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Chicken Curry with Toasted Peanuts

Curried chicken and toasted peanuts
Image by alexis22578 via Flickr

I enjoy making too much rice. I really enjoy turning it into a Walnut-Cheddar loaf.

I don’t have anymore walnuts. It is proving more difficult to order than I think it should be. So, unsure of the peanut-lemon-onionnutritional yeastcheddar cheese combination – I brain stormed curry.

  • Heat pan.
  • Add a few tablespoons toasted sesame oil, heat oil.
  • Add 1/2 onion, chopped, and a few cloves of minced garlic.
  • When browned, add a tablespoon of a spicy curry powder.
  • After a minute or two, toss in 1/2 cup of unsalted peanuts, toast lightly.
  • Add (fresh or frozen) corn and peas (1/2 cup to 2 cups each).
  • Add 4 cups chopped (cooked) chicken (preferably from Taylor-Made Farms, previously roasted with lemon pepper and garlic).
  • Add leftover rice (minimum 2 cups).
  • Serve, and enjoy.
Exploring the Taylor-Made Farm field.
Image by alexis22578 via Flickr
Looking at a baby chick at the Taylor-Made Farm.
Image by alexis22578 via Flickr
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A Food Revolution

Food - 1
Image by alexis22578 via Flickr

The Organic Elite Surrenders To Monsanto: What Now? Now what indeed.

I have so many thoughts on this subject, it’s difficult to put into words. This is why I write (blog). To make sense of the senseless.

Bottled milk
Noris whole, organic milk, used in my hot cocoa made from my organic Dutch Process cocoa from Hummingbird Wholesale. Image by alexis22578 via Flickr

I co-coordinate a food buying club. (I do not run it on my own, that’d be VERY hard and time consuming. We do this TOGETHER because together, it works a lot better.) In my food buying club, I am in frequent contact with people who have similar food desires that I do. We want our food to come from someone we have met, or can meet. We want to know what goes into our food, so for us it means knowing what fertilizers are out there in the animal feed or plant feed or whatever. We want to know are farmers are more than getting by, and we want to know they are paying their employees surviving wages. We want to know how things are picked and who’s doing the picking. We want to know what temperature our milk is pasteurized.

Chicken Leftovers
Taylor-Made Farms chicken. These leftovers yielded more than 7 cups of shredded chicken! I know my farmer. Do you? Image by alexis22578 via Flickr

We want to know all about our food. Why? Because we want to know what’s going in our bodies. We are horrified when we learn about all the chemicals in breast milk. We are horrified about all the environmental cancers. We are horrified that people cannot get access to fresh water because it is being bottled in their backyards and sold back to them. We are horrified at this pathetic mess of industrialization that coops itself as food. It is not food. It is poison. And we want no part of it.

So, how do we get out of it?

Go local. Ask yourself now if Organic is more important than Local. The hierarchy should be, yes should be, LOCAL first. Why? Because you create food security and community. Food security lends itself to the local economy, while community overall helps us be less lonely and more connected to the things that matter.

Food nourishes. Food should nourish. Food is the center of our communities. Food holds us together. We can choose to live on pills, vitamins, protein bars, shakes (Thank you Aldous, our Brave New World is here), or we can enjoy ourselves. We can eat slowly, savor moments, tastes, and experiences. And, it doesn’t have to take a lot of time.

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Daily Post: My Childhood Idols

A Hero is Part Human, Part Supernatural
A Hero is Part Human, Part Supernatural.

Suggested Topic: Who did you idolize when you were a kid?

No one. I always thought it felt silly to idolize someone on T.V. I wasn’t into sports, so why would I have a sports hero? In a class assignment, once, I chose my Aunt because she pushed herself through school as an adult. I guess that answer still remains, but I still like the idea of no one.

The no-one idea was given more credibility when I was in my early twenties. I was working at a not-for-profit (aka, non-profit) Health Maintenance Organization (aka Medicaid HMO) in Michigan. It would be considered a medium sized non-profit since there was over 50 employees. I smoked at the time, so I always got my federally-okay-ed breaks. Had to get my nic fix in. There was one gal who would often go outside for breaks, but not smoke. We’ll call her Suzette. Suzette was a saucy middle-aged woman who’s husband worked for another non-profit. My brain is telling me Red Cross, but it was more like a local Food Bank. His job was to pick up near-expiring produce from the local grocery stores.They were both very active, involved, citizens.

