Sunday, November 30, 2008

Raw, Idiom: b. Informal. in the nude; naked: sunbathing in the raw


This is so smart.

In this season of economic downturn, Planned Parenthood of Indiana is offering holiday vouchers as gifts.  What a great idea!  When people are struggling to meet their basic needs and health insurance especially is at a premium, what better and more practical gift than to provide a gift certificate for birth control, or an annual check-up, or whatever else you're feeling like snagging from the Planned Parenthood around the corner.

Now that is the kind of gift I can get behind.  How thoughtful.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Raw, noun: 13. unrefined sugar, oil, etc.


Bundt Cake Saturday!

Morning: grey
Mood: coconutty
Music: Mascagni

The City's so quiet this holiday weekend, it's amazing.  No wannabe-American Idol singers upstairs, no barbecue-ing dudes below.  The two cute little girls from the Chinese family downstairs playing badminton with Gramps outside on the sidewalk yesterday were the only signs of life thus far.

Managed to avoid entirely the Union Square shopping hordes yesterday.  If I hadn't known it was Black Friday, the day would have gone completely unnoticed.  Did you see that ridiculous fake field goal attempt in yesterday's NU-CU game?  Erghh.  Those boys were doing everything they possibly could to lose that game.  A nailbiter, fer sure.  I was bartending and happened to bond with another old-school Nebraska dude (emphasis on the old).  I think I may have a future with a 40-something named Randall should I choose.  Erm.  Yeah.

Anyway, bundts!  Ok.  To be honest, this weekend I'm baking 3 cakes in 4 days, and I'm a little concerned about bundt burn-out.  Between Thanksgiving and my good buddy's birthday today, I'm spending a lot of early mornings in the kitchen.  So I wanted a recipe that was, frankly, easy and mindless, something delicious that would look good without taking a lot of thought or effort.  And I thought I found that in this simple

GERMAN CHOCOLATE BUNDT CAKE

But little did I know there was such a wide world of German Chocolate action out there!  Do a quick Google Image search and your jaw will drop at the vast expanse of possibilities.  Then go here, for instance, for an LA Times story on the world of German Chocolate, or go here for the alcoholic version (a "German Chocolate caketini," the typing of which makes me twitch a little bit involuntarily).  Apparently my lazy mentality isn't going to cut it.  I already made this recipe on Thursday for Thanksgiving, but today, inspired by these beauties, I'm going to try to fancy it up a bit.  

We'll be employing the new Bavarian-style mold today.  Unfortunately, with the frosting you won't see much of it, but oh well - there will be other weeks.  Let's get going on this with some 

INGREDIENTS

1 (18.25 ounce) box German chocolate cake mix
1 box chocolate instant pudding
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/4 cups water
4 eggs
1 teas. vanilla
1/2 jar Milky Way ice cream topping (or caramel, etc.)
coconut pecan frosting
chocolate frosting

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease a Bundt pan.  Combine first six ingredients and beat for 2 minutes.  Pour into prepared Bundt pan and swirl Milky Way ice cream topping through batter.  Bake for 50 to 55 minutes.  Cool 10 minutes and then turn out onto wire rack.

The original simple recipe I found didn't include vanilla, so I threw that in and added more pudding than it called for, too.  I found a ridiculous squeezable caramel topping that I just swirled onto the batter before throwing it in the oven.  (Where was this sticky-sweet action when we were kids?!)

Settled on the simple coconut pecan frosting, and picked up some chocolate, as well.  Thursday I cut the cake in half and layered it with the coconut pecan, but it was kind of a hot mess, and weirdly-shaped when I tried to reassemble it, so today we'll just slather it on top, cover the sides with chocolate, and call it good.

Add a few extra dollops of chocolate on top, and cut a few sprigs of rosehips and eucalyptus from the arrangement in your living room.  And voila.

Recipe courtesy (in part) www.divinerecipes.com

Friday, November 28, 2008

Raw, adjective: 2. not having undergone processes of preparing, dressing, finishing, refining, or manufacture

Wow, am I glad I'm not standing in line somewhere right now waiting to buy a Tickle-Me-Elmo.



10. take a yoga class
9. read a book
8. sing
7. go for a walk
6. make a cake (or waffles, or dinner)
5. go to a cafe and people-watch
4. read the newspaper
3. plant a garden
2. volunteer somewhere
1. play an instrument

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Raw, adjective: 5. crude in quality or character; not tempered or refined by art or taste





        Do you like my pilgrim outfit for today?

        It goes well with bundts.

                        ~

        Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Raw, adjective: 1. uncooked, as articles of food: a raw carrot.


Once again YJ has pulled through with another perfectly appropriate little reminder before tomorrow's gorging hits.  Take a few minutes to read this article before you sit down to the dinner table; it draws some smart parallels between eating and yoga that I really, really dig.

The holidays are understandably maybe not the best time to make big changes to your diet, but there are a few bits of smart advice here that might make the difference between you feeling ready for a turkey trot after dinner or passing out on the sofa to the drone of college football.  Hale Sofia Schatz hits on some of the biggies for a more content bod: eat fruits alone, lay off on the heavy proteins, avoid the refined shit, and don't mix grains with fruits, especially.

