might very well stand for other things I would not in any way support.  But these few lines from his "Prayer for Gospel Parenting"? Pure gold. 

"Oh, the arrogant pride of thinking that by our 'good parenting' we can take credit for what you alone can graciously do in the lives of our children. Oh, the arrogant unbelief of assuming that by our 'bad parenting' we’ve forever limited what you’ll be able to accomplish in the future.
"Oh, the undue pressure our children must feel when we parent more out of fear than faith; more out of rules than relationship; more out of and pride than patience; more out of comparison than covenant; more out of threats than theology. Forgive us. Free us. Focus us...teach us how to care for them as humble stewards, not as anxious owners."
All I can add is a heartfelt Amen

Feminism Friday: Lilly Ledbetter's Legacy

If Lilly Ledbetter’s name sounds a little familiar, it may be because you have heard of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.  Ledbetter was a long-term employee of the Goodyear Tire Company who learned near the end of her employment that she was being paid significantly less than her male counterparts (and all of her counterparts were male).  
In Ledbetter’s words: “…after 19 years of service at a Goodyear factory, someone left an anonymous note in my mailbox listing the names and salaries of my male coworkers -- who I learned that day were making at least 20 percent more than I was, even though many had less education, less training, and fewer years on the job.”  She initiated a wage discrimination case under the Equal Opportunity Employment Act, and won in a lower court.  Goodyear appealed on the basis that the discrimination had happened outside of the 180-day statute of limitations.  Eventually, the case made its way to the Supreme Court, which ruled five to four in favor of Goodyear.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Thankful Thursdays: Tea, Technology, and Therapy.

1.       TEA. And also coffee, but mostly tea.  Tea is one of those too-rare rituals in my daily life that make me feel you, know, almost in control amidst the mountains of evidence to the contrary.  And I’m not talking “Control” in the big sense, like Destiny and Fate and Fortune.  I’m just talking about the piddly little things like, say, having children with free will.  And cars with flat tires.  And housework that never, ever, ever takes a break, even when you are sick or weary or whatever.  These are all things that I am ultimately grateful for in their own right (I have healthy children!  Who are growing into their own independent, willful people! I have a car! And a warranty on the tires!  I have a warm, safe house!  With lots of appliances!) but…But.  All of those things, while ultimately blessings, are also the sorts of things that have a way of going Not As I Planned, which makes a person feel, maybe, a smidge out of control.  So I wake up in the morning, and heat my water, and select a tea from my embarrassingly large stash, and brew a cup, and maybe add honey or milk or lemon, and…sigh.  Getting things under control, one cup at a time.  (Coffee is reserved for when no illusion of control will suffice, and I need to just muster the energy to muscle through it all.)  My current faves:

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Recipe Wednesday: Turkey Stroganoff. I think.

First, a confession: Despite being a major foodie and having a collection of (literally) hundreds of cookbooks amassed over the past 20 years, I really don't know what "Beef Stroganoff" is.  Or is supposed to be.  I know what it was when I was growing up: Dinner at least once a week. 

It consisted of ground beef (what didn’t?) and canned mushrooms and a creamy sauce.  We ate it on egg noodles (one of the very few foods I still really, truly, hate) or sometimes rice.  I don’t know if it was good.  It was quick and cheap and that is what counted.

Last night I had one of those dinner-planning meltdowns that results when you realize you have two pounds of ground turkey in the fridge that simply must go before it…goes and you think about making turkey burgers, so you can also use the fresh avocadoes, but you forgot buns, so then you think maybe you’ll make turkey chili and start browning the turkey with the chili powder and onions but then realize that you have no tomatoes, and then you find the burger buns, but the turkey is already crumbled, not pattied, and your daughter is begging to make biscuits, and you looooooooooooooooooove her buttermilk biscuits even though they are pure carbs and you are trying to lose weight and…

Am I the only one who has days like this?

Anyway.  Turkey Stroganoff.  Sort of.  It may not be authentic, but it is good.

Oil for cooking
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 large bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 lb. fresh mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 lbs. ground turkey
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 T. paprika
16 oz. sour cream
Salt and pepper

Heat the oil in a large pan.  Sautee the onions and pepper  until the onions are fragrant and just starting to brown.  Add the turkey, garlic, and paprika and cook, stirring often, until the turkey is almost completely cooked, then stir in the mushrooms*, and continue cooking until turkey is done.  Remove from heat and stir in sour cream.  Add salt and pepper to taste, but go heavy on the pepper.  Trust me on this.

Eat plain, or serve on toast, or biscuits, or rice, or even…egg noodles.

This makes a lot, and keeps well in the fridge, but be careful when re-heating or you will curdle the sour cream.

*Note(s): you want the mushrooms to release their liquid into the dish—you don’t want to drive off the moisture.  This is why we are waiting and adding the mushrooms after everything else has already been added. 