Suzette and I would regularly chat about family, life, work. One day, she told me how her eldest daughter got into trouble at school because she didn’t do a homework assignment to the teachers liking. The assignment was to pick a hero and write about the hero. Her daughter, who was maybe 15, picked herself. Suzette explained that her daughter wrote a very thoughtful essay on why idolizing others was silly and she’d rather look to herself to build herself up. The way it was explained, I thought it was fantastic. I find it ironic that our society, which sometimes claims Christian Morality – a tenant being there should be no idols (before God) – asks its youngsters to routinely identify and praise other idols! And here, this spunky teenager said NO and defended her claim – but she was chastised and punished for it.

Okay, so, whatever, learning curve for the kid. But, in answer to this question. The only hero I claimed as a child was my Aunt because someone born after me was able to articulate better why I don’t believe in idols. We all have good things we can bring to the table, so instead of idolizing one another, why don’t we simply learn from one another?

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Surprised

Levi & Peter admiring the view.
Image by alexis22578 via Flickr

“We have a problem,” stated my husband.

“We do? Besides not budgeting correctly?” I questioned.

“Besides that.”

“What’s our problem?”

“Our babysitters have all moved.”

“You’re right,” I replied.

We counted off, two recently-made close friends (united through food and similarliy aged children who get along really well) moved this year, and the babysitter Levi was born with has long since married and moved.

But, why the sudden concern for a babysitter. It’s not as if we go out. Seriously. We don’t. We do things as a family. Not because I don’t want to go out, but the act of going out requires two willing parties, not just one. The other party often changes his mind at the last minute so that I frankly get tired of suggesting it. I find other things to do, with Levi, or by myself. I get tired of talking about it. Pondering about it. Figuring it out. Fixing it. I’ve more or less accepted it, even with twinges of hurt, frustration, anger. One of (the many) reasons I volunteer. I’d rather we do these things together, but repeat (lack of) interest on the second party.

We have not had a honeymoon. (Funds, pregnancy, and school didn’t really allow, but we’ve never made room for one either.) We have never celebrated an anniversary – alone. Sure we’ve had a few movie dates, but it’s been so long I can’t even remember when that was.

We do things as a family. So, maybe that’s just what our family does – things together. If I want a night out, it often means I go out alone.

So, we finish off the babysitter conversation. I question why we need a babysitter. In a silly, roundabout way, we land on my upcoming birthday (one month from today (the day of this writing, not the posting!) the 25th of February).

My husband wants to go out, with me, alone, on my birthday?

Oh the fantasies.

What about Italian?

He suggested a somewhat spendy fishhouse.

Could we? Will we?

Oh the dreams. Oh the pleasant surprises.

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Allergies, Asthma & Your Immune System

Farm Shot
My brother, his daughter, and The Farm. Image by alexis22578 via Flickr

It was the year 2000. I was chatting with my favorite professor (or soon to be) after the MSU class. We did this occasionally. Since, I love idea swapping and learning all that I can, and my friend enjoyed sharing all the various things he knows, it was a good combination. We’d go to Crunchy’s. He’d have 2 or 3 beers. I’d struggle with one and a half. We’d talk all sorts of ponderings and meanderings in modern philosophy. Utah Phillips, Politics, the length of a cold, extra education from the class I took. The recurring themes: religion, environment, and how it all meshes with politics.

These conversations had a large influence on what I believe or choose to believe of religion and how I justify my understanding of it and especially the words within. These conversations also helped shape or give ideas and momentum to my environmental passions.

One of these conversations centered, albeit briefly, on the difference between allergy and asthma in city kids compared to kids who live in the country. Six or seven years later, I wrote about it for one of my final Sustainable Urban Development classes. The idea that we are building up our immune system by subjecting ourselves to “untidy” animals was and is fascinating to me.