It sounds like a pain in the ass, yeah, but there's some ancient wisdom here in terms of the general systemic health (and happiness) of the body as related to its core, the digestive system.  Seriously.  Your mental and emotional and spiritual states are so related to what you put in your body.  Enjoy tomorrow, eat a lot of delicious shit, but keep in mind that you might feel a lot better Friday morning if you follow a few of these basic guidelines in keeping your digestive fires burning.

Raw, idiom: 14a. in the natural, uncultivated, or unrefined state: nature in the raw.


Yesterday I picked up an armful of eucalyptus on my way out of the grocery.  I've been on a eucalyptus kick for a few weeks now; the unique foresty scent really fills up your home, and it's a broad and strong enough green that it fills out a vase nicely, too.  But I wanted something to arrange with it, something holiday-ish and unique, so I wandered outside to the flowers on the porch in search of hypericum.  Instead, I found myself face-to-face with rosehips.

Did you know rosehips look almost identical to holly berries?  At least, to this relatively untrained eye they do.  Before last night, I'd never seen rosehips in their natural state; I'd only read of them often on the back of my tea bags, or seen them listed in ingredients for herbal tinctures.  So here you go.  Rosehips.

Turns out they're wildly healthy and really useful for things like syrups, wines, jellies and jams.  And of course, great for steeping your own tea.  These puppies are apparently rich with Vitamin C, iron, and antioxidants.  Who knew?!  

There's a very adorably provincial website here called Backwoods Home Magazine that's got a charming little article on rosehips, including how to pick them, what they're good for nutritionally, and a recipe for a killer rosehip pancake/waffle syrup.  Delish.

Raw, adjective: 5. crude in quality or character; not tempered or refined by art or taste





            Get ready.  I have a new bundt.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Raw, adjective: 11. unprocessed or unevaluated: raw data.


SO somewhere in the midst of all the turkey-stuffing and the pie-making and the champagne-drinking and the Jackman-watching and the buying-nothing this week, there's a little something about thanks-giving going on.  And even though we usually take a few obligatory moments to acknowledge what we're grateful for (blue nail polish made the list for me for several years in a row in the late 90's; now, it's usually more like plants and babies and my own juicer), that brief moment of consciousness is quickly eclipsed by the initial dive into the sliced tofurkey.

Philip Moffitt, always reliable for some sage wisdom, has an old piece on gratitude that was highlighted in my YJ newsletter the other day.  And it's worth your time.  The thing is, it's not this cheesy Pollyanna shit about being grateful for mashed potatoes or whatever, but it's about the deeply serious tradition of mindfulness and the gravity and calm of gratitude in the midst of suffering.  Read this blurb:
Let me be clear: The practice of gratitude is not in any way a denial of life's difficulties. We live in troubling times, and no doubt you've experienced many challenges, uncertainties, and disappointments in your own life. Nor does the practice of gratitude deny the Buddha's teaching on death: Death is certain; your death is certain; the time of death is unknown; the time of your death is unknown. Rather, gratitude practice is useful because it turns the mind in such a way that it enables you to live into life or, more accurately, to die into life. Having access to the joy and wonderment of life is the antidote to feelings of scarcity and loss. It allows you to meet life's difficulties with an open heart. The understanding you gain from practicing gratitude frees you from being lost or identified with either the negative or the positive aspects of life, letting you simply meet life in each moment as it rises.
Whew.  Yeah.  You can see that this is pretty wrapped-up in Buddhist notions of mindfulness -similar to Pema Chodron's notion of pause practice that I mentioned a few months ago - and it's certainly not something that should be resigned to one day a year and bracketed by turkey and cranberry sauce.  Moffitt's article hits on the shift in consciousness that is being mindfully grateful, the actual practice of changing the way you see the world such that you understand the depth and complexity of everyday events and don't get so caught up in the miniature dramas of daily life that you lose sight of the bigger picture (ergh, pet peeve).  Like, you bitch about the fact that your feet hurt from being on them at work for 8 hours, but you forget how great it is that a) you have a job, especially in this economy, and b) your legs work to use them, and c) you even have legs in the first place.  Um, yeah.  Talk about a perspective shift.

But this does take practice; it doesn't happen overnight.  And you've gotta do it consciously, enlisting the variety of wisdom traditions Moffitt highlights in this brief essay: Thoreau and the Transcendentalists, Rumi, the Bible, all of it.

Read the piece.  It's a good mindset to slip into at the beginning of this Thanksgiving week.  And might keep you from getting lost in family drama when Aunt Hilda asks you for the fortieth time when you're going to have another kid, or when the pumpkin pie you pull out of the oven slips out of your hand and plops all over the floor, or when you can't find an open liquor store on Thanksgiving to save your life.  It's all perspective, my friends.  All of it.

