Friday, October 31, 2008

Let The Sugar Flow

OK, today is Halloween, which is all fun and stuff but it marks the official start of Candy Season.

Lets look:

Hallow2een....bag o'sugar! Lot's O Crap enters many households, and lets think about how that advances our intentions of family, fun, fitness. Or not.
Just saying.

November...Thanksgiving...chocolate turkeys (in addition to tons of other stuff). Stuff it.
December...Christmas.. Candy Canes, does anyone ever eat these things? In addition to tons of other stuff that comes our way. It is expected, we face overabundance, we overeat, we over-consume, that's the deal. Let's just know what we are facing. again, or not. looks like a chill month, maybe we all do cleanse stuff.
February.....Uh Oh, heads up. Valentine's Day. Even if we don't have a honey bun, buy pink stuff to move money around.
March.....17th, green! Luck o' the Irish and all that, in your Target isle. No one really is sure what the connection is between St Patrick's day and green stuff, bagels, beer and cheer but we do it. year after year. cheers.
April....Easter! what's that, colorful eggs? cool.
Can we just end the plastic, foil-wrapped sense o' celebration. It really is a Hallmark situation and we can all just have fun without the packaged representation of holidays, festivities, life.
Just saying.
please weigh in.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Art Smart

One thing we should not ignore, as the election draws near, is where the candidates rank the arts. Recognizing the importance of art in education is becoming increasingly important. Research tells us that children exposed early, and often to the arts fare better in tests, careers and life. But as our nation's economy reels, will we see funds for art programs shelved?
Good thing Americans for the Arts Action Fund, a bipartisan arts advocacy group, is asking. In their ArtsVote report, they found that while Republican Sen. John McCain issued a brief statement, vaguely saying "arts education can play a role in nurturing the creativity of expression" the Obama statement was long and strong.
In addition to a history of voting for the arts throughout his political career, he stated, "To remain competitive in the global economy, America needs to reinvigorate the kind of creativity and innovation that has made this country great. To do so, we must nourish our children’s creative skills. In addition to giving our children the science and math skills they need to compete in the new global context, we should also encourage the ability to think creatively that comes from a meaningful arts education."
He gets it. A meaningful arts education.
Neuroscientists get it. Training in the arts improves cognition.
Teachers get it. Students who participate in the arts have higher test scores and lower drop-out rates.
Corporate leaders get it. Terry Semel, past chairman of Warner Bros., said, "Art is central to a civilized society. Kids who create don't destroy."
Thinker/writer, Daniel Pink notes that we are at the end of a binary-only thinking era. Students who can think imaginatively, creatively, or "outside the box" will become the most attractive workers for global corporations. Arts education prepares young minds for non-linear thinking.
As the oft-quoted Elizabeth Murfee writes in her 1995, Making a Case for Culture, "Drawing helps writing. Song and poetry make facts memorable. Drama makes history more vivid and real. Creative movement makes processes understandable."
Socially, arts have proven to be an effective outreach tool to engage youth. Self esteem, cooperation, resilience improves when students have been exposed to the arts.
And lastly, what of the joy and wonder the arts offer the mind and spirit? Arts play a key role in the education of a child.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Squeeze Em

Around here we try to keep colds at bay early and often. The usual supplies, Kleenex, disinfectant soap are already stockpiled.
But we love our juice!
We buy bags of oranges and grapefruit, whatever is priced well. Our trusty electric juicer sits out on the counter, locked and loaded at all times. We have a Braun, super simple, super strong but there are lots of models out there. Look for the fewest parts possible to make clean-up a snap.
This one appliance is invaluable for instant, fresh Vitamin C in a glass. Mix and match. Try a glass of "blood" oranges, with a tad of pink grapefruit. Or naval orange/Texas Rio Star grapefruit. It all works.
And sometimes we squeeze a few lemons into a glass, add ginger and honey for my Dad's famous Decoction. He turns eighty-seven tomorrow so obviously the stuff works!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Weaker Week

