No More Empty Fortune Cookies!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Patriotism Via Attire vs. Patriotism Via Action

Recently, actually, it was on the 4th, I had the discussion about how much I detest the idea of wearing something red, white, and blue on Independence Day. It's not that I don't love my country, I do. And it's not that I don't like letting people know that I love my country. I do. It's just that I feel that wearing your red, white, and blue one day of the year does not make one a patriot.

To me what makes a patriot is one's actions and deeds throughout the year. I show my patriotism by standing up against oppression. I show it by standing for the rights of the minority and in supporting my neighbors and helping my community. I show it by looking for ways to improve this place for future generations. I don't think that I need to don an American flag broach one day a year in order to be a good American.

I was kind of ridiculed for this belief, and told that I was being "Un-American" by rejecting the idea that I needed a flag on my body to prove my good standing as an American citizen. I think the term, "Anti-American liberal" may have been thrown around, mostly in jest, but still, the eye rolls were there, the I-can't-believe-you-are-saying-this looks were being thrown about...It was obvious that I was the only one in that immediate vicinity that felt this way. And then a mini flag on a stick was shoved into my hand, almost as if to say, "Here! Now you are an American."

I reject everything about that. Does that make me a bad citizen? Does that make me unworthy of my country? How did a single day's attire come to trump a lifetime's actions? There is something inherently wrong with the notion that no matter what is done the rest of the year- you can cast your vote to oppress minorities, you can support policies that restrict the rights of good, law abiding, tax paying citizens, you can ignore constitutionally afforded rights, but if you put on some red, white, and blue on July 4th, you are a worthy American, tried and true.

Maybe I'm wrong. It has been known to happen. What are your thoughts on patriotism via attire vs. patriotism via action?

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Meatless Mondays - Summer Veggies Bake

All of this healthy eating is paying off. I'm wearing clothes that I had tossed into the Give it to Goodwill piles in the farthest recesses of my closet. And I'm feeling like I have more energy, too. Another thing I've began to notice: when I go up the stairs my knees don't ache as much as they used to. 
We had a pretty good weekend of eating whatever the hell we wanted, chicken wings, cookies, all sorts of craziness. We even had our sister in law and her sister over on Saturday,and instead of deep fried, or gravy coated snacks, I opted to do fresh spring rolls with sweet chili sauce, chopped veggies with home made dill/cream cheese dip, and onion and garlic stuffed naan with hummus for dipping. The food was fantastic, the company was delightful, and much fun was involved. See, you can have a party without gaining sixteen lbs. But by Sunday, we were eating queso laden nachos and Mexican rice, so come Monday, we were not feeling alright. You just don't realize how much that food weighs you down until you step back away from it for a while. With both of us feeling sluggish, weighted down, and overall a bit icky, we knew that we needed to get back on track come Monday. I had lots of zucchini and tomatoes, (of course I did, it's summer, everyone has an abundance of zucchini and tomatoes) and I had some red potatoes, mushrooms, and a nice, big, sweet onion. Looking through the fridge, I also found some kale that needed to be worked into something pronto, or it was gonna soon be a gonner, having given its life without ever fulfilling its need to provide sustenance. It was my duty to help that kale to have not died in vain. So I thinly sliced all my veggies, I dredged them in flax seed meal because we're doing that now to help with The Wifester's blood pressure (it works! down from 180/100 to 140/90 in less than two weeks!) and then I set them in the greased casserole dish in this order: potato, onion, kale, zucchini, mushroom, onion, kale tomato, potato... but you just put them in there whatever order you see fit. Sometimes I use sauteed leeks, but they didn't have any when I shopped the other day, so I made do with onion instead. Once the dish was filled, I sprinkled some salt and pepper, and then a healthy dose of chopped basil, parsley, and rosemary over it all. I still had more kale, so I chopped it and spread it over the top and tucked more in between the sliced veggies. I drizzled a bit of extra virgin olive oil over it all, dashed a small dash of Parmesan, sauteed some minced garlic then sprinkled that over the top, covered it and baked it in the oven preheated at 425, for about 25 minutes. I tested the potatoes with a fork, once they were tender, I left the lid off and returned it to the oven for about 10 minutes, to let the top crisp up just a bit. I served this with 1/2 steamed brown rice 1/2 quiona mixture, and trust me, it was a-ma-zing! And filling. The protein from the quiona really helps you feel well nourished and full. I'm wishing there were leftovers to munch on right now, but we ate the whole thing last night. See there, we ate until we were stuffed to the gills, and still we're losing lots of weight. It really does matter what you eat, more so than how much of it.  

Summer Veggie Bake


1 large zucchini
1 lb white mushrooms
2 large tomatoes
1 sweet onion
1 bunch kale
4 red potatoes
fresh basil
fresh parsley
fresh rosemary
minced, sauteed garlic

Preheat oven to 425. Grease a deep casserole dish or spray it with non-stick cooking spray.
Slice all veggies to be about the same thickness, about 1/4 in. Chop kale and herbs. Mince garlic. Sautee minced garlic in EVOO or a tablespoon of butter over medium heat. Remove from heat and set aside. Place the thinly sliced vegetables in the baking dish vertically, in an alternating pattern. Sprinkle generously with salt, pepper, and herbs. Drizzle with EVOO. Bake covered at 425 for 25-30 minutes, when potatoes are tender remove lid and bake for another 10-15 minutes. Serve hot. 