Selfless Gratitude (Yoga Journal)

Raw, adjective: 9. disagreeably damp and chilly, as the weather or air


It's been awhile, but once again it's time for another installment of that semi-regular series, Cool Hippie Shit You Should Really Know About.   Today, we have

PAPAYA! ART

Those of you who find my handwriting in your mailboxes from time to time might recognize this image at left.  It belongs to the beautiful artwork of a homegrown company called PaPaYa!, and their work is sold at the Whole Foods up the street from me.  That means that usually when I'm weaving my way from the produce section towards the kombucha aisle, I make the obligatory stop to twirl the card spinner and load up on a good ten or twenty bucks' worth of beautiful cards to pop in the mail at whim.

Happily, it's the kind of cozy grey day here perfect for discovering things one might not otherwise have a moment or two to stumble upon.  Which is how I ended up finding - imagine that! - PaPaYa!'s website this afternoon.  A veritable treasure trove of glittery art and jewel-toned visuals, it's really worth your time, and your money, too.  Especially in this economic moment, it feels good to support well-intentioned small companies like this one.  Dig in.

Raw, adjective: 7. brutally or grossly frank: a raw portrayal of human passions.


Ok, so I know this will out me as a closet softie, but I cannot wait to see Baz Luhrmann's new epic, "Australia."  What with the big opening Wednesday, the press has hit a premium, and all these shots of a bescruffed Hugh Jackman driving cattle along epic horizons are leaving me pretty much in a perpetual state of swoon.

Some of you know about my, erm, "thing" for Mr. Hugh.  Dreamboat central.  Have been enamored since catching him (twice) as Curly in the West End revival of Oklahoma! back in 1999.  Dude can sing.  And swagger.   It was clear then that he was in for a hot career.  And he hasn't disappointed.

Anyway, so in spite of the fact that Nicole Kidman and her chilly demeanor do little for me, I'm really looking forward to this film.  War, romance, period costumes, killer scenery, excellent accents, and the aforementioned Mr. Jackman.  You can count on seeing me at the theater Thursday night trying to fight off the food coma from the afternoon's feast. 

The Chron ran a quick interview with Jackman in yesterday's Datebook.  It's a good tease before the film opens later this week.  Enjoy, and please control the drool.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Raw, adjective: 2. not having undergone processes of preparing, dressing, finishing, refining, or manufacture


People!

Buy Nothing Day is this Friday!  I know you've been counting down since last year.

I won't be shutting up about this after today, but let's at least plant the idea in your mind as you go about your business this week.  Why don't we start off today with a simple link to the main campaign headquarters (courtesy of Adbusters), where you can find all you possibly want to know about how to best create a traffic-blocking shopping cart conga line at Wal-Mart this Friday.

Then, read the cover article on the economic crisis from the latest issue of Adbusters: "One week before Buy Nothing Day focuses the attention of activists around the world on the perils of overconsumption, groundbreaking economist, Herman Daly, zeroes in on the root cause of our financial meltdown."  No words spared here, friends.  They call it like they see it.

The Crisis (Adbusters)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Raw, adjective: 10. not diluted, as alcoholic spirits: raw whiskey.



Bundt Cake Saturday!

Morning: sunny
Mood: sleepy
Music: Imogen Heap

Good moooo-rning.  I just pulled the cake out of the oven, and the house is smelling killer, like a fresh lemon-scented Windex just cleaned the whole place, except it's not cleaning supplies, it's cake, and you can eat it, and that lemon zest isn't fake chemicals but is instead real-life-lemon-peel.  Excellent.

It's officially bourbon season now.  I'm not much of a bourbon person, never have been, but something about the chill in the air come late November into January combined with the holidays and the idea that if I were living somewhere else a little drier and further north I'd be rocking the heavy winter coat and slipping on ice whenever I went outside makes me want to drink a nice warm bourbon now and then.  Maybe a little Maker's and ginger, perhaps.  A cozy snuggle with some whiskey or even scotch if I'm feeling really ambitious.   

The urge always passes once the holidays are over and January's resolutions hit, but in the meantime, it's nice to indulge.  So this morning we're making a recipe with a nod to the onset of bourbon season, combined with one of my favorite fresh flavors.  Let's get on with it and make a 

LEMON BOURBON BUNDT CAKE

I found this recipe from someplace called the "whisky guild," which strikes me as hilarious unto itself, but anyway.  I tweaked it a bit, adding a few things there and changing some others up, so here's the recipe I ended up with:

INGREDIENTS

1 package lemon cake mix
2 small packages instant lemon pudding
4 eggs
1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup Bourbon
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
1 cup chopped pecans (or walnuts)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour bundt pan. Stir cake mix and pudding mix in large bowl to blend. Beat in eggs, then milk, 1/4 cup whiskey, oil and lemon peel. Mix nuts into batter. Transfer to prepared pan. Bake cake 45 to 50 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Cool with cake in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire cooling rack.

I had walnuts on hand here already, so I substituted those for the pecans called for.  We've got a massive CostCo-sized bottle of Jack Daniels that, natch, has sat untouched in our liquor cabinet probably since last year's holiday cocktail soiree, so I figured this would be a good way to make a small dent in it.  

