Saturday, September 27, 2008

O Foods for Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month - Jen's Rockin' Oatmeal

O Foods for Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month

September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. In honor of Gina DePalma, author of Dolce Italiano: Desserts from the Babbo Kitchen and Executive Pastry Chef of Babbo Ristorante in NYC, who was recently diagnosed with ovarian cancer, Sara of Ms Adventures in Italy, Jenn of The Leftover Queen, and Michelle of Bleeding Espresso are asking you to donate to the:

Ovarian Cancer Research Fund (via

and then, out of the goodness of your hearts and to be eligible for the O Foods for Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month Contest, please do the following:

1. Post a recipe to your blog using a food that starts or ends with the letter O (e.g., oatmeal, orange, okra, octopus, olive, onion, potato, tomato) and include this entire text box in the post;


2. If you’re not into the recipe thing, simply post this entire text box in a post on your blog to help spread the word about the event and Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month.


3. Then send your post url [along with a photo (100 x 100) if you've made a recipe] to ofoods[at]gmail[dot]com by 11:59 pm (Italy time) on September 30, 2008.

We will post a roundup and announce prize winners on October 3.


* 1 Recipe Prize for best “O food” concoction: $50 gift certificate to Amazon;
* 1 Awareness Prize for only publicizing event: Copy of Dolce Italiano cookbook.


From the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund:

* Ovarian cancer is the leading cause of death from gynecologic cancers in the United States and is the fifth leading cause of cancer death among U.S. women; a woman’s lifetime risk of ovarian cancer is 1 in 67.
* The American Cancer Society estimates that 21,650 women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer in the U.S. in 2008 and about 15,520 women will die from the disease.
* The symptoms of ovarian cancer are often vague and subtle, making it difficult to diagnose. There is no effective screening test for ovarian cancer but there are tests which can detect ovarian cancer when patients are at high risk or have early symptoms.
* In spite of this patients are usually diagnosed in advanced stages and only 45% survive longer than five years. Only 19% of cases are caught before the cancer has spread beyond the ovary to the pelvic region.
* When ovarian cancer is detected and treated early on, the five-year survival rate is greater than 92%.

Please donate to the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund
and help spread the word!

When I was growing up, my father used to joke that if he'd known my mother ate peanut butter on toast for breakfast every morning, he never would have married her. While this isn't D's sense of humor, we definitely agree to disagree on the preparation of oatmeal. He likes his creamy; I like mine on the dry side. He likes it best with milk; I find that an abomination. Er... however, to be fair, he thinks everything I love in oatmeal is an abomination. And yes, my tastes in oatmeal are a bit unusual, but the concoction I make sticks to my ribs and brings me back to my childhood, so... phthththththththt!~

So, for O Foods for Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month I give you...

Jen's Rockin' Oatmeal


any type of old fashioned oats or a multigrain hot cereal (my fave of the moment is pictured above
dash of salt
2 TBS raisins
1 TBS crunchy peanut butter
1/2 TBS honey
a dash or three of cinnamon


1. Boil 1 cup of water and dash of salt.
2. When water comes to a boil, add 1/2 cup oats, raisins and the cinnamon. Turn heat to medium/medium-low.
3. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until water is absorbed - about 5 minutes or so.
4. Remove from heat and stir in peanut butter and honey.

Enjoy! Serves 1


Omit the raisins and honey and cook in sliced banana instead (the banana will "melt" into the oatmeal while cooking).
Either leave the raisins in or not, and cook in chopped, peeled apples. Add some nutmeg, too.
Substitute dried cherries and some chopped crystallized ginger for the raisins and honey.
Substitute a couple of TBS of chopped almonds for the peanut butter.
Omit the raisins and peanut butter and substitute chopped peaches during cooking and then drizzle honey and yogurt over the oatmeal at the end.

You get the idea.

Don't forget to donate to the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


I'm afraid I'll be scarce for a bit, both in posts, but especially sadly for me, in reading your wonderful blogs. If I'm not around, it doesn't mean I've stopped being interested - I'm just taking care of some family stuff right now.

Be back as soon as I can!

Thanks so much to all the thoughtful comments on my last post. I think I've caught up responding to them.

Have a lovely week, Everyone.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

How to Vote/How to Buy a Car

If you were buying a car, how would you go about it? Would you watch car company commercials - slick, black cars speeding into the night, or slinky-gowned women lying across hoods, or twenty-somethings, bounding over terrain and leaping out of their car, surfboards in hand?

Um, sure.

