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1. Make some jasmine rice with saffron and butter.

2. Make some spinach. Saute half an onion in bacon fat until it's very soft and brown. While that's sauteing, in a separate pan, roast some pine nuts - when they're done set them aside. Add some raisins and chili powder to the onions. Add a bunch of spinach to the raisins and onions. Wilt the spinach. Add the pine nuts and some salt and pepper.

3. Broil whatever fish the fish guy says looks good today with parsley, capers, and butter until it's just done.

4. Stack 'em and sprinkle with lemon juice, salt, and pepper.
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However, I'm excited about two things.

1. Persephone Books "prints mainly neglected fiction and non-fiction by women, for women and about women."

2. I've been making cookies every day for the past three. Here's the recipe for the batch I made today.

Ginger Molasses Cookies, from The Village Baker's Wife

Melt 3/4 C butter. Add it to 1 C sugar, 1 egg, 1/4 molasses, and 1 t vanilla.

Combine 2 t baking soda, 2 C flour, 1/2 t ground cloves, 1 t ground ginger, and 2 t cinnamon with a good pinch of salt. Add this to the molasses mixture. Refrigerate the whole thing for fifteen minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375 and add 1/4 sugar (I used confectioner's) to a shallow bowl. Pinch off bits of the dough, roll them into balls, and roll the balls in the sugar. The village baker's wife says one can get 50 cookies from this recipe, but I got exactly 16, so your mileage may vary depending on how large you like your cookies.

Bake for 8-10 minutes.

I made chocolate cookies yesterday, and oatmeal raisin the day before. These spice cookies are my favorite yet. Yum.
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She calls Chicago, but no one
is home. The operator asks
for another number but still
no one answers. Together
they try twenty-one numbers,
and at each no one is ever home.
"Can I call Baltimore?" she asks.
She can, but she knows no one
in Baltimore, no one in
St Louis, Boston, Washington.
She imagines herself standing
before the glass wall high
over Lake Shore Drive, the cars
below fanning into the city.
East she can see all the way
to Gary and the great gray clouds
of exhaustion rolling over
the lake where her vision ends.
This is where her brother lives.
At such height there's nothing,
no birds, no growing, no noise.
She leans her sweating forehead
against the cold glass, shudders,
and puts down the receiver.
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I post this primarily because if I can improvise a curry, anybody can. I don't know how this worked out so tastily.

Take some pre-cooked rice (a mix of brown is what I had). Combine it with some coconut milk and put it in the oven to warm.

On the stovetop, saute an onion in olive oil until the onion begins to brown. Add garlic and then some curry paste to taste. Add the rest of the can of coconut milk. Fill the can 2/3 with water, and add that to the pan along with one bouillion cube. Add freshly grated ginger, and some dried curry leaves.* Add one potato, cut into sticks, as well as any leftover spinach and arugula you might have.** Add about a cup of raw squash, also cut into sticks. Add some lemon juice to taste. Cover and let simmer until the potato and squash are tender. Adjust the seasonings if/as necessary, and serve over the warmed rice.

* I do a lot of east-Indian-influenced cooking, hence having dried curry leaves on hand. You can leave them out and if it's handy, add cilantro instead.

