Discolor Online

Weblog of the sweetest person you never want to piss off.


My Rhy-Husband

This has been a little joke around our house since Green Ronin published Blue Rose. Pramas and I are in tune in a funny way. It's not uncommon for us to say the same thing at the same time, or to independently think of something and act on it (sending an e-mail to the same person to ask them the same question). The "rhy-husband" crack was made by GR Webmaster extraordinare SassyRonin after one too many times of getting duplicate requests... he knows the score.

Today we had another one of these moments. Completely independently, on opposite ends of the city we each went into different grocery stores and left with something neither of us had bought before: Greek Gods Greek Yogurt.

We each tried this yogurt for a snack this afternoon and I brought a couple extra cartons home. After dinner tonight I brought out a carton of the fig flavored yogurt, knowing I just had to share it with my sweetie, which is when the story was revealed.

We're a pair, a team. We know each other so well... I love it every time this happens. Just love it.



Obama on SNL

So I love this "only a black actor can portray Obama on SNL" thing. Fucking race issues, I hate 'em. The guy's half white but he's B L A C K as far as people are concerned, end of story.

Combined with the ridiculousness of the assholes who are obsessing over his middle name and the utter non-story that is the picture of him (gasp) visiting another country and (double gasp) dressing in traditional garb (I guess it's only ok when Presidental wives do it) and I'll pull a reverse Michelle Obama and say that it's shit like this that makes me ashamed of my country.



Dinner Tonight: Otsu

Followed this recipe from Super Natural Cooking. Midway through prepping the ingredients, we got a call that we could pick up a package we've been waiting for at DHL but only for another 20 minutes. As the sole driver in the house, I took off to get the package and Pramas finished the dinner prep. I arrived home to a spicy, tangy blend of soba noodles, cucumber, tofu, green onion, cilantro and sesame seeds in a lemon-ginger-honey-rice vinegar-sesame oil dressing. Kind of a cold salad. Our family likes soft tofu better than fried so we skipped that step altogether. This is a great jumping off point for all sorts of permutations on the provided recipe. I would have enjoyed twice as much cucumber and could see adding other veggies or elements to the dressing easily.

Good food after a long day of running around and being "on" and stressed. I can't do anything tomorrow until I go to the nearest gas station and fill up, though, because I accidentally ran the poor PIF severely under the empty line tonight. Really glad I didn't run out of gas on the road or out in the dark and remote industrial park where the DHL office was!

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Weekend Seattle-stylee

Pramas arrived back home on Friday early enough that we were able to attend Michelle's birthday. Enjoyed reconnecting with Jason Carl and meeting Michelle's other friends, had good food at Columbia City Ale House and a riotous good time at the Columbia City Cabaret (though it really made me homesick for the Can Can and their current Castaways... Miss Indigo Blue rules the night but my heart belongs to Fuchsia Foxxx when it comes to gothy belly dancers and the Can Can's Jonny Boy can't be beat in his Juan Carlos guise or any other). I may have to organize a field trip to the Can Can again.

Saturday was a lovely, loungy day with my sweetie, a modified and much needed Bed Day. We did manage to make ourselves presentable and venture out into the false-spring weather for a little barbecuing followed by Rock Band with Ray and Christine. (They even let me play bass on a couple of Rush songs and Molly Hatchet!) I left with a pointer for a really great kefte and a recipe for some darn good tabbouleh, and Chris busted out his homemade hummus. We started things early enough in the day that we were able to pack in several hours of fun and still leave for home before midnight.

Today was less fun. I slept poorly for the first time in a while, despite taking a sleeping pill and spent the day feeling on the edge of unwell. I had to drive up to get Kate much earlier than usual (her dad's headed out for business tonight) so I had barely enough time to run down to the Hangar Cafe for breakfast. That was a bad plan, as it turns out. We were at the Hangar for an hour and a half and only had our breakfast in front of us for the last ten minutes or so. I ended up having to take half of my crepe home because I no longer had time to finish it. During that time we managed to flag the waitress for a single coffee refill. Lame. Note to self: stick to weekdays for breakfast. I was thinking of trying Squid and Ink for some vegan breakfast in the future but reviews on yelp are pretty unforgiving.