Like I'd just pick my fave commercial and then place my hard-earned bucks down and stay in debt for a few years based on 30 seconds of Madison Avenue bliss.

If you're like most of us, you're going to do the boring stuff like read Consumer Reports, go on Blue Book, visit your favorite car sites, maybe talk to your nephew who's an imports mechanic ("all I can say is, we get a heck of a lot of Mazdas in here..."). You might ask a neighbor how he likes his Ford Fusion if you were looking at a Ford Fusion, but you probably wouldn't get that Ford Fusion just because he did.

Why wouldn't you pick your President the same way?

Why can't we apply the principles to picking a President that we do to picking a car? After all, it's a huge investment. It's an investment for our country's future and in this day and age, it's an investment in our personal, financial stability, as well.

So, are you going to pick your President just because you like an ad, especially an ad that has the slant of the candidate's committee that's created that ad? Are you going to pick the President based on the fact that one of your favorite music or movie stars likes that person? Are you going to base your choice purely on the fact that your friend or your brother-in-law or your daughter likes this person?

Can't you think for yourself?

I bet you can.

You wouldn't buy a minivan if you were 21, straight out of college and living in Chicago, would you? You probably wouldn't buy a Miata if you were a soccer mom (even if you really, really wanted to). If you were all about being Green, buying an Escalade would probably not be your dream choice. Conversely, if you're a Detroit auto line worker, I'm not seeing you in a Prius any time soon.

Before you make this HUGE investment in your future, please, please look at the ISSUES. Read between the lines. Read news stories in the mainstream media. If there's a front page story on corrupt administration tied to one of the candidates, pay attention (unless that just doesn't bother you).

Need to register to vote? Go here.

Need information about Obama's plans? Go here.

Need information about McCain's plans? Go here.

Need information about Obama's voting record, biography, interest group support, etc.? Go here.
Need information about McCain's voting record, biography, interest group support, etc.? Go here. Project Vote Smart is a great source for reading "just the facts, Ma'am". It's a NON-PARTISAN, non-profit organization that has had diverse board members since its inception, including Presidents Ford and Carter, Senators McGovern and Goldwater, and even John McCain served on its board. This is an organization devoted to compiling voting records, doing fact-checking, etc. You can read all about their mission here. I felt this would be an excellent NON-PARTISAN education tool.

Need some comprehensive information on Sarah Palin's record as a leader? Go here.

Need Joe Biden's record? Go here.

If the economy has you worried, find out which candidate's tax plan actually will be better for your tax bracket. Make sure that you'll still have your medical insurance under your candidate's plan (you may not if you vote for McCain). If you have family in the military, make sure your candidate supported the GI Bill, a bill that provided education and health initiatives for returning Veterans (hint, Obama supported this bill, McCain did NOT).

If your ONLY issue is making abortion illegal, then McCain might be a better match.

But let's talk about abortion for a moment. I wouldn't have an abortion. Luckily for me, it's beyond the point that I have to worry about it. For the record, on a personal level, I don't think I could abort a child.

I did find it interesting, though, that Sarah Palin said she was proud that Bristol had made the "choice" to keep her child. Under Sarah Palin's leadership, if Sarah Palin had her druthers, no other woman's daughter would have that choice.

And for all my personal views on abortion, I do feel that women have to look at many issues when pregnant. I also feel that even if I were vehemently anti-abortion, it would still not be my only issue.

Is it yours? Is it really the ONLY issue?

As for my decision, I had to add up the pros and cons. Figure out what was most important to me and to my family. As an average, middle-class mom, I'm scared. I need my family to have health insurance, not just tax credits for health insurance. I need the actual insurance because we might not be covered otherwise (I have some medical issues, my husband has asthma, my son had some health issues when he was younger). Also, if health insurance was run by the insurance companies (as McCain would have it), they could allow buy-in costs to skyrocket beyond where they already are, (because he also believes in deregulation) and our family can't afford to pay more than we are paying now.

We can't afford more taxes, and since our family takes in less than $250,000/year, I know that my family is safer under Obama's plan than under McCain's plan. Since McCain will only provide major tax credits and cuts to the top 1% of the population, I know I can't afford him as President.

I know that I have many friends with children or spouses serving in the military. I've been hearing the horror stories about how their wounded veteran family members have been treated. I believe they deserve respect and benefits, and therefore, passage of the GI Bill was very important to me. The plans that Obama wants to enact for Veterans after he takes office are also in line with my thinking. McCain is more concerned with war costs; Obama with keeping Veterans' benefits and medical care once they return. I believe those who have fought for our country deserve the same benefits their parents did when they were in the military. Under the current administration, that has changed, and McCain would continue those changes saying we can't afford the care previously given to our Veterans.

