Tuesday, March 31, 2009

In general, I don't really like it when serious bloggers tell me what they've been making for dinner. I don't know why, but it kind of bugs me.

That, of course, means that I'm going to share what I had for dinner last night!

My friend Celeste gave me some lentils last week, when she realized with horror that I've never cooked with them before. Trying to figure out what to do, I remembered a dish that I ate quite frequently my first year of college. A brown rice and lentil "casserole." I ate it all the time because it was the only vegetarian meal option that my dorm dining hall offered, and at the time I didn't eat meat.

Anyway, a quick google search resulted in a very simple recipe that sounded similar. Brown rice and lentil casserole, with a cheese topping. The recipe couldn't be simpler.

Combine in a baking dish:
3/4 C Lentils
1/2 C Brown Rice
3/4 C Chopped Onion (that was about 1/2 of a medium-large onion)
3 C Chicken Broth (or whatever other broth you like)
Some Garlic (they recommended garlic powder, I crushed a couple of cloves of fresh)
1 t Italian Seasoning
**I added 2 small zucchini, quartered the long way and chopped**

The recipe recommends 1 C grated cheddar sprinkled on top. The accompanying picture made that look pretty gloppy and gross, so I substituted freshly grated Parmesan. I think I actually used a little more than a cup, but my microplane grater makes the cheese shreds so fluffy that it's probably a lot less (in terms of mass) than cheddar would have been.

Cover with foil and bake at 300 degrees for 1hr 10min, then remove the foil and bake for another 20 minutes (if you're doing parmesan, you might want to bake for an hour and 20 minutes, then take the top off for 10, so that the parm doesn't burn).

The results:
The flavor was really good, and I particularly liked that the parmesan and lentil flavors complimented each other. I have always had trouble cooking brown rice, though, and this was no exception. Even after all that time, the rice was pretty hard still. I think that I got brown basmati, this time around, but since I got it from the bulk bins (either from Berkeley Bowl or Star Grocery, I can't remember), there are no cooking directions. Oh, and also our oven is a pitiful immitation of an oven, so that might have something to do with it....
When I make it again, I will likely add more liquid.

If one wanted, I think that carrots would taste good in it. Boyfriend would prefer mushrooms, but he'll have to cook it himself on other premises if he wants those nasty things. If one wanted a heartier, meatier flavor, I'm sure some chopped bacon or pancetta would be really good. It might get a little soggy, though......

Tonight is another casserole night. This time it's an old favorite of ours. "Cacciatore Style Chicken Bake" is chicken, red and green bell peppers, a little onion and tomato sauce in a baking dish with bread crumb topping. This is a perfect outlet for Trader Joe's "Starter Sauce," which is tomatoes, onion, garlic and basil. Nothing else. I cuised it so that it was smoother, and sturred in some (lots of) oregano and salt and pepper. I use whole wheat bread for crumbs, and I mixed some parmesan into the topping.

I don't know if we'll continue the "All Casseroles All the Time" trend this week.....it could be fun. I've got several more in my recipe file.


Sunday, March 29, 2009

What do y'all think of the new look??

Michelle Obama--too "ambitious"??

During the presidential campaign, Michelle Obama was the subject of much scrutiny and criticism. Most of it was for really stupid reasons, like her wardrobe or her strong opinions. Well, why stop at the election, or the inauguration?? It seems that the news media is perfectly content to keep critiquing her choices. This time, it's not about sleeveless tops, but about her "platform" and whether it's too "ambitious."

The role and duties of the first lady is not super well defined. They get stuck with the traditionalist bullshit like hosting tea parties in the White House, of course, but also tend to pick a "platform" of issues that need more publicity and thought. Lady Bird Johnson threw herself into highway beautification and wildflowers, for instance. More recently, First Lady Hillary Clinton chaired the task force on universal health care (we know how THAT worked out....). It seems that First Ladies, since they have given up their own identities and all, have traditionally picked one or two things on which to focus and talk about.