My mother grew up with nine other siblings. They lived on a 160 acre farm (80 acres on one side of the highway, 80 on another) with their parents, my grandparents. My grandfather worked at the Munising Paper Mill (until he retired), planted and sold potatoes “on the side”, and my grandmother tended the garden (although she hated it) all the while my grandfather was at work. Their garden preserved the family through winter with most essentials. My grandmother made 16 loaves of bread weekly. They milked their own cows and pasteurized the milk on the counter. They’d make their own butter, slaughter their own meat, preserve their own food. They farmed. One year, they shelled so many beans not only was the kitchen sink full but so was the claw-foot bathtub. There was always an assortment of cows, dogs, cats, and pigs. Less common in my growing up years were horses, poultry, and rabbits. All said, this is The Farm. The Farm is what I consider home.

When I was in fifth grade, I started to itch and loose my breath around cats. I had been 3 years away from my constant Home. Although we didn’t live with my grandparents, we were there nearly every weekend until we moved downstate when I was in 2nd grade. Someone told me along the way that body chemistry can change (dramatically) every 7 years. So, the question, always on my brain, was how can my limited farm experience lend itself to moderate to severe cat allergies. Now, this past summer (of 2010), I was tested for allergies. The doctor did a scratch test of over 40 common allergens to the Pacific Northwest and the Midwest. I scored a significant reaction on more than half. I have year-round allergies.

So, again, the question begs: what’s the connection? How much of an affect to our sanitized cities have on our reaction to the environment? Am I just an allergic person, written into my DNA? I always thought I came from stout, healthy people – but now I’m not so sure. I have two considerable immune issues that require constant handling. I think that’s fairly significant, even if I’m not overtly bothered on a daily basis.

I think I need a couple of more beers at Crunchy’s washed down with one of their burgers and my friend to ponder this one out.

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ICF v. Cob

Dogon cob houses in Mali.
Image via Wikipedia

This will be a sort of series describing the differences between ICF construction and Cob(b) construction. When I started my new job, I quipped the basic difference between my husband and me is that he’s ICF and I’m Cob housing. My husband likes to insist that when we build our dream house it should be ICF, especially if it lines up next to some State Game Area somewhere. I have many sustainable desires, and I want our dream house to be formed from the (local) ground in a thoughtful, heat tolerant (slow to cool and slow to heat) manner.

One of the gal’s I now work with, a gal on our Sustainability Team, is building an ICF house as her dream house.

Maybe it’s not as bad as I thought.

November 23, 2001, Tulsa , OK (Disaster Ally i...
November 23, 2001, Tulsa , OK (Disaster Ally in the Eastland Mall) -- A safe room wall section is shown here. The insulated concrete form is cut away to show reinforcing steel. The cavity is filled with concrete. Photo by Kent Baxter/ FEMA News Photo. Image via Wikipedia

So, I’m going to explore it in this series. The goal is to examine differences in a post at some regularity, weekly or monthly, the difference between ICF and Cob(b) to come up with at least guidelines I’m comfortable with or arguments why ICF won’t work. That is, I’m either going to convince myself it’s sustainable or have a list of cons why we shouldn’t pursue this form of building when we get to the time build our dream house.

You’ll be able to find these posts in the menu under “ICF v. Cob” and through the many sustainability tags.

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Sad Dinner Demise

Sometimes I goof on dinner. It makes me sad. Maybe it shouldn’t, but it does. I know it can’t be awesome all the time. My husband is a great testament to that, he eats everything I put before him, but he certainly doesn’t rave about certain combinations I may concoct like others with differing palates have. Previous roommates suffered through bread-makinglearning and soup explorations, so I know I have learned some things and have a lot to learn in others. But, quiche, I thought I had down.

Not tonight.

Tonight, I think they look beautiful, but the flavor was lacking. My broccoli quiche could have benefited from a little more cheese, or having the cheese more incorporated into the egg. I have dubbed the 2nd quiche a “Breakfast Quiche”, but it was supposed to be a corn-bacon quiche with leftover sausage links. It can’t be perfect all the time! And, these mistakes do help me remember the importance of something as simple as stirring and corn.