Finding new sources of renewable energy is very important to me, because I can't afford current fuel prices. Off-shore drilling won't provide a permanent solution or even any relief for the next ten years. Since off-shore drilling is the main solution that Senator McCain offers, I have to go with Barack Obama's much more pragmatic and diversified energy plan.

How do I know all this about the two candidates? I read. A lot. I went here and here. I compared. I comparison-shopped. And since the economy, healthcare, education, Veteran's benefits, and ending the Iraq War in a timely manner are my main concerns, my Presidential choice was crystal clear.

Be an educated voter. Please.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

What's Cooking Wednesday: Healthy Comfort Food: "Fried" Chicken, "Fries," and Greens

Please go to Shan's place for more What's Cooking Wednesday participants.

Every month or so during the summer, we order three chickens from a local farmer. These chickens are delicious, free-range, and antibiotic- and hormone-free. For those local readers, we get them from Ernst Farm.

Usually, I roast the chickens. C and D just love roast chicken, especially with mashed potatoes. Today, however, my schedule was screwy and I couldn't be home for the full roasting time. And then I thought I was really, really in the mood for fried chicken. And then I thought that was a really, really bad idea for my health and weight.

As with most areas of cooking, however, I was able to compromise. We had a great comfort food supper of Fried Chicken, Fries and great greens, and fat and particularly saturated fat, was kept to a minimum. I give you:

A Healthy Comfort Food Supper

(The sucky photography fairy is still visiting me, so my apologies for the photo.)

"Fried" Chicken


1 3-5 lb. chicken, skinned and carved into pieces
2 cups of lowfat buttermilk (or less - see below)
4 smashed garlic cloves
a few dashes of hot sauce to taste
1 - 2 cups of seasoned bread crumbs
1/4 - 1/2 cup grated parmesan

1. Mix together buttermilk, garlic and hot sauce in a large bowl. Throw in chicken pieces and marinate for 2 - 12 hours.
2. When ready to cook, preheat oven to 400 and put the rack up to the upper third of the oven. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with olive oil cooking spray.
3. Mix together the bread crumbs and parmesan.
4. Shake each piece of chicken to get rid of excess buttermilk, and then cover the chicken piece completely with the crumb/parmesan coating. Place on baking sheet.
5. Spray the chicken with the olive oil spray.
6. Bake for 25 minutes, turn carefully, and bake for 25 minutes more.

Serves 4 - 6.

Fingerling "Fries"

2 - 3 lbs. of Fingerling potatoes
1 - 2 TBS olive oil
kosher salt to taste
Montreal Steak seasoning to taste

1. You can use a lower rack for this recipe, which will also be cooked at 400 for 50 minutes. If you're just making the fries, preheat the oven to 400.
2. Wash and scrub a batch of fingerling potatoes. Make enough for however many people you're feeding (you know your friends/family's appetites better than I do!) Most folks will use about 2 - 3 lbs. to cover two baking sheets.
3. Cover two baking sheets with foil. Slice potatoes into 1/2" thick wedges.
4. Toss potatoes in 1 - 2 TBS olive oil. (I used 2, 1 would have been sufficient).
5. Spread potatoes evenly on baking sheets.
6. Bake for 25 minutes, then flip them over and bake for 25 more minutes.
7. When fries are ready, sprinkle them with kosher salt and Montreal steak seasoning and toss.

Serves 4 - 6

Jen's Really Good Greens


1 bunch fresh kale, rinsed and torn into bite size pieces
2 LARGE cloves garlic, sliced
olive oil spray
kosher salt to taste
2 pinches of cayenne pepper (or more, to taste)
1 - 2 TBS red wine vinegar.

1. Spray frying pan and heat to medium/medium high.
2. Throw sliced garlic into the pan and cook about 30 seconds, until odor is released.
3. Throw in the kale and cook until kale wilts.
4. Take off the heat and season with the salt, cayenne pepper and red wine vinegar.

Serves 2 - 3.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Voting in Michigan (and elsewhere): Myths and Truths

I know. It's been pretty heavy lately on this blog. I have two more, non-partisan posts to make this week about voting, and then I'm moving back to my regularly scheduled program. For those that are sick of my soapbox, you can return on Wednesday for cooking or later in the week for... whatever.

