Friday, March 11, 2011

Noshing Can Be Fun and Healthy

I invented a new dish for a party last week, The theme was Fiesta. I was rummaging through my fridge and found a pile of Belgian Endive leaves. So I filled them with a spicy white bean dip that had a bit of olive oil and lots of flavor. There was literally no fat and very few calories in this dish. And even better, it was pretty cool looking when I was done:

Here is the recipe:

Cook about 1 cup of white beans as you normally would but include a couple of dried chile peppers, a couple of garlic cloves and  a teaspoon of oregano (about a Tablespoon if using fresh) during the cooking process.
Mash the beans with about 1 tablespoon of olive oil, use a good extra virgin and if it has a flavor all the better;  I used Harissa from Yavapai Olive Oil Mill, some salt, lemon juice and chile powder if it is not hot enough already. I used my mini food processor to get the right consistency.

Pipe into the rinsed leaves of fresh Belgian endive and top with a section of roasted red bell pepper.
I used tepary beans but any white bean will do, such as cannelini (and canned would work as well).

That is all there is to it.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

A Capitol Proposition

A casual observation at the State Capitol on this International Day of Women, later became a chilling realization that makes me very sad about where we are in the evolution of human beings. In the very place where our laws are made by the people who we as voters have sent there to represent us, I witnessed an appalling site that is probably representative of a number of tragedies; however, I am focusing on only one of them in this piece.

There on the mall between the Old Capitol, the Senate and the House were two single-file lines of visiting students, a commonality at the capitol. They caught my eye when they were being directed to place their hands on top of their heads-something often seen in groups of prisoners of war.

I have fond memories of taking similar field trips. I usually had a relative working around there somewhere and got to go off on a side venture, which always made it fun. The sight of these kids did not evoke that nostalgia, however.

At the risk of sounding like an old person, I was completely appalled by the attire of these children. A large percentage of the girls were dressed in very short jean shorts. Although in my day this mode of dress was reserved for the beach or park, even then we would not be allowed to leave the house in such things for any event at the tender age of these children.

I took a poll of the veteran people watchers and we determined these kids were 5th or 6th grade. I was not alone in my amazement that, besides the fact that this means of dressing was completely inappropriate for any field trip, much less one to the statehouse, the parents of these kids would even let them go to school like that. I was equally offended by the chubby girl who was wearing hot pink baggy basketball shorts with the MICHIGAN sweatshirt-a top I would obviously have an affinity for having sent so much of the funds I have toiled so long at that same building to earn to that fine institution.

Just a couple of hours later I attended a presentation by the Protected Innocence Initiative. Shared Hope International is a non-profit started in 1998 by a former Congresswoman, Linda Smith, to rescue and restore women and children in crisis through a worldwide effort to prevent and eradicate sex trafficking and slavery through education and public awareness. Through the Initiative, Shared Hope rates the various states on their efforts to attack the problem of sex trafficking.

Needless to say, after the introduction by the ever glib Pat McMahon, local TV/Radio host and emcee extraordinaire, Smith related some horrifying stories of young girls who are essentially kidnapped and placed into service by “pimps” who sell to men looking to do it with very young girls. Linda talked about a particular 14 year old girl who was eventually rescued from her confinement here in Phoenix and is not in a safe house. She was followed by a local prosecutor who has achieved nearly 100 convictions, only 5 of which were of customers. Then, a former child-victim spoke about her thoughts having emerged from the nightmare to now put together a pretty normal semblance of a life.

The whole time I was sitting there all I could think about was how those children just out front in the short-shorts were prime targets for this horrifying thing, which apparently occurs with much greater frequency than normal folks like me can even conjure.

I feel bad for those children because what is very clear to me is that their parents are complete buffoons. But should that be any surprise? In a culture that hangs on every word of a complete degenerate like Charlie Sheen while barely paying any attention to the massive budget crisis that is about to impact their very ability to fund the cable TV that feeds their entertainment obsession, how can we expect that these parents would have any insight whatsoever into what is appropriate dress for 5th grade students. What they are clueless about is how that puts them at risk of becoming the sad statistics that cause people to come together on the International Day of Women to bring attention to these barbaric human interactions that are occurring in our very own backyards.

A pretty lousy way to “celebrate” if you ask me.

Post script:  I just came across this article that says the extent of the human trafficking problem in our country is probably overstated.
If even one child ends up in this nightmare it is horrific; at the same time if the numbers in this story are correct a cost/benefit analysis may be in order when it comes to using public money to fight the problem.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Campus Life Circa 2011

 There are any number of reasons why Americans are behind in science and technology. Here is a retelling of a recent event on a major US campus that is illustrative of many things.

Today, as I was walking with a friend through the diag (the heart of the campus), I stopped to talk to a group of feminists that were picketing the new theater production that has come to campus: the 'Penis Monologues". Their issues with the production were numerous, but the main argument was that it was directly attacking and seeking to invalidate the 'serious message' of the "Vagina Monologues".
Now, I knew that by being brazen and snarky, I was likely to get myself into some trouble, but we were out in the public, in the diag, which is the Acropolis of the school--a place for open and interesting discussion. My first question was my first mistake:

Me: "Don't you think that by protesting a satire, you are making a public mockery of your original cause?"
Angry Feminist #1: "How could we not be infuriated by a counter-attack by the men that have been oppressing women since the agricultural revolution? We're fighting to save the message in our production."
Me (this is where I really go wrong): "But what would you say the overall message is?"
AF#2: "Obviously it's about the beauty and integrity of the female anatomy!"
Me: " Not the superiority?"
AF#2: "This production is a criminal attack on what women have worked for years to achieve! But still we find ourselves criminally oppressed, and "they" are allowed to criminally mock something that we find sacred. Just what are you getting at?"
Me: "Look, I just think that the militant feminist message just works against the overall good for the female population. Men aren't stupid, or evil or part of a giant conspiracy to keep women in the household and out of the workplace. In fact, women currently enjoy a greater employment rate than men, and those that are married--even higher incomes. Maybe a little satire and reflection would do your cause some good. Your argument is theoretically contradictory to the first amendment. Your outrage isn't going to accomplish anything. If you really want to do something about it, I suggest that you sue the author of the "Penis Monologues" for copyright infringement."
AF#1: "Do you even hear yourself? You're becoming a victim of their ideas!"
Me: "Of course I do, but as a woman, and not an arcane second-wave feminist, I'm capable of thinking through foaming-mouthed conspiracy theories fed to me by girls who got stood up for their junior-year prom."

Then I started running. I didn't stop until I was behind the counter at the cafe.
I really did just want to have some semblance of a level-headed discussion with a feminist, and I don't know why I thought that a picket was the time or place. I probably shouldn't have been so snarky, and the above is abridged from the 5-minute conversation that took place. I tried to reason with them at first, but when the argument was essentially a really annoying conspiracy theory that they are allowed to not only study but graduate with a concentration in, I just rolled my eyes and told myself that even something as silly as Art History has more intellectual integrity than the Women's Studies department, I decided to just be as snarky as I possibly could. Rude? Yes. Entertaining? Highly.

My end report: Feminists are ruining my chances at being taken seriously in my future workplace.