Wednesday, September 26, 2007

I Survived...

But I'm not sure I gained anything of value from the last two hours. At least not from the debate. On Facebook, in the Fluff Friends application, I won some munny betting on races between the pets of my friends and me. But munny doesn't have much value in the real world either.


Apparently says in his new book that we should raise taxes on gasoline by $3.00 a gallon over the next few years. As much as it pains my budget to say this, I wholeheartedly agree. I'd been thinking about buying his book. Now I really want to read it.

30 Seconds or Less

It's the "lightening round" now. The candidates have 30 seconds or less to answer questions. Because before, you know, they had so much time to share substantive information.

I'm so tired of watching this...

It's just not informative.

Mike Gravel, Health Care, Candidates Getting a Few Digs...

Is sweet. He's ashamed that America is building a fence along our border and says that's not the America he fought for. Maybe I'll vote for him out of affection.

But really, I'm most likely voting for Hillary. A lot of people I respect really disagree when I translate things into practical terms about how things actually get done in Washington, how policy moves forward and gets enacted, how compromise typically has to occur, how the most effective president is one who is committed to a set of values but also understands that they won't be successful unless they work with the people across the aisle. I know it's every progressive's fantasy to have a president who inspires them with their own progressiveness. But I really think such a person would fail to actually enact much of their agenda...I want someone effective.

Dude. Biden was just smart. He complimented HC on her hard work on universal health care and talked about how it's not her fault, she's fantastic, that because she's been fighting special interests for so long and has been a lightening rod for the right that it would be far harder for her to pass universal health care than it would be for others. He stressed that it wasn't his fault.

'Kay. Chattin' about health care now. Edwards is actually trying to say that he is not a Washington insider. And Tim Russert just called him on the fact that four years ago he said we couldn't afford universal health care and it would be a bad idea to do it. Edwards is bugging me right now.

Hee hee. BO just complimented HC and Edwards for their work on health care, and then dug at them both, saying 'I know John wants credit for issuing a plan first. Harry Truman had a plan years ago." Then he told Hillary that health care failed for her because the American people did not feel welcome into the conversation. Sorry, but that's bull and anyone who followed what happened at the time knows it.

Oh. Mike Gravel just said that when he went bankrupt earlier in life, he stuck the credit card companies with $90,000 of bills that they deserved. It was kind of funny. Kucinich is now being asked about how he managed to bankrupt Cleveland.

More on Why I Hate These Debates

Bill Richardson actually begins to get into an interesting conversation about Middle East peace process (or lack thereof), and the current lack of communication with countries with which we used to keep channels open (like Syria and Lebanon).

Now a question about whether cities that have declared themselves as Safe Havens for undocumented immigrants would be allowed to ignore immigration enforcement laws. The questions are not designed to result in the delivery of information to the American public. The questions are designed to create drama, conflict, and controversy. And frankly, for the most part, most of the candidates are resisting delivering it. Which I respect.

NICE. "Rudy Guiliani doesn't know what the heck he's talking about. He's the most uninformed person about foreign policy..." Biden.

Bill RIchardson

"I've talked to these bad guys before."

And thus, I am at an advantage to talk to them again now.

He does have actual diplomatic experience unlike the other candidates. He'd be a decent Sec. of State.



Tim Russert: Will you make a promise not to allow Iran to become a nuclear power?

Why does everything have to framed like this kind of question. It follows him trying to get people to say whether Israel would be justified in attacking Iran if they felt their security were threatened. So far HC and BO are refusing to answer that directly, trying to actually deal with it as the complex and hypothetical question that it is. That there are many, many, many steps to take before we talk about attacking Iran.

Russert: So you won't make a promise like Rudy Guiliani did.

HC or BO: Dude. Why are you so dumb.

Okay. That's not how the conversation went, but that's how they should have responded to him.

Edwards says the key with Iran is to "stick some carrots." Oh!! Now he's back to the conversation that Tim Russert said was over. Apparently the basic issue was whether to call the Iranian Guard a terrorist organization. This, apparently, is being equated with giving George Bush the right to attack Iran.