Michelle Obama, however, has a platform with many issues, and that's worrying some people.
She's keen on promoting: Fitness, parenting, the environment, women's rights, self-esteem for young girls, volunteerism, improving life for military families and helping working women balance home and career life.

OMG, she's got varied interests!!!! ARHG!!!!

That list is taken directly from the article (Politico via Yahoo), and I think that in hopes of making it seem really long, they listed things as seperate when they are really sub-issues a larger topic. Self-esteem for young girls, for instance, should really fall under both parenting and women's rights (OMG intersections!!!). Helping working women balance the challenges of careers and home lives.....um, that's also women's rights, and, if I'm not mistaken, it's one of the original tennets of feminism....

Laura Bush's press secretary says that it's important to focus on two or three things with which you can make a difference. Let's see, for Laura Bush, those are....um....hang on....**crickets chirping**

Some marketing person says that if you do more than a couple of things, you will become fragmented. She wonders why Obama is wasting time "planting herbs." Besides the obvious answers (because gardens are cool, because you can teach your kids about plants and biology, because homegrown food is satisfying....), I was smacking my head over this marketing person's company. It specializes in strategic branding.

Yes, because that's what the First Lady should be doing. Strategically branding herself. Turning herself into a simplified, pretty-fied product that can churn out memorized speeches about how "our children should read." Or something.

Just now, Boyfriend had a really good perspective. His thought was that in a perfect egalitarian universe, in which true gender equality is acheived, it really wouldn't matter what the first spouse would do. She or he would keep their job in wherever, jet to DC for part of the week for family time, and otherwise go about his or her business. Since we don't have that yet, we must suffice with the First Lady being a symbolic throwback to the Ladies Auxilliary and stuff like that.

I also brought up the ridiculousness of Bush's press secretary being interviewed, given that I couldn't remember Laura Bush doing anything. He said: "Oh, yes. Wasn't she vociferous in making sure that people in Africa can't get birth control?? See, she did stuff, she was just on the side of Satan!"

So yes, in this weird world where the spouse of the president is unable to go about his or her life, and must sit in the White House looking for things to do, we've got Michelle Obama. We've got someone who is interesting, capable, driven and yes, probably very ambitious. Last I checked, none of these was negative.

(if you want to induce head/desk collisions, here's the article.)

oh! p.s. "she can't possibly talk about military families, because she's never been in one!" um.....she's never been a tomato either, but it's not gonna stop her!


Saturday, March 28, 2009

So, I'm totally dissatisfied with the look of Bitchcraft. Time for some spring cleaning, methinks.

I'm going to play around with colors and images, and in addition, I'm hunting for a template that will be inviting, interesting, and relate to the theme/content.....

What do you think of these options?



What have you all done to make your blogs all pretty-fied and interesting??


Mo's My Homie

Friday, March 27, 2009

And now for some non-ranting. I know it's a strange thing on this blog, but I thought I'd surprise you....

I'm totally digging Mo Willems at the mo. Sorry....couldn't resist.

I first encountered his book Knuffle Bunny, a Cautionary Tale in about 2006, and have since been really enjoying reading his books to all the little beasties in my life.

A couple of weeks ago, the head teacher in my class was absent, so I got to lead circle time. It's always lots of fun, but particularly so when you get to read a book called Leonardo, the Terrible Monster (except that it was in French, so it was really Léonardo, le monstre épouvantable (in French you only capitalize the first letter of the first word of a title). I loved it even more than my class did, I think!

The plot is that Leonardo is a terrible monster. Terrible at BEING a monster. Cuteness ensues, and it's not entirely dissimilar to Lamont the Lonely Monster, which was a favorite of mine when I was a child.

It's also a wonderful little collision of monsters and children, which reminds me ever so slightly of THE.BEST.BOOK.EVER.WRITTEN.

His websites are lots of fun, too.


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

I finally, finally, finally got my work laptop on Monday afternoon. I had to sign an agreement saying that it's for school-business related things only, not for anything personal.....

Of course I immediately went home and used the thing to type a paper for my child-development class and surf the web. Which I've been doing ever since.