Tonight I tried the Green Stir Fry from Super Natural Cooking (spinach, asparagus, green onion, lime, ginger, garlic, tofu and a little hoisin sauce) over brown rice. I think my "juice of one lime" was from too big a lime because it was a bit too limey for me this time but it's certainly fast and easy in addition to being healthy. I'll give it another go sometime. I played a little Mass Effect but I'm not sure how I feel about the game yet. Too shooty for me, too much exposition about "new" races that frankly would be much more interesting if it could just be about Star Wars, and I'm afraid the plots that seem to be afoot are going to be disappointingly obvious through the rest of the game if what's been dangled in front of me so far is anything to go by. Reserving judgment the time being but I'm not as engaged yet as I'd hoped to be.

Tomorrow starts the week of constant appointments. Ug. Here's hoping I can at least get a little better sleep tonight if nothing else.



Things for Today

Chris is home. This makes my heart sing. I love my husband.

I caught up on a lot of things this week. I know there are people who are still waiting for things from me, who are pissed off because I haven't answered their e-mails or sent them their Character Folios or whatever. I'm doing what I can do and I did a lot this week, but I'm not "all there" yet.

My fucking computer problems aren't yet resolved. I haven't been able to make the Vista machine work, haven't been able to "roll back" to XP on the new computer yet, haven't gotten the new Office, haven't been able to get Sharepoint to be fully functional, had to manually re-enter the information for every single solitary damn freelancer we used all year so that 1099s could be generated (*after* I went back to using my "locks up and fails randomly" machine since the Vista machine can't print), blah blah, yadda yadda. People are pissed at me for various things that seem like they should be simple to resolve but they have no idea. (People also seem to think I have "minions" or a "customer service department" or an "IT department". Should I laugh or cry? Dunno.)

Outside of work there are other things stressing me the hell out. Without getting into specifics, I'll just hold up my schedule next week as an example of my life and preoccupation lately: next week the family has two doctor's appointments on Monday, one on Tuesday, one on Wednesday (plus a bonus meeting of the cluster-fuck committee for my daughter's 6th grade trip to New York City), and Chris's overnight CPAP study Thursday night and Friday morning. I don't really want to get into it except to say that I have a hell of a lot on my mind lately in the personal realm.

Thankfully, tonight was Michelle's birthday celebration and I can't speak for anyone else but I had a marvelous time. Good food, good company, excellent entertainment. Only at one point in the night did my cohorts threaten to cut me off (and that was totally unfair, burlesque demands people yell out!) and Michelle at least didn't seem offended by my shenanigans.

Which reminds me: Chris is home. This makes my heart sing. I love my husband. I go to join him now instead of sitting at the computer like a dope.



Village Voice on Iron Chef America

I laughed my way through this story on Iron Chef America today.

Hint to Robert Sietsema: Kit isn't really a talking car, the actors in Star Trek didn't actually "beam" anywhere, and that cute baby from Full House was played by twins. TWINS!

Of course tv shows are edited for maximum excitement. And we totally know that "The Chairman" isn't really a "chairman" of anything, or the nephew of the Japanese actor Takeshi Kaga who played the role of the original Chairman. ::roll eyes::

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Lunar Eclipse

Originally uploaded by Nikchick.

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Mark Bittman

Coming clean about my vast collection of too neglected cookbooks, I have to admit that poor Mark Bittman has been among the most neglected. For years I've had his cookbooks on my shelf. How to Cook Everything, The Minimalist Cooks Dinner, The Minimalist Cooks at Home. I received How to Cook Everything Vegetarian off my wish list this Christmas. Over the years I've browsed each book idly but cooked precious little. I've marked a single recipe (Fish Simmered in Spicy Soy Sauce) as "very good" but I can't tell you how many years ago it was that I tried it.

This is shameful behavior on my part because Bittman deserves better.

It was a little over a year ago that I started to reawaken to Bittman. I can trace the moment exactly: it was when every foodie blog and cooking site went absolutely nutso after his No Knead Bread in the New York Times. What really won me over to Bittman was when I started getting New York Times video content through TiVoCast. The Minimalist segments were right up my alley and Bittman's goofy, good-humored personality won me over immediately. It was the first time I'd seen or heard him instead of just reading him and that was the key.