Gads, must every Friday feel like the world "out there" is getting worse? Two weeks ago, things seemed to hit new lows but as we edge into the cold and darkness of Fall, we fall further.
  • Recession's going global.
  • Tent cities are growing.
  • Madonna's getting divorced.
  • Turns out we have been given placebos by our doctors.
  • Those Somali pirates still hold the Ukraine crew hostage.
So to take the edge off, I give you a fun toy to play with
The Idee Multicolor Search Lab
Deceptively addictive. Harmless. Arty.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Lets Play......Caption This

OK, let's take a break from recipes and get out of the kitchen. It's time to play

Caption This

From today's New York Times,
headline reads
Greenspan Concedes Error in Regulatory View

Doug Mills/The New York Times

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Fall Foods, Hokkaido Squash Jam

Yes, jam! I discovered this exotic yummy substance last year. My family enjoyed several Tupperware vats of it before burning out.
The Hokkaido squash, also known as Red Kuri, is a bright crimson plant from the Cucurbitaceae family. Really high in Vitamins A, B, C, D and E, amino acids, unsaturated fatty acids, starch, natural sugars and carotene. Storage actually increases the vitamin and sugar content.
The flavor and texture reminds people of chestnut puree (yum!). In fact, its French name, Potimarron is a blend of the words potiron (pumpkin) and marron (chestnut). Try this jam to extend the Fall Harvest.

  • 1 one-pound Hokkaido Squash
  • 1/2 cups sugar or honey
  • 2 tbsp. Powdered Vanilla
  • 10 oz. Chopped fruit, either fresh apples or pears, or dried (soaked 24 hours) such as raisins, apricots, etc.

Halve the squash and bake, flat side down on oiled cookie pan in oven set at 350 for about 30 minutes, or until a knife pierces the flesh easily. When done, let cool, then scoop seeds out, remove flesh from skin and place in a pot over a very low heat with sweetener, diced fruit and vanilla.

Mash up mixture with back of wooden spoon and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring often.

Scoop jam into jars* and add a cinnamon stick or three.

Enjoy over the next few weeks as a spread on buttered grainy toast, stirred into yogurt or just baby (comfort) food.

*Join me later this week as we explore the world of Tupperware, and other forms of food storage.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Fall Foods, Red Lentil Curry with Coconut

So many people asked for this recipe after I made it for a pot luck, it is cozy and easy. Good for you too.

Red Lentils

1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
several tablespoons finely chopped peeled fresh ginger
a head of garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon salt
1 (2 1/2-inch) fresh jalapeƱo or serrano chile, finely chopped, include seeds for added fire
2 cups vegetable broth
1 1/2 cups dried red lentils (10 oz)
1 (13- to 14-oz) can unsweetened coconut milk
1 lb carrots, diced
1 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro sprigs

Cook onion in oil in a 3 1/2- to 4-quart heavy pot over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until soft.
Add ginger and garlic and cook, stirring, 1 minute.
Add cumin, coriander, turmeric, salt, and chile and cook, stirring, 1 minute.

Stir in broth, lentils, and coconut milk, then simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes. Stir in carrots and simmer, covered, until lentils and carrots are tender, about 30 minutes. Season with salt and serve over basmati rice with cilantro sprigs scattered on top.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Fall Foods, Brussels Sprouts with Carrots

As evenings are getting cooler, we are enjoying cozy foods. I made this dish last night and it was a hit, people dug in heartily for seconds. That's how I know.

Brussels Sprouts/Carrots

1 large chopped shallot
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 lb carrots, cut diagonally into 1/2-inch-thick pieces
1 lb Brussels sprouts, stemmed, halved lengthwise
1/3 cup vegetable broth
1 tablespoon vinegar (any kind, I used red wine)

Saute the shallot in 2 of the 3 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet, stirring occasionally until soft.
Add the veggies and a dose of salt and pepper, cook, stirring occasionally until they start to brown.
Add broth, lower heat and cover, for about ten minutes.
Add vinegar, more salt and pepper to taste, and last bit 'o butter.

