Thursday, January 21, 2010

Snack attack

From Nicholas Kristoff to food, I read another NY Times article--this one about about snacking and what has become a national obsession. Over Christmas, I grumbled about all the place I had to bring "a snack". After about 10 different venues, I almost cried one night when a church member asked me (last minute) to bring a dozen cookies for coffee hour. It is true, I could have just picked something up at the store, but even that can be hard when the closest store is 5 miles away and my grocery dollars barely stretch anymore. I wouldn't feel so bad about contributing if I felt the snacks were necessary, but there seems to be so much waste. I signed up to bring cheese and crackers to my daughter's art show only to get there and see table after table of cheese and crackers. They put half of it back for the second half of the show. The show was from 4-7 PM. Was nobody going to eat dinner? My daughter goes to a small school, so the same small pool of parents (mainly mothers) were going to be or had already been called upon to bring dinners for the theater production week, concessions for the play, treats for the holiday party, and desserts for after the music concert. All of these events happened within a month of one another. For approximately 40 kids, there were about 10 mothers who donated snacks for the holiday party--in addition to the subs the kids were getting for lunch. Add to that the snacks we bring to Sunday School, which is an hour long--after which, the kids rush the coffee hour table of treats. Why are our kids overweight?
The article cited the demise of the family dinner (anyone who reads this blog knows how I consecrate that holy of holy hours), the guilt of busy parents, and the overscheduled child who needs nourishment to get her through piano lessons followed by gymanstics lessons.

I ask all you committee chairs, if you are in charge of snacks for an event, think about it. Are they really necessary? Do you need 10 parents to bring snacks or will one snack--perhaps a dozen clementines--fill the need? Consider your plan for leftover snacks. Can the bag of pretzels be kept for the next concert in two weeks? I thank you in advance for conserving our food, my family's dinner appetites, and the oft-assailed energy of mothers.


I just read an article by Nicholas Kristoff in the NY Times about Haiti. I went to see Kristoff speak this fall at F&M college. There is a compassion element in his reporting that I find refreshing and invigorating-- in spurring me to action in a way that other reporters fail. I trust his answers because he has done his homework and travelled to the places he speaks about. I have travelled, but not extensively and very little has been international, but I fall into the "God bless the whole world--no exceptions" camp. The United States is a big country. You could travel all over and see so much, that going outside its borders isn't really necessary. Only 30% of Adults in this country even have a passport. Forget other countries, people don't want to seem to want to leave their own villages. In the area where I live, it is not unusual to find adults who have never been to New York City--a three hour drive by car. That is a travesty.

In this day of easy transportation and Internet access, the world is getting smaller and we as Americans need to familiarize ourselves with it. We can't afford to stay in our little boxes. In this tragedy that is Haiti, I am thankful for my neighbor Marsha who opened my horizons. She has done missions work in Haiti. She has shared photos of her experience and introduced me to citizens of Haiti, one of whom is a med student in Port Au Prince. Waiting days to find out if Richard survived (he did, but he lost everything) has made the experience so real for me--just as knowing I had a college housemate living in New Orleans during Katrina. Maybe it is time to reach out to more people, places, and experiences. It reminds me that we are all human and all connected.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Orange Hummus

Working on my new orange-hued facebook was a frustration--especially the marathon session I did on Tuesday. I barely moved from the laptop. Then I realized I had to make something for Maren's lunch. Gone are the days of ham sandwiches with the new pescetarian regime. So I set out to make hummus, which I have done before. I decided to go with Mollie Katzen's Orange Hummus recipe from her Enchanted Broccoli Forest cookbook. Oranges are in season, and I had some on hand. So after a whirl in the blender, a few slices of veggies, and packaged bagel chips, I had lunch for both of us. I admit I tasted it right away. That was enough to know I could barely wait until noon the next day. I needed that small triumph after my day of frustration. So today, Maren came home and, unprompted, told me that the orange hummus was amazing. Click on the link to see the recipe and judge for yourself. It a little bit of sunshine in this winter haze.