You don't really need an icing for this one. I made a simply whiskey glaze and drizzled that on top of the warm cake. Just melt 1/4 cup unsalted butter, 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup whiskey in a heavy small saucepan over medium heat until the butter melts, the sugar dissolves, and the whiskey bubbles through, about 5 minutes. Then just spoon it over the cake.

I was surprised by the amount of glaze that little recipe made.  Was a little worried that the cake would be swimming in bourbon, but since there's not a ton in the batter itself, the glaze will do good things for the flavor, methinks.

On the way home from the post office while the cake cooled, I stopped off to visit the orchid man around the corner.  Usually I just stand and ogle his $16 stems, but today he hooked me up with a little handful of sweet dainty white flowers.  He doesn't speak much English, so I don't know what they're called, but they're delicate and their scent reminds me a little of freesia.  And IMHO, they make all the difference in turning an otherwise-blah-looking finish into a nice sweet aesthetic.

And there's your finished cake.  A nice twist on the usual lemon recipe.  Doesn't hard liquor make everything better?

Recipe courtesy www.whiskyguild.com

(And for those of you to whom this means anything, this cake - what with the lemon zest and the bourbon - is in honor of our boy Tom F., who's leaving us too soon.)

Friday, November 21, 2008

Raw, adjective: 9. disagreeably damp and chilly, as the weather or air: a raw, foggy day at the beach.


Two quickies for you this morning, a little food-for-thought on an early Friday when the heater's humming and the coffee pot's brewing:

The NYT has declared that hats are "back."  Well, duh.  I could've told you that.  The best purchases I've ever made have been my collection of cloches.  I'm besotted.  I kind of hope everyone else fails to catch the train, though.  I don't like sharing my sartorial obsessions.

And Mark Morford, one of my favorite regular Chron columnists, has a good column this morning questioning the conventional wisdom that it's better to buy than to rent.  Now, obviously, part of that is probably due to the fact that he's a city dweller in a city where you've gotta rake in millions in order to buy something bigger than a postage stamp, but at the same time, I think he's got a point.  We've heard so much about homes being the failsafe investment, and in these last few years, I think we're realizing that might not be so true after all.  But beyond the economic factors, I think Morford's onto something else here, too; something about fluidity and dynamism and flexibility and not being tied down, something about the more secure (read: fearful?) aspects of the American dream.  There's something to be said for the kind of freedom and ability to wander sans-mortgage.

Have a great Friday.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Raw, adjective: 7. brutally or grossly frank: a raw portrayal of human passions.


The Times tells me there's another Woolf literary adaptation for the theater onstage right now.  Little good that does me, given that it's running at Lincoln Center and only through the end of the week, so I suppose I'll have to be content with reading Ben Brantley's review.  

As conflicted as I was about Berkeley Rep's attempt to bring To the Lighthouse's stream-of-consciousness beauty to the stage, I still claim intrigue at these adaptations.  By all accounts, it sounds like this newest version of The Waves actually somewhat succeeds.

Brantley writes that "the world that is so magically summoned in this improbable page-to-stage translation of 'The Waves,' Virginia Woolf’s most challenging novel, is one of fragmentation and flux, of impenetrable solidity and ghostly transparency, of simultaneous bloom and decay."

You know that shit is good when even the review leaves you breathless.  As I get older and see with more ambiguous eyes the ways in which relationships and the natural trajectory of life and aging inhabit exceedingly fluid and dynamic grey spaces, my appreciation for Woolf's complex and moving prose increases.  Even more amazing is her prescience; The Waves was published in 1931, and yet all of these themes that reviewers mention - fluidity, "moments of being," the construction of identity and the fundamental interrelationality of the self - emerged in the kinds of process theologies and queer theologies that were only elucidated in the 1960s and beyond.  I guess that's part of what always drew me to theology in the first place: the ways in which its reflections on "being" and "meaning" take on such poetic and literary qualities, in ways that philosophy or science or even sociology never quite can.

Woolf was so remarkably ahead of her time.  I can't help but wonder if that brilliance was part of what made it so hard for her to be alive.

Read the review, see the show if you're in the neighborhood, and check out the preview piece that was published in the NYT last week while you're at it. 

Raw, adjective: 7. brutally or grossly frank: a raw portrayal of human passions.


Tao Te Ching, Chapter 56

Those who know don't talk.
Those who talk don't know.

Close your mouth,
block off your senses,
blunt your sharpness,
untie your knots,
soften your glare,
settle your dust.
This is the primal identity.

Be like the Tao.
It can't be approached or withdrawn from,
benefited or harmed,
honored or brought into disgrace.
It gives itself up continually
This is why it endures.

~  Translated by Stephen Mitchell

Raw, adjective: 11. unprocessed or unevaluated: raw data.


Quickie interview with Jim Wallis in this morning's Chron.  You know Wallis as a progressive voice in the Christian media, and as such, he's an interesting dude to check in with after the election.

Wallis makes some good points about social justice and the youth vote as related to abortion and gay rights issues.  He also brings up the fact that it might just be good for the conservatives to be forced to re-group; in so doing, they'll have to redefine their platform outside of the meat-and-potatoes abortion and gay issues that have been corralling the party of late.