Yum. Rich and hearty. Bon appetite.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Focus on Fall

Sad but true, with the shift towards Autumn, the days are shorter, the nights are colder. But this is part of that circle of life that they sang about in The Lion King.

Brigitte Mars, herbalist, author and raw chef gives some tips for ushering in the new season.

Q. Brigitte, what does Autumn mean to you?

A. Autumn is a season that begins a more feminine cycle of nature. It is a time of darkness, as we approach the stillness of winter.

Q. What does this mean on a practical level?

A. It’s a time to get our lives in order, to complete old business, give back anything borrowed, collect anything we might have lent out,. We need our tools back. Our focus turns inward, we are with our homes, our minds, our bodies. It’s preparing for a time of reading, meditation, writing, time to experience the dark corners of nature and ourselves.

Q. How do we ready our physical selves?

A. In Asian medicine, this time corresponds to metal elements, lungs, large intestines, skin. It is a time to practice deep breathing, takes walks and air ourselves out to prevent colds and lung infections.

Q. What should we eat?

A. Foods to enjoy are heavier, winter squash, pumpkin, Hokkaido squash, carrots, dark orange vegetables, all high in beta carotene which helps the mucus membranes resist infection. It is also a good time to eat more roots, turnips, rutabaga, burdock, beets, to bring warmth and get rooted. Don’t forget leafy greens like kale and chard, spinach which help the body to utilize oxygen. It is a time of planning for winter meals, preserve now the abundance of fall harvest. Dehydrate pears and apples. In Asian cuisine, one tastes many pungent offerings now, ginger, rosemary, garlic, onions, and cayenne. It warms the insides. Also, bring in more seeds and nuts to the diet.

I'll be posting recipes this week, feel free to share any of your own.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Wigged Out

I wasn't blessed with a girl. I got two boys and we didn't "keep trying" for a girl.
We all know families with half a dozen of one gender of offspring. Maybe they kept trying.
And yes, they are full of love, perhaps a tad imbalanced, there might be an overwhelmed parent somewhere in the household.
For me, two kids was enough.
I was born with two hands. One each for holding, feeding, disciplining, caressing, changing diapers. Each child got one hand. Made sense to us.
But as a former dancer, boy did I want a girl. If I had a girl, we could dance, and dress up, and play and stuff. Didn't happen.
Until now. I've got a niece! And she is too cute and turning three and I get to play with her and spoil her and read to her and we are good friends.
She seems to be safely transitioning out of an alarming Clara (Nutcracker girl) phase. It seemed long and obsessive. She would sharply correct anyone who addressed her by the name on her birth certificate. "I am Clara!"
And her parents had to act out the other roles, primarily the part where the younger brother, Fritz, breaks her new toy in Act I. To the sad music. Granted, she did just get a new brother, and maybe she was "working stuff out" but maintaining that role for four months, that's a major fraction one's life if they are two-and-a-half. We were kind of worried.
But not anymore. Now, she is Ariel. The Little Mermaid, Ariel. And we sing the song......aaah, ah ah aaaah, and her far away look probably means something other than new sibling stealing toys. Good.
Now for her third birthday, she wants long orange/red hair. Like Ariel. Wavy. Long.
In the world of dance, we would bring in an artiste to create the look in mind, a costumer, a designer, you work together, discuss, play the music, money changes hands, and opening night is fabulous.
But here and now, we simply have the Internet and FedX. One could Google costumes and details and get all sorts of options. All fire retardant, some sleazy. But she wants to be Ariel. And it's my job to deliver. View the option.
I am truly challenged.
Comments welcome.

Friday, October 10, 2008


Crazy days!

~The home page of The New York Times site simply updates the the graph throughout the day. They know what we want. "Show me the money!"

~Hundreds of absentee ballots were sent out in upstate NY misspelling the Democratic presidential candidate's last name, an unfortunate mistake, one hopes. One little letter, one big bad!