I just can't sleep, am eating the wrong foods (my way of dealing with stress), and am totally wired about this election. I feel that I need to do my part, in whatever way I can, to ensure voter participation. This country simply will not work without an INFORMED and ACTIVE voter base. Democracies can't work without active participation. So here goes, back onto the soapbox:

As citizens of the U.S., we have an inalienable right to vote for our representatives, be they city council members or the President of the United States.

We also, sadly, have a long history of various interests trying to take away those rights by misinformation.

Why would anyone do that? Demographics.

If a party determines that a particular voting demographic won't work for their candidate or cause, they may try to put up road blocks to stop that group from voting.

The group that has suffered the most from these road blocks over the years is the African Americans. This will be true in the upcoming election, and other groups that will be challenged will be students and Latinos.

Each group will be challenged on different bases. For example, in Michigan, voter challengers will be stationed at the polls with foreclosure lists. They plan to challenge any voter whose home has been foreclosed. Why does this target a particular group?

From an article by Eartha Jane Melzer in The Michigan Messenger:

"a full sixty per cent of sub-prime loans in Michigan went to African American families and that thus they bear a far higher rate of foreclosures."

The fact of the matter is that you CAN vote whether or not your home has been foreclosed. You just need your picture ID to match your voter registration address.

Here are some Myths and Facts about voting in Michigan, compiled by
Jason are why (these especially apply to college students, but they also apply to folks who have recently moved from out of state):

Myth: You may have heard that registering to vote at school will affect your health insurance or your car insurance.

Fact: Insurance companies don't care where you're registered to vote.

Myth: You may have heard something about not being able to register at school because it is not your true "home."

Fact: In Michigan, you have the choice of registering at your parents' house or at school.

Myth: You may have heard that you can't register to vote at school if the address on your Michigan driver's license is your parents' address.

Fact: You can register to vote at school, and your Michigan driver's license records will be automatically updated with your new address. The Secretary of State should send you a sticker with your school address. You MUST put that sticker on the back of your license and then it will match your voter registration address and you won't be challenged on Election Day.

Myth: You may have heard you won't be able to vote this fall if you're away from home at school and this is your first time voting.

Fact: There are two ways first-time Michigan voters can vote: you can register to vote at school and vote in person on Election Day, or you can go home sometime this fall and register in person or request an absentee ballot in person and vote absentee.
Registering at school is the easiest way to vote.

Myth: You may have heard something about needing to show a Michigan driver's license with the address where you're voting on Election Day.

Fact: You can show a student ID, a passport, or even an out-of-state license on Election Day, or if you dont' have a photo ID, you can sign a statement saying that and vote anyway.

If you are a convicted felon, you are STILL ALLOWED TO VOTE IF YOU HAVE SERVED YOUR SENTENCE. Here are the specifics:

This information focuses on voting, and assumes that one is registered to vote or able to register, unless otherwise stated.

You are legally allowed to vote if:

· You have been charged with a crime, but not convicted[1] and sentenced. This is true whether or not you are in jail. If you have been convicted but not sentenced, you may still vote.[2]

· You have been released from confinement after serving a sentence.[3]

· You are on probation or parole.[4]

You may not vote if:

· You have been convicted and sentenced for a crime, and are in confinement as a result of that conviction and sentencing. Whether the conviction and confinement are for a state or federal crime makes no difference, nor does it matter if the conviction and sentence are in another state.[5]

· You are under house arrest, on a tether, or in a work release program. These are all considered “confinement” by the Michigan Department of prisons (Department of “Corrections” in current doublespeak) for the purpose of voting.[6], This has recently been questioned among elections officials,[7] and apparently there has been no Attorney General opinion or court ruling on it, which leaves it susceptible to legal challenge.

Note that one’s previous voter registration is not canceled by confinement following from a conviction and sentence.

Homeless people can also vote in Michigan. They can obtain absentee ballots and registration through local homeless shelters.

From an article by Eric T. Campbell in The Michigan Citizen:

"Cheryl P. Johnson of the Coalition On Temporary Shelter told the Michigan Citizen that the 13,000 homeless in Detroit also have the opportunity to vote through absentee ballots.

COTS has four locations in the Detroit area which house homeless citizens in transition and permanent residents who may suffer from physical disabilities.

The city clerk’s office has traditionally had a presence at the shelters during elections to register voters and promote awareness, Johnson told the Michigan Citizen.

'We definitely focus on getting people knowledge about their voting rights,' Johnson says.

