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I thought the world was better

August 13, 2017

Did I know there were Nazis in America before 2017? Sure. But it was like knowing there are moon landing deniers: there must be very few, their effects must be minuscule, and I’m unlikely to ever run across more than one or two in a lifetime.

This year, these people, this hate, keep punching me in the heart. They keep dunking my view of the world into slime. I thought I’d act like the leader of the revolution. Instead, I find that there’s nothing of substance I can do, so I mostly keep my guard up. Tell the truth, I mostly hide in a damn cave, trying to dodge the next hit.

Let’s just try to call the next 12 months

July 27, 2017

So far in the USA this year – and I won’t get everything, okay? – we’ve had action toward:

  • banning foreigners from the country
  • banning trans people from the military. Also, bathrooms.
  • banning people in general from medical insurance, because Fuck People.
  • putting all the wrong people in charge of all the wrong things.
  • withdrawing from the world stage as an ally, as
  • cutting funding for everything (education, health and welfare, social programs, environment) but, basically, the military.

Let’s see if we can call the next 12 months, shall we? In the next 12 months, 45:

  • Bans trade with Switzerland and Slovenia. Calls them “wusses”.
  • Makes it illegal for black people to vote without fingerprint, retinal, and anal scans.
  • People of middle eastern descent, too.
  • Oh and Muslims.
  • Basically anyone brown or non-Christian.
  • Bombs North Korea. Claims it’s China’s fault. Also Hillary’s.
  • Institutes a special “birth control tax” to prevent the spread of that awful stuff.
  • Shortly followed by a “not pregnant tax”.
  • And then, an “out of the kitchen waiver program”.
  • Oddly, endorses the NBA, but only if Diet Coke will admit that the inauguration crowds were yuge.
  • Shuts down three solar panel factories in New England. Claims this generated 40,000 new jobs.
  • Trades 40,000,000 acres in western Alaska to Russia. For what, we’re not told.
    Edited to add:
  • Confederate flag flown over the White House.
  • West Wing demolished, rebuilt as a casino.
  • Rocky Mountain National Park razed, just `coz.

What else? Let’s see if satire is even possible any more.

Shows to watch on food and veganism

July 17, 2017

Because it’s a frequently asked question, here are the shows on Netflix (as of today, anyway) that you can watch to see why we converted to whole foods veganism, and no added sugar:

I also just finished reading the outstanding book Salt Sugar Fat, by Pulitzer Prize winner Michael Moss. THAT is a huge recommendation.

Things keep changing (thoughts on learning)

July 3, 2017

Actually I keep changing. I’ll try something new, and then drop it or forget it. And try something else, and then drop it or forget it. And until a few years ago, I thought that was a kind a failure on my part.

I’m finding out is that this is actually how I learn. How I evolve. It’s not necessarily that I can’t stick within a given program, it’s that each one is the tool that I can use best at any given time.

For example: Recently I’ve been dividing my professional life into two categories, the professional, and the assistant. When I work as the assistant, I set goals and schedules for the week, I try to tell myself what to do later on. And then the professional’s job is to go and do those things, to have the big business ideas, and so on this is an outstanding tool for me. But I imagine if you come and talk to me again in 6 weeks or so, I will have stopped using the idea or forgotten about it all together. Again, in the past I would’ve thought about this as a failure. But it’s really not.

With each successive strategy or tool, I learned something new or absorb a new way of doing things. Even it’s if it’s just a slight change, I have leveled up just a little bit.

This also applies to professional skills, academic topics, hobbies, and so forth. I pick things up, I put them back down again. I never practiced trumpet when I was in band in high school, because my enthusiasm for the trumpet was fairly limited. My enthusiasm for band on the other hand, where all my friends hung out, stayed pretty steady throughout all four years of school.

When I get excited about a topic and start studying it, I know that intensity will only last a few weeks at most. I recently took a piano again and spent two weeks practicing to or three hours every day, reading music theory, and so forth. Then my attention wandered. I actually want to get back to practicing maybe three times a week, but I think I’ll have to get weekly lessons to help me stay on track. Again, I used to think this is a fault, but now I think of it as the way I conduct business.

Tomato Curry Soup (vegan, with options)

June 26, 2017

Easy tomato soup that tastes better than Campbell’s. It’s also highly customizable.

  • Want a higher quality soup? Prep and use fresh tomatoes instead of canned.
  • Don’t have some of the more exotic stuff? Replace it or skip it.
  • Hate the idea of vegan? Replace the coconut milk with light cream, and/or serve with a hunka meat.