He's recently started a blog at the New York Times website, Bitten which has quickly become one of my favorites. today's tip on parboiling brown rice in advance so you can use it in quick recipes later as you would white rice is a nifty trick. Though I don't shy from just taking the time brown rice needs not everyone has that luxury and so they miss out on whole grain specialty rices, which is a shame.

Once I've plowed through the list of recipes I want to try out of Super Natural Cooking and A New Way to Cook, Bittman's recipes are next on the list for trial. I may even screw up the courage to try the No Knead Bread (though my anti-bread aura is nearly as strong and infamous as my anti-technology aura).

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Rosie Revenge and her bomb cake

Rosie Revenge and her bomb cake
Originally uploaded by Nikchick.
Derby Liberation Front had an event at Central Cinema tonight, which involved meeting their "new meat" for this year's team and a screening of Tank Girl.

Since Kate and I are alone all week and this was the sort of thing cool moms and hip daughters can do together, we were sure to attend! Kate was very excited. We did not win the bomb cake, but we did leave with the 9" x 13" Pyrex pan full of Jello (which was won by someone else but passed on to Kate at intermission). It seemed like a good time was had by all. A good time was certainly had by us!


Wine and Games

Jess has a wine locker at a wine storage place here in Seattle. One of the benefits of this is that they have a room that members can use for private tastings or small gatherings. It was the perfect location for a little wine and gaming. Originally we were going to play some old-school D&D but we were down a couple players and the GM had a hard week so we defaulted to Descent instead. Great space. I took a bunch of photos.

Sunday Pramas left for GDC so Kate and I cooked up a batch of food John and Jenny. Yesterday was the official due date (though no baby sign yet) and we wanted to make sure they were loaded up with some food in the freezer while they wait for their little pumpkin to arrive. They got a batch of Thai-style Ground Beef, a couple pans of Chicken Enchiladas Verdes, and some Lasagna Rolls that Kate did herself from start to finish. Then we baked up a pan of Chicken with Olives and Lemon and a rice cooker full of rice and arrived with dinner hot and ready to go. Had a nice dinner and and even nicer visit. Am very excited to see them with their baby... not long now.

I also uploaded a gazillion photos that have been sitting on my hard drive waiting for attention. I've got a set for our trip to Boom Noodle, my visit to Brouwer's for Belgian beers and pomme frites, a photo set from the Theo Chocolate tour, photos from Jenny's baby shower last month, a look at the room where Chris did his sleep study, and a recent visit to Aoki Sushi.

Whew. You'd think I'd been busy or something.

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Theo + Kawali Grill + Spiderwick

Busy day. I've got photos and whatnot to recap with over the weekend if I find time but I'm frankly exhausted. In addition to prepping for a gigantic shipment of individual orders related to Green Ronin's Freelancer Fundraiser I had a pretty action packed day.

I went on a tour of Theo Chocolates in Freemont. Pretty fun and interesting (except for the oompa loompa dance, ug) and definitely worth the $5. Came home with lots of interesting chocolates and some freakin' awesome chocolate scrubs and lotions to boot (that stuff cost more than $5 but sooooo worth it).

I attended a meeting at Kate's school to go over the so-called details of the trip with the other parents and kids (supposedly). This was not at all fun, so I'm not going to dwell on that right now except to say that I may just be begging for crash space with people I know in New York because I can't imagine actually trying to stay 27 miles out of the city in a random New Jersey city ("I can't remember the name, it starts with a P.") in a $55/night Days Inn with 38 kids and calling that a trip to "New York". Ug.

After the meeting Kate and Chris and I decided we were going down to Columbia City to catch the Spiderwick Chronicles. We decided to have dinner out tonight and instead of going to one of our usual favorite restaurants I suggested that we try something new and hit up the Kawali Grill. Kawali Grill looks a little like a Pho joint or some other casual dining establishment and the food is unpretentious but the chef is top notch and the food was some really good and interesting Filipino-inspired stuff. We had some truly fantastic chicken satay with a great peanut sauce, then Chris tried a dish called Lechon Kawali and I had the house special Oxtail Kare Kare and Kate confined herself to a grilled cheese and fries. Food was fantastic, the Filipino television was hilarious, the chef personally came out to check in with us a couple of times and we were the only white folks in the place (usually a good sign of authenticity). Oh, and Kiro 7 News showed up to film something while we looked on but we couldn't quite figure out what it was about.