** I have potluck dinners at my place every week. Sometimes, attendees cook their contributions in my kitchen and leave behind leftover ingredients. This week I had the spinach, arugula, and squash in the fridge after potluck.
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1. Public speeches
2. Letters of opposition or support
7. Slogans, caricatures, and symbols
9. Leaflets, pamphlets, and books
10. Newspapers and journals
14. Mock awards
15. Group lobbying
16. Picketing
20. Prayer and worship
22. Protest disrobings
25. Displays of portraits
30. Rude gestures
31. "Haunting" officials
35. Humorous skits and pranks
36. Performances of plays and music
37. Singing
39. Parades
41. Pilgrimages
42. Motorcades
43. Political mourning
45. Demonstrative funerals
47. Assemblies of protest or support
50. Teach-ins
51. Walk-outs
52. Silence
53. Renouncing honors
55. Social boycott
57. Lysistratic nonaction
62. Student strike
63. Social disobedience
65. Stay-at-home
66. Total personal noncooperation
68. Sanctuary
73. Policy of austerity
78. Workmen's boycott
79. Producers' boycott
80. Suppliers' and handlers' boycott
81. Traders' boycott
85. Merchants' "general strike"
88. Refusal to pay debts or interest
89. Severance of funds and credit
97. Protest strike
98. Quickie walkout (lightning strike)
99. Peasant strike
100. Farm Workers' strike
101. Refusal of impressed labor
102. Prisoners' strike
103. Craft strike
107. Sympathetic strike
110. Slowdown strike
111. Working-to-rule strike
112. Reporting "sick" (sick-in)
118. Hartal
119. Economic shutdown
121. Refusal of public support
122. Literature and speeches advocating resistance
129. Refusal of assistance to enforcement agents
131. Refusal to accept appointed officials
133. Reluctant and slow compliance
136. Disguised disobedience
138. Sitdown
143. Blocking of lines of command and information
144. Stalling and obstruction
147. Deliberate inefficiency and selective noncooperation by enforcement agents
149. Quasi-legal evasions and delays
150. Noncooperation by constituent governmental units
152. Delay and cancellation of diplomatic events
156. Refusal of membership in international bodies
157. Expulsion from international organizations
160. Reverse trial
161. Nonviolent harassment
162. Sit-in
163. Stand-in
164. Ride-in
165. Wade-in
166. Mill-in
167. Pray-in
178. Guerrilla theater
179. Alternative social institutions
180. Alternative communication system
182. Stay-in strike
188. Dumping
192. Alternative economic institutions
193. Overloading of administrative systems
196. Civil disobedience of "neutral" laws
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George Packer on Lagos the MegacityRead more... )
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I was a late comer to caffeine, which is maybe why I still can't have tea past noon if I expect to be able to sleep later that night. That said, I had tea while preparing cioppino on xmas eve, which explains why I was up at 5 am on xmas morning, trying to figure out how to entertain myself while also not waking up my small child. I decided the best thing to do was make blintzes.

Early Morning Xmas Blintzes*

1. First, make the filling. Drop the contents of a bag of frozen blueberries into a small pot set over medium heat. While that begins to heat, peel and dice an apple or two and add that to the blueberries. Cook for several minutes (maybe ten?) and then add a T of lemon juice.

2. Combine 3 T flour, 3 T sugar, and a good dose of cinnamon, and then sprinkle that on the fruit. Add some almond extract. Stir pretty constantly until the apples are soft and the filling has thickened, which should mean about 10 minutes.

3. Set the fruit aside to cool and make the blintz batter. Blintz batter is crazy difficult to make. You have to combine 3 eggs, 1 1/3 C soymilk, 2 T melted butter, 3/4 C flour, and a big pinch of salt, and then you have to - oh, wait. Nothing. That's all you do.

4. Cook the blintzes. Here's what I did: I heated a cast iron tortilla pan over medium-low heat. I sprayed it verrrrrry lightly with organic, overpriced, butter-flavored canola oil. I dropped about 1/4 C of blintz batter onto the hot pan in the way I've seen the crepe makers do it. I let the very thin pancake cook until it began to curl up on its edges.

5. After each blintz is cooked, add about a tablespoon of your fruit filling and wrap/roll it up. Arrange them on a plate and sprinkle with powdered sugar. They can be served (apparently) any time within the next four hours or so, and they make a particularly good accompaniment to homemade espresso drinks and present-opening.

*Adapted/stolen from The Enchanted Broccoli Forest by Mollie Katzen
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The story goes there was a Provincetown chef (in the 70s, maybe?) who kicked ass, whose restaurant kicked ass, who did all the parties. This cioppino is a version of his cioppino passed down to me by a friend who still misses the east coast, sometimes. I don't miss it a bit, so I'm glad this cioppino has been transplanted like we have.