[flickrslideshow acct_name=”alexis22578″ id=”72157625365463825″]

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Computers

Tux, the Linux penguin
Image via Wikipedia

One of my first jobs was at Michigan State University in the computer labs. Working as a Lab Monitor Service Provider. I was eventually promoted to a Lead Lab Service tech-person. I have many years experience in a multi-platform computer lab. Yea. I have Windows, Mac, Unix, and now Linux experience. Yippee. (Snood was made for Macs, originally, and free, and lots of fun.)

Now, we live in a Linux household. This is my doing. This is my choice and my direction. One which my husband acquiesces too with the disclaimer that he wouldn’t do so if it wasn’t for his “Tech Tweety Beans (that’s me).”

A friend recently asked me to help her put Windows XP back on her 5 year old laptop. She didn’t like Ubuntu 10.4, Lucid Lynx, too much of a learning curve from MS Office 2007 down to Open Office 3.2, I presume. Granted, it is different, but I prefer it because of the Windows headaches, and I find the learning curve easy and made easier with the benefits of Linux (integrated note system, the icons, the Gnome panels, the true plug and play nature of it all).

So, she wants to go back to Windows, creature of habit, I get it. I don’t have time right now for Ubuntu lessons (teaching), so let’s get her up and running. We took Duke and Nuked her machine, wiping it clean. Did the Windows install, and she left to finish up on her own.

The Drivers. This was Reason #1 why I switched. She couldn’t get all the drivers to load. She got some, she found some Internet connection somehow, but her wireless wasn’t working, so she asked for more help. I was reminded, full force, why I switched. Neither of us enjoy the “you must buy new to get it working” mentality our computer society operates under. The motherboard we are currently using was built in 2001. We have our own hardware mistakes, but at least our computer runs.

So, my friend brings over her laptop, and we plug it in. We were able to upgrade the various drivers, and it recognized her wireless, finally. So, we tried it out. For some reason, when it came to her wireless connection (my friend is two doors down), it wouldn’t let any alpha entering of a password, only numeric. My wireless connection worked, so we weren’t really sure what the problem was. So, I asked if she didn’t mind if I started over. She agreed.

So, I took Duke’s Boot & Nuke and erased her hard-drive again (the original erasure to Ubuntu was to attempt to correct a virus on the her hard-drive). Installed Windows, and went to do a few updates before I updated the drivers. Windows circumvented: the first drive that needed to be updated was for the Ethernet. So, I go to my Ubuntu PC to Dell’s page to download her drivers manually. (She doesn’t have the recovery CD.)

Dell said I needed to be on a Windows machine. No joke. I could add things to the queue, but I could not even download individually.

So, I logged in remotely to work. And, I began the process.

While on lunch at work, when I finally got there, there were still problems with Dell’s queue and the Windows XP machine! I was able to get most of her drivers, hoping they were the correct ones since – of course – the names didn’t even match! I couldn’t load the ISO, and I couldn’t get the ISO to save correctly on my Dropbox, so I opted for loading it all on my jump drive.

I get home, I plug my jump drive into her laptop, and do you know how many times it asked me to restart her computer? No less than 10. I am not even kidding.

I go through all that, get the Ethernet working, etc, and then have a brainstorm. Maybe the Wireless software only wants a numeric passcode (as it is written), so this alpha-numeric thing really won’t work. We try it through the phone, two doors down. It works to a point and quits. I attribute it to the distance. But, when she tries it at home: still no go.

So, Ubuntu worked, but Netflix did not. She can’t get into OpenOffice (and how can I really encourage it when they have their own problems with Sun and the split to LibreOffice?).

What’s a girl to do? I suggest she call Qwest since it is a Qwest modem. That will likely have to wait until Monday. But if that doesn’t work? My friend will likely find herself trying to buy a Mac. That’s right, no more Windows. Why? Because of problems like these.

  • I broke the drink holder.
  • It won’t give back my credit card.
  • It won’t turn on (monitor, printer, computer).
  • It erased my document (replaced by new Doc2).
  • Some favorites from the “Top Ten Things a Tech Person Hears.”