Wish he'd have been a little more forthcoming in endorsing Obama, but you've gotta take what you can get, and if this guy continues to get airtime in speaking views that contradict with most mainstream Christians', I won't complain.

Raw, adjective: 11. unprocessed or unevaluated: raw data.


As we try to restructure our mental lives sans election drama, post-mortems keep popping up here and there in the media.  I'm not so much one for contrived "grand narratives" attempting to explain huge social shifts evidenced by the events of the last few years, but I found this piece from New York Magazine to be a fairly concise but on-point round-up of the gender politics involved in the Hillary-Sarah phenomena of the '08 election.  

The article is called "The 'Bitch' and the 'Ditz'," which pretty much sums up its key points.  Read it for a decent collection of conventional wisdom in the fallout from 18 million cracks being made in the glass ceiling.

I still don't believe Hillary was ever electable, but I'm intrigued by these latest buzzings about her being offered the Secretary of State position.  We'll see what happens after Obama's people finish vetting Bill, but in the meantime, it seems like a decent opportunity for this elder stateswoman to make her own way.  

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Raw, noun: 13. unrefined sugar, oil, etc.




Bundt Cake Saturday!

Morning: summery (!)
Mood: thoughtful
Music: silence...

It's been a bit of a wild week here.  I'm working toward a huge writing deadline (that actually came and went a day or two ago), and playing catch-up has meant living in front of my laptop when I am not stretching into Trikonasana or shaking martinis.  No time for any other reading or writing that doesn't involve some combination of the words "late-capitalism," "soteriology," "shunyata," and "erotic celibacy."  Um, yeah.  Erghh.

So the bundt distraction this morning has been a welcome respite.  I'll return the nose to the grindstone as soon as the cake cools, but for the time being, baking has been a refreshing change.  

Bundt Cake Bliss tells me that Nordic Ware at some point decreed that today, November 15th - of all days, even a Saturday this year! - is National Bundt Day.  Yeah.  Do with that what you will.  Make sure to mark your calendars for this very important annual holiday.  Start shopping for the bundt pans you're going to give me in observance next year.  In the meantime, we'll celebrate with a rather unusual recipe, one I've crafted a bit on my own with the help of a recipe I found online.  It's been four months already that we've been rolling with this little bundt experiment, and nearly 20 cakes in, I think I'm starting to get the hang of this.

So let's pull out the spice rack and bake a 

CARDAMOM SPICE BUNDT WITH DRIED CHERRIES AND PISTACHIOS

Mmm, some of my favorite things.  The cherries and pistachios in this recipe made it an automatic winner, and considering that I've got a $16 bottle of cardamom sitting in my spice cabinet waiting to be loved, I figured I'd take advantage of the opportunity to learn a little more about this native Indian spice.  I found a recipe and tweaked it a bit for the sake of convenience, since time is of the essence this week.  

INGREDIENTS

1 box yellow cake mix
2 small boxes instant vanilla pudding
1/2 c vegetable oil
4 eggs
1 c sour cream
1 teas cardamom
1/4 teas cinnamon
1 1/2 teas vanilla
1/2 cup chopped pistachios
1/2 cup dried cherries
Confectioner's sugar for serving

Preheat the oven to 350° F.  Grease and flour bundt pan, making sure to tap out excess flour.  In a large bowl, combine the cake mix, pudding, oil, eggs, sour cream, cardamom, cinnamon and vanilla.  Blend well for several minutes at a medium speed.  Stir the cherries and pistachios into the batter in the bowl, then spoon into the cake pan. Smooth the top of the cake with a spatula if necessary.  Place the cake in the preheated oven and bake for about 45 to 50 minutes, or until a pick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool the cake in its pan on a rack for 10 minutes. Invert the cake onto the rack, remove from pan, and continue to cool.

Not super difficult, but a sweet-smelling batter (nice and thick, too), some interesting spices, and a nice balance of fruit and nut.  The cake's got about 10 minutes left in the oven yet, and the cardamom scent is swirling nicely, so I think things will turn out just fine.  

No icing on this one; I think it's almost more appropriate as a simple breakfast coffee cake, so we'll hold off on the thick frosting this week.  I may just drizzle it with confectioner's sugar and a few dried cherries and pistachios to seal the deal.

That's about it, really.  Enjoy the flavors, and read up a little on cardamom - supposedly great for digestion, colds, coffee and chai flavoring, and even as an aphrodisiac.  Sweet.

Recipe courtesy (in part) about.com

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Raw, adjective: 6. ignorant, inexperienced, or untrained: a raw recruit.


You saw this article in the Times yesterday, right?  The one about how the South is increasingly politically obsolete in the wake of last week's election?

There's some interesting shit going down here.  Not only is the traditional "Southern strategy" showing its irrelevance, but the race factor involved in why certain parts of the South turned so red can't be denied.  Read to the end of the piece for some alarming quotations from people who had no problem being named discussing their fear of "outbreaks" from "aggressive" blacks in the wake of Obama's election.  !!!