Also: Slice the vegetables in a food processor and you’ll be ready to go in seconds.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Dear Toshiba: About the Penis Detector…

Dear Toshiba,
Last week I wrote you a surly letter.  And my friend Dwija tweeted it to your PR department, and ToshibaEric more or less instantaneously posted a comment to the blog, offering to make sure my computer got fixed.
(Note to self: Must add “Small Miracles” tag to blog.  And to Dwija.)
To recap the problem, in case you have forgotten, my computer thinks it’s overheating.  It lets me know via urgent and frequent error messages, which begin approximately the moment I boot up, and continue with increasing frequency until I either turn the computer off in disgust or the fan kicks on, which seems to be a.) erratic, b.) later than the computer thinks is technically necessary, and c.) outside of my control.
Now.  True to ToshibaEric’s word, the following morning, a representative from Toshiba’s repair department right here in Irvine-by-God-California called me and offered to fix the computer.  (I would tell you his name, but he has sworn me to secrecy, lest he be inundated with requests from other bloggers to fix their computers, too.  Let’s just say that it was something simple, like Bob, and—unlike when I call your helpline—I actually believe that is his real name.)

Friday, January 27, 2012

Who's Afraid of the F-Word?

I recently overheard a snippet of conversation that went something like this: a young woman protested defensively, “Well, I’m not a feminist!” and the man she was talking to quickly said, “Oh, no, of course, not, I didn’t mean to imply you were a feminist.”
They might as well have said leper, or moron, or cripple, except all of those words would have had people leaping to their defense: How dare you use the word “leper” like that?  Have you no respect for the millions of people suffering from leprosy?
So let me go on record in defense of the word feminist.  I am a feminist.  I am married, have been an at-home mother for over a decade, and make the best chocolate chip cookies you will ever eat.  I coo over babies, wear short skirts, and fret over my wrinkles and weight slightly more than I think is becoming for a person who likes to think of herself as “deep.”  I shave my legs and wear a bra on most days.  When I dance, I let the man lead.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Thankful Thursdays

Thankful Thursdays
1.)    I’m thankful for southern California weather.  Totally low-hanging fruit in the gratitude department, I know, but the fact that yesterday I went lap swimming in the out-of-doors in January without risking hypothermia just makes me feel all…

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Dear Toshiba: I hope you get worms.

Dear Toshiba:
Slightly over a year ago, after exhaustive research and financial hand-wringing, I bought a new laptop from you.  The date is important, so let’s note it was November 24, 2010.
Slightly less than six months later, my new laptop started sending me unexpected messages. 

Several things about these messages got my attention, not the least of which was the use of the word “Immediately” and the imperative that I “return it for service”!  I am a long-time Microsoft user, more out of habit than choice, so you understand that I am used to being able to resolve most of my computer problems by a.) rebooting or b.) downgrading to an earlier and less buggy version of the software.

Monday, January 23, 2012

When Fortune Turns Its Frown Upside Down

There is a famous Buddhist parable that goes like this*:
One morning, an old man finds a horse wandering around his yard.  He takes the horse into his pasture, and his neighbors say, “What great fortune!” but the old man just replies, “We’ll see.”
His only son goes out to train the horse, but the horse throws his son and breaks the young man’s leg.
The neighbors say, “What great misfortune!” and again the old man says, “We’ll see…”

Friday, January 20, 2012

No One Expects the Adolescent Inquisition!

My older daughter, now an adolescent, likes to run credibility sorties on me.
“Mom!” she shouts as I enter the kitchen one morning.  “Do you know why evolution cannot be a FACT?”
Still bleary-eyed, I was hoping for something more on the order of “Do you know where the whole-wheat bread is?”

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Recipe Wednesday: Curried Chicken Salad

Curried Chicken Salad
Full of lean protein, fresh veggies, Omega-3’s, and Indian spices.  What’s not to love?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Book Shelf: The Year of Living Biblically

I recently read a blog post entitled "What do Catholics have against birth control, anyway?" (How I got to this blog is a bit of a wander, as are most accidental destinations on the internet.  It started with a link in the comments section of my friend Dwija's blog, House Unseen.)

Spoiler alert: the quick answer is "a lot," and the author of the blog is Catholic.  I attended Catholic schools (and mass) from 4th grade through college, so I wasn't anticipating much in the "surprise" category.

But then she did something I didn't expect, which was invoke not only the famous (or infamous, depending on your POV) imperative to "be fruitful and multiply," (as an aside: the second part of that imperative is “fill the earth and subdue it,” a commandment it’s pretty safe to say we’ve kept in spades.  Earth subdued? Check. Perhaps it’s time to stop before we’ve destroyed it.) but also the story of Onan.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Recipe Wednesday: Jade Hummus

Jade Hummus
This is hummus with an Asian flair.  It is delicious and a gorgeous light green—perfect with chips for a party, or on bits of pita or interesting crackers as an hors d’oeuvre.  Makes an amazing base for a vegetarian sandwich.  The amount of each ingredient is not critical—rather, go by your taste and adjust the flavorings as you see fit.  

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Recipe Wednesday: Addictive Edamame

Whole edamame, cooked in the pod, and soaked in a salty-spicy-sweet Asian-inspired marinade.  This makes an excellent, can’t-stop-eating-these snack or appetizer.  Have napkins on hand; the marinade gets all over your fingers.