No More Empty Fortune Cookies!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Buh-Bye Prop 8 and DOMA!

photo from

I know, I know.
I've consciously moved away from writing about politics, for the most part, but today is entirely too momentous to ignore. The Supreme Court of the United States has struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, which defined marriage as between one man and one woman. They have deemed that the federal government can not deny marriage benefits and marriage status to same sex couples who are legally married. This means if you went to DC and got married during that big rally, if you are like The Wifester and I and went to another country and got legally married, if you live in a state that allows same sex marriage and you got legally married there, the government will now recognize you as married! You can file joint tax returns. You can collect your partner's pension and social security when they pass. You can both adopt a child together rather than one person adopting and claiming to be a single parent adopter. You can now have access to the 1,100 federal benefits that have, until this day, been denied to you.

This is a day that, honestly, 10 years ago I'd of told you that I would never live to see, though future generations might, possibly, maybe...  This is a day that 20 years ago I'd of told you would never happen in this country. Period.

In fact, I woke up this morning ready to console myself, my friends, my facebook acquaintances. I woke up this morning preparing myself for the "Never Give Up" speeches and the, "That's OK, we'll get em' next time!" comforts. I had a tiny sliver of hope. The kind of tiny sliver of hope that I seem to always hold on to, even when all signs point to defeat and hopelessness. And so I acknowledged it as my own personal hope against all hope, and prepared myself for the let down.

Needless to say, I am happy about today's SCOTUS rulings. But there is still work to do. In many states, like here in Ohio, marriage between two women or two men is still not legal, and so those federal benefits become patchy, at best, when looking at how they cover couples like The Wifester and I...

There's still work to do, but now we know, beyond any doubt, that it is doable.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

For the Birds!

Our fridge is on the fritz. Every few days the freezer freezes up and the fridge stops cooling. I have to place a space heater in the freezer to thaw it out so that the fridge can get cool again. It's beyond irritating. And the landlord has been here a billion times, and the last four times he's said, "Well, let's try this one more time, and if this doesn't work we'll just have to get you a new fridge."
Enough already! Just get us the new fridge!
My lettuce keeps wilting before I get a chance to use it all up, my milk keeps know the drill. But imagine it happening weekly! My grocery budget can't keep up with this pace. So in an attempt to salvage some fresh produce that we just acquired from our CSA (Community Supported Agriculture, google it if you aren't familiar with the term), I made a nice, big chopped veggie salad, mixed it with some brown rice, poured garlic vinaigrette all over it, and made The Wifester and I a super-delicious, fantastically nutritious meal. I'm warning you, though, you may grow feathers after eating this dish. Seriously, the pic doesn't show it well, but there's so many seeds in this shit, you'll think you can fly when you get through with it! Feel free to add/omit any that you like/don't like.

That said, here's the cast of characters for this one:

Chopped Summer Veggies Salad

2 yellow squash
2 zucchini
1 medium Vidalia onion
3 large tomatoes
1/2 lb. white mushrooms
1 hand full of tender green beans that I had frozen after washing and trimming
1 sweet red bell pepper
1 sweet yellow bell pepper
2 cups cooked brown rice
1/2 bunch kale
Fresh sweet basil
Fresh cilantro
A LOT* of chia seeds
A LOT* of sesame seeds
A LOT* of flax seed meal
A LOT* of sunflower seeds
*use as much or as little as you like

Honey Garlic Vinaigrette Dressing
(this home-made recipe is great, but you can also use a store bought one if you are pressed for time)

3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
3 Tbsp honey
3 cloves garlic, roasted whole, then minced


First things first, I whipped up the vinaigrette so that the flavors could meld together while I worked on the rest of this dish. Make it, set it aside, and continue on-

Next, I boiled my brown rice. I like to do the big pot of water method rather than the 2 parts water to 1 part rice method. For me, the rice stays fluffy and doesn't get all sticky or mushy with the big pot of water method, and I like it like that. Not sticky and mushy, I like it fluffy. Just so we're being clear. If you aren't familiar with that method, just use a much bigger pot than your rice will fill. Fill it with water, bring it to a boil, throw in your rice and let it boil for 20 minutes or so until the rice is tender, then strain out all the water by pouring the pot of rice into your colander. Fluffy, tender, non-mushy rice every time.
Okay, back to the recipe:
While the rice is boiling, I washed and chopped all of my veggies. Tossed them into a large bowl with the cilantro and basil, and then poured my vinaigrette all over it all. Cover this and refrigerate until the rice is ready to join the party.

When the rice is done cooking, strain it in the colander, then run cold water over it, stirring it gently until it is all cooled. Add this to your bowl of veggies, stir well, making sure the rice is completely coated with the dressing. Add salt and pepper to taste. I also squeezed a bit more lemon over all. Cover, return to fridge to chill. The longer it chills, the better it tastes. Just remember to stir it up occasionally to ensure even coating of the dressing. Since my fridge was not chilling very well, I threw this in the freezer for about 1/2 hour before serving.