Unbelievable.  Further convinces me that the Republican party is increasingly a refuge for anti-choice, anti-diversity, Christofascist reactionaries.  No wonder McCain lost.  You simply can't win as a representative of a party so rooted in backwards social values unless you claim them 100%.  And the addition of the token Palin didn't do enough to reel those voters in, in spite of their racist fears of the supposedly Muslim-affiliated Obama.

Sigh.  

(Can you tell I'm not quite over the election yet?  There's a politics-shaped void in my morning reading these days; strange after so many years' devotion to the outcome of this particular race.  But let's not even discuss the recent Palin interviews splashed all over the media.  We will definitely be hearing more from her, whether we want to or not.)

Monday, November 10, 2008

Raw, adjective: 1. uncooked, as articles of food: a raw carrot.



(Belated) Bundt Cake Saturday!

Morning: actually, it's afternoon
Mood: mellow
Music: the cars on the street down below my bay window

Ok, so it's a few days overdue, but whatever.  The Obama afterglow still shines.  And since this recipe was all about encouraging All Things Blue in honor of election night (and Jinny's birthday) last Tuesday, the lingering periwinkle vibes still apply.  And hopefully will continue to do so for the next four years.

So in honor of the new Prez and the several election parties that were graced by my champagne-addled presence last week, I give you a  

BLUEBERRY CREAM BUNDT CAKE

I've never really baked with blueberries, and most recipes tend toward the cobbler or pie variety.   So here's a twist.  Because your other options for "blue" cakes are pretty, well, bizarro, tending toward strange children's renditions of Cookie Monster and relying upon eerily vibrant food coloring action.

INGREDIENTS

1 package yellow cake mix
2 small packages cheesecake pudding
1/4 cup white sugar
3 eggs
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups blueberries lightly coated with flour to keep them from sinking to the bottom

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour a 10 inch Bundt pan.  In a large bowl, stir together cake mix, pudding and sugar. Make a well in the center and pour in eggs, cream cheese, oil and vanilla. Beat on low speed until blended. Scrape bowl, and beat 4 minutes on medium speed. Stir in blueberries. Pour batter into prepared pan.  Bake in the preheated oven for 40 to 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely.

The original recipe I found for this didn't include pudding, but the last several months have taught me it's a key ingredient for a moist cake.  So in the first version that I made, I added cheesecake pudding; in the second, vanilla.  Both worked well.  I'd probably choose cheesecake the next time I make it, though.

Given the cream cheese in the cake batter, I assumed that only cream cheese frosting would be appropriate.  The first cake - for Jinny's birthday party that night - I sprinkled with edible blue, red, and silver glitter.  The second - the one pictured here that I took along to a shindig - I decorated with deep red Gerber daisies.  I really loved the striking contrast, and felt a little like Martha Stewart.  The red was the closest thing to a McCain solidarity shout-out that I came all week.  Gotta feel a little bit sorry for the old loser.

Feedback on this recipe seemed particularly positive.  That might've had something to do with the fact that most people who ate it were already feeling pretty giddy about the results of the election (also something about cocktails laced with blue curacao), but whatevs.  I'll take it.

Definitely a recipe to keep in your files for future use.  It's equally good as a summery treat and a morning breakfast cake served warm with coffee.  And the beautiful blue swirls accompanying the berries in the finished cake lend their own pretty aesthetic touch.

So here's to blue: states, presidents, and cocktails!

Recipe courtesy divinerecipes.com

Raw, adjective: 2. not having undergone processes of preparing, dressing, finishing, refining, or manufacture


One more shout-out to the land of Blue Hens as I tie up the loose ends from election week and the weekend on the East Coast.

UD has a wrap-up that hits on all the ways in which UDel alums were central to the presidential race (and will continue to be, now that Joe and Jill are in the VP business).  Check it here.

Otherwise of note, other than baby-squeezing and wedding-celebrating: holy autumn foliage.  The drive up through rural PA north and west of Philly was pretty dreamy.  I'd forgotten what it's like to have the trees explode in burnt oranges and crimsons.  A nice reminder.

And, of course, the Wawa.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Raw, adjective: 2. not having undergone processes of preparing, dressing, finishing, refining, or manufacture


And we come to you now in the wee small hours of the morning curled up in a corner of the Phoenix International Airport.

I would say it's a "quiet" corner, but they're all quiet right now, such as it is, 12:48 am MST and not a soul coming in or out, despite the fact that I have situated myself nearest the international arrivals gate and the janitors and security guards pop their heads out in an attempt to look like they're working even though the only other signs of life are the rumbles of the radios to the left and the infrequent shuffles of a night cleaning crew buffing by.