G's Holiday Cioppino

1. Go to your local fish market. I went to Fisherman's Terminal. When the funny, cute fisherman asks, "Who can I help?" push to the front if possible, because this shopping for fish business is going to take awhile. You're going to need ~6 pounds of fish. Tell the cute fisherman you're making cioppino and then use the following ideas along with his advice to determine exactly what kinds and quantities of fish to get.

1.5# white fish
1# shrimp
1# bay scallops
1# squid
12-15 mussels
12-15 clams
jar o' oysters

While you're there, pick up some fish stock. I used shellfish stock, which turned out to be a really, really, really good idea.

2. Tear yourself away from the cute fisherman and go home. Heat 3/4 C olive oil in a large soup pot. Add as many kinds of onion as you can think of. I added:

1 onion, chopped
1 bunch green onions, chopped
2 leeks, chopped
1 large shallot, chopped
about 7 T garlic, chopped

3. Saute until soft. Add 2 C chopped mushrooms and a heaping cup of parsley.

4. When the mushrooms are cooked, add the spices, to taste: hot Hungarian or Spanish paprika; fresh basil; dried oregano; dried chili in some form; a bay leaf or two. Saute a bit longer, then add a large can of tomatoes and a tiny handful of sugar and cook for at least a half hour.

5. While the tomato yumminess is cooking, prepare the fish. Set the clams in salty water so they spit out their salt. Run the mussels under cold water and pull their beards off. (Poor mussels!) Steam the prepared clams and mussels in 2 C white wine. Peel the shrimp. Chop up the white fish and the squid.

6. When the tomato yumminess is nicely cooked, add the fish stock (4-6 cups, depending on your taste and the consistency you're going for and the amount of fish you ended up with) and add the wine you used to steam the clams and mussels. Bring to a simmer.

7. Add the fish, in the following order: white fish, prawns, scallops, oysters, squid. Add the clams and the mussels in their shells. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cook for maybe ten minutes.

8. Add more parsley, as much as you like. Serve super hot with huge crusty bread.
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1. Saute a chopped onion in some olive oil.*

2. Once the onion's soft and maybe even just beginning to brown, add three chopped carrots and as much freshly grated ginger as sounds good, up to a generous tablespoon. Add a good bit of salt and some pepper, and then let everything saute together for five minutes or so.

3. Add 3 C water. Simmer until the carrots are very soft.

4. Stir in 3 C apple juice. I had no apple juice, so I pureed some especially tasty apples with a bit of water in one of those mini Cuisinart choppers. Worked just fine.

5. Blend** the soup until smooth. Grate fresh nutmeg*** over the top, and serve with warm homemade bread topped with arguably too much butter.

* This recipe stolen/adapted from the Moosewood Restaurant Daily Special Cookbook.
** I really need to get a good immersion blender. The mini chopper is only so helpful.
*** This was my first time with freshly grated nutmeg and wow it's good.
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Time waster or idea generator - you make the call.


Dec. 6th, 2006 12:40 pm
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1. E: What's a foreigner?
M: It's someone who comes from somewhere else.
E: You're a foreigner! You come from Connecticut!

2. "Until we can understand the assumptions in which we are drenched we cannot know ourselves." --Adrienne Rich

3. Drastically paraphrased from HG Gadamer and J Risser: Living language is transformative. Poetry can create a "hold upon nearness" because it is always turning back to language, that mother tongue that mediates between the familiar and the foreign. Because the poet is always leaving in search of understanding, she is always "exiled from self-understanding." One who has no roots is always wandering, and one who wanders is errant, astray. HGG says we can't understand unless we're errant. Derrida said maybe it is only foreigners who are guileless enough to ask the real questions.

4. John Logan: "Poetry is an anonymous reaching out."

"...Everything is as I left it.
Dinner simmers on the stove.
Glass bowls wait to be filled
with gold broth. Springs of parsley
on the cutting board.
I want to smell this rich soup, the air
around me going dark, as stars press
their simple shapes into the sky.
I want to stay on the back porch
while the world tilts
toward sleep, until what I love
misses me, and calls me in."

--from Dorianne Laux's "On the Back Porch"
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I can think of nothing witty to say. Here's video of US troops seeing how far Iraqi children will run for a bottle of water. It's disgusting.