Spiderwick was enjoyable. I thought the visuals were incredibly faithful to Tony D's original artwork, which was so cool. The kid playing the role of the twins was convincing as his double character, and even though Kate ran down for us all the changes between the movie and the books I thought the changes were sensible and acceptably faithful to the source. A solid family movie. Congratulations to Holly and Tony!

And now: bed!

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Official: My new favorite cookbook

This one is a real winner! I'm ashamed of myself that I've never done more than look through some of the pretty photographs in this book before now. Maybe if I'd read this glowing review in The Atlantic Monthly ...which it turns out I completely agree with, seven years late.

Yesterday I made a simple fennel stock from scratch from the recipe in this book. Glorious! It was hard not to just sit down and eat the broth as it was. I had something else in mind for the stock, though, and for dinner we moved on to the recipe for Beans and Wild Mushrooms in Fennel Broth. I used the pressure cooker to cook up some dried Great Northern beans from scratch instead of using canned, so I followed the recipe for Basic Cooked Beans from the book, and then combined my beans and broth with the remaining ingredients for the soup. I used oyster mushrooms because they were plentiful at the store but this soup would be incredible with something more like a morel instead. Chris, upon trying the soup, proclaimed that had he been served this soup in a fancy restaurant he would not have been disappointed.

Fennel and fish go well together so I used last night to hit my goal of having fish once a week and whipped up a recipe of Sesame Crusted Swordfish with Cilantro and Coconut Chutney, once again from A New Way to Cook. Simple, easy, and very yummy.

Another excellent bonus of this book is the author includes nutritional information for each recipe in an index, so I could quickly calculate the calories, protein, carbohydrates, fat and fiber of these dishes. I've been spoiled by having Cooking Light as my go-to source for recipes all these years and have been finding that I really want to have the nutritional breakdowns for the things I'm cooking at home. That information is not included in most cookbooks, so extra bonus points to Sally Schneider for figuring out and including the information in hers.

I expect I'll properly update my recipe pages over the weekend for my own reference. I am kicking myself because I made some excellent baked beans with kale at some point this winter (prepped the dish ahead and put it in the freezer for later use) and I've now forgotten where among my vast collection of cookbooks, magazines, and online resources I got the original recipe! Updating my recipe pages is one way for me to keep track and I've been terribly lax about it these last several months. No more!

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Vietnam Traveling Memorial

My birthplace of Ely, MN (the little town trying to win the MRI machine last year) has been chosen to host the traveling memorial. They're raising money for the project. The voice on the video is my Uncle Jack, former Navy pilot and veteran of over 20 years. Last year he found himself getting involved in local politics on the city council and apparently they're pressing him into service as the voice of the Ely Vietnam Wall Project.

Nice job, Uncle Jack!

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Pizza and PIF-fany

Tonight was wargame night for Pramas so Kate and I had a girl's night out and we went to Stellar Pizza for dinner. Kate was cracking me up, just random stuff like referring to Washington apples being grown "way out there in Tukwila or something," (part of Tukwila shares our zipcode, but to City Girl Kate it seems like the sticks or something) or, when I said that I really didn't like the heavy metal that was playing because I'd lived through that once in my teen years, she said, "What, did they play it at the dentist?" (in her mind my dislikes must somehow be related, I guess...) meanwhile I'm laughing my head off imagining a dentist's office that played heavy metal and Kate says, "Just imagine, your dentist was a former tattoo artist!" Frickin' hilarious, that girl. We were having a good time.