Johnson also said that local and national candidates have campaigned at temporary and permanent shelters in an effort to address the problem of homelessness and the people that have been victims of it.

'We’ve always had that kind of open door policy to allow nominees to come and speak.'

COTS is located at 26 Peterboro and can be reached at 313-831-3777."

For full information on your rights in terms of picture identification and making SURE you won't be challenged at the polls, please go to:

this site developed by the Michigan Secretary of State office.

If you print out the pdf file from this site, read it carefully and bring it with you to the polls and a vote challenger tries to challenge you, show the challenger and the voting clerk the document and point out the section that pertains to your particular situation. The vote challengers are relying on scare tactics and they do NOT expect you to be prepared. If you are prepared and have backing from the Secretary of State Office documents, it's unlikely the challenge will continue.

Do you need to register to vote? You can register to vote ANY TIME up to October 5th, 2008. If you need to register, the quickest and easiest way is go to:

This is a site that is paid for by Barack Obama for President, but you can register using that site NO MATTER WHO YOU ARE VOTING FOR. There is NO place on that site where you need to post your political affiliation.

This site can be used by any citizen of the United States who wants to vote.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

How to Help Hurricane Victims

This page will direct you to a variety of organizations who are helping victims of Gustav and Ike:

Network for Good

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Where were you? September 11, 2001

Where were you seven years ago today?

Where were you when you heard?

I remember opening my AOL e-mail and seeing a picture of the first hit of the twin towers. At that moment, the media assumed it was an accident, but something didn't feel right.

I switched on the TV and called my mother, who lives in NYC. She hadn't heard anything. I told her to turn on her TV. When she did, she said there had been a second hit.

No accident. I begged her to stay put and leave the TV on. I told her that I loved her, and I hung up.

After the buildings collapsed, too short a time later, I tried calling her again, but I would not be able to reach her for another two days.

I reached D. and asked him to come home. He wanted to wait for more news reports to come in. Fifteen minutes later, he called back to say the office was emptying out and he was on his way home.

C was homeschooling, so he was home with me. I wasn't one of the hundreds of thousands of parents that day scrambling to pick up their children from schools or daycare.

We checked the supplies in our tornado shelter area. I tried to keep C occupied, but still keep up with the news.

I became the same sleepless zombie that so many of us were during those first few days. News became my food, my sleep, my friend, my family, my lover.

It was not healthy.

Slowly, reports came in about friends and family in New York.

I was exceedingly lucky - I lost no one. But virtually every person I knew from home had lost someone - a mother, a brother, a friend of the family, a friend of a friend, the grandmother of an acquaintance, their son's preschool classmate's father.

The shock waves went on and on.

Ironically, the person I knew who had the closest loss to me was a woman I knew in Ann Arbor. She lost her son that day, and his three children and his wife lost their father and husband.

The loss to police and firefighting companies was beyond imagining.

The sad stories seemed to (and still do) go on and on.

So, on this day of remembrance, take a moment to hug someone you love, call someone you care about, be just a bit kinder or more patient when you might not have been otherwise.

Counteract this horror, this act of extraordinary violence and hate, by trying to do something nice for the world.

Let's try to tip the scales back towards healing and love.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

What's Cooking Wednesday: Fran's Chicken

Please go to Shan's place for more What's Cooking Wednesday participants.

One of our favorite dishes around here is a chicken recipe from my mother-in-law. My mother-in-law was a fabulous cook before Alzheimer's took her over, and it was just one of her many talents. She was a fabulous quilter, a sharp bridge player, puzzler extraordinaire and all around handy woman. She had a brilliant, dry sense of humor, and she definitely lived by the creed, "if you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything."

She was also a loving mom, grandma and wife, and all of use who were able to bathe in her warmth were lucky indeed.

I've made what I call "Fran's Chicken" for years. It's a perfect "go to" dish for potlucks or times when friends need a prepared dinner, and it was traditionally what we'd serve the first night that one of our new exchange students arrived in the U.S.

Our Japanese daughter was just visiting us for too brief a visit, and she requested that I make Fran's Chicken for one of the dinners. Just for giggles, the other dishes she requested for this meal were yellow squash (summer squash), which I sauteed in olive oil with bits of red onion, Scaletta Green Bean Salad and what we call "the cake". "The cake" is a ridiculously easy (and processed) recipe which I'll post below as a bonus for this week (another traditional fave of all our exchange kids). I took pictures of the chicken, but they were awful - I'll post one in any case. I have no pictures of the cake, but basically it's a deep, deep chocolate cake with bittersweet chips. It goes very well with either milk or vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt.