Come to think of it, a bit of sweet corn shaved into this would be pretty fantastic, so would a few well rinsed black beans. Go ahead, make it your own!

I served this salad along with some Quinoa Veggie Patties, and The Wifester was quite the happy camper!

I know, I know, I keep promising the recipe for the Quinoa Veggie Patties...Stay tuned, that recipe will hopefully make its way to this blog tomorrow! Meanwhile, take a look at my super-silly, tremendously cute, spring loaded Sally Sue

I just can't get enough of that face!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Painting With Moss

Inspired by some Pinterest pins, The Wifester and I decided on a Cleveland skyline for the brick wall that lines the back of our yard. We looked up many variations on the "recipe" for achieving moss graffiti, and settled on the one that called for 2 cups buttermilk, 2 cups water, and 2 tbsp sugar. You can use corn syrup to thicken, or corn starch (which is what we used). All of this thrown into a blender until thick and pasty, then brushed on the wall with a regular paint brush. The Wifester sketched out the skyline for us.

I'm hopeful that it will grow in nicely, and quickly. I will post pics every week or so to keep updated on the progress. Meanwhile, if you have a moment, please send my wall some good growing juju! Thanks!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

It's Taco Time!

I'm eating these as I type. No kidding.
My fingers are sticky with lime juice and I don't even give a shit. I've got wipes to clean up my keyboard when I'm done. That shit can wait. This delicious taco is nothing to walk away from, even for a minute.
Hold on, I'll be right back when every last drop is safely down my gullet.

Okay. Now that that's taken care of. First things first: I seriously need a new camera! Look at the fuzziness of these pics! I'm flipping legally blind and I can tell this is terrible quality. And it's really sad, too, because these pics really don't do this fantastic little taco the justice that it deserves.

Back to the topic (or should I say TACO?) at hand.
Here's how these little creations came to be-
The Wifester lamented on how much she loves tacos, then suggested we wait until the weekend, when we have an "It's OK to eat bad food" day. I balked at that, citing that tacos can be good food, we just have to rethink them. To prove my point, I came up with this idea of oven roasted sweet potatoes, carrots, mushrooms, onion, and diced zucchini all seasoned with ginger, cumin, garlic, and chipotle chili. I mixed that with a little bit of quinoa/brown rice/rolled oats mixture that was left over from the night before's quinoa burgers (that recipe coming soon) and topped them off with slices of assorted fresh sweet peppers, cilantro/lime guacamole, fresh cilantro and green onion. For the taco shells, I went with fresh corn tortillas, toasted on a hot skillet until puffy and brownish, but still pliable. I like them best. But you can feel free to use those hard, crispy, store packaged ones if you want. A quick spray of fresh lime juice over it all and
Poof! Instant, healthy, delicious tacos!
HOLY SHIT! I never knew healthy food could be so Mo-Fo good!

*I think next time I'll add some tomatillo to my guac sauce, but it was pretty super fantastic this way, too.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Drunken Strawberry-Lavender Shortcake

Father's Day was quickly approaching, and we hadn't heard any peep about any kind of gathering for The Wifester's step-dad. We love him bunches, and so after asking if there had been any plans set forth, finding out that there hadn't, we invited my in-laws over for dinner. We don't need a holiday, parent appreciation day, or any such occasion to have them over, we like to gather at least once a week anyways, usually two or three times. But Father's Day requires more than our regularly scheduled trip across the street to the bar for dinner, followed by a couple of rounds of Oh Hell! back at our house, in which The Wifester and I lose all of our card playing cash to The-Father-in-Lawster. And so I looked into the fridge and checked out our freshly acquired stock from the CSA (community supported agriculture, for those who don't know) that we just subscribed to. Mmmm, there's lots of fresh veggies to make those wonderful spring rolls. Yep, we'll have spring rolls for appetizers. And it's Sunday, and The-Father-in-Lawster loves his hot wings on Sunday, so that was already decided. And I knew I wanted to make that super-easy, extraordinarily delicious no kneed bread (recipe to follow another day, meanwhile, google it)... So upon looking further into the fridge for inspiration, a wonderful thing appeared-
STRAWBERRIES! Lots and lots of strawberries were readily available, and what's better than two big, ripe, mounds of sweet, sweet strawberries to make a dessert with?
My thought process in this situation happened like this:
    Desert has one "s", like the Sahara Desert. Dessert has two "s'es" like Strawberry Shortcake. I have strawberries. I have a shortcake recipe. STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE! That's it! I'll make strawberry shortcake!
And so the Drunken Strawberry Lavender Shortcake Cake came into existence.
For the cake part of this divine concoction, I followed The Pioneer Woman's Strawberry Shortcake Cake recipe because, honestly, it doesn't get any better than that cake recipe.
Her full recipe can be found here.
For those who don't want to link over there to see it, the cake part is as follows:


  • 1-1/2 cup Flour
  • 3 Tablespoons Cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 9 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter, Softened
  • 1-1/2 cup Sugar 
  • 3 whole Large eggs
  • 1/2 cup Sour Cream, Room Temperature
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Soda

Preparation Instructions
IMPORTANT: Be sure to use a cake pan that’s at least 2 inches deep! Before baking, the batter should not fill the pan more than halfway.
Sift together flour, salt, baking soda, and corn starch.
Cream 9 tablespoons butter with the sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well each time. Add sour cream and vanilla and mix until combined. Add sifted dry ingredients and mix on low speed until just barely combined.
Pour into greased and floured 8-inch cake pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes, or until no longer jiggly like my bottom. Remove from cake pan as soon as you pull it out of the oven, and place on a cooling rack and allow it to cool completely.

And now here's where we mix things up a bit:
As soon as the cake went into the oven, I started on the filling. I wanted something just a little bit better than regular ole', run of the mill, strawberry shortcake. I knew right away that liquor was going into that bad boy. It had to. This is a cake for The-Father-in-Lawster, after all. Liquor is almost mandatory. Sadly, I didn't have any Grand Marnier on hand, but I did have rum. Oh, sweet, versatile rum. I adore you. But there still needed to be more. Then it hit me. It hit me square in the jaw, like a punch in the face. I have fresh, aromatic, lovely English and Spanish and even some unspecified species lavender. Now if you've ever had strawberry-lavender lemonade, you already know how spectacular the strawberry-lavender combination is. And if you haven't already experienced it, go! Go now and get some! Or wait until you've made this cake. Because I promise you won't be let down.
Okay, so I rinsed, topped, then chopped my strawberries. Once I had a nice big bowl full of chopped up strawberries, I sprinkled sugar over them, just enough to sweeten it a bit. Then I dumped a good dose of rum over it all, threw in some chopped up, freshly picked lavender, and mashed the entire mixture with a fork. Cover that up and place it in the fridge until your cake is cool. You may want to take it out occasionally to sneak a bite of drunken strawberry mash, and that's okay. I won't tell.
When the cake has baked, and is all cooled down, you can cut the cake in half, making it two layers.
At this point, go ahead and whip up your whipped cream. I pour a bunch of heavy cream, a splash of vanilla, and a few pinches of powdered sugar into my Kitchen Aid mixer and let it do the work for me. You use whatever you have on hand. Or use Cool-Whip, if that better suits you. Again, I won't tell.
Now you're gonna take that strawberry mash out of the fridge and pour it all over the top of the bottom layer, juice and all, really let it all soak into cake. Lay the top layer of the cake on over that, then cover the entire thing, sides and all with your whipped cream. To top the whipped cream topping, I sliced up some big, pretty strawberries and decorated. Then I threw that beauty into the freezer for about 10 minutes just to let the whipped cream set firmly.
This cake was eaten before I could even get a single picture of the completed product. But here's a shot of the leftovers:

Mmmmm...I want more right now!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Of Defects and Genes

I finally got the call I've been waiting for. I haven't mentioned that I was anxiously awaiting a call because I was anxious about it and a little bit worried that I may jinx the outcome by writing about it in advance. I know, but I am superstitious. I can't help it.
See, a few months back the eye specialist that I saw at the Cleveland Clinic asked me to meet with a Genetic Counselor, so that they could study my genes and try to determine if the eye disease that I have, Retinitis Pigmentosa, is occurring as part of a systemic disease process, or if it is occurring only as an eye disease. Apparently, they were concerned that I had symptoms of the systemic type issue, and that I was in danger of things like kidney failure, lung and heart issues, and a few other not so pleasant complications.  It turns out that I do not have the systemic disease. That is a good thing. That is a very, very good thing. But the counselor did tell me that they found a particular mutation of my BBS5 gene that has never before been found or documented. She was pretty excited about that, but she said that this mutation was not so severe as to cause the systemic disease. So it turns out, after all these years I finally have proof that I am, in fact, quite unique!
Actually, we all have mutated genes. Some of the mutations cause problems, ranging from severe to minimal, others are completely irrelevant. The problems arise when we have two sets of really, really defective genes. Then we get whammied with things like going blind when you're in the prime of your life...But hey, I'll take that. It's not as bad as what other mutated genes would have caused. I feel lucky, actually, that I didn't get super whammied with any number of those other issues.
Anyways, now they need more blood from me to be able to get in there and pinpoint which of the thousands and thousands of forms of Retinitis Pigmentosa I do have. So far, all they can tell me is that it is one of the recessive forms. Sigh. So the wait continues.