Amidst the topics of conversation was Inn Fighting and how much Kate likes it. I teased her that of course she likes it, she wins at it! Next thing I know, I look over my shoulder and who should be sitting with a large group in the next section over but Inn Fighting designer Rob Heinsoo and his lovely wife! Kate couldn't go over because they were in the over 21 section but I sneaked over and tapped him on the shoulder. "My daughter loves your game." We caught up briefly (they were in after a successful soccer game with the rest of their team) and then I excused myself back to join Kate in the family section. Rob and Lisa were nice enough to come by our table again for a few minutes to say hi to Kate and we gossiped about neighborhood politics and whatnot. Rob threatened to challenge Kate to a game of Inn Fighting someday.

It was then that I realized that the only reason Kate and I were out tonight was because we have the PIF, the good ol' Pay-It-Forward car. Going out for pizza for a couple of hours was precisely the sort of activity that I would have denied myself most of the time if forced to do it by Flexcar but with the PIF it's possible for us to roll the mile down the hill and back without expense or having to watch the clock the whole time or any of that nonsense. I mentioned this to R&L because I knew that before J&J had the car it had been gifted to them and they'd been the ones who had passed it on to John, who had since passed it on to me. I didn't bother to tell them I've dubbed her PIFfany because it would have taken too long to explain. We declared that it was, indeed, a Good Karma car.

How lovely to spend a fun evening with my girl and run into Rob and Lisa all in one night.

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Inhumane Meat

I am still a meat eater. I like meat when it is well prepared but I don't need to have meat every day at every meal or anything. Still, I like meat enough that I found it very difficult to maintain anything close to a strict vegetarian lifestyle.

Even as a meat eater, I can't abide cruelty to animals. At the risk of sounding like some New Age hippie white cultural appropriatrix, I don't take the sacrifice of the animal's life lightly. Just because I'm going to eat that animal doesn't mean that I'm okay with it being tortured on its way to my table. In fact, precisely because I am going to eat that animal, I want to know it's been treated in the most respectful way possible and lived a healthy and comfortable life!

Video of the cruel treatment of these animals, in blatant violation of the law and all ethical concerns, was released recently from the Humane Society of the United States.

The part that pisses me off even more than the grotesque an inhumane treatment of "downer cows" is that our taxes are going to pay the contracts for these suppliers! We're PAYING them to provide ground beef to our schools! Potentially infected meat is making its way to our school children, many of whom are on free or reduced lunch programs to begin with. For some of these children, the food they receive at school is the "best" meal they receive all day... I shudder to think of hungry, disadvantaged students receiving tax-payer subsidized meals made up of sick animals that should have been humanely euthanized but are instead sent into our food supply.

I've already tried to be socially conscious with my meat purchases but really, what incidents like this drive home is that I don't have the stomach for typical American-style meat consumption. I will continue to support local producers, like the fine folks at Skagit River Ranch other farmer's market suppliers. I will buy the free-range, grass fed veal that comes from the family farm and not an industrial complex. I will buy my meat sparingly, from reputable, humane, sustainable merchants and use it wisely. Meat supplied to restaurants (and schools!) is a stickier subject but I'm making this commitment as far as meat in my home goes. There will probably be many other steps after this one but this is the first step I'm taking.

That's where my head is on the matter of inhumane meat for the moment.


A New Way to Cook

Having exhausted myself on Cooking Thin for the time being, I've been combing through my excessive collection of cookbooks in search of other inspiring options. I have about a week's worth of recipes from Super Natural Cooking that I can now put together at any given moment (minus one or two ingredients). I expect we'll have some Otsu this weekend.

I also pulled out a book of mine that I got sometime between 1993 and 1997, when I was living in Vancouver, BC. Several pages in the section on rice and noodles are filthy, marked, and well-used. When I was living in Vancouver on my husband's grad student stipend, we couldn't afford the recipes that called for shrimp or salmon or steamer clams and I haven't looked much at it in the last decade or so. An interesting book of Asian fusion cooking, it was good for its time but many of the recipes rely very heavily cilantro, ginger, garlic and lemon or lime over and over. I guess a decade ago, those were ingredients that were common enough that it was safe to build a recipe around them with slight variations and still capture some of that "Pacific flavor" but even trying very hard to only pick recipes with the most differentiation, I felt my mental palate beginning to tire. I'm still interested in trying a couple of the recipes I've flagged but I have to admit they show their age a bit. Still, the Thai Papaya Shrimp Salad sounds good enough that I'm going to give it a spin as soon as my green papayas are sufficiently ripe.