Fran's Chicken


3 chicken boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (1 - 1/2 lbs.)
2 eggs
1 - 2 cups Italian seasoned bread crumbs
olive oil
onion salt
1 cup shredded mozzarella
1 small box of mushrooms, washed and sliced
1 - 2 cups of low sodium chicken broth

1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Cut up chicken breasts into 1" - 2" pieces. Set aside.
3. Beat the eggs with a fork. Drop all the chicken pieces in the egg mixture and mix well.
4. Heat a frying pan (or two) with 1 - 2 TBS olive oil over medium high. Set up a bowl with the bread crumbs next to the cooking area.
5. When oil is hot, dredge the chicken pieces in the bread crumbs and saute until golden brown on both sides.
6. Place finished pieces in a 9X13 baking dish. Blot with towels to get rid of excess oil. Sprinkle onion salt and oregano to taste over the chicken pieces. Sprinkle half the mozzarella over the chicken, reserve the rest of the mozzarella. Sprinkle the mushrooms over the chicken and cheese. Pour the chicken broth over all, just enough to cover the chicken. Cover with foil and place in the oven.
7. Bake for 1 hour. Remove from the oven, remove the foil and sprinkle the rest of the mozzarella on top.
8. Bake another 10 minutes or so until golden brown.
9. Remove from oven and let cool 5 or 10 minutes. Serve with rice or couscous.

Serves 4 - 6

"The Cake"

This is a common recipe from a variety of community cookbooks, etc. I believe I originally got it from a local preschool cookbook.


1 box of pudding-type chocolate cake
1 box of INSTANT chocolate pudding (I use chocolate fudge)
1 cup sour cream (I always use reduced fat)
1 cup of chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to whatever temperature is listed on the cake box.
2. Prepare cake as directed on box, up through the blending stage.
3. Blend in the pudding mix and the sour cream. Then do the high speed mix phase of the cake preparation.
4. Stir in the chips.
5. Pour batter into a greased and floured bundt pan. Bake according to box directions, adding 5 - 10 minutes to overall baking time. Test for doneness by putting a skewer or toothpick in the highest center part - skewer should come out with moist crumbs, not liquid.
6. When cake is done, place on a cooling rack for 15 minutes.
7. When cake has cooled in pan for 15 minutes, take a butter knife, and run it around the inside and outside edges of the bundt pan. Then take a plate and place it upside down on top of the cake. Turn the plate and cake over and the cake will release and sit rightside up on the plate. Let cool completely before slicing.

Serves 12 - 20. Note, this is VERY rich cake!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Please Help Ivy

Ivy is a two-year-old girl living in Australia who has a rare immunodeficiency disorder called pemphigus, which causes her extraordinary pain and horrifying blisters as her body attacks her skin.

There is a transfusion treatment that she needs and that is available, but the Australian National Blood Authority is denying her that treatment.

A petition has been started to reverse the decision. No money is being asked, just your online signature. You can find the petition here.

Veronica, over at Sleepless Nights, has a wonderful, informative article on Ivy and her situation.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Fun and Local Support - Next Weekend!

Looking for something fun to do next weekend? Do you live in the Southeast Michigan area? Look no further:

Come Celebrate Our Local Food & Community!

HomeGrown Festival

Saturday, September 13th 11am - 4 pm
Community High School Field, Kerrytown, Ann Arbor!

Savory Local Food prepared by local chefs!
Heirloom Tomato Tasting!
Cooking Demos!
Silent Auction!
Live Entertainment!
Kids' Activities!

Visit for more information!
Bring your Appetite! It's HomeGrown Festival Time!
New Ann Arbor event celebrates local food and community

On Saturday, September 13, visitors to Ann Arbor's first annual HomeGrown Festival will enjoy the sights, smells and flavors of fresh cuisine prepared by local chefs from locally grown food. They'll also have a chance to learn how buying locally-grown and sustainable products can contribute to a stronger community and healthier global environment. The Festival will run from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Community High School field across from the Farmers' Market in Ann Arbor's Kerrytown district.

Described as a "celebration of our local food and community," the Festival will showcase local food growers, chefs, and businesses along with food and fun for the whole family. Admission to the event is free, with tickets available for purchase on site for the various food tastings. In addition to fresh cuisine prepared by talented local chefs, the festival will offer local food cooking demonstrations where chefs and farmers will teach about the food that they prepare and produce - ranging from butternut squash and peaches to grass-fed buffalo. Special children's activities and various food related mini-workshops will include lessons on growing vegetables, and there will be live entertainment throughout the day.