~A Japanese tavern now employs two Macaques monkeys to serve drinks and hot towels to customers. The owner, Mr. Otsuka " admits they’re better than his real son at the job."

~Crazy days! Gotta keep laughing, so I give you this.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Insolvency......The Ice Breaker

Insolvency, the inability to pay one's debts, is the new black. We never used to talk about these things, especially with our aging parents, but things seem to have changed. Mass fear, confusion,we are all in this together. I found myself on the phone with my eighty-four-year-old Dad, talking about money.

"Are you guys ok?"
"Your Mother are I are going to be fine."
Sage elder has seen this before.
"Is this like last time?" I ask.
"You mean the Depression? Hard to say. I was only nine, but I had a friend, his dad jumped out the window."
"Wow, no one is jumping yet, maybe things aren't as bad."
"We'll see, kiddo. For now, we're not sure where to put our money."
The proverbial mattress doesn't seem like a bad bet these days.
I also heard gold, but we hear lots of things.
The good news (Pollyanna complex?) through this whole mess is that look who's talking, about money. And look again, I just got a funny email from Dad. About money.

The New Stock Market Terms

CEO Chief Embezzlement Officer.

CFO Corporate Fraud Officer.

BULL MARKET A random market movement causing an investor to
mistake himself for a financial genius.

BEAR MARKET A 6 to 18 month period when the kids get no
allowance, the wife gets no jewelry, and the husband gets no sex.

VALUE INVESTING The art of buying low and selling lower.

P/E RATIO The percentage of investors wetting their
pants as the market keeps crashing.

BROKER What my broker has made me.

STANDARD & POOR Your life in a nutshell.

STOCK ANALYST The Idiot who just downgraded your stock.

STOCK SPLIT When your ex-wife and her lawyer split your assets
equally between themselves.

FINANCIAL PLANNER A guy whose phone has been disconnected.

MARKET CORRECTION The day after you buy stocks.

CASH FLOW The movement your money makes as it
disappears down the toilet.

YAHOO What you yell after selling it to some poor sucker
for $240 per share.

WINDOWS What you jump out of when you're the sucker who
bought Yahoo
@ $240 per share.

INSTITUTIONAL INVESTOR Past year investor who's now locked up in a

PROFIT An archaic word no longer in use.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


Michelle swept through town today, rallying college students, people, anyone who hasn't yet registered, (this Monday is the final deadline), and urged relatives, friends, dorm mates, sorority sisters, grandmas, (Sarah Silverman uses grandchild love as currency, yay!) to register, to confirm that one is registered to vote, voting location, mail option, let's set it up right this time.
Michelle was resplendent in a crimson jacket that sung in harmony with her backdrop, a scree of mountains, a US flag, CU Italianate structures, blue sky above flecked with white clouds, a visual reminder that perfect is what we are working for.
"It's a perfect day, it's a perfect setting, it's a perfect crowd, in a perfect month, in a perfect year to elect a perfect president, Barack Obama," she said near the start of her 25-minute speech. "I know in my heart, as I watched this man over the last year and a half, I know in my soul that he will be an extraordinary president."
The near 10,000 crowd ate it up.
They also were stirred by her reminder that working people are hardy souls. Muscle and mind, we are in for a calling to arms, not the kind on the Fitness Channel on TV. This is the real thing.
"Let's start working, because we're going to need you," Michelle Obama said. "We're going to need your prayers, we're going to need your work, we're going to need to you to pray, we're going to need you to work and then after you've worked, pray a little more. And then, after you finished praying, then keep working."
Tired yet?
She also reminded the audience of the humble origins of herself and her mate.
Who knew that Barack and Michelle were still paying off college loans until recently?
"When you don't have the money to pay for your college, you take out these loans, and you come out so mired in debt, As Barack and I did... We just paid off our student loans ... and that's only because Barack wrote two best-selling books."
Yes, we have heard about these, let's all buy a copy.
And support the guy. OK? I can do perfect. Can you?