It's a strange and deserted place and I have just chugged the entire contents of a Diet Coke fountain soda bigger than my head.  I have not had a Diet Coke in approximately 5.5 years.  This is a monumental moment.  But the fact that I am here with myself and my Macbook and an echoing Phoenix airport godblessedly hooked up with free wireless necessitated a trip to the only local food or beverage establishment open in this sleeping airport: the Paradise Bakery & Cafe.  And after two days' of consuming nonstop French Vanilla WaWa coffee, I couldn't drink any more java (yes, believe it or not).  And the Paradise only otherwise offered sugary juices and soft drinks.  So a massive Diet Coke it is.  Or was, as it's empty now, and my heart's rushing a strange unfamiliar rush, and I'm grateful my hands aren't shaking just yet.  That may come.

There's a great art gallery here.  It was pleasant to stroll in unseen and linger there, unbothered by anyone else.  The Pueblo Spirit shop is all closed up behind glass doors.  A shame, because I was really hoping to buy some fake Navajo shit to hang on my walls next to the animal heads and the tie-dye tarps.

I'm currently squatting on an abandoned Starbucks couch.  It's fairly lush and I feel somewhat subversive abusing Starbucks for their wares when they are closed and unable to charge me for something.  But a quick flirt with two young strapping bored-looking policemen proved fruitful; a few loose smiles and tilts of the head and they were the ones giving me the directions for illegal places to squat.  Amazing what a few feminine wiles will do.

And now I'll kill the next 7 hours with free wireless and possibly another trip to the Paradise Bakery & Cafe.  You may get a helluva lot of blog posts tonight.  And if that gets old, it may be time to chat up the janitorial staff.  A girl's gotta take her opportunities where she finds them, even if they look like a long silent stretch of the PHX Sky Harbor airport haunted by empty shops and emptier security lines.  I haven't seen that awful-looking Ben Stiller "Night at the Museum" film, but if I did, I have a feeling it might be a little like this.

Ciao from PHX, land of John McCain.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Raw, adjective: 11. unprocessed or unevaluated: raw data.


Top 15 Most Satisfying Things on a Morning in Early November:

15. Waking up in a fabulous hotel with fast wireless and delicious sheets

14. The fresh pot of coffee brewing around the corner in said hotel

13. Sitting in bed in lotus watching the news trying to pretend the economy isn't crashing and burning.  Abovementioned coffee playing a large role in this attempt.

12. No longer being stuck on my uncomfortable ass in a plane that was delayed 7 hours and made me miss my bonding time with the cutest baby born in the last 5 weeks.  (US Airways, it's over)

11. Knowing you're going to see her in a few hours

10. Knowing you're going to see the rest of your old ones at the end of the afternoon for a party involving cocktails and dancing and big white dresses.  And lots of hugs.

9. Driving through the main street of your old college town at midnight and seeing stumbling 20-year-olds on the sidewalks and knowing you're a grown-up and they're not you and god, was it really that long ago?

8. Free morning newspapers

7. Not being on a plane anymore.  Not being on a plane anymore next to a whining middle-aged mom.  Not being on plane anymore next to a whining middle-aged mom from Jersey.

6. Cranking up the thermostat and doing your own homegrown Bikram yoga on the blue- and yellow-checked carpet.

5. Sitting in Joe Biden's home state and feeling the VP buzz

4. Knowing you get to go home to SF again

3. WaWa glistening down the street (I CAN'T WAIT PEOPLE)

2. The fact that it's about as warm here this morning in the Mid-Atlantic as it is in San Francisco

1. Obama afterglow.  'Nuff said.

I've been tempted to say something about the election and the widespread euphoria of the past few days (barring the unfortunate passing of Prop 8, something many of us just didn't foresee happening).  But the pundits and the journalists and the political scientists are all over it.  There's not much I can add.  Except for: relief.  Release.  Rejuvenation.  Rebirth.  Renewal.

Sweet jesus.  Change.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Raw, adjective: 1. uncooked, as articles of food: a raw carrot.


That would be me, and celery, and Tony Bennett's painted heart, in Union Square.  A nice illustration of the things I miss when I head out of town for a few days: namely, raw foods, sunshine, art, and all things SF.

After the wild hubbub that is Election Day subsides, and the blueberry-themed bundt cakes that come with it are long baked and eaten, I'll be heading east this weekend to celebrate more babies and weddings.  It's that chapter in my life, you know; those several years when all exotic travel plans are subsumed into the more important cross-country trips to mark vows and births and big life changes.  The wedding bit of that is finally coming to a close, and now the babies are taking over.  So this weekend will mean a much-awaited introduction to little Baby Rachel D., and a reunion with many of yous college types to celebrate the union of Unga and V-Train.

I always get homesick for SF before I even leave it, though.  I'm too attached to my lifestyle here.  The food and the walking and the yoga two blocks down.  I get a little twitchy even thinking about being away for more than a few days.  Never thought my restless wanderlust would turn into homefires burning, but there you have it.  

One of the harder parts of travel is maintaining my daily attempts to live fairly high raw.  It's easy when Whole Foods is around the corner and I can raid my fridge for apples and kombucha; it's harder when you're trying to find something healthy-ish to live on in the Philly airport.  

So here, for your info but more for mine, is a quickie raw foods travel primer that will help you and me both get through those days away from home.

