eggs and olives

We’ve started a new menu at work, and by new I mean we just added a bunch of new stuff. Shrimp pizza, a portabella reuben sandwich. But the best off all is a tapenade that goes on top of cheesebread. Last week the kitchen was prepping all the new stuff and I got to try the olive-trio spread. It was SO good, I could have eaten a bowl of it just by itself. When we tried it on top of the cheesebread, cooked, I actually liked it less-cold and plain, or on top of a cucumber, it was a lot better.I asked how much I would have to pay for just a side of the tapenade. They asked, how many people are you trying to serve? What are you making? I sheepishly explained, no no, it was just for me. I just wanted to eat it by the spoonful. Is that a bad thing to admit? I was graciously given a rather large portion for free. Thank you!And I did eat it by the spoonful. On top of cucumbers, with celery and carrots. Then I had this genius idea to hollow out an eggplant and stuff the tapenade into it. The tapenade has garlic, parmesean cheese, carrots, and kalamata, green, and black olives. I think it would probably be pretty easy to make, but I don’t have exact proportions since all the work was done for me.

Tapenade stuffed eggplant boats

1 eggplant, cut lengthwise

1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons tapenade

feta (optional)

Bake eggplant halves in 450 degree oven until middle is soft. Let cool. Scoop out the insides and mash until they are smooth. Mix in with the tapenade mixture. Spoon tapenade back into eggplants. Bake again for 10 minutes. Let cool. Enjoy!

*I think the tapenade tastes better cold, or at least at room temperature, which is why I think letting the eggplant cool is a good idea. When the tapenade is hot, it has a different flavor.

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tofu and sunflowers

 

Hello giant sunflower. And I do mean giant, at 10 feet tall. They sure are cheerful. Amazingly, they seem to be thriving despite this heat. Every day it is like waking up in a steam bath. Or an oven. Or a dryer. I just try to think of how much I loathe winter and cold wind, take a deep breath and decide this is not unbearable. And then feel the sweat trickle down and decide it is preeeety darn close.

But back to something cheerful. Like good old hippie food: tofu. I’ve been accused, more than once, of being a vegetarian, a vegan, a hippie. I’m fine with any of those, except vegan (do you realize how much dairy and cheese I subsist off of? Cheese is my main protein!) But rest assured, as much as I love the soy, the tempeh, the veggies, I do love meat. No lie.

Cranberry vinaigrette tofu with feta and basil. Marinated quickly (5ish minutes, more time would have been better), grilled on the stove top, and then cooled with feta chunks and freshly chopped basil. Delicious.

Tofu is best when it has a lot of time to soak up the flavor of it’s seasonings for a long time, but grilling it and letting a little bit of char develop on the outside is a good way to expedite the process. Plus, I just love charred things. 

 

Time for Olympics. Go USA!

 

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guest column

This guest column was in the Northwest Arkansas Times this morning. Thought I’d share

 

The initial moments after tragedy strikes are filled with confusion, anger, and questions. Last Friday I had been planning to go see The Dark Knight Rises with friends. I got to work in the morning and the first thing I heard about and saw on the television was the news of the shootings in Colorado. A coworker informed me a six year old was among those killed. My first question was, why in the world did someone have their six year old kid at a movie like that? I’m not a huge fan of dark films so I could barely handle the first two Batman movies, much less comprehend a young child watching them without nightmares. I acknowledge that is hardly the issue at hand; that the real issue is that someone chose to open fire. I was so disturbed by the disconcerting reel of stories on the news about the shootings that I sold my ticket. I instead spent the night with those precious to me: my family, my 4-week old niece.

Subsequent news articles can only fill you with sorrow for those affected, with anger at the injustice, with doubt and disbelief. And then the questions begin. What is our role in a monstrosity like this? Who bears responsibility? Does the accountability fall solely on the perpetrator, or did others aid in his demise into derangement? Events like these are, to me, more alarming and discomfiting than a terrorist attack or the horrors of war. Those are evils, yes, but there is a discernible motive in them. A random attack on innocent people by one person who is obviously suffering from mental delusions is unpredictable, unforeseen, frightening. It leads one to feel unsafe and nervous when going through the most mundane chores or activities: grocery shopping, going for a run, going to work. Just today, in fact, there was an altercation at church where a man was heckling the preacher as he began his talk. Unfortunately, the events of the weekend were the first thing that came to mind and something that in the end was harmless became stressful.

James Holmes was a seemingly normal person—someone intelligent (perhaps even brilliant) who was in a Ph.D. program. If he exhibited no irrational behavior before, then went crazy enough to commit such a crime, what influenced him to do so? A friend who had been to the midnight premiere of Batman was telling me that the most disturbing part for him was that as he watched the intensely dark actions of the antagonist, he felt as though it simply gave the “crazy” people in the world more ideas on how to be crazy. Which begs the question (in my mind): does Hollywood hold any responsibility in this? And not just the movies, but the gaming industry, books, graphic novels, etc.

No, Hollywood did not make Holmes, or any of the other shooters in mass murders do what they did. In the end, it was a human who made a choice to wield a gun and inflict harm. But nor is it the same as gun-control or obesity in which the gun is to blame for shooting or the fork for carrying food from the plate to the mouth. It is not an issue of gun control or controlling people’s nutrition for them. Guns and forks are inanimate objects, nothing more, and are useless unless directed by a conscious human being. But that is what films and media do; they plant images and ideas that slip into our stream of consciousness and subconscious unknowingly and they unwittingly can affect our actions.

There are many other issues that must be factored into Holmes’, or any shooter’s choice to act, of course. Nobody can pass any kind of judgment—who knows what was going on in their head and hearts. But we cannot reflect on the choices we make, the things we allow our brains to filter, and not conclude that the things we allow to influence us must be closely examined. If it is from the overflow of our hearts (and minds) that actions flow, shouldn’t our responsibility be to filter the intake?