New Website

After several yearly attempts, I have finally replaced my old website with a newer one. I am not a web designer. Code gives me a headache. I can design a mean brochure or business card, but websites are another animal. I wanted to update mine to make it feel a little more classic, simpler to update, and believe it or not, I wanted to get away from all that purple so my artwork could stand on its own. My artwork is really the reason I chose this particular template. (Here is where I confess and put in a plug for I needed a starting point, and they provided it.) So, please, take a look around the new site. If you find any glitches, let me know, but be gentle with me.

***No actual tears were shed in the making of this website, but hair was pulled and painkillers were swallowed.

Monday, January 4, 2010


My daughter is starting her new diet today. She is becoming a vegetarian who eats fish. She is also becoming a flexetarian, which means that if there are no other options, she will eat some meat. She began down this road after a joining a 5th grade club which talked about organic and healthy eating practices. Since that time, she has boycotted McDonalds, Burger King and the like. Recently, she had a health class lesson at school which made her consider this diet. She is twelve, so we had to do some research. We want to make sure she gets enough protein. And now that the new year is here, we are helping her to embark on her lifestyle choice. The family is going to eat her diet for the first week. After that, we are going to try to cut our consumption of meat and chicken, but we are not going to give them up. There is a movement called Meatless Mondays. I generally serves at least on vegetarian dish a week. I am hoping to up that to 2-3 times a week. Meatless Monday sounds like something I'd like to try, but if it becomes too inflexible, I'll take my meat out on other days.

Maren's meals (an mostly mine, too):
Breakfast: spinach, shallot, bleu cheese fritatta with Orange, banana yogurt smoothie
Lunch: Vegetable sushi, apple sauce, brownie
Snack: Laughing cow cheese and vegetables
Dinner: Nine Gem curry over jasmine rice with garlic naan. (I'm going with Trader Joe's Korma sauce and adding tofu, raisins, cashews, beans, cauliflower, potatoes, carrots, onions, and tomatoes)

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Last Celebration

The last of the holiday parties was yesterday. My side of the family. I think it was too far away from Christmas. I was ready to be done with parties, but so happy to gather with my family. I have three favorite traditions with this gathering. One is the family slide show. My brother Jed puts together a show from all of our digital photos. It has a great soundtrack, too. The grandchildren (my kids and their six cousins, ages 1-15) have a book exchange. I think this is the 5th year. Really works out well. They are all readers and have enough in the way of toys. The last tradition is for the adults: my brother, his wife, Mark and me. We always watch an irreverent movie. This year was The Hangover. In the past it has been 40-Year-Old Virgin--movies like that. Not our usual fare, but we laugh when we are all together. It was a great holiday season, but now that we have had this party our holiday is finally at a close. I am ready for some normalcy.

Recipe for the day: Butterscotch Krimpet Cake When we were little, my brothers and sister and I gathered in one of our bedrooms at 5 AM on Christmas day and had a pre-party. We weren't allowed to go downstairs until 7AM. We always had Tastycake Krimpets at our party. This year, I made this recipe for the holiday gathering. A trip down memory lane.

Friday, January 1, 2010

New Year's Fireworks

I am a Pisces, water sign. If I had to characterize 2009 in terms of my wateriness, I would use the word 'frozen'. I accomplished some things, but no real flow in the areas that I consider priorities--especially in areas of career and health. I lived in my head a lot, dreaming up elaborate strategies for the time when things would be more settled and I could get down to business.

So, 2010. A new decade. Trying not to put too much pressure on myself didn't work last year. I work best under a little pressure. I need to add a little fire to the pot in the form of action. Hopefully it will get the water flowing again. Year of the Tiger coming up on February 14. It seems a good year to explore passions, spirit, moving energies.

Last night, in spite of frozen rain, we went out as a family to celebrate the New Year. On the way home, shortly after midnight, the rain seemed to be subsiding and a big firework explosion lit the night sky. Just one. But sometimes, one spark is all it takes. Happy 2010! May the new year ignite possibilities and change them into realities.

Recipe for the day: Rachael Ray's Buffalo Chicken Meatballs perfect for college football party