Travelin' Raw:

1. Hard to find a Jamba Juice on every corner anywhere else for fresh wheatgrass.  Pack yer Kyo-Green barley-wheatgrass powdered tablets for on-the-go greens.

2. Cut up fresh veg and throw them in your carry-on.  You'll be glad you've got them 3.5 hours in when you're somewhere over Kentucky and the only option food-wise is a crumbly biscotti cookie from the flight attendant.

3. Take along your psyllium hulls.  Colon health is central to whole body health!  Especially when you're traveling and eating, well, crap.

4.  Pack a box of Roxanne's raw energee.  I remain in love with these little nibbles.  Sure, they look like mouse food, but they're so rich with natural protein and energy and all kinds of good sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds and maca and whatnot.  Totally unprocessed, unlike other forms of protein like PowerBars that might as well be Snickers.  Can't emphasize this one enough.

5.  Likewise, stock up on LaraBars before you go.  They fit into your luggage and will get you through several days wherein your only options are potatoes au gratin and chocolate cake.  Check out the new-ish flavors like Coconut Cream Pie to treat yourself while still getting your omega-3s and 6s.

You can leave your heart here, but don't leave your health, too.  Traveling's ever so much better when you can take some of your healthy habits along.  And the yoga will come, in a corner of the airport gate or the nasty carpet in your hotel room.

Raw, adjective: 9. disagreeably damp and chilly, as the weather or air


Sat tucked up in the trees at the Greek Theatre in Berkeley last night watching the fog roll in over the crowd listening to One Jason Mraz bring it.  What a show.

Dude has got some pipes.  Along with one of the hotter senses of rhythm I've witnessed in some time.  Notwithstanding the hundreds of other folks feeling the same way, it was one of the better dates I've had in awhile.  Whew.  This raw-vegetable-eating peace-loving green-living yoga-practicing guitar-playing hat-wearing Obama-voting Prop-8-fighting troubadour puts on a good show, especially when you're sitting in a grove of thick trees and the air's cool and everyone's jamming.

I don't usually go for tenors, but this one can wail.  Mraz mostly covered the big 'uns from his latest album, but there in the twilight and the mist and the silence of the sky overhead, the simplicity of the melodies and the richness of his voice were amplified.

Catch a show if it stumbles into your neck of the woods.  You won't be disappointed.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Raw, adjective: 1. uncooked, as articles of food: a raw carrot.




Bundt Cake Saturday!

Morning: wet
Mood: cozy
Music: Trumpet Child (thanks, guys)

Aaaaaaand it's November.  And, as if on cue, the winter rains have rolled in.  And it's dark and cool and drippy here in the City, which is probably appropriate, given that 97% of the neighborhood denizens are probably curled up in bed right now sleeping off seriously head-throbbing hangovers.  The combination of Halloween and a Friday night made for a crazy one around these parts.  The new neighbors next door decided to christen the place with a Halloween blow-out.  Good times.

So anyway, we'll do a quick little Halloween cake this morning before moving on toward Thanksgiving harvest flavors.  I found a perfect recipe, a clever combination of charming aesthetics and appropriate name and new ingredients that I've not baked with much before.  So gather up your devil's costume crumpled up in the corner, slip on your horns, and let's make an

ORANGE DEVIL'S FOOD BUNDT CAKE

The recipe is intriguing without being overbearing; prep time was easy and the cake was in the oven within minutes.  The kitchen is filling with the scent of orange now.  V. good.

INGREDIENTS

1 box devil's food cake mix
1 box vanilla instant pudding
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup orange juice
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 tbl. orange peel, grated
1 tsp. orange extract
1 cup coconut (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour your bundt pan.  Blend all ingredients, except coconut, in a large bowl until moistened. Beat on medium speed until well blended, about 3 minutes. Add coconut last, and mix by hand. Pour batter into prepared pan, bake 50-55 minutes or until cake tester inserted into middle comes out clean.  Allow cake to cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes before inverting onto a wire rack.

Easy, right?  I'm not usually a huge fan of fruits combined with chocolate flavors, but a few months ago when I discovered the Lara Bar version of Chocolate Orange, I was pleasantly surprised by how delicious the combination of flavors was.  So I'm thinking this will just be another Lara Bar, on a grander scale, with more frosting, more processing, and less fiber and prana.  Oh well.

(Um, out of some sense of pastor's kid guilty obligation, I feel compelled to point out that not only is Nebraska playing Oklahoma today on the football field, but it's also Reformation Day.  Yeah Martin Luther.  And do not blow it, Cornhuskers.  I will be watching you.)

So the recipe I found recommends an orange glaze, but again, "meh."  Give me a thick cream cheese frosting any day.  I want something cheesy and citrusy and a bright orange color not found in nature.  So in comes the orange extract (1/2 teas to flavor) and in comes the food coloring (play with your combo of red and yellow until you get the color you want).  

Mix lovingly with your cream cheese frosting, lather that stuff on, and sprinkle with grated orange peel (and perhaps a little coconut, as well).  

Now there's your cheesy Halloween devil's food cake.  Perf.

Recipe courtesy www.divinerecipes.com