Nov. 20th, 2006 08:11 pm
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Years ago when I lived two floors up, a young and absurdly beautiful couple lived in the apartment I live in now. On my way down to the laundry room one evening, I think it was in winter, I noticed a sign on their apartment door. It said, "Please don't worry about the noise - we're having a baby!" They delivered a baby boy somewhere in this apartment that night. The next day I left a loaf of homemade bread outside the apartment door with a note of congratulations.

After the early hibernation days, the new mama came around to thank me for the bread. "It was all I wanted to eat for days," she said. Since then, this bread that's my every day bread also feels like just the right thing to bring when a baby's born. M and K's baby was born this morning, which means I'll be bringing them a loaf of this bread (now rising) tomorrow.

Plain Old Everyday Happy Mother Bread

Proof 2 packages of yeast in 1/4 C very warm water in a very large bowl. Then add 2 more C very warm water, 3 C flour*, 1/3 C honey, 1/4 oil, and 1 T salt and combine. Make sure your hands are clean, because next you'll have one hand in your container of flour and one in your bowl of dough. If you're right-handed like me, add flour (usually somewhere around 3 C) with your left hand and combine with your right until the dough is kneadable. When it's kneadable, remove it from the bowl and knead for at least ten minutes. You will probably get tired and probably want to stop, but buck up and keep going until the dough is honestly and really smooth and makes a nice solid thwack when you flick it with your finger.

Scrape your mixing bowl clean with your hands and drizzle it with some oil. Drop your dough in and then flip it over. Leave it somewhere warm for about an hour, until it doubles. After it's doubled, punch it down and divide it in two. To make the loaves, here's what you'll do with each half:

1. Flatten it into a rectangle that's somewhere in the vicinity of 1/3 of an inch thick and wider than it is tall.
2. Fold this rectangle in thirds to make a little book/folder sort of arrangement.
3. Roll the book up from top to bottom (or bottom to top), pinching and flattening as you go to make sure your roll is even.

Some people say to pinch the ends, but I never bother. Place your loaves into greased loaf pans and set them somewhere warm to rise again. Let them rise until they are nearly the size you want them to be when they're all baked and done - they will rise a bit in the oven, but not too much.

When they're ready, take a sharp, serrated knife and score the tops of the bread however you'd like. Rub some sort of milk product evenly over the top of the bread. (Somebody ought to get me a pastry brush for xmas so I can stop using my fingers.) Bake in a 350 degree oven until they're done - figure on about 40-45 minutes.**

* I buy unbleached white flour and soft wheat flour in bulk and combine them in a container at home. This is the flour I use for nearly everything.

** If you can resist cutting the bread right out of the oven, do. Sometimes I can, sometimes I can't.


Nov. 11th, 2006 01:56 pm
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I rarely cook pasta but this is super delish. It's adapted from the Moosewood Daily Special cookbook.

1. Slice an onion up thin, then saute it in olive oil with a bunch of garlic. After a few minutes, add a bunch of minced ginger, the grated peel of one orange, a lot of cumin, a little coriander, some turmeric, cinnamon, cayenne, and salt. Add a good dollop of lemon juice and squeeze the juice from the orange in, too. Simmer for ten minutes, then set it aside.

2. Blanch some broccoli, say about a cup and a half. When it's time, scoop the broccoli out of the water with a slotted spoon and set it aside. Add 1-2 T of panchphoran and 8 oz. fettucine to your still-boiling broccoli water. Cook the fettucine 'til it's done, then mix it up with the onions.

3. Cook some more garlic in a little olive oil over medium heat. Add some scallops and cook the scallops 'til they're just barely cooked - about 3 minutes. Add the scallops to the pasta.