So, yes, I'm back in the land of Tech, finally. I've been catching up on blogs, which has been a challenge, because ordinarily I just click "bookmarks" and work my way alphabetically through my list of sites. Since I'm on a new machine (which is really an old machine, but still), I've been trying to remember all of the blogs I read. It's a bit hard, really.

On Sunday, given my lack of net to surf, I spent all afternoon watching TV. Oy vey. I hadn't seen an episode of MTV's "The Real World" since maybe the 7th grade, and so I stopped in to see how it's doing. Well, the misogyny abounds. It was pretty appalling, actually, that the boys on the show (I won't even give them enough credit to call them "men") get away with the horrendously offensive sexist language and behavior. One charming example went something like this:
"Where are those dumb girls?"
"I dunno, probably shaving their vagina hair."

Wow. Um, leaving aside the crassness of the answer, which is not even worth commenting on, the child needs an anatomy lesson.

The interesting thing, though, is that this season's real world has a transgender character. Caitlin (I don't know how she spells it) is a 24 year-old trans woman. For the most part, the housemates seemed really respectful and supportive. Since the premise of the show is that it's a house full of people from all different backgrounds, I assumed that the conservative army kid would be a shithead to and about her. In fact, he really wasn't. He asked some questions that seemed awkward and poorly worded, but you could tell that it was coming from a sincere place. Even after coming out to everyone (which she did little by little), people seemed to use the right pronouns when referring to Caitlin and seemed to value her. Except one, who started by asking what seemed like sincere questions and ended up spending days tormenting her with the same lewd, inappropriate suggestion. It made me want to throw up a little....

I watched for as long as I did to see whether the women of the house would ever call out the boys on their sexist language and actions. The answer seems to be: nope. Not at all....


The other pop-culture horror that I saw a bit of was called "Tough Love" (I think). This one is straight-up barf inducing. I'm sick this week, though, and so maybe I thought that I only deserve things that will make me feel sicker.....I don't know. Anyway, this little gem involves a male "matchmaker" reforming a bunch of undateable wenches into charming, matched up ladies. Or something. I think that the basic message is "You should be looking for a man all the time and your goal should be to pair yourself up and if you don't make yourself look the way the menz want your useless and a bitch."

Yeah, charming, huh?

The women on the show (why on earth would they sign up for something like this???) all seem to have labels "the princess," "the bad girl," "the ball-buster" (she's Russian, of course, because ethnic stereotypes are even more fun than misogyny). In the first couple of minutes of the show, they were analysed by a group of "real men" and then told all of their flaws in gory detail. Bien sur, "doesn't take care of herself" and "could drop some weight" were used at least once.

I was really, really angry. Then I got to thinking: If you really buy into this idea that being paired up is the most important thing in the world, and you are "searching for love" all the time, why not do whatever it takes to get you some man-meat? If that means being degraded on national television, then, hey, that's millions of MTV watching boys who can see you and maybe want you as their very own Barbie inspired doll!

Or, you could work on being and interesting, independent person who gives the finger to the notion that if you're not paired up with a gel-and-Axe-body-spray-covered male of the species you're worthless.

The whole show included *one* decent piece of advice: "Work on yourself. If you don't know who you are and what you want, you'll never succeed." Of course, this girl was already thin and conventionally pretty.....

Status Update

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Hello all!

I wanted to check in and let you all know that I am, in fact, alive. And yes, I do intend to keep blogging, despite my nearly one month absence.

My computer died, and I'm still waiting to be given the work laptop that comes with the long-term sub replacement that I'm doing. You know, the one that started at the end of January??? Until then, my only computer time is snippets on Boyfriend's laptop (when he's not madly writing or researching, which is rarely) or even smaller snippets on the computer in the school library. I can't blog from the school network, because they forbid any sites with the word "bitch." A coworker, though was able to look up some European porn start guy from her laptop in the staff room, and even find pictures.......typical.......

So until the laptop materializes, I'm pretty stuck.
I hope you all are patient with me!!

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