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what to read and watch

just finished this book…

A fascinating book about getting kids to eat a wide variety of foods that are healthy and not having them snack constantly. One of the reasons it is so interesting is because in a lot of ways it seems so simple…so common sense. Like, if you don’t snack midmorning, you’ll be hungrier for lunch. If you eat a well-balanced meal, with high-satiety items (a good mix of carbs, protein, and a small amount of fat) ypu’ll be more full through out the day until your next meal. That being said, it was thought provoking and had lots of good ideas for parents. Some fun recipes are included too.

Can we just talk for a moment about the Olypmics? I am a little bit obsessed. Actually, a lot, if we are honest. I get a little distracted at work watching them, but pretty much the Olypmics win over anything else. Swiiming and running are the best, but I will watch anything. Anything.

Listen to this song:http://www.youtube.com/OldCrowMedicineShow-WagonWheel

Read this book: French Kids Eat Everything

Don’t watch these movies: A Little Bit of Heaven or Mirror Mirror (I have yet to see one good rendition of Snow White), but be excited about all the amazing movies coming out (Anna Karenina, The Great Gatsby, Les Miserables, and The Hobbit).

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thread bundles

Someone asked me recently what I wrote on a daily basis…yikes, obviously not this blog. With the recent uncovering of an old notebook of in-progress poetry and short pieces of non-fiction, I’ve been working on some of those a little bit. And I’ve also been rereading a book of e.e. cummings poetry (he is probably one of my favorite poets). So, here is a short little thing I’ve been working on, a draft really.

Thread Bundles

Fingers and toes wrapped tightly

He whispered hope into fragile ears

And kissed you quietly-leaving

The mark of promise,

His gift to you.

When the cold reality of plasma, blood, and tears

Envelops and jams up droplet-nostrils

And a throttled cry arises from fresh breathing lungs,

Then the gasping of humanity becomes your own.

The spool is wound

Bundled love now bobbing to the harmony

Of life

Welcome á la vie, little one

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Top runs.

Today I had one of the best runs ever. I’d say top 10, for sure. Have I ever made a concrete list of the actual top 10? No. But I am absolutely sure this would be on it. Not only did I feel good physically (not totally bogged down my the heaviness, felt light on my feet), but I had fun along the way…

For starters, I ran through a new neighborhood (new to me) and it was by far the best out of all the ones I’ve been through. It was full of huge beach, southern style houses like this one. The houses were so amazing that I ran through the neighborhood twice just to see them all again. Looking at pretty houses is one of my favorite things to do while running and it is a wonderful distraction.Southwest Pensacolahouse for sale, Southwest Pensacola 4br house for sale, Southwest Pensacola Single Family house for sale, Southwest Pensacola house for sale -

Then, as I was running, I heard and saw the Blue Angels practicing overhead. Overpoweringly loud, yes, but fun all the same.

Then, the best part: Trout Point Nature Preserve.

I was running in a neighborhood and I’d seen the sign for the preserve all week, but since the trail was wooded and sandy, and it had been raining a lot, I hadn’t ventured down it. But since today was my last day and the sun was quite bright, I knew it was now or never. I got down to the boardwalk and realized I was pretty close to the Navy base. I stopped at

this overlook and enjoyed the salty air for a minute, then continued on my way. All of a sudden, the boardwalk started shaking and I heard multiple voices yelling. Then, barely in the distance I saw an troupe of Navy guys running towards me, yelling chants in response to their leader. I was able to hop off the boardwalk into the sand just in time before getting mown over by them. I thought the boardwalk circled around back into a different part of the neighborhood, but it didn’t so I had to run back by all the Navy officers. Yay. And because of my beach jaunt I ended up running an extra mile (for a total of 9 vs. the planned 8). 

And what exactly is the best way to finish a run like that? A big bowl of frozen blueberries, cereal, Greek yogurt, and cottage cheese (I know that combo probably makes some folks gag. To me, it is HEAVEN), iced coffee, and a little Tolstoy (reading Anna Karenina and loving it). Flying home to Arkansas. Back to real life.

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beach days

Today, I think I realized how much I have missed the beach. The ocean. The salty air and breeze. Tbe Spanish moss trees. Seashells. Fresh fish. Maybe not the mugginess. I’m not quite as dark (ok, not nearly dark enough) as I had hoped, but that’s ok. It’s all about the relaxation and refreshment.

Living at school in Florida for 2 years made me take all that beauty for granted. This morning my sister and I went to the beach and as a storm rolled in, the waves were pretty epic and playing in it made me remember that I really do love it down here.

west palm beach, photo courtesy of my sis

Ahhh, so the question is, the beach or the mountains? No! I will not choose. They are equally wonderful, each in their own way.Is this little one the best thing ever? Yes. Thank goodness that she is coming to Arkansas for a couple weeks. Aunt Lyssy will get to be obsessed with her for just a while longer. This is my favorite face of Nat’s: pursed lips, eyebrows raised. She is already a charmer.She looks like a doll. But when she gets to squirming she is anything but…she may be a little dancer in the making the way she flails her little arms.And her dad is equally great (my brother in law). He took me down to the fish market, a little shop right on the water owned by a friend of his. He got me fresh Amber Jack (I’d never had it before) and I grilled it up that night. Super simple and fresh: in a pan on the stove with a spritz of Pam and some Cavendar’s seasoning salt. Really full of flavor and not at all fishy.With spinach, roasted eggplant, broccoli, and brussels. Of course. Am I super excited to get back to the normal routine or life and work? Maybe not. Am I super excited to eat the fresh eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes, and okra coming out of the garden? What a silly question. Of course.

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