4. Get your broccoli and add it to the pasta along with a roughly chopped tomato. S & P as necessary.

It makes for goooooooood leftovers.
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16 February, 1820

Dear Lady Georgiana,

... Nobody has suffered more from low spirits than I have done - so I feel for you. 1st. Live as well as you dare. 2nd. Go into the shower-bath with a small quantity of water at a temperature low enough to give you a slight sensation of cold, 75 or 80 degrees. 3rd. Amusing books. 4th. Short views of human life - not further than dinner or tea. 5th. Be as busy as you can. 6th. See as much as you can of those friends who respect and like you. 7th. And of those acquantances who amuse you. 8th. Make no secret of low spirits to your friends, but talk of them freely - they are always worse for dignified concealment. 9th. Attend to the effects tea and coffee produce upon you. 10th. Compare your lot with that of other people. 11th. Don't expect too much from human life - a sorry business at the best. 12th. Avoid peotry, dramatic representations (except comedy), music, serious novels, melancholy sentimental people, and everything likely to excite feeling or emotion not ending in active benevolence. 13th. Do good, and endeavour to please everybody of every degree. 14th. Be as much as you can in the open air without fatigue. 15th. Make the room where you commonly sit, gay and pleasant. 16th. Struggle by little and little against idleness. 17th. Don't be too severe upon yourself, or underrate yourself, but do yourself justice. 18th. Keep good blazing fires. 19th. Be firm and constant in the exercise of rational religion. 20th. Believe me, dear Lady Georgiana,

Very truly yours,
Sydney Smith
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Preheat the oven to 375. Take one golden nugget squash (how did I live before Google Image Search?) and whack it several times with a knife. Put it into a baking dish with an inch or so of water, and bake until a fork goes through the (thick) skin and reaches very soft flesh.

Let it cool a bit. Heat some olive oil in a small pot. Add half a chopped onion. Add cumin, coriander, cinnamon, chili powder, a dried chili, paprika, turmeric, salt, and pepper. Add the flesh from the pumpkin once the onion is cooked, and then stir a few times. Add 2-3 C broth. Use your fabulous new immersion blender to puree the soup. Add about 1/2 C soymilk, and adjust the seasonings to taste.

It tastes good right then. It tastes even better after it's simmered an hour or two.
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This isn't difficult, but you do need to expect several steps. I was just about to get to that cranky-is-this-over-yet phase when I slid it in the oven. Someone who has eaten several of my best dinners ever pronounced this dish my very best dinner ever. I'm not sure I'd go that far, but it is really good. It's adapted from the Seattle Times Best Recipes of 2003.

Chili 'n Biscuits

1. Bake a small sugar pumpkin. I cut mine in half and put it in a baking dish with some water. I baked it at about 375 until it was done.

2. Cook about a pound of spicy sausage. When it's cooked and cooled, slice it up and set aside until the end of step 3.

3. Saute an onion, a red pepper, a green pepper, a jalapeno, and some garlic in a good dose of olive oil. Once everything is soft and even beginning to brown, add cumin, chili powder, and oregano to taste. Stir to blend, and then add about a pound of skinless, boneless chicken. Stir to coat the chicken. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add the juice from one large can of tomatoes. Simmer until the tomato juice is reduced, then add the tomatoes from the can. Cover and simmer for a half hour. Add the sausage and one can of black beans and one can of red beans. Cover and simmer for twenty minutes.

4. While the chili's simmering, preheat the oven to 375.

5. While the chili's simmering and the oven is preheating, make the biscuits. Combine 2 C flour with 1 T sugar, 2 t baking soda, 1 t baking powder, some ground black pepper, and a small handful of salt. Blend in 6 T unsalted butter. Add 1/2 C sharp cheddar cheese, and 1 C of pulp from your sugar pumpkin. Add up to 1/2 C buttermilk - just enough to make a workable dough. Knead the dough a handful of times, then pat to a half inch thick. Cut biscuits into an eye-pleasing shape. (My guests thought the different sizes of stars I had on there were fabulous.)

6. Place the biscuits onto the chili and put it in the oven for about a half hour. Check under the biscuits to make sure they're done before you remove it from the oven. Let it sit for several minutes before serving.
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Homemade chicken soup (spicy-cumin style) with homemade biscuits.

Homemade blancmange with homemade blueberry zucchini muffins for dessert.

Total effort = approximately 3 hours. Total satisfaction = immeasurable.

I'm gonna go knit some socks or something, just to further impress myself.
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