"It's a chance for everyone to learn just how much great food is grown right here in our area, and discover how they can make a difference by supporting local food producers." says Erica Kempter, who chairs the HomeGrown Festival steering committee. "We hope everyone will gain a new appreciation for the health, economic and environmental benefits of buying local."

Plum Market of Ann Arbor is the principal sponsor of this year's HomeGrown Festival, with substantial backing by Bello Vino Market, Blue Care Network of Michigan, Crazy Wisdom Bookstore & Tea Room, Goetzcraft Printers Inc., and Natural Awakenings. The Sierra Club of Huron Valley and the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority are also actively supporting the event. Other sponsors include Ann Arbor Branch of the Woman's National Farm & Garden Association, Arbor Brewing Company, Eat Local Eat Natural, The People's Food Cooperative, Jackie Wright, Realtor with The Charles Reinhart Company, and Zingerman's Community of Businesses. Also sponsoring the event: Al Dente Pasta, Downtown Home and Garden, Brines Farm, Erica's Natural Gardening and FSEP (Food System Economic Partnership).

The Ecology Center, Food System Economic Partnership, Nature & Nurture LLC, People's Food Coop, Slow Food Huron Valley (SFHV) and Think Local First (TLF) have provided in-kind support.

And if that's not enough fun for one day, come join us here:

Harvest Hootenanny Fundraiser for Project Grow

Saturday September 13, 2008 from 4:00pm - 9:00pm
Zingerman's Roadhouse
2501 Jackson Avenue
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48103


Price: $18/ person in advance, $20 at the door - Buy Tickets
Support Project Grow Community Gardens and sample hometown cooking prepared by Roadhouse chefs! Food will include salsa, pesto, grilled salads, and stuffed veggies--all made from locally grown produce with many items coming from Project Grow’s Heirloom Garden. We’ll also have a sampling of various olive oils and Zingerman’s Creamery gelato.

Quench your thirst at our cash bar and listen to local musicians as we celebrate all the great stuff we’ve got growing right here in Southeast Michigan!

$18/person in advance, $20 at the door (tickets can be purchased ahead of time at Zingerman's Roadhouse, online at, or at the Project Grow table at the Homegrown fest earlier that same day).

Friday, September 5, 2008

Our Greatest Freedom

Arguably, the First Amendment of our Constitution is what gives the United States its character as a country.

It is the basic premise underlying our democratic system, and it is this Amendment, more than any other, that set us apart from similar societies in the late 1700s.

This Amendment, more than any other, created that revolutionary "shot heard round the world" that caused the eventual toppling of various European heads of state and gave full rise to the middle class since it's harder to have royal dictatorships when dissent and freedom of the press is allowed, and citizens learn that they can hold just as much power as those from the aristocracy.

It is this Amendment, more than any other, that should make us all proud to be Americans.

Just to remind you what the First Amendment says, I've included it here:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."

So, our rights to freedom of speech, freedom of the press and the right to peaceably assemble shall not be changed.

Those are our inalienable rights as American citizens.

Why am I providing a civics lesson on a Friday morning?

I am providing this lesson because several of those rights have been infringed over the past two weeks in preparation for the Republican National Convention. Raids have taken place on homes, arresting folks who were planning on exercising their right to peaceably assemble. Journalists have had their credentials confiscated. Our laws have been broken.

The St. Paul police have been blamed, but it's exceedingly unlikely that a police force in a liberal area would come up with this on their own. Police are there to protect and to serve. Police in our area, at least, have a long history of having to take on distasteful duties in order to protect citizens' rights to peaceably assemble.

To read a bit about what's been going on, I've provided many links below.

So, I ask you, if you consider yourself a patriotic American, does it make sense to align yourself with a party whose current administration has been bound and determined to remove your inalienable rights as Americans, and whose new slate of candidates have pledged to continue in this same direction?

As a proud American, as a lover of the Constitution, I refuse to allow my rights to dissipate in this manner. I plan to keep myself informed between now and the election and to read POLICY on the sites of the candidates, not listen to RHETORIC and attacks. Please, voters, check your candidate's policies. See if you agree with them.

In the meantime, please browse some links below, especially if you think you really, really know your party.

On another note, I'm having a heck of a week - nothing tragic, just way too many tasks for any given hour. As a result, I'm not going to be around as much as I'd like, either in terms of writing here or in terms of commenting. As many of you know, I tend to be fairly loyal with my comments. ;-) I'll be back for real as soon as I can.