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Spread A Little Love Today

George Zimmerman is innocent in the same way that Casey Anthony is. I'm terribly saddened by the outcome of this trial, and I wonder, I honestly wonder if justice can ever be truly served with a judicial system that allows the G.Z.s and the C.A.s of this world to walk free while people like Marissa Alexander get 20 year sentences for firing off warning shots when abusive ex husbands become, well, abusive. Look it up if you haven't heard about it.

I'm sad today.
I'm sad because another person has lost their one shot at this life. Everything about that is sad.
I'm sad because our society can't seem to evolve fast enough to bring an end to this viral lack of respect for life.
All life.
We kill indiscriminately these days, don't we? We say, "Oh, it's raised to be food. It doesn't have feelings or emotions." We say, "It's kinder to do this than to let it suffer in a cage without a home to go to."
We convince ourselves that because it doesn't have a human voice to speak to us with, or because they haven't conformed to our own personal ideas and concepts of civilized society in this world, or because they look, act, and speak differently than we do that their lives are not as valuable, not as important as our own.
And it's all lies.

So I flip through, past all the discourse and rants and raves. I momentarily glance at all of the whoops and cheers, and I try to keep calm, be nice. I try to distract myself from it, and in doing so I stumble upon the death of yet another young, talented person. That kid I liked from Glee, Cory Monteith (Finn). Immediately I remember reading recently that he had been in rehab for substance abuse issues. My heart sinks. I don't want to jump to any conclusions, but I know addiction. I know substance abuse. I've lived it. I've witnessed its lethal nature first hand. I'm empathetic with him and his family over the situation, and yet I'm grateful that his fate didn't have to be mine. I almost feel guilty for feeling that, but there it is. I made a different choice in my life so many years back, and because of that, and in spite of my own self, I'm here today. I'm here to talk about it. I'm here to look back at it and see it for what it was. And I'm here to say that it can be done. You can learn a new way. I did. If I could, you can. Finn could have. Why does someone like that, with talent and charm and looks fail to find their way, while someone like me, a nobody, get it? What gave me the whatever it was that was needed to make it out of that alive?

I can't wrap my head around all of the thoughts that are flooding me today. When I have days like this, I like to busy myself with meaningful things, like gardening. Tending to plants and helping them to establish themselves and grow is rewarding, and no doubt it has to do with that feeling of propagating life in any of its forms. I guess it's my little way of recycling a bit of that love, that life force energy that I have been fortunate enough to have been given, and given, and given again. I say, share it. Spread it. Nurture it and watch it grow. Because it will grow and spread, and honestly there's never too much of that in this world.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Without Further Adieu, Quinoa Patties

Don't let them fool you. These little "burgers" are DEEEEE-LISH, and aren't really burgers at all. They're quinoa, brown rice, sweet potato, and zucchini. And I promise you, one bite and you'll be sold. They really do pack a punch to the ole' taste buds, and they leave you feeling well nourished and lacking for nothing. They've quickly become a staple around our house, and since they freeze well and reheat well, they can be found in my freezer stored separately in single serving portions, for those days when you need a quick bite that'll hold you over so you don't look like a living Snickers commercial. 
Since we have pretty much stopped eating any and all meats Monday through Friday, these little patties help us get our much needed protein. 
And they're versatile. Feeling a bit spicy? Add some cayenne and jalapeno. Feeling sweet? Add red and yellow peppers and a handful of fresh shaved sweet corn for a sweet little pop! Feeling Italian? Add Oregano...

For this particular batch, here's what I did: 

1 cup cooked quinoa
1/2 cup cooked brown rice
1 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup flour
1 egg
1 med zucchini shredded
1 small sweet potato shredded
1/2 bunch kale, chopped
1 yellow onion chopped
1 red pepper chopped
1 yellow pepper chopped
2 cloves garlic minced
a couple of splashes of Worcestershire 
chia seeds
flax seed meal
season with any herbs/spices that you like

Just throw everything into a large mixing bowl, and mash it all up until you have an almost dough like consistency. Too wet? Add some rolled oats and a pinch of flour. Too crumbly? Add a splash of Worcestershire or even another egg. You want the mix to be somewhat wet, but tacky enough to form patties, just think of the same texture you aimed for back when you used ground beef...

You can cook these over medium-high heat in a skillet, either sprayed with non-stick cooking spray, or in a small amount of EVOO. You can also cook them in the oven on a sprayed cooking sheet, I'd probably do 350 for 1/2 hr or so. Once cooked, they can be frozen and reheated in the microwave or even the toaster. 

Other variations I have made included adding some cooked, drained and mashed black beans, using corn meal instead of flour, spinach instead of kale, and using red potato instead of sweet potato. They can be made with mashed white beans, chick peas, pinto beans, couscous, or even some crumbled firm tofu. 

The Wifester's favorite topping for these has definitely been a good size dollop of guacamole, and since avocado is actually quite good for you, we have been embracing the liberal use of it as often as possible. And for those times when I really wish I had some barbecue, I cook these up, slap some Sweet Baby Ray's bbq sauce on them, then throw them on the grill. Mmmmm-Mmmmm! Talk about hitting the spot! 

Also, I have taken left over patties and crumbled them, added taco seasoning, and stuffed them into taco shells- Mmmm! Seriously, give it a try!