Tim Russert & Mike Gravel

Keeps asking the candidates if they can pledge to have all troops out of Iraq by a particular date. Again with the sound biteism.

Mike Gravel is saying the forty consecutive days of voting in Congress would result in an end to the war in Iraq. He says if the votes aren't there, the senators should grap their colleagues by the neck and get the votes.

I'm going to need to investigate what Iran related resolution the Senate voted on today. Mike Gravel congratulated Biden and Dodd for voting against it, said he was ashamed of Hillary (who voted for it) and Obama (who wasn't even there to vote).

Biden just tried to start clarifying what the vote was actually about (apparently Gravel didn't correctly explain - though I didn't understand his explanation to begin with), and Tim Russert interrupted to say the discussion was over. Yes. Let's not actually explain anything.

First pearls of wisdom

Obama's whole "there are bad options and worse options." uh-huh. Hillary says she agrees.

Edwards: "good people have differences"...well, yes, yes, they do.

Bill Richardson "has a fundamental difference with Senator Edwards, Senator Obama, and Senator Clinton."

You know, I'm kind of tired of the spectacle of televised media trying to address complex issues. My reaction watching the candidates is to roll my eyes at pretty much everything they say about Iraq, but when it gets down to it, they're not really to blame. The format of televised politicking, which no candidate who is actually trying to win can opt out of, makes it impossible to say anything that is not superficial. I'm remembering why I hate watching televised debates. I hate television media and what it has done to politics in our country.

Blogging the debate...

I'm making myself watch tonight's democratic presidential primary debate. Why? Mostly because I'm stuck in a hotel room and I have nothing else to do, and I haven't been able to make myself get through any of the twenty million others that have taken place to date.

Thursday, September 13, 2007


Oy, my morning sickness reared its ugly head again yesterday...I don't think I actually kept any liquid in my body from the day, and managed to lose nearly two pounds in 24 hours. I'm doing a little better this morning, but feeling wretched.

On top of that, all night it felt like my little guy was jumping up and down on my cervix. I think this is actually a good sign (baby activity), but felt really weird, almost like he was trying to get out, so it got me a bit worried. I'm waiting for my doctor's office to call me back right now, and hoping that will make me feel better...

Here's to sickness free pregnancies for everyone I know and love!

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Big Quinoa Bowl

After reading Laurie's comment about the "Delicious Big Bowl - Quinoa Recipe" posted at, my mouth watered and I decided to have a go at it for dinner last night. For those not familiar with my favorite whole grain, quinoa is amazing. Great texture, easy-going flavor, as quick cooking as white rice, and the only whole grain that is also a complete protein unto itself. It's pretty darned amazing.

We had no asparagus on hand, so I substituted fresh picked kale from our container garden. Which is a bonus, because our kale is growing particularly abundantly and yummily.

Then, I decided to switch in sweet potatoes for half of the white potatoes, figuring it would add some nice flavor and also good nutritional value for me and the little one. Also threw the kale and potatoes into one pan rather than going for the separated colors aesthetic of the original recipe.

Finally, the recipe mentioned a citrus dressing that the author had used, but I decided to wing it a bit here as well. I mixed my own concoction, using olive oil, apple cider vinegar, a dash of spicy chile oil, a wee bit of honey and lemon juice, and some wheat-free tamari. The result was damned good, if I do say so myself (and Bob agreed).

The final result: a very yummy meal, fast to cook and nutritious. One I will definitely be making again! Happily, Bob and I also seem to have fallen into the habit of cleaning up together right after our meals together. It's so much faster than I think it will be, and every night we go to bed with all the dishes done. Fabulous!