From my local paper:

Police target protesters at RNC convention

102 arrested after GOP convention's third night


Massive police raids on suspected protesters in Minneapolis

From the Minneapolis media:

Police raids enrage activists, alarm others
Houses, spaces raided throughout the Twin Cities
Police search homes, seize contraband in advance of RNC


Amy Goodman released but protests against police conduct at Convention continue

From red, green and blue (an environmental blog):

Minneapolis Police Seize “Sustainable Living” Bus - in St. Paul

From the Huffington post:

Police Raid Protester Houses In Advance Of Republican Convention

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

What's Cooking Wednesday: End-of-Summer Gratin

Please go to Shan's place for more What's Cooking Wednesday participants.

"So we gotta say goodbye to the summer
baby I promise you this
I'll send you all my love
every day in a letter
Sealed with a kiss"

Okay, so my apologies to Bobby Vinton. OTOH, maybe he should apologize for writing one of the most insipid songs in pop history.

And yes, if I were really writing this to vegetables, it would be just plain creepy.

Nevertheless, the end of the summer it is. Our farm shares are winding down. End of summer treats, such as eggplant, are mixing with perfectly ripe tomatoes and the last of the basil, so I just had to do something... special.

I was also tired of posting others' recipes, even with my take on them, but this one is mine, Baby, all mine! (FWIW).

End-of-Summer Gratin


2 medium eggplants, the fresher, the better, sliced about 3/4" thick
1 large onion, sliced horizontally in 1" slices
olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 16 oz. container of lowfat (or regular) ricotta
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella, divided
1/4 cup grated or shredded parmesan
10 fresh basil leaves, cut in ribbons (chiffonade)
1 egg
1 huge heirloom tomato, or 2 medium ones (and yes, a regular tomato will do)


1. Fire up the grill to about medium heat or the equivalent. Preheat oven to 375.

2. Salt and pepper eggplant slices on each side, and brush each side with olive oil. Brush the onion slices with olive oil, as well.

3. Grill eggplant and onion until slightly charred and tender.

4. While veggies are grilling, mix ricotta, egg, 1/2 cup of mozzarella and 2 TBS of the parmesan. Set the rest of the mozzarella and parmesan aside.

5. When veggies are nice and tender, oil or spray a 9X12 dish, or the equivalent, and lay the eggplant slices on the bottom. It's fine if they overlap. On top of the eggplant, scatter the onion (breaking apart the rings). It should look like this:

6. Spoon the ricotta mixture on top and sprinkle the fresh basil, like this:

7. Then, layer the sliced tomato over all, like this:

8. Cover with foil and bake at 375 for about 25 minutes. Then remove foil, sprinkle with the remaining mozzarella and parmesan, and in about 10 more minutes of baking, you should have this:


Monday, September 1, 2008

I just got this important e-mail...

Jennifer --

Today, the thoughts and prayers of all Americans are with those in the path of Hurricane Gustav -- and many of you are asking what you can do to help.

We do not yet know what the impact of Hurricane Gustav will be, and we hope with all our hearts that the damage will not be as great as it was three years ago.

But we know there will be damage, and there is something you can do right now.

Your financial support will strengthen organizations like the American Red Cross that are evacuating Gulf Coast residents and planning to help communities get back on their feet.

Make a donation to support the American Red Cross today.

At times like this, it is our compassion and resilience that define who we are as a nation.

Please give whatever you can afford, even $10, to make sure the American Red Cross has the resources to help those in the path of this storm:

Thank you for your generosity, and I hope you will join Michelle and me in praying for the safety of those in the path of the storm and the first responders who are doing all they can to ensure the safety of their communities.


On the actual Red Cross page, there is this warning, so if you get an e-mail from Madeline Cox as given below, PLEASE ignore it:

Fraudulent Email Alert
Currently, a fraudulent email posing as the American Red Cross is soliciting members of the public. The email describes the sender as “Madelyn Cox”. This is NOT a legitimate email. Do not give your personal information to this email. This and other such abuses are immediately brought to the attention of American Red Cross’ legal department. We are alerting the public as well, to ensure that donors’ personal contact details are not compromised.

Save the Children
Another agency I've supported for over 25 years is Save the Children. They are helping with relief efforts for the flooding in India and the earthquake in China, and I'm certain they'll be setting up funds for the Dominican Republic and other Caribbean areas damaged by Gustav. You can reach them here .