Another book I've had for the better part of 7 years is one that I've looked through once in a while but never tackled in any meaningful way. This weekend I went through it thoroughly. Unlike Pacific Flavors, A New Way to Cook remains fresh and enticing. With my current nutritional goals in mind, suddenly this book was singing to me. I went through it thoroughly over the weekend, taking notes and marking out almost a dozen recipes that I can hardly wait to try. Cabbage Braised with Smoky Ham and Riesling. Sesame-Crusted Swordfish with Cilantro and Coconut Chutney. Honey-Cured Pork Loin with Juniper and Fennel Seed Rub. Beans with Wild Mushrooms in Fennel Broth. I'm so excited about these new flavors, I can barely contain myself. I didn't have the energy to make homemade fennel broth when I got home from the store tonight at close to 10pm, but soon, very soon, it will be mine.

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Today's Excellent Meal

I just adore Heidi Swanson's food blog, 101Cookbooks.com so when I was thinking of what to make for lunch today (which turned into a bit of an impromptu Bed Day when Kate went over to a friend's house for the day) I immediately thought of the gorgeous Vegetarian Split Pea Soup recipe she just posted. Inspired, I added her Curried Egg Salad on a piece of whole grain dark toast.

It turned out great! The soup really benefited from the garnishes: olive oil, smoked paprika, and just a hit of lemon zest. Wow, what a winner!

Heidi's book, Super Natural Cooking, is also an excellent resource. I highly recommend browsing around Heidi's generous blog archives and if you like what you see, give the cookbook a look for yourselves.

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How Theater Failed America

Last night Pramas and I went to see Mike Daisey's new show, How Theater Failed America. It was the third time he'd performed the show ever and he performed to a packed house (they had to break out the overflow seating); I told him after the show how hard I'd had to work to suppress the urge to "heckle" (or rather yell out my completely platonic love for him) during one portion of the show and he looked genuinely relieved as he thanked me for not doing so. I shrieked with laughter during the show when he did his bit about people "dialoging" because I had just gone on a rant about how I'm sick of everything being a "dialog" while we were waiting for the doors to open: Kate's after school program manager wanted to "dialog" with me because she could tell I was eager to get away from her and she thought she's upset me... we'd just seen an advertisement for a yoga studio that proclaimed that yoga established a "dialog" between mind and body. Not ten minutes later, Mike had me in stitches by hitting the "dialog" thing with his special brand of sweaty, exuberant verbal hammer. How's that for an image?

The thing is, Mike's clearly a favorite here and not just with me. He sells out his events at CHAC and this debut run of the new show (which begins its off-Broadway run in New York shortly) was no different. At the beginning of his month-long run he was performing his excellent Monopoly monologue, which we'd heard before but misremembered as his Tesla show, so saw again. Thing is, it was still enjoyable. No regrets.

How Theater Failed America is the most personally relevant of Mike's shows that I've seen. Even though he was often talking about the state of theater specifically, more than that he hit on the themes of passion, art, sacrifice, and those moments of success (or what passes for it) and the ever-present threat of crushing failure. I loved this show. I loved this show for exactly the reasons Mike lays out in his monologue that regional theater is failing. So many of his insights and experiences were directly applicable to my little artsy pond of the roleplaying game industry. Mike's description of the actors setting upon the cheese plates at theater openings was all too familiar, except in my case it was indy publishers literally pocketing the left-over brie and booze after some bigger company's GTS or GenCon function broke up. You can hear an excerpt of the monologue here. Although it is sadly leaving Seattle after tonight, I heartily recommend it if Mike comes to perform it at a theater near you.

To get some idea of the tone, if not the content of the show, I encourage you to read this piece he wrote for The Stranger.

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I caucused for Obama today. Our meeting place was the local public school a few blocks from our house and as we went out onto the street we could see dozens of people converging on the school. Waiting at the stoplight with a crowd, we could hear people talking about hos they'd never been to a caucus before, how exciting it was to see so many people out, that kind of thing. Obama supporters were out in droves.