Seriously, all this soup really requires is the tomato, onion, water and salt. Everything else is just a matter of upgrades!

4-6 servings.

Ingredients

  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar (optional, I don’t use it)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • dash of cayenne

Method

  1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the oil, onion, and garlic.
  2. Cook, stirring constantly, until soft and translucent, 5-6 minutes.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients and cook 5-8 minutes.
  4. Serve chunky or blend well (my favorite).

Goes well with cheese sammiches, or baked potatoes, or pasta.

Mexican Chicken and Rice

June 26, 2017

Here’s a nice throw-together recipe that makes a TON of food for fairly little money. And, it’s delicious. And super easy to make; you can sit down while it mostly cooks itself.

12-20 servings, I think.

Ingredients

  • 1 whole chicken
  • 2 cups rice
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup paprika
  • 1 tablespoon salt (may need more, to taste, once cooked)
  • optional: thyme, bay, garlic, onion

To serve:

  • corn tortillas
  • lime wedges
  • salt

Method

  1. In a big pot – big enough to fit the whole chicken, with room to spare – place the whole chicken, and cover with water.
  2. Lots of water.
  3. Add rice, paprika, salt, and any of the optional ingredients.
  4. Bring to a simmer and cook until the chicken is totally done, about one hour. The rice will be super cooked…that’s fine.
  5. Take the chicken out and let it cool until you can handle it.
  6. Pick all the meat off the bones, in shreds. Discard the skin.
  7. Add the shredded meat back to the soup.
  8. Serve with tortillas, limes, and salt. (You squeeze the lime onto the tortillas and sprinkle on a little salt, and eat it with the soup.)

I’m dropping weight without trying

June 20, 2017

I’m not actually kidding. There are of course some caveats around this, and I’ll get to them, but it’s the real and un-tricked-out truth that I’m not particularly trying, and I’m losing weight.

How: I’ve gone “whole food vegan”, and I’m not eating anything with added sugar.

Some of you just threw up your hands, or threw something at the computer screen. “That’s not easy! That’s not ‘not trying’, Jen! That’d be impossible for me!” Well maybe si, and maybe no, but I said that I’m not trying. Let’s go over this.

Eating Evolultion

Me:

  • As a kid: Burgers, fries, pizza, carrots. I was a picky eater. I didn’t like any other vegetables AT ALL, I only liked three fruits. I ate a lot of cereal.
  • As a teen: My daily lunch was vending machine food, every day: Cheetos, 3 Muskateers, and a Sprite. Friends introduce me (no kidding) to the concepts of “cooking your own spaghetti sauce” (I thought it came in jars only!), “home made lasagne” (I’d never had it), “eating a salad”, and “Chinese food”. Yeah, no kidding.
  • As a college student: I get interested in healthy eating and cooking, so I got some books and tried out some stuff. Whole grains and vegetables become more important.
  • As a young adult: My chef friend (and now husband) expands my tastes significantly, and also teaches me to cook well.
  • Since then: Get slowly better about eating more variety, cutting down (then out) sodas, cutting down on eating out, and trying even more variety of foods.
  • Now: Most of the household went whole foods vegan and started a no-added sugar challenge.

“Without trying”?

Yeah. We watched some documentaries, did some thinking and reading, and decided to go vegan, AND to do a no-sugar-added challenge. 

Amazingly, my youngest son Ben saw the sugar doco (“Fed Up”), heard the challenge – which is I think a 2 week challenge – and declared he was doing a two MONTH no added sugar challenge, because he’s a sugar addict. We are deeply impressed, and doing the challenge with him.

So thing one: nearly the whole household is on board. (Our oldest isn’t taking part, and that’s fine.) all of this is way easier if you have buy-in from your household. 

Thing two: we’ve been cooking most of our food, instead of eating out, for quite a while. We LIKE whole foods. We’re used to it. Which is not to say we don’t get really lazy sometimes. We’ve been eating an awful lot of refried bean tacos over the last few weeks.  But of course, bean tacos are freaking delicious. 

Thing three: This has taken away most of my cravings. I don’t miss meat, or cheese, or sugar. We’ve found good replacements for anything I would miss: bean burgers are amazing and easy, hummus is delicious, and there are a half a ton of good banana based recipes for treats (two ingredient ice cream, cake, etc). I don’t PINE FOR much of anything, like I used to do. 

For the last 22 years, I have tried every reasonable diet I can think of in order to control or drop weight. Nothing has worked well. Now I’m dropping weight at a good pace, and eating really, really well into the bargain.