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Fiction: Future

Front page of The New York Times July 29, 1914...
Image via Wikipedia

Note: The second writing tip in this top ten suggests writing different styles. I’ve got a pretty good groove with my daily ponderings, but I always get fiction bits floating through my head. So, why not start something? Nothing says I have to finish, but starting is something. (I have started various fictions in various forms over the years (none really finished), but let’s let this start be a part of the challenge.)

The alarm went off. Billy rubbed his eyes. Morning wake up, always difficult. What happened to the days when he was a morning person? Where did they go? He could see the sun peeking through the break in the curtain. He sat up, half way, propped on his elbows, taking the daily-morning assessment of the room. The cat, Henry, had slept on the bed again. His glasses were still by the night stand. He reached over, plucked them on his face, and took a sip of water. Looking up, the alarm screen showed it was forecasted for 68 and sunny with a light breeze, 5-10mph. A nice day. Some old-school Classic Rock (Cheap Trick), was getting louder, reminding him he needed to wake.

Rolling off the covers, he threw his feet over the edge of the bed, stretching out the last remnants of sleep. Tucking his feet into his red, corduroy slippers, he started to plan his day. There was an early coffee with the volunteer captain, a mid-morning meeting with Councilman Skinner, lunch with the Dean of Environmental Education, and an afternoon in the office. Given the forecast, the office might have to be by the waterfront today.

One last stretch, and Billy waved off the alarm screen. He could hear the coffee peculating, on schedule. Stepping into the bathroom, he set his shower for 101 degrees, pondering how far water-on-demand, or InstaH2O, has come. At 4 minutes, 30 seconds, the pressure started to wane, warning Billy his time is about up.

Over breakfast, Billy caught up on the days’ news, browsing through various news-sources. The Guardian, Washington Post, New York Times, Globe & Mail, and various Asian reports. He still preferred his news screen to be embedded in the glass of his dining table, whereas many he knew simply opted for the standing kinetic screens. The markets were down, again. The Dow hit another record low, this time 15,000. He couldn’t believe it was 35,000 just five years ago. Although there hasn’t been another housing crash like the one in ’08 (banking regulations continue to get more stringent), the encroaching desert in much of the world has put markets in a tail spin.

Billy was excited to chat with Mark, his top volunteer-captain. Mark had great ideas on steering the education-stewardship piece of policy. This would serve as a good primer for his meeting with Councilman Skinner who, despite all the things Billy’s group has done, still has resistance to volunteer-driven stewardship. Billy was looking for more secure funding in the Pre-K-to-clean-rivers programs where groups hosted 5  year olds to do litter clean up and native plantings. After all these years, even though stewardship was a common goal and no longer argued about, he was surprised it was still a struggle for policy makers to make the link. They were able to keep the desert back in so many areas with the stewardship approach, he often forgot it’s not a “no-brainer” to those saying how the money should be spent.

On the mag-train into the city center, Billy glanced over his next week’s appointments. Next week marked the 50th anniversary of the Amazon Burn. Sarah’s NGO had been a part of the organizing effort for his neighborhood. 20 years ago, A Swiss gentleman, founded the first world-wide event to summarize these world-wide atrocities in a day of education, so we could continue to learn from history instead of pretending it didn’t happen. Even though they haven’t been able to turn around the encroaching desert, there hadn’t been oil spill in 13 years. Coal mines closed down 17 years ago. And most countries had a variety of natural power sources.

Billy was glad he found his place in plants and volunteers. It was that ground-up fixing that motivated him, literally building strong roots. But he never ceased to be surprised at how far humanity had come in such a short amount of time.

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Music Appreciation

Cheap Trick
Cover of Cheap Trick

The Bear. Cheap Trick. “I want you to want me.” I have it turned up. Loud. Right? ‘Cause it’s Cheap Trick and a great sing-along-80s-car song even if I have a cold!

Levi says, “I don’t like it!”

I listen anyway.

The song is over, a new 80s song rolls in.

Levi says, “I don’t like it!”

So, I turn the station to 98.7 (one of a few new Country stations in PDX). He says, “I like this!”

My son loves country. My son hates 80s music. My son loves “Disco Duck.” My son hates 80s music.

What a sad day.

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