When my precinct went off to debate we were so large a group we had to be shuffled off into a spare classroom. We had almost 80 voters and there many small children in the room who came along with their parents. Some of the hard core political activists from the neighborhood, who go to all the community meetings for anything, were saying that the last caucus they managed to get about 15 people to show up. After a couple of false starts and many impassioned speeches in favor of candidates, we ended up with 56 votes for Obama, 19 for Clinton, 1 for Gravel (as some sort of weird protest vote?) and two undecided. I stayed around for the whole thing, intending to offer myself as a delegate but the next two meetings I would have to attend as a delegate conflict with planned trips (like GTS) and I couldn't in good conscience sign up knowing I couldn't attend.

I'd like to say it was exciting. I guess it was, in a way, but the whole thing was also crowded, noisy, a little disorganized and confusing (especially with so many voters in our area for whom English is not a first language). There was also the bizarre opening with the Pledge of Allegiance, the mandatory reading of the Democratic Party's official statements and pleas for donations, and the outrageous claim that "the Republicans have filibustered" a record number of bills since the Dems gained majority. That last claim really bugged me, because I know it was meant to fire up the crowd to be active in Democratic election campaigns this year but I think it was really dishonest. The Republicans in Congress haven't actually filibustered, the Democrats have handed them those "victories" by agreeing to roll over and give up on anything that didn't have 60 votes. Sorry, but I hold the Democratic leadership responsible for that! Republicans threatening a filibuster? Make them DO IT. Bet your life there wouldn't have been 90+ bills "defeated" if they'd actually had to pull off a filibuster each time! Hell, these were the guys who so strenuously complained about having to put in a five day work week when the Dems took over!

Ahem. Anyway. About the caucus.

In theory you could debate issues and try to convince people to switch to your candidate at the caucus, but what I saw was that people came out because they already knew who they were going to support and they were not interested in being swayed. The undecided chick in our room said she'd heard nothing at this meeting that would have helped her decide on a candidate, despite people wasting about an hour trying to persuade others to their side. What I did see was an overwhelming turnout in favor or Obama. Several of the Clinton voters who spoke up for her prefaced their support by saying their choice was very close; one woman was leaning Obama but voted Clinton to "keep the national dialog going" and Clinton's one strong supporter in the room is someone who knew her personally and has worked closely with her in charity work over the last 40 years. Obama supporters were gleeful, excited, engaged, energized. Many of them had been at yesterday's rally. The Obama people ran out of stickers/buttons/literature to hand out to attendees before things even got started. The experience was interesting, though I have to admit that I would much prefer to just mark a ballot and be done with it.

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Nikchick Eats More Veggies

Met with a nutritionist today. Wow, was that RIGHT up my alley. It was great to have my gut instincts validated by a professional who gave thumbs up to my recent food choices and was able to laugh at my enthusiasm when I blurted out things like "I already have that in the fridge!" or "I have a great recipe for that!" in response to her suggestions. Her selections of rubber foods to demonstrate portion sizes for everything from peanut butter to pork chops were a hoot. Hooray for nutrition therapy, that's what I say.

Am continuing to move my diet back to including many more vegetables. Now, I'm a former vegetarian and I have a broad palate and no fear of veggies or soy but I've also got a weakness for meat and cheese. I am, after all, a Midwestern girl at heart and the daughter of a hunter to boot. Trying to be a vegetarian in my dad's house meant a lot of iceberg lettuce. Blech.

Three more recent recipes, simple but different enough, both from the Kathleen Daelemans book that I've referred to before.

Oven-Roasted Carrots and Parsnips

1 pound peeled carrots, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 pound peeled parsnips, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Put vegetable chunks in a ziptop bag with the oil and shake to coat evenly. Pour vegetables onto a baking sheet in a single layer, salt and pepper to taste. Roast uncovered 25-35 minutes, stirring once halfway through, until vegetables are cooked through. My parsnips were softer than my carrots, so I would recommend judging doneness from the tenderness of the carrots first.