The original recipe:

Delicious Big Bowl - Quinoa Recipe

2 cups white quinoa, rinsed well
4 scant cups water
1 teaspoon salt
a few splashes of extra virgin olive oil
3 - 4 medium/large potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 large yellow onions, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 cup toasted nuts (walnuts, pine nuts, etc)
1-2 cups lightly cooked asparagus, cut into 1/2-inch segments

another splash or two of good olive oil or citrus dressing

Bring the quinoa, water and salt to a boil in a large thick-bottomed pot. Reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes or until the quinoa opens up revealing a little spiral and is soft and pleasant to chew. If there is any remaining liquid at this point, drain it off and set the quinoa aside.

Warm a splash of olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat, then add the potatoes and a couple pinches of salt. Toss to coat the potatoes and cover for a few minutes to allow the insides of the potatoes to sweat and cook. Uncover, toss again, then cook a few minutes longer (uncovered) until the potatoes start to get some color. Continue tossing every few minutes to get more color and crispness. When they are cooked through and pleasantly crunchy, season to taste with salt and scoop out onto a plate. Set aside.

In the same skillet (no need to clean) warm another splash of oil. Add the onions and garlic and cook for 4-5 minutes or until they soften up a bit.

Toss the quinoa with a splash of olive oil (I had leftover citrus parmesan dressing, so I used that). Serve each bowl of quinoa topped with potatoes, onions, nuts and asparagus. Alternately, you can toss everything together in one big bowl and serve it up family-style.

Serves 4 - 6.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

On My List This Month

Bread and Yogurt from Scratch. Wish me luck!

Also, another great Web site from the writer of 101cookbooks: Mighty Foods!

We finally got around to making dinner plans with some of our friends. As of right now, we're having people over every weekend for the rest of this month, and have tentative plans with Marissa, Tom and Tess for early October. This should give me lots of opportunity to try out new recipes. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Reduce Junk Mail!

Stop getting all those credit card offers in the mail! Opt out!

Frugal Foody, More Saving

With our little boy scheduled to arrive in January, we are looking for additional ways to save money and continue our financial improvement (it pays to keep track - our net worth grew by more than $6,000 in the last month! I never would have guessed if I didn't know).

Bob and I really, really, really love to eat. Seriously. We love food. And food, well, it loves to eat our money. Some months we may have even been known to spend as much as $3000 on our groceries and restaurants combined. Which is, frankly, absurd.

We have a commitment now about eating out (we mostly don't do it, except for special occasions), and have been attempting to spend less at the grocery store as well. Thought I would share a few Web sites and ideas I have come across in my efforts to find resources and support:

Finding Great Recipes: This seems to be an important element of staying inspired by home cooked meals for me. Recent Web sites I've found to make my mouth water include:

Big Batches of Food: When we're being smart, we do things like make Bob's rice & beans (recipe forthcoming) in massive quantities, then have them for lunches, avoiding the daily dilemma of either preparing lunch or eating out (I'm often running a little late out the door - preparing daily often fails for me). Several Web sites I've perused of late take this recommendation one step further and recommend a monthly or every other weekly big food prep day that ends with freezing some of the food. We'll have to try that.

Where We Shop: Most of what's out there on the Internets about frugality and food is geared toward coupon clipping and shopping at Costco. We're pretty strongly committed to fresh produce and food that is local and organic when possible. We don't frequent farmer's markets as much as we should, because they are a great way to do this cost-effectively. However, we have found that Wilson Farms in Lexington, MA, offers very inexpensive, high quality produce at a fraction of the price that major grocery stores do (including everything from Shaw's to Whole Checkbook, er, I mean Foods). The trick is not to get sucked into buying their pricier specialty items like amazing cheeses and baked goods and exotic mushrooms. The other main staple of our shopping trips is Trader Joe's. Love that even their frozen meals are actually just real meals, but frozen. High quality, minimal selection (for me a big plus since most grocery stores overwhelm the hell out of me), and very inexpensive.

We've done a few comparison shops from time to time. What we purchase on a weekly basis for between $100 and $200 tends to cost between $200 and $400 when we head to conventional grocery stores (again, mainstream or organic in focus).

I think maybe in the coming weeks and months, I'll blog some recipes we're trying and how we're doing with our commitment to reduce food expenses.