Fennel, Carrot, and Cranberry Salad

1/2 cup red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 head fennel, cored and grated or finely julienned
2 carrots, peeled and grated or finely julienned
1/4 cup dried cranberries, cherries, or raisins
salt and pepper

In a small bowl, whisk together vinegar, honey and olive oil. Combine fennel, carrots, and cranberries in a medium bowl and toss with half the dressing. Refrigerate for at least four hours. Before serving, drain off any water given off by the fennel and re-dress with the remaining dressing. Season to taste, serve immediately. This salad was absolutely delicious and went great with a broiled herb-crusted tilapia fillet.
EDIT: That should be 1/4 cup dried cranberries, NOT 14 cups dried cranberries. Yikes!

Apple and Raw Beet Salad

1 tsp. grated ginger root
1 pound beets
1 large Granny Smith apple
3 Tbsp. sherry vinegar (I actually used 2 Tbsp raspberry vinegar and 1 Tbsp cider vinegar)
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/8 tsp. cracked black pepper
1 to 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

Grate fresh ginger directly into a medium bowl (definitely use a microplane grater for this if you have one! It also works to press the ginger through a heavy duty garlic press if you have that instead). Grate beets and apple with a large-sized grater (I used my food processor for this but you could use a box grater just as easily). Toss until ginger is evenly distributed. Add vinegar, salt, pepper, and olive oil to the bowl and toss to coat evenly. Adjust seasonings if desired. Serve immediately or chilled.

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Obama in Seattle

Obama is appearing at Key Arena tomorrow. I would really love to go but Chris and I have an important appointment that conflicts with the timing.

I will be caucusing this weekend. I guess that will have to do.



Cooking Again

Monday I had a minor procedure done at Virginia Mason and when dinner time rolled around, I did not feel up to being on my feet and cooking anything. I was also definitely not in the mood to drive (or ride the bus!) anywhere in the cold and damp. Luckily for me, my sweetie is a capable cook and stepped up to the plate.

It's undoubtedly a factor of my childhood poverty that drives me to keep my house ridiculously stocked with food. That tendency has served me well (like the summer when I was pregnant and my grad student husband didn't have a job... we lived on little but my stores got us a long way through what could have been an even more unpleasant situation) and came to my rescue again this week. Chris was able to pull from a selection of foods that I'd prepared in advance and chose some lean pork chops that had been frozen in a ginger-soy marinade. We had the spinach-pear salad with them and called it a good meal.

Tonight I was in the same frame of mind but for a different reason. After a week that involved a lot of stress and a lot of running around, today was Bed Day. I made a thermos of hot tea and took it to bed with me, where I watched my ancient VHS tape of Groundhog Day (from back in the days when you didn't have to watch commercials before the movie you just bought), read my Cooks Illustrated 2007 Annual, lounged, napped, and never got out of my jammies.

Pulling together a dinner from leftovers and what we had in the fridge, I sliced a couple of remaining pork chops and sauteed the strips, heated some leftover Black Japonica rice that I'd served this week with some sweet and sour tofu, dug out some whole wheat tortillas, shredded romaine, a little extra sharp cheddar and a jar of salsa to make a hearty and delicious meal. I wanted to make my favorite tomato, avocado, and preserved lemon salad but when I went to cut into the avocado it was gross so I improvised a tomato-hearts of palm salad with balsamic and lime instead. I was inordinately pleased with the dinner.

Lest I give the impression that everything is a success, I made an egg and vegetable dish for breakfast that took so long to prepare it turned into lunch. First I had to slice and grill (or roast) several slices of zucchini and eggplant. I had bottled roasted red peppers so I didn't do those from scratch, though they undoubtedly would have tasted far better. When the veggies were roasted, they were layered in a baking dish with a chopped mix of herbs between each layer (I used fresh parsley, oregano, and thyme) and four hollows made and then four eggs cracked into each hollow. The whole thing was topped with a little tomato sauce and grated Parmesan and baked. I was feeling pretty good about it (the directions for the recipe I was following said bake for 7-10 minutes until the yolks set) but my yolks absolutely would not set! I baked for 10 minutes. Nothing. Five minutes more, still not even close. I tried giving the whole thing a zap in the microwave and the yolks finally set. Once the dish was done, it was fine and all but pretty much not worth the work. As I said to Chris, it's no Eggs Beatrice (though to be fair, it doesn't have the better part of a